A Travellerspoint blog

Lions, Hippos and Wild Dogs, Oh My!

Life in the Okavanda Delta

sunny
View SA 2015 on Lauriesam's travel map.

Our first sunrise in Botswana was sensational, what a beautiful way to start the day. We had a quick little bite with some coffee and climbed up into our vehicle for our game drive. Our eyes, ears and noses were on full alert. The birds singing and calling each other, baboons were also quite easy to hear if they were close, wild sage growing all around filled the air with its unmistakable fragrance until it was interrupted by fresh elephant dung! The sounds and smells often introduced the animals before we could see them so it was apparent to us that our senses were going to be tested in this environment. On this drive we saw so many birds which is something I hadn't anticipated, I found out that this area of Botswana is famous for birdwatching because of the amazing diversity thriving here. I tried so hard to photograph them in flight but I don't think I was successful, more on that later. The prettiest bird I saw was the lilac breasted roller, a magnificent bird that had seven colors and when the bird took flight it was truly magnificent. We also saw the red, yellow and grey horned hornbill otherwise known as Zazu in the Lion King. In addition we also saw red and yellow billed oxepeckers who were almost extinct in SA 9 years ago when we were there, but they are thriving again, now. We also saw saddle billed storks, wattled cranes, bee eaters, little bee eaters and beautiful starlings, too. Our exciting game views this morning included a herd of cape buffalo, maybe three or four hundred, they were all around us busy eating their breakfast and not interested in us at all. You can't imagine the feeling of sitting in an open vehicle and then realizing the munching and crunching sounds are all around you. No place to go, so we sat and waited from them to move around us. These big animals were rather calm and although they would look straight at us from time to time, they never lost tract of their mission, which was eating, eating and eating.
We also observed baboons going about their business, preening each other and looking after the young. There were lots of little babies that were so, so cute.
The sounds and smells of the delta change slightly as you travel away from the water, flat plains with tall grasses in one area or sandy and marshy areas closer to the water.
The most entertaining animals to watch are the majestic elephants. We saw them several times during our stay and each time was exciting and entertaining. Here are a couple of shots, for you to see, I just grabbed them quickly off my SD card. I have about 400 more and I will pick the winners over the next week to post for you to see. More about Botswana to come as soon as I get another internet connection.
photos.travellerspoint.com lilac breasted roller

_LS19697 2

_LS19697 2

rare sable antelope
_LS19507

_LS19507

lion cubs
_LS19468.jpgfemale greeting male lion
_LS19426.jpg
_LS19316.jpgsaddle beak stork
_LS19970.jpg

_LS19913

_LS19913

Posted by Lauriesam 07:53 Archived in Botswana Tagged ride botswana delta #wildlife #okavango #botswana #game #diversitybirding Comments (0)

Lions, Hippos and Wild Dogs, Oh My!

Hope I figured out the camera

sunny
View SA 2015 on Lauriesam's travel map.

Our first sunrise in Botswana was sensational, what a beautiful way to start the day. We had a quick little bite with some coffee and climbed up into our vehicle for our game drive. Our eyes, ears and noses were on full alert. The birds singing and calling each other, baboons were also quite easy to hear if they were close, wild sage growing all around filled the air with its unmistakable fragrance until it was interrupted by fresh elephant dung! The sounds and smells often introduced the animals before we could see them so it was apparent to us that our senses were going to be tested in this environment. On this drive we saw so many birds which I hadn't anticipated, I found out that this area is famous for birdwatching. I tried so hard to photograph them in flight but I don't think I was successful, more on that later. The prettiest bird I saw was the lilac breasted roller, a magnificent bird that had seven colors and when the bird took flight it was truly magnificent. We also saw the red, yellow and grey horned hornbill otherwise known as Zazu in the Lion King. In addition we also saw red and yellow billed oxepeckers who were almost extinct in SA 9 years ago but they are thriving again, now. We also saw saddle billed storks, wattled cranes, bee eaters and little bee eaters and beautiful starlings, too. Our exciting game views this morning included a herd of cape buffalo, maybe three or four hundred, they were all around us busy eating their breakfast and not interested in us at all. You can't imagine the feeling of sitting in an open vehicle and then realizing the munching and crunching sounds are all around you. No place to go, so we sat and waited from them to move around us. These big animals were rather calm and although they would look straight at us from time to time, they never lost tract of their mission, which was eating, eating, eating, eating.
We also observed baboons going about their business, preening each other and looking after the young. There were lots of little babies that were so, so cute.
The sounds and smells of the delta change slightly as you travel away from the water, flat plains with tall grasses in one area or sandy and marshy areas closer to the water.
The most entertaining animals to watch are the beautiful elephants. We saw them several times during our stay and each time was exciting and entertaining. Here are a couple of shots, for you to see, I just grabbed them quickly off my SD card. I have about 400 more and I will pick the winners over the next week to post for you to see. More about Botswana to come as soon as I get another internet connection.
_LS19847_2.jpg lilac breasted roller

