A Silly African Game

Impala poop contest

During my last day on Safari in the Delta we were instructed in a common game here in Botswana – Impala Poop Spitting! 

Yes, you read that correctly!!!!

Impala Poop Spitting

Impala poop consists of tiny perfectly formed round balls. Which apparently are perfect for spitting. Why anyone would want to is totally beyond me. But apparently as they only consist of digested grass it is not unhygienic to actually handle the poo balls and putting them in your mouth is not an issue……ya, right!

All judgments aside here is a pictorial primer on how to play the “Impala Poop Spitting” game:

As Bale demonstrates in the photo above, you take an impala poop ball and either place it between your lips. Pursing your lips to hold it in place and then you blow it up and out as far as you can. Or you can place it directly on your tongue (yuck!!!) and use a combination of your tongue and blowing to launch the poop ball as far as you can.

Where did it land?
Demonstrating techniques

Once you have successfully launched the poop missile, it is then necessary to keep a close watch to determine where the tiny ball of poop actually lands.

Where did it land?
Where did it land?

So once the demonstration was concluded it was time to begin the contest. Let’s just say that not all of us were stupid enough to participate 🙂 but there were several takers.

First up was Dave, an Australian Bio-chemical engineer who currently lives on a tiny Russian island. He proved to have excellent technique and actually outperformed Bale.

Dave's impala poop technique
Dave’s impressive impala poop technique

My, what poop spitting form!

not impressed

So then the challenge was on! Beat that distance anyone? Dave’s wife stand next to him decided to hold on to her poop balls and not participate. However, ……

My travel mate, Risa decided to rise to the challenge

Risa getting ready

After so serious coaching from Bale, she was ready for her first attempt

Giving new meaning to deep breathing
Are you sure I won’t swallow it?

 

Risa way to go

Way to go Risa!

 

But the undisputed winner was Dave with him impressive technique and distance. Although he was firmly informed by his wife that there would be absolutely no kissing until his lips and mouth were thoroughly disinfected.  So much for their romantic safari getaway 😉

I actually consider myself a winner as well because I was smart enough not participate. For once I simply enjoyed a spectator role even though Bale and PD threatened to send me back to camp in another safari truck or on foot because I wouldn’t play. Let me tell you, I have handled my share of poop during my life time. My African adventures didn’t need impala poop spitting to make them complete 🙂

My African Adventure is far from over!

Ok, perhaps I did not make myself as clear as I could have yesterday in my post about returning to Canada. So let’s set the record straight as I have been inundated with emails.

Cheryl’s African Adventure is continuing and will continue for many years to come! I am simply returning to Canada for a period of time to spend some much needed time with loved ones there and yes, earn some more income to supplement my nomadic ways.

As for this blog, it will certainly continue while I am residing in Canada as there is no doubt that my newly acquired African ways will cause some grand moments of hilarity as I readjust to life in Canada and tiny PEI. Plus, I have a very strong suspicion that part of Africa will be making the adjustment to Canadian life with me.

Buche says he is coming with me if I can teach him how to drive on winter roads and get him a job as a truck driver. His daughter Nancy also wants to come to Canada which means Buche’s wife is going to be left all alone here in Botswana holding down the fort.

Lawrence has been planning for months on coming back to Canada with me although I am trying to convince him that it is not the land of milk and honey that he thinks it is. Plus, he would never survive the cold or the food!

But he and Chenai have concocted a plan to officially adopt me….I am not exactly sure how that will work out…I am 48 years old; Lawrence is 32 and Chenai is in her twenties. Maybe it will be the start of a new African adopt a Canadian senior program 🙂 Regardless, I have to be back in Zimbabwe for their wedding (oops! hope I haven’t ruined the surprise!) as I will be Lawrence’s Best Man and godmother when the time comes.

As for Sheila, she would handcuff me here if at all possible. Whether she remains here in Botswana, returns to Kenya or some other African country we will have annual dance dates no matter where she is. Plus she is going to continue to feed my Kanga addiction.

