On Monday 8/12, we were picked up about 11:30 AM from the Victoria Falls Hotel and began the trip to our first tent camp. The trip to the Airport where we were meeting our drivers to the tent camp took about an hour plus time for stops at the border crossing from Zimbabwe to Botswana.
The guard checking the driver’s documents:
Border guards taking a break under the tree:
We changed to another vehicle on the Botswana side and continued to the Kasane International Airport.
We got a snack at the airport (I shared a grilled cheese with Lynne) and the last two members of our group, Roger and Leigh, flew in and joined us. We loaded up in a caravan of SUVs and pickup trucks and headed out to the Nogatssa Pans Tent Camp. It was a delightful, 2 1/2 hour drive on dusty, sandy trails (I wouldn’t call them roads.) Our introduction to the Kalahari sand that covers this part of the country. Janet had warned us that it would be dry and dusty, and she didn’t lie. We arrived at the camp dusty and dry, and met in the large tent lodge for our orientation. We were instructed that we were not to walk from our tent to the lodge unaccompanied, as animals, particularly elephants roamed freely through the camp. After being there about an hour, Sig wandered by saying “where is my wife?” As it turned out, one of the vehicles had a flat tire, leaving Ellen, Shelda and Leslie stranded for a while. Two of the drivers hustled back and brought them to safety.
We were taken to our tents to freshen up and get ready for the first game drive. These were not your typical Boy Scout tents.
Truly luxurious tenting.
Two young elephants
We found out why we were not to walk by ourselves, when 15 elephants paraded between our tent and the next one in the middle of the afternoon, on the way to the water in the pan. There were usually elephants around the pan in front of the lodge. One evening we were sitting around a campfire in the boma, an open area outside the lodge, there was a family of elephants drinking at the water hole. One big guy got curious, and started walking over toward us. He kept getting closer and closer, and Ken, who has bad knees, bailed out, and went up the stairs. The rest of us sat there for a couple of minutes watching as he approached the boma. There was just a border about a foot tall surrounding the boma. When he got within a few feet of us, we all started to bail out. Bwana Byron stood up, waved his arms wildly, and shouted loudly “Hey there, Hey there.” The elephant missed a step, then turned and went the other way. Saved once again.
We saw our first giraffe that day
Think if you are that tall, how hard it is to get down to drink
Our schedule was to get up at 5:30 AM, a staff member would come by the tent and wake us, then would come back at 6:00 AM to lead us to the lodge tent for a quick breakfast, In the Land Cruisers at 6:30 and out on a game drive. A stop in the middle of the morning for coffee or tea, then back to work. We would return for a delicious lunch about 12 noon. After a little rest, afternoon tea at 3:30PM then back to the Land Cruisers. A stop during the late afternoon ride for wine and beer, back to the lodge about 7:00 PM for dinner, then crash. A busy schedule that was duplicated at all four tent camps, but nobody complained. We never knew what we would see while cruising around
Tree at Sunset
Our First Lion
Little Bee Eater
Cape Buffalo (notice Oxpecker flying in from right)
Southern Africa has several varieties of antelopes including the Waterbuck above. We saw most of them during our travels. Here is an attractive website: https://animalsake.com/african-antelope
Again, elephants were all over the place, nice reflection
The guide took us out beyond the pan in front of the lodge where a pride of lions were sleeping. No mercy.
Moon over Tree (pencil sketch)
For those of us who were new to the safari experience, I think 8 out of the 14 in the group, everything we saw was new and exciting. It was nice to see the the experienced members of the group appeared as excited as we were. I can understand why some of them go back year after year.
Saw our first kudus at the Pan watering hole;
Also a beautiful sable:
Our group getting ready to leave the Nogatsaa Pan Camp.
We endured the brutal 2 1/2 hour drive back to the Kasane International Airport, where I faced the reason I never wanted to go on one of the Hodge’s safaris, flying in a small plane. Luckily the plane did not have cloth seats.
On to our second camp, the Linyanti Bush Camp. Stay tuned.