Jan Cochran’s love of journey was evident from a younger age. As a toddler, she was particularly fascinated by Africa, and he or she went on her first journey to Kenya by a pupil trade program at solely 17.
“That simply bolstered how a lot I cherished Africa, and I’d at all times needed to return,” Jan says. She and her husband, Dennis Matthews, received that probability a number of years in the past, after they went on safari in East Africa.
Jan and Dennis continued their travels, together with a Lindblad Expeditions cruise to the Galapagos Islands in 2018, however they nonetheless felt the pull of Africa. For his or her subsequent journey, nevertheless, they needed to attempt one thing totally different.
A Safari With a Mission: African Wild Canines
“We had pals who visited Botswana, they usually raved about it,” Dennis says. Most significantly, the nation had an abundance of one thing the couple hadn’t seen in East Africa: African wild canines, an animal on the high of his wildlife bucket record.
The couple found Pure Habitat Adventures on-line and booked two spots on one of many conservation journey firm’s Botswana safaris in August 2021. Jan says Nat Hab’s small group sizes had been what attracted them to the corporate.
“We actually like touring with small teams reasonably than the massive tour bus journeys,” she explains. The couple’s Botswana journey group included simply eight individuals, together with their Expedition Chief, Richard Avilino, and a Nat Hab videographer.
As they set out, they crossed their fingers. They knew Botswana can be lovely, however would they get a glimpse of the animals they’d traveled midway around the globe to see?
“The very very first thing we actually noticed was the wild canines,” Jan says in a brief movie produced throughout the journey. “All these pups, totally different ages, operating round and enjoying. In my coronary heart I used to be pondering, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t consider it! The primary day trip: wild canines!’”
The remainder of the journey would deliver extra much more wildlife experiences. Their first night time at camp, they watched a bunch of lion cubs—and even some adults—wrestling on the shore. Over the subsequent few days, they’d have up-close encounters with leopards lounging in gnarled timber and elephants and giraffes ambling throughout the savanna.
“We’ve by no means been as near the animals as we had been in Botswana,” Jan says. “And since they’ve been protected for therefore lengthy, they didn’t pay any consideration to us by any means!”
One other spotlight was a journey although the reedy marshes in a mokoro—a standard poled dugout canoe—the place they had been capable of spot hippos rising out of the waters of the Okavango Delta.
“That was so totally different from anything we’ve ever completed,” Jan says.
Making Dream (Journeys) Come True
Jan and Dennis would like to return to Africa, however within the meantime, they’ve loads of adventures deliberate nearer to house. Dennis went Yellowstone Nationwide Park this winter on Nat Hab’s Final Wolf & Wildlife Safari (Jan opted for a seaside journey with girlfriends, although it sadly fell by resulting from COVID-19), and the couple is already booked on an upcoming Lindblad journey to Costa Rica and one other Nat Hab journey to Alaska.
However regardless of the place the couple ventures subsequent, Botswana will at all times maintain a particular place of their hearts.
“I felt a connection to Botswana that I actually can’t clarify—there’s simply one thing about it,” Jan says. “There’s a sure sort of happiness whenever you’re in a spot that touches you so deeply that you just cry. It’s highly effective.”
“Day by day was new and on daily basis was nice,” Dennis provides. “It was our dream journey.”
Watch our video that includes Jan and Dennis: Exploring the Okavango | A Botswana Traveler Story:
All photographs (besides function) © Dennis Matthews