No doubt Peter and Jetske will be happy for a return to peace & quiet at Peter’s Place. I hopefully I will be able to plan my trips back far enough in advance that I can reserve Bird Cottage for my return stays. This place truly is home for me and if you saw the way that I take over Jetske’s kitchen you would understand. Peter don’t take my Cheryl sign down yet! Plus who ever lives here next is going to have Gabby the cat constantly at their window and doors. Apartment 2 is now Gabby’s permanent napping spot.

As for Tanyala, she is insisting that I stay right here. She doesn’t want a new resident in #2. I have been trying to lure her to come with me. I am not sure that I can live life with out her to clean up after my messes or sleep at night without her making my bed so perfectly. Unfortunately I think that I blew it because a few weeks ago I showed her pictures of polar bears (she had never seen them before) and that pretty much sealed the deal that she had no desire to put up with a Canadian winter. Sorry Mom! I thought I had the perfect housekeeper to share between us. If only Canada wasn’t so cold and snowy.

And these are only a small number of reasons why my life in Africa is in no danger of coming to an end just because I am temporarily returning to Canada. So calm down everyone! Cheryl’s African adventures are here to stay just I will be covering a lot more territory.

Hippo silly season

These pictures were just forwarded to me of a hippo having a swim in the pool at the Old Bridge Backpackers in Maun. It seems that hippos in the area are intent on partying!

Hippo Maun

 

Hippo in pool at Old Bridgw Bacpackers

 

My advise: watch where you swim in Botswana because you might have company!

My safari favorites

We truly lucked out with how many different species we got up close and personal with on our safari. It is highly unusual to have as many game sighting as we did in such a short period of time. Obviously it was a really good time of year to go on safari in the Okavango Delta area.

While I love seeing all of the animals, I can never get enough of my personal favorite, lion.

Lion brothers

 

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IMG_1523The photo above is a real favorite of mine!

lion nap time

 

lion sleep

 

resting my eyes

 

serious napping

 

Our other amazing sighting were the Wild Dogs (sometimes referred to as Painted Dogs).  These are really rare to sight and we had the most amazing view of them. Finding them had been our goal for our early morning game drive. After driving about 1/2 hour in the direction that our guide and tracker believed they would be, we had stopped on the side of the track to watch three ostriches happily prancing around. The next thing we knew, the ostriches were taking off running full gallop which is quite the sight to see.

And then we looked up at the track in the sand ahead of us and saw the most incredible sight:

Here come the dogs!
Here come the dogs!

The wild dogs had found us! and they trotted right on by – 

Wild dogs on the move f2

They then nonchalantly sauntered by looking at us with slight curiosity.

painted dog

 

 

Wild dogs on the move 3

 

 

 

Wild dogs on the move 4

 

wild dogs

Wild dogs 2

 

wild dogs 3

 

Wild dogs 4

 

wild dogs leading the way

 

wild dogs leading the way 2

 

Once they had passed us by we could clearly see that their heads and necks were caked from the blood of what ever feast they had just devoured before meeting up with us. And boy did they smell awful!!!! Glad we didn’t happen upon the kill! To learn more about African wild dogs you can check out this link http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/african-hunting-dog/

Wild dogs side

 

Wild dog pack 2

 

Wild dog pack resting

 

WD pack at rest

 

WD pack leader female

 

This tiny little one sleeping all by herself is the female leader of the pack, just proving that women rule and beware of tiny females!

 

 

The Big Cats came out to play

Unlike the other safari trucks that I have been in, Lagoon’s trucks are wide open and allow for lots of great game watching opportunities. It also means that you are wide open to all of the elements such as the cool breeze when you are out driving at 6:3o am in the morning to the blazing mid-day sun.

Luckily, I had come prepared just like a good girl guide and had a hat to protect me from the sun and lots of warm layers to put on and take off as the day progressed. Given that you headed out so early in the morning and it is currently winter here in Botswana, the temperatures could be very chilly starting out. Everyone on the truck was given a blanket to snuggle up in and a bush baby to hold on to.

