It was getting hot as we set-up camp at Khwai even though we had massive trees offering us shade. Roof-top tents were opened and a couple of ground tents erected.
Tswinkie and Dinah, who had left their broken down trailer along the road, simply took out two chairs from their car – and they were done. With all of us jealous they started sipping on refreshing cold drinks – well cold beers.
After lunch, stomachs full, ” a bit” of alcohol having been consumed and soaring temperatures everybody got very relaxed, some slept, others read, one sewed and I took photos. This was to be the scene around camp during the heat of the day, almost every day. The excitement of the day and one of the highlights of the trip was still to come.
As it started cooling so we headed out to discover the area. The riverine forest was characterized by massive trees, with not much growing under them. There was also plenty of broken trees and branches from the elephants, in some instances the road had been totally blocked.
Moving from the trees down to the river was large sections of thick grasslands. When we did get to the river we were rewarded by seeing a herd of the beautiful Red Lechwe. For us an antelope that we don’t often see.
They love water and marshy areas and feed off the short grass on the banks of rivers and aquatic plants.
They are adapted to these watery conditions by having a water-repellant substance covering their legs which allows them to run quite fast in knee-deep water, so avoiding predators.
He pulled the plants out and hit them on the ground, obviously trying to remove the sand and mud from them, before eating them.
The river wasn’t very wide or deep, but we did come across a number of pods of hippo, splashing in the water, calling and some with their mouths wide open.
Our first game drive had been great owing to the diversity of animals, birds and vegetation that we had seen. But more “game viewing” was still to come.
With darkness falling and with our first night in Moremi upon us – thoughts of lions and hyenas coming into camp – made a few people very nervous.
I started to get dinner going while others had headed, on foot, to the showers. A mighty lion roar filled the stillness – it was one of those roars that seemed to travel right through your body. It is for me, truly the most magnificent sounds you can hear in Africa, especially when they are close and this lion was very close.
Gavin and Tswinkie, who were at the ablutions ran around the back of the building, leaving their wives to make a dash of 20 odd meters back to camp. They saw a large male lion moving out of camp not far from them.
I wasn’t going to ask for my money back and I can say “a lion went through our camp in Moremi”. First night as well. How awesome was that.
Those that were planning to sleep in ground tents very quickly started seeking back seats of motor cars.
I was not even finished cooking dinner when somebody called “hyenas”. Just out of camp there were 4 of them. With all our noise they soon turned and disappeared into the bush.
It had already been an amazing trip and there was