At the end of May Chris Warren came into the office to ask Chloe if she and Shane would like to go on a riding safari in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. When I commented that it would be my dream holiday he said "well you'd better come too!" Definitely not an offer I was going to turn down. The 20th November was a long time coming, and inevitably not all of the original party made it to Heathrow, but Mark and I, Chris and Duncan Gipson, Chloe and Shane, Sarah Kellard, Chas and Linda Taylor, Dan Derbyshire, Michael Quirke, Jodie Riches and Julie and Mark Slade all met in Johannesburg airport in the morning of 21st November, ready for the flight to Maun and the little plane out to the Delta.
Chris Warren caused hilarity from Heathrow to Macatoo by enduring the entire journey in a tiger onesee, in his effort to introduce new species to Botswana.
Arriving at Macatoo we had a quick drink and then jumped back into jeeps to look for lions who had recently been spotted at a killed buffalo. Sadly we didn't manage to see them, but on the way back to camp we had a delicious dinner in a clearing in the bush.
Next morning we were woken at 6.00, breakfast at 6.30 and on our horses at 7.00 for a four hour ride. I was on a lovely little four year old called Seretse. I couldn't believe how many animals we saw that first morning, giraffe, buffalo, wildebeest, warthogs, elephants, and so many different types of deer and birds. The ride alternated between walking over rough ground and galloping fast over the flatter bits to cover a greater distance. We had fantastic guides, Bongwe and Sekongo who kept us safe and were incredibly informative about the animals and their habits. We then had lunch at 11.30 and then a siesta until 4.30 tea and the afternoon ride.
For the first two days Mark only joined us for the gentle afternoon ride on the wonderful Zorba, but after the third day when we had a fishing day, and saw so many amazing hippos, he decided to join us for the morning rides as well.
His practice on Luendi had been a bit brief due to his Achilles tendon injury, but he did fantastically well, galloping for miles at a time, and surviving a few hairy moments.
It really was the most brilliant holiday, with the nicest group of people you could possibly imagine. Lots of laughter, no mobile phones, no emails, and I really couldn't believe how many animals we saw, and we learnt so much about them and the Okavango Delta. We even saw a leopard hunting buffalo. Back to real life with a long overnight flight to Heathrow, but so many happy memories of the holiday of a lifetime.