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Now that was a pretty cool end of our afternoon, or so we thought...


It turned out another surprise was waiting for us, just 5 minutes further down the road. Again we thought to see another bat-eared fox and drove passed, as the gate would close soon. But wait, that was not a fox…? Car in reverse... “Binoculars please..!” I couldn’t believe my eyes; this was something I had NOT expected to see in Etosha, in fact I cannot recall reading about any other sighting in the many trip reports I’ve read…?




Aardwolf! "Earth Wolf", in Africaans and my native Dutch language. Closely related to hyenas and feeding on mostly termites.


Sorry for the poor photo, it’s just for proof; he was far away and not coming any closer, otherwise I’d happily have accepted some scolding at the probably closed gate…


Aardwolf: CHECK ! (actually it wasn’t really on our check list…)

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Day 12 – Jun 30: Etosha NP – Grootfontein (Roy’s Rest Camp)    299 km – 5 h   Today’s target, again: CHEETAH; please! Our last couple of hours in Etosha, so today we HAD TO find cheetah

After Dead Vlei we explored Sossusvlei and settled down under the trees for a relaxing mid-day break, lunch and a little nap, surrounded by the dunes, some bushes, birds, squirrels and mice. The first

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Our last night in Etosha, at Halali. A beautiful floodlit waterhole and for me a much nicer experience than Okaukuejo.


Because of the Aardwolf we arrived exactly at the time the sun was almost gone, but hey, who cares…!






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At Halali you are much closer to the nearest water edge and therefore potentially much closer to the animals. I wasn’t very satisfied with my Rhino photos at Okaukuejo, so I was hoping to have another chance.


An hour after sunset and no animals. Nothing… It was getting cold and most people had left. Another hour passed. Still nothing… Unbelievable. Dio and Stan left and it was only me and 1 more photographer. Then he also left.


I had now been waiting at the waterhole for more than 3 hours, now all alone; it was almost midnight. I sat on a rock, tucked away under my fleece blanket. It was getting very, very cold now... But I knew that with more patience and some luck I might still see a rhino a bit more up close...

My patience got rewarded - out of the darkness came this Black Rhino: he walked straight to me and then stopped, just a few meters in front of me, as if giving a silent salute for my patience! He could not see me. He could not hear me... He turned to the water and started to drink. I spend another hour watching him…




THIS is Africa ! Much better than at Okaukuejo.






An excellent closing of another beautiful day and last night in Etosha!



It’s good to do Halali after Okaukuejo, as if you would do it the other way around I believe the experience at Okaukuejo will somehow not be as memorable. The serenity at Halali is really something.


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Day 12 – Jun 30: Etosha NP – Grootfontein (Roy’s Rest Camp)    299 km – 5 h


Today’s target, again: CHEETAH; please!

Our last couple of hours in Etosha, so today we HAD TO find cheetah, as chances in Botswana would be extremely slim. Research send us early morning via Helio and Goas direct to where it had to happen: the savanna between Springbokfontein and Okerfontein.




I’ll never forget the moment… I was driving. Stan sat next to me and kept his eyes on the extensive savanna left of the road. Dio was covering my side of the road, which had a lot of small bushes and much more likely to overlook something. I generally looked further ahead of us, as it won’t be the first time everybody is looking only left and right, to almost miss any action right in front of you... An hour had passed, no cheetah. In fact, completely nothing, meaning no potential prey either. Time was ticking… Suddenly I noticed that for a very brief moment Dio did not look outside and I immediately told him “keep looking!”… Less than 30 seconds later Dio suddenly sat straight up and tried to yell something but all that came out of his mouth was some weird stuttering; for a few seconds he was literally lost for words and then yelled “there..!”, pointing into the bushes. That same second I saw it; “cheetah…!”. We couldn’t believe it… About 10 meters away a cheetah walked through the bushes towards the road. “Another one..!”. It was getting even better…. “Another one..!” And out of the bushes came 3 cheetahs, stepped on the road now 10 meters behind us and stopped. We didn’t want to scare them whatsoever, so we drove a bit further and then turned the car, to slowly drive back towards the cheetahs. We spend the next one and a half hours in their company. The entire time we did not see a single other car. They were obviously on a hunting mission, but there just wasn’t anything to hunt… Unfortunately. But that would have been too much to expect! The entire time we did not see a single other car.














