Interspersed between the Linyanti swamps and Chobe National Park, Chobe Enclave is home to staggering numbers of elephants, buffaloes, and other animal species endemic to this area. Part of this northern region of Botswana’s charm is the coveted Linyanti Ebony, establishing only four well-appointed tents, ensuring exclusivity, charisma, and the ideal stomping ground for families and friends in a cavernous environment.
Flying into the region with Mack Air in the Cessna Grand Caravan with Captain Keith Simmonds, it is evident that pachyderms love water as clusters of elephants gather in or around every single mud wallow or liquid source available in the vicinity.
The drive from Saile airstrip to Linyanti Ebony takes us on a game drive, and along the way, we spot some zebras, a few grumpy buffaloes, a giraffe chewing on cud and the cutest vervet monkey playing hide-and-seek between the green leaves of a tree.
We arrive later than anticipated, and after a refreshing drink, we are linked up with our guide Oratile Des Gotshajwang, best known as Des, for our late afternoon / early evening game drive. In the swamps, herds of elephants are having a marvelous time, drinking and cooling themselves with whatever means they can find.
Des stops the vehicle when a large number of elephants are making their way to the greenery to feed. Our attention is suddenly drawn to what can be perceived as twins, two small elephant calves, similar in size, both suckling from one cow. ‘Mom’ teaches the one the more exceptional maneuvers of using his trunk, and he mimics every behavior she displays.
The sun has started setting, and a warthog is sitting in the entrance to his burrow, sleepily looking at us. As we drive closer to the swamps, in the long grass, we see something moving swiftly. It pauses, and we can see the glimmering eyes. It’s an African Wild Cat, the first-ever sighting for us.
Back at camp, it is time for dinner, and tonight we dine on a mushroom starter, bream (fish) for the main course, and lemon cheesecake for dessert.
My daughter and I decided to call it a night, and we retreat to our luxury family tent, which is situated right next to the main area. Perfectly proportioned for a family of four, the two of us relish in the fact that we each have our room.
The dark wooden furniture is beautifully complemented with soft beige bedding. Our tent has an outside and inside seating area, two rooms, a shower, a bath, and a flush toilet. After a shower with the Healing Earth products, I climb into bed, and both my daughter and I are happy that there is a portable cooling system in our room to get rid of the sweltering heat.
A hyena’s call momentarily wakes me, and as the new day starts, we all gather around the fire for breakfast. A crested barbet, red-billed francolin, greater Blue-eared starling, and a few tree squirrels scavenge for crumbs falling off the grill.
On our morning game drive, a duo of tree squirrels suns themselves in the early morning rays. In the marsh, a herd of buffaloes is attempting to swim across the channel to the other side to feed on the long grass. The younger ones endeavor it with vigor while the older bulls take their time to get to the food.
In the mopane woodland, Des suddenly becomes quite animated as he has now discovered that my daughter is a keen birder. “I have something extraordinary to show you,” he announces. He lets out a bird call. There is an answer. My daughter and I gasp in unison. It’s a breeding pair of Verreaux Eagle Owls and their chick, sitting perched high up in the branches of two separate trees. The chick is so fluffy; he looks almost like a stuffed animal.
With the no-schedule policy at Linyanti Ebony, we enjoy our afternoon at the leisure poolside, taking in the magnificent vista over the marsh. In the distance, we can see elephants coming in for a drink. Or is it a feed? They have the best of both worlds here.
During our evening game drive, we stop for sundowners to witness the red ball of fire sinking into the horizon. Dinner is a gastronomic feast consisting of fillet steak, hand-cut fries, and chocolate mousse for dessert. We turn in timeously as we have an early start on our last day.
On our final morning at Linyanti Ebony, we decide to forego the game drive. Instead, we are treated to the most delicious breakfast, after which we are whisked away by Helicopter Horizons in the red Robinson R44 Raven II for a scenic flight over the marsh. Captain Liam McMillan knows the intricacies of the marsh and points out animals we don’t even notice. Part of your stay at Linyanti Ebony between March and November is a complimentary 30-minute scenic flight, undoubtedly a fantastic way to get a bird’s eye view of the surroundings.
We are dropped off at the Saile airstrip for our flight back to Maun. Captain Chris Dekker from Mack Air is waiting next to the Cessna Grand Caravan, and before we know it, we are on our way. A few pick-ups later and with a full flight of passengers, we land at Maun Airport.
Time to check-in for our Airlink flight back home to Cape Town. The queue is long, but the Airlink desk attendant is refreshingly friendly. She hands our boarding passes over, and with a smile, we know that our flight on the Airlink Avro RJ85 will be comfortable and relaxing. After take-off, we are offered a drink and meal service, and 2 hours and 35 minutes later, we land safely at Cape Town International Airport. It feels great to be home after creating such glorious memories with my daughter.
***Thank you to Jemma MacMillan from African Bush Camps for arranging our stay and for Linyanti Ebony for hosting us.
** Views expressed are the author’s own.
| Photographs courtesy of African Bush Camps and by Heléne Ramackers
How to Get There
Airlink is a privately owned airline business. The Regional Feeder Airline offers an extensive network of regional and domestic flights within southern Africa and operates as a franchisee to SAA.
Route Specific Information: Direct scheduled flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town to Maun, Botswana.
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Flight Bookings: online, booking agent, or SAA Central Reservations +27 11 978 1111.