Getting Engaged on Safari
The idyllic setting was picked, the perfect proposal went down and we celebrated in our favourite way- with an African holiday.
It started out so innocently. Then our trip to Botswana sneakily turned into one of the most memorable and important holidays of our lives. It was all because of one little question. I said, “Yes” (of course!) and with that, I found myself on our “Engagement Holiday” and it was the most extraordinary way for us to celebrate. It’s safe to say that I’m a fan and think every couple should have one.
It was March and we had just arrived in Nata at the beginning of our long anticipated trip back to Botswana. It had been a long drive but my Mr suggested that we stop in at the Nata Bird Sanctuary to watch the sunset and enjoy the Makgadikgadi Pans. I didn’t need any convincing. We were the only two humans in that vast white wilderness, kept company by a solitary pelican on the water, a flock of flamingos that flew over at sunset and a few wildebeest in the background. Beside Sowa Pan, on its pale- sanded shoreline at the viewing platform, he got down on one knee. In that moment he changed the course of our lives, and of our holiday. It was too wonderful.
Botswana set the wilderness-scene for our trip that followed the big moment. With newly updated Facebook relationship statuses we switched our phones off and surrendered to a holiday made just for two. We managed to explore a little more of the Makgadikgadi pans on a guided pan drive one evening; somehow sundowners seem to taste better on those magic sands.
After Nata we moved through elephant country to Kasane and boarded the Pride of the Zambezi houseboat. This was probably one of the most unique safari experiences we’ve had. There we were, just cruising along the Chobe River in absolute bliss, as if we did that sort of thing every weekend. We easily lazed into the laid back way of things, where we took our shoes off on arrival and didn’t put them on again until we touched dry land again. Game watching from the deck was our highlight and we often found ourselves sitting and gazing out with binoculars in hand and fat grins on our faces. We frequently saw elephants drinking and swimming along the shore and the birdlife spotted was incredible.
When done playing sailor we were craving to get into Chobe National Park instead of just seeing it from the water. Chobe is the ultimate game reserve and we were thrilled to be back in it, winding along its roads, wildlife watching and finding shady spots where we parked off and just took it all in.
We then headed back to the South African border, camping at some incredible spots along the way. With unfenced campsites, we heard the bushveld activity right outside our tent at night. We still can’t agree on what that one rustle and grunt noise was. Resident elephants came for sundowners at the water hole right in front of a bar area while we were sucking down our own cold beverages.
Our last night in Botswana was spent in Serowe; such an exceptional and completely underrated wild place, in our opinion. Our campsite was under a giant Mokongwa tree which stood sentry over us. We self-drove through the Khama Rhino Sanctuary as a farewell excursion to Botswana. At Serwe Pan, we watched as over ten rhinos and other animals took their turns to drink and play around the water. It was a really memorable sighting. During the night, we heard my favourite night sound; a hyena’s “whooping” call, bidding us goodbye until our next visit.
Without a doubt, one of the best wedding traditions is the honeymoon – a welcome excuse to skedaddle off on the holiday of your Pinterest-dreams as an excited couple of newlyweds (I’m so excited for ours!). But why wait for the honeymoon? We didn’t. An “Engagement Holiday” is based around a momentous occasion too. Let’s call it, “creating another holiday-focused wedding tradition”. As someone who has been on mine, I’m a big fan and advocate of the “Engagement Holiday.”
Engagement Holiday Tip: Pop that question near the beginning of the trip if you can. That way the rest of the holiday will be a giddy celebration, made just for two. I’m so glad that this was the way our proposal took place and will forever cherish the travel time that followed which had such added meaning.
Published 22 September 2013: Africa Geographic Blog