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

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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.

 

Land of the Giants????

My grandmother use to ask me when I was younger if I was a pygmy. Well I am not but……

I am only a couple of inches above 5 feet tall and proud of it!

However, I did feel a little shorter than usual at Camp Pom Pom thanks to my new friend Max:

Max and me

 

I have always been partial to tall men but let me tell you that I have never had one this tall before! And when Baloo came to join us for a picture, well I wasn’t sure if the camera would even capture me at all!

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Max is a guide at Camp Pom Pom and has become one of my new friends. He has even promised to come visit me here in Gabs so we can go dancing together. Although our blossoming friendship hit a few snags along the way which had nothing to do with our height differences.

It seems that animals aren’t the only ones who are territorial in this stretch of the wilderness.

Upon arrival at Camp Pom Pom, everyone is assigned a guide and tracker who serve as your own personal concierges for your entire stay. I was lucky (but maybe not for them) to be assigned to Rams as my guide and Major, as my tracker. Rams turned out to be my Bush equivalent of Buche. How does a girl get so lucky??? While I only had three days with him our friendship doesn’t end just because I had to come back to Gabs. I am positive that Rams and his family will be coming to visit me in Gabs where I can’t wait to introduce him to Buche. I also have an invitation to visit them at their home in Maun. He truly is a wonderful man and I am so glad that I got to spend time with him. You will be hearing a few Rams stories as I publish my swamp blogs.

Major, well he was something special that is hard to capture into mere words. Part charmer, part goof, part tracker/poler extraordinaire he certainly provided an amusement factor for the entire three days that we were in camp. The first afternoon that I met himMajor, I also met Max and enjoyed a serious amount of good nature flirting when I could catch his eye way up there. So while Max and I were having fun it seems that Major had other plans.

Like the territorial beasts that he tracks, Major decided that he didn’t want Max encroaching on his territory. It didn’t matter that there was a certain young Australian member of our safari party that singularly caught his eye and attention. His on-going rivalry with “Mad Max” meant that Max wasn’t allowed to have any fun with me at all! Or so he thought….

I have it on good authority that a smack down took place in the employee quarters that first evening where, in Setswana, Max was told emphatically to leave me alone. Ah, someone should have warned Major that I have a mind of my own and no threats can convince me otherwise!  When I noticed that my new friend was keeping a wide berth when we were all in the main lodge it was pretty easy to figure out the problem. Let’s just say that Major was made to eat a little crow when all was said and done. However, he also earned my friendship and adoration so all is well that ends well.

It just goes to show that even in the middle of the bush I simply have a way of causing chaos. But it is nice to know that even bush men aren’t immune to my charm 😉

Camping in the Bush

Safariing is serious business in Botswana. Due to the vast expanse of wilderness and wildlife throughout the country it is a tourism industry’s dream. However, the government carefully and brilliantly regulates the industry so that it is eco-tourism at it’s best. The main aim of the industry is to provide limited access to the natural bounty that Botswana offers while providing employment and economic benefits to local communities.

Although Safari lodges are plentiful across the country giving you ready access to all of the main areas of natural beauty and wildlife, these lodges are built to prevent leaving any permanent impact on the eco-system they inhabit. Lodges never house more than 8 or 9 units for guests. All of the food is prepared on site using foods readily available where possible and I have yet to have a terrible meal in any of these places. Local residents fill the staff positions where possible. All in all I believe that the government has certainly gotten this sector of the industry right.

Camp Pom Pom certainly has gotten it right! Other than the Bushman Lodge in Ghantz nothing else can top my experience at this camp. Just when I think that I simply can not top my last wonderful experience along comes a whole new adventure that whisks me away to a land of happiness that I didn’t think was possible.

This camp is located on it’s own section of island in the middle of the Okavango Delta. It is a private concession camp which means that the land is leased from the government and all of the animals and wildlife who live there roam absolutely free. The camp is smack dab in the wetlands and is surrounded by flood planes, grasslands and huge tracts of desert. Truly a magnificent sight to behold.

Upon arrival at Camp Pom Pom, we were greeted by female staff members singing as we drove up! Talk about a warm welcome. But this was just the tip of the iceberg on the hospitality that awaited us at Camp Pom Pom.