_LS19697 2

_LS19697 2

rare sable antelope
_LS19507

_LS19507

lion cubs
_LS19468.jpgfemale greeting male lion
_LS19426.jpg
_LS19316.jpgsaddle beak stork
_LS19970.jpg

_LS19913

_LS19913

Posted by Lauriesam 07:53 Archived in Botswana Tagged #wildlife #botswana #africansafari #gameride #okavangodelta Comments (0)

Botswana

It just keeps getting better

sunny
View SA 2015 on Lauriesam's travel map.

We rolled through Johannesburg last Tuesday for less than 24 hours before we took off for Maun, Botswana. We barely had time to catch up on the news and reorganize our bags and we were off. Maun is the 4th largest city in Botswana, Gabarone (pronounced 'Cha' baron e') is the largest. Between them is the Kalahari Desert, not quite as dry as the Namib desert.
We were greeted warmly and ticketed for the continuation of our trip up to the Okavango Delta further north and not far from the Zimbabwe border.
After a brief stay in the un-airconditioned departure lounge, which was just a small plain room with rows of chairs. The called our flight and we got in a jeep that drove us to the far side of the tarmac where the small planes were parked. We got on a beautiful new grand Caravan with less than 200 flight hours. It was about a 12 passenger plane that gave us a great ride. One stop on a grassy runway to let some passangers off, the pilot never switched off the engines, and in only five minutes we made a U turn, taxied down the runway for the short hop to our stop. These planes are really like little grasshoppers. There really are no airports at any of these stops, just a small runway and some shade for the vehicles that drop you off and pick you up.
Our amazing guide, ST was there to welcome us and asked us if we wanted to see the camp first or go on a game drive. GAME DRIVE was the obvious answer, and off into the jungle we went. I just want to remind you that we have come from the very arid Namib desert and as we flew from Maun in the small planes it was amazing to see the different landscape. Water, wet ground, some sand and every shade of green from yellow green to forest green. More shades of green than any box of crayons I have every owned. I was really wondering how you could drive a vehicle in this very wet and marshy landscape and I was just about to find out.
ST drove the open range rover around and through the grasslands, into the marshes and through any water that was in our path. Occasionally the water comes in the vehicle but we never got stuck once. We saw animals and birds alike and after a lovely afternoon we arrived at our camp for the night. We had a brief orientation and ST took us to our room along a raised teak pathway, it was very dark and we hear hippos fighting in the background. I was scared and wanted to hang on to ST, I really could not see a thing and the sound from the frogs was very loud. We were locked in our room until dinner and it was really unnerving not to be able to see where we were and only rely on your sense of hearing.
Wake up call was at 5:30 so we could get out early for our game drive so we had a quick dinner and early bedtime. We stayed awake listening to lions roaring in the distance, the humming of hippos and the wind chime frog symphony, this my friends is the recipe for the sleep of kings.

