I best start with
the trip from Xobega to Camp Savuti. We had to leave by 6 to avoid the heat and
also see animals on the way to the airstrip 30mins past 3rd Bridge, a total of
2hrs if we didnt delay. Our plane was at 10.45.
The boat trip with
Sam was fast, though we did stop briefly for elephants. Then onto a jeep for
the rough ‘Botswana massage’ on the sandy track, passing numerous herds of
impala, elephant, zebra, wildebeest, the rare tssebe, giraffe, warthog (their knees
are allow them to kneel as their necks are too large to bend), two very large
hyena, hippo, and lechwe. Some silverback jackals were harassing the hyena, but
we didnt see any kill to defend. Many birds including the ubiquitous yellow bill
hornbill, and yellow-billed kite.
Who could not love
Africa? Memories forgotten fill my mind and heart – times lost. The baking
soil, bush, and animal scent, mixed with wood smoke.
We were fortunate
to find a mother and young leopard in the shade of a big tree, next to a full
size lechwe several metres up on a branch, an answer to prayer – just hope I
did it justice as we had a plane to catch and still many km to go on the sand
horrible road. I think leopards are much more photogenic than lion, though not
as ‘regal’. Before leaving Perth, I had a list of animals to shoot – a leopard
in a tree was one, so I was grateful to find these two. We had driven past some
100m away, 20mins before, and returned on being told by another driver. The
images were taken at a distance of about 20m using a 100-400mm lens.
Dust blew on the
airstrip on this cool windy day as we watched an elephant cross it. We were in
a very small 7 seat Quest Kodiak plane, a tight fit for the 30min flight to
Savuti. The bags were no problem though – glad I didnt buy new ones.
The drive to the
Savuti camp is fairly long, once again on those corrugated roads, relieved a
little by three lions next to their kill, a small elephant, watched by vultures
and a kite. And we saw our first Blue wildebeest, a strange dark colour. A
lonely hippo lay in a muddy pool surrounded by, at times, wild dogs and impala.
Savuti camp (near
the gate) is shown near the top of the map image. Our drives will be to the
south into the low elevation green area, the Savuti Marsh, which is fed in the
wet months by water channelled from the north (the blue line). The surrounding
yellow area is slightly higher, the Mababe Depression.
Savuti gate has an
‘armchair’ with horns attached. I sat on it and asked a ranger to take the
image. The camp is luxury after the last two. A very large tent with an
enormous high king bed, full power (solar), hot and cold in a separate section
with a bath – but the shower is in the open again, shielded only by thin
heavily varnished poles leaving small gaps! My tent is the furthest from the
dining tent, hard walking in the deep soft sand ‘path’.
The first afternoon
drive at Savuti was fairly tame. The lions were still being watched by the
vultures. Across the road, a giraffe was looking for a meal of acacia, another
with a pair of lechwe were drinking from the diminishing waterhole, in which
the hippo still hoped for a water covering. The drive ended with a stop at the
large baobab, and then we watched the sunset from the ridge on the west of the
depression nearby. No sign of the promised leopard hiding in the rocky hill
Ring-neck doves are
common, reminding me of my life in Rhodesia. The acacia trees often produce
convoluted branches, thickened in parts. The pretty lilac-breasted rollers are
here too, as are the Kori bustard, the largest bird of flight. The Red crested
korhaan was looking for its mate, and a Yellow-billed kite perched amongst the
twisted branches hoping for a feed.
As dusk fell
quickly, we were able to stop next to an unconcerned meerkat on the way back.
discovered, is Independence Day. Before dinner we were entertained by the
entire camp team with several songs and dance to celebrate their Independence
Day. They are very proud of their history of continued non-aggressive behaviour
– the flag is white, black, and blue (white & black for people, blue for
sky and water). I found the evening very touching, especially the short speech
by the manageress, Jessica. The dinner was amazing – with just a touch of the
local ie stiff maize meal (pap)! (The two images are from the iPhone, the
‘best’ available camera.)
The Ba Tswana are growing
on me; they really are as described in the book by Alexander McCall-Smith, The No
1 Detective Agency. Even better, so many, and I’m told 90%, are Christian,
though some are probably a mix with their old beliefs, but tonight has touched