A Travellerspoint blog

Botswana

Botswana Day 6: Fire and Rain

Up again at 5a for our last morning at Lagoon Camp. We headed out with just us and Tim and Val. Graham and Anna didn't want to make the transfer drive again. Although it's a good idea in theory, the transfer drive really does put a damper on being able to search for anything not on the given route. On that morning, not much was on the route at all.

We did see some eland with babies but they were very distant and ran away before we could get pics. Three ostriches were out and about.
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We made it to the transfer point where we had to wait on the other vehicle. There were lots of decomposing bones scattered around (i.e., hyena food).
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Finally the other vehicle showed up.
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This little yellow-billed egret was hanging around watching the goings-on.
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Finally, we set off in the other vehicle with Jacob as our driver and two other couples (who did not shut up the whole drive). Once again, there didn't seem to be much in the way of wildlife for them to scare off so it was more annoying than anything.

We passed a couple of warthogs and a wildebeest before making it to Lebala Camp.
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We arrived at camp and barely had time to drop off our bags before lunch.
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We had lunch of egg and sausage casserole with various types of salads then headed back to our tent to take a nap before the afternoon drive. Our guide at Lebala would be Sugar and our tracker was OT. We'd be sharing the vehicle with Graham and Gillie, an elderly English couple. There was some sort of drama with Gillie and others in camp that we weren't involved in. Apparently, they assigned them to us for this reason. We got along with them just fine, however.

The afternoon drive started out just as slow as the morning drive. We saw a few of the regular suspects.

Wildebeest.
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Impala.
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Leopard tortoise.
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Various water birds poking about.
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Bee-eater.
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Then the sky opened up and it started raining. We scrambled to put on ponchos and cover the camera equipment. It didn't last long and when the storm broke, there was a beautiful rainbow.
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I guess the animals had watched the weather better than we had. Very few came out on the rest of the drive.

Guineafowl.
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Giraffe.
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Fish eagle.
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We decided to give up and stop for sundowners at a watering hole.
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After drinks it was back to camp for a dinner of corn fritters, chicken with gravy, and potatoes. We quickly discovered that this camp had the worst food of them all. We retired to our tent early as we were tired. In the not-so-far distance, we could see that lightning had started a fire on the Namibia side of the river. Mike spent a long time watching it, worried it would come our way. Thankfully, it did not, and we eventually fell asleep.
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Posted by zihuatcat 07:33 Archived in Botswana Tagged africa safari botswana Comments (0)

Botswana Day 5: Wild Dogs for Thanksgiving

We were back to the early mornings today, up at 5a and out driving by 6a with John and Louie again.

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Our first sighting was a group of giraffe with several young ones.

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Then a leopard tortoise.
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We heard the dogs were in the area so we tracked them for a little while. Unfortunately, we had to stop to drive to the swap point with Lebala Camp. These two camps are in the same general area and rather than fly between camps, they do vehicle swaps. This is nice except that if you're not transferring to/from Lebala, part of your safari time is wasted doing the swap. I was glad to get rid of John and Louie though. We picked up Graham and Anna from England. They were on their last leg of safari and Graham was a bit of a sour puss about it. Anna was delightful.

We headed back to find the dogs. There were three cars in on the search and Timo was out tracking by foot. We were successful, finding the pack of 23 dogs--17 adults and 6 puppies born the previous June. It was obvious they had eaten recently. They were lying under a tree, fat and farting. The stench was indescribable.

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Since the dogs weren't interested in much we left them to get back to camp so Graham and Anna could check in and we could have lunch. On the way, we saw a Tsessebe and baby grabbing some shade.

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We arrived back at camp and after a lunch of chicken spaghetti, salads, and fruit, we decided to do some napping. Driving around in a bumpy vehicle at the crack of dawn for several days in a row, in the heat, takes much more out of you than you realize it will. Having time in between drives to nap is a welcome retreat, unless you have baboons screeching through camp keeping you awake.

For the afternoon drive, we were supposed to be a full vehicle of six; however, Mike wasn't feeling well, Graham was over safari, and one half of the new couple, Tim and Val, was motion sick from the bush plane. And then there three. We all wanted to go back and look for the dogs and without much delay, we found them scattered under some trees sleeping. We watched them for about an hour as we hoped they would get up for an early evening hunt.

