Botswana Photo.

August, 2009

We began our adventure in Botswana with a boat trip through the Chobe National Park. We saw an amazing number and variety of animals in a short trip along the Chobe River. We saw most of the same animals again in later portions of the trip, and got better photos in those other locations. The one animal we photographed best here was the crocodile. We saw several crocodiles that were truly enormous. Here is a closeup photo of one of them. You would certainly not want to meet any of them on foot.

Later that day, we flew in a small, single-engine plane to the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve. We then drove to the Linyanti Discoverer Camp, where we spent the next 3 days. Our routine was fairly regular with early morning game drives, a rest period after lunch, followed by an afternoon game drive, night drive, dinner, and bed. The schedule included many stops to eat, including breakfast, morning coffee or tea, lunch, afternoon tea (including food), sundowners (at sundown, of course), and dinner. We were kept well fed.

After dark, we could not travel through the camps unattended. We always had one of the staff to accompany us in case of animals along the paths or sleeping under the tents. Although we never had a serious encounter, we did have elephants in the camp more than once, and lions, hyenas, monkeys, baboons, antelope, etc. At Linyanti Camp, we had hippos within a few feet of our tent during the night.

Driving from the airstrip on our first game drive, Jamie spotted three lions resting in the shade under a bush. They seemed oblivious to our presence as Dave drove our Land Rover up close to them. We found this to be the case as we approached both lions and leopards on numerous occasions. They seemed to almost ignore us as we sat (quietly) for long periods watching and photographing them as they slept, drank water, and even let us follow them as they hunted. Here are some more photos of the lions and leopards we saw during our trip:

lions   |   lions   |   leopard   |   leopard

One of our most enjoyable encounters came when we watched a mother lion with her cub just before sunset. Again, the mother seemed totally uninterested as her cub came close to the Land Rover to work out what we were. He got to within a dozen feet of us before deciding to attack a small branch instead. Here are some photos of the cub:

yawn   |   attack   |   cute and innocent

Throughout our travels, the many antelope species and other herbivores were the most obvious animals. Frequently gathered into large herds, the antelope were particularly numerous. Most were somewhat "shy" and did not let us get too close. The red lechwe were particularly unwilling to let us approach and would bound off through the water while we were still a long way off. Other antelope, like the impala, would let us drive quite close to them. Here are photos of some of the other herbivores we saw:

giraffe   |   gnu   |   gnus   |   hippo   |   warthog   |   kudu   |   zebra

There were many other smaller animals that captured our interest on our game drives. These included monkeys, baboons, and the pigmy mongoose, among others. We also found many of the plants interesting. The water lilies had beautiful flowers and rather small leaves. The papyrus plants do not put their roots down into the soil, but create intertwined mats that float on the water, creating large floating islands.

Of course, the elephants were a special treat. We usually saw elephants in small herds of about a half-dozen individuals. However, we occasionaly saw single individuals and large herds of 30 or more. From the air, we saw one herd of dozens of animals. These large herds occur when several smaller herds come together temporarily. The elephants mostly eat trees, and they will knock over large trees to make it easier to get at the leaves and smaller branches. They also strip the bark off of trees and eat that. They move through the forest grazing for awhile, then go to a water source to drink. They suck up a quantity of water into their trunk, then blow the water into their mouth.

Elephant herds are family affairs. The young grow up and generally stay with the group, although the males may go off to all-male herds. Most herds contain a mix of ages, often with one or more small infants. We were able to get fairly close to the elephants most of the time. Once in a while, an elephant would become upset with our presence. We were confronted with head shaking and false charges by an elephant one evening. She may not have seen us coming and been surprised to suddenly see us emerging from the twilight. Elephants were common in the camps, and on one occasion knocked over the water system. Repairs due to damage by various animals is a common requirement in all of the safari camps.

And then there were the birds !! We saw them in many environments, though they were most numerous in the wet areas, like this yellow-billed stork. Although the birds tended to fly whenever we approached, they would sometimes sit still long enough for Jim to get a photo. Here, in no particular order, are just a few of the many birds we saw in Botswana:

lilac-breasted roller   |   african darter   |   goliath heron   |   guineau fowl
great white egret   |   hornbill   |   squacco heron   |   cormorant
malachite kingfisher   |   pied kingfisher   |   saddle-billed stork

And that was our trip to Botswana. We can't end the story, however, without at least one beautiful African sunset.

— return to the 2009 Journal Archive.