Shinde Footsteps – Walter Smith
The soothing sensation of slipping away into a deep night’s slumber is magnificently aided by the tinkling sound caress of the miniature long and painted reed frogs calling out their territorial space within the wild lagoon to the front of this incredible setting. The deep hoot of a Verraux’s Eagle Owl from its perch high up in a Rain Tree which stands like a beacon at the edge of the riverine forest, from which it surveys the low open grassland in front of it, adds bass to the lagoon orchestra. In the distance, a Side Striped Jackal can be heard calling to its skulk of family members to potentially alert them to some newfound carrion. A myriad of crickets supplies the gentle percussion to the natural night symphony.
This is Shinde Footsteps; it is like this every night.
Far removed from any other established structure, exclusively located within one of the most pristine areas of the 1000th Unesco World Heritage site, The Okavango Delta, silent to the new world “normal” sounds of engines, sirens, generators, compressors and the clutter and clang of human made noise, is your incredible safari tent, beautifully furnished, with crisp comfortable bedding. What makes it even better is the fact that there are only three other tents like this. That is, it, a maximum of six people at any one time to share this insanely precious space.
Shinde Footsteps has been so well thought out, it operates on solar power and has a complete closed circuit sanitation plant. The camp itself has been cleverly constructed out of timber and canvas with the most minimal impact on the precious environment which engulfs it as part of its own. This is a special place and certainly, one to be experienced by only a select few. The world as we know it has an escape, and truth be told, it is called Shinde Footsteps.
The day breaks into a cacophony of the most incredible bird calls. The pre sunrise feeding frenzy, territorial calls, contact calls after the dark of the night encompass the most incredible morning wake-up alarm that anyone could ever wish for.
Fresh coffee around the campfire fills the air and a big bull hippo grunts a bellowing greeting across the glassy lagoon. This is living.
Shinde Footsteps, because of its size and exclusivity, offers a range of incredible safari experiences to all its visitors. Set off with your guide into the early morning sunrise on foot. The morning newspaper is the very ground that you walk on and tracks at this time of day clearly explain the journeys, movements, and activities of absolutely every creature that might have moved there through the night. Interpret insects, reptiles, rodents, beetles, bugs, antelope, scavengers, and predators big and small. The ultimate safari experience for anyone visiting this part of the world must be on foot. Granted, one does not necessarily cover as much area as you would on vehicle or boat, but you see more, you learn more and most importantly, your get to feel the immensity of this natural paradise through your own vulnerability. It is invigorating and delivers a true sense of freedom within one’s own space.
The area that Shinde Footsteps is in is what we call Four Rivers. This is possibly one of the best suited and most ideal terrains for walking safari activities in Botswana. Reed lined lagoons meander through this area, riverine arboreal forests line the flanks of these, and then there are beautiful low grass rich open areas which are fantastic to walk in. This area offers a mixture of small unique ecosystems and for this reason, it is the habitat of choice for an immense array and diversity of species. This is true safari country. Common residents include an array of antelope, Red Letchwe, Impala, Kudu, Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Tsessebe, the majestic Sable Antelope and their cousins Roan Antelope are also commonly sighted. Big herds of thousands of buffalo move through the inviting grassy areas, Zebra dazzle the landscape and both breeding herds and solitary elephant Bulls call this paradise home. This place is home to packs of African Wild dog, clans of hyena, prides of lion and an abundance of solitary leopard. The expansive open plains are also a favorite for Cheetah, which in general terms, is not a commonly sighted species in Botswana. All relaxed and interwoven into the larger and very healthy ecosystem surrounding this superbly exclusive safari camp. This is Botswana’s best kept secret.
The hospitality team at Shinde Footsteps, who all come from a culture of safari tradition through Ker & Downey Botswana’s established track record of decades of quality safari operations in this region are superb. Meals are prepared within the camp kitchen and plated five-star delivery of these are an added delight to the luxury offering of the overall experience. Stop for morning tea served with freshly baked biscuits, overlooking a hippo filled lagoon, with only yourselves and mother nature around you is a true delight. Evening sundowners with plated snacks and an array of classy gins, crisp wine or ice-cold beer make for a perfect ending to the day’s safari activities. Brunch, lunch, and safari dinners are a gastronomical delight and quite often, when least expected, these can be served to you within a wild setting, under a tree, out in an open floodplain or alongside one of many lagoons. The service is unscripted, well planned, but surprisingly enriching. The meaning of exclusivity has no boundaries within a top service mentality and Shinde Footsteps delivers like this naturally.
Guided game drives within this area are amazing. Better than many other areas in Botswana. And the fact that Shinde Footsteps is located within a private concession area in the Okavango Delta, means that there are no other people. It is yours, while you are here, you have ownership to your own space, at your own pace. It is beautiful.
Night drives are also on offer from Shinde Footsteps and being out there looking for the nocturnal activity and diversity of species add additional value to the overall experience.
Water activities are another choice of experience. Glide through the floodplains, silently glide, listen, the sound of silence can be daunting, but it does not last for long as inevitably the exhilarating cry of the African Fish Eagle breaks through the wild Okavango Delta air. Be on the alert for a darting flash of color, fast and precise, beautiful bright colors dash from one reed to another as the Malachite Kingfisher patrols the water’s edge ever aware and in search of the small fish that surface near the reeds. To be on a mokoro, gliding slowly through the flat glassy waters of the Okavango Delta is an activity which is soul enriching.
Head out with a shallow draft flat bottomed boat, specifically designed for these conditions. By boat, more distance can be covered, and islands can be accessed. View pods of hippo in the lagoons, lazy crocodiles basking in the afternoon sun or herds of elephant that come to the water’s edge to quench their daily thirst.
At certain times of the year, when fish are not in breeding, catch and release fishing activities are also granted to guests as another choice of activity. There are many species of bream, pike, catfish, and the ever present and renowned Tiger fish to try and lure. These activities are all offered with the same responsibility that encompasses the entire mentality of Shinde Footsteps – an immersive, sustainable, exclusive, and encompassing experience with as little impact on environment as possible.
Shinde Footsteps, because of its location, ethos of impact on environment, exclusivity in terms of location, size of camp, choice and variety of activities on offer and backed by incredibly good service, is, in our opinion, Africa’s best kept safari secret.
Contact Think Africa Travel – email@example.com for more information, availability requests and bookings, we will assist booking Shinde Footsteps with no hesitation.