Chitabe In Pictures

At Chitabe camp in the Okavango Delta of Botswana we saw so much wonderful wildlife it’s hard to pick only a few photographs to post. There was a huge diversity of animals and birds and it seemed that new and exciting things were around every corner. One morning we came to a water hole where quite a few marabou storks had gathered along with egrets, white pelicans, herons, and other water loving fowl. There was a hippopotamus carcass nearby which probably accounted for the storks as they are scavengers. We also saw many living hippos at the water holes.

P1030124

Marabou stork

P1030125

P1030132

P1030140 P1030183 P1030167 P1030169 P1030188

It was the beginning of baby season in the bush and we saw beautiful wee creatures wobbling around after their mamas. In fact, we happened upon a wildebeest with her newborn calf mere seconds after she had given birth. We watched for about ten minutes as the baby struggled to stand up and take its first steps. That’s all the time it took before they were making their way back to the herd.

P1030200 P1030209

P1030218 P1030224

Piglets!

Piglets!

The whiskers on this young warthog are to fool predators into thinking he has big tusks!

The whiskers on this young warthog are to fool predators into thinking he has big tusks!

Tsessebes with youngsters

Tsessebes with youngsters

P1030119

Giraffes get darker as they age. This young one is quite light colored.

Giraffes get darker as they age. This young one is quite light colored.

P1030316

On the way back to camp one morning we heard a ruckus in the bushes next to the road. When we went to investigate it turned out there was a python moving about under a tree. A very brave dove was keeping an eye on things! When there is a snake nearby, birds and squirrels will make a lot of noise to let the others (and the snake) know it’s been spotted.

P1030288

Another morning we spent some time trying to find some lions that had been spotted in a certain area. Having been unsuccessful in finding them and having nearly gotten stuck in the mud in the process, we were headed back to camp for breakfast when we just happened upon two leopards lying in the shade on a termite mound by the side of the road. How convenient! It was a mother and her son. They were panting from the heat and posed very obligingly for us.

P1030245 P1030252 P1030257

We also saw more wild dogs at Chitabe. On the first occasion they were relaxing in the evening before rousing themselves and setting off on a hunt.

P1030354

Play time

Play time

Setting off into the bush

Setting off into the bush

The second time we saw them they had just gone for a cooling dunk in the mud at a waterhole and were settling in for a late morning nap. They looked very strange with the mud plastered over parts of their bodies!

P1030492 P1030503 P1030508 P1030505 P1030512

There were many beautiful birds and we were able to see many of them enough times to start to learn their names.

Lilac breasted roller

Lilac breasted roller

One of my favorite birds

One of my favorite birds. So colorful!

Ground hornbills

Ground hornbills

Grey louries, also called the go away bird because it makes a sound like someone saying "Go Away!"

Grey Go-Away-Birds so called because they make a sound like someone saying “Go Away!”

P1030608

Crested barbet

P1030640

Hammerkop

Hammerkop

African fish eagle

African fish eagle

Here are some pictures of our first Baobab tree. They are enormous, but not immune to the damage that elephants can do.

P1030519 P1030526

We also saw more leopards including a female lounging in a tree who decided to come down, and a young male cub also in a tree who was hanging out waiting for his family to come back.

P1030540 P1030541 P1030551 P1030552

When I first spotted this young guy he was watching us from the crook of a tree.

When I first spotted this young guy he was watching us from the crook of a tree.

P1030576 P1030579

There were plenty of cape buffalo as well as elephants to provide us with exciting encounters.

P1030457 P1030460 P1030474

P1030616 P1030637 P1030621 P1030951

I will leave you here with the spectacular sunrise we saw one morning. Next up will be lions and traveling to our next camp.

P1030652

Chasing Wild Dogs in the Rain – part 3

When we got to the approximate vicinity of the last known whereabouts of the wild dogs, we looked around and stopped to listen. Often other animals and birds will give away the presence of a predator with their alarm calls. Sure enough, we heard some elephants trumpeting in the distance. We went off in that direction and found the pack of wild dogs, seventeen strong including six pups. Just after we arrived to view them milling about excitedly, they set off on a hunt. More rare than spotting wild dog is seeing them hunt and make a kill. Wild dogs are very successful predators, but seeing a kill is not very common for any of the predators. These wild dogs were in a frenzy and killed not one but three impala in quick succession. When they had rushed about feeding until their bellies were full, they hung out in one spot socializing and we were able to observe the pups playing tug of war with some leftovers. Sorry if this is not appetizing for some, but it's the way of the wild I guess. Here is a series of pictures of the wild dogs. It's hard to capture them as they are constantly moving. I did my best.

 

Well, after that excitement we were being congratulated on having extraordinary luck for our first safari! After we left the dogs we wandered off and found a good spot for sundowners, the South African term for cocktail hour. Kate and Life produced much appreciated gin and tonics and nibbles in the middle of the bush!

The remainder of our first safari continued after dark with Life using a spot light to point out nocturnal animals. We saw a few hippos after dark when they came out of the river to feed, a chameleon hanging out on a bush, and bush babies' eyes peering back at us from the treetops.

When we returned from our safari we quickly went to change for dinner and returned to our camp's main lounge and dining area. To our surprise we were informed that a special dinner was planned. We were treated to a five course dinner with wine pairings prepared especially by Londolozi's Executive Chef Anna, who is normally in charge of the staff of 27 chefs that work here. Wow, was that incredible! We were a bit weary but rallied to enjoy the springbok carpaccio and porchetta stuffed pork belly. The wines were terrific too. I enjoyed learning about some wineries we might visit later on in our trip. All in all it was an amazing day and we stumbled off to bed feeling satisfied if a bit overwhelmed.