African Poem -- Part Next


Mar 16th, 2006, 12:30 PM
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African Poem -- Part Next

For those of you who are interested, following are the chapters about our stops at Little Vumbura and Tubu Tree.

--------Little Vumbura--------

So on to the Okovango Delta,
Which is certainly an amazing place.
Called Sea of Land and Land of Water,
It will put a smile on anyone’s face.

The view from the plane was spectacular,
The expanse of water just amazing.
We landed at Vumbura International,
Good thing no warthogs had been grazing.

Little Vumbura was a sight to behold,
Truly a magical water wonderland.
Flood water flowing through tall grass and reeds
Into the deep, brown Kalahari sand.

The flood is the highest in the last ten years,
Often the water’s up to the jeep’s hood.
It doesn’t seem to alarm the natives,
But we’re not sure this can be all that good.

We have to use a boat to get to the camp,
Which of course is mostly built up on stilts.
It actually had to be abandoned once,
So the tents could be raised up and rebuilt.

Katherine and Ross are the hosts here,
Assisted by a grad student named Debs.
She’s out in the bush doing research,
Studying the flood’s flows and ebbs.

Linda found the décor to her liking.
After days of nothing but beige and green,
Vumbura’s color scheme focused on blue,
Which makes good sense in this watery scene.

That afternoon we opted for a “cruise,”
In a small boat we floated through the grass.
With Modkosi, the King of the River,
As day lilies and small birds we pass.

The other guests here, an interesting bunch.
Frenchman Paschal and his wife Michelle.
He was very nice, she didn’t say much,
Because she doesn’t speak English that well.

German Thom and his wife round out the group,
His English wasn’t great, so little talk, man.
But that didn’t really matter all that much,
On the game drive he listened to his Walkman.

At 3 a.m. we heard loud noises,
In the pitch black darkness of the night.
It was a hippo’s nearby noshing
That had given us both such a fright.

Tom wanted to see what was happening,
So he felt in the dark for the flashlight.
But Linda clearly would have none of that.
She wouldn’t disturb hippos for any sight.

Next morning we saw proof of the hippos,
Huge footprints in the sand that was damp.
Not only had they been in the water,
They had been wandering all through the camp.

Next morn Modkosi poled the mokoro,
As we glided through tall papyrus,
The natives say that these marshes are special.
Now we know why they make such a fuss.

No sound but the slight swoosh of the water
As through reeds and lilies we silently pass,
We hear the calls of birds and tiny frogs,
And see trees reflecting on water smooth as glass.

On the evening drive with Malinga,
We came upon a large giraffe horde,
With one little guy still so very young,
Hanging down was his umbilical cord.

We found a large group of ostriches,
Then two young hyenas out on their own.
The pair weren’t eating high on the hog
But were gnawing on a very old bone.

We then got a call from another jeep,
They had spotted a leopard in the brush.
We briefly got stuck in the muddy road,
As we sped towards the cat in a rush.

As it turned out we didn’t have to hurry.
The leopard was nowhere to be seen.
But a troop of baboons was acting as if
The cat was still near where he had been.

Three adult male baboons were on guard,
One standing up on two legs on a mound,
With one up in a tree for good viewing.
These three guys intended to stand their ground.

A leopard is a frightening predator,
A lightning-quick and powerful beast.
But discretion can overcome hunger,
When confronted by such numbers, at least.

The other jeeps got tired of waiting,
They went off in search of other prey.
But after having been stuck in the mud,
We arrived late, so we wanted to stay.

The baboons still thought their enemy was near,
So we drove around the bushes seeking
Some sign of the elusive leopard,
When -- Look, in that brush, what’s that peeking?

Our patience was this time rewarded.
The big cat came out, and started walking.
Slowly it wandered this way and that,
It was just ambling, clearly not stalking.

Malinga maneuvered the jeep in front
Of the route the leopard was taking.
We crossed its slow path several times,
Tom’s picture-taking record was breaking.

After a while we had seen our fill,
It was late, so we had to drive home faster.
But what was all of this stuff in our face?
It was as if we were in a sandblaster.

Midgies, they call them, gnats out at dusk,
By the jillions, as we drove through the grasses.
So tiny they are, but they pelted us still,
As we tried to hide our eyes behind glasses.

But that didn’t keep them out of our mouths,
So Linda tried a bandana for cover.
Tom hid behind his green mesh-topped hat.
Only when we got back to camp was it over.

While we were at Vumbura they moved the jeeps
To a spot where the water was lower.
They were afraid that the dirt dam might break,
So the cruise back to camp was much slower.

Malinga was a skilled game drive guide,
But his boat driving was not such a match.
Numerous times as we cruised back to camp,
We ended up pretty deep in the thatch.

Vumbura was truly a wonderland,
Watery though it may have been.
A mix of the old and the new worlds,
And landscapes we never had seen.

We saw lots of water, and animals, too.
A fish eagle, an old elephant bull,
A grassy-horned kudu, a swimming monkey,
Big white cranes -- our game card was getting full.

Floating through the grass, hippos in the camp,
Water rising at an alarming rate.
New experiences here at Vumbura,
Now on to Tubu Tree – we hardly can wait.

----------Tubu Tree---------

Vivacious Sandra and Australian Martin
Were our hosts at the unique Tubu Tree.
Moyo, our guide, was simply fantastic,
Tracking animals and chasing lechwe.

