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One of our travellers, Micah Hoffman, recently came back from a whirlwind adventure through Botswana’s Okavango Delta and the Zambian side of Victoria Falls. Are you as eager for a good story as we are? This a great one filled with intrigue, bucket list checks, and a surprise or two:
“I was bitten by the safari bug earlier this year on my first visit to Africa. Six weeks in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana exposed me to the beautiful scenery and wildlife the continent has to offer, but I was yearning for more. Specifically, I had not yet managed to see leopards or cheetahs.
Photo: Micah Hoffman
Carving two weeks out of my schedule proved challenging, but after consulting with Toast at Rhino Africa, I felt that I had a good plan. I was somewhat hesitant to visit the Okavango Delta in October in what is commonly referred to as ‘suicide month’ because of the intense heat, but I was encouraged by the dry weather and the increased opportunity it brought to see the cats I was looking for.
Staying at Xudum Okavango Delta Lodge, I was taken by boat from the airstrip. I relayed to our guide that leopards were high on my list. He and our tracker were able to quickly deliver. We were able to set our sights on a two-year-old female high in a tree who gave us picture perfect views. She sneaked down the tree, keeping a watchful eye while elephants steadily but gently ate their way by. This was a great start to the trip.
I moved on to Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp where we were able to watch a large pride of lions for two days. Our guide reminded me that they were hungry and hadn’t eaten in several days. Fortunately, we were able to encounter them early in their hunt and witness, from a safe and non-disruptive distance, the pride take down a Cape buffalo! While this sighting may be disturbing to some, this was an exhilarating sight for a biologist on safari.
Continuing on to Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge, I casually joked with our guide and tracker that I had an ‘order’ to place with him with regard to my animal sighting wish list. Knowing full well that safari experiences are completely unpredictable, I explained that I wanted to see a leopard with a kill in a tree, hippos sparring, and a cheetah. They laughed and told me they would see what they could do.
Not long after we set out on our morning drive, we learned of hyenas in the area after a fresh elephant kill. As we approached the hyenas, we quickly noticed a male and female leopard patiently waiting deep in the bush nearby.
Almost as though on cue, the two perched themselves above a log and watched, waiting almost impatiently for the hyenas to move on, providing these excellent shots. Now I was excited and simultaneously met with huge smiles from our guide and tracker.
The following day we had a great early morning game drive and enjoyed coffee on the river, watching elephants, Cape buffalo, and hippos. We started to head back to camp and I quickly noticed the tracker pointing to the left of us en route.
Our Land Cruiser diverted off of the bush road and toward a stand of trees. As we approached, I saw something that didn’t belong high in a tree – an impala. Sitting like a statue to the left of the Impala was a large male leopard.
On the last morning of my time in Botswana, before flying to Kasane, storm clouds rolled in and finally broke the heat of the Okavango Delta. While this was obviously welcomed by locals and safari enthusiasts alike, it made me nervous for our final game drive. I still hadn’t seen a cheetah. Trying not to be greedy after what had been an amazing week in the Okavango Delta, I still had hope for a final sighting.
After a slower game drive, we came across two young adult male hippos ‘play fighting’ in a lagoon. As we made the final drive toward the airstrip for the flight to Kasane, the tracker pointed to the right and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a brown flash. Again, I was greeted with all smiles by our tracker and guide.
A cheetah. In the final fifteen minutes of my time in the Okavango Delta.
The final thrill of the trip, one that I was quietly dreading prior to setting out, was going to Devil’s Pool at the edge of Victoria Falls. It was prime time to visit both given the end of the dry season. I quietly walked into the water behind the guide and swam up to the edge for what was truly a thrill. The afternoon finished with a chopper ride over the Falls, through the gorge, and back to our hotel, Royal Chundu.
To say that this trip delivered on my wish list is an understatement. I am already planning for next year.”
Are you ready to start packing your bags to head to the Okavango Delta? Find out more about this incredible safari destination through our recent Botswana Blog Series.
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Jozi-born, Knysna local, and recovering yachtie, Melanie decided that she missed being land-based after 18 months sailing the seas. Now that she lives in the most beautiful city in Africa (she is adamant about this fact), you will find her trying out new things around Cape Town, dreaming about her next holiday, and using Wikipedia to enhance her skills as an encyclopaedia of useless information.
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