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Finally, we saw signs of activity. Several dogs stirred and started their greeting ceremony, which involved a lot of squeaking to each other and pooping all over the place.

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They started to head out and we followed. The alpha male and female were leading the way.

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The activity was short-lived. They stopped again to lie down. Carlos thought they probably wouldn't hunt after all since it was getting dark. So we left them to their evening. Just down the road, we found a lone warthog. I wondered if the dogs would find him, too.

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Then we saw something that I always hate to see. A mother Tsessebe and her baby with a broken leg. The poor baby was trying to walk but struggling, of course. Another Tsessebe was there as well and it kept head-butting the baby, knocking it down. This is nature and it's part of safari but I worried about that baby all night long. I knew it didn't have long to live.

We stopped at a waterhole for sundowners and were treated again to the dogs coming down for a drink.

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By now it was dark so we headed back to camp. On the way, a herd of some 20 elephants crossed in front of the vehicle. Just outside of camp, we happened upon a female leopard stalking something at the base of a tree.

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When we arrived at camp, Mike and Graham were waiting for us at the bar. We all headed to another wonderful dinner of roasted pork with gravy, basmati rice, and veggies. We had a couple of drinks by the fire then retired for the night. I took advantage of the tub then it was off to bed.

Posted by zihuatcat 11:56 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

Botswana Day 4: Lion Love at Lagoon

Our three nights at Tau Pan in the Kalahari were up so it was time to move on to Northern Botswana. We were staying two nights at Lagoon Camp, on the border of Botswana and Namibia. Because we had a plane to catch, we got to sleep in a bit until 7a. This caused us to miss the dominant male and a lioness who were seen at the waterhole that morning. But it did allow us to have a huge breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, and toast, as well as do a little shopping in the camp gift shop. Our flight was at 10a so we left for the air strip shortly after.

Our pilot this morning was Jacob from Poland.
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Leaving Tau Pan.
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Taking a little bit of sunburn from the Kalahari.
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We made a quick stop at Nxai Pan, a Kwando camp we did not visit, to drop off our two Swiss friends. We would see them later in the trip. We then landed at Maun to drop off a guide for a doctor's appointment and to pick up some freight and a new passenger. Finally, we arrived at Lagoon Camp about 1:30p. We were met at the air strip by our guide, Carlos, and tracker, Timo. We headed to camp to check in.

Elephants on the way.
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We arrived at camp and were shown to our tent, right on the lagoon.
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We had a little time before our game drive to relax on the porch and watch the elephants bathing in the lagoon out front.
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Our game drive began at 4p and our fellow passengers were John, a travel agent from Reef & Rainforest, and Louie, an annoying know-it-all who liked to tell us about everywhere he had been including Antarctica.

Our first sighting was the impala.
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And lots of baboons.
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Lilac-breasted roller.
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Then we came upon these two guys, lazing around in the road. We had to turn around as they wouldn't budge.
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This one was lying around like men everywhere do.
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As usual, I spent the afternoon trying to stay out of the sun.
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As the light started to fade, we sighted a lion mating couple, taking a break.
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The break didn't last long and they were back at it.
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Then they spotted something.
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An uninvited lioness was approaching.
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This did not sit well with the male and he let her know with a roar and charge.
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It seemed to be all bluster though as they all settled down.
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After this excitement we stopped for sundowners.
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On our way back to camp we saw a civet, another rare safari sighting. Unfortunately, no one was prepared with a camera.

We arrived back at night. In the Kalahari, no night driving was allowed but this was a private concession owned by Kwando which meant we could stay out later. Dinner was a beef filet with gravy, rice, and veggies. After dinner we had some drinks around the fire with Carlos then headed to bed around midnight.

Posted by zihuatcat 17:14 Archived in Botswana Tagged africa mike botswana Comments (0)

Botswana Day 3: Lions for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Another early start today, rising at 5:30a. This morning, however, there were LIONS. Standing in the outside shower of our tent, we watched the dominant male of the Tau Pan pride drinking from the waterhole for about 20 minutes.

