During our recent trip to the Okavango Delta on the Botswana Wild Parks tour, situated in the north west region of Botswana, we traveled by mokoro ( a dug out canoe) to one of many islands with our Australian clients and all our camping gear needed for a two nights stay. On the second day of our stay, we experienced something very special. While our clients were practicing the skill of poling a mokoro, we had a very unexpected guest join them in the water. With caution they swiftly exited the water and we were entertained by our new hippopotamus friend about 30 meters off the shore from where we were standing. This was a great time for the photographers of the group as the hippo was constantly showing off his impressive sized jaws on regular occasions. Although not being one of the big five, it is one of Africa’s most dangerous animals, so we soon retreated back to our camp treating this animal with utmost respect. This behavior from the hippopotamus was probably caused by it being a highly territorial animal, and we had obviously encroached onto its territory. With hippos, they usually spend the majority of the day in the water which is a safe haven for them, and at night they retreat onto dry land where they graze. All and all a really special experience for our clients and guides respectively, and something we won’t forget for a long time to come.
A river in the Delta with a Hippo
Our local guide watching over the mokoro
Local guides taking us out on the Delta river
On day 18 of the Cape to Vic Falls Grand Explorer accommodated tour we visit Nata. We do sunset drinks on the Makgadikgadi Pans.
Hearing from the Lodge staff that the Pans are filled with water, we were all anxious to see the Pans. Even for us tour guides, as it is very seldom that the Pans fill with water.
On arrival we were welcomed by flamingos and pelicans before we even reached the parking.
Our view on arrival
The view was amazing, I would have never thought of seeing the Pans in such a state. They were filled till the sides, not very deep but by an area of 5.000 square km a large amount of water. It is one of the largest salt flats in the world. The pan is all that remains of the formerly enormous Lake Makgadikgadi, which once covered an area larger than Switzerland, but dried up several thousand years ago.
A little dip
Kalahari Ferrari’s in the sunset
The moon and sun meeting
The pans fill up after heavy rainfalls, as the naturally flowing rivers of the Nata river are dammed and don’t reach the pans any longer.
On the latest Walking South Africa tour that was led by myself (Cronje) and Jonathan, we had extreme luck upon entering the Kruger National Park.
When we set off from Graskop on the 3rd morning of the tour, the weather was looking a bit under. As we descended the Eastern escarpment down into the Lowveld the weather started to improve a bit, but was still looking a bit cloudy. After a quick stop in Hazyview for supplies and some much needed refreshments we set of to Phabeni Gate.
As we entered the park after the formalities were done we crossed a small river. This is where our luck started to begin. As we parked on the low water bridge we saw the first of the big 5, about 100m from the bridge, in the cool water of the river lay this big old buffalo bull. We couldn’t believe this sighting just about 200m into the park.
As soon as we started to set off again we came to our second sighting for the morning. Barely 500m from the buffalo was this breeding herd of elephants with cows and young. We already knew that it’s very uncommon to see any of the big 5 so quickly upon entering the park. We spent some time with the elephants and laughed a lot at the little ones trying to use their little trunks. They amused us for some time.
Mother and her calf
We set of again not knowing what we’ll find around the next corner. As we drove along we started seeing some of the other residents of the Kruger like impala, zebra and wildebeest. All of a sudden I saw this tail and legs dangling from a big tree next to the road and as we got closer we saw as clear as day a big male leopard having his late morning siesta. We couldn’t believe our luck. This is a sighting of a lifetime to have a leopard so relaxed sleeping on a branch right next to us was incredible. I thought “this is it” we used up all our luck with this one, three of the big 5 in less than 5 km of entering the park.
Male Leopard in a tree
After about 10 min there was a big traffic jam at the leopard sighting so we moved on to give someone else the chance to view the leopard. We carried on driving, all still stunned. We continued for about another 3 km down the road when we saw a car parked next to the road. As we pulled up next to them we asked politely what they were looking at. There was only a one word reply… “lion”. I almost had to ask the guy again when I spotted the male moving his foot. They were a bit obstructed between some rocks, but each time they moved you could see them. Still not believing our luck we spent some time with them.
After a while, we started to make our way down the road to a dam where there are usually some hippos and crocs. As we got to the dam which was about 10km into the park we found a nice big tree to park under next to the dam just to reflect on all that we just saw. Just as we started to discuss the sightings we had so far someone said: “rhino”. As we looked we saw these two rhino coming from the bush to the dam to have a drink. I was just speechless. The first 10km and all in about 1 hour from entering the park we completed the Big 5 list.