And off they went, although no prey in sight. We decided to let them go. 


Cheetah - CHECK !


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We didn't see much other wildlife along this route, except a herd of elephants.




This is at 130 mm... He came VERY close..! He's kinda standing right next to me, hence the angle.




We only had time to visit 1 more waterhole before we had to leave the park; I’m not sure whether it was Kalkheuvel or Chudop.







I don't know why, but somehow this photo's resolution doesn't reflect how it actually looks...


And that was Etosha. What so say… I’d love to come back: longer, and once during the green season. Better, I WILL come back!


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Tom Kellie
8 hours ago, toine said:

And that was Etosha. What so say… I’d love to come back: longer, and once during the green season. Better, I WILL come back!


~ @toine


Your Etosha is lovely.


The night rhino images are over-the-top gorgeous.


Thank you for posting those.


Any trip report with your comments and photos would be a joy to read.


Tom K.

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really lovely photos-especially the rhinos at night.very much enjoying you report @toine

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Your excitement and enthusiasm is almost palpable, the Namibia bug has bitten you deep :). I can see more of your reports from this beautiful country in the future!

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Oh man, I do love Etosha as well and this makes me wanna go back once again. 

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10 hours ago, Antee said:

Oh man, I do love Etosha as well and this makes me wanna go back once again. 

@Antee haha, I know, this is such a dangerous community..! Drives me sometimes nuts and is causing sleepless nights... 

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On 1/31/2019 at 8:42 AM, Tom Kellie said:


~ @toine


Your Etosha is lovely.


The night rhino images are over-the-top gorgeous.


Thank you for posting those.


Any trip report with your comments and photos would be a joy to read.


Tom K.

@Tom Kellie thanks! Working on the second part of my report about Namibia..

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very enjoyable report with great sightings and photographs. Thanks for sharing with us @toine

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Fantastic report and superb photographs! Thoroughly enjoying this. Waiting for more!


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What a great trip report so far @toine thoroughly enjoying it!


Your photos, of both animals and landscapes are truly stunning!

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Thank you all for the likes and positive comments and sorry for the delay. Here is the second half of my report, covering Caprivi and Botswana.

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Day 12 – Jun 30: Etosha NP – Grootfontein (Roy’s Rest Camp)    299 km – 5 h


Time to drive to Grootfontein, hoping to still have time to visit the Ju / ’Hoanshi San Living Museum, 80 km from the main road. We ended up running out of time to visit the San though and therefore had some time left to visit the Hoba Meteorite, the largest meteorite found so far on Earth, just before Grootfontein. Nothing really special, but if you get that close it’s a shame to not make a quick stop. We also had to do some serious shopping for the entire next week.




Roy’s Restcamp was great and we had a great conversation with the owners. Particularly a discussion about hunting was an eye-opener for us and it was very interesting to hear how some of the locals think about this. They almost all hunt themselves. Long story short, state income from hunting is much, much more than from tourism and it’s this income that helps protect nature... In the early evening we walked through the bush to a small floodlit waterhole nearby and some hare and plenty of bush babies jumping around, really nice to see! But almost impossible to photograph…





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Day 13 – Jul 1: Grootfontein – Divundu (Ngepi Camp)    416 km – 5 h


Today we drove via Rundu to Divundu, in the Caprivi strip. Initially the idea was to include some culture into this stretch of our trip, as I read about the Mbunza Living Museum in Rundu and the possibility to visit the Hambukushu tribe and Xwe Bushmen near Divundu. But the idea to visit these places did eventually not really appeal to us and we rather wanted to interact with some of the locals, tribe or not, on their terms, not ours. Little did I know how this idea turned out…


We drove north and passed the vet fence. What was most striking was the enormous difference once we passed the fence. South of the fence the landscape was dominated by enormous cattle and wild farms and plantations, with very few traditional villages. It didn’t really feel particularly “Africa” to us. But once you pass the fence you suddenly arrive on a complete different planet, THIS is Africa, this is how we learnt about it at school, 40 years ago. And most striking was that it seemed that really nothing had changed, at least not for the majority of people living here. They are very, very poor and hardly have anything… It was Sunday, and some of the locals in larger villages wore their best cloths and just came out of church. Outside the villages the locals hardly seem to have cloths though, let alone something fancy for Sunday... Kids were playing along the road or outside the wooden walls surrounding their traditional mud houses. We all felt that we had to get out of our car and visit one of those traditional houses dotted along the almost perfectly straight road. We didn’t want to just stop and walk into someone’s privacy though, so we decided to find a rest stop near a few traditional houses and have lunch there. And then wait for the local kids to come to us first, have some good time together, share some cookies and snacks and then ask if they can show us around at their homes, which of course we knew they would be delighted to do.








