Thursday, 30 August 2012

Southern Okavango, Botswana

I’d had such an amazing time during the last few days in Vumbura.

As our charter plane climbed into the air, I looked out of the window to see the concession for one last time. The view was jaw-dropping. The beautiful landscape was littered with acacia trees. Elephants and hippos sunbathed in the Delta channels. It was idyllic.

After twenty minutes or so of taking in this breath-taking scenery, my daydreams were rudely interrupted by the pilot, who announced that we had arrived at Chitabe concession. This was to be the final stopover on our travels. We would spend the next couple of days here before heading back home.

The Chitabe concession is situated at the southern edge of the Okavango Delta; right on the borders of the Moremi game reserve. During the rainy season, this area of the Delta is completely flooded. At the time of our arrival, however, the floodplains were already receding. As the waterholes began to dry up, the animals started to congregate more densely. This meant that there was an abundance of wildlife in the area.

Map of Concession

By the time we reached our camp, it was mid-afternoon. The staff were at the entrance waiting for our arrival. They chorused, “Du me la!” which means “Welcome” in Tswana.

After quick introductions, we went to our hut, got freshened-up and headed out again. For the next three days, we continued to soak-up the beauties of the Botswana wilderness and all it had to offer.

There were plenty of wildebeest, zebras and impalas surrounding us.

A giraffe feeding on the acacia tree.

A mother elephant and her calf.

A Greater Kudu.

We were rewarded with more leopard sightings! How lucky!

Lastly, a male baboon.

All too soon, our Botswana odyssey was over. Whilst I was undeniably sad, I was grateful for the memories which I would take with me. Not only had I experienced incredible wildlife sightings, but to have personally spent time in the spectacular Okavango Delta was the epitome of bliss!

Stay tune for the upcoming posts on Tanzania and Kenya. Watch this space.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Others

I’d had such an amazing time during the past few days in Vumbura. It was our final day. We packed our bags and I bid fond farewells to the camp staff.

As we drove to the airstrip, I began to reminisce about the marvellous adventures that I had experienced. Of course there were the long periods we spent with the wild dogs, the lions and the leopards. But that does not tell the whole story. There is a huge variety of other animals in the Delta, all of which have their own beauty and are special to me.

A wary Warthog retreating to his burrow.

A Martial Eagle feasting on its kill.

A curious Impala.

A Common Waterbuck…

…just getting up from the toilet seat?

A Hyena. Ugly? No. Beautiful? Definitely!

A cheeky Baboon, resting on a boulder.


…and a tower of Giraffes.

Lastly, one of my favourite animals: The Elephant.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Leopard

When you are out on safari, it is not uncommon to see vast numbers of wild animals, including huge herds of buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe and all kinds of antelopes. With an experienced guide, you even have a good chance of spotting some of the big cats, such as lions and cheetahs.

However, there is one particular animal in Africa which is very elusive and can be a real challenge for even the most experienced of guides to track: The Leopard.

Leopards are largely nocturnal creatures and usually spend their days resting high up on tree branches. Their camouflaged coats, dotted with rosettes, enable them to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding foliage. With such unique characteristics, most people find it very difficult to spot these exotic felines.

Fortunately, I had the privilege of spotting these beautiful cats several times during my game drives in Botswana. On one particular occasion, while we were casually driving back to camp, not expecting to see anything special, we came across a handsome looking male, purely by chance. Not to let this wonderful opportunity slip by, I grabbed my camera and began to click away.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

It's Me, Homer.

Regular readers will be aware that Missus has hijacked MY blog for the past few weeks. I just wanted to let you all know that I am well and looking forward to publishing some more of my own postings in the not too distant future.

For now though, it seems that something is up. The humans have begun that ‘packing ritual’. This can only mean one thing – they are going off on holiday again and Yours Truly will be paying another visit to the dog-sitter. Don’t worry about me, I’m sure that I (and they) will have a great time.

I thought I heard the Missus mention something about the “Masai Mara”. I presume this means that she’s off on another African odyssey. Tsk!

I think she’s going to set-up MY Blogspot account so that she can continue to publish her ongoing Africa postings periodically while she is away. I’m sure all will be revealed.

Me so booti-ful!

Bye for now!


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Lions

I could not believe how fortunate we had been to catch sightings of wild dogs chasing after a leopard and a hyena on our first day in the Okavango Delta . As I replayed the scenes in my head, I thought to myself, “What a mind-blowing experience we had!”

So, the following day, I headed out for my second game drive in anticipation. I was not sure what to expect, as the wilderness can be so unpredictable. The more ‘glamorous’ animals often do not show up when you want them to. In fact, there are times when you can be driving around the savannah for hours, searching for interesting sights, only to be rewarded with a mere glimpse of a scrub hare.

Personally, I am not overly concerned as my priorities are a bit different. I just love the feeling of being out in the bush, experiencing a sense of freedom in the vast openness of the African plains. These simple desires are enough to captivate me and to take my breath away.

We boarded our small boat and headed back to the jetty where our vehicle was waiting. As we cruised along the peaceful channel, I dipped my fingers into the water and thought to myself, “The Okavango Delta. Such a magical place!”

A few minutes later, we arrived at the jetty. With the help of Bill and Sevara, my camera equipment was carefully loaded into the vehicle. Once we had settled down comfortably, Severa started the engine and soon we were off for another new adventure.

The ride was bumpy as we drove across the rough African terrain. Our poor backs and buttocks were sore, but none of this mattered.

I began to survey every inch of the plains meticulously, hoping to spot a cheetah weaving its way through the tall grass. It was not an easy task as my eyes are not trained to spot camouflaged wildlife.

I was just about to give up when Severa, with his experienced ‘bush-eyes’, managed to spot a coalition of male lions in the far distance. Excited and happy with our new discovery, we quickly and discreetly made our way towards the big cats.

We counted four massive male lions lolling around by the bushes. They basked under the sun without a care in the world, unperturbed by our presence as we approached them.

One of them was sprawled on the ground, unashamedly baring his underside. Another let out a huge yawn, exposing his fearsome canines. Their broad muzzles were covered with old battle scars, possibly inflicted by their enemies during fights over a kill, a territory or a mate.

As we looked on, the largest of the lions, got up and exposed his muscular, tawny body. He shook his huge dark mane and looked around his ‘kingdom’. Without any warning, he let out a huge deafening roar, as if to say, “Whose land is this? Whose land is this? It is mine! It is mine! It is MINE!”

It was an intimidating moment, knowing that a swipe from one of those mighty paws could easily kill me. Being next to the ‘king of the beasts’ made me feel so small and insignificant.

As I regained my composure, I picked up my camera, pointed it at the dark-maned lion and began to click away furiously. Sensing that his picture was being taken, he looked into my camera and began to strike some poses. To have such a strong and beautiful subject as a model would be any photographer’s dream come true. Here he was, right in front of me. He was simply perfect!

As we sat there for the next couple of hours, I began to feel a sense of sadness that these majestic cats are being driven to the brink of extinction. Over the past two decades, the lion population has been decreasing drastically. One of the reasons for such a huge decline is that they are often hunted as trophies. I find this ‘sport’ extremely distasteful. I just cannot understand how anyone could feel the urge to shoot such a magnificent animal?

The thought of there being no lions roaming the African plains is enough to break my heart. I put my camera away, sat back and simply enjoyed the company of these beautiful creatures.