Joined June 2016 Message
  • Day15

    Final game drive day

    July 7, 2017 in Botswana ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    In keeping with our good fortune on this trip, we successfully tracked a leopard! And by 'successfully tracked a leopard' I mean that we spent 3 hours following tracks unsuccessfully before Muffin responded to another guide's radio call that a leopard was spotted!! Woohoo! Muffin sped to the spot in minutes and was willing to drive over trees to get us the best view of that leopard (who was on a hunt for red billed horn bills). Beautiful cat and it's amazing that anyone found it considering it's size and how well it blends in with it's surroundings! This game drive also gave us another steenbok, who obliged us with a few still seconds to get a photo, and a large herd of buffalo.
    Had a great lunch back at the lodge and took a nap during siesta.
    The afternoon game drive was a bit weak. Found a few kudu (bad picture below) and a sleeping female lion by breaking the rules and driving off-road. Other than that, pretty slow. Hyenas still did not behave tonight.
    Back at the lodge, buffalo and elephants were mingling at the water hole. We had a huge dinner (since they brought me the wrong dish first and then the right one after, both of which were great!) and then, after dessert, came out singing and trilling with a 'happy wedding anniversary' cake. It was lopsided and frozen and had very strange sour cream frosting on it, but we all felt obligated to eat some. 😁
    While eating a few week old elephant came to the watering hole. Sooo cute! 🐘
    Muffin (Maphani officially) has been great at going wherever he needs to to get us to the animals we want to see. His English isn't as good as Sello and Onx's, so he misses some of our (great!) jokes, but he is very nice and has done an excellent job. 👍 Staff at all the lodges have been very friendly and helpful.
    Tomorrow morning will be our last game drive in Botswana. On to the final leg of our trip tomorrow.
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  • Day14

    Chobe National Park

    July 6, 2017 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Given our success yesterday, I placed my animal order with Muffin before we left for our am game drive: pride of lions and leopard. And wouldn't you know, we found a pride of 8 lions with their cubs (about 8-10 months)! It's almost lunchtime now, so stay tuned for a leopard update!
    We also saw a large herd of Eland and then, during siesta time, we had 7 elephants drinking from the watering hole right in front of our deck. Tried calling the kids to show them, but wifi is very spotty at all of these lodges and the video and call broke up alot.
    PM update...
    So, no luck with the leopards. We did get some wonderful photos of impala mock-fighting and a giraffe bending over to eat. We saw more steenbuk (tiny and adorable antelope who are too skittish to get good pictures of!) And we saw spring hares (bunnies with long tails who hop like kangaroos). We had some incredible views of the animals like one would see in a safari magazine. No complaints! The terrain here is interesting, dry grass spotted with burnt logs and short trees (really bushes). We tried to see young hyena at their den but they didn't cooperate with the 6:30 curfew (our curfew in the park, that is). We did get a sundown drink and snack in the park - off the front of the Jeep - before heading back to the lodge. (Corn nuts are awesome btw!)
    Back at the lodge we watched a large group of elephants, all ages, from our deck before dinner.
    When we went up to dinner, the lodge manager greeted us and told us that they had set up a private dinner for the 4 of us in the boma (a traditional Botswanese courtyard with a central log fire where, historically, court or mediation was held). It was really nice. We were served dinner there just as we would have in the dining room but sat side by side around the fire. Time to relax and get to bed. 😊
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  • Day13

    To Savute Elephant Camp - Chobe

    July 5, 2017 in Botswana ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Our morning game drive gave us 3 new animals, the reedbuck, the wildebeest and the hyena (who kindly led us down the road, looking back every few steps to make sure we were following!). Onx also educated us on termite mounds (way more interesting than you'd think) and regaled us with a poop-spitting competition between him and Jimmy (a 2nd guide). Yes, you read that correctly! They used antelope poop though it is much stickier than giraffe poop, the preferred ammunition for this contest. And now I officially know way more information about animal dung than I ever needed to!!
    Onx drove us to the airstrip (2 minutes away) and we said goodbye. He has a wonderful personality and we enjoyed our time with him.
    The pilot asked if I wanted the co-pilot seat and I jumped at the chance. We flew for 10 minutes before picking up 4 more passengers. Unfortunately, whether I sit in the front or the back, 8 seater planes don't agree with me. I got sick and it was miserable. Luckily, the 2nd leg of the flight was only 30 minutes. Just about 28 minutes too long!
    Our new guide, Muffin, picked us up at the airstrip and drove us the 1/2 hour to the Savute Lodge. Rooms are identical to the Kwhai River Lodge.
    We ate lunch (though I wasn't too hungry) and we went back to the rooms to relax. I fell asleep outside in the chaise lounge, only to be woken up by a squirrel (?) gnawing on my knee!!! Note to self, no sleeping outside here!
    I couldn't help but give the lodge manager, Steve, a hard time about the camp's attack squirrels. We asked that, in return, he make sure we saw a lion 🦁and cheetah 🐆 (the latter, rare in these parts) on our afternoon game drive. He promised to try. Before we left, he put out a wooden lion and cheetah for us. 😂
    BUT, wouldn't you know, we saw the lion (1 male sleeping) and 2 cheetah eating the tsessebe they had just killed!! It was awesome! We also saw ostrich, a Verreaux Eagle Owl, black-backed Jackal, a Kori bustard (huge land bird) and, to top it all off, an African wild cat! Way to go Muffin!
    We ate dinner (only soup and salad for me - still not feeling great and not a fan of lamb or pork) while watching elephants at the watering hole in front of the dining room. Then we relaxed in the room before bed.
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  • Day12

