The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland deltas and an important ecosystem in Botswana. With approximately 600,000 hectares of “permanent” swampland, along with over a million hectares of seasonally flooded grasslands, it has no outlet to the sea – the waters nourish the plant life and ultimately evaporate. On the eastern side of the Delta is Moremi Game Reserve, our location for the third and final mobile camp site.
Just inside the south gate we stopped for our picnic lunch, and of course there were birds there to photograph…
After lunch we continued on to our camp, stopping only to photograph a few elephants & birds along the way…
This area is well known for a few things, one of them is the number of termite mounds. These hills take years to build; always growing as long as the colony is living there. They are composed of plant material, sand and other natural materials – all held together with the saliva of the workers.
The birds perch on these mounds and poop (as you can see). The seeds in the bird poop take root in the highly fertile mound and eventually the mound becomes a grassy mound in the landscape. This mound is still fairly “new” – it hasn’t been reclaimed by the grass yet.
On the delta there are a lot of birds, some we hadn’t seen yet such as the Saddle-Billed stork.
And a lot of hippo-eyes watching us…
Our “mission” in Moremi was to locate the 20 lions of the Xini pride and, as a result, we did a lot of driving. Around and around we went that first morning, until…
For a young lion, this one has a lot of scars on his (?) face. He walked up and gave us a look, maybe he likes confrontation?
This is one of the mature females
The big yawn and a great view of those teeth
They call a group of lions a pride, I think they should call it a pile…
We stayed with them for about an hour, this was about as exciting as it got. Notice the very full bellies?
Not so fierce looking now
After watching them sleep for about an hour, we left in search of other photo ops.
This is the Southern Ground Hornbill, the largest of the Hornbill’s. A fairly large bird, it can fly, but it seems to prefer to walk.
This pelican, although quite large, is still immature. When mature the top of the bill will be yellow.
The Sacred Ibis is, on average, over 2 feet tall with a wing span of 1 foot. They will eat small animals, insects, amphibians and other small aquatic animals. Perhaps this varied diet is part of the reason that their lifespan is up to 20 years.
This African Buffalo or Cape Buffalo was enjoying the grass while the oxpeckers worked their magic and a Jakana looks on
We did cycle back to the lions later that afternoon, but surprisingly they were still sleeping. We waited as long as we could for them to become active, but it wasn’t meant to be.
We headed out first thing the next morning to see if the lions were still there. Sadly a film crew had moved in overnight and the lions had moved on. We didn’t see them again, but at least we’d been able to spend time with them the day before.
So, we drove. Around and around. Looking for lions, leopards and finding birds, and hippos.
Two hippos court while others look on
One of the other things that this area is know for is palm trees, yes, palm trees.
And it’s been a while, so here’s a picture of a Lilac Breasted Roller. It was a common sight to see them perched upon the termite mounds.
We were driving down the road, looking for a leopard when Kabelo stopped the vehicle. “Do you see that?” he said. After looking at the tree for what seemed like an eternity, we finally saw it. How he was able to spot these guys while driving is beyond me…
The African Scops Owl is small, 6-7 inches in height, and they really look like a part of the tree. We were extremely fortunate that he spotted them!
Still looking for the leopard, we came across a troop of baboons. What made this special was that there was a baby clinging to the underside of mama as she walked.
At one point the little one let go and mama kept going. The baby ran after her and launched himself at her back, safely landing & happily back aboard.
It was time for lunch, so we headed back to camp. We were no sooner out of the vehicle when Kabelo told us one of the guides had spotted a rhino and asked us if we wanted to go back out. Of course we did! We all piled back into the vehicle and off we went.
The rhinos in the Okavango are located on an island that you can’t get to. It protects them from poachers but makes a sighting very rare. Very excited at the possibility, we headed to the location the guide had given; it was a wild ride. Along with another vehicle we searched for a couple of hours, finding nothing and unable to raise the guide in question. It would have been amazing to have seen one, but the thrill of the “hunt” was pretty special in itself.
Along the way back to camp we saw a black backed jackal
An African Snake Hawk hunting (and getting) a snake
And we got to follow a couple of Secretary Birds…
The Secretary Bird can fly, they seem to prefer to run. Best described as an eagles body on a cranes legs, they are large – they can be over 4ft tall!
This one actually did take flight, only to land and start running again
After a really short lunch break, we headed back out, hoping to find the lions. We had no luck, but there were still plenty of opportunities for photos.
The ease and grace with which these animals jump the water is a sight to behold, and a challenge to get all in the frame…
Our intrepid guide Kabelo checks the depth of the water
We continued searching for the pride until the sun began to set; it was time for our last sundowner and our last Moremi sunset
Up early the next morning, it was time to leave the bush. Faced with a long (and chilly) drive into Maun we headed out to a beautiful sunrise.
And of course, one last stop for coffee, tea, hot chocolate & rusk…