Pangolin was conceived by two individuals in 2011, who saw a potential demand for photographic support of wildlife safaris in Botswana. They began with conducted photo safaris, added a houseboat on the Chobe, then a hotel in Kasane in 2018. The hotel has 14 rooms and overlooks the Chobe River form an elevated site in Kasane. The boat dock is only five minutes away. Pangolin has several eight chair photo boats, each with swivel chairs and gimbel arrangements for guest’s cameras. Each trip is led by a photo professional; in our case we were well educated by Dennis, who happened to be a high school classmate of our friend Bee of Elephant Havens.
The hotel is very comfortable, and has a main hall with mounted photos taken by their professional. Rooms are quite large and rather rustic in nature with exposed piping and so on. Meals were very nice, and served in a group setting which made making acquaintances quite easy.
Karen and I can certainly recommend Pangolin as a short stop at the end of a safari, or as a focused stay to learn the art of wildlife photography.
So now that COVID has at least diminished and travel seems safe enough, we continued our love for Botswana with a group trip originally planned for 2020. The trip took place in March of this year, with a group of eight – six had been with us on at least one prior trip. We began with a few days at Elephant Havens – more later. Then we spent four nights at three camps. These included Great Plains Conservation’s Selinda Camp in the Linyanti region, then Kwara Camp (Kwando Concession) in the Okavango Delta and finally Muchenje Camp on the Chobe River near Kasane.
Some of us finished with one night at Pangolin’s photo lodge in Kasana, and enjoyed a late afternoon photo trip on the Chobe River, followed by an early morning reprise. Both were on their well known photo boats, each outfitted with eight swivel chairs and gimbels for our cameras.
This Botswana series of blogs with start with Pangolin, and then each of the three safari camps. Those will feature the camps first, then images of the primary wildlife we experienced. Hope you enjoy the series. This may be interupted from time to time with other experiences. For example we about to embark on a two week tour of Morocco.
The Inner Passage of SE Alaska is not heavily populated. Juneau, the state capital, has a population of only 32,000. Sitka and Ketchikan are two other larger places, with populations in the 8,000 range. On Our recent cruise on Alaskan Dream we stopped at three smaller towns which are all interesting with strong heritages. Those are Wrangell, Petersburg and Kake.
Wrangell is the largest of the three. It is situated near the mouth of the Stikine River and is one of the oldest towns in Alaska. It is also the only town in Alaska to have existed under three flags and be ruled by four nations: Tlingit, Russia, England and the United States.
Wrangell is located on the northwest tip of Wrangell Island, and is known for its Tlingit culture, wildlife viewing and exploration on the beautiful Stikine River. Just north of town is the Petroglyph Beach Historic Park, where one can see primitive rock carvings believed to be 8,000 years old.
In late June through August, one of Southeast Alaska’s largest pink salmon run enters Anan Bay and heads up Anan Creek, 30 miles south of Wrangell. From an observatory at Anan Wildlife Observatory one can watch eagles, seals, Black and brown bears feeding on the spawning humpies.
Fishing is another activity to be enjoyed in Wrangell.
Accomodations in Wrangell include the Stikine Inn, and the “Stik”, an excellent dining spot within the hotel.
We then visited the charming Mitkof Island community of Petersburg. Nicknamed “Alaska’s Little Norway”, the community was founded by Norwegian fishermen and is named after the Norwegian immigrant, Peter Buschmann. He arrived in the area in the late 1890’s and noticed that the clean and plentiful ice off the nearby LeConte glacier could serve as an invaluable source for fish packing. Over the next decade he built the Icy Strait Packing Company, a swamill and a dock. IN 1916, Alaskan Glacier Seafoods was established.
Today, Petersburg remains heavily populated by people of Scandinavian descent. Many homes qare painted bright colors. The Sons of Norway Hall has become an icon of the community.
