Wednesday, 6th March. While our guides were not licensed for Botswanan wildlife trips, there was nothing to stop them explaining things if we took established boat rides from Chobe Safari Lodge within the Chobe National Park. So at 9 a.m. we set off for the first of two boats rides today – in which we saw lots of elephants! On the whole, to begin with, we kept to the south bank of the Chobe River.
When we saw elephants, I took enormous numbers of photographs and videos. Just a very few are here.
We continued on our way, to a ‘lovely’ muddy area.
We started wending our way back, mainly along the northern bank of the river now.
These impala were on the far southern bank.
The we became aware of lots, and lots, and lots of elephant lining the southern bank.
On the northern bank was already this leader, presumably the matriarch of at least some of them. She summoned them over.
Monday 4th March. Breakfast was to be at 8 a.m., we were told, preceded by a pre-breakfast walk round the grounds at 7 a.m.
Yes, breakfast was scheduled for 8 o’clock, but they hadn’t told us it was to be on a boat cruising along the river! What a lovely surprise!
This was the double-decker boat, and it was great to be able to go to the top deck to observe the wildlife along the way after we had finished eating.
After this, it was time to pack and move on from the Mahangu Lodge eastwards along the Caprivi Strip. We travelled on a main road which bisects the Caprivi Game Park, and saw some interesting wildlife on the way.
We stopped for lunch at a lodge overlooking the Kwandu River.
We resumed our journey.
In due course (we did 340 kilometres that day, temperature 36°C max) we arrived at Zambezi Lodge, on the Zambezi River. Opposite was Zambia.
Sunday, 3rd March. Botswana at last, but only for a day trip for now. But first, breakfast. We always ate outdoors at Mahangu Lodge, for the three days. We did wonder where we would eat were it to rain, as we couldn’t see anything like a dining room, but the situation didn’t arise.
We set off to drive the short distance to the Botswana border to the south of the Caprivi Strip.
It was not long before we reached the border and went through emigration and immigration controls.
Never miss a chance to observe wildlife.
Everyone stood around taking photos while this hardworking dung beetle made its way over to a kerb, an impossible obstacle. With reassurance from leader Neil that it could do me no harm, I picked the beetle up and placed it where it appeared to be heading, then carefully placed its dung ball by its ‘nose’.
We moved on, into Botswana. We had just one purpose in making a day trip into a different country, which was to see a particular bird, very rare.
In due course we arrived at Drotsky’s Lodge, where we would in due course have lunch, but first we were to take a trip from there on the swamps of the neck of the Okavango Delta. The 17 of us were on two open boats, seated one person each side of a narrow gangway, with no shelter from the sun. We had been well-warned to protect ourselves as much as possible, and for me the breeze from the movement made the experience quite pleasant.
Some, by now, familiar and some less familiar birds.
After a while we saw the very bird we had hoped for, a Pel’s Fishing Owl, way up in a tree by the bank of a river we were travelling on. It’s a large bird, and the colour of a ginger cat! To quote from my bird book, ‘… cinnamon underparts and rufous-brown upperparts …… Strictly nocturnal; spends the day perched in the dense foliage of a large tree ….. When flushed, flies a short distance and resettles in another tree, from where it watches the intruder.’ Which is exactly what it did while we watched it.
Having admired the magnificent bird, we meandered back along the channel, in and out of another one, and went back to the lodge for lunch.
I saw this in the grounds of the lodge.
After lunch, retracing our route, we went back though emigration (Botswana) and immigration (Namibia) controls.
And I was pleased to see elephant on the opposite bank from Mahangu Lodge, where we were to spend our third and last night there.
By the way, if it seems that there are awful lot of birds in these posts, these are just a sample! We were given a list at the outset of 538 birds we might see, potentially, as they had been spotted on previous Naturetrek trips here in previous years. By the end of the two weeks, collectively we had seen or heard about 375 of them, and added two more to the list, one a lifetime first for leader Neil, a Red-throated twinspot. (I didn’t see it, so no chance of a photo. Indeed, I doubt if I saw half of the total myself, and I took photos of many, many fewer, concentrating mainly on the larger ones.)
Saturday 2nd March. There was no wifi in our rooms at the Mahangu Lodge, only in the bar/dining area. And breakfast was not until 7 a.m. But I discovered that they served coffee from shortly after 6 a.m. there.
This morning, we went for a game drive in the Mahango Game Park. It was reasonably cool to begin with.
We had been out for four hours, and were ready for our lunch.