Southern Africa- March 2007
Summary by Linda Dee
Around 3 am we heard a rustling of leaves followed by grunting and snorting behind our tent. Minutes later we heard splashing and more grunts in front of our tent. It was the camp’s “resident” hippopotamus! How did a 3,000 pound animal quietly slip right past our tent to get to the river? Welcome to safari life! That was the first of many mysteries we experienced while on a recent 11 day safari to Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. We experienced sights, sounds and smells of the African land that touched our souls. We saw elegant giraffe families eating leaves from the tops of trees, baby and juvenile elephants splashing about in the Chobe River while their moms dusted themselves with dirt, herds of delicate impalas that must always be on the lookout for hungry stalking prey, families of baboons with babies bouncing upright on moms’ backs, families of wart hogs running with their tails pointing to the sky, lazing lionesses keeping cool in the tall dry grass, hippos submerged in water with just their eyes above water and scores of the most colorful birds we have ever seen.
When we saw huge black vultures waiting in tree branches we knew that some unfortunate animal, that only hours before had been drinking water or munching grass, had become someone’s dinner. Nothing goes to waste as each animal gets its turn. After the hunter has its fill, the hyenas arrive and after them the vultures.
There was always something fascinating to see during our early morning and late afternoon game drives. The afternoon drives always included “Sundowners,” so named because we would watch the brilliant orange sun setting over the savannah with zebra grazing nearby, while we enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and award winning South African wines. Happy Hours will never be the same! Some nights we would drive back to camp in the dark, gazing up at the Southern Cross and the Milky Way.
Our accommodations were unique and wonderful – from the luxury tents replete with porches and full baths to the new houseboat on the Chobe River to the thatched roof cottage facing the Zambezi River to the historical Victoria Falls Hotel. The trip was relaxing yet exhilarating. We tried delicious new foods, met interesting new friends, gained new respect for our very knowledgeable guides and learned new things about ourselves and how we fit into this great big world of ours. We can’t wait to return and are already talking with Global Sojourns to plan our next adventure. In one word our trip was…PERFECT!
Summary by Al Larsen
Like most travelers, I relish encountering new experiences. Like most outdoors enthusiasts, I am at home in natural surroundings. Even so, our safari adventure in Botswana’s Okavango Delta took me well outside my zone of reference—a glorious condition that had me constantly and effortlessly in a different zone: that Zen state of being here, now. There was really no choice. Something special was always happening or about to happen.
The first thing to realize is that this place belongs to the animals, in a way I have never known before, not in Yellowstone or anywhere else. Here, the critters could eat you, stomp you, gore you—or mesmerize you. We chose, or they allowed, the latter. The next thing to realize is that nature, in the Delta, is a multi-act play, with new actors (the animals) constantly coming onto and exiting the stage, and the “set” on that stage changing with the light and the time of day. One of the most rewarding afternoons of the trip was when we decided to stay at a single pan (watering hole) and watch one group of animals after another move in and move the preceding group out, while the heat of the day yielded to sunset.
We asked our hosts and guides in the camps what they thought of travelers such as us coming to their land—the place where many of them had grown up. They said it made them happy and proud. It brings money and jobs because people see beauty in the land as it is, allowing its preservation, instead of destruction for short-term economic exploitation. If being in the thrall of that land helps preserve it, I can easily live with that.