Twelve photos from each day of our Africa adventure.
Today we drove from Katima Mulilo to Divundu. We’re in Namibia now, remember. Unless you’re following along on a map, that doesn’t mean much to you, but I know someone out there is looking at a map with me.
As in Botswana, we saw lots of mud huts in fenced compounds, but there seem to be more square huts here and more farming. Everyone grows corn. One compound had two huts, and every other bit of space was filled with corn. To go from one hut to the other, you had to walk through corn.
We’re staying at Nunda Safari Lodge on the Okavango River. Our campsite is right on the river. Half a dozen hippos spend their days submerged on the far side of the river, erupting in snorts and rumbles from time to time. A sign in our campsite warns us that crocs and hippos can be dangerous. Good to know. There are no fences or barriers between us and them.
Nearby is the Mahango Core Area of Bwabwata National Park. That’s where we’re spending our time, driving the sand roads, searching for wildlife. We arrived in time for an afternoon/evening drive; though, the park closes at 6:00 p.m., so can we really call it an evening drive? The sign says “sunset”; the ranger said “18:00.” Bleh. I am a rule follower.
Even so, it was an awesome afternoon. Check it out.
Remember when we saw hundreds of elephants on the Chobe riverfront? In Botswana in general, we saw loads of elephants. Well, we saw nary a one today. We were expecting the elephant sightings to decrease here in Namibia, but this felt like a sudden and extreme drop off.
And we saw just three giraffes. Look how dark this fellow is.
We didn’t see many impala, either, not like we’re used to seeing. This is a brave and curious fellow from a nursery group, the only one to stick around and stand still for a photo. He let us get quite close.
We got our closest look at a tsetsebe to date. I like the unusual color of these antelope, the deep red-brown with black and golden-brown highlights on the legs and face. They have a nice tail, too, but this photo doesn’t show it. On the other hand, their eyes tend to look startled, and their horns are rather dull as antelope horns go. Of course, the horn bar is set pretty high thanks to these guys:
Kudu horns rock.
Too bad that only male kudu have the coolest-of-all horns.
It’s not that kudu don’t have any other notable features; they do: long, white fur in the ears; triangles under their noses and on their chins; icing drizzles down their sides (or oxpecker poop). It’s just that those horns are simply the best. I wish they all had them.
Now, I have a beef with the wildlife guidebook that I use to identify the different antelope. Refer to these images as you read the following description (bold type copied from the book):
White bar in front of eyes, broken in the middle. White spots on cheeks. Horns on males only, curling out and back, then in and forward. Horns have distinct white tips. Male dark grey with about 12 white stripes over back; long, black mane, beard, and fringe…. Legs yellow.
Does that description sound like a kudu? It sure seems to fit what I’m looking at.
It’s the description for a nyala. The part I left out is that the fringe runs beneath the entire body, not just down the chin and neck.
I’m sure these are kudu, but their description in the book doesn’t mention the broken white bar between the eyes, white spots on cheeks, white tips on the horns, or yellow legs, all of which the kudu seem to have—at least some individuals, anyway.
As far as I know, we never saw any nyala. And until now, we’ve never seen this many kudu. They were sort of the stars of the day, being so numerous and affording us a good look.
Competing for top billing for the day was a herd of roan. Prior to today, we’d seen just one individual, and not especially well. We were entertained by a herd of 12 today, which, according to my book, is a normal size herd—if, in fact, we can believe my book.
Isn’t the roan’s mask cool? What I like best, though, are the extra-large ears. They have donkey ears with little tufts on the ends. The rings around the horns are a nice touch, too, don’t you think?
See? This is why the poor wildebeests are dangling at the bottom of the pretty-antelope list.
While nowhere near as pretty as the roan, we had only seen a couple of reedbucks prior to today, and those were racing around in tall grass. We didn’t see a lot today, but we had some good views.
We also had some good views of red lechwes, which look a lot like impalas. The black on the legs is distinctive, as is the horn shape. The hind end is also high on a lechwe: They live in and around marshes and do a lot of leaping over channels and tall grasses, so a strong back end comes in handy.
Rounding out the day was an accommodating and rather handsome warthog. The antelope are lucky warthogs aren’t antelope: The Pretty Antelope list would need some adjusting if they were.
And I’ll leave you with this vervet monkey image of the day because it’s going to stick with you. See the back end? Look closely. How cool is that thumb on the back foot? Don’t you wish you had that?
Wait. What were you looking at?