No, not like Monopoly or Chess, people come to Africa to see the Animals, and I am no exception!
My grandmother, who we call Frorie, loves giraffes. Like most grandmothers who love a specific animal she has received giraffes as gifts for, I am guessing, the better part of her life and now has a room dedicated to them. As you can imagine, as I was planning my trip to Botswana I was overly excited about seeing a giraffe in the wild, and getting a photo to add to Frorie’s room. I was not disappointed!! African safaris are the place to see wildlife, the first animal I saw when my small plane landed on the sandy airstrip was a very tall giraffe, just walking around like he owned the place!
That experience was followed up quickly by seeing a huge bull elephant (my first of many), a herd of zebras, and random impala everywhere! Over the course of my African safari we were very lucky with game viewing. From the air we spotted animals of all kinds drinking and lounging by watering holes. We also spotted a pride of lions walking around, 4 females in front, followed by a very majestic male. We stumbled on kudu, Eland, Sable Antelope, Oryx, and water buffalo from our 4x4 Jeep. There was also the hyena’s we saw as we landed in a small jumper plane. The best was when we couldn’t get to our rooms one night because a huge hippo was ambling about (we eventually got in, but he barked outside my tent all night). The birding was amazing, but that is another story!
The most impressive of my game viewing came on my last two days. We arrived in the Linyanti (in northern Botswana) and decided to do some game driving before making our way to Kings Pool Camp. We were lucky, very lucky. Our guides drove us up to where two other 4x4’s were watching a leopard resting under a bush after a feed. She had taken down an impala the night before and was laying only feet away from the dead carcass. We were about 20 feet from her, just taking it in. She stretched and went back for more. We watched, silent; only snapping cameras could be heard for a while before moving on to see what else we could find.
It didn’t take long for us to strike gold for a second time. About 300 meters away from our leopard we found a pride of lions that had recently killed a zebra. Two lionesses were feasting on the hind quarters while another was napping under a nearby tree. As our guide moved the jeep into a better position we ran straight into the male called Romeo (they could identify him by his broke right front tooth) and we watched him for quite a while too!
All a twitter from our sightings we headed into camp. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and great conversation before turning in. First thing the next morning we went back out to check on our cats. The leopard had gone, but oddly the carcass was still there; she hadn’t moved it to a tree and no other animals had scavenged the body. We moved on to the lions. One of the lionesses was in pretty bad shape. She was lying in a small opening, but it looked like she has an infection in her eye and she was very skinny. The guide confirmed our suspicions that she was in fact in pretty rough shape. We left her in peace and when we had come back to our tire tracks in the sand the guide noticed that there were lion prints on top of our tire tracks. We tracked her. After a short time we saw her coming out of the bush, and to our surprise she was followed closely by two small cubs.
The cubs looked to be about 2 months old, and were pretty much the cutest thing I have ever seen! They had little round bellies, and short little legs. To be honest, I really wanted to pick one up and cuddle it, but this is the wild, you have to keep your distance. We took it all in for the better part of the morning, and then, sadly, it was off to the airport to start my 30+ hour journey back to the states!
To see more game photos from Botswana, check out my Flickr set: Mindy's Botswana Photos
Your Friendly Travel Expert,
Mindy (Vanderhoof) Teini