Updated: 6 days ago
...South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia & Botswana!
In my last newsletter I mentioned that my husband, Mike, and I had just returned from a trip to Southern Africa. We had a wonderful time in our five weeks in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana. We saw tons of wild animals, most of them very close to our vehicle or boat, traveled by commercial plane, light plane, and road, and experienced so many aspects of southern Africa’s beauty – from mountains to deserts to plains to the majesty of one of the seven wonders of the world, Victoria Falls. I can’t describe all the delights we encountered in one short article, but I’ll highlight a few of our adventures (with photos).
After a short stay in Cape Town, we flew to Namibia, a country we’d never visited before. Although wildlife, much of it adapted to the country’s sprawling deserts, abounds, the star attraction in Namibia is the scenery. Our first stop in Sossusvlei, home of the famous sand dunes, was hampered by high winds from an unusual cold front that hit the entire region. So, although we caught a brief glimpse of the famous dunes, they were soon obscured by a sandstorm so dense that our guide had to pull off the road. It felt like we were in Lawrence of Arabia (without the camels).
But our next camps, Serra Cafema on Namibia’s northern border with Angola, and Hoanib near the Skeleton Coast were both remote, beautiful, and very interesting. An oasis set amid expansive desert and forbidding mountains, Serra Cafema’s river and lush greenery had a Zen feel. One of the most fascinating parts of our visit there was a morning visit with the women and children of a nearby Himba village. (The men were out, tending their herds of goats and sheep.) These women decorate their bodies and hair with an ocher paint and wear elaborate hairstyles that designate their age and marital status. They speak a language that employs a series of click sounds inserted into the words. We were glad a translator helped us converse with the ladies.
The Skeleton Coast, on the Atlantic Ocean, is so named because the skeletons of whales litter the area’s beaches. Adding to the haunting nature of this bleak coast are the bones of multiple ships that have wrecked on the rough waters offshore. This area also hosts a gigantic (and stinky) seal colony along with flamingos and other wading birds. We were told that lions, elephants, and other larger animals also frequent the Skeleton Coast, but we didn’t see any during our visit.
I particularly enjoyed Pelo Camp, located on an island, in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. We spent the better part of each day there on the water. In the unique canoes called mokoros which allowed us to relax as a guide poled the boat through the reeds and water lilies – totally Zen. And in a motorboat with a shallow draft which allowed our guide, Lesh, to take us so close to the many elephants that were grazing on the abundant, and apparently tasty, vegetation.
At our final camp, in the Linyanti River section of Botswana, wildlife seemed to appear around every corner during our game drives. One morning we got a great view of a honey badger, normally a nocturnal and quite elusive animal. We saw several leopards, including one who staked out a warthog den with a plan to nab one of the small animals as it emerged in the morning. We watched the leopard wait, go in for the attack when three warthogs emerged, and miss all three. Three lucky warthogs and no breakfast for the leopard!
One of the most exciting animal sightings we had at Duma Tau was a pair of male lions on patrol. Although Mike and I have seen many lions in the wild, both on this safari and earlier ones, these boys definitely showed why they are considered kings of the African plains. In their prime and obviously quite well fed, these two male lions strutted through the bush like they knew they owned the territory.
Our final bit of excitement came on our last day when we took a flight-seeing ride in a helicopter, flying at around 400 feet which gave us a great “birds-eye” view of the animals on the plains below. A great way to end a wonderful trip.
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