Saturday, August 26, 2006

Okavanga, Botswana: Babies and more babies

We made our way to the main tent about 615am and fortunately for us, the elephant from last night found a much more interesting place so we could actually leave our tent. We had hot porridge from a campfire pot (although they do have a fully functional kitchen making as great food as I myself would make). It was so creamy and delicious and with hot milk, it was positively yummy. Yummy oatmeal sounds like a bit of an oxymoron but it’s true.



I knew that nothing could top the day I had yesterday but I was wrong. On our way to the early morning drive, the six of us ( a family of 4 from the UK living in Botswana), Martin and Richard decided that we would go back to lat night’s scene to see what had happened. There we found not six lions well satiated and contently laying around their kill. But there was a pleasant surprise waiting for us. In the midst of all the gory scene were two of the most beautiful lion cubs I have ever seen. Richard said they are only about 3-4 weeks old. They were laying beside what I thought was their mother but looking slightly away from the camera. I used Izabel’s call again and as soon as I said a soft Psst, they looked over my way and I got another postcard perfect picture except mine is better because I didn’t set up an unmanned camera and leave it to take an automatic picture. I was there in person, taking the picture about 15 feet away from them. I definitely have to post all my pictures on a webpage. Those little darlings were perfect. I literally could stare at them all day. Martin said that if one of us got up now and walked out in the middle of the pride (that’s what a group of lions are called), they would likely not attack us because they are too full. None of us were willing to test out that theory so we watched the babies for quite a while. That was certainly more entertaining than the scene nearby. Now this may be too gory for some of you so choose to skip over if you want to. I’ll put it in italics so that it’s easier to skip over.

The buffalo was laying there, the testicles gone from the scene the night before. It was dismembered and the intestines eaten. The lungs were strewn over by the head waiting to be eaten later I suppose. The liver was by the rear hind legs. Then there was the mounds of grass from the intestine laying about 18 inches away from where the belly used to be. Part of the back rump was eaten, so there was a gaping hole about the size about a basketball. Thn there was part of the face missing, the top lip being completely eaten down to the teeth and gums. One ear was gone and there was a pool of dried blood at the belly area. The top back leg was in the air from rigor mortis I guess but it showed the missing belly area. Okay so how many of you read it? If you did, you have to write a comment on the blog admitting that you your curiosity got the better of you and even though you were warned that it was going to be gory, you were like a moth to a flame. Couldn’t resist, eh? It’s like driving by an accident and not looking. How’s that for good writing? Remember to admit to reading this on the blog!!

I continued to watch the baby lions for about 30 minutes then we drove off looking for other things. Well to say the sightings were spectacular would be an understatement. We saw a tsessebe (another kind of antelope which is the largest kind), lots of Kalahari sand (where it is virtually impossible to find a stone or a rock), an abundance of mopani trees (from which the mopani worm comes from that I ate or at least tasted), many, many acacia trees in bloom, some red lechwes (antelope), two groups of zebras, carmine bee eater birds, weaver birds (who make their nests on the West side of trees so if you ever lose your bearings, you can just look at the nests on the trees and find your directions), yellowheaded hornbills, steenbok (another kind of small antelope), a blue wildebeest (animal whose head is actually a navy blue in colour), little bee eater birds, a hoopoe bird with a crest on the head, a green pigeon (didn’t know there were green pigeons) and I saved the best for last – a journey (that’s what you call a whole group) of giraffes.
The best part was that there were a few baby giraffes. Nothing cuter than baby anything and these were no different. We found these on our way back to the camp and after we saw them, we forgot all about breakfast (it was now about 10am). It was the perfect African safari scene – one that you would expect to see on National Geographic or some such show. We stayed way too long and took way too many pictures but it was worth missing breakfast. In fact we didn’t really miss breakfast. They waited for us to come back to camp and then served it. And what a breakfast!! There was hot and cold and if you didn’t feel satisfied after that (impossible not to overeat), then there must be something wrong with you.

We went back to the tent for a shower and rest till lunch which was at 3:30pm. Who could eat lunch? I willing had a small plate of salad and that was about what most of us could manage. Then it was off to the afternoon boat cruise in the delta. Lots of flora and fauna. The water in the delta is very clear and apparently very drinkable although I didn’t drink any. Wouldn’t want to get sick at this late date so I’ll stick with tap water which is very safe to drink here.
As it was getting dark, we made it over to a heronry (where lots of herons bed down for the night) and I took some pictures of birds I had never heard about let alone seen. We had a perfect sunset on our way back but it quickly got dark so Martin was navigating in almost pitch blackness except for the headlights of the motor boat. It is quite disconcerting to see all the channels and know that we could easily get lost but he sure knew those waters. It was with a sense of relief (for me) that we made it back to the docks. I asked Martin how he knew where to go and he said by the trees. Well they all look the same to me in the dark – shadows with branches. I don’t know how he could distinguish one from the other but he could.

Back to the camp for dinner and bed. Long exciting day and the fresh air really makes you want to sleep at the end of the day. Wonderful experience.
1. September 2nd, 2006 by Pat Mohr
I read the entire blog — as always. The gory scene did not freak me out. It would have had I been there, of course. I’m so enjoying my safari alongside you guys! Love, Pat

2. September 2nd, 2006 by The Coloma's
Great Blog…. Come home already!

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