This was defiantly a first for me and Jonathan. Never had one of us ever before seen the big 5 within such a short time and distance. Our luck didn’t stop there though we went on to see another leopard crossing the road in front of the truck and plenty of good rhino, buffalo, elephant and other antelope sightings.
Just an amazing time in Africa!
Having just returned from my first tour with Sunway Safaris on the Botswana Wildside, with German clients I had a hard time narrowing down what I could blog about as we had so many great experiences.
However, one that definitely topped my list was the Okavango Delta. I had been to the Delta before in 2007, however, this time it was so much more. We left Maun early in the morning to meet our polers who would take us through the Delta in their Mokoros. After having loaded all our belongings and seated the clients into the Mokoros – it’s amazing to see how all of our belongings, including the camping gear, is expertly loaded and distributed among the various Mokoros –we made our way towards our campsite.
The ride in the Mokoros was one of the most peaceful things I have ever done – gliding slowly through the waterways, paying close attention to the polers who pointed out magnificent wildlife throughout the long winding journey to our campsite.
Arriving at the campsite, I have to say, it was really well chosen by our polers. We had big acacias giving plenty of shade for our tents with one side open towards the delta with one of the most stunning views.
On our second day, we went out on the Mokoros to watch the sunset on the delta. It was that special light, just before the sunsets, everything felt magical…
The absolute highlight, however, was the one hour scenic flight in a 6 seater airplane. You get to see the animals in a way you would never see them on foot, car, truck or Mokoro. There were hundreds of elephants in big herds roaming the savannahs and playing in the water, hippos feeding and bathing in the river arms, giraffes and zebras galloping through the landscapes.
All in all, it was an unforgettable experience. I can’t wait to go back to the Okavango Delta.
Namibia is really a land of wonders, like for example, it has lions and elephants and the big open spaces filling the mind with awe. One such space is the Etosha National Park, were my guests and I were lucky enough to visit on our Cape Town to Livingstone tour.
Early one morning we left for a game drive, and saw such an abundance of wildlife that we were content for the day. We saw elephant, giraffe, all types of buck and many birds. But on our way back to camp, we saw one lonely car overlooking a donga and so decided to join it, just to see if what they were looking at was worth their while. We weren’t standing still for one minute when we saw them, The Seven Dwarfs of Etosha (nicknamed by one of our guests) walking, one by one from the hiding spot at the bottom of the donga, just out of our view. What a surprise to see no less than seven lion cubs together.
Mother Lion with her Cubs
It appeared that the cubs were alone, this happens when the female lions need to hunt in order to provide food for their cubs. So, the Mums of these cubs were most likely out hunting and they know not to leave them alone for long because, as the Mums are out, the kids come out to play forming a miniture pride of their own and sticking together because there is safety in numbers.
It was great to see so many little ones together as lions are very sociable animals, needing the pride to work together as one for survival.
We wish to congratulate Reshal Rugbar (admin lady in our offices) and Andrew Lindsay (guide for Sunway and Mask Expeditions) on their recent nuptials.
They celebrated their beautiful day on the 16th March 2013, in true African style.
The groom wore his traditional kilt while his groomsman wore suits and the bride looked beautiful in her white lace wedding dress.
We at Sunway Safaris wish Mr & Mrs Lindsay a truly amazing honeymoon and all the best wishes for the future.
the happy couple Mr & Mrs Lindsay
It was late afternoon, then sun setting to the west as we descended the 30m into the Canyon floor.
As we walk down the walls on either side tell a story of a bygone era. It is a natural canyon whose sedimentary rock has been craved away by the Tsauchab River.
The rock has different layers of larger and smaller rocks. The larger rock suggests a period in time where the waterflow was stronger and the smaller rocks suggests a period of a weaker flow.
The canyon itself is a little over a kilometre long 30 metres deep and at some places only 2m wide. A portion of the canyon has permanent water pools. These pools are home to catfish official name Clarias garlepinus, which can survive in these small pools for months until the new rains arrive. These pools are also a very important water source for the Oryx, Springbok and Chacma Baboons to name a few.
The name Sesriem is an Afrikaans word meaning ‘six belts’ which the early settlers of the area gave. They had to attach six belts of Oryx hide in order to reach the water in the Canyon with a bucket.
We enjoyed a beautiful sunset at the Canyon and watched the sun disappear into the Namib Desert.