I planned my second mobile camping safari in October 2006, once again to Botswana. On this trip we had five nights at Moremi Game Reserve and two nights at Savuti Game Reserve arranged by the same tour operator Africa Pride Ltd based in Maun, who had handled the logistics of our previous mobile camping trip to Botswana in 2004. This firm was introduced to me by Steven who again was our guide as well as the man behind the wheel. My son Ishanga, together with my friends Ranjith Deegala, Chanaka Perera and his wife, joined me on this trip. After the Botswana leg of the tour, we were going on to Ethosha National Park in neighboring Namibia. Ranjith and I have been good buddies since 1980. I came to know Chanaka in the course of business and realized that we had a common interest in wildlife. He and his wife have a very sharp eye for spotting leopard; a shy and elusive cat that is generally hard to detect in the wild.
We all arrived in Maun on the 6th of October except Ranjith who missed the flight connection in Singapore. After a night in Maun, we hit the road to the MGR. Ranjith took an internal flight from Maun to the Xakanaka airstrip in MGR and we picked him from the airstrip during our afternoon safari. In MGR, we spent three nights at Xakanaxa followed by two nights just outside the game reserve in Mababe along the Khwai River.
During our stay at MGR, we found three Cheetahs together on the open plains. They got on top of an anthill, posed for us as we took pictures, and later drank water from a water hole nearby. We had seven leopard sightings, mostly with the help of Chanaka and his wife. Surprisingly, we saw few Lions compared to my visit to MGR in 2004. The small number of Lions we observed were mostly males. We didn’t come across any large prides. But, we were witness to a rare incident where two male Lions were feeding on a Buffalo kill close to the edge of the water on the Khwai River when a large Crocodile stealthily came up and stole it from the Lions. Since we were camping outside the park at the River Khwai, there were no restrictions on driving off the road or after dark. During a night drive, we came across two male Lions, and an African Wild Cat which is a nocturnal animal. Apart from all these, we experienced the rich array of antelopes and bird life at MGR.
After spending 5 nights at the MGR, Steven drove through the jungles of the Okawanga Delta to the Savuti National Park. It took about three hours to reach our campsite, which was close to the Savuti Channel. The wild inhabitants of these jungles are often seen at the water holes; especially the Elephants. The Savuti area was drier and had less jungle cover when compared to MGR. Savuti NP is famous for its Wild Dogs as well as for the Lions that have developed the skill of ambushing young elephants for its food for survival. It was during the morning of our last day in Savuti, that we came across three Lions feeding on a baby Elephant they had hunted the previous night. Also, on the same morning we came across two Cheetahs, and later a pack of Wild Dogs roaming near the channel after a heavy meal. We took a flight from Savuti to Maun, while Steven drove the jeep back to Maun.
At Maun airport, we picked the Volkswagen Kombi van that we had reserved in advance, for our next leg of the tour which was to Namibia. After staying the night at Maun, we left the following morning heading for Etosha National Park in Namibia, a distance of over 1,000 km. We had reservations at the Namutoni camp inside the west gate of ENP. The Namibia border at Mohembo was 415 km from Maun. We stayed a night in transit about half way on the journey, inside Namibia at a lodge we had booked in advance.
Please see the details of my tour to ENP under the heading of Namibia.