Jodie Kidd Leads Botswana Safaris
Fresh from the success of a renovated gastropub in West Sussex, former supermodel Jodie Kidd is leading a horseback safari through the wilderness of Botswana.
“As Winston Churchill once said: ‘No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle,’” quotes Jodie Kidd. It is no secret that the former supermodel, racing driver and British equestrian polo player is passionate about horses. But she is about to fulfil a life-long dream: to lead a guided safari on horseback through the wilds of Botswana.
“I love animals and nature, and riding horses is in my blood [she is the daughter of former showjumper Johnny Kidd]. Riding across the mighty Okavango Delta, being so close to nature and seeing it all on horseback is something I’ve always dreamed of doing. It will truly be a magical and unique experience, I can’t wait,” she enthuses over an emailed conversation.
The trip will take place in partnership with luxury hotel operator Belmond and a small group of guests, including Kidd, will stay six nights in two beautiful Belmond lodges, from 25 September to 1 October 2018.
The first stop is in Chobe National Park, the very heart of Botswana, at the recently re-opened Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge. The Savute region is known for its large herds of elephants and mighty prides of lions, but there are also wild dogs, leopards, hyenas and cheetahs. When David Livingstone explored the area in 1851 he described the Savute as a marsh. Since then, the channel alternates between flowing free and drying up. This part of the park has been prohibited for humans for decades — save for the area around the lodge.
After a day in the saddle, guests will be treated to a Boma — an ancient African meeting place for senior tribesmen — under an inky-night sky. This is a mesmerising evening around a campfire where guests swap stories, listen to African song and enjoy traditionally barbecued food. With just 12 tented lodges that all overlook the national park’s watering hole, guests have front-row seats to the most amazing spectacle in the natural world.
After a 45-minute small-plane flight between Maun and Kasane, and a 20-minute journey by 4x4, the second half of the journey continues, taking place in the watery wonderland of the Okavango Delta: the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the Belmond Eagle Island Camp, high-ceilinged tents flood with light; each with a plunge pool and oversized bed with views of the Delta. Here, guests can see buffalos, big cats, elephants, hippos and crocodiles, either from a helicopter or up close in a canoe. As dusk draws in, sit under an ancient baobab tree and witness the incredible sunset.
Kidd is a keen adventurer and fundraiser. This time last year she paddled 75 miles down the Gironde estuary, recreating the Second World War’s ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ to raise funds for the charity Help for Heroes. Two years ago, she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and joined an ultra-distance triathlon as a support rider for an all-female disabled team, in the ‘Arch to Arc’ race from Marble Arch in London to Paris via a cross-channel swim. Kidd has also cycled around Burma and biked the length of the 450-mile First World War Western Front in France.
But she says the coming adventure will be the most magical.
“Although I have completed many, many challenges, either climbing, rowing, driving or cycling, I have never done anything as amazing as this, in such a magnificent setting, surrounded by nature,” she says.
But, at the end of the trip, Kidd says she will be looking forward to getting back to her other passion, the more homely art of running a pub. Kidd bought her local pub last year. The Half Moon Kirdford is a village pub in Sussex that she has been trying to turn into the best destination country gastropub in the UK. “I have committed to supporting local producers and suppliers, ensuring we get the best local, organic, seasonal produce available. The hard work is paying off as we were recently awarded two Rosettes and hope to have three by late 2018, so it’s all very exciting,” she says.
As for next year, Kidd is planning to expand The Half Moon concept internationally. “I’ll be taking inspiration from amazing British country food with a twist inspired by my travels around the world,” she says.
With her well-travelled footprint, expect an eclectic concept for sure.