Our African safari continued into Botswana, where we explored the famous Okavango Delta and Linyanti regions. The Linyanti concession, adjoining the western boundary of Chobe National Park, consists of mopane woodlands, riparian forest and ancient floodplains. After several years of drought, a decent summer rainfall filled the flowing Savuti Channel, which made our stay all the more most enjoyable.
Situated on the edge of the waterway, our Savuti Camp featured an elevated deck which provided wonderful views of the landscape and wildlife. African Pygmy Goose and jacanas foraged around emergent vegetation, and a herd of elephants tromped past the hide (blind) and through the shallow water. Tree Squirrels scampered amongst wandering Red-billed Spurfowl and Crested Francolin. Local trees hosted Bradfield’s Hornbill, Jacobin Cuckoo, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Black-collared Barbet, and an unexpected Blackcap, a Eurasian migrant and rare in Botswana.
Afternoon safari drives were most impressive with plenty of birds – Broad-billed Roller, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Giant Kingfisher, Red-backed and Magpie Shrike, Grey-headed Bush-shrike, Black Cuckoo-shrike, Arnot’s Chat, Harlequin Quail, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Common Scimitarbill, Black-bellied Bustard, Mosque Swallow, and Southern Black Tit. Numerous Helmeted Guineafowl, dubbed “drama queens” by the locals, pranced around and vocalized full-throttle, contrasting with soft sounds of Double-banded Sandgrouse that flew in to drink at a waterhole. We stopped for a tree squirrel and hornbills sounding alarm calls from a bare tree; perhaps they saw a snake below them. The hornbill was holding a sphinx moth in its beak, probably a meal for it youngster, but after running out of patience, it decided to flick it up and eat it itself.
Driving around the tracks we encountered several larger reptiles, namely Leopard Tortoise, African Rock Python, Water Monitor and the more uncommon Rock Monitor, along with the expected Nile Crocodile.
Marshes hosted a great variety of birds and mammals. Reedbuck lumbered through the vegetation, scattering Long-toed Lapwing, Spur-winged Goose, Knob-billed Duck and African Darter. One disgruntled hippo came charging out of the water and chased our vehicle for about 20 meters as we floored it out of there – what an adrenaline rush to see one of Africa’s most deadly animals so close!
Seasonal rains had begun early, and Impala were beginning to drop their young. Predators kept a watchful eye for vulnerable newborns, and we were not surprised to find two lionesses and four cubs snoozing behind our camp. Not too far away, we saw our first Wild Dogs finishing up the remains of an impala they had tracked down.
Red Lechwe, an antelope built with powerful hind legs to out-run predators through the water, were numerous. We saw a few Fawn-coloured Roan, a rare and endangered antelope that reaches the southern edge of their range in the Okavango Delta. We encountered the quintessential African animals – Southern Giraffe, Warthogs, Buffalo, and Zebra. It was a magical experience to find an African Wild Cat with her three kittens during daylight hours; this nocturnal cat is infrequent enough at night.
A night game drive highlighted Square-tailed Nightjar, African Wild Cat, Spotted Hyeana, Scrub Hare, Spring Hare and extended views of Lesser Bushbaby. The African night is rarely quiet… we heard African Scops Owl hooting, and elephants trumpeting, a sure sign that lions were harassing them.
On our last morning in the Savuti Camp, we spotted an Impala bolting out of view. Only the sight of a Wild Dog would cause it to do that. We quickly finished breakfast and jumped into our safari landcruiser to search for them. From the opposite side of the camp, we looked back and saw staff on the deck directing us to the four Wild Dogs they could see! The dogs were on the move, and we soon caught up and followed them along the edge of the marsh, until they crossed the wetlands and trotted out of sight.
all photos © adrian binns / WildsideNatureTours.com
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