For everyone visiting Africa there is a deep desire to capture in memory the experience of witnessing all cast members that make up the “Big Five”. It’s not an easy feat and for some it never happens.
My time in Africa was fast coming to an end. After 2 months and seven safaris across four countries I had seen and photographed hundreds of animals. Impala and springbok by the herd, wildebeest by the chaotic stampede, meerkats by the family, and birds by the undulating flock.
Of Africa’s Big Five I had seen four. In the two months of traveling Southern Africa the Cape Buffalo, elephant, lion, and rhinoceros had all made themselves available to me on more than one occasion. Sometimes standing there right in the middle of the road.
It was the leopard that remained elusive. Continue reading The Elusive One
The Okavango Delta is one of those storied international locales that brings to mind instantly a series of marshes and waterways teeming with wildlife synonymous with Africa. It is a protected area in the heart of Botswana and at its center is the Moremi National Park; home to countless creatures who have been fortunate enough to happen upon this sanctuary.
My story is about one of these creatures. A lion whose ear for music tapped instinctively into the rhythm of the land upon which he was king.
The roads into Moremi are little more than dusty tracks; a far cry from the tarsealed center-striped highways of Kruger. Then, even those disappear and you find yourself without a pre-conceived direction; lost in the intoxicating vastness of the African bush. It becomes easy to feel like you are in uncharted territory; like it must have felt 100 years ago. Continue reading Blues Meets Lion King
Before rays from the new sun managed to penetrate the darkness of early morning I was up and about; bright-eyed and eager to get moving to a new destination. I was leaving behind the town of Victoria Falls and heading into a more rural Africa. I had no place in mind where I would next be sleeping. No place in mind for my next drink or meal. I was going to hitch-hike and let the cards fall where they may.
With backpack secured I closed the zipper on my tent, bid farewell to the meerkat who had been my companion, and headed out into the dawn. The meerkat winked from his slumber as I left. As sad as it was for me to leave him behind I am doubtful I was anything more to him than another source of food, passing through town.
My hitch-hiking got off to a good start. No sooner had I made it to the main street than a car pulled up and offered me a ride to the junction. The driver was heading straight; I would be veering right so our journey together was brief however the day was starting out as a success for someone new to the game of traveling as a guest of others generosity. Continue reading Adventure Botswana
Arriving in Botswana is not like arriving in other African countries; it’s quiet. Usually, border crossings are a hive of activity with vendors selling everything from fruit, gum, water, wooden statues, clothing, all the way through the list of life’s necessities to include accommodation. Before arrival you prepare yourself to be followed and excitedly chatted to in broken English as the sales pitch of the “simultaneous many” flows into your head and overwhelms your senses. This is not the case in Botswana…think crickets.
Hitch-hiking in Africa is as normal a mode of transport as walking and this is especially true in Botswana. Specific road-side areas, miles apart, are delegated as bus stops and come with a small red-roofed shelter for the comfort of intended passengers.
The actual bus infrequency however, paints a whole other picture of public transportation. Just because the bus schedule, if one is available, says the bus will be there at 9:00 am that does not mean the bus will be there at 9:00 am, no. What this nugget of information means is that the bus will be there, at this stop, where you are standing, somewhere between 9:00 am today and 8:59 am of the following morning. Continue reading Everyone Loves Falling Water
Opened as a protected reserve in 1931 the Kalahari Gemsbok National Reserve straddles the South Africa Botswana border and makes up the southern most portion of the greater Kalahari Desert. It is a sanctuary for a wide variety of game and I hoped to see them all; giraffe, hyena, cheetah, wildebeest, lion etc…and the incredibly elusive Leopard. Like everyone I wanted that photo of a leopard relaxing on a tree branch, staring straight at me with a look of calm self-indulgence as it processes the ease in which it could scare the crap out of me with little more than a swift move in my direction.
It was the middle of summer though, a time when temperatures average 104 degrees, and swift moves on the part of a leopard or anything else with a pulse were few and far between. Our first day would start out early in order to beat the heat; give us a few hours before the wildlife collectively decided to retreat to any place offering shade. As the padlock to the entrance was removed and the gate made a wide berth to officially open the reserve, our jeep moved forward at a crawl.
We had arrived at base camp last night and after a braai and beer had bedded down for the night. The entrance to the reserve, at that time gated shut, was only a few hundred feet from me. As I lay down under the infinite blue of the African sky the last rays of the setting sun melted into the tops of the acacia trees; the horizon a blazing orange. I slept well. Continue reading Kalahari’s New Day