A Travellerspoint blog

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)

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)

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