Africa Day 7

Hi Everyone

Let’s start the morning off by telling you a little about the Kalahari Desert. The Kalahari is not really a desert as most of us know a desert. The desert area has been receding and is being replaced by tall grass lands and more wildlife. The Kalahari seemed to be similar to the high desert area around Tucson. Climate change is causing the Kalahari to readjust.  The desert area is called the “Pan”. The Pan is a hard surface that is made up of salt deposits and other minerals. The Pan area is called the Makgadikgadi. When we went to the Island of the Baobabs, we went on our quads through the Makgadikgadi. There were also some surface areas that felt like a soft spongy cushion with beautiful patterns drawn by the environment. Will said he can envision that the Kalahari will one day be similar to the Serengeti. Wilder Beasts, Zebras, Meerkats, Springboks, some single Elephants, Lions and smaller animals roam the grasslands. There are no sand dunes like the Gobi. By the way, the Gobi is known to have the largest sand dunes in the world. Refer to my pictures taken in October last year.

Now that you understand a little about the Kalahari, I had an amazing photography experience our last morning in the Kalahari. Knowing that my chances are almost zero that I will ever return to this remote part if the world, I hoped that the Kalahari would give me a grand send off and she did. We started our morning by all meeting at six AM for our drive to look for wildlife. As the sun began to rise, we came across a large herd of wilder beasts grazing and playing. The sun was rising in the background that created a beautiful scene. We then drove and drove looking for some more wildlife. We were split up into two separate vehicles and my guide was “Bones”. Bones is very friendly and knows an encyclopedia of knowledge about the Kalahari. He decided to look for the lion that had been spotted over the previous days. We drove and drove but saw nothing. Each safari truck has walkie talkies and the guides communicate amongst each other. Bones took us out to the start of the Makgadikgadi and then he spotted them. There was two lions, male and female, and the male was following the female. We were the first truck to spot them. It is very rare to see lions in the Makgadikgadi and since there was no grass around, they were both visibly outstanding. Each lion sat down facing each other. Then the fun started. The female started to taunt the male. They were having foreplay. The male chased the female a little and then the female gave up. The male mounted the female. The five of us couldn’t believe what we were seeing and couldn’t stop clicking. A little about lion breeding. Lions breed for three straight days in twenty minute intervals and do not eat during this time. The alpha male normally has a few females. The females are the hunters. The males are kept by the females and their only purpose is to breed. What an animal. If a female gives birth to cubs that are not the alpha males cubs, then he will kill them. The urge to pass on the alpha males genes is very strong. This is what the Kalahari gave me for a going away present. My images appear to be outstanding. The other vehicle arrived after the fact. Being in the right place at the right time. A memory that will last forever. Thank you Kalahari

We arrived around 8 for breakfast. It was then time to pack and head for our flight to the Okavango Delta. We loaded all our luggage on a truck and got into the other truck. A short drive brought us back to the dirt landing strip we had arrived on. We boarded the local bush plane and took off. A ten passenger single prop plane. No bathrooms nor stewardesses. We were flying below the clouds. The topography started to change and as we flew north, the green started to appear more and more. After fifty minutes, we landed on another dirt landing strip. We were met by three safari vehicles and were then taken to our home for the next four nights.

This Camp is named “Sable Alley” and has been only open for one year. The Camp faces a large lagoon. We were told that at night we had to be escorted to our huts. Hippos are in the lagoon and surrounding area and they walk through the Camp all night long. Hippos normally stay in the water during the heat of the day and then go on land to forage at night. The Camp is built on stilts to keep the hippos out of them. The Camp manager also told us that lions and hyenas are very prominent and also pass through Camp. George the elephant was tame according to this situation.

At 3 we all met for afternoon tea and coffee. It was then off to our first venture into the Okavango Delta. We will have three safari vehicles so there is lots of room to take good pictures. The safari vehicles can drive and go through anything. We first came across a single elephant drinking water. What a beautiful sight. It was then off to explore. We came upon impalas and other horned animals. We then had a real treat. A pack of wild dogs ran by us. Wild dogs are becoming extinct and the species will probably die out in the near future. They are so beautiful with their large ears and beautiful colors. Quite rare to see wild dogs. We then came upon a herd of about twenty elephants. There were lots of babies. We got so close to them that we could almost touch them. The last animal we saw was a lion. He was just lying down and looking at his kingdom. It was now getting cold and we were getting hungry.

Dinner at Camp was very good. The beef was very tasty. We heard the sound of a lion in the distance as we all stood around a campfire warming up.

Wake up time tomorrow is at 5 AM. You are take pictures from the vehicles since it is too dangerous to get out.

Africa is turning out to be more than I could have imagined. The surprise of what you could find and see is everywhere. You could wander for an hour and see nothing and then you are a witness to see two lions mating right in front of you.

What will tomorrow bring?