Africa Again

We went again to the Okavango Delta, Botswana the following year with friends Bernadette and Clare. For our first camp we returned to Xakanka. The terrain is varied and pleasing there and there is almost the full range of animals to be seen in the Delta. We learned on this trip that the markings on each zebra are unique like the fingerprints of humans.

The routine was the same as the previous year: early morning drive with a coffee break and afternoon/evening drive with sun-downer. Our driver was like our drivers of the year before, he was good company and knowledgeable.

Bernadette and Clare Wrapped against Early Morning Chill

Coffee Stop

It seemed to us that lions spent much of their time sleeping, oblivious of prying eyes and when awake they simply stared back with total unconcern. Leopards, on the other hand, when we approached, made off into the bush or up a tree.

Camouflaged

Up a Tree

Termite mounds abound. They are often propped against a tree or tree stump. Each one has an extensive network of passages and galleries in which the termites rear their young. A mound can be many decades old and can contain a colony of as many as 10,000 to 15,000 termites.

Unconcerned Lions around a Termite Mound.

Hippos are everywhere. They are extremely dangerous at night when they come onto dryland to graze, especially for anyone who gets between them and either their young or their water. Elephants are as ubiquitous on land as hippos are in water.

Hippos

Elephants with babies

There is something magical about evening in Africa; the light, colour, stillness and the occasional sound of an insect, bird or animal.

Evening in The Delta

We flew our longest journey in a small plane in Africa, an hour and twenty minutes, to our second camp, Muchenje, near the border where Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe meet.

From Muchenje we had a daylong outing on the Zambezi River where the next five photographs were taken.

Sleeping Hippos

Elephant ‘Periscope’

 

A Sleeping Croc

Lunch on the Zambezi

Sunset

That evening when we arrived back to camp the manager told us there had been somebody there during the afternoon looking for us, and handed me a note!
When we had booked the trip six or more months before, I had sent our itinerary to a friend, Bill, in Co. Carlow. He forwarded it to a cousin, Marjorie, in Australia who he was trying to convince to go with him on a similar trip. Marjorie was clearing out her ‘in-box’ at the time we were in Botswana and came across the forwarded e-mail. Her son, Steve, in whose apartment in Melbourne we had stayed a couple of years previously, and daughter-in-law, Kelly, were somewhere in the Okavango Delta, so she texted them with the names of our two camps. They looked on a map and found that they were in a campsite only twelve or fourteen kilometres away from Muchenge and called on chance to find we were there, but out. I texted them and they came for breakfast the next morning.
It just shows you that even in the middle of the African bush, you wouldn’t want to be with the wrong woman!

For the first time we saw buffalo at this camp. There weren’t buffalo at Xakanaka.

Buffalo –  Dangerous Chaps

We also had the opportunity to visit a village where we saw real poverty.

Passing the Time

Nearby was a first rate primary school where we were welcomed into a classroom to hear the pupils singing. The children were smiling and well turned out.

Playtime

After Muchenje we spent two nights at the famous Victoria Falls Hotel, Zimbabwe. We went there specially to see the Falls. It was the time of year when the Zambezi was in full flood which meant that the Falls were partly obscured by a vast cloud of mist that rose into the sky. It was necessary to wear rain gear and the mist made the taking of photographs difficult.

Rainbow

A Stretch of the Falls

The Mist

The political circumstances of Zimbabwe rendered the hotel somewhat less than it obviously had been in its former glory. Nevertheless it was all there, and great credit was due to the staff for the gallant way they worked to make everything normal and they succeeded.

Cucumber Sandwiches and Battenburg on the Terrace

We flew to Johannesburg from Victoria Falls Airport. The runway had been designed by a friend of mine, John Atkinson, formerly of Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow, Harare and now of Fish Hoek, near Cape Town and Dublin, when he was an engineer with the Ministry of Roads, Southern Rhodesian Government. The said John Atkinson calls me a sissy because I like poetry. I forgive him since he is a civil engineer!
From Johannesburg we flew home after another fascinating holiday in Africa.

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