Saturday, September 3, 2016

Over Hill and Over Dale...Tracking a Leopard in Botswana

We slept pretty well after being escorted back to our tents. With a 5:30 wake up call, and breakfast at 6:00, we were ready to go as the sun was coming up. It was cold, and breakfast, while nourishing, was pretty sparse--bread, porridge (that brought the word gruel to mind), yogurt and cereal. Another First World Problem...

We were on the boundary of Chobe Park, but were more in the Khwai River region. This "Do not drive off the road" became pretty funny shortly.

A female kudu...love the stripes, which made it so easy to identify the kudu from the antelope and springbok and steenbok.

Elephants in the early morning light...


A honey badger looking for bugs. It has few predators because of its thick skin and ferocious nature.

Awww...it looks so cuddly. I can attest to the ferocious part. That night a honey badger ran into the side of our tent and was he mad. He sounded just like the Tasmanian Devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoon. Picture that waking you up in the middle of the night. Scared the life out of me.

This reminded me of something from the Wild West sauntering down the road...I expected to hear the theme from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

A hyena...

Who decided to meander off into the dusty brush...

I can imagine what a change in the landscape it must be once the rains wash all the dust away...


Another dazzle of zebras...these guys had been watching the hyena coming down the road. Nobody was moving...

Look at the condition of the road...no wonder we travelled between 30 and 50 km an hour and it took so long to get to the camp.



A capped wheatear? The names all made sense when Chief or Manuel told us, but I quickly forgot.

Baboons scurrying along...

Kudus grazing in the early morning quiet...

And then Chief was quite excited, because here was a pack of painted dogs. That was pretty special to see considering they are classified as an endangered species.


They were tracking something...




A pod of hippos...


Chief giving us an explanation of something. He was a very good guide.

Zebras and kudus grazing in harmony...

Within the parks, we would come across other vehicles and the guides would stop and tell each other what wildlife they had seen. On one stop, a guide told Chief that there was a leopard in the area. Chief took on this challenge for the next hour. The "do not leave the road" sign no longer applied to us. We drove through bushes, over stumps, through trees...the people in the front of the vehicle would yell "Branches!" as they whipped along the side of the jeep. I was beginning to think we should just give it up, when Chief spotted him under a tree.

Now you will have to look at every nuance of a leopard. I took so many photos of him. We never saw another, so I was glad that I had.



Isn't he gorgeous?


You really need sharp eyes to pick out the wildlife...the guides could spot stuff and even with binoculars we would be saying "where?"

He decided to have a nap...


Until a vehicle came up beside us and someone got out. That got his attention. We were all thinking "Are you crazy??"

But he decided there was too much activity for him and got up and sauntered away.



Thanks for your persistence, Chief! That was incredible.


Cute baby baboons playing...


This is a Kori Bustard, the national bird of Botswana, and also an endangered species. It is one of the heaviest birds capable of flight. The national bird used to be the very pretty Lilac-Breasted Roller. Now that's a pretty bird!

Another large herd of impala...

This is how they would spring across in front of the vehicle...


I caught this ground hornbill in flight. Believe me, totally by accident.

More kudu...

Hippos peeking out of the water...

It was time to head back to the camp for lunch. It had been a very good morning. A leopard sighting, painted dogs, and the usual varieties of kudu, elephants, zebras...amazing! Signs near the camp...

And here is the Bedouin camp in daylight. At last we could see where we were staying. This was taken from the main dining tent. We were not allowed to walk back to our tents at night unescorted.

A bit about this campsite...it is given a license to operate for one or two years. After the permit expires, the camp must be dismantled and removed without leaving a footprint. It therefore operates with no permanent structures.

The view from the dining tent...

We were now on Day 3 without a shower...I could not wait to get clean. These were the buckets outside your tent that held water for showering. We got a fresh bucket each day. However, in a funny turn of events, the water in the bucket, having sat in the hot sun all day, was too hot for showering. We had to wait while they refilled it with cooler water. We thought it wouldn't be enough water for two people, but the water comes out slowly and it was amazing how much you could do and have water left over. The fear of running out of water also made you shower quickly and efficiently.

Yup, I really needed that shower today!

Showered and trying to sit outside to cool off. My sister had given me these cooling towels. Add cold water and presto...instant cooling. The only problem with that was we didn't have any cold water!

There wasn't a bit of a breeze...we later asked Manuel if he knew what the temperature was. Yup, he did. 41 degrees Celsius. No wonder we were so hot. I don't care if it was "dry" heat. It was blooming hot!

Inside our tent...

With our little ensuite bathroom...

We were going on an afternoon game drive, and I couldn't take the heat around the tent any longer, so I went up to the dining tent where they were getting a slight breeze. These elephants were checking out the water. You would often hear animals at night from your tent...a good reason we weren't allowed to walk around without an escort.

After serving us tea and cookies at 3:30, we headed out at 4:00 for an afternoon drive. We drove back by the village of Mababe. It has a population of about 150 people.

AIDS is still a huge concern in Africa. You can get free condoms in many public places.

Robert, one of the Kiwis, had brought some rugby balls to give out. We saw these kids playing outside, so stopped to give them a ball. All the guys got out for an impromptu game.

One child got hit in the back of the head with the ball, but that didn't bother him a bit. At the end, Mbusi, our driver, takes a tumble.


Pat had brought some school supplies and the kids gathered around. They were very polite and loved their pens and books.

This made me laugh so hard. Robert holding the rugby ball with the boys and everyone's smiling...

Now look at the expression on the boy in green when his friend has the ball. We laughed so hard. This was a highlight of the day, after the leopard and the painted dogs!

A majestic giraffe...male or female? I could never tell if the horns were fuzzy or bald.

Bald, I think? We'll call it a male.

A sable antelope...

And a beautiful sunset to end an amazing day...

After dinner, we went on a night game drive at 8:30 pm. Not wanting to miss anything, Ed and I were on board. Barb and Jim wisely went back to the tents. Having been up since 5:30 and out in the hot sun, we were all tired, but I wasn't going to miss seeing a predator. Well, game drives are hit and miss, and this one was a miss. We saw some elephants and impala. Ed said "We were supposed to see some predators, but all we saw was a bunny rabbit and an owl." That about summed it up. It was an amazing day!

Tomorrow will be spent in the Moremi Game Reserve...

3 comments:

  1. What an amazing trip Kim, beautiful pictures... I don't think you can take too many pics of a leopard, what majestic creatures!

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  2. Who ever said I was anonymous��

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