…and thick and fast they came at last, and more and more and more… ~ “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” Lewis Carroll
Here we are at the end of our driving/camping tour of Northern Botswana and Namibia—Phase 2 of our three-phase Africa trip—and I still have at least three posts to write for Phase 1. Sigh.
For the past six weeks, we’ve been getting up around 6:00 a.m. and going-going-going until about 8:30 p.m. I’ve made time to download pictures daily (and back them up) and scribble notes in my journal, but that’s it. And so it goes, what with making hay while the sun blisters and all that rot. The promises of slowing down once we got to Namibia, once we got through Etosha, once we reached the desert and animals were no longer the focus…all went unfulfilled. I’m as much to blame as Mike, so there is no complaining here.
Here’s my plan for Phase 2: For each day or place we visited, I’m going to choose and post 12 photos from the 200–400 photos we took. Here and there, I may throw in a video. Now and then, I hope to post an illustrated Safari Story.
Wish me luck.
Our first stop in Phase 2 was the Khwai River between Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park. We stayed at a community-owned and operated campground with no amenities. These are my carefully selected Daily Dozen images from the Khwai River.
Elephants. We saw lots of elephants. They ate. They came to the river to drink and spray water and mud on themselves. Occasionally, we heard one trumpet.
We finally got a picture of elephant tracks. They’re just round, so not especially interesting in that light, but look how huge they are! Can you imagine dancing with a clumsy one? Yikes!
Lot of zebras, too, but I chose this photo to show you the kind of roads we have here—a picture that shows the road + a zebra = yay! Roads are single-lane sand tracks, not always as well traveled as this one. Sometimes the tracks squeeze between bushes, dip down into a trough, or make a sharp turn around a tree.
But I also chose that road picture because I think zebras are beautiful. I’m mesmerized by the different stripe patterns.
Insects are beautiful, too, and there are lots of them. Some we can identify, like this blue dragonfly. Okay, so that’s not a precise identification. I can also tell you that the grass seed head that the dragonfly is on is the one that Pippy hates: She lunges at them and bites their heads off whenever she can.
Some insects we can’t identify (yet) at all, but we enjoy them nonetheless. How cool is this one? It looks neat with those wings closed, too, but I’m limited to twelve photos, so you’ll have to imagine that.
Giraffes remain my favorite animals. They’re so interesting to look at they don’t have to do anything at all—and they don’t. So far, I’m not tired of watching them watch us.
This picture would be nicer if I took the time to isolate the giraffes and blur the background a bit. Although, maybe it demonstrates how easy it is to lose a giraffe in the brush despite its giant size.
This big dude has just one ossicone. Looking closely, it seems the second one was lost in a violent altercation with who-knows-what. Ouch!
See the two oxpeckers on his neck?
Being on the river, we saw some waterfowl, including knob-billed ducks. Look at that crazy bill! And what is a duck doing perching up high in a tree? Could it be that the poor thing feels less interesting than the giraffes and therefore performs to get attention?
The main attractions for us, however, were hippos. Lots and lots of hippos.
Hippos “yawn” a lot. Too often for the action to actually be a yawn, I figured. Quick research suggests it’s actually a display of aggression, a “Do you really want a piece of me?” demonstration. Now the question I have is were they doing this display for our benefit or each others’? Would a hidden camera reveal fewer such displays were humans not present? Were they paying that much attention to us, and did they mind horribly that we were there?
We heard the hippos vocalize, too. The sound is a loud, rumbling, repeated grunt. They rumble day and night, and the sound travels a great distance. At night, it could sound as though a hippo was grazing just outside the tent, but none were ever that close, I don’t think.
Though hippos are thought to be grouchy and belligerent, I think this fellow is smiling at our rapt attention and delight. S/He’s a star! Okay, that’s not what I really think, but it is what I want to think. I will look at this picture and see a smile.
Then I smile, too.