Sandra’s high energy and radiant smile
Added even more to the charm of Tubu.
“Awesome,” “Cool beans,” and “No worries,”
Pretty much sum up Sandra’s happy world view.

Speaking of views, Tubu has one from the loo,
And it is quite a sight to behold.
You can gaze out at lechwe and zebras,
While you’re sitting on porcelain cold.

The trappings at Tubu are spectacular,
Even compared to others we had seen.
A tree-trunk bar, a blue pool, a sand beach,
All surrounded by a canopy of green.

The tents are raised above the ground on stilts,
With balconies providing fabulous views.
“Dumela” was our tent, which means “hello,”
A more beautiful place one couldn’t choose.

Linda took her first outdoor shower,
Outside our Tubu Tree tent one day.
She marveled at her own personal rainbow,
While splashing and giggling all the way.

Showering under the warm, bright sunshine,
By cool water our energy was restored.
And I guess that we really should be grateful
That a baboon watching nearby was bored.

Our dog-loving partners on the game drives
Were Stephanie and Jeff from D.C.
They certainly were very well equipped,
With more photo gear than NBC.

The first game drive wasn’t all that great.
Although Moyo drove us all around,
We didn’t find the wild dogs we sought,
But even worse, the LandRover broke down.

The next morning was much better, by far.
We saw our first hippos, tsessebes, and lechwe.
But the star of that drive was a lioness
That made for an exciting mid-day.

We saw her briefly at a waterhole,
But from there she had gone into thick brush.
But Moyo tracked her into the palmettoes,
He took his time, there was no need to rush.

Jeff said he saw some fur through the fronds,
Although the rest of us just couldn’t see it.
He vowed he was one hundred percent sure,
And wasn’t hesitant to decree it.

After a while the rest of us also saw
The red, but unmoving, fur of a lechwe.
And then suddenly we saw even more –
The lioness’ head, moving so slightly.

You couldn’t really see her tawny fur
Until she had raised up her huge head.
“I can get us closer,” suggested Moyo.
“No, thanks, ten feet is close enough,” we all said.

So that game drive had been exciting,
Our first tracking of a cat to its lair.
We went back, had brunch, and took showers.
For the late game drive we had to prepare.

But as we lay in our tent relaxing,
Sandra came by, asking if we were too busy.
Moyo and Jackson had gone out early
And found the wild dogs – we rushed out in a tizzy!

Since one jeep had broken the night before,
We piled into the back of an old truck.
“No worries,” we said, as Sandra drove on,
We were just so thrilled at our good luck.

Moyo was where he had found the three dogs,
As around a large tree they were walking.
But our good luck continued to hold.
They weren’t just walking, they were stalking.

About fifty red lechwes were grazing
Nearly two hundred meters away.
One of the dogs hopped up over the grass
So it could see to locate the prey.

Suddenly the dogs sprinted after the herd.
The noise of the fleeing lechwes was quite loud.
The young dog swam after a lone lechwe,
The two alpha dogs chased after the crowd.

Two hyenas, hearing the ruckus,
Came to see if there was a kill they could steal.
But, alas, at least for the predators,
From this hunt they would not get a meal.

Three wild dogs splashing after the lechwe,
Two hyenas joining in the fray.
But to Linda’s relief there was no kill
In the chase we had watched from far away.

Despite the rare treat, we still weren’t satisfied.
“We’d like to see them up close,” we all frowned.
When Moyo made sounds like a wounded prey,
The dogs came to investigate from high ground.

Some people think that wild dogs are so cute.
But Linda and Tom don’t really agree.
It’s true that their markings are interesting,
But it’s clear that they have no pedigree.

We saw the dogs again later that day,
But they seemed to be tired and frustrated.
They just lay in the middle of the road.
No action, no matter how long we waited.

Despite their lethargy, we can’t complain,
Their hunt had been a thrill we won’t forget.
As evening approached they strolled down the road,
Then down the airstrip into the sunset.

The Tubu excitement wasn’t over,
The next day we had another great treat.
A leopard was seen stalking impala,
It was clearly seeking something to eat.

But again, alas, no meal for the cat,
A lone lechwe buck walking by spoiled its day.
Coming from downwind the lechwe got spooked,
And, being warned, the impala ran away.

We had to rush back, Jeff and Steph were late,
They had to leave to go to their next camp.
But first they had to share their videos,
And the Tubu staff gave their approval stamp.

One thing you see a lot of out in the bush
Are large termite mounds, rising up from the sand.
They are good vantage points to scan around,
And one even resembled a huge hand.

It’s pretty hard to pick out the highlight
Of the two days we stayed at Tubu Tree camp.
Not only were we very lucky,
But Moyo, along with Jackson, was a champ.

A lioness with her kill under a bush,
A splashing lechwe, foiling a big cat.
Three spotted wild dogs stalking their prey,
It would be mighty hard to top that.

But our next, and last, stop was Mombo,
Famous for its “Today Show” appearance.
We still sought buffalos, and more lions,
And tomorrow would be our last chance.
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Mar 16th, 2006, 03:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 109
'Liked the "view from the loo" and the "midges" stories. 'Sounds like a great trip! These places are not on my itinerary, but it's still great to hear about them. This must have taken quite a while to put together!
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