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The Southern Cross

The joy of traveling is never knowing what will happen next!

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View SA 2015 on Lauriesam's travel map.

The great part about traveling is the adventure. Even if you plan a trip for a year and pick out your activities and meal plans or even which room you prefer, there are still variables that are the things that make your trip unique.
On our trip the things that made it unique were the unpredictability of the environment, the people that worked in the camps, the other travelers along the way and the surprises planned by the camp staff.
Our days in Botswana were amazing, the weather was fantastic and we had great animal viewings. On the third day we caught up again with our family and friend who we started with in Cape Town. We welcomed them as they arrived and the camp manager let Allan do the initial briefing. Upon arrival at these remote places you have to sit down and get the rules and regs and sign that you heard them all and if you get eaten by a lion, well, cie la vie!
Any way, safety is their main concern and you are informed that you can not move about at night without an escort ( who would?) and they also tell you to use all your senses while in this area even when you are moving about during the day.
Allan reviewed all this with Clive, Tee and Penny and then we went to the delta for a Mokoro ride. A mokoro is a boat carved out of a tree trunk used by the local people to navigate the water. We were worried about the hippos and the crocs and the sun was setting so were really weren't going to get that far anyway and so we decided to give it a try. Beautiful and peaceful are words that are not worthy of the scene. The lighting due to the setting sun was phenomenal lighting up the clouds in the eastern sky.
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We heard some hippos and Clive and Tee raced back to shore, we all came back soon after and had a drink to celebrate the day on the shore line with our guide and some other guests. We listened to the frogs and watched the sun go down and thought how lucky we were not to have ended up in the delta.
The next day we hunted lions with our guide ST, none of us thought we would find them, but he knew where they were from listening to them calling the night before. We still didn't believe it would happen as we drove for about an hour and saw nothing then all of a sudden there they were on the side of the road. One male, three females and five male cubs, we spent the morning watching them and what a treat it was. Their behavior is so interesting, if anyone of the lions got up they went over to the male to greet him. They were usually pushed away with a big paw or were subjected to a low growl, yawn and if lucky a lovely lion lick! All the lion pictures I have posted or will add are from that morning.
For the afternoon game drive ST wanted to find these rare sable antelope, I never heard of them and we saw many other animals along the way and stopped for viewing and thousands of photographs. ST never gave up on the Antelope and late in the afternoon he started the search through very tall grass and low and behold we got to a clearing under a tree and there they were. We thought it was a set up! Of course it was't.
So now the sun is setting and we have missed our sundowner and we all agree it's better to just go back to the camp and get ready for dinner. ST took a strange wrong turn as we got close to the camp and he said it was a short cut... no, it was the best bonfire, BBQ and dinner party in the bush you have ever seen. Long table with white table cloth set for 16 and chairs around the fire and a bar set up behind that, this was an amazing site. As we arrived the staff sang a welcome song which I hope to be able to put on the slide show I will be making soon.
Several vehicles arrived behind us and I think we were eleven guests all together plus our guides and some of the camp staff. (Our camp had occupancy for only 12 people and the other half of the camp could accommodate 24).
After we got our refreshments and sat down around the fire, our camp manager made a formal welcome and informed us that we had some special guests in our group. First Lemi, then Ant the head guide and then Pat an astronomy professor from Ann Arbor Michigan.
Demi gave us a brief description of the constellations we could see with our eyes including the southern cross, the big dipper ( which is upside down), Orion's belt, Scorpio and more. We were all thrilled for this description, then Ant introduced the professor who gave us a little more info about things that were not so obvious and let us know that after dinner we could view some of these amazing sites with the telescopes set up in the field! We looked at the jewel box which if I remember correctly is near one of the stars in the southern cross and that is where stars are born. Pat reminded us that the light we saw reflecting off the stars was old light and if the stars were not there anymore we would only know that three, four or more years from now when the light arrives here for us to see. Some of the concepts were hard to wrap my brain around, but looking at Saturn with it's rings was easy to appriciate. It looked like what you might think a flying saucer looks like and I will keep that picture and moment in my mind forever.
Wow, what a night. I sat with Pat and his wife Pat and their guide Ono, at dinner and we had the best time. Pat (the wife, they are both Pat ) and I connected right away and exchanged email addresses. The are traveling with Ono for 15 days and had just come from the Kalahari. They went for a night walk with the bushman of the Kalahari and it sounded amazing, I want to do that on our next trip. Yes, of course there must be a next trip!
This lovely night went on until late, we ate amazing food hot off the grill with lovely people and stargazing to top it all off, this was indeed a night to remember.
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View from the vehicle
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Posted by Lauriesam 02:19 Archived in Botswana

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