Loving all our game drives in the Moremi-Khwai region.
Started with a late afternoon game drive just outside Moremi Game Reserve in the Khwai community area (Khwai concession). The Game Reserve includes no fences, so the animals move freely between the community area and the Reserve. Ninja flipped the windshield down, so you know he meant business. The highlight of the drive was a leopard, lounging about in a dead tree. Unfazed by the horde of safari trucks circling her, she graciously posed for photos. Ninja said she’s an older cat. We had time to stretch our legs and enjoy a drink (Savannah cider for us) watching the sunset over the river, hippos spraying water occasionally on the horizon and a large elephant behind us keeping watch. We also spotted a black wing stilt looking for food in the water.
We heard an elephant trumpet and a fellow traveling companion heard hyenas cackling during the night. There was evidence of elephants left behind in our camp in the morning. Our morning drive took us into Moremi Game Reserve, bundled up as the sunrise and post-sunset hours are delightfully chilly. The Reserve was quiet, Ninja looked out for tracks, cats or rhinos. The highlight of the morning was a lion lurking upwind of a group of impala and two cranes. She appeared to be alone, if others were hunting with her they were well hidden. She crept along the tall grass, snaking in and out of our view, oblivious to the impala feeding at the river’s edge. Once the impala caught notice of her, they began to cluster together and approach the lion, showing their strength in numbers. Eventually they hopped along the river bank out of her reach, she moved deeper into the tall grass. She rolled around a bit and poked her head out, before deciding to vacate the camouflage of the grass and stretch out on the river bank.
We stopped for bush coffee and then continued our drive, seeing elephants, zebras, baboons, warthog, and other animals. We got to see white pelicans in the hippo pond, and impala grazing precariously near a group of large crocodiles. We spotted another leopard sleeping high in a tree (get it? SPOTTED? Ha!). After a long morning, we headed back to Khwai Guest House for a delicious lunch and some downtime.
The highlights of our afternoon game drive included a bunch of hippos who conceded to our request for open mouth photo shoots. Two were even play fighting in the water. Another highlight included a den of hyenas, who are just ugly, ugly dogs. One was definitely pregnant and one mom was lying with her pups, they were suckling. We stayed out later tonight, trying to find an owl we heard and chasing down some lesser bush babies of which we saw the eyes reflecting in our torch, but did not see the animal up close.
Our animal adventures continued early this morning, as we woke to a large elephant foraging right outside our cabin just after 1:30am. The elephant was there for a while, still there when we fell asleep and we found tracks close to the cabin in the morning.
We went for one last game ride in the community area starting at 6:30am and were treated to some special sightings. First, we saw two large male lions hunting a group of impala by the river. At one point, one of the lions broke into a run and caught a baby impala hiding in the grass. He seemed to toy with it for a bit, and clearly was not sharing with the other lion. At one point the baby attempted to get away but was not successful. The rest of the herd watched from a distance while the mother stayed close and watched the lion eat.
On our way to main road, we got notice of another leopard and was led by another vehicle to a den. Under the shelter of a fallen tree, lay a (mostly) napping leopard and her dark colored cubs. She was gorgeous and kept looking up at us with her giant eyes, before snuggling down again with her suckling cubs. Very close to the leopard, we saw an African wild dog, whose mouth was mottled with blood and belly swollen with a recent meal. If the leopard would vacate her den for any reason, this dog would have another easy meal of cubs. But the dog was lounging in the morning sun. Amazing now the movements and actions of these wild animals are so similar to those of domesticated cats and dogs.
Another long and dusty drive in our trusty 4X4, spotting giraffe, zebra and elephant on our way back to Maun! Delicious and leisurely lunch, changed back to our air conditioned van and we are off to the salt pans!