Botswana

Botswana

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  • Day17

    Cold night, but able to get a good sleep. We were looking forward to an easy day, but woke up to find the tire, which we had just fixed the other day, was completely flat!! Found a big piece of wire stuck in tire so was a different issue than before. John was able to remove the wire and temporarily seal the leak. Used the compressor to fill to a drivable pressure and drove to nearest town to get it fixed. The temporary patch was too good and we could not find the leak. Put one of our spare tires on and will keep a close eye on the pressure. The last thing we want is to have to change a tire in the middle of the Kalahari desert heat with wildlife wandering around. We will let you know.Read more

  • Day18

    We do not want to sound repetitive, but another longer than expected drive from Khama to our first camp in the Kalahari. Partly our fault since we didn't follow an important rule when driving in most parts of Africa; fill up at every gas station! If you have only driven 10 miles since filling up and you see an open gas station, with gas, top up! Going into the Kalahari you have to be prepared for any situation since there are no services in the park and on a busy day you may only see one or two other travelers. So let's describe some of what we drive with. Our 4x4 has a 110 liter long range fuel tank. We also carry 40 extra liters in 2 cans on the roof. There's no water here so we have 40 liters of water in 2 cans, another 40 liters in an internal tank inside the 4x4 and a few 5 liter bottles. 2 spare tires, repair equipment for flats, hi-lift jack and a compressor to inflate repaired tires. Sand tracks if we get stuck in deep sand and a winch on front of the 4x4 so we can pull ourselves out if really stuck. A lot of stuff to carry, not including food and camping stuff, and hopefully we do not have to use this self-rescue equipment.
    Back to why it was a longer than planned drive. We had planned to do our last fuel 'top-up' in the last town before turning towards the entrance to the Kalahari. This is not a one-horse town, but a 2 donkey one fuel pump town with a windowless, brick structure called 'Her Majesty's Internet Cafe' called Rakops. We pulled up to the pump and a woman from the shade of her hut gave us the international sign - arms crossed in an X above her head, no gas and don't know when we'll get more. Our only option was to drive back 50 kilometers the way we had come to Mopipi where they hopefully had gas. Our calculations suggested an added hour driving but an extra 100kms worth of gas. We had also been pulled over on the way to Rakops for speeding, but managed to talk our way out of the fine. Going back to Mopipi, however, meant we had to go by the speed trap 2 more times - much more carefully.
    Once we were full of fuel (thankfully), we returned to Rakops and turned off the main road towards the Kalahari park entrance. Once you leave the main road in Botswana, everything is sand-or mud in the rainy season. Since they had an exceptionally wet, wet season, the roads were really impacted and have now turned to either bone rattling corrugation that goes for miles, interspersed with deep holes or deep, soft sand or a combination of all of these. With 50kms to the park gate and another 50kms to our first campsite it was great to finally get in, set up camp and go straight to bed.
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  • Day33

    Had another long drive to the top of the park - even though we opted for the "wet route".
    Driving only ~70 km took almost 5 hours. Granted, we got lost (i.e. were chicken to cross the big water without other vehicles around) and did stop to look at various animals, but still...
    Didn't see a ton of wildlife here, until our final morning. We had the best wildlife experience of our lives (sorry Casey & Marisa --- even beats the whale sharks!).
    While starting to get up and break camp, we heard some crashing and John saw a wild dog running on his way back from the abolution blocks. Insanely -- a pack of 7 wild dogs chased and caught the impala just a few yards from our campsite. We then spent an hour or so running around (Christy in pajamas) following the dogs as they moved around the area devouring the kill. Luckily our neighbors from 3rd bridge - Alistair, Denise, Henri & Wendy - were also with us watching the amazing sight. We were on foot and at one stage one of the dogs growled, and another barked at us to warn us not to get too close. Amazing morning. Best yet....
    The picture with Christy is with some of the park staff who were very excited when they arrived at work to find out there had been wild dogs in camp - and a kill. They were curious to know all the details, including where the kill happened and the behavior of the dogs. Believe it or not, even though a little gross, the guy standing next to Christy is holding part of the remains of the impala (a hip bone, we think). We know discussing a 'kill' may be a little unsettling for some, but the excitement comes purely from being this close to nature in it's rawest form, not from witnessing an animal lose its' life. The experience - the sounds, smells, who we were with, the different vantage points - will be something we will remember for the rest of our lives. Huge gratitude for the honor of being able to observe nature this closely.
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  • Day21

