So what is a full day at a Botswanan safari camp like? Wakeup is at 5:30 am, followed by breakfast – usually around a campfire as dawn breaks – with muffins, porridge, coffee, tea and so on. Then at 6:30 our guide Tom says let’s go. And off we go to the safari vehicle, usually comforted by a blanket and a hot water bottle! Yes it can be cold in May – and gets colder as winter approaches in the southern hemisphere. So let’s take a look at the game we see.
First sighting is a pair of giraffes eating acacia leaves. Then we spot a ground hornbill, a rather unusual bird that prefers to not fly. Next a lone black-backed jackel striding across the grassland. Then several magpie shrikes in a bush – mostly black with white markings and a very long tail. A brief look at a bateleur eagle in a tree – often seen circling high above.
Then we spot a first for us – a family of four guinea fowl perched on a log. The little ones are super-cute!
Then we spot a monkey, then a fish eagle, both at some distance. And two Tsessebes – the “ferraris of the delta”, or the fastest of all antelopes. And several wildebeasts – members of the “Ugly Five” accompanied by several red-billed oxpeckers, seen often on many mammals eating ticks, flies and blood.
Next we get a really good look at an African hawk eagle in a tree, jumping from one limb to another, eventually taking off. Another first for us.
Next we meet several spur winged geese, the largest type of goose seen in this area.
Another first – we encounter five black-backed jackals together. Usually these are seen singly or in pairs. We enjoyed their play together. Then a dazzle of zebras – always fascinating to watch with their juxta positioning of stripes among several animals clustered together.
Tom then spots several hyenas running away from us, and we find a single hyena guarding the den.
And next we see a striped kingfisher, one of the few kingfishers that lives on bugs and lives far away from water. Beautiful birds!
The next bird is the well-known and very colorful lilac breasted roller, seen frequently in the delta, but sightings are never boring as this bird is so gorgeous.
We see several individual elephants, more rollers and other birds. Then another first. Tom sees a large bush with dozens of squawking starlings and guesses this activity is a sign of a snake. Sure enough we see the upper half of a dreaded black mamba poking out of the side of the bush. It then slides swiftly toward and around the back of a nearby tree. We are told that a bite from this snake can be deadly in less than an hour!
And then another beautiful bird – a little bee-eater.
Our next sighting is one most safari goers want to see. Two lions roaming the grasses in search of their hidden mates with their little ones. We enjoyed the sighting and following them for some time, but the sun was setting and they entered a swampy area that we could not. Maybe next time.
At this stage we found a quiet and safe spot to enjoy our “sundowners”, followed by some night driving and species spotting activity that I will cover in another blog entry. Finally back to camp for cocktails and dinner, followed quickly by an early bedtime.