FUN-travel: Botswana – Mobile Safari – Part 2

October 27, 2010 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Botswana – Mobile Safari – Part 2 

The ABC’s of Africa

A = Awesome
B = Bummer
C = Celebration
AA = Awesome Adventure
BB = Big Bummer
OO = Outrageously Overpriced
RBB = Really Big Bummer
TA = Totally Awesome
TAA = Totally Awesome Adventure
VG = Very Good

Day 23 – Saturday, September 25 – Savuti to Moremi, Botswana – cool 60’s to hot 90’s

Elephant Crossing

  • 1st drive 6:30 spot pride of 4 big male lions – next stop 2 females, one with 2 cubs well camouflaged in dry, yellow/brown 18” gras
  • 64 miles to Moremi, single lane road like mild roller coaster ride w/lots of dips then very rocky & bumpy, takes 5 hours
  • B – major wild fire on both sides as far as you can see for 25 miles
  • A – front row seats to 11:30 Elephant Show @ Water Hole – 25, all males, playing & having mud baths
  • A – drive through village – see mud huts being built using aluminum cans to hold it together instead of bricks
  • A – camp right on rivers edge & great lunch
  • 2nd drive very sparse animal viewings – more trees & marshes & grassy plains
  • C – in camp entertainment – after dinner concert featuring Marimba Frog band accompanied by Croaking Frog band w/bats chiming in – lead vocals by Harry the Hippo (quite loud snort/groan/bellow) – lasts until wee hours – wake up 2:30 to find wild dog sitting right outside front (turns out it was a dog from the village)

Lucy & Lidia

FF (FUN Facts) – always guaranteed to see lots of impalas

Day 24 – Sunday, September 26 – Moremi Game Reserve Khwai region, Botswana – cool 60’s to hot 90’s

Willy the Wildebeest

  • 1st drive 6:30 see the usual suspects & warthogs plus first ever red lechwe
  • A – brunch of cheese omelets, sausages & homemade bread
  • 2nd drive very sparse animal sightings again
  • A – Frank has back up Bird Safari planned – see all kinds
  • A – lots of dragon flies – one completely transparent w/exception of one black, velvety square on outer tip of each wing
  • C – in camp entertainment – same as last night except apparently Harry has gig at Hippo’s Pool Bar

FF – termite mounds abound – look like miniature volcano sand castles, some over 8’ high

Day 25 – Monday, September 27 – Moremi to Okavango Delta, Botswana – cool 60’s to hot 90’s

Bulls Will Be Bulls

  • 1st drive see mongoose, 2 honey badgers, black-backed jackal
  • 2nd drive see herd of 12 wildebeests, group of 10 mongoose, giraffe 15’ from road crosses in front of us

    Bob the Black-backed Jackal

  • A – see 2nd kill – hammerkop bird has frog – too big to eat so must tenderize it up by repeatedly shaking it, biting it & smashing on ground
  • C – in camp entertainment – after dinner concert featuring Marimba Frog band accompanied by Cicada Band

FF – lots of people driving themselves & camping in park – totally crazy, there are no street signs & they ask Frank for directions

Day 26 – Tuesday, September 28 – Okavango Delta, Botswana – cool 60’s to hot 90’s

  • A – Frank hears leopards calling 6 am – Anton heard hyenas walking through camp just after we went to bed (glad my hearing is not that good)
  • 1st drive 6:30 to Mboma Island for 9:00 mokoro boat ride deep in delta – leopard & lion tracks but none to see
  • B – see sparse animals again w/exception of lots more giraffes
  • A – mokoro = dugout canoe poled by local – quite, gentle ride
  • B – not much to see other than lots of tall & short grasses, reeds, bamboo, water fig trees, ferns, & water lilies all competing for the same spot
  • A – ride back to camp see velvet monkeys @ water hole being attacked by pair of blacksmith plover birds – protecting new chick venturing out for first time – arrive back to camp @ 2:30
  • A – 2nd drive see 1st ever both bat eared fox & steenbok
  • C – in camp entertainment – same as last night

