What’s the most romantic place on earth you ask? I’d answer without a second thought: ‘It’s Botswana!’ The romance of Botswana is unquestionable. And it was the perfect setting to be asked the most important and ‘butterflies-in-my-tummy’ filled question of my life.
It was the 21st of March, just a few weeks ago, and we were at our happy place. The whiteness of the Makgadikgadi salt pan sands encircled us, interspersed with honey-gold tufts of Botswana grassveld. We dotted that landscape – the only two human dots there. Beside Sowa Pan, its salty water waters licking softly at the shore, he was down on one knee looking up at me with wide eyes and I gasped… loudly. My hands flew to my cheeks in surprise and wordless delight as I realised what was happening. In the next breath I found my voice and repeated the answer from behind the widest grin and tear-blinking eyes. ‘Yes! Of course, yes!’ I shrieked as he placed the one-of-a-kind ring on my waiting finger. He swung me around in his arms, between kisses, giggling and overwhelming happiness.
Too nauseatingly gushy for you? Tough! That’s exactly how it all happened and I haven’t been able to wipe the monkey smile off my face since. If I’m writing like we’re in a Mills and Boons novel set in the pans then I’m ok with that. I was proposed to in my favourite place by the love of my life. I’m completely caught up in the romance of it all so just give into it and share the mushy romance. It’s real.
It was a moment I’ll rewind and watch over and over again in my mind forever. A moment that was ours alone; witnessed only by a solitary pelican on the water, a flock of flamingos that flew over at sunset and a few wildebeest in the far background. It couldn’t have been more perfect. It couldn’t have been anywhere else but Botswana. The exact spot in the Makgadikgadi Pans, where our engagement took place is special to us. It’s on the sandy shoreline at the ‘platform’- a small elevated wooden viewpoint structure next to one of the largest bodies of water within the Nata Bird Sanctuary.
The water is ocean-like in its vastness and from that spot near the platform; you can’t see its end. Birdlife is plentiful and busy, and that’s the only thing that bustles there. It’s quiet. It’s remote. And it’s oh-so-romantic in its wildness and natural beauty.
Just over 3 years before this, we discovered this spot. We were on our first trip as a new couple and on our first night in Botswana we bush-camped right there, at our future engagement site. Similarly, we were the only two humans around then and had the expanse of natural wonderment all to ourselves. We were in awe of it then and on our return trip we felt the same sense of amazement and the feeling that we were part of that landscape.
The rest of our trip transformed into a romantic engagement holiday where we celebrated in our own bush-loving way at each stop. We traversed through the flat, wild and intoxicating landscape that is elephant country from Nata to Kasane, onto a houseboat on the Chobe River and then into the Chobe National Park . We then headed back to the South African border by camping at some incredible spots. The Botswana bush is wild at heart and murmurs of constant adventure. Sunsets are more vivid and command silence and reflection and the sundowners at the best time of day taste better. It’s the perfect setting for an African love story.
Planning a romantic getaway in Botswana?
Nata Lodge: We were spoilt with champagne, congratulations and chilled bushveld recuperation at Nata Lodge. We especially loved staying in a safari tent there. Ours was next to a giant termite mound and boasted the most romantic outdoor shower too. Nata Lodge is an absolute must as a stop over stop on route towards Chobe whether you camp or treat yourselves to a night in the rustic safari accommodation options. They also offer pan drives as an extra activity and we went on a guided drive through the Nata Bird Sanctuary as part of our stay. Stay for 2 nights if you can.
Nata Bird Sanctuary Entry Fee: +/-P55 Times: 7am-7pm Address: 18km or 14min ESE of Nata, Makgadikgadi, Botswana Phone: +267 71 54 4342
Pride of the Zambezi Houseboat – An easy 3 hour drive from Nata is Kasane, the closest town to the renowned Chobe National Park (home to the largest elephant population in the world and much more). This is where we boarded the dreamy Pride of the Zambezi houseboat and cruised along the Chobe River for 2 days and nights in absolute bliss. This was such a unique safari experience. We game watched from the big deck as the steady triple-decker boat cruised along the waters, active with hippos, birds, fish and lots of swimming ellies near the shores. The boat berths at a different spot each night and during the day game cruises are offered on smaller boats as are fishing excursions. We were spoilt rotten on this amazing vessel where we made ourselves at home and could custom make our experience by planning our days as we wanted. A stay on board is all-inclusive, the food is amazing and the hosts are so accommodating. Really something special.
Chobe Safari Lodge Back on dry land we settled in at Chobe Safari Lodge on the banks of the Chobe River for 2 nights. It’s a good base if you want to explore the National Park on day trips as we did. The 3 hour sunset river cruise they offer is really worth it too and we just adore the rustic, waters edge bar at the campsite.
Elephant Sands On route back towards Nata again we camped for a night at Elephant Sands. We loved this spot. Campsites are unfenced and you can hear the bushveld activity right outside your tent in the wee hours. It’s best known for its resident elephants that often come to drink from the water hole right in front of the main lodge bar area and even help themselves straight from the pool!
Khama Rhino Sanctuary Our last night before the border was spent at Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Serowe. In my mind this is such an underrated place. The campsites are gigantic – ours could have fitted an overland bus-load of happy campers, but thankfully it was all ours. It was set under a giant Mokongwa tree and during our night, guarded by that tree, we had visits from a young kudu and heard my favourite night sound too: a hyena call. The sanctuary allows self drives through the reserve as well as guided game drives. We drove ourselves around and were gob-smacked by the amount of wildlife we saw. At the waterhole we stopped at for our own sundowners and snacks (Serwe Pan) we watched for hours as over 10 rhino, gemsbok, impala, zebra, giraffe and wildebeest all took their turns to drink and play around the water.
[Bushbound Girl: Having stayed at all these fantastic places myself (except the for the houseboat, which looks wonderful!) I’d definitely agree with Kelly – Botswana truly is the ultimate romantic getaway! CONGRATULATIONS guys! Wishing you many more beautiful adventures together…]
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