The Hippopotamus with eyes, nose and ears protruding above the waters surface watched us closely as our vehicle drove slowly by and paused for a photo.
These huge aquatic mammals play a significant role in maintaining the many channels in the Okavango delta. The Okavango was teeming with wildlife and our knowledgeable guide (in photo) Frank Mochaba gave us our “money’s worth” which added greatly to the experience that was beyond our greatest expectations. Red-Billed Hornbill was one of the many birds that got our attention. Exotic birds everywhere, unfamiliar sounds reminiscent of Jurassic Park and the Elephants that we have become so familiar with from our early childhood days appear as never before like some giant prehistoric creature out of the past. African Fish Eagles with their snow white head and chest and rust brown body are conspicuous as they perch on large branches in trees overlooking the water. The Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) is a large "shaggy" antelope with short legs and a white rump ring and long heavily ridged horns with points that curve forward. The African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) is a common resident of northern and eastern Botswana in islands and estuaries and grasslands. Savanna Baboons in small troops appear in the open wooded Savannah. The female in estrus shown here was pursued by the dominant male below.A female Greater Kudu above. The Lodges that we stayed at served the meat of Kudu and Impala but the Kudu is not as common due to habitat loss and hunting. The Impala were the most numerous antelope we saw and the rutting season had begun. During the rutting season the male establishes territories and spends much energy chasing off rivals who vie for females in the herd. We were thrilled to get close to a pride of lions in the late afternoon and watched them lying lazily in lush grass licking their fur and paws fastidiously. At night the loud "contact" calls of the Spotted Hyaenas woke us. While awake we were entertained by the deep grunting sounds of the Hippopotamus that come out of the water to feed after dark. It was a symphony of African sounds and we lay in the dark enjoying the music. The Nile Crocodile lay resting in the evening light not far from the waters edge. A family of Banded Mongoose appeared near their den in a large termite nest. Banded Mongoose(Mungos mungo) are highly sociable living in packs of up to 40 and are active durning the day when they forage for insects,mice,reptiles, amphibians, ground nesting birds and their eggs. It was time for our "Sundowners" and what a perfect place we thought to sip a glass of wine, relax and realize that we were actually in this wonderful land of Africa so far away from the redwoods and our cats. Next blog: Xugana Island Lodge.