Savuti – Fun in the rain with insects.


We have heard so much about Savuti, mostly about the difficult driving conditions. From Chobe to Savuti involves lots of deep sand and we prepare by deflating the tyres as much as we dare. It makes a huge difference in these conditions and despite our best efforts we fail to get Dad stuck! Passengers in both cars would dearly love to post a photo of one
pulling the other out of sand, mud or water. But its not to be.

On our way to Savuti

I find it hard to describe the feeling of being out in the African bush at this time of year. The grass is growing, trees are budding and animals are plentiful and looking well fed, many with babies. The sense of wellbeing you feel from just driving through the bush, or sitting around camp with the sights, smells and sounds of it all around you is fantastic. It makes you feel alive and you feel such a connection to this place that it is difficult to imagine being back in “civilisation” at all. What is it about Africa that so many people feel this connection from the very first time they visit and, for some, it feels like a second home, which they are drawn back to again and again. It is been like this for us for years, and today, in Savuti, we see the first signs of it in Dad and Chris.

Maribou Pan, Savuti
Maribou Pan, Savuti

Shortly after arriving at the rest camp and freshening up we decide to go for a drive and see what’s around before setting up for the night. Within just a few minutes we are bumping along a deep sandy track and spot a pride of lions lying under a small clump of acacias. They must have only just woken from sleeping in the hottest part of the day as they are lying on their backs, stretching, yawning and rolling over in the sand to wake up. The thing about a lion sighting is that when you catch the first glimpse it so exciting. Lion! Wow! How thrilling. Unfortunately, during the day, the just don’t do anything. They just lie there, in the shade, breathing. So its great to see these ones at least moving about a bit. Maybe we will catch up with them again later.

Mostly doing nothing!

We head in the direction of Maribou Pan and here we see a lovely big herd of elies, some of which were making the most of the shade under a lone tree. Good chance for a nice photo of Dad and Chris in their Toyota.

Elies in Savuti

We then head off around the marsh area and see some tsebbee, wildebeest, black backed jackal and warthogs. The land here is surprisingly green, I think it must have rained here too. Every now and then in the flat landscape is a rocky kopjie or a a little copse of taller trees, successfully hiding  a few giraffes, but for the most part we can see for miles.

Savuti

We arrive at a dry river bed a spot another vehicle, a game drive from the nearby lodge. They are watching a lone lioness and we come to a halt a observe her from a short distance away. She is alert, head high and gazing into a thicket of small acacias. Then we see it; a impala. And it seems to be on its own, some distance from the rest of the herd which is unusual and not really a good idea. The lioness begins to stalk, slowly, slowly getting nearer to the impala. But the impala is moving and soon both are in amongst the bush and we can no longer see them. We drive around to the other side of the trees and then around a few other tracks in the immediate vicinity but with no luck. Never mind, it is great just to see the stalking and feel the anticipation.

Zebra in Savuti

During the night we have another thunderstorm and all around us is the sound of elephants and hyenas. It is surprisingly difficult to sleep in the peaceful African bush sometimes.

Big Baobab in Savuti

In the morning we set of again and soon come across some fresh tracks in the sand and they are definitely white rhino. We have a drive around but we can’t follow them far as they head off into the bush where there are no roads. Back at the camp site we let the rangers know what we have seen and they seem surprised. Apparently they haven’t seen rhino here for a very long time but some have been released into Moremi so perhaps they have come from there. Its good news though, rhino are vary much in danger from poaching all over Africa and any sighting, especially when its not expected, is fantastic.

African Bull Frog

Sometimes in the bush it is the smaller things you see, or even don’t properly see, like the rhino who left the tracks, that are the most rewarding. We spend what could have been an uneventful afternoon huddled under the awning during a thunderstorm but nature often has a surprise in store. When the rain finally stops we notice hundreds of aliates, termites with wings, are released from the colonies to mate with others from different colonies in order to start an new one. When they find a mate they drop their wings, join together, and burrow down into the ground. It is an incredible sight as thousands of these things are flying around or crawling on the ground and this annual bonanza of nutritious insects attracts birds, frogs and other insectivores to feast on them. We saw lots of different species and even a huge African bull frog who just sat there, waiting, and as the insects wandered into his path, a quick flick of the tongue finished them off. It was a fascinating afternoon and it was then that we realised that Dad and Chris were truly loving the whole experience. Some come to Africa to see the Big Five but that is to miss the whole point of the place. Beauty, drama and adventure are everywhere here, you just need to open your heart and your eyes.

Late to the waterhole

Wildlife and Adventure in the Magical Caprivi Strip

Driving into the Caprivi Strip

Divundu, in the Caprivi Strip is a welcome sight; it has a fuel station and it seems that all roads lead here. Lots of opportunity to chat and also stock up on food and fuel. We have now been on the road for a few months and are beginning to learn how to deal with different situations and how to get information. One lesson in particular we have learned the hard way. Don’t ask closed questions! The African people, for the most part, love to help but will often say “yes”, as they think it is what you want to hear. Or maybe they are just saying it to get rid of you. But either way it is much more helpful to ask open, specific questions. Here in Divundu, however, Keith forgets this simple rule and asks the lady in the garage if they have an air pump for the tyres. “Yes”, she confirms. After a short delay it becomes apparent that no further information is going to be forthcoming so Keith asks, “Where is it?” (Always a very dangerous question – it is always “over there”, which can be 10 metres or 100kms “over there” ). But we duly drive round the back of the building and find the air pump. After shunting back and forth to get close enough, Keith finally jumps out and attaches the air pipe to the first of the wheels. Nothing. After much swearing and bashing of the machine he just can’t get it to work. Back in the shop he locates the same lady and informs her that the machine doesn’t appear to be working. “Oh, no, its not working at the moment”. Great! So, lesson learned – be specific. Ask if they have an air pump and then ask if it is working.

The Caprivi is very different to the rest of Namibia, much more like Botswana and Zambia and it even has different time! The rest of Namibia changes its clocks by an hour in Spring and Autumn but Caprivi sticks to the same time as South Africa and Botswana. We only realise this after wondering for a few days why people kept giving us times with the caveat of “South Africa time”. Most bizarre.

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