    The camps in the Kalahari are exceptional in that they're all in beautiful, shaded spots with nice views of the bush and they're incredibly private. Each group of camps only has ~4 camps each and they're generally spaced anywhere from 500 meters to 7 km apart from each other so you don't see, hear or feel as if you have any neighbors. It feels truly wild. This is reinforced by the nighttime noises and morning footprints you find in your camp from lots of critters, big and small. Had good sightings of lion (Cindy's big-headed males at last) and cheetah stalking some springbok, bat-eared foxes, jackals and other great critters. We had owls in both camps and got really good views of one of them. A less welcome visitor was a large puff adder (4-ish feet long) that was waiting in camp one late morning after we returned from our game drive. Yikes!Read more

  • Day25

    Bought some last minute supplies, dropped off the last of the rental gear that we decided we did not need, and left Maun refreshed, organized and ready for Moremi in the Okavango Delta.
    The road quickly turned to ruts, potholes and, finally...corrugated sand. We arrived at the South Gate and spoke to ranger who knew Magdalene, a ranger we had met seven years ago in Chobe, and learned she’s now at another park so we’re unlikely to see her this trip. One thing we’ve appreciated about the rangers here is they are generally very helpful and deeply passionate about their work.
    We continued on and found ourselves so tired and “over” the bad road, that when we turned a corner and found an elephant was completely blocking our path, we were momentarily annoyed…then reminded each other how utterly ridiculous this was and were able to relax and re-gain some much needed perspective.
    We arrived at our campsite – you guessed it… several hours later than planned!
    Our campsite backed right up to the thick reeds and water of the Delta, where we spent 5 nights. We didn't see too many critters, but we know there is a lot of wildlife here because we saw it on our last visit and we heard it non-stop in our campsite at night. The lions were roaring, the hippos munching on grass at the edge of camp and the hyenas were constantly ‘laughing’ as they ran through the campsites scavenging for whatever might have been left unattended. In the morning we look for animal prints in the sand to see who has visited during the night. It’s taking awhile to get used to and differentiate the sounds, since every creature - whether a tiny mouse running through the grass or an elephant pushing over a tree to feed on the leaves - sounds huge and too close for comfort. For those who do not want too-much-info sorry, but often the discussion as we are getting ready for bed, is how many times do we need to get up to go pee during the night. Inevitably, one of usually needs to pee (often John) just when we hear a lion roar or a hyena cackle. Whether this need to pee is brought on by the sounds of large predators wandering the camp, or whether said predators sense that someone may be leaving their tent and get excited about the prospect of a midnight snack, is hard to say.
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  • Day53

    Drove down to Savuti for 3 nights and were glad that the sand wasn’t as bad as we remembered (it had been a terrifying experience crossing a huge sand ridge on our past trip). The landscape there is very different, more dry and with large stands of baobob trees. Very beautiful. We saw some amazing elephants at the water holes there, a lioness in the distance, and most exciting of all a group of 4 wild dogs! We’ve been fortunate enough to now see wild dogs 5 different times! This sighting was interesting because the dogs had just eaten and were simply sleeping on the road. We were able to observe them for a few hours, sleeping, playing, and interacting with each other and sometimes with the vehicles there – including chewing on our tire - as they’re very inquisitive creatures.Read more

