by Charlotte von Ekensteen
When I as a female hunter have talked about my dream; about hunting in Africa for both hunters and non-hunters, I have always been met with, “Whom are you going to travel with? Is it someone we know?” and stuff like that. It got worse it was when I said I was planning to go alone. They asked shocked how I would ever dare it, especially also when it was the first time, and which man have given me this interest/idea. It was not different after I got home. Where did you live? What did you shoot? When did you get home? As if we women do not have our own thoughts, ideas and dreams.
When I had made my decision two years ago that it was the time to give myself this great experience to go hunting in Africa, then the legwork started to find information on locations, prices, the travel agencies I wanted to travel with and so on.
I must add that it is a maze to understand the different travel fair promotion offers and other offers in terms of what the actual price is – without any hidden financial surprises. I also several options recommended from friends and friends of friends,. But there was a certain place I kept returning to; Lotsane Safaris, who is Danish and owned by one person and located in Botswana. I really liked what I saw in the pictures, and what I heard. Especially was not obliged buy a fixed package with for instance three animals I basically did not want to shoot anyway. No – I could make my own wish list and just see what happened down there. Right after my head. The decision was made, everything was almost in place, but fate had other plans. Serious illness struck my family and the journey was postponed indefinitely.
It took almost a year before the day finally arrived and I could go. I was full of anticipation for the great, unknown Africa, my dream. When I arrived at Billund Airport in Denmark, a woman came up and asked me if I was called Charlotte, which I could confirm. It was Birgit I had met before, and she was with her husband Kaj, who was, and a friend, Bent – they were going hunting the same place as me. Birgit was not a hunter, she just wanted to see why her husband was so excited about that place down there, when he had been there four times before. It soon became clear that they were some lovely open people, so talk went merrily from the outset. We were not together on the plane as we had booked at different times. We arrived in Johannesburg, where Thomas, who is the manager at the lodge, immediately spotted us. Then we drove north to the lodge in Botswana where Thomas ‘s wife Arlene and the rest of the staff nicely welcomed us. As I had chosen to hunt 1:1 I was introduced to my professional hunter De Wet. Energetic and very good – I later learned we went really well together.
The lodge lived fully up to expectations. Great but lovingly built in really good interaction with the surrounding nature. Lovely large pool in the centre of the garden (the park), and just on the other side of it, a super nice free zone with large fireplace, grill, tables, benches and chairs. This cosy space was extensively used almost every night. Only a stone’s throw from the square was Lotsane River, however, this season it was almost drained as it waited for the rain to fill up again. In contrast that it a good hunting area when you came well against it. Not far from Lotsane River flows Limpopo River that, when there is enough water, fills up the Lotsane River. There was plenty of water in the Limpopo River so that we later got a really nice boat trip/photo safari on it and amongst others saw crocodiles, waterbuck, bushbuck, impala, monkeys and various kinds of birds.
We started immediately after accommodation with preparing the rifles. You never know – after the severity during the trip… Then it we were all ready to hunt. The two hunters Kaj and Bent and the photographer Birgit went off with Thomas, our manager, and I with my professional hunter De Wet and the small driver Franz. The cars were prepared with an oversize cooler with an unlikely large selection if we got thirsty. Then we went out through the bush at full speed, further and further away from the lodge. That was the beginning at almost every day, without days in any way to resemble each other. We agreed usually the night before, what we morrow would like to hunt or experience. Normally we drove home for lunch, or when it just fit into the present. Never in my life have I seen food presented as sumptuous and delicious as at Lotsane. This also applied to all meals, it simply must be experienced, and it cannot be described. On the way through the bush, we saw a bunch of impalas, stopped the car and started going after them through the dry landscape. De Wet forefront walking on the tip toes, me right behind him. I must have been fairly silent because he turned a few times to see where I was – just to get a shock every time because I was right behind him. We followed the impalas for a while, but they were suddenly gone. We saw only zebra, a big beautiful antelope and another animal. We decided to go for the oryx.
We followed it a long way, and De Wet felt it was turned away from us. I kept thinking it continued forward, because I had seen it further. That he trusted me – and suddenly it stood, great and glorious, for the perfect shot. It was my first African animal, a beautiful antelope of 38.5 “(gold medal). Then we went back to the slaughterhouse that was about. 100 metres from the lodge, hidden among the trees. It turned out to be our regular meeting place after each hunt. To admire the hunted animals of the day.
Next morning we go out again. This time along the parched Lotsane River, where we went changeling to the edge and bottom of the riverbed around. 3 – 4 km…