Leaving Johannesburg and jet lag behind, we flew to Maun, Botswana. While standing in line to clear Immigration, I heard the loud chirping of birds. I enjoyed the symphony of chirps until I detected the source of the music. There were approximately 20 cartons of baby chicks awaiting something—what that something was, I really don't know. None of the scenarios I conjured up had happy endings for the chicks (how I so quickly forget the positive outcomes for humans and over- identify with the chickens). My mind raced through a myriad of escape plans for the petite fowl while my passport and entry card were processed and stamped. Drats! I ran out of time to incubate and hatch the perfect plan and in a few short minutes we were whisked through security and led to the boarding area for our flight to Duba Plains. Shamefully, once the chicks were out of sight and hearing distance, I forgot to focus on saving their precious little lives and started dreaming instead about what wildlife we'd see in Botswana.
If you like lions, you will love Duba Plains. Located in the Okavanga Delta, the largest inland delta in the world, animals in this part of Botswana have learned to adapt to the marshes, swamps, and islands that comprise the region. We witnessed a pride of lions swimming in a marsh—yes, swimming! We were pleasantly surprised to see Lizzy, the camp's General Manager. We had met Lizzy 3 years ago when she was Assistant GM at Mombo, a wonderful and very popular camp that is known for its "cats." Lizzy reminds me of a warm, fuzzy version of Whoopie Goldberg. She has a laugh that starts deep in her belly and radiates through her body ending in a boisterous howl from her lips and loving grin on her face.
Our game drives were longer than we had experienced on prior safaris-great for seeing wildlife and superior for an African massage! What is an African Massage, you ask? Envision sitting in the back row of an All Terrain Land Rover-type vehicle, not much padding on the seat, and shock absorbers—do these vehicles have them? Put the aforementioned truck on pitted dirt roads, swampy marshes, or offroad and you will then experience what we lovingly call the "African Massage."
From Duba Plains we flew to Savuti Camp, a little more polished in accomodations but having a little more formal staff. Savuti is considerably drier than Duba Plains and the vegetation is drastically thicker. This area is known for its elephants and occasional sightings of wild dogs. Warning: Do NOT pet these dogs unless you are volunteering to become their next meal. We saw many, many elephants including a testosterone-filled male teenager who had to snort, swing his trunk and mock charge us to show off for the girls. We were fortunate to find the pack of wild dogs, animals who cover up to 30 miles in one day. Scientists have implanted microchips in some of them and track their movement to see the exact distances they travel. The device, which we spotted on 2 dogs, reminded me of the "house arrest" collars (a/k/a invisible fence collars) our 2 four-legged kids wear. Remind me to tell my dogs that we're really just monitoring how far they travel (and, in a sense, that's true!). We added cheetah and leopard to our list of predators, enjoyed the staff singing and dancing and sadly bid farewell to Savuti. Off to Vic Falls…but it's very late and I have to be up in 6 hours….yawn! Sweet Dreams!
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