I fell asleep so fast and easy. Took a Bush shower after dinner. Nothing like a nice and cold Bush shower to wash away the dirt of the afternoon drive. Was woken up at five by a tray of hot coffee. I could get used to this. Imagine being woken up every day and given coffee as soon as you get up. PRICELESS.
My escort arrived at 5:45 and he immediately pointed out some elephant tracks right near my tent. By the way, I shook my shoes and turned them upside down before I put them on. Making sure there was no scorpion presence.
We all boarded our vehicles at 6 AM and it was off for another adventure. How can I describe this mornings drive? It was simply incredible. There is so much wildlife here and so close. Let’s start with lions. They seem to be in abundance. We constantly ran into them. Took some pictures of two lions cleaning each other’s faces. Others roaming and some sleeping. Now let’s go to hippos. Also in abundance. It is the end of the dry season in Katavi. The rivers are dry, but there are some ponds of mud and water from underground springs. All the animals tend to wander towards those areas. During the day, most of the hippos get into the mud to try and stay cool. They also share the mud ponds with crocodiles. These crocodiles are large. We stopped at three mud ponds that were loaded with numerous hippos and crocodiles. I took some wide angle shots of the whole area that appear to have come out well. The muddy water and the hippos and crocs created quite an amazing shot. Now let’s talk about giraffes. They are all over and tend to get close to our vehicles. I took some great shots of the giraffes running and portraits of them. All different kinds of birds, pelicans and storks were dispersed amongst the wildlife. I could go on and on, but hopefully my pictures will tell the tale.
We arrived back in Camp at around 11:30 AM. There is a central charging station and I went there to swap two fully charged batteries for two exhausted ones. It was then back to my tent to take a long Bush shower, download and backup my pictures and get ready for lunch at 1PM.
I forgot to mention that we ate breakfast overlooking a dried out river and plains. There were lots of hippos and giraffes. My vehicle was the second one to arrive and the people on the first vehicle told us that a few of the hippos almost charged them. We stayed clear and tried to not get them nervous as we ate a delicious breakfast.
Lunch was excellent. Bush pizza was served. An interesting way to make pizza. I have had it before in Zimbabwe. I then had a three o’clock critique session with Sean. I picked out three of my images and Sean and myself discussed the editing techniques of each. I get so much out of these sessions and look forward doing them.
At four we all met for afternoon tea and then boarded our vehicles for the afternoon drive. It will be hard for me to describe this drive but I will try my best. Our driver drove us to a dried out riverbed and then stopped the vehicle. Sean was with us. The driver then walked over to a small hole in the side of the riverbank and motioned for us to come and see what was in there. We then looked inside. There were baby crocodiles all bunched together and looking alive and well. Female crocs lay around sixty to seventy eggs and when the babies hatch, they are quite mature. The mother does not nurse the babies but will protect them. We were on the lookout. Sean had a 360 degree camera attached to a long selfie pole. The camera took videos that were then downloaded to his cell phone almost instantly. He stuck the pole in the hole and took a 360 degree video of the babies. Our driver then walked over to a larger hole. He motioned us over and we looked inside. A huge croc was starring back at us. I took some great shots of the crocs head with some spider webs hanging down. The crocs build these holes to get out of the heat. Then Sean put the pole in and advised us to go back to the vehicle since the croc may come running out. The croc held his or her ground. We then saw another hole with a long croc tail sticking out. Sean did the same routine. Gently put the stick in the hole and maneuvered it around.
We then got back in the vehicle and found a large pride of lions. The head male lion was so hot. He was constantly panting. The heat here really gets to you. It hardly cools of at night and the temperatures get up into the nineties. I sleep facing a fan. At least two Bush showers are necessary. One after the morning drive and another after the evening drive. The pride had killed a hippo last night and the carcass was half eaten. Most of the pride were sleeping under a large tree.
We then moved on. Our driver had a treat for us. It is against Park rules for the drivers to go off round and get out of the vehicles with their guests. There are very few land cruisers in the Park. Only two planes come per week. One on Monday and one on Thursday. Furthermore, there are only a handful of Camps in Katavi. The driver drove to a dried out riverbed and we all got out and followed him across the riverbed and up the other side. He ten led us to a large tree. Lying under the tree were at least twenty to thirty full size crocs. We then walked silently around the other side and it looked like a carpet of crocs. I took some very interesting pictures of this unique experience.
We then drove back to Camp for showers and dinner. On the way back to my tent I got bitten by a Tse Tse fly. A burning constant itch. Julian, the Camp manager, gave me some cream. The bite is on my ankle and I could feel it blowing up. I was advised not to scratch.
Onto tomorrow and another exhausting and thrilling day.