This is the main house...




This is the pig cage; they had one pig.






It’s impossible to describe this experience. An hour later we were back in the car, driving over this perfectly straight road, lined with more little fields and traditional villages and mud houses. Most people here are incredibly poor and really have nothing more than the basics to survive. It was heartbreaking… We didn’t speak a word, still absorbing the experience and trying to manage increasingly emerging deep emotions… After half an hour of silence our entire car was overloaded with emotions. I told my son “and this is why you should never, ever complain about life”. We all burst out in tears and I till get goosebumps writing this...


So, if you ever drive this road, get out of your car and meet some locals!




We arrived around lunch time at Ngepi Camp, checked in and booked a sunrise river cruise for the next day. In the afternoon we did a game drive through the Mahango Game Reserve. The entrance of the reserve is less than half an hour from Ngepi Camp. What a beautiful little park, an absolute jewel and must-visit if you’re in the area.


Mahango Game Reserve is split by a road that connects Namibia with Botswana. Both sides of this road offer 2 distinctly different areas and a sand track leads through each of them. One area consists of the floodplains of the Mahango river, which later becomes the Kavango river and feeds the Okavango delta.




Male Roan Antelope "dancing" for the girls, circling around, measuring each other peacefully.  












The sun was setting fast, time to slowly head toward the gate; we were told the lady at the gate was not the mot friendly one and she made it very clear before that at 6 the gate would be locked. Really locked...







This is one of my favourites, a zebra and its shadow reflected on a screen of dust :








We arrived at the gate at 5.59... And yes, the lady was standing next to the gate, ready to lock...!


Staying warm around the camp fire, with rumbling hippos in the river in front of us, waiting for us tomorrow morning! 




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Day 14 – Jul 2: Mahango Game Reserve, Divundu (Ngepi Camp)


In the morning we did a private sunrise river cruise, which was really good fun and the guide of Ngepi Camp was excellent.












Happy hippos.




Less happy hippos...






Hippo Gold.
















After the cruise we did another game drive into the Mahango Game Reserve, this time the entire loop.




Big Baobab.










Red Lechwe on the run, beautiful..! They're faster in the water than on land.






And when he finally posed... He was missing and ear..!






Lilac-breasted rollers like snakes.






The far end of the western side of Mahango: a bit of a drive, but the waterhole there is the only water in the area and game-packed!




The afternoon we spend leisurely at our campsite and watched some world cup football... It was very fortunate the Dutch were not in the tournament, which made us pretty much forget about the entire event :).


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Day 15 – Jul 3: Divundu – Kongola (Namushasha Camp Ground)    242 km – 2.5 h


Early morning we drove straight to Kongola, where we arrived before lunch. In the afternoon we did a game drive in the Kwando Core Area. Initially we thought to visit the well-known Horseshoe Bend in the Susuwe Triangle, but for that you have to drive all the way back and to the other side of the river and seems not worth it; it’s also a much more busy safari area. Namushasha Camp offers a half day game cruise and safari ride to Horseshoe Bend.








Kwando Core Area was great and a true wilderness experience; I really liked the diverse scenery, from savanna to mopane woodlands and river banks and flood plains. Large herds of elephants and buffalo. We only briefly saw one safari lodge vehicle during the 3 or 4 hours we spend in the park. I guess we also liked the park because it has some really deep sand and it was the first time that I really had to put in practice what I had learnt during a half-day off-road driving course I did a few months earlier! Great fun.


Namushasha has really luxury and large campsites for self-drivers.





Camp 1 or 2 nights in the Kwando Core Area, for a true bush experience in a fantastic location and most likely all alone.

Visit the nearby Mudumu National Park, 20 km south of Kongola / Namushasha. Apparently you have a small chance to see otters and wild dogs.