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The dominant male headed our way and walked right between our tent and the tent next door. About that time, Vasco came to our tent to escort us to breakfast. He told us then that there were five intruder males headed toward camp. They had come to drive out the Tau Pan dominant male. This is most likely why we hadn't seen any lions yet. The females were off in hiding with their cubs because during a takeover, the new males sometimes kill the cubs of the prior male in order to send the females into heat. We arrived at the main tent for breakfast and could see the five lions making their way towards us, roaring and marking along the way. Hearing the sounds they made was chilling and exhilarating at the same time.

I thought back to the dominant male we had just seen a few minutes prior and felt sadness for him. He was at the end of his reign as there is no way for him to fight off that many intruders. He will have to move on by himself. These are the things about safari that are difficult for me.

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No one was interested in breakfast. After they walked thru, we jumped in the vehicles to follow. They were headed to the camp waterhole.

Camp in the background.
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At the watering hole, they continued their spraying and roaring, in between sips of water, of course.

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We watched this display for about an hour before they moved on and we returned to camp. We didn't stay long as we had a long day ahead. We were headed to Deception Valley, the area made famous by the book, Cry of the Kalahari. The animal spotting continued on our way.

Mongoose.
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Kudu.
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Oryx.
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Almost there.
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Black-backed jackal.
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More oryx. They were everywhere in the Kalahari.
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The road in the middle of nowhere.
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We stopped for lunch at a rest stop, with an actual bathroom, around 11:30a. It was still early but we were really suffering in the heat. Our lunch and drinks were kept in the "cooler box," an ice chest that plugged into the vehicle. Let's just say it was so hot that there was nothing cool coming out of that box. But we had a nice lunch of baked chicken, bean salad, pasta salad, fruit, cheese, and lukewarm drinks.

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The toilet seat was so hot I had to crouch on top of it to go to the bathroom.
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Just after lunch, Souper spotted a lion trying to escape the heat under a tree.
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Kori bustard.
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Springbok, the common antelope of the Kalahari. Each region of Africa has a common antelope. In Tanzania, it was impalas.
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We also visited the "lake" or at least what was left of it.
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Giraffe.
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Oryx grabbing the only bit of shade he can find.
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Kudu and a jackal as well. The animals find shade where they can in this part of Botswana.
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Oryx with babies.
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Ostrich.
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Our day was capped off with a sighting of five honey badgers, a pretty rare animal that many people never see on safari.
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We finally made it back to camp around 7p--very hot, very tired, and very dusty. A dinner of tomato cheese tartlet, chicken tarragon, brown rice, and ginger peas and carrots was served at the usual time. During our dessert of chocolate pear, the lions returned to the vicinity. They bid us good night with their roars.

Posted by zihuatcat 15:47 Archived in Botswana Comments (0)

Botswana Day 2: Kudu Tell Us Where the Lions Are?

Wake up at Tau Pan was 5:30a and a breakfast of muffins and fruit was served at the main building at 6a.

View of waterhole from camp.
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Camp manager, Vasco (same name as our guide).
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By 6:45a, we were tracking leopard and lion that had been thru camp some time during the night.
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Unfortunately, we didn't find them. We found a few other animals around.

Giraffe.
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Souper with an oryx skull.
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Mom and Dad spotted eagle owl with chicks.
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Kudu herd.
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Vulture.
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Yellow-billed hornbill.
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Vasco and Souper tracking on foot.
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More Kudu.
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Springbok.
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Black-backed jackals.
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Mongoose.
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Steenbok.
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Termite mound.
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Around 11a we went back to camp for lunch of beef kebabs, potato salad, green beans, and fruit. It was devastatingly hot during this period of the day so we spent our time lazing around the main building, watching the waterhole, catching up the travel journal, and downloading pictures.

Warthog at the waterhole.
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Giraffe at the waterhole.
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Afternoon snacks of samosas and chocolate cake were served at 4p and then we headed out for the afternoon game drive. It was another fairly uneventful drive.

Yellow-billed hornbill.
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Picked over skeleton.
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Oryx.
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Black-backed jackal with adorable jackal pups.
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Leopard tortoise.
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We stopped for the obligatory sundowner drinks then it was back to the camp for dinner of chickpea coriander soup, beef roast, bob with tomato sauce, sliced squash, purple beans, and dessert. We were up late deciding on the next day's plans to drive to Deception Valley.

Posted by zihuatcat 16:19 Archived in Botswana Tagged africa mike botswana Comments (0)

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