Tales from the Trail: Botswana Safari
By Victor Horatius, Southern Africa Safari Guide
Every safari is very different. I have just completed yet another amazing safari that took us to Chitabe, Kwetsani and Savuti in Botswana, and we then finished the trip at Toka Leya in Zambia.
General wildlife sightings were great at Chitabe, as well as wonderful birds. On our arrival we were told that two young nomadic male lions had pulled down a buffalo in the morning, but was later taken by the dominant males in the area. We spent the next few days watching them feed to the end. Every night we heard the females calling, hoping to reunite with the males, but because they were feeding they never responded. We later saw them all together though with the females as they attempted to catch some kudus.
On one of the mornings we were called for a sighting of lioness that had just stolen a leopard’s impala catch. We watched the lioness feed on the impala while the leopard looked on with a sad face not far off. We then proceeded with our drive and got two female leopards fighting on a tree, the younger female had intruded on the bigger female’s territory. The branches were so thin that at one point I thought one was going to fall down.
With so little flood water compared to last year this time, we spent some time at some fish traps watching marabou, pelican and saddle billed storks fishing. One other amazing sight was a verraux eagle owl with a fresh kill of a helmeted guineafowl. We were watching the zebras feed on a beautiful afternoon light and noticed that two were curious about something, and we drove in the direction they were looking, and found the bird. It was the largest concentration of short tailed eagles I have seen, as well as white headed vultures.
After our three nights, it was time to leave for Kwetsani for two nights. What an amazing place with all the floodplains dotted with red lechwe, and on a couple of occasions we saw lions wading through the water. They say cats don’t like water, but in the Okavango they don’t have a choice. We watched the lioness trying to persuade their cubs to go in the water from an island where they had killed a lechwe, to a safer Kwetsani island. After a few minutes the cubs followed and we were treated to a great photographic opportunity. We went on a boat one morning to do some birding, and saw a total of 40 malachite kingsfishers, african swamphen and Common moorhen, birds that are normally shy, but we managed to photograph a few.
We did a nice walk on Hunda Island to the west of Kwetsani, concentrated on tracks and tracking, and talking about the little things that one would not normally notice from the vehicle. Our last stop in Botswana was Savuti Bush camp. After what we had seen in previous camps, our focus was on the wild dogs in the Linyanti. One morning as we were having breakfast I heard a distress call of a buffalo, and got the guests to listen. We left in pursuit of dogs and after two hours of trying to find the dogs we gave up, and decided to go find what was going on where we heard the buffalo. Wow, was what I heard from my guests as we found 15 lions on a buffalo kill near the Savuti channel. In the afternoon as one guide was responding to come see the lions, he found the wildogs, and we left the lion sighting for the dogs.
We followed the dogs as they chased impala but missed, and then we went back to the lions after we lost the dogs through the mopane. While watching the lions we were surprised by a young kudu that ran through the sleeping lions with two dogs behind. The reaction of the then full belly lazy lions changed in a second and they started the chase. None were successful though.
On our last morning we decided to go check what was left of the buffalo, but only found bones as the lions were leaving the carcass. I then noticed that the wild dogs had just gone over our tracks, so we then left the lions and followed the dogs and caught up with them as they were scent marking. We also saw some roan antelope as we were approaching the airfield.
Before crossing over to Livingstone, Zambia we took a nice boat cruise along the Chobe where the elephants came in numbers as well as hippos.
Another amazing trip with great guests! I can’t wait to head out on another safari.
About Boundless Journeys
Boundless Journeys is an award-winning small group adventure tour operator. With a diverse collection of locally guided, small group itineraries and Private Collection trips around the world, Boundless Journeys offers “The World’s Great Adventures.” The adventure trips for 2-16 guests are active, ranging from leisurely cultural explorations and wildlife safaris to challenging trekking ― with plenty of easy to moderate walking and sea kayaking in between.