  • Day57

    Back to Ihaha for a night, where we enjoyed a beautiful drive back up and were lucky enough to see an elephant crossing the very deep river. So fun to watch that versatile trunk become a snorkel. Fun times. We will miss this park, but aren’t sure if we’ll be back. Not sure why it is that when something becomes more crowded, it somehow takes away from the feeling of authenticity and the excitement of discovering and sighting animals on your own. We hope Zambia is as wild as we remember it, we’ll keep you posted.
    One last thing to report with rather mixed feelings. While having breakfast on our last morning and enjoying the sun coming up over the Chobe river, a baboon we'd seen on previous occasions came into camp and tried to grab breakfast. John was behind the truck because he'd seen this guy earlier up the hill (recognizable by a withered arm). The baboon had snuck around a nearby bush and rushed straight for Christy at the front of the truck. Christy threw her yogurt bowl --then a spoon -- when he kept coming at her with teeth bared being very aggressive and scary. John managed to grab our pepper spray and get some in his face - but he also got plenty in his own face, too! The baboon took off, but obviously had lost fear of humans. On the way out, Christy spoke to one of the rangers, who said "I'm going to go see about him" as he pulled out a rifle and started loading what looked to be real bullets. Of course, we feel sad and responsible on the one hand knowing that we signed that creature's death sentence. Yet on the other hand, the baboon had become a serious danger (he'd also been aggressive with other campers that morning as we heard screams and also shared stories at the abolition block). Definitely people's fault (making food too accessible/possibly feeding them), not the baboon's, that he'd become this way. Sad.
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  • Day30

    Third bridge was just 15km from our previous camp. However, it was going to be the biggest driving challenge so far, with several water crossings to negotiate. We talked to other travelers and received a surprising range of responses about their experiences from “you’ll have no problems just take it slow and steady”, to “OMG I do not want to ever do that again!” We did a little scouting trip the other day to get an idea of what was coming, but turned around about 5km in, after completing a couple of small water crossings and coming upon a longer crossing where the options were what looked like a murky water of undetermined depth or a black mud path, which looked like it had recently devoured the previous vehicle trying to navigate across. We decided to turn back as we have to cross this in a couple of days anyway, so why do it twice?
    Third bridge is just past the infamous Fourth Bridge, which lives large in the Christy and John travel legend. This is where, apparently, approximately 7 years ago, John plotted to have Christy devoured by lions. Third bridge itself also lives in infamy for John, where it was proved that he might be further down the evolutionary ladder than he thought he was after being out-witted by some very clever baboons. Many have heard this story, but John may tell it again later after we safely get through the water crossings.
    Had an amazing stay here -- saw wild dogs! They ran through camp, which we missed, but then we raced (in the truck) to the front gate and spotted them. Unfortunately there weren't any great photos because: 1) the wrong lens was on on the camera, 2) John was driving and Christy doesn't know how to use said camera, 3) Christy panicked and couldn't get a good shot. The dogs ran up the road and we pursued. John tried taking a photo through the window, but the only photo we could get was of the dog pooping. Sorry folks. That's the only good shot we got!
    Met some super nice folks from Cape Town who invited us on a boat cruise on the Delta. Stunningly beautiful. They were also going to Khwai next...more on that soon.
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  • Day10

    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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  • Day15

    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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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Botswana, Botswana, Bɔtswana, ቦትስዋና, Botsuana, Botsƿana, بتسوانا, Botsvana, Батсвана, Ботсвана, Bɔtisiwana, বোত্‍সওয়ানা, བོཙ་ཝ་ན།, Bocvana, Botswana nutome, Μποτσουάνα, Bocvano, بوتسوانا, Botswaana, Botsouana, An Bhotsuáin, બોત્સ્વાના, Baswana, בוטסוואנה, बोत्सवाना, Բոտսվանա, ボツワナ共和国, ბოტსვანა, បុតស្វាណា, ಬೋಟ್ಸ್‌ವಾನಾ, 보츠와나, بۆتسوانا, Botiswana, ບອັດສະວານາ, Mbotswana, Botsvāna, Botsoana, Боцвана, ബോട്സ്വാന, बोट्सवाना, ဘော့စ်ဝါနာ, Botwana, बोट्स्वाना, ବୋଟସ୍ବାନ୍, බොස්ට්වානා, Botuswaana, Bocuana, போட்ஸ்வானா, బోట్స్వానా, บอตสวานา, Potisiuana, بوتسۋانا, Bốt-xoa-na (Botswana), Zvanän, Orílẹ́ède Bọ̀tìsúwánà, 博茨瓦纳, i-Botswana

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