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Botswana

Botswana Day 11: Happy Little Killers

For some reason, there was no wake up "call" this morning. No one arrived at our tent or anyone else's in camp. One of us happened to wake up at 5:10a. I walked across to Brenda's tent and woke her up. Somehow, we all made it to breakfast anyway and were in the vehicle by 7a. I was pretty pissed. I get that things happen but the guides were so nonchalant about it. No one even apologized.

I stewed about it while we watched some giraffe.
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And then out of nowhere, the neighborhood pack of seven wild dogs appeared. I forgot about the morning mishap at that point.
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They were running and jumping in all the water puddles and mud, having a blast.
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The dogs set off down the road and we followed eagerly behind.
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They flushed out a red lechwe but he managed to escape unharmed.
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These zebra were briefly in danger but the dogs ran on by.
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Suddenly, out of the brush runs a terrified, baby impala. The dogs took off after it. I could hear the baby snorting in fear.
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They all disappeared into the brush and the noise stopped. The baby impala was torn apart in seconds. We drove around and caught up with them eating away on the other side.
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After their baby impala snack, the dogs forged on. This elephant was in no danger.
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I was a little worried about these baby giraffe but the dogs ran right on thru and disappeared into the brush. We stayed with the giraffe.
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Some southern ground hornbill were poking around.
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Along with a red lechwe who posed pretty well for me.
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A shot of some flowers which seem to be rarely spotted in the bush.
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We decided to head back to the mating lion pair and see if we could catch them in the act. Lucky for us, they were feeling amorous.
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We were running short on time so we started to head back for camp. We all had a plane to catch. We said goodbye to the noisy hippos and birds.
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A spoonbill waved to us.
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Then suddenly, sitting in the middle of the road, was a female leopard. She took off for the brush as we got closer so we followed for a bit.
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Seeing her was a great way to end the safari. We made it back to camp and had a quick lunch of fish, rice, and salad. We grabbed our bags and caught our last bush plane flight of the trip back to Maun.
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We arrived in Maun in the afternoon and had enough time to walk out of the airport for a bit. We just ventured down the street and had a much-needed drink close by before returning for our flight to Johannesburg.
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Posted by zihuatcat 15:13 Archived in Botswana Tagged africa safari botswana Comments (1)

Botswana Day 10: Dead Hippo Makes for Smelly Lions

It was rough to get up this morning as the nearby hippos were noisy all night long. It's a sound I enjoy and it's oddly comforting but after listening to it all night, I had enough. Mike was feeling better but had an awful headache so I set off without him again. My car mates were the same as the day before but Mr. Antarctica Louie was being exceptionally obnoxious. It's accepted protocol that each group rotates thru the three seats of the vehicle so that everyone has the opportunity to sit in the front seat and everyone has the not-so-great experience of sitting in the third seat. Louie didn't seem to think this protocol applied to him. It was his turn for the third seat and he refused. I disliked him even more. Tom and Chris graciously offered to sit there as Brenda and I were not about to let Louie off the hook.

The day started off with a couple of impala boys.
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A vulture eyeing something below.
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A giraffe.
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A mixed herd of tsessebe and zebra with some babies scattered throughout.
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Our guides heard about a cheetah family with a kill so we headed over to see if we could find them. We came upon a mother and two cubs with a reedbuck she had killed the day before.
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The cubs were playful.
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Mom was not.
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She was keeping a close eye on the kill.
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And trying to keep it hidden from other predators.
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She relaxed after a while and showed her cubs some love.
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I finally got a good pic of a red lechwe. I loved these guys. When they feel threatened, they head straight for the water. It's beautiful to see them bounding thru it.
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Some marabou stork and zebra were keeping them company.
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Mike was up and about when we got back to camp for lunch. He joined us for some lasagne and salad and then we spent the afternoon watching thunderstorms from the front porch of our tent. He was feeling better and came out on the afternoon drive with us.