Another option is to visit Nkasa Rupara National Park (Mamili), 55 km south of Kongola / Namushasha. Namibia’s largest wetland. Plenty of buffalo and wild dogs, I’ve been told...

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Day 16 – Jul 4: Kongola – Kasane (The Big 5 Chobe Lodge)    268 km – 5.5 h (via Chobe riverfront)




We drove direct to our next destination, the Chobe National Park in Botswana, where we arrived at the Ngoma Gate at lunch time. The border and vet fence crossing at Ngoma Bridge was very smooth. From Ngoma Gate we did a game drive and exited via the Nantanga road, which leads from Serondela south. Note that self-drivers are not allowed between Serondela and Sedudu Gate before 09:00 and after 14:30. If you are too late you can enter or exit via the Nantanga road. You can also pretend ignorance…












We then drove to Kasane for an afternoon sunset river cruise on the Chobe river, which we had pre-booked at Kalahari Tours.














Our private river safari cruise turned out fantastic value and with great service. It was the cheapest I could find, but I’m quite sure we had one of the best guides on the river, and I’m not saying that easily. It was immediately clear that he was very senior and extremely knowledgeable and often other guides would keep an eye on us and our sightings. He also had a clear own itinerary and route, ignoring all other boats who seemed to like herding around the same sightings.






What you see:



What I see:





Pygmy Geese:









Sunsets are spectacular.





We camped at the Big 5 Chobe Lodge; it was the least attractive camping site of our entire trip, but we knew that in advance. We originally wanted to camp at Ihaha, but that was fully booked.


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Day 17 – Jul 5: Kasane – Victoria Falls – Kasane (The Big 5 Chobe Lodge)     160 km – 3.0 h


Today we went on a pre-booked day-trip to the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The border crossing took probably close to 2 hours, mainly due to understaffed border control; completely ridiculous. But of course, absolutely worth it, as we got to see one of the greatest attractions in Africa and one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, the Victoria Falls.




Water levels were the highest of the year, so I kept my camera safe and dry for most of the time, the only place we could take some photos was on the far western side of the falls.









We were back at the Chobe Lodge early afternoon, where we spend the afternoon shopping for our 8 day off-road crossing through the Chobe National Park, Savuti, Khwai and then Moremi, to Maun. The evening was spend relaxed at the Lodge’s river side restaurant, just out of reach of the crocodiles.


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Day 18 – Jul 6: Kasane – Savuti Campsite (Chobe National Park)    169 km – 4.5 h


We did an early morning game drive into the Chobe National Park.




As soon as we arrived at the river front it became clear why they like to reduce the number of safari vehicles in that area. The sun had just come up when suddenly all jeeps were racing to the same spot; we followed, and it turned out a young leopard was sitting hidden in the bush.




With at least 30 jeeps trying to get into a very small area to have a look. There was no ethics, no rules, a free-for-all and the most aggressive drivers I’ve ever seen.


This was Stan and Dio's first leopard during our trip, but we all agreed to leave as soon as possible, away from this circus...



To only come across another traffic jam of jeeps surrounding a few lions and then a few dozen cars driving straight through this herd of a hundred buffaloes, with a lot of calfs, making them run in all different directions...!




No, this part of the Chobe National Park definitely needs some better management. The park is large enough and other areas certainly have enough wildlife as well.




Happily leaving the park we were on our way for our highly anticipated 8 days off-road trip to Maun. First via the tar road to Kachikau and from then on through fairly thick sand to Savuti Campsite.


Yes, we're in Savuti sand!





We arrived in Savuti around noon. We checked in to our campsite and had lunch at our beautiful camp site, under the watchful eyes of a couple of hornbills and mongoose.












One of the rangers told us he had seen some lions near some of the waterholes north of camp. That was perfect, as that area was my plan anyway to check out this afternoon and I had already planned a GPS route along most of the waterholes for our afternoon game drive.

So we systematically checked-out one after the other waterhole and it didn’t take too much time until we found the lions, a mating couple.








It turned out the mating couple was not alone and about 50 meters away we found 3 young males laying in the grass.




They must have lost the fight for the rights to mate with the female and every time the couple mated they could do nothing else but watch, which gave us some great photo opportunities.





"The scent of a woman".



And every time the couple was mating they stood up and stared frustrated towards the love birds. So I anticipated this for some of the following photos, some of my favourites.