The bush babies were actually hot water bottles that you could use to keep you warm as you were zooming across the terrain in search of game. And zoom you did. The guides and trackers at Lagoon certainly take their game tracking seriously (not that they didn’t at Camp Pom Pom – they were just more fun while they were doing it!). Along with the safari truck being fully open, the tracker sat on a seat which was located on the front of the truck so that he could have a clear visual of all of the animal tracks and be able to guide in the direction that the game appeared to be moving.

Tracker PD on the front with our guide, Bale driving
Tracker PD on the front with our guide, Bale driving

Within ten minutes of embarking on our first game drive at Kwando Lagoon Camp, we came across what was to be the first in many sightings of big cats. Having spent the morning in Camp Pom Pom tracking a leopard with Rams, it was a little hilarious that less than ten minutes in here was a beauty of a leopard, which I am proud to say I spotted first before even the tracker! This picture proves how good my tracking eyes for cats really are – Rams would be proud of me!

Can a leopard change it's spots? or can you spot the leopard?
Can a leopard change it’s spots? or can you spot the leopard?
Stalking with grace
Stalking with grace
Talk about great camaflogue
Talk about great camouflage
Would you want to be a fireman to rescue this kitty from a tree?
Would you want to be a fireman to rescue this kitty from a tree?
We felt a little like she could easily jump into the truck with us
We felt a little like she could easily jump into the truck with us
A lounging leopard feels a little safer to watch
A lounging leopard feels a little safer to watch
How is that for a close up?
How is that for a close up?
On the move again
On the move again
On the hunt for tasty morsels like impala
On the hunt for tasty morsels like impala

 

And this is only a tiny portion of the great sightings that we had at Lagoon Camp. There are lots more wonderful pictures to share 🙂

Luxuriate at Lagoon Camp

We were met at the airstrip and quickly transported to our new lodge. This camp was certainly very different from Camp Pom Pom which we had just sadly left.

Upon our arrival at Kwando’s Lagoon Camp it was quickly apparent that this was not a bush camp but one that offered a much more luxurious side of being on safari. As we had gotten a very last minute deal through the Maun company, Safari Specialists, our stay here was a real deal for us. It was easy to see why this camp tends to attract a very different clientele from North American, Europe and the Middle East looking for a safari experience that is a little more upper class.

Kwando lodge

A water view of my lodge
A water view of my lodge which was the second one from the right
Certainly more luxurious than a tent!
Certainly more luxurious than a tent!
A massive dressing room
A massive dressing room
My favorite spot!
My favorite spot! A bath with a view
And your choice of an indoor or outdoor shower
And your choice of an indoor or outdoor shower
And a deck to hippo watch from
And a deck to hippo watch from

Lagoon (Kwando) Camp

Once I got my booty shaking butt into the tiny airplane and said goodbye to Rams and Major, we were off to our next adventure in Delta.

We were heading to Kwando’s Lagoon Camp situated on the Botswana border with Namibia along a piece of land known as the Caprivi strip. The Caprivi strip is a  fabulous game-viewing area that  is formed by the Kwando River which carries water from the Angola highlands down to the Linyanti Swamps, the drainage from which reforms into the Linyanti River flowing to the northeast, later becoming the Chobe River as it flows toward Kasane where it joins the Zambezi and goes on to Victoria Falls.  The principal game concessions are the Kwando concession, Selinda Concession, and Linyanti Concessions.

Map of the Linyanti area - Lagoon Camp is located in NG 14
Map of the Linyanti area – Lagoon Camp is located in NG 14

It took us just under an hour in our tiny plane to make the trip to the Linyanti/Kwando area and arrive on yet another sandy airstrip literally in the middle of bush.

This concession proved to be jammed packed with lots of game to watch and proved to be vastly different landscape than the heart of the Delta that we had just left. Kwando reminds me more of Chobe, which it sits just south of and some like the Kalahari desert that I love so much. We certainly couldn’t had two such different camps to visit on our Delta adventure.

Wildlife at Pom Pom

During our game drives here are some of the creatures that we encountered

Beautiful birds

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We may have been on the search for the elusive leopard but someone else was not so shy! But they were incredibly difficult to spot as the color of the grass perfectly camouflaged them.

