BAM Safari

My first Safari to Botswana

first

Botswana is one of the premier wildlife destinations in Africa. The wild terrain there is very different to that of Kenya and South Africa. It is popular for sightings of the rare, endangered African Wild Dogs. The Okavango Delta region, one of the world’s largest inland water systems, has been featured in TV documentaries which describe how a pride of Lions resident there have developed the skill of hunting elephants when food is scarce.

My first visit to Okavango Delta in Botswana was in end July 2004 together with my friend Chin, who joined me on many of my safaris. He added to the fun with his jokes and pranks. One of Chin’s university colleagues from Sri Lanka in the early 1970’s, Sarath, now living in Gaborone the capital of Botswana, helped me to make the arrangements for my safari tour. Sarath is an engineer and is a batch mate of my brother Saranapala, from the University of Peradeniya.

As planned we arrived in Gaborone on 31st July. In the evening we met with Sarath and his family to dinner. The following morning we boarded a domestic flight to Maun, which was a convenient airport from which to get to the camps in the Okavango Delta. We had reservations at three luxury camps (Selinda, Chief’s and Linyanti) in Okavango Delta for six nights and a further two nights at Deception Valley Lodge in Kalahari. The travel from camp to camp was by air, each had their own concession, which gave the camps’ guests the privacy to view the wild life undisturbed.

During the six nights we spent in these camps, Lion sightings were very common in all locations, while we spotted a White Rhino and a Cheetah at the Chief’s Island. The afternoon game drive at all three camps returned very late, becoming a night drive as we stayed out in the dark for some time before returning to the camp. Antelopes were aplenty indicating that those higher up the food chain had a good food supply. Impala, Waterbuck, Kudu and Tsessebe were abundant and we also spotted Gemsbok and Red Lechwe. After moving on to Kalahari, when driving from the airstrip to the Deception Valley Lodge, we caught a glimpse of a Lion quite far inside the bush, but much to our surprise it scampered away when it saw us. It seems the Lions at Kalahari are not used to vehicles compared to other places. We also came upon a Brown Hyena close to the lodge. It was the first time I had seen this species, all my previous visuals were of Spotted Hyena. But there was no sign of the African Wild Dogs that I had looked forward to encountering in Botswana.

On this trip, I met an experienced travel guide/photographer named Steven, who suggested that a mobile camping safari at Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta would be the best option for game viewing and photography instead of staying at lodges\camps. He shared with me a fantastic collection of photographs he had taken at Moremi, which tempted me to make another visit to Botswana at an early date. Steven recommended end October as the best period to visit there as it is the dry season and the animals come to the water holes to drink and the predators lie in wait to ambush a prey.

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