Stunning scenery and wildlife on Chobe waterfront

Back in Botswana and off to Chobe

14 Nov. First stop this morning is Hemingways in Livingstone to pick up Dad and Chris’ car. We have used this company before and found them to be efficient with good cars. In fact the car we collect is  one we have actually driven before. After going over everything to make sure they are happy with how everything works Dad and Chris set off with us to their first African border crossing – Kazangula again – we brace ourselves.

But, after employing a helper again, it actually isn’t too bad. However Dad is absolutely gobsmacked at how disorganised it all is. It is certainly a shock welcome to your first African holiday, but we assure him that it should be a little more relaxed from here on in. Back in Kasane we have a lovely lunch at Chobe Safari Lodge and get some shopping for the next few days as the next place we will get chance to buy food is probably going to be Maun.

Our campsite for the first night is Senyati and this is our first time here. It has a lovely bar which is up high and overlooking a waterhole. Interestingly the owners have built an underground tunnel which leads to a view point of the water hole which is at ground level. This means that you are only a few feet away from elephant feet and it is quite a disconcerting, if unique, view. This was dads first elephant sighting so it was fantastic to see one so close and it is great to experience these first sightings through someone else’s eye.

During the night we hear hyena which keeps us awake and then the storm starts, with torrential rain hammering on the tent. It seems we are destined not to sleep at the moment. We had planned to set off at 5am but as the rain was still heavy we stay in bed to see if it will stop. It seems not. We finally have to get up, rain or not, and we all get thoroughly soaked in the process of packing up, but at least it is cooler.


Driving through puddles in Chobe

Driving through this park is always special and we are excited to wonder what we will see here. The deep sand tracks are a little firmer due to the rain and there are plenty of deep puddles to drive through; a taste of things to come in Moremi perhaps. Driving slowly along the tracks, each of us scanning the bush to find game, we decide that no matter how many times we go on a game drive it is always a very special experience. With the windows down we can smell the air and damp ground and the sounds of the bush are all around, even with the sound of the car engine. There is a fair amount of game but it is evident that this rain is much needed as there is very little grass and leaves around for animals to eat. Hopefully this much needed water will kick start the growth and make life a little easier. A lot of animals have their young at this time of the year so we should see some cute babies. As we bounce through the deep sand we spot plenty of animals, including a small group of elephants where several of them were lying down, something we don’t recall seeing before and it is something we will have to find out about. Other sightings included a couple of lionesses, some kudu, waterbuck, lechwe and even a sable antelope which was particularly beautiful.

Bird life here is prolific too and we clocked up 58 species including the very pretty southern carmine bee-eater which is probably my favourite bird in southern Africa.

View over the river flats in Chobe

Altogether a productive day, and still Savuti and Moremi to look forward to.


Wildlife encounters in Etosha National Park

Welcome to Etosha

30 June. After all that adventurous driving  and rafting we feel in need of some relaxing time just watching some wildlife. And Etosha is surely the place to go. It is Namibia’s premier park and its defining feature is Etosha  Pan, a vast salt pan, 110kms from east to west, and 60kms from north to south, covering about a quarter of the park. Both of us have wanted to visit Etosha for a long time and so we are very excited. We have, unfortunately, chosen to arrive in the South African school holiday time but, confident that we will find somewhere to stay, we set off anyway. As we approach the Galton Gate in the west of the park we start to come across road signs warning of elephants, a good opportunity for a Landy photo.

On the way to Etosha
On the way to Etosha

At the park gate we are relieved to find that are some spaces in a couple of the campsites but we will have one long day of driving and the last night we will have to find somewhere outside of the park at the east end. The west side has only recently opened up to to self-drivers so there is a new campsite, Olifantsrus, which is where we head.

Wonderful plains of Etosha
Wonderful plains of Etosha

A rare sighting

Sometimes you just get lucky. As we head through the park to the camp site we both spot something not far from the side of the road, but for a few seconds neither of us fully registers what is in front of us. It’s an aardwolf. Nocturnal, shy and very rarely seen, we are staggered when it just stands there, a few metres away, looking at us. A quick scramble for the camera and we just capture a nice shot before he slinks back through the grass and out of sight again. How lucky are we? These beautiful, animals, a member of the the hyena family, are true specialist feeders as they only eat termites, and a particular species of termite at that!

An aardwolf!!!!!
An aardwolf!!!!!

The water hole at Olifantsrus also provided us with a treat. It is floodlit with special a red light so that the animals are not disturbed and as darkness falls we take a walk down to the hide and wait patiently with a few other campers to see what would come down to drink. First up is a lovely herd of zebra who very obligingly drink in a row with the setting sun behind them creating a lovely reflection. Next comes a rhino whose appearance causes a flurry of camera shutters but it is a bit too dark for those of us with limited experience and by the time I have adjusted all the settings the rhino is gone and its practically sun rise! The best visitor to the waterhole comes along just after Keith decides to head back to sort out the camp (oops). A leopard, who is so quiet and careful in his approach that no-one even sees him arrive. But as I turn from watching the retreating zebra I see a shadow at the waters edge and it takes a few seconds for my eyes to adjust and see it properly. But sure enough it is a leopard and it is so quiet here that I can hear him lapping up the water.

Lovely reflections of zebra at the waterhole
Lovely reflections of zebra at the waterhole

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