 

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The first one was soon joined by a second female, who according to Rams was a three year who was wearing a monitoring device. She is part of a research program that is assisting to identify the migration and breeding patterns of these wild beasts.

 

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These two certainly were on friendly terms making me a wistful about getting out of the truck to join them! But even I know how deadly that would have been and in truth it was such a pleasure to sit and watch them for at least half an hour as the sun went down casting them in a golden light. Truly a beautiful sight!

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Obviously neither of the two safari trucks caused the least bit of concern in these two magnificent females. As long as we kept reasonable quiet, didn’t stay up in the truck or move suddenly it was like we weren’t even there at all for them.

 

 

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We didn’t even interfere with nap time!

 

 

lion 1

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Or using nature’s scratching post….

 

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and then settling down for her own cat nap

repose

Just as we were heading off for our own break, sundowners with the other guests, when Major and Rams came up with another find

King of the beasts

We should have known that with two such beautiful ladies around that a virile African man couldn’t be too far away. And what a man he was! It was really hard to resist him….

Poppa lion

But I had promised Rams that I wouldn’t get him into trouble by being eaten by a lion so I sat still and just enjoyed watching this magnificent creature in his natural element. It was truly breath-taking. Sadly the sun was quickly going down and with it the opportunity to take more pictures. Oh well, all in all it was a successful day on safari.

Mokoroing we go!

Following an entire night long hippo party taking place in our front yard/lagoon – there was a herd of twenty of them who splashed, sang and frolicked all night long, thank you very much! If you have never heard hippos singing it is a sound not to be missed, although it will keep you awake at night. To be fair, there were lots of others guilty of violating the sound curfews including elephants, jackals, hyenas and big cats. But who wants to tell them to hold the noise down? Not me for sure!

Hippo Party Land
Hippo Party Land

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Following our wake up tea and coffee ensuite in our tent and gathering for a light breakfast in the main lodge, it was time to venture out into the site of last night’s party as the sun was coming up.

Our morning activity was to explore the water ways right off our camp site in the Okavango’s main mode of transportation, the Mokoro. The mokoro is a dugout canoe which is about  20 feet (6 meters) in length and normally crafted from the trunks of trees which have been hollowed out by hand. Although now the government is promoting the use of fibreglass Mekoros so that there is less strain on the tree population in the Delta.

Our transport awaits
Our transport awaits

Mekoros are used by many of the local people of the Okavango for traversing and fishing the channels. They are now one of the iconic symbols of the Delta and are a popular way for guests at camps to explore the Okavango while on safari. Traditionally the mokoro transports two people along with a poler. The poler stands at the back and uses a pole to propel the boat forward with a long pole called a ngashi. It is amazing how silent these boats move and how quickly! But one had to wonder who would get the right away if we encountered one of the “hung over” hippos among the reeds.

Getting settled for our Mokoro trip
Getting settled for our Mokoro trip
Heading out
Heading out

The beauty of being on the water among the lily pads and reeds was incredible!

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Lily pads and touch me nots
Lily pads and touch me nots
I think a hippo is hiding in there
Playing hide and seek among the reeds

I tried kissing this guy but he didn’t turn into my handsome prince but it was worth a shot!

My handsome prince
My handsome prince

The perspective from being so low down was amazing…

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Major who is poling needs to duck
Major who is poling needs to duck
Just one of the beautiful water lilies that we paddled by
Just one of the beautiful water lilies that we paddled by
Peek a boo!
Peek a boo!

 

Termite Island
Termite Island

After a couple of hours of silently or not so silently moving around the waterways with Major providing us with all of the fact about local flora, fauna and wildlife it was time to stop for a “comfort break” – a trip into the bushes to relieve full bladders and our mid morning snack! I told you it was an eating safari too!

We stopped on the other side of this termite mound and stretched our legs while the polers/trackers set up our morning tea/coffee break.

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Our morning stop also included some fun including posing with a giraffe skull

 

Giraffe skull
Giraffe skull

 

But soon it was time to get back in our mokoros and start the trek back to camp but first we paid a closer visit to a friend who joined us for our morning break.

