, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday 7th March, morning. As mentioned already, Neil and Jakes were not licensed to lead game drives in Botswana, but we had the opportunity to go on an optional (= paying) game drive organised by the lodge, leaving at 6.00 a.m. Most of us decided to do so, but in the event found we very much missed the quality of our own guides. We were again in two vehicles, open ones this time, and with a couple of other people staying at the lodge in each as well.

With a start at 6.00 a.m., it was still far from fully light.

The guides were clearly not interested/didn’t see birds at all, and it was the German lady in our jeep who spotted these and asked to stop for photos.

Marabou storks

The tour laid on by the hotel clearly caters for the general public just passing though, not knowledgeable (well, most of them) fanatics like us! But we did nevertheless see some interesting and new things, before we got back for a hasty breakfast at 9.00 a.m., and departure as soon as possible afterwards. For we were to leave Botswana finally for a brief sojourn in Zambia, before setting off on the long journey back to the UK.

It was interesting, for example, to see the Chobe River from a different angle than from the river itself.
Lots of impala
Chacma baboon
Here was a new one – a coppery-tailed coucal
A string of buffalo
I would have liked a chance to get a better picture of these Kori bustard, but the jeep didn’t stop.

This next was perhaps the most interesting sighting of the game drive. A black-backed jackal came trotting towards us, clearly carrying some very fresh meat. It stopped, dropped the meat, scrabbled a bit, and then moved on – without the meat – and passed behind our jeep. What was going on?

Over there is a hippo, but again the jeep didn’t stop
I think this might be a not-quite-adult female Bateleur, but I’m not sure
White-fronted bee-eaters

Perhaps this was the reason the jeep was rushing. We found ourselves in a bunch of at least a dozen other vehicles, all straining to catch a sight of…

.. a handsome male lion padding across at a great distance.

He was followed by a procession of five or six of his females – I lost count.

But they were a very long way off. On the other hand, had we not had the very good lion sightings earlier on in the trip, we would have been thrilled to see even these.

We turned round, and on the way back for breakfast caught sight of …

Zebra and impala
and Osprey


Crossing from Botswana into Zambia (the former Northern Rhodesia) was a more complicated affair than nipping between Namibia (the old South West Africa) and Botswana (the old Bechuanaland) had been.

I’m not sure what took the time at the Botswana emigration post, but hanging around gave us the chance to observe this Red-billed hornbill.

Entering Zambia involved crossing the ‘mighty’ Zambezi River. We hadn’t the time to wait for this bridge, being financed by China, to be completed. [Edit, 12th April 2020. I have discovered, quite by chance today, that this bridge, the Kazungula Bridge, is being financed not by China, but by the Japan International Co-operation Agency and the African Development Bank. How easily we accept that China is behind all development in Africa. And indeed China is financing much of the railway which will use this bridge.]

So we were going to cross by this.

Which was actually more fun.
Our vehicles were dwarfed by the HGVs also waiting to cross by ferry.
We were not allowed to stay in the vehicles,
But had to walk on, and stand for the crossing. Which was also more fun.
Looking east, please see Zambia (ex-Northern Rhodesia) to the left and Zimbabwe (ex-Southern Rhodesia) to the right.
And looking west, there are Botswana to your left and Namibia to your right. [Edit 12th April, 2020. No, Botswana and Namibia are left, only Zambia on the right. See map in article here.] Whether you can see them or not. The sun on Neil’s left shoulder appears to be coming from the north. That’s because it is – we’re south of the Equator.

We had been warned that here we would have to wait for anything between one hour and three. (Neil had FOUR sets of taxes to pay at different offices!) In the event it was two hours, in great heat, but at least we were in the roofed vehicles by now. There were some interesting things going on, like women picking up really heavy bundles of foodstuffs from the side of some huge HGVs which the latter had carried across the river in addition to their main freight, then putting them on their heads at walking off. I would love to know the story behind that, and I have no idea why I didn’t take photos. Perhaps because of a general reluctance to intrude on people’s daily lives.

Fortunately it was not too long, once we set off, before we stopped for lunch. Though at one point we all leapt up from table (outdoors of course) to seek out a trumpeting Trumpeter hornbill, of which this was the best photo I could get!

Would you even know it was a bird?!

We heard, and indeed saw, plenty of these – very loud – at our next and final lodge.