    Exploring The Okavango Delta

    July 4, 2017 in Botswana ⋅ 🌬 13 °C

    We got to sleep in today - a whole hour! They wake us up every morning with coffee and an hour later we are at breakfast. Another chocolate muffin for me! 😊
    We went out on a speed boat to search for wildlife. We saw hippos, crocodiles, elephant and lots of birds. Dad was happy. My favorite was the bright green 'little bee eater'.
    At noon, mom and dad went on their helicopter ride while Ken and I ate a quick lunch. A 1/2 hour later, we were driven to the helicopter pad (less than a 1/4 mile.) The ride was very fun. We got to add buffalo, ostrich and tsessebe (the fastest antelope) to our list of animals seen.
    After, we enjoyed a nice rest on our deck.
    We had tea at 3:30 and then went out for our afternoon excursion at 4. Today we traveled by mocoro (a dug out canoe for 2) navigated by a guide pushing us with a long rod through the grasses near the lodge. It was peaceful and relaxing. We saw several frogs and beautiful birds. We met up with other mocoros at a tablecloth lined table in the shallow water with champagne and a small snack. Attached to the champagne was a happy anniversary note to the Lessers and Bishops. 😊 Onx snuck out of the grasses to greet us. Everyone had a glass of champagne in the mocoro and it was lovely!
    We went back to the lodge and watched the sunset from the lodge-claimed 'most exclusive bar in the world'. It was beautiful!
    We had a Botswanese BBQ for dinner (appropriate given that it's July 4th today!) and staff entertainment to conclude the dinner. Dinner itself was mediocre but who's complaining. 😉 Anyway, any dinner accompanied by the beautiful sounds of bell frogs is perfect!
    Very nice day!
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  • Day11

    From one terrain to another

    July 3, 2017 in Botswana ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    After another delicious chocolate muffin for breakfast (for me anyway), we went out on a truncated game drive. 7:30 to 10:15 we searched for new species and cats, but luck was not on our side this morning. We saw, the now typical, zebra, impala and elephants with some more warthogs and dwarf mongoose for good measure. We said goodbye to Sello. (tip: $20/person/day is standard for the guide. We gave $10/person/day for rest of staff).
    By 10:40 we were on the 12 seater plane, headed for Eagle Island, another Belmond resort in the Kalahari desert of Botswana.
    Eagle Island Lodge is in the center of the Okavango Delta where the mighty Okavango River drains into the Kalahari. The Lodge was recently remodeled and is stunning! Our tent has a plunge pool (the water is too cold for me though), an indoor and outdoor shower, real windows and a view to rival any! The channels of water up to our deck are an easy path for any hippo, and there is evidence of elephant throughout the lodge grounds. While relaxing on our deck, I heard bleating and found a baby bush buck right next to our tent.
    We went on a sunset barge trip with our guide, Onx. He is actually the Belmond environmental manager and is in charge of all the safaris and guides for the 3 Belmond camps. He was mom and dad's guide 3.5 years ago when they were here and loved him. Mom requested he guide us which he agreed to do, even though he doesn't guide anymore.
    We saw a few elephant and hippo. It's unbelievable how fast hippos can move in the water! The sunset was beautiful.
    Now dinner at the lodge and then our escort back to the tent to relax before a full day tomorrow. 😊
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  • Day10

