Still no internet. Am sitting around a camp fire at the “Island of the Baobabs” writing my daily blog. How did I get here and where is this? All in due time.
How did my day start? Of course the day started at 6:15 when we all met. Both Alan and myself heard George the local elephant all night long. He walks by our hut and takes his bathroom run on the path to our hut. Alan saw him shaking a palm tree near our hut. The reason why an elephant shakes the palm is that elephants love the palm nuts that grow on the top of the palm. They shake the palm to have the nuts fall to the ground and then they eat them. Elephants have very poor digestive systems and you find their poop all over the place.
We all boarded two open air vehicles and when we drove just outside the Camp area and our driver and guide spotted a lioness. The lioness was slowly moving and looking for some prey. Maybe a wilder beast or springbok. Both vehicles followed the lioness hoping that we would see her go after a prey. Lioness’s do the hunting for the family. The lion does about nothing but sleep, breed and lay under a tree all day. Nice life for the king of the jungle. We needed to get to a meerkat family by 7:30 since the guides believed that they would come out of their den between 7:30 and 7:45. We observed the lioness until we were forced to leave for the meerkats. The guides had no doubt that she would have probably wandered into our Camp if we had not come along. Imagine getting up and seeing a lioness walking around your hut?
We arrived at the new meerkat den at around 7:30 and set up to wait. The guides told us that this was a family of thirteen meerkats. At about 7:40 they started to pop out and warm themselves. Each one emerged and there were two new babies. One of the meerkats was assigned to be the babysitter for the two new offspring since they were too young to go out and find food. The alpha female assigns that role to one of the other family members. That meerkat stays close to the den with the two babies and waits for the others to return. If the babysitter sees some trouble he or she then takes the babies back into the den. We clicked away, but had to leave early to have breakfast and start the next part of our adventure.
Arrived back at the Camp at around 9 AM and had breakfast. Breakfast is any style of eggs with meats and very tasty corn biscuits. I then took a shower and packed my few clothes for two days of camping. We had brought day bags with us to pack a few pieces of clothing to camp out. The day bags and our camera gear were all loaded into another vehicle for transport to the Island of the Baobabs.
We then boarded our vehicles for a short ride to pick up our quad cycles. They were all lined up and ready to go. Each of us were given a cycle. They are made by Yamaha and have 350 cc engines. Easy to ride. We were given instructions and then off we went. The only problem is you control the gas via your right thumb. I have carpel tunnel in my right hand and sensed a problem later on. We were told to stay in the same order and follow each other. It was off for a seventy five mile ride over the Kalahari Salt Pan or Makigadigadi. I had a great time on the quad cycle. Once we got out to Salt Pan, we really opened them up to about seventy km or 45 miles per hour. I felt exhilarated and refreshed. We were in the middle of no where and going to some place I had never even heard of. The quads created some dust and we were wearing towels over our heads like Lawrence of Arabia style. The sun was very intense, but it was not extremely hot. We stopped for lunch in the middle of no where. The lunch was quite good. We made our way over this flat type of topography sand could see what looked like water in the distance. Of course, those were mirages. At 69 I was driving a quad cycle over the Makigadigadi Salt Pan. What an experience. Sometimes the drive was through curves and around and through tall grasses that looked like dune grass. When we had to go over rocks we had to slow down and the rocks created quite a bumpy ride.
After four hours, we finally arrived at “Island of the Baobabs”. Baobabs are weird looking trees that have huge trunks and some of them are over one thousand years old. They are only found in a few places in Africa. We will be sleeping in sleeping bags tonight. We were first greeted by our staff and offered drinks. It felt so good to get off the quad after four hours. The location has lots of acacia bushes and rocks on the ground. The problem with acacia bushes is that they have these long thorns and it is easy to brush into one and get scraped up.
At 5 PM we set up our cameras and tripods to take pictures of the Milky Way over a huge baobab tree. Difficult and intricate photography. I got some great shots.
We were then served dinner. The chicken was very good and the soup was great. Soup is always served with dinner.
It was then onto setting up our cameras to take star burst photography or time lapse photography. You put your camera on a tripod with a new battery and blank memory card. The camera then is programmed to take images every twenty five seconds until the battery runs out of power. Eventually you download the images into a program named “Starburst”. That program creates an imaging image from these five hundred or so images. You leave the camera running all night.
I am about to call it a night and crawl into my large sleeping bag on the ground. We were not using tents. Just us all lined up in sleeping bags on the ground with the stars as our ceiling. The sleeping bag has a hot water bag in it. I wonder why?
Talk to everyone soon