Tuesday, May 24, 2011

DBE/ Babymoon Part 3

The story continues, but I am trying to cut down the dialogue.  Hope you enjoy it.

Day 4: Kasane

It was Sunday, so we got up early and went to church in Kasane with Corn.  They have such a small group, that they just meet in someones house.  It was an incredible experience though.  The people were so amazing and inspiring.  There are only about 13 members of the church here, but they are so strong.  Our big group tripled their attendance, so they were very happy to have us there. 
Church...sorry the pic is super blurry

After church, we just went back to the campsite and spent the rest of the day eating (shocker) and playing games.  Lee and I had the entire group going crazy with a “mind reading” game we were playing.  I think at one point some of them were starting to believe we had ESP because they could not figure out how we were reading each others minds!  It was pretty fun to see grown adults getting so frustrated and confused. 

Other than that, it was a pretty relaxing day, not much to report. 

Day 5: Kasane

This was our last day in Kasane and it was set aside for resting before our trip to Victoria Falls the next day.  But we didn’t want to just sit around camp all day again when there were animals to see!  So Paul, Lee and I decided we were going to get up at 5am and go for our own morning drive.  Paul’s daughter Katie (14) decided she wanted to go with us too.  So we headed to the gates at Chobe and actually had to wait for the worker to get there so we could pay to go in.  So we were literally the first people in the park.  So we got to see an amazing sunrise.

We came upon a pride of lion, so of course we were excited to just sit and watch them.  But they were on the move.  By this time, most of the guided morning game drive vehicles were around, so there were about 10 cars all trying to watch these lions.  So we followed them up and down the road for a bit.  Then, all of the sudden we saw an impala frozen in its tracks.  It was trying so hard not to be seen by these lions.  We of course were hoping they did see it cause we wanted to see a chase.  But the impala was spared and the lions walked right passed it.  But just a little further there were several Sable hanging around.  They were not so lucky.  The lions saw them and immediately went into stalker mode.  It was unbelievable to see.  It is amazing how their demeanor and walk completely changes when they are on the prowl.  The Sable saw what was coming, so they took off running across the road in front of our car.  The lions, walking quickly, but still pretty stealth like, then crossed the road after them.  As soon as they were on the other side of the road the lions took off running for them.  Unfortunately the bush was too thick and we couldn’t see much after that.  But soon the lions came back and it didn’t seem that they had made the kill.  We were a little disappointed, but were so excited that we got to at least see some stalking. 

The rest of the drive was nice.  We saw the same animals we had seen before, but you never get tired of it.  We did see 2 Silver-backed Jackal out in an open field, but they were obviously on someone elses turf.  All of the sudden, out of nowhere, an entire group of Mongoose started coming over a little hill toward the jackals.  We watched this group of mongoose get closer and closer, and eventually they started playing tag with the jackal.  They would chase one and then he would chase them back.  This went on for a few minutes when eventually the group of mongoose won.  The jackals ran off away from the pesty mongoose.  

We also got to see 2 giraffe play fighting.  We assume it was a father/son duo and that the father was teaching the son how to spar.  They were standing right next to each other, but would drop their long necks down and swing their head right into the other ones body.  They did this back and forth, back and forth for at least 5 minutes. 

We also got to see a few elephants out in the deep water swimming.  Sometimes it almost looked like they were dunking each other under the water.  I guess they play just like humans!
Look in the background for the swimming ellies

 We dont have any great pics of any of the Sable we saw, but I wanted to post one so you could see how beautiful they are and how huge their horns are.
 And a little baby baboon... looks like Dobby from Harry Potter!

After our drive we met the rest of the group at a nearby resort and went swimming.  By this point, our campsite pool was now part of the river.  So we went there to cool off from a most miserably hot day.  Then headed off to KFC (oh yeah baby) for ice cream. On the way back, this elephant was just walking down the street right in front of our camp. 

Day 6: Kasane/Victoria Falls

Got up and packed up camp, which took a lot longer than expected.  Then headed off for Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.  It is only about an hour away, but with the border post, it took longer. 

We got to our campsite and started setting up camp, AGAIN!  This camp was really nice with a really big, nice pool and bar area.  And you could see the mist from Vic Falls from our tents. 

That night as we sat around camp a group came by to see if we would like them to perform.  I have dreamed of seeing an African tribal performance like this for years, and we got our own private showing.  They were so amazing.  I think their voices were beautiful.  I could have listened and watch them all night. It was such a cool experience to watch them.  Unfortunately, or fortunately… depending on who you ask, when they chose to pull someone from the crowd to dance with them, they pulled the fat, pregnant lady! Hahahaha!  So you might want to cover your eyes for these videos!!  It was a blast though.  Next time you see Lee, ask him to do an impression of me dancing up there!
I guess Lee was embarrassed because he turned off the video as soon as I got up there!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DBE/Babymoon Part 2

Day 3: Kasane
It was our 3rd day on this expedition through the southern region of Africa and we had yet to be on an official game drive.  Not that it was really necessary at this point, since we had already seen almost all of the big game there is to see without even going into the park.  Up to now we had seen dozens of elephants, baboons, monkeys etc.

But on day 3, we were finally going go on a game drive.  One of the biggest points of this trip was to visit Chobe National Park.  This huge game reserve is located in the northern portion of Botswana in the region where Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana all meet.  Now, we have been on several safaris/game drives before but this place is different.  First of all, you aren’t even allowed into the park unless you have a 4x4.  Wait, I can’t say that.  I’m sure, if you are dumb enough to try to go in there with something other than 4x4 they would more than willingly let you go, and laugh at you as you go in.  There are no paved roads in Chobe, which is part of what makes it amazing.  I always imagined looking for animals while trying to dodge obstacles and fording through streams.  Unfortunately, that is usually not the case.  Surprisingly most of the game reserves are paved in southern Africa.  It kind of cheapens the whole experience up for me.  So this Safari falls into the more hardcore category of the trips we have gone on.

