A Senior Safari

Old Jan 3rd, 2020, 06:06 AM
  #21  
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On an afternoon drive we joined the Marsh pack of wild dogs as they prepared to hunt. Itís a large pack of twenty five dogs (recently twenty-six, but one was missing that day and perhaps permanently).

They fussed around for a while, readying themselves. As the vibe went out that the dogs were going to hunt, nervous heads bobbed up in the long grass all around. A few false starts got them in the mood and suddenly they were off after something in the distance.

We followed as fast as we could; it was surprising how many antelope heads they ran right by without seeming to notice the easy meal. Those who survived were able to maintain an utter stillness.

We covered a lot of ground in several wild chases of flushed game that managed to escape. Suddenly a reedbuck soared high into the air and landed in a small lake. It swam to the further shore, where its luck continued as it scrambled past the jaws of a waiting crocodile. Hot stuff!

The wild dogs were done. They were tired and it was now too dark to hunt; it would be a hungry night.
As for us, we had sundowners surrounded by a brilliantly beautiful sunset and a concurrent rise of the huge orange moon. And on the drive towards the welcome lights of camp ó a giant eagle owl. It was almost too much for one day.



We loved the location of Kwando Lagoon Camp on the banks of the Kwando River. In order to give me a more stable footing, they put us in the family suite which is close to the center of camp and connected to it with wooden walkways. Though the camp is quite intimate, with fewer guests than Splash, the suite is huge and has the best view: the lagoon itself, which is a wide place as the river turns a corner. The staff were very lively here, young and friendly.

If you did nothing but sit all day in front of the enormous window in the suite, you would likely see a safariís worth of animals and birds without moving. Breeding herds of elephants came to drink, swim and cross to the other bank several times a day. Herons fished round the clock. A family of hippos was in residence, their snorts and bellows a frequent refrain.

Looking out in the grey dawn, you could see their generous bodies waddle towards the water after a night of grazing, only to slip in soundlessly and disappear without a trace. Moments later their comical nostrils and tiny ears emerged many yards away.

The territory here is vast, varied, empty and very beautiful, with numerous trees of different species, and grassy plains which are sometimes under water. There are pans, ponds, lakes, and the meandering river, which brings life. Guide Wago and tracker James had to work hard to cover the distances. It was tantalizing to look to the distant horizon and to think of all the animal life beyond, which probably knew little or nothing of people.

Being on the borders of Namibia, there is a military presence here, on the look out for illegal immigration and poaching. We came across patrolling soldiers during drives.

Last edited by shouldbewriting; Jan 3rd, 2020 at 06:08 AM.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2020, 07:26 AM
  #22  
 
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Thanks shouldbewriting for more of your wonderful reporting

<<Being on the borders of Namibia, there is a military presence here, on the look out for illegal immigration and poaching. We came across patrolling soldiers during drives. >>

I was surprised at the major problem many South African countries have with illegal immigration.


Hurry Up I'm waiting for more Gee Whiz !! .. Ooops sorry, I just wrapped myself across the knuckles
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Old Jan 4th, 2020, 04:13 AM
  #23  
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A motor boat ride proved to be my biggest challenge since the airport bus incident. (I was beginning to handle the bush flights better using the short step ladder and scooting on my butt to beyond my seat, then maneuvering myself back into it. I wore out the seat of my pants doing this however.)

Getting down into the double decker boat was tricky but manageable and we set off into the evening sun, me on the lower deck with the guides and coolers and everyone else aloft. It was lovely on the water, cooler than ashore, with glimpses of water-lilies, kingfishers and the occasional croc.

But, turning a corner, we came on the surreal vision of three dead hippopotamuses. I won’t forget the sight of them, beached and bloated with their sad short legs in the air. No-one knew what could have happened, an illness perhaps, though it was a possible that the river water was too warm and shallow. The army would be informed and would investigate. (We saw two more in another part of the river on a different occasion, and later learned that the cause of death was naturally occurring anthrax.)

After sundowners we returned to the mooring to face the problem of getting me ashore. With help, I managed to climb the ladder from the deck to the gunwale, but from there to the steep embankment was literally a bridge too far. After several polite but fruitless attempts by the guides to get me across the gap, Spencer — a very tall well-built and good humored guy —exclaimed, “There’s nothing else for it. It’s got to be the African way!” With that, he got me in a tight grasp, swung me through the air and planted me on solid ground. The African way! Of course! Why hadn’t we been doing that all along? I thanked him profusely.

In the flashlight beam on the way home I remembered why I was putting myself and everyone else through this: an aardwolf and a civet.

Over the course of eight game drives at Lagoon we saw a small pack of wild dogs resting after a hunt, and the tracks of a male leopard who was deemed “too shy” to follow. We saw innumerable lilac breasted rollers, many posing like pros. We saw a spectacular journey of seventeen giraffe from babies on up. We saw the wreckage caused by elephants and large herds of the elephants themselves. We saw big herds of buffalo and herds of antelope, some rare; and we finally saw, after a very long morning of tracking for miles over all manner of habitat, with Wago and James sometimes wandering around beside the Jeep, a very calm, cooperative and completely lovely female leopard.

