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Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

 

Flew Airlink from Cape Town to Maun, Botswana.

Many years ago when I still lived in Pretoria during the late 70’s I went on a short trip exploring Botswana’s game parks. Ever since then I have gazed at maps and tried to imagine what’s names like Kalahari, Maun, Okavango Delta, Moremi, Savuti Channel and Chobe were like. Now it becomes a bucket list item and I know I need to find an organized safari to take me there. I reach out to friends who ask their friends and get a personal reference on a group called Bushways. I coral Rose into the idea and after delaying through the Covid pandemic pull the trigger for an October 2022 mobile (nice word for camping) safari from Maun up through all those names and ending at the Victoria Falls.

Parting view of Cape Town and Table Mountain.

The first night is spent in a nice lodge in Maun and little did we know how we would long for those creature comforts while enduring sweltering temperatures in the desolation of the Central Kalahari.

Nice chalets at Maun Lodge.
Welcome dinner where we all got to see who else is on the safari.

SUNDAY 9

Sunday morning reality kicks in and we meet our leader, DT, his assistant & cook, KK and our vehicle, a modified Toyota Landcruiser, the workhorse of Africa’s unpaved roads. There’re  twelve clients, DT, KK and an interpreter for the 6 Belgium’s and one Frenchie. 3 Brits and Alvaro & Inger who we have invited along as a thank you for having cared for my father during his sunset days in Denmark.

Getting ready to leave the next morning.
Walk through a disinfectant to control foot and mouth disease.
Strip of Botswana highway.

Our first night is in a serviced campground which means it has toilets and running water, this is compared to other bush campsites that are merely designated areas in the bush with plenty of sand and scattered trees for transient shade.

Our campground for the first night.
Campsite in the sparse shade.

The daily routine will be up at 5:30am for tea/instant coffee (we got used to drinking rooibos tea and lemon), toast/cereal for a quick breakfast and then in the truck for a morning game drive till about 11am. Lunch then a nap in the sweaty heat and then afternoon game drive around 4pm.

“Stretch stop” on our afternoon game drive.

We are not in the Kalahari yet but Makgadikgadi Pans SE of Maun. October is the end of the dry season and the terrain shows that. There is no green foliage and you wonder how any animals can exist out here. The Boteti River  will be the last natural water we will see for a while and DT takes us along the banks to see who is coming down to the river for water.

Plenty of game down at the river.
First of many elephant sightings.
Gnu or Blue Wildebeest.
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Elephant crossing.
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Trunk has many uses.
Zebra heading up from the river.
These were the roads we traversed, thick with sand.
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Pelicans about to take flight.
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MONDAY 10

That was a short stop and the next day we left the paved road and headed off into the sand. The “road” is thick 6” sand and would leave any normal driver petrified, with the only support being fellow 4×4’s along the way.

Time to air down for the sand.
Ostrich can survive on a varied diet.
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Entrance gate in the apparent middle of no where.
No google maps out here and sand tracks seem to split and converge randomly. Sometimes it is a simple two choices around an obstacle others are major north or west choices.

This first day into the Kalahari was a long one as we first drove to the park gate then on into an area called Deception Valley and then further on to Passarge Valley where we spent two nights.

Tea stop and DT will find some shade for a break.

I found it amazing, that in this area of “nothingness” DT was able to find gems. Over the course of our safari we saw upwards of 50 plus different lions – amazing. This morning we found a pride randomly scattered around some low trees absolutely oblivious to us in our truck. As you can see below we are able to drive up pretty close and they barely twitch. It’s as if we weren’t there.

First pride.
Handsome female cat.
Oblivious.

Later in the day, and from a distance, a trained eye will spot the outline of a cat in the shade of a tree. Like before, they don’t up & run but ignore you.

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Majestic, almost an oil painting.
We surmised that this was an older male with a younger one (his son?) and also a young female.
Father and son, possibly.
Plenty of Black backed Jackal.
They mate for life and if one is around the other is close by. If one should die then the other remains solo.
A Duiker.
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Africa is full of sunsets and sunrises.

TUESDAY 11

Oryx or Gemsbok, native to the dry Kalahari.
Ground Squirrel.
His tail acts as a portable sun umbrella.
Red Footed Falcon.
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Serrated Tortoise.

The story on the tortoise I that we were driving along with most of us half asleep from the bouncing of the truck when DT stops and announces the tortoise at the base of a tree next to the road. Even when told some of us struggled to see him in his camouflage shell. An example of how DT was able to pick out animals that most of us had to gaze at before they came into view.

Twany Eagle.
Two females sauntering. Slow arithmetic gait, so in tune.
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Springbok grazing.
Brown Snake Eagle.
That end of the day moment. Sun is setting, lions are stretched out in the road and we are soaking it all in.
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Only a cat can do this.

WEDNESDAY 12

Today was moving day so we had to pack up our tents before breakfast and be ready to move out soon thereafter. I loved the sunrise colors as we jostled to make our tea and butter our toast which was often home baked by KK the day before.

Breakfast in the veld as we each tend to our needs.
Packing up and ready to go.
Oryx or at Leopard Pan.
They all scattered when this lioness turned up but she seemed well fed and was not interested in any more to eat.
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An idea what our happy family looked like. Four rows and each day we all moved forward one row to rotate the viewing area.

Today we found cheetah, and what was even more special was a mother and 3 cubs, pretty rare.

Two cubs.
The family.
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Almost as if the body pieces have not been sized correctly. Small head, skinny body and bushy tail used for steerage while running.
The mother was relaxed with us being around but every time the truck started up to move the cubs got skittish and started moving away.
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THURSDAY 13

Another long day of driving back to Maun and we’re all looking forward to hot showers and a comfy bed after days in the sweaty bush.

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One of us, Mary third from the right, would be leaving so we had to have a groupie.
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Next up, back to Maun for a night and then the Okavango Delta.