Published: April 13th 2008March 31st 2008
Early Morning, K'Dar
Whilst waiting for breakfast, I'd wandered around the camp looking for signs of wildlife. I'd had the rear view of a Cape Buffalo and some small deer, lots of Francolin and grouse, but nothing that would come into the open. Instead, I had to make do with shooting some shots of the sunrise.
Another beautiful African morning dawned and I was up again at 06h45 in order to go and explore the local bush for signs of early morning wildlife. My fellow traveller had had the remarkable good fortune in capturing the moment a ground squirrel popped its head out of its burrow but I was having no such luck. Capturing the sunrise through the trees was a poor second best and so I headed off to a breakfast of yoghurt, cornflakes, coffee and eggs instead.
After spending a great deal of time packing up my belongings (ok, I wrapped up my wash items in their carrier bag), I went out into the sun and put my bag into the back of the truck. Brian and Jill had more to pack than I did (let’s face it, I’ve seen tramps in London carrying more than me) so I took the opportunity to go and look for more photo opportunities in the bush. I didn’t have to go far when I spotted the ostrich. If that wasn’t enough, it was shortly joined by another, then a third, a fourth and then some. Knowing of their powerful legs and their love of kicking, I kept
Ostrich in the Camp
Apparently, this little group of Ostrich made a daily trip to the kitchen area where they would bathe in the sand and follow it up with a cracking breakfast from the bins.
my distance and watched as they headed towards the kitchen area.
In the early morning sun, I watched as some of the ostrich took a sand bath, flapping their tiny wings creating large clouds of choking dust obscuring their view. Revitalised by their new found cleanliness, it was off to scour the rubbish bins for breakfast. Pecking delicately as only an ostrich can, they feasted apparently oblivious to their audience. By this time, I’d been joined by Alfred, Brian and Jill - and also spotted by the ostrich, who decided that possibly we were too close. Retreating around the corner of the building, one of the birds came to check that we had moved away, affording the opportunity of some great close up shots.
Retiring to the truck, we stowed all our equipment and headed back towards the main road. Shortly after setting off though, we passed a clearing on our left and in the middle was a small termite mound surmounted by a kudu lit up in the bright early morning sunshine. It was all very Lion King
and both Brian and I were so taken in by the sight that neither of us had the wherewithal
to unpack our cameras and take a photo. That was a valuable lesson and the cameras were never packed after that missed opportunity.
Returning to the main road, Alfred warned us that we’d be travelling across several Foot and Mouth zones and instructed us as to what to expect. No action would need to be taken if there were no outbreaks in the vicinity, but at least we were warned.
It was no surprise then that the long straight drive which was broken only by the occasional animal distraction came to a halt at the first such checkpoint. Alfred stopped as instructed and, after exchanging pleasantries with the guards, was sent off. Continuing on, we passed several baobab trees standing proudly in the bush then a couple of round houses visible from the round and, shortly before arriving in Toteng, we were brought to a complete standstill at the next checkpoint. This time, we weren’t so lucky and, whilst all the wheels were sprayed, we all had to take all of our shoes and walk across a disinfectant pad and wait for Alfred to be given permission to collect us. After the confines of the truck, it was
A little too close for comfort
Whilst I was waiting for the remainder of the group to arrive, a family of Ostrich arrived in camp. Staying around the side of the building, I was joined by my 3 travellers. Whilst taking photographs, one got a little too excited and approached us, causing us to back away rather smartly. Result - a nice close-up!
surprising cooling waiting in the shadow of a tree for our transport.
Arriving in Maun, we headed for the airport and, pulling into the side of the road, Alfred welcomed us to the most tourist friendly town in Botswana. He also warned us of opportunistic thieves.
Whilst Alfred went off to confirm the details of our trip the following day, whilst we, closely guarding our belongings, went to change South African Rand into Botswanan Pula (meaning ‘rain’) and headed off for some lunch at Bon Arrivé, a delightful restaurant opposite the airport. Opting to sit inside, we noticed that this fine establishment contained many aerial artefacts and amusing photographs. Amongst the photos of planes running into animals, vehicles and buildings was one depicting a line of 8 or 9 lions sheltering from the hot sun in the shadow underneath an aircraft wing.
After a meal comprising toasted chicken sandwich and a bottle of St. Louis, we set off to top up with fuel and find a torch, which I’d be needing over the next few days. I did have a torch; it was just that it was in my rucksack which was, by now, probably enjoying
School Children in Maun
I spotted these kids just after lunch as we drove through Maun. As in many other countries, the school day starts early and finishes early so that the children can return home and help in the fields, etc.
a holiday of its own in Bermuda. Tasks done, we arrived at the Crocodile Camp for an evening of - well - nothing really but total relaxation and looking for birds, hippos and crocodiles.
Having picked up our keys from Reception, we carried our heavy bags (correction, they carried their heavy bags - I just had a little carrier bag) to our individual lodges. My stunning room came complete with ceiling fan, mosquito net, flask and curtains that covered half the window. Whilst I had a flask, I had nothing in which to boil water. My fellow travellers had, on the other hand, a kettle but nothing in which to put the hot water!
After freshening up, I grabbed my camera and headed for the river bank. It was only 14h30 and the bar was nearly empty. Grabbing the most suitable table, I settled down to view the scenery, have (another) St. Louis and read. Situated on the side of the river in the very hot sun, one could not have asked for a better place to relax.
Not being by any means a twitcher, that afternoon afforded the pleasure of Kingfishers, Starlings and Crakes, as well
Croc Camp, Maun
This was my lodge for the night at the Croc Camp. With all mod cons including a ceiling fan, tea and coffee, shower and separate WC although I was missing a kettle.
I slept under the mosquito net but learned in the morning that mosquitoes are weak fliers and are defeated by the air currents produced by a ceiling fan - even when it is on its lowest setting.
as Bream and African Pike swimming amongst the canoes moored underneath the bar. In the distance, a field full of donkeys was making their presence heard too, their brays resounding through the quiet late afternoon air.
All too soon, the sun dropped, the mosquitoes came out and dinner beckoned. Retiring to the restaurant, we were served with a very traditional butternut squash soup, beef, a fruit kebab and a rather fine bottle of South African Merlot. Life on safari can be very tough!
There are more photos below