In the Bush: Up at 5am, off at 5:45 for 14-hours in the Moremi Game Reserve with plenty of Okavanga animal life and many miles of very rough roads. And what a day.
Dry dry bush: wide open spaces, clumps of trees—mostly acacias (the toothpick trees of an earlier Botswana visit) but other taller and shorter species as well and then small crackly goldy-tan dry trees/bushes/shrubs. The brown and dusty look of the place should be off-putting (or only too familiar to a New Mexican) but it is actually quite bright and beautiful in the way African landscapes are supposed to be.
The first sightings of any one of the big (and small) animals are so wondrous and exciting… there’s an Impala…but then there many; the first Giraffe…then a family of Giraffes… including cousins. Elephant sighting. Look look an elephant. OMG, there are more, oh wow, a herd. And on and on. Zebras, beautiful exotic horses of Africa. Their stripes are so fake—must be painted on—too perfect.
A tasty bush breakfast of cereal, yogurt, fruit, crackers, coffee, tea was served as we passed into the reserve and later a very nice lunch, quickly and prettily set up on a bright cloth, which included salad, meat, bread, soft drinks and sides of pickles and spreads, cookies for dessert. All the necessities of life in the outdoors.
And always back to the bush and the animals. Wart hogs possibly my favorites. Ugly oddities but not menacing, kind of a nice compliment to all the pretty things. Speaking of ugly we spent a part of the day around a hippo pool, Scott with his binoculars, me trying to get just the right snapshot of Mr. Seriously Bad Looking. Day one we were in the protective height of our big viewing vehicle—the next day we would feel far more vulnerable!
Son Scott is a birder and reveled all day in the multitudes of big colorful birds, some unique to this Delta, some with cousins and even siblings all over the world.
We ended our major viewing experience with LIONS. Just when we thought we might not see them. Several of them actually. Stalking warthogs, encircling a kudu. No lion sex or leopard kills like Kenya but a long slow back and forth to watch them go after that night’s dinner. A nice high before the long ride home.
What a day. On my first safari in Kenya, we were literally in the reserve. In the case of Old Bridge it is a couple of hours to the reserve and then all day in the vehicle around animal land and then of course the agonizingly-jolting way home. But there was something very satisfying about the wealth and consequent exhaustion of the day. An immersion of sorts that doesn’t happen when you return after a three-or-four hour viewing to your comfy lodge.
We ate, we showered, we drank, we rested…at least until we realized there was that party house across the water that would drown us in hard pounding music until around 3am. Still, who cares as long as it somewhat blends with sounds of the bush and pond and me still choosing to believe in a spiderless Botswana. Denial is a beautiful thing.
A small sampling of the day’s million and three photos follow here and in one or two separate posts just because I can’t resist sharing too many of lions and elephants and angry–no I mean ugly-but magnificent–birds!