Sunday, 29 July 2012

An Introduction to the Wilderness

“If you are a regular reader of my blog, you should know by now that I don’t usually write about stuff that is unrelated to Yours Truly. Occasionally, though, I make an exception. So, for the next few postings, I will hand my blog over to the Missus who will tell you all about her experiences in Africa.”

Homer

***

Having spent most of my life growing up in the city, I never dreamt that one day I would go to Africa; let alone fall in love with the place. The thought of travelling to remote and undeveloped places simply had not appealed to me.

So, when my husband proposed to go to Tanzania on a safari trip in 2009, many nightmarish thoughts went flashing through my mind: ferocious predators, disease-carrying insects, venomous snakes and a whole host of other creatures whose domain was totally alien to me. Hmmm… Curious? Maybe. Convinced? No.

However, after a lot of cajoling, he finally convinced me to take the plunge. After all, I love adventures and I am always up for a challenge. So, without further ado, I traded my ‘Manolos’ for a pair of hiking boots; bought a pair of binoculars; invested in a basic DSLR camera and headed down to the Serengeti for the annual wildebeest migration. And I’ve never looked back.

Following that initial trip, three years ago, I have had two further expeditions to Africa: journeying to Botswana in late 2011 and returning to Tanzania at the beginning of this year. For the next few posts, I shall be blogging about my wildlife experiences during these latest two visits.

During the course of my holidays, I took literally hundreds of photos and it would be impossible to show every one of them. To keep it simple, therefore, I will only select some of my favourites. For those who have been waiting to see them, sorry it took so long. (I did not realise that photo processing and writing could be so time consuming!)

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy these blogs as much as I enjoyed my time in the African bush.

The Missus

***

Linyanti, Botswana - September 2011

The first few days of my safari in Botswana were spent at the Kwando concession in Linyanti. This concession is located on the northern edge of Botswana, close to the Namibian border. Due to its location and climatic extremes, it does not attract as many tourists as some of its sister concessions in the Okavango Delta. This is a great pity – those who overlook this gem are missing out on a mind-blowing wildlife experience.

Map of Kwando Concession


It was 6am when we set-off on our first game drive. The morning air was cool and crisp with a distinctive smell of African wild sage. The hyenas were whooping in the distance; zebras were communicating with each other in their high-pitched barks and hippos could be heard snorting and grunting away from their riverbed. A herd of doe-eyed impalas were grazing on the plain, oblivious to our presence. The entire scenario seemed so surreal. I looked at the wilderness in awe and it felt good to be back in the African bush.

We drove for a while. A low rumbling noise came from nowhere. We scanned the woodlands and spotted a herd of elephants in the distance. They were busy stripping off the tree bark with their majestic tusks.

Sensing our presence, they began to congregate and shielded their little calves from us. The matriarch took a few steps forward, flapped her huge ears and shook her head as if she was doing a little dance. “Dancing elephant” I chuckled to myself.

We drove past them quickly. I turned back for one last look and managed to get a glimpse of a baby elephant emerging from the adults. What a wonderful way to start the morning!

The African Elephant, Loxodonta Africana, belongs to Africa’s ‘Big Five’ animals; the other four being the African Cape Buffalo, the Lion, the Leopard and the Rhinoceros.

My interest in bird-watching began when I saw my first Batelur in Kwando. It was a ponderous looking bird with striking orange facial features. It stood next to the riverbank, preening its feathers and admiring its own reflection. I managed to sneak a couple of shots of this pretty looking eagle before it flew off.

A ‘narcissistic’ Bateleur.

We continued our drive and later made a quick stop for a coffee break. We chose a spot right next to a leafless Baobab tree. It looked like it had roots sticking up in the air. Baobabs are massive trees, with trunks measuring up to eleven meters in diameter. Some of them are reputed to be thousands of years old!

Enjoying our coffee break next to a Baobab tree.

It was time to move on once more. We still had a couple of hours left before we had to head back to our camp. We drove aimlessly for a while and suddenly our tracker signalled to our guide to stop the vehicle. He reached out for his binoculars and scanned the trees. He had spotted something moving amongst the thick foliage.

“Look. It’s a leopard!” he whispered.

We focused intently in the general direction of his gaze but, with our untrained eyes, we saw nothing. Grabbing the binoculars, I trained my vision on an innocuous looking tree in the distance. Lo and behold, there she was, staring right back at us!

A Leopard, Panthera Pardus, enjoying her siesta. According to our guide this was an adult female.

What a magnificent creature!

She must have been at least three storeys from the ground.

Suddenly, she took a few leaps and bounds and landed gracefully on the ground, just like a ballerina.

She moved swiftly into the tall, yellow grass, camouflaging herself in the plains. I was worried that we might lose her but our experienced tracker did not let her out of his sight.

She looked across the dry plains. Her loud rasping calls pierced the air. Was she looking for something?

She certainly was. By the time we caught up with her, she was already reunited with her beautiful cub. They stayed together, enjoying each other’s company for a few precious moments, before they finally moved on.

The sun was setting. As the colours of the sky became intense and vibrant, I couldn’t resist but to take a couple of snapshots of the African sunset.

Can you spot the leopard?

9 comments:

Finn said...

Just beautiful! I can't wait to read about the rest of your adventures. That last picture is just gorgeous, we see the leopard perching in the tree!

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

WOW!!!!! Is all I know to say!!! Your pictures are incredible and I cannot imagine seeing something so breathtaking and beautiful and having the concentration to take such amazing photos! I'll look forward to the next post!!! THANK YOU for sharing your adventure!!!

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

OH MY!!!

What GReat pikhs ;-)

Of khourse, I want a khytty like her - it would be soooo much fun to run together - snikhker!

We'll be looking furward to more shots from the GReat wilderness!

Hugz&Khysses,
Khyra

KT and Easton said...

Fantastic, look forward to more adventures and pictures. Rooooooooooos to Homer.

KT and Easton

Deborah said...

Wow, those are incredible pictures.

The Life of Riley said...

What a great experience! I look forward to reading more about your travels to Africa.

Mitch and Molly said...

What a trip of a lifetime! The Leopard is absolutely gorgeous for a big kitty!

Love ya lots,
Mitch and Molly

brooke said...

I'm so jealous of this trip!!!
I would LOVE to go on an African safari.
Love the elephant (they're my favorite)!
Can't wait to see more!

Lucillemia said...

Amazing, Vanessa and Bill really had the greatest time in their safari...
Being able to watch the kill, the lunch... wow guys that is not common...
Beautiful sunset picture - I would think it is a set up if I did not know you!!!