We woke up before dawn on Saturday morning and jumped into a large open game-viewing vehicle.  Katie and I are always telling each other how amazing the sunrises/sunsets are in Africa.  This morning was no exception.  As we pulled into the park we got to see the sun come up over the Chobe River and wash the whole landscapes in bright reds, pinks and yellows.  It surreal to see such an amazing sight but to then see pods of hippos in the river just puts it over the edge.  Chobe is known for its hippo and elephant population.
Hippo pod at sunrise
 We hadn’t been in the park long before our guide tells us that he just had heard over the radio that some lions had been spotted not to far away and wanted to know if we were interested in seeing them.  Um…. Yeah! Duh!  We have been in Africa since January and have yet to see a lion, so of course we want to see some Lions.  We pulled up in the area they had been spotted and sure enough, there were two lionesses and two cubs.  We sat there for a while and watched the cubs play with each other mock pounce and then nurse.  Those animals are just so impressive and regal.  Needless to say, we were very excited to have finally spotted lions.  We saw tons of elephants, giraffes, kudu, warthogs, impala, sable and buffalo on the drive.

Male Kudu
Cape Buffalo getting its nose cleaned by an Oxpecker
One of the cooler things we got to see was at the river’s edge.  We pulled up to the river and we saw a Fish Eagle on the bank of the river with what appeared to be something in its talon.  The eagle had caught a fish!  We pulled up to get a better look and the eagle picked up the fish and flew a few yards away from us and landed closer to the river’s edge.  We sat and watched it and took tons of pictures, until someone spotted crocodiles in the water!  We pulled even closer to the river and the eagle decided to fly into a tree.  I guess he couldn’t haul that fish up there because he left it on the bank.  We knew things were about to get interesting.  I’m so mad I didn’t video it but I took tons of pictures as the crocodile slowly creeped onto land and stole the eagle’s fish.  Crocs are creepy animals.  They just sit motionless in the water for hours and just wait for something to come close to the water’s edge and then SNAP, its dinnertime.  We kind of felt bad for the eagle as it sat there and watched the croc steal its breakfast but it was cool to see.
Fish Eagle with 2 crocs lurking behind

 We saw another pride of lions with a full grown male and several lionesses with maybe 5 cubs.  They were all just laying around under a tree trying to keep cool.  There were tons of giraffes near them as well as a few impala.  I thought it crazy for those animals to be so close to the lions but then it was explained to me that the animals would rather be able to see where the lions are and what they are doing, instead of not knowing where they are.  Makes since I guess, but seems risky if you ask me.

On the look out

The game drive lasted about 3 hours and then we headed back to camp.  It was a successful drive and we saw tons of other things that would just make this post longer than it is already going to be.

Once back in camp, all I wanted to do was go back into the park.  Katie and I, along with Paul McOmber, a friend from the embassy, and Corn decided to go back into the park later that day.  We went in for about 4 hours and saw tons of buffalo, elephants, etc.  We went back to where the pride of lions had been and sure enough they hadn’t moved.  Corn said it was too hot and they probably wouldn’t move until later in the day.  We decided we would stop by there on our way back to see if they were getting more active.  We saw tons of stuff and spent a long time watching a Marshall Eagle defeather a Guinea Fowl he had just caught.  We see animals in the states but we don’t get the chance to see too many animals eating other animals.  Crazy!  We saw a huge Kudu and some Sable later in the day, but we had to hurry back to camp so we could catch the boat for our sunset cruise. 
Marshall Eagle eating a Guinea Fowl

After a nice mud bath

Single file
The only leopard we saw... a Leopard Turtle

Doing the splits to lick the minerals off the dirt
 We were hurrying back and weren’t paying as close attention to spotting game as we were before because of the urgency to make it back in time, when we all experienced what it must feel like to have a heart attack.  We were just driving along probably talking about something really stupid when out of the corner of our eyes we saw a male lion standing 8 feet away from our car as we drove by.  As soon as we saw it, Katie nearly jumped out of her seat and into the driver’s lap.  The lion was THAT close.  We had forgotten about going back to see the lions and they were now on the move.  The male must have been trying to cross the road but we had cut him off.  If we had been there 1 minute earlier or later we would probably have missed it.  We sat there and took some extremely close up photos of the lion.  The male then crossed the road and was shortly followed by the lionesses and all of the cubs.  It was AWESOME!  We were very glad we went back into the park.  That was needless to say.
WHOA!  Where did you come from?

**That drive was also when we developed the name The Denims Busters!  Corn was telling us about a bird called a Denims Buster, but we all laughed and though it sounded more like the name for a fart!  So we adopted the name as for our "team."

We made it back just in time to head out for the cruise.  If, for any reason you plan to go to Chobe, you have to do the river cruise.  Chobe is a very special place.  There are few places in the world where you can see the things we saw on this trip.  Besides the Serengeti, Chobe is the only place in the world where you can see so many elephants in one place.  During the cruise we watched, as dozens of elephants would come down to the water’s edge and drink.  There were tiny baby elephants with their mothers.  There was one little guy who keep getting distracted and wouldn’t see his mother walk away.  Another elephant would nudge the baby and you would then see the baby sprinting to catch up with its mother.  It may have been the cutest thing I’ve ever had the chance to watch.  We got to see yet another amazing African sunset to cap off yet another amazing day of our trip.

Coming down for a drink and bath

This little baby was so young it didnt know how to use its trunk yet, so it had to stick its whole head in to drink

"Mama, wait for me!"