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Jan in Botswana March 2009


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I was in Botswana for two weeks in March. This time I stayed at just one camp for most of the time, Jack's, in the


Makgadikgadi.I've been going there since 1994, and feel very much at home. At this time of year the annual migration


of zebras, wildebeest and gemsbok can be seen. Taking lunch and heading for the National Park to look for lions


stalking the migration of thousands of animals is wonderful when you have the whole spectacle to yourself.


I had several sessions with the meerkats who have young at the moment, and could spend all day with them, I just


love them. [ see my avatar!]


Camp Kalahari has been taken over by Jack's, andis a more affordable camp with lovely local decor. It is small and


you can do the usual quad biking in the dry season.


I also visited Planet Baobab for Sunday lunch and loved it. It's a quirky , young place with camping, stylish rooms


and a huge swimming pool. I understand that the whole place rocks Thursday-Saturday nights. I loved it.


This is not a usual report, but I saw lions, zebras, wildebeest, gemsbok, springbok, meerkats, aardwolf, more than


sixty wattled cranes together, many ostriches, vultures including lappet faced on dead baby zebras and even


leopard tortoises mating! We looked for brown hyena, but waiting at the den did not bring results. I have seen and


photographed them many times in the past so am quite relaxed about it.


One evening when two guides, three guests and one pilot were about to have sundowners on one of the pans a


most tremendous storm blew our way. It was the most frightening storm I have ever been in. I was soaked to the


skin, every item of clothing wringing wet, in spite of rain jacket and poncho . The lightening wasterribly close and


the roads were like rivers. The young man who follows the meerkats every day had abandoned his bycycle and


staggered back back to cmp on foot! The rain had blown in everywhere and rugs, chairs, furniture and the whole


interior of thedining tent was soaked. Never was a gin and tonic more welcome!


In the middle of my days at Jack's I flew up to Nxamaseri, another favourite place of mine, and met the new


South African managers who are just perfect for the job. The river was higher than I had ever seen it, and


rising 14cms every day Water spread everywhere for miles around , and even the airstrip was underwater


when I left. The fishing was not good and just one small tigerfish was caught. Even so, I had a great time there


with the local staff who I have known for years.


At the end of my time at Makgadikgadi I flew to Maun to catch the plane to Jo'burg and on to London and


was so pleased to meet up with Madaboutcheetah--Hari. What fun to meet one of S.T.'s most regular posters!


He was with Spencer, one of Kwando's guides who I had been guided by in October on Hari's recommendation.


Well, Hari and I talked on the plane, and at Jo'burg waiting for our flights , and I like to think that we got


on well. We also met up with another of my guides, Richard Cooke on the plane. It was a wonder that I


didn't have a sore throat!



I knew Hari was going to post a fabulous report----and he did.


I shall be going back to Botswana in October and will also be at camps where I should see more of the


' big stuff'.


I love Botswana,



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Hi Jan,


Lovely report - and yes, I agree with you ...... spend more time "at home", where you feel "at home".


It was a pleasure meeting you, and I'm sure we will cross paths again.




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I don't read many accounts of storms in trip reports, certainly not as frightening as the one you describe. Love your meerkat avatar. That must have been unsettling. The meerkats are better off than most under those conditions. They can go underground, just as long as the resulting rains don't turn to floods.


What fun to have a reunion with Hari.

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The Owens' recount several of these storms thoroughout the narrative of "The Cry of the Kalahari." Quite an experience, I'm sure. I had one profoundly scary storm experience in the southern Utah desert several years ago. The squall line blinded me with stinging sand and very nearly knocked me to the ground. Fortunately, there was no lightning... I was maybe 2 miles from my tent and when I made it back to my campsite, I found that the storm had torn my tent from it's stakes (ripping out the bottom in the process) and sent it blowing toward the canyon rim (where it fortunately got hung up on some bushes), and scattered and completely soaked all of my clothes and gear. Soon, however, after gathering everything up, the sun was out, the heat was back up to 90+ and everything was soon dry again... Very changable weather!

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