We caught up with a mating pair of lions. They were taking a break at the moment.
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The rain had livened up all the animals like nothing I'd ever seen. This kudu was definitely showing his excitement.
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The birds were out.
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A leopard tortoise.
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And a giraffe with birds.
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The impala were also excited, jumping about.
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This one had a genetic mutation.
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Just as it was starting to rain again, we got a report that the Marsh pride had killed a hippo a good distance away. This particular pride was well-known for killing hippo so we voted to brave the rain and drive there. It took about 30 minutes. When we arrived, it was one of the worst stenches I've ever been exposed to. Between the stinky lions, the mud, the hippo feces, and the decomposing hippo itself, it was a lot to take. We got as close as we could stand.

The males already had their fill.
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It was time for the women and kids to eat.
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We stayed with the pride longer than we should have and it was a rough trip back to camp. The rains brought out huge, flying termites. We were driving pretty fast and the termites were flying right into our faces. It was horrible.

The termites had invaded camp as well. Since there was no electricity, they placed lanterns up and down the long dining table. All this did was draw the termites in. They were getting in the food and making a huge, disgusting mess. Finally, the guides took our rather forceful suggestion to set the lanterns off to the side. That drew the termites away from the table, at least, and still provided some light to enjoy tomato lentil soup, roasted chicken, and potatoes. After dinner, we returned to our tent to pack up for the next day's departure.

Posted by zihuatcat 11:59 Archived in Botswana Tagged africa safari botswana Comments (2)

Botswana Day 9: Boating in the Bush

After a day of rest, I was excited for the 5a wake up call. Mike, on the other hand, was having a flare up so he stayed behind again. We all met for breakfast as usual before the drive.

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Our vehicle mates for the day were Tom and Chris (a couple from the US), know-it-all Louie, and cool chick Brenda. I decided to sit with Brenda because neither of us wanted to sit with Louie. This turned out to be a good decision as she and I got along famously. Our first sighting of the day was a black-backed jackal and pup wandering thru the tall grass.
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We then came across a freshly-killed impala. He had been speared in a fight with another male. Obviously, he was the loser.
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You could tell it had just happened, as the wound was fresh and bubbling. It didn't take long for the scavengers to appear. A hyena and jackal began lurking around....suspiciously. They were skittish thinking a predator had killed it and would be back to claim its prize. We could hear the other impala snorting all around us as they were thinking the same thing.
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We moved on from the impala to watch some vervet monkeys frolic for a bit. These monkeys are easily identifiable by the blue balls on the males.
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My vehicle mates had chosen to go on a 1.5 hour nature walk during our drive. This basically consisted of seeing a few skulls and hearing about plants and poop. All of this would have been fine except it was hot, hot, hot.
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Tsessebe
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We came upon a lone male cheetah lounging under a bush.
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A herd of zebra hanging out by a hippo pond.
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Then it was back to camp for lunch and a much needed nap. For the afternoon, we had all decided to take a boat ride down the river rather than a game drive. The boat ride started out as a nice, leisurely glide thru the water, admiring the flowers and water birds.
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We arrived at a nursery for marabou storks. These poor guys are so ugly and their babies are as big as they are.
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Just as the sun was going down, a couple of elephants made a river crossing in front of us. They were so deep that at times, you could only see the tops of their trunks just above the water.
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We lost some time with the elephants so the boat ride back was anything but leisurely. It was full speed in the pitch black with bugs flying right into our faces. I couldn't wait for it to end and was exhausted when we got back. I skipped the group dinner and went to check on Mike, spent the evening catching up on my journal and reading.

Posted by zihuatcat 16:57 Archived in Botswana Tagged africa safari botswana Comments (0)

Botswana Day 8: Birthday in the Bush

When the 5a wake up call came this morning, we decided to sleep in and skip today's game drive. We hadn't seen much at Lebala in the way of animals and we really just needed a break from all the jostling around and being social to recharge. We spent the morning lounging on the porch of our tent, watching a herd of some 15 or so elephants cross in front of us. After a lunch of pork noodles, apple pecan salad, and omelets, we were taken to the airstrip to catch our flight to our final camp of the trip. Joining us on the flight was Brenda, a very cool chick with the guts to travel to Africa alone. Our pilot was Aldo, from Greece.