This was the first really good close long look I’d had at a leopard on this trip, and indeed ever, and it was well worth waiting for. She had been born here in the vicinity and had no fear of trucks, of people taking her picture and tracking her every move. In fact, a couple with a private vehicle spent three hours following her around after the rest of us left. I’m not sure I’d have been comfortable doing that, but presumably it isn’t considered intrusive.

Wago referred to her as “relaxed”, and she was. She was resting on the shady side of a tree, on a slight rise, and nestled against the bark. We almost drove past her. Apparently in the peak of youth and health, her body was lithe, her coat was sleek and her eyes were clear. What a gorgeous creature! Seeing her, so alive, and at home in those seemingly empty surroundings was somehow unbelievable and is something I won’t forget.


One afternoon Wago set course for a sight I’d read about and was longing to see. After a long drive he pulled up at a spot overlooking a lagoon partially covered with bright green weed and home to numerous hippos. On a distant sand bank there were signs and sounds of bird activity and we drove over with increasing excitement.

It was one of the sites where hundreds of carmine bee- eaters go to nest, and we arrived right on time: the end of the day, and they were flying in to their nesting tunnels in the sand. Against the emerald green back drop of the lagoon, which was now dotted with the staring heads of curious hippos, the brilliant red and blue birds cascaded out of the sky in waves. The air was full of piercing cries and sprays of sand as they clawed vigorously into the tunnels. A monitor lizard patrolled the perimeter, awaiting his chance. There would be eggs for supper. I think it’s safe to say that all of us were gobsmacked.

This extraordinary sight concluded the wonders we’d encountered in Botswana. One month later, I am still thinking about it every day, and dreaming about it every night. It took a few weeks to recover physically (our return journey lasted forty hours) and now with another full moon over head, I am almost — almost! — ready to think about another journey.
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Old Jan 4th, 2020, 05:54 AM
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WOW! shouldbewriting now I understand your name. You really should be writing. As others have stated,. while reading your report I could absolutely picture everything you describe so vividly and almost felt as though I was there with you.
You had an incredible adventure and I am so grateful you shared it with us.
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Old Jan 4th, 2020, 06:17 AM
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schmerl, your wonderful words of appreciation are so encouraging. Thank you so much!
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Old Jan 4th, 2020, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by schmerl View Post
WOW! shouldbewriting now I understand your name. You really should be writing. As others have stated,. while reading your report I could absolutely picture everything you describe so vividly and almost felt as though I was there with you.
You had an incredible adventure and I am so grateful you shared it with us.
I will echo that.

You made everything so vivid shouldbewriting.

Having seen many of those animals and birds I can deeply appreciate your "real life" explanation of the events and sites you saw

and your unique and excellent way of writing about your adventure.

Thank You for taking the time to do this trip report
i
.



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Old Jan 4th, 2020, 11:00 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by schmerl View Post
WOW! shouldbewriting now I understand your name. You really should be writing. As others have stated,. while reading your report I could absolutely picture everything you describe so vividly and almost felt as though I was there with you.
You had an incredible adventure and I am so grateful you shared it with us.
Agreed 100%. Very well written, in fact so much so, that I'm yearning for photos!!

I want to return to Africa to "play" with the Silverbacks and to go on safari in Tanzania and/or Kenya, but DW......
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Old Jan 4th, 2020, 11:20 AM
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Thanks, Percy and dcd! Himself is on board for a few photos but has experienced computer difficulties which will have to be resolved at the Apple store when he gets back up there in a couple of weeks. In other words, don’t hold your breath. (I have seen some and they are worth waiting for.)
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Old Jan 4th, 2020, 05:19 PM
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I definitely agree with everyone. Your writing is so descriptive, it evokes wonderful mental pictures. Thanks so much for sharing your adventure.
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Old Jan 5th, 2020, 11:27 AM
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Agree! shouldbewriting shouldbewriting.

A healthy leopard is a stunning sight. That yellow color! We were lucky to see a pair (likely together just to breed) at close range just off the road in Kruger in the "wrong" month of February.

We were on a birding-focused tour and saw some of those lovely carmine bee-eaters and cooperative lilac rollers too. Our most special sightings were a Secretary bird stomping a snake and a male shaft tailed whydah in breeding plumage (not my photo)

https://images.app.goo.gl/HpVphrFPy5FvJ3DG8
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 05:10 AM
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mlgb, those photos are stunning! We love birds too.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 06:29 AM
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What a wonderfully written descriptive report. You have me wanting to go on a safari.

Last edited by Paqngo; Jan 6th, 2020 at 06:30 AM. Reason: Emoji
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Old Jan 10th, 2020, 05:06 PM
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Thank you for this wonderful report. I'm in the exploring stages and I appreciated the reminder that this won't get easier as the years fly by.
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Old Apr 12th, 2020, 12:27 PM
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I missed this first time around. Beautiful trip report, shouldbewriting. I had to read it like I read books about Mma Ramotwse, very slowly and savoring every word. Thanks for sharing! And I'm so happy for you that you were able to take this amazing trip to Africa.
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Old Apr 13th, 2020, 06:52 AM
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Thank you, everyone!

sundowner, much appreciate your very kind remarks. We were only saying yesterday that, given the current health crisis, we were so very lucky to have made the trip in the nick of time. We have many memories to enjoy as we isolate at home.
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