    In search of the king of the jungle

    July 2, 2017 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    We heard lions last night with their short snoring like sounds, far from the lion roars you were taught as a child! After breakfast, at 7:30, we drove in the direction of the calls. From near our camp, we could see the lions, far across the river that our tents look onto. Sello told us it would take 45 minutes to get there and whether they would be there when we got there was anyone's guess. It was a risk we were willing to take. A lion hunting, we went! 🦁😊 We found 2 adult male lions resting and, soon after we showed up, they got up and walked away. We tracked one of them for awhile but never got as close again.
    After lunch (pasta with beef stroganoff) we had a lovely rest at the tent.
    We left for our afternoon safari after 'tea'. There was a group of vervet monkeys playing around (and in!) the dining area.
    No more big cats for us today, but we did get to see
    many hippos charging into the water, wart hogs, steenbok, dwarf mongoose, water buck, kudu, and multiple male elephants. We tried for a night game drive but it was long, cold (about 50 degrees but colder in moving vehicle) and unsuccessful.
    Now, back at the lodge having dinner (yummy chicken Kiev for me 😊) and will pack up before bed so we will be ready to leave after a quick game drove in the morning.
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  • Day9

    Safariing

    July 1, 2017 in Botswana ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    I know, not a word, but appropriate none the less! I'm sitting here, having afternoon 'tea' (with delicious lemon glazed cookies!), watching an elephant and listening to grunting hippos from the dining area of our lodge. It is quiet and peaceful and I couldn't be more content!
    We woke at 6am to the delivery of coffee, tea and crackers. Breakfast was at the lodge though Ken and I were late because we thought we had an extra 1/2 hour. Ah well. A quick bite later, we left with Sello for a game drive. We saw an adorable giraffe mom and baby and then joined many other safarians (I know, not a word again...) to hunt for a pack of wild dogs which we found! Very exciting since there are only 500 wild dogs in Botswana. They are skilled hunters with a nearly 100% kill rate when they are tracking prey. And they are ugly!
    We stopped for coffee and biscuits in the bush, aside our safari van, tablecloth and glassware included. Afterwards, we noticed another safari van had fallen into an 'elephant hole' - front left tire in the water and front right tire not even touching the ground! Luckily no one was hurt! Our guide, and another helped use their trucks to pull the other truck out.
    Then we headed back to the lodge for an afternoon 'siesta.' We each had a 30 minute massage included in our stay, which dad opted not to use, but mom, Ken and I each had ours during that time. We all chose a simple head, neck and hand massage. It was awesome! We had a nice buffet lunch of vegetable chili over jasmine rice. Then we relaxed at our tent after lunch and got our own safari viewing from our porch. We saw elephants, hippos and lechwe along with some very pretty birds. Tea time was at 3.
    We left for our 2nd safari of the day at 3:30. Our luck continued! We saw a 2 hour old lechwe who could barely stand, elephants that walked right next to us (and I mean - heart racing close!), African ground hornbills (that apparently don't usually like to be watched), a beautiful saddle-billed stork, a troop of baboons with a tiny baby in tow, a male and female kudu and those tenacious African dogs again.
    We stopped in the bush for a sunset drink and snack and then drove to, what's called the 'Boma'. The Boma is a dinner held twice a week on the Kwhai River lodge property where guests eat outside around a fire and have a buffet meal. Food was decent but not great. The staff sang traditional Botswana songs after dinner. As we were walked back to our rooms (guests must be accompanied by a staff member to walk around at night) we found 2 hippos right behind mom and dad's cabin. Luckily they weren't in the slightest bit interested in us as I understand they are incredibly dangerous if at all provoked.
    Tomorrow, we get to do it all again! 😊
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  • Day8

    Cape Town to Maun, Botswana

    June 30, 2017 in Botswana ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    We had a nice departure breakfast with our gracious hosts before heading to the airport at 8am. As we left Grety told Siggy she'd see him 'just now.' This, we've learned, is South African for 'in awhile.' Apparently, 'now, now' is now but imminently and 'now' is just happened. Whew! Foreign languages are tricky! 😂Our flight left right on time at 10:30am and landed 2 hours later at the small airport in Maun. Our next flight was scheduled to leave at 2:40 though schedules are flexible depending on timing of previous connecting flights. As we walked through security, we were greeted by our pilot. Now you don't see that everyday! We went from a 40 seater earlier in the day to a whopping 12 seater flight to get to our first safari camp - Belmond's River Khwai Lodge in the Kwhai River concession near the Moremi Game Reserve. Our lodging is beautiful. We met our guide, Sello (the same guide mom and dad had 3.5 years ago when they were here - intentionally) and went out on a game drive and had an ideal first game drive - impalas, red lechwe (water impalas), zebra, elephant, giraffe, lilac breasted rollers (beautiful bird), and the piece de resistance, a mother leopard with her 1 month old baby. Pictures below (with my cell phone) are not nearly as good as with my camera but give a good sense of what we saw.
    We had a lovely meal back at the lodge and then relaxed in our room.
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