Posted by Lauriesam 02:00 Archived in Botswana Comments (2)

Reflections of Namibia

Larger than Texas with the population of San Antonio

A short note this morning before we move on to Botswana, Namibia has left a lasting impression on me. I am ready to go back and we only left a few hours ago. I already asked Allan what he thought about the most direct route there from the US.
Since Namibia is such a large country, larger than Texas, it does not look or feel the same throughout. There are different landscapes and animals in each area. There is an area with a large population of black rhino who are on the verge of extinction because of those pochers who hunt for the rhino horn, and I have also heard about the area on the Angola border that is very different and interesting and Etosha is supposed to be amazing as well. I want t come back for those three places and for the amazing Namibian people as weel. The people that we have met along the way, so kind and caring about their young country and being good hosts to the crazy tourists from all over the world. I won't bore you with details about people who thought the rooms were too plain (remember the last camp was set up as a research camp) or there should be some pictures in the dining area (meanwhile the view of the camp and the valley was easily visible through the all glass doors on the North side of the room.)
Wilderness Safari has accomplished something very special and unique by setting up Hoanib with minimal impact to the environment.
Namibia is a special place and I hope to visit it again someday.

Posted by Lauriesam 01:54 Archived in Namibia Comments (1)

Stranded on The Skeleton Coast

going with the flow

sunny
View SA 2015 on Lauriesam's travel map.

The transfer from Soussevlei in the southern part of Namibia to the Namib desert in the North was not as shocking as when we arrived earlier this week at Little Kulala. The flights were exciting, three planes, three pilots and new people boarding and deplaning at each stop. Each flight was very exciting as with the little planes ( from 4 to 12 passengers) you are right behind the pilot watching his every move. It is much more raw than the big planes and I commented to Allan tonight as we landed in Joburg in an Airbus 319, that I didn't even notice the take off or landing. I digress...
I was happy when we finally arrived without any diversions due to weather at our new destination with a warm welcome from Charles our new guide.
We arrived with three other couples and traveled with them for the next three days as well.
The camp was set up a a research camp for desert animals and is an 'ECO' camp in that it leaves an minimal impact on the environment. What that means to the guest is many things including no TV, phone, internet, hairdryer, coffeemaker in the room or anything else you may want to plug in for some juice. There were lights and plugs so we could charge all our toys for taking pictures, but thats about it.
Having said that, we did not miss any of those modern con's and we fell head over heals for Namibia.
The first full day there we left before sunrise on a long drive about 70 kilometers due west to the skeleton coast with a plan to fly back so we could have another game drive in the evening. We drove on the desert super highway consisting of sand, rocks, more sand and some desert animals.
We stopped several times along the way to slide down the sand dunes, have a spot of tea, use the bush bathroom and finally arriving at the coast we viewed and smelled, hundreds and hundreds of seals. With a population of almost 2.4 million people in Namibia the seal population out numbers them almost 4 to 1. After the stroll along the rocky shoreline we drove up the beach a bit for a beautiful white tablecloth picnic lunch on the beach. Oddly we were joined by another couple and two pilots. After lunch we were informed by Charles that a plane with guests had a puncture and was stuck on the runway at our camp. The two new guest were diverted to the airport near the coast incase they had to hitch a ride with us back to camp.
After lunch we all went to the little museum/house/jail/ guest house so the pilot could call for an update only to find out we had to wait 40 minutes or so to see if the plane could be moved. The guests made the unanimous decision to make the 3+ hour drive back and not wait an hour to find out we had to drive anyway. We started the long haul and it was about 3:30, we stopped at the airport to tie down the little four seater aircraft.
Off we went back on the super sand highway. About 1 hour into the trip we met an elephant that completely blocked our road she threw dust up, scratched her back feet and ultimately showed us her tusks. She was not moving and we could only back up and wait. 3o minutes later she finally moved. We laughed and joked and observed more game along the way and arrived back at camp after sunset. The staff was so worried about us, literally more than half the camp was in the two trucks, they greeted us with a very warm welcome and hugs when we got back. We had a great day that we will remember for a long time.Giraffe1

Giraffe1

_LS16612

_LS16612


_LS16529

_LS16529


_LS16458

_LS16458

Posted by Lauriesam 11:06 Archived in Namibia Tagged desert elephants namibia Comments (1)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 19) « Page 1 [2] 3 4 »