We arrived at the Kwara airstrip after a short flight and drove straight to camp for orientation. They rushed us thru orientation so that we could make the afternoon game drive. But Mike and I still just weren't feeling it and decided to stay in camp instead. Paying so much to go on safari tends to make me feel a bit guilty when I skip a drive; however, sometimes you just need a break. So we headed to our tent to relax.

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Our tent at Kwara Camp was definitely not as nice as the tents at the prior three camps but the trade off was we were close to the hippo-filled water and had lots of non-dangerous visitors wandering thru. We sat on the porch listening to the hippo grunts - a sound that always reminds me of Africa. The tents were located under huge trees covered in some kind of fruit. The vervet monkeys would climb the trees and pick the fruit, take one bite, then chunk it to the ground below. Then came the impalas. They would wander up and eat the leftover fruit littering the ground. They came right up to our tent with us sitting there.

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Some lovely ladies from the kitchen even brought by some snacks and drinks for us so that we didn't miss out on sundowners.

Dinner that night was Mexican soup, lemon chicken, rice and veggies. Then all of the camp staff came together and brought out a chocolate cake for Mike's 45th birthday. They did a traditional African dance and sang Happy Birthday to him. It was a special way to celebrate a special day.

Posted by zihuatcat 14:18 Archived in Botswana Tagged africa safari botswana Comments (0)

Botswana Day 7: Keeping Close to Water

By 6a we were off for the morning game drive with Graham and Gillie.
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We came upon a single, male wildebeest. Unlike the wildebeest in Tanzania we saw who traveled in herds, here the male wildebeest stake out a territory and live on their own. They wait for the females, who do travel in herds, to wander through. This guy was in need of a dirt bath this morning.
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We headed to the marshland and found some red lechwe. These guys stick around the water and when they get spooked by a predator, they run and jump into the water in order to escape.
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Impala.
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Kudu.
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Some large forms appeared ahead in the distance and as we waited for them to approach, we could see there were about 200 elephants coming down to the river for water.
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Several little babies were sprinkled amongst the herd.
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A monitor lizard was hanging around.
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Then around the corner, right by the waterhole where we had sundowners the night before, were three female lions and an older cub.
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The mom and cub got thirsty and wandered over to the waterhole for a drink.
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Then back to the mound to survey the horizon.
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The cub got bored with mom so tried to get some love from an older female.
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She wasn't having it.
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We decided to leave them to their mound as it was time to start heading back for lunch anyway.

Egyptian geese.
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Fish eagle.
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Before reaching camp, we saw this wildebeest with a baby that had just been born in the last few minutes. We watched it get up for the first time and learn to nurse.
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Nearby, a hawk was feasting on the remnants of the birth.
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Baboon and zebra.
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Something spooked the zebras and they took off.
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We made it back to camp and had a lunch of omelets and a very strange assortment of salads. The food at Lebala was getting worse by the day. During the downtime, we sat on the deck, downloading photos, and watching two leopard tortoises mate.

For the afternoon drive, we decided to spend some time with the hippos and waterbirds. We had not yet had much hippo time so this was a nice change. They are hilarious to listen to and watch their antics in the water.

But first, a flower along the way (a somewhat rare sight).
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Warthog and red lechwe.
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Hippo harem.
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Discord in the hippo harem.
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Various water birds.
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Kingfisher in flight.
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It was getting dark and time to make the drive back to camp. On the way, we stopped for a mother genet cat with three babies. She was moving them deeper into the bushes, one at a time. We turned the lights off so as not to interrupt her vision.

Dinner that night was a beef bourguignon with roasted potatoes and vegetables and fried bananas for dessert. We had a drink or two after dinner then retired to our tent for the night.

Posted by zihuatcat 09:09 Archived in Botswana Tagged africa safari botswana Comments (0)

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