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Day 09: Okavango Game Drive

Searching for leopards

I was up at 5:00 this morning to meet the others for a 6:00 continental breakfast on our beach by the reeds. At 6:30 we were in the non-jeeps searching for leopards. Our driver is named "Speedy". I don't know why because it is impossible to speed over this fine, powdery sand and through all the bogs and mud. But he is a bit maniacal, swerving around trees and bushes and bumping up and down over small dunes. (Warning: this terrain and these vehicles are very hazardous to your spine. I cannot begin to imagine doing this with a bad back or neck. . . .or kidney, for that matter.) At one point Speedy got us stuck in the mud so we had to get out. One thousand pounds lighter, he rocked the the non-jeep back and forth to no avail. Then he found some dead wood to stick under the sunken tire and was finally able to get out. There was never any danger. If animals approached, he'd know how to scare them off. Plus he could always radio for assistance. Oh wait - he's a man. We'd be there until October before he'd ask for help.

Meanwhile, back at the safari that was already in progress - we did find a leopard! She was out hunting and we followed her around for about an hour. Evidently, she is used to vehicles and because they have never threatened her, she goes about her business while we watch. She has no concept that we are there. You stay well within the open air vehicle so she doesn't see the movement of an arm or leg. She can walk right by you and not be aware of your presence. We got some great pictures.

Next Speedy decided to hunt for a hyena. We didn't find one but we did find a nice little picturesque pond beside which Speedy set up "second breakfast" - coffee, tea and cookies. It's crazy. We eat all the time, and often we're out in the boonies when we do. Afterward we drove around viewing elephants, buffalo, zebra, various antelopes, and giraffes until it was time to go back to camp for a BBQ chicken lunch. It's fiesta time until 4:00 tea and then there's another game drive. I opted out of that and was going to have a nice quiet afternoon when my darling friend, "Bird Watcher" and another of my faves also decided to stay in camp. One of the guides is most enamoured of Ms. BW and offered to take her out on the lagoon to look for a Malachite Kingfisher (eye roll here). So the three of us went out and birded for a while. It was actually fun because of the company I was keeping. But the guide "Ike" got bored after a while and wanted to go look for hyenas. So we did. He had found a burrow where a mother hyena has secured her babies, so the four of us went out to stalk her. We never found her, but a couple of visiting hyenas came by and we got pictures of them.

Back at the lodge, we had another fun cocktail hour and a fabulous dinner, but the highlight was the singing and dancing. One of our ladies celebrated her birthday today and the staff got wind of it. They came out after dessert and danced and sang a few local songs from their tribes. Wonderful! As one of the staff members explained, "in our culture we don't celebrate with cake. We sing. " OMG! Each and every one of them had strong, commanding voices. How can that be? They are not hired to sing. They are hired to serve food, or guide tourists. I think it is because they have been singing loudly and proudly since birth. It's what tbey do. Of course some are particularly gifted, but everybody sings. How wonderful!

It's back to civilization tomorrow. I've had a lot of fun here, but I have to admit it, I'm missing my electronics.

Posted by Follow Carol 11:28 Archived in Botswana

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by Kathy Angel

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