Already very satisfied with the start of our game drive in the Savuti area we decided to drive to the south of camp and check out Gobatsaa Hill, better known as Leopard Rock and now famous through a National Geographic documentary about the Leopards living there.






We did not find any leopards, but at least we had a better idea of this area and where to go the next day.




After dinner we looked for night critters and particularly scorpions. I had brought a UV flashlight and to our great satisfaction we found quite a few of them on the tree in the middle of our camp site, glowing brightly in the light of my flash.


With and without UV light:








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Day 19 – Jul 7: Savuti Campsite (Chobe National Park)


Today a full day game driving through the Savuti area. What an incredibly beautiful area, and such a diverse landscape, from lightly forested areas with natural little waterholes to rocky outcrops, (dry) river beds and extensive savanna.




Beautiful Kudu at Leopard Rock.





Just along the road.





How is this for a coffee break..! We hadn't seen a single other car yet, the entire morning.



We drove through extensive savanna and really had a blast. We saw hardly any other cars anywhere in the Savuti area, so when half way the morning we noticed a couple of cars in the distance we knew there must be something to see. We decided to check it out and indeed another safari vehicle confirmed there was a lion kill.




















Wow, that was cool, lions on a wildebeest kill, up close. Time for coffee.




We slowly made our way back to our camp site for a lunch break. It was Stan’s birthday, so that had to be celebrated in some style!




After lunch we couldn’t wait to get back into our car, to explore the area around Leopard Rock and hopefully find a leopard… Probably easier said than done, but we know patience often pays off.


Leopard prey; good..!





And yes... There she is!







Late afternoon, time to hunt...



We moved to the opposite side of the open area, as that was the direction the leopard went. We soon found a herd of impala, and positioned ourselves on the other side. And waited, and waited, and waited... The sun was setting, we soon had to go back. 




A car came towards us, on their way back to camp. They told us another car had seen a leopard cross a road, about a kilometre from where we were, walking more or less parallel to the road to the west. I thought to know where that was, more or less, from my previous studies of the maps... So we decided to give up on this leopard and go look for that other one...


We drove a few kilometres, into thicker and thicker sand and bush, it was almost impossible to continue. One other car had decided to do the same, but decided to turn around and go back; it was now really getting dark and passed the time we had to be back. There was no gate though at Savuti, so we thought it would be ok to be a little bit late...


And then, all of a sudden, there he was, sitting exactly as on this first photo, less than 10 meters away in an opening in what was generally very thick bush. Really as if he was waiting to be found, as final trophy for patience, and another birthday present for Stan.




He was completely at ease and decided to relax.



It was now dark, and his ears kept turning in different directions. He was on to something...



All of a sudden he stood up, walked to a tree 5 meters away and started to frantically dig with his claws, pulling away park and ripping open the tree. 0E3A5860.jpg.38ec61c9beadf04bea23b9ece1a1e65f.jpg


A sudden squeak and he got something...! He disappeared into the bush. What was it..? We turned the car and waited; a minute later he crossed the road right in front of us, prey in his mouth. I'm still not sure what it was exactly, but I believe a mongoose or squirrel that was hiding in the tree.0E3A5871.jpg.d3e7ed6e923ff20ec30dc71a9cbcdc1b.jpg


He gave us one more look, as if saying "hope you enjoyed the show and now please drive back fast, as you're not supposed to be here at this time"... 



Thank you! Now that was something to remember…

We didn't really plan for a night drive, so forgive the lighting :).


We drove back to our camp, it was now completely dark. To our surprise, The day had one more surprise for us: all of a sudden it started to rain…! In the middle of the dry season…!? It wasn’t much and lasted only 10 minutes or so and it was the only rain we’ve had during our time in Botswana.


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Day 20 – Jul 8: Savuti Campsite – Magotho Camp (Khwai Development Trust)    111 km – 5 h


We spend the morning again game driving through the Savuti marsh area, before heading to our next destination, the Khwai area, for our most anticipated real bush camping.








We took the march road to Khwai, as that sounded to be the most beautiful and wildlife-rich route. We did not regret!


All of a sudden we had 2 male lions literally next to the road, within 5 meters from our car! It became obvious that they apparently had been in a fight and were licking their wounds.  







This male could hardly walk. 







Eventually the lions stood up and walked into thick dry grass and it was time for us to continue our journey to Khwai.