Let's hope he likes having his picture taken
Let’s hope he likes having his picture taken

 

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A sea of water lilies
A sea of water lilies

 

Beautiful grasses waving above our heads
Beautiful grasses waving above our heads

 

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Heading home
Heading home

 

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Traffic jam on Hippo Highway
Traffic jam on Hippo Highway

 

Land in sight
Land in sight

 

Back at Camp Pom Pom
Back at Camp Pom Pom

Once we were safely back on land it was time to eat again! It was now just after 11 am and after being out on the water since before 7 am the amazing culinary staff of Camp Pom Pom had a wonderful brunch just waiting for our arrival.

With full bellies from brunch it was back to our tents and a couple of hours of relaxing before we headed back out for our afternoon game drive.

 

Safari time at Camp Pom Pom

Safariing is hard work! Now granted all you have to do is get dressed properly, make sure that you have visited the loo and show up on time, it still really hard work.

I have been on numerous game drives since coming to Botswana last September but I have never actually been on safari before. Luckily, I had a wonderful introduction to it at Camp Pom Pom. As I mentioned before, we completely lucked out with our guide, Rams and tracker, Major.

The happy trio of Rams, me and Major relaxing during Sundowner time on Safari
The happy trio of Rams, me and Major relaxing during Sundowner time on Safari

Rams, as I noted earlier, was a sweetheart who shares many similarities with Buche, including driving styles and went where others feared to tread…including Buche, who was dismayed when I showed him these pictures,

Did I sign up for a water safari?
Did I sign up for a water safari?
Is this a Safari truck or a boat?
Is this a Safari truck or a boat?

So while Rams navigated us around land, water, mud, airstrips and just about anywhere else you could throw in, Major spent his time amusing us and being on the look out for wildlife.

Major's winning smile
Major’s winning smile

Major also has other claims to fame. Check out his singing on this YouTube video posted by a previous camper http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHSvKoUFd0U

With these two capable gentlemen taking care of us and catering to all of our needs, we happily set out for our first game drive after a huge brunch and a siesta. They don’t call this an eating safari for nothing!

Shortly after leaving camp we crossed Pom Pom International Bridge and let’s just say that Cheryl almost made history and became famous

Pom Pom International Bridge
Pom Pom International Bridge

While this bridge is remarkable in its construction having been built by the staff of the Camp Pom Pom and capable of withstanding a huge heavy safari vehicle stopping mid way on it so that the wildlife and birds can be viewed, it is a bit of a rough ride. Being a short, round bouncy person, I found it a bit of a challenge to not bounce right out of the safari truck straight down into the swamps and wetlands joining the birds, crocs and fishes. When I queried Rams if he had ever lost a guest out of the truck, he prompted responded no but figured that I might be his first! In that case, I would become famous and perhaps they would even rename the bridge after me 🙂

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So with me still safely in the truck and Rams prepared to check his rearview mirror every so often to ensure that I was still on board, we set out to find some wildlife.

It didn’t take long to start spying lots of great game

Elephants galore
Elephants galore

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Even when there wasn’t any game in sight the scenery was beautiful

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Impala bum view
Impala bum view

 

In my opinion, ugly birds!
In my opinion, ugly birds!

 

up close and personal with the ugly bird family
up close and personal with the ugly bird family

During our drive, Rams and Major discovered very fresh leopard tracks so we were soon on the hunt for her.

Dedicated trackers checking the leopard tracks
Dedicated trackers checking the leopard tracks

 

What we did find were these beauties

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With the sun going down it was time for “sundowners”, an African term for drinks at sunset

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and heading back to camp for the evening where we spent the evening on an eating safari and relaxing around the campfire

our candle lit dining room
our candle lit dining room

With full bellies it was soon time to be escorted back to our tent for the night so that everyone could be well rested for the next day’s adventures. Once night had fallen on camp no guests were allowed to walk alone with out a guide or tracker to escort them as the likelihood of meeting an elephant on the pathway to the tents was incredibly high.

Elephant highway
Elephant highway

So safely escorted home it was time to put on the thermal underwear and climb into bed as the morning activities started bright and early with wake up at 6:00 am with the delivery of coffee and tea to the tent! Now that is service!