Sam the Sable Antelope

Day 27 – Wednesday, September 29 – Okavango Delta to Namibia – very cool, windy 60’s to hot 90’s

Nellie the Nesting Croc

  • A – on way see more elephants, sable antelope, giraffes, impalas, velvet monkeys
  • A – takes 3 hours & 34 minutes, not 5 hours
  • A – plane departs 3:40 pm so have lots of time to eat & shop & check email
  • B – wifi is horribly slow and spotty
  • A – have great lunch & cappuccino
  • TA – can’t wait to have AC, full hot water shower, ice cold anything to drink!
  • B – 3:45 and haven’t boarded yet – flight disappears from departure screen – there are only 2 gates, one for domestic, one for international
  • BB – sit & wait, sit & wait, sit & wait – finally board 5:30 (never updated by airline personnel) 19 seater, double prop
  • RBB – plane is going to Vic Falls first (entirely opposite direction) – don’t arrive until 8:30 (3 hours late) – get to hotel 9:30

Botswana Recap:Best time for Chobe is the dry season months of August, September, and October. A mobile safari is a great way to see the terrain and experience Africa. The pluses are you don’t have to fly in a 6 seater plane and you keep your luggage with you.

River Crossing

On the small planes you are only allowed a total of 22 lbs, so you have to pay to store your luggage and carry a small soft bag that

Botswana Baby

sits on your lap. Chris’s camera equipment weighs more than 40 lbs. Driving instead of flying allows for a real sense of how big & remote Africa is. We are glad we had the experience but wouldn’t do it again. I would say now, that 3 days in a private camp in Kruger and 3 days in Chobe with both land & boat would be a TAA. We give Botswana double thumbs up for the number of different animals & the vast amounts of then! The food was very good and we had lots of fresh vegetables & fruit. Every dinner started with soup, main course always had a starch, meat, vegetable, salad, and finished with a dessert. Brunch was only served the 2 times we were not moving camp. Those days a picnic lunch was provide with multiple items to choose from that included meat, cheese, homemade bread, chips, cookies, etc. All drinks, beer & wine were included. This is what to expect from a 5 star mobile safari. At the Simbavati lodge we stayed at in Kruger breakfast was served at 10, lunch at 3 & dinner at 8. Only tea & coffee were included and we paid for all other beverages. Food was fresh and good there too. This was a 4 star lodge experience.

Anton, Joe, Me & Frank

FUN-travel: Botswana – Mobile Safari – Part 1

October 23, 2010 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Botswana – Mobile Safari – Part 1 

The ABC’s of Africa

A = Awesome
B = Bummer
C = Celebration
AA = Awesome Adventure
BB = Big Bummer
OO = Outrageously Overpriced
RBB = Really Big Bummer
TA = Totally Awesome
VG = Very Good

Day 20 – Wednesday, September 22 – Victoria Falls to Botswana – hazy, hot 90’s

Gigi the Giraffe

  • A – 5:40 am wakeup call by birds
  • A – really excited about going for 7 day private mobile safari in Botswana
  • B – 9:30 pickup means 10:00 Zimbabwe time – van ride takes 1 hr to border, change to 11 seater (1 up front w/driver & 3 rows, seating 3 each, all tiered higher for viewing) 4×4 open Land Cruiser w/canvas canopy top with Frank our guide, driver, tracker – than half an hour to town of Kasane
  • A – stop @ Bio Diversity Center – see snakes, birds, mongoose – all caught or being cared for to rerelease
  • AA – 12:45 Chobe River Wild Animal Park Boat Ride – front row seats for 1:45 Hippo Show – then on to 2:45 Elephant Herd Crossing River Show (absolutely amazing how they know exactly where to cross at shallowest point) – see multiple herds of impalas, kudus, hippos, elephants, water buffalo, all 60 to 100 each herd – see 1st kill, Saddle Billed Stork swoops up a fish – see so many different birds – favorite is lilac crested roller
  • A – 3:45 drive to camp – see 1st ever Sable Antelope & Puku & the usual suspects (those we have already seen) arrive back to camp 6:30
  • A – Chobe National Park – have tent w/2 iron beds, sheets, blankets, pillows, towels – toilet & shower in attached tent – front covered entry w/2 camp chairs & 2 camp sinks (they heat our water & fill them) – truly an adventure w/no electricity or running water & quite comfortable – told “must keep tent zipped so no creepy crawlies can get in” – Joe & Anton cook, set up & break down camp – amazingly fast for 4 tents, dining area & kitchen (wood fire w/grate)

