We left Xakanaka, by motor boat, for our second camp, Little Kwara. Our journey was about fifty minutes through the Delta to a spot where our driver and tracker, David and Killer, met us. We didn’t have a tracker at Kakanaka and you may have noticed that our driver’s name there was Water. African staff at the camps, having names that might be difficult for non-Africans, adopted a name in English, but it isn’t always a personal name, but simply an easy English word, hence ‘Water’ and ‘Killer’. Killer by temperament was the very antithesis of the name he had chosen. That he should choose such a name was, however, consistent with his sense of fun. He was gentle, kindly and had a great sense of humour. He greeted us at breakfast one morning with: ‘How do you do, I’m Mr Johnston from London.’
Our ‘driver’ from Xakanaka to Little Kwara
Killer with Hilary and David collecting our bags
The routine at Little Kwara was the same as at Xakanaka: an early light breakfast, leaving camp at about 7.30 am on the morning drive, back for a substantial breakfast at about 10.00am. Lunch at 2.00pm, evening drive 4.00pm, back for a formal dinner with other guests, drivers and trackers at 8.00 pm.
Early breakfast; David, porridge and tea
Going the short distance to our tent in the dark after dinner, as at Xakanaka, we had torches and were escorted by a camp staff member in case we would be eaten by a lion! I jest. The most likely animals to wander into camp, were hyena to raid the food store, and hippopotamus. Hippos came out of the water after dark to graze. In Africa they kill more people by far than any other animal despite being vegetarians, as are elephants who are second to hippopotami on this list of infamy.
Killer and David
Driver/guides and trackers qualify after a one year full-time intensive course. They are extremely knowledgeable; animals, birds, trees, vegetation, environmental matters and they are obviously carefully selected for the work; all the staff we met were affable, good communicators, patient and good humoured.
Standby driver and tracker!
At Little Kwara we saw a similar range of animals to that at Xakanaka but in a more savannah type territory than bush. Matriarch-led elephants travel in herds, while bull elephants in musth, not to be trusted, travel alone. On one occasion we stopped on a path in thick scrub to allow a small herd of elephants to cross the track in front of us. When they were across the driver drove on not knowing that there were more members of the herd to come. We didn’t realise we had split the herd until we heard loud trumpeting and rest of them stampeded across the track behind us.
A lone elephant minding his own ‘business’
Two sleeping lions
One evening David suggested that instead of the evening drive we might like to go fishing. We thought well of the idea and around 4.00pm we set out. We travelled by motorboat through the Delta and suddenly came upon some hippos up ahead in a wide bit of channel. David ‘braked’ immediately. He reversed the boat and we thought he would turn around and go back. No, he put the engine into reverse without engaging it, revved it to clear the propeller of weed, surged forward on the opposite side of the channel to the hippos who ducked underwater, and on to the fishing place.
My bait had barely hit the water when a fish took it. Same again next cast; the water was infested with fish. Killer unhooked them and put them back; it was too easy. We fished for a while and then went back to camp by a circuitous route without encountering any more hippos.
Killer unhooking a catch
We left Little Kwara by small plane, back by to Maun, Johannesburg and home.