Back in Joburg again, at the same spot where I was exactly one month ago and where it all started. I’ve spent three wonderful days in Botswana, having an exceptional game experience in great numbers. Looking back at all the photos I can hardly believe they’re real.
Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana
I hitched a lift with one of the instructors in Selati for the seven hour drive north towards Botswana and crossing the border ending up in the Mashatu Game Reserve at the border to South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The Reserve is such a difference to Selati with a more open, rugged and varied landscape with new animals around each corner.
A dusty and dry area, but very impressive with mighty sandstone rock formations, creating ridges and canyons with majestic baobab and mashatu (nyala) trees.
The EcoTraining camp in Botswana is fairly new, only opened at the end of 2010, located next to a riverbed that currently was more or less dried out except for a waterhole which attracts its fair share of thirsty visitors throughout the day and night.
Best game drive ever?
During my time there, the visitors included such dignities as leopard, ellies, jackals, hyenas, impalas, steenboks and baboons. We had leopard, hyena and ellies wandering through the camp at night, and last night the leopard was really making its presence known. It’s not a bad way to fall asleep to the sounds of these animals.
We went on a long five hour gamedrive on Tuesday which proved to be one of my most remarkable drives ever.
There’s an abundance of game in this area and as we drove out of camp we could see tracks of elephants, really fresh ones in numbers you wouldn’t believe. I was told that this reserve has the highest density of elephants in the whole of southern Africa and if you’re lucky you can spot up to 600 in one day!
A fresh kill
We came across baboons, impalas, wildebeests, zebras and kudus in numbers with the addition of elands, klipspringers, steenboks, duikers, warthogs and giraffes but that wasn’t all of it.
Towards the end of the drive we suddenly drove upon a fresh kill lying in the grass under the midday sun. A big eland bull had been brought down and it didn’t take long to figure out that the killer must be close.
The killer was resting in the shade under a tree a few meters away, a big worn out lioness, together with three cubs. As if that wasn’t enough, a bit further from them, was the rest of the group, with a big male and two more cubs, totaling seven, with two adults and five young ones.
The lions where so cool with us and allowed us to get quite close to them and got a good look of the site. It was clear that the kill was fresh and probably just about an hour or less old. After the lack of lion sightings in Selati, this was a nice treat to end of with.
Stuck in traffic on elephant highway!
As we left the lions to head back we somehow managed to get stuck right in the middle of an elephant highway and I’ve never seen or come across so many ellies at one and the same time. Just round the corner came 60-70 ellies in all sizes moving in our general direction! All we could do was just to sit back, let them all pass and take in this wonderful sight and experience. There were elephants passing the car as close as an arm length away from me. I could’ve touched them if I wanted to. I could smell them, I could look them right in the eye. Definitely a highlight of the trip!
Two bulls were a bit aggravated with each other right in front of the car and as they walked of, one of the individuals came straight towards the car, lifting its tail, flapping his ears at us, clearly annoyed by having something blocking his way. How’s this going to end I thought…
Anton our driver then started to talk to the bull, making sure he heard him, telling him to walk away… He continued to do so while the big guy came closer and as he was close enough, he took a final flap of the ears sounded at us and then broke off to the right of the car, walking away from us, while giving us the eye. Wow! That got the adrenaline pumping…
Back in a real bed
That was a nice way to finish off a full month in the bush and today, the day after I’ve done the eight hour drive across the border back to Joburg and I’m really looking forward to a proper bed. It’s not that I’ve missed it during my time in the bush, but as the end has come closer, the thought of it has grown.
This is the last post from me and the bush, and I’m now heading for a good night sleep in a comfy bed. Good night!
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