As the sun started heading towards the horizon, it was time to get back to South Gate camp, set up a tent and prepare the evening meal. While we were sitting around the fire, we spotted a honey badger circling around our camp site; fortunately, it was only passing through, these small animals are scary (they have been known to attack lions). After we had finished eating, we cleared everything away, as the the camp was not fenced and we did not want to attract predators. Unfortunately, other campers apparently did not take the same precautions; I woke up to the the sound of crunching bone and the “crying baby” bark of hyenas. A rather eerie experience, as a hyena shadow was visible on the tent wall. Once the hyena had left, it was a quick move into the Range Rover until sunrise (a rooftop tent is such a good idea!).
We left South Gate camp early the the next morning and headed north towards our next camp site at Xakanaka. We spotted our first ground squirrels, which were smaller than those previously seen in Etosha game reserve, Namibia. We headed away from the delta and we were gifted with a close-up sighting of two Kalahari black-maned lions, a male and female.
Further on we started reaching water again and we stopped for a single hippo in a rather small pool; he was clearly not too happy that we were invading his space and showed this in no uncertain terms. We kept the engine running, just in case he started moving towards us, but he moved away after his display, tail wagging furiously.
We continued until we came to a “small” channel. The guidebooks had recommended that one walk through water crossings to assess depth etc., but we had already encountered hippo and seen crocodiles, thus this was not an option. There were, however, fresh tyre marks and we decided to make the crossing. My wife was driving and I grabbed hold of the satellite phone, just in case. The water got deeper and deeper until it started spilling over the bonnet of the range rover (we were driving a diesel with a snorkel). My wife was amazing; she did not panic and “gunned” the car through the channel to the other side, where we stopped and took a few deep breaths – we were not going back that way! The next water crossing was, to our relief only about 30 cm deep, but then we got to a third channel that was similar to the first one, with water now spilling through the air vents into the interior of the car. We made it across safely and endeavoured that we would not make any more water crossings until we had no other option. Our travel diary has the comment: “nappy change, crossings 1 & 3). We had been fortunate not to get stuck! The subsequent road to Xakanaka camp was sand road and we reached the camp late afternoon. After setting up camp, we undertook a guided trip on the delta that was filled with a wide variety of different birds settling down for the night.
We went to sleep with the sound of feeding coming from the water and the next morning we woke up to the wonderful site an a single elephant feeding approximately 30 meters away, with fresh elephant footprints visible in the road running past our camp site.
Time to pack up and head back towards towards South Camp, where we would spend our last night in the Okavango delta. Another day of wonderful wildlife was waiting for us, including “grumpy” elephants, fish eagles and velvet breasted rollers. We saw a fish eagle catching a big fish while another fish eagle was attacked by two crows, defending itself by rolling upside down and baring its talons. The elephants were a bit of a nuisance as they provided a roadblock on several occasions that necessitated a detour; we were in their “space”, fair enough. The next morning we were were woken by velvet monkeys scampering through the trees; we also spotted some fresh tracks around the camp site, possibly hyena?
A final treat was seeing a family of elephants arriving for their morning drink, including a baby that had not quite gotten used to using its trunk. Moremi – definitely worth a visit. Our next stop would be the Central Kalahari.
[I wrote this post a while back and never posted it – a chapter in my life that is now closed]