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 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 Cheetah Brothers

We also had the pleasure of meeting these 3 cheetah brothers out for an afternoon stroll proving that brothers who play together, stay together!

The first brother spotted - no pun intended
The first brother spotted – no pun intended
Bath time
Bath time

Cheetah on the move

It was time to find his brothers

Cheetah brothers on the move

These brothers also proved that they are just like every other male I know – eager to mark their territory!

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Of course everyone had to do the same! Men!

two cheetahs

IMG_1461

 

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and with a final male gesture, the 3 cheetah brothers left us to go off to hunt

Cheetah brother 1

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.

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?