Or so we thought...

What happened next is hard to believe.

But I have proof...!


We had parked a little off the road, to anticipate any other cars passing by. There were a couple of holes in the dried-up soil and I had to carefully back up first to be able to get on the road again. Stan sat next to me, and wanted to look out of the window to help me avoid the holes. He looked down and immediately screamed and jumped up, almost hitting the car’s ceiling. “Snake”…!!! Really as if he had stared death in the face…!


It was actually quite hilarious and both Dio and myself had to laugh. We have a few other friends who are not great fans of snakes and have a similar panic reaction, even by just saying the word “snake”. I couldn’t see anything from behind the steer. Dio sat in the back, and took a look. He’s completely cool with snakes, even big snakes. “Aaaaaarrgggghhhhh….!!!! BLACK MAMBA !!!” and also Dio almost hit the ceiling…! “SHIT”, I thought… (actually I thought something else, but I’ll keep it decent). My survival instinct took over and I immediately closed the electric windows. Dio knows his snakes, so if he says Black Mamba then I know it’s a Black Mamba. “How big...?” “Huge..!” Stan had himself still hardly under control and stuttered “he came this high”, pointing with his hand to a level as high as the window. OK, windows are closed, nobody got bitten and Dio saw the snake slide towards the tree just behind us, the tree that the lions had used as shade. I turned the car so I could see the tree, took my camera and opened the window. The mamba must have gone into that tree. And yes he did. I was just in time to take 2 photos, before it disappeared higher up in the tree.

Without exaggeration, I estimated the black mamba to be at least 5 meters long, and as thick as my wrist (and I’m a fairly big guy). I’m not sure if the mamba and lions had anything to do with each other. I believe the mamba happened to be somewhere right behind our wheels and I might have touched it while driving in reverse. That may have triggered the snake’s reaction, raising up his head to at least a meter high and indeed staring straight into Stan’s face!


Phew...... It took another 10 minutes before we were all ourselves again.


Oh, the proof. Here he is, about 10 meters up in the tree:



And so we continued our journey.





We arrived at Magotho Camp late afternoon and enjoyed setting up camp in the middle of the bush, completely self-supporting and without any supporting facilities from the camp.


Our camp at Magotho, of course one of our favourites.





Another neighbour.





An afternoon to not forget.



We truly enjoyed the rest of the evening around the camp fire, under a spectacular night sky and surrounded by the sounds of nature, with highlights some rumbling hippos and occasional roaring lions in the distance. Most excitement came from a curious hyena though, who repeatedly sneaked up behind us, to within only a couple of meters, probably trying to find some left over from our braai.


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Day 21 – Jul 9: Moremi - Magotho Camp (Khwai Development Trust)


Today we particularly looked for wild dogs, west of our campsite, following some leads from a ranger. Wild dogs were really the only animals left on our wish-list. In fact, they were on top of our wish-list for this entire trip and I had carefully planned the last few days of our trip through Khwai and Moremi to have the best possible chance to see them.


















Smile! We mean no harm...





So no wild dogs this morning, but we were quite satisfied with the hippos. After lunch we decided to explore the area east of our camp. Our game drive through this area turned out to into one of my favorite drives of our entire trip; the flood plains of the Khwai river make for a spectacular landscape and attract a lot of elephants. I mean, really a lot of elephants..! One after the other mostly breeding herds of elephants came to the river to drink, as if they had to queue somewhere in the bush. Really unbelievable; we spend a few hours just sitting in our car, watching this spectacular scene. I do not exaggerate if I say that in 2 hours we saw a few hundred elephants, with some herds of up to 50 animals.


Rather than deciding which photos to post and which ones not, here you go!

























Ok, one photo of a bird, a lilac-breasted roller:



















An amazing morning!

We drove back to camp for lunch and a little siesta.









In the afternoon we went on a game drive, knowing that in this area night-drives are allowed. At night we saw plenty of grazing hippo, some wild cats, a honey badger and plenty of elephants, which were a little more intimidating during then night compared with during the day, even more so knowing that they don’t really like to be disturbed with lights at night, so we kept the use of our spotlights to a minimum and just enjoyed the atmosphere rather than trying to take any photos.


One of the night-drive highlights, a honey badger digging one after the other hole.




Not as clear skies as in Namibia, but we did not complain.


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