Our Tent

FYI – Simbavati Lodge in Kruger was a luxury tented camp with front wood deck w/chairs & double wooden carved front doors, 6 window flaps that Velcro shut, 3 on each side, 2 oversized twin beds pushed together, AC & heat, door to bath with tub & 2 sinks (this room had 3 stucco walls) 2nd door leading to outdoor shower w/double heads, only 3 walls & no roof, wide open to view animals roaming by – told “must keep doors locked so no baboons can get in”

Lily the Lilac Crested Roller

  • TAA – Chobe is Kruger on steroids!

FF (FUN Facts) – TAA = Totally Awesome Adventure

Day 21 – Thursday, September 23 – Chobe National Park, Botswana – low cool 60’s to hot 90’s

  • 1st drive 6:30 to 10:30 am – 3 lions, zebras (3 herds over 100 each) plus lots more of the usual suspects – unbelievably huge amounts of animals over vast area
  • A – have fabulous brunch, then head back to river
  • 2nd drive is another 1:00 pm water safari @ Chobe River Wild Animal Park – on way see elephant herd huddled tightly in circle @ base of tree to keep cool, backed in – see baby only 1 week old nursing & well guarded
  • AA – go farther down river – see nesting crocodile (they regulate their body temperature by keeping their mouth open) 2:30 front row seats to the Bird Show – 60 vultures voraciously attacking & eating a dead cow (surmise it died giving birth as there is a baby carcass as well) see 3 types of vultures – more elephant herds crossing river – lots of water buffalo, hippos, giraffes
  • More AA – drive back to camp, see 2 lions & 1 leopard
  • TAA – have in camp entertainment – IMAX, 3D & surround sound – only 1 channel – Animal Planet
  • A – full moon


FF – elephants nurse for 4 years until next one is born – tusks start growing at 2 years which makes nursing a bit tricky

Day 22 – Friday, September 24 – Savuti National Park, Botswana – cool 60’s to hot 90’s

Larry the Lappet-Faced Vulture

  • A – see morning march of the guinea fowl – over 100 heading to water in single file
  • A – 1st drive 6:40 am – start off & stop so Frank can call office – 150 yards ahead, at 12:00 position, spot 2 male lions crossing road – tell Frank and head out in pursuit – in 100 yards, at 3:00, spot 2 females 15 yards from road – then to our surprise find one more at 9:00, 5 yards – YIKES (trackers are constantly visually sweeping from left to right & back again, looking from ground to tree line spotting animals, snakes & birds – on top of that they are listening & sensing)
  • BB – all roads are uneven & range from rough, rocky, hard packed to deep rutted soft sand & red powdery dirt – foolishly assumed road to Savuti was smooth & paved – takes 5 hours to go 85 miles – 4 WD a must, can’t believe how many self drive cars/trucks have been stuck
  • A – stop for lunch under big tree, spread table cloth on hood, great food of salads, cheese & cold cuts
  • A – get to camp, attempt to nap & realize tent is multi-functional – sleep by night & sauna by day
  • A – finally figure out how to work AC – soak towel in water, drape inside shirt around neck & down front
  • 2nd drive 4 to 6:30 – Savuti – vast open grasslands & Acacia trees w/some hills – animals quite sparse – see first ever Tsessbe – then cross river where new bridge will be when it gets built – have to drive across rocky river bed – last guy got stuck, had to be towed out – see wildebeests & ostrich & the usual suspects (those we have already seen)

Zoey the Zebra

  • Temp range – Dawn – cool, windy, dusty – Mid Morn – warm, windy, dusty – Noon – hot, windy, dusty

FF – sunrise & sunset is a huge orange ball creating a striking contrast to the monotone gray/brown barren trees awaiting their spring leaves