Island Vibes March 2024

23 TRAVEL Travel: Galloping to safety on a South African safari By Isabel Alvarez Arata Photos Provided. n avid animal lover, Isle of Palms resident Carol Powers is a conscientious traveler. When she retired two years ago, Powers started checking things off her bucket list. Last summer, she journeyed on an African horseback safari with her sister, Linda. The pair flew into Johannesburg, South Africa, then took a charter flight to Kasane, Botswana. From Kasane, they took a helicopter to Macatoo Camp, situated on the western side of the Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world. Surrounded by the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta is a magnet for wildlife, especially during Botswana’s winter months when the water is highest, the very reason why Powers and her sister chose this time of year to visit. Once at their remote destination, Powers explored on horseback while A her sister enjoyed the sights from a vehicle or boat. “This area in Botswana does not allow hunting,” explained Powers. “There has been no hunting in that preserve for almost 20 years. The animals aren’t scared and don’t run. You get to see everything there is.” Powers chose this safari because it gives back to the local community, is environmentally friendly, creates jobs and provides education. As she did when visiting Patagonia the year prior, Powers opted for a horseback-based holiday because horses are her passion. Every morning, Powers and her sister enjoyed a delicious breakfast before a three-hour ride. The morning ride allowed the group to see animals on the move. They then enjoyed a satisfying lunch before heading out to an afternoon activity of their choice, ranging from game drives, bird walks and canoeing. For dinner, visitors enjoyed multiple course meals. One night, the safari surprised the travelers with a sunset dinner by the river. “They set up a bar, a four-course meal, had 10 people serving us and even set up a portable bathroom so that we could watch the sun setting and the elephants,” Powers recounted. The expedition was equally magical and adventurous and the accommodations seamlessly blended a spa vacation with a wilderness expedition. “Throughout the trip, we were galloping so close to zebras and giraffes, you could reach out and touch them. It was such a phenomenal experience, I found myself crying on horseback,” Powers recalled. On the last day, when most others had departed, Powers and her guide set out for one last ride — the ride which would prove most memorable. While riding, they stumbled upon three lionesses stalking a giraffe. Not wanting to witness the giraffe’s takedown, Powers told the guide she wanted to leave. Unfortunately for Powers and her guide, the lionesses spotted them. Before they knew it, the lionesses were crouched and ready to attack. The guide instructed Powers to gallop her horse immediately. Powers could see the lionesses charging over her shoulder. The lionesses planned to chase them right into a wall of 10 other lions nearby. The horses didn’t notice the pride or they may have run right into them. Power’s guide used his walkie-talkie to call for help. Thankfully, Power’s sister and her guide were close enough to drive into the area and push the lions away so their horses could gallop to safety. “Every day, I prayed that I wouldn’t see a lion eat a baby or infirm animal, but it never occurred to me that they might eat me until that moment,” Powers exclaimed, still reeling from the thrilling adventure.