After receiving the security briefing  by Baloo, the Camp Manager who advised us that we were smack dab in the middle of the wilderness with wild animals roaming at will through the lodge, we were escorted to our home away from home Bush Tent #6.

 

Our tent was #6 off of Elephant Highway
Our Bush tent was #6 off of Elephant Highway

The lodging at Camp Pom Pom consist of nine permanent tents and a central lodge area where the meals are served and the bar is always open. Truly it is ! You are allowed, actually encouraged to walk up to the bar and accompanying fridge to help yourself whenever you want.  Your package includes everything at Camp Pom Pom and it isn’t just a safari of wildlife. It is an eating and drinking safari as well. But much more on that later.

Welcome to #6
Welcome to #6
Our front door
Our front door

 

It was more like a tent in the trees
It was more like a tent in the trees

 

Our tree tent deck
Our tree tent deck

And we even had a welcoming party just off of our deck upon our arrival

The Elephant Welcome wagon
The Elephant Welcome wagon

 

The view to the left of our deck
The view to the left of our deck

I don’t know about you but my experience tenting certainly has never included all of the amenities that this camp offered. While the tents are canvas with permanent structures holding them up, what is contained inside was beyond what I expected. In fact, I could camp every day if I had a tent like this to do it in!

Our relaxation area
Our relaxation area complete with chairs and a lamp run by solar generator and batteries

 

Pom Pom beds

 

We even had our own loo so no going in the bushes with the hippos and elephants
We even had our own loo so no going in the bushes with the hippos and elephants

AND

Pom pom showerbush shower our very own outdoor shower so that we could shower under the stars at night if we wanted!

 

 

Now can you see why I could camp all of the time with these amenities?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to Camp Pom Pom in the “Swamps”

Early Friday morning, Buche took Risa (a fellow Canadian) and I to the airport for our 7:00 am flight from Gabs to Maun. From there we were to fly into the Delta on a tiny bush plane for the start of our adventures in the Swamps.

My thanks goes out to the amazing work of the Safari Specialists (http://www.safarispecialists.net/index.html) who were able to pull together an incredible Okavango Delta safari package at the very last minute for Risa and I. Their services are the best that I have ever dealt with.

They are located in Maun, which means they are incredibly tapped into what is happening in the Delta, all of the many camps located in the Delta & area and where the game sightings are most active at any given time. They handle all of your tour details and give you such personal service it is hard to believe. In my books, they rate as a Five Star ***** tourist company that I would highly recommend if you are even contemplating a safari in Botswana or Southern Africa region. They truly are that good!

So in the capable hands of the Safari Specialists who personally met us at the Maun airport when we landed, we were then escorted to our own private bush plane for our flight out over the vast expanse of the Delta to our first safari camp, Camp Pom Pom.

The Okavango Delta is in the upper left section of the map
The Okavango Delta is in the upper left section of the map
Map of the Central Okavango camps
Map of the Central Okavango camps – Camp Pom Pom is located in NG 27 on it’s own little island

Getting to Camp Pom Pom was a great flight on Mack Airways with our own personal pilot, Andres.

Andres and our plane
w Andres and our plane
Our Mack Air bush plane
Our Mack Air bush plane

 

The Okavango is a unique ecosystem, an inland delta situated in the middle of the largest stretch of continuous sand in the world – the Kalahari basin. This wetland lies like an oasis in an otherwise inhospitable landscape. Were land and delta meet, a mosaic of pans, grasslands, forests and lagoons provide an extremely rich and diverse habitat where a multitude of animals and birds flourish. This wetland is one of the natural wonders of the world, and is a fragile ecosystem that remains one of the world’s least spoilt and most beautiful wildernesses, and is home to various unique species e.g. sitatunga antelope and red lechwe.

Aerial view of the Delta
Aerial view of the Delta

 

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After a 45 minute flight that provided an incredible panoramic view of the expanse of the Delta swamp, flood planes and grasslands, we landed on the Camp Pom Pom air strip.

Pom Pom International Airport
Pom Pom International Airport
Pom Pom International First Aid Station
Pom Pom International First Aid Station

 

You have gotta love this type of health care on an airstrip!