Located 38 miles northwest of Petersburg in the Inside Passage region, this community of 570 residents is the historical home for the Kake tribe of Tlingits who controlled the trade routes around Kuiu and Kuprenof Islands. The water s around Kake are rich with halibut and salmon, making it an angler’s paradise. Kake is also home to the largest congregation of humpback whales in Alaska. Kake boasts a 128 foot totem pole, one of the world’s largest carved for the Alaska Purchase Centennial.
We recently took a one week cruise on Alaskan Dream, a 40 passenger catamaran operated by the company of the same name. The cruise was focused on the Inland Passage of SE Alaska. This is a great way to see this spectacular area, starting in Juneau and ending up in Sitka. We only had 27 passengers, serviced by a crew of 17 led by Captain Eric Morrow. Every day was an adventure, the food was wonderful and the social setting lovely.
Our first day was spent touring Glacier Bay, a national monument established in 1925, and officially made a national park in 1980. The bay is 65 miles in length, running north from Icy Strait. It was first visited by Capt. George Vancouver in 1794, when the bay was covered in ice out to Icy Strait. Eighty five years later, John Muir visited by canoe and found the glacier receding as fast as a mile per year..
A boat tour north from Gustavius is fascinating, beautiful and full of interest – glaciers, mountains, bird life, whales, seals and so on. The smaller ship of course can access the glaciers very closely.
The 27 mile Tracy Arm fjord is a bigger, better and more dramatic natural gem than Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. The inlet is very narrow – at times no more than half a mile wide – with cliffs that rise more than 3000 feet on either side, and waterfalls that cascade down the steep rock walls. The arm is locates some 45 miles south of Juneau. North and South Sawyer glaciers mark the end of the fjord, and are among the most dramatic ice fields in Alaska.
We like to do a little off-roading in Colorado in our Jeep. The roads taken include Kebler Pass and Paradise Divide near Crested Butte, Boreas Pass in Breckenridge and Cinnamon Pass from Lake City to Silverton. These are certainly not the toughest trails, but they do include their share of bumps, narrowness, shelf roads and so on. Most recently we drove Last Dollar Road from Telluride to the Ridgeway road.
Last Dollar Road we named as an alternative to Million Dollar Highway from Silverton to Ouray. It is 13 miles long, very scenic, and runs through stretches of ranchlands and the San Juan Mountains. On the south end it offers spectacular vistas including Mt. Wilson. The drive almost requires four wheel drive in sections, and takes about 2-3 hours. The drive is particularly attractive in the summer wildflower season and during the fall color changes in the aspen groves along much of the road.
The Telluride-Ridgeway-Ouray area offers many other off road adventures, including Imogene Pass, Yankee Boy, Ophir pass and so on. These tend to be somewhat more challenging, and definitely require four wheel capability. Down the road for us!
If you are driving north on Colorado route 7, about 12 miles south of Estes Park in Allenspark keep an eye out on your left for Chapel on the Rock. This pretty little chapel is well worth a 15 minute stop. It is a nearly 100 year oldfunctioning Catholic church built atop a riveting rock formation. It is operated by the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver.
The Chapel was first conceived in 1916 by Monsignor Joseph Bosetti, who happened across the rocky area where the church would later be built and was inspired by Mathew 16:19, which states “upon this rock I will build my church.” Monsignor Bosetti did just that, though lack of money delayed construction.
After 20 years of struggles the land was donated to the monsignor by Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Malo, after whom the chapel was named. Construction finished in 1936, and in 1999 Boulder County officially designated it a historical landmark.
In 1993 Pope John Paul II visited the Chapel while touring Denver. He prayed inside the church and blessed it afterwards before hiking in the surrounding forest.
This post will be mainly pictures, and will not include the sad image of the mother and still born infant, which is in another post. We saw elephants on virtually every drive; some singles, some 2-3 and some larger herds. Their behavior is always fascinating. Going past one small herd elicited a very angry response from one elephant, saying essentially “leave us alone”. Shortly after that another herd paid no attention to us at all. And both had little ones!