Botswana was amongst destinations visited by Contributing Editor Val Baynton on her first visit to Africa. Val experienced a three-night safari break within the Chobe National Park, staying at the Ngoma Safari Lodge. Val very much enjoyed spotting the colourful and amazing birds of the region, from the large fish eagles, ibis, storks, Kori bustard and vultures to the wren-sized blue waxwing. Val saw many animals too, particularly herds of elephants, impalas and buffalo as well as a pride of lions visiting a water hole. As well as drives through the park, Val took a boat trip on the Chobe River, which provided a wonderful opportunity to see Nile crocodiles close up, elephants swimming across the river and hippos grazing out of the water – unusual in daytime hours but because there was a shortage of grass in the park for them to feed on. Val reports that seeing so many creatures in a totally natural environment is her most vivid memory of the trip. She got some delightful glimpses into how animals behave – for example, the way baby elephants are protected by the herd – and found the guides extremely knowledgeable about the habitat and lives of each species; they really brought the safari to life with their extensive understanding of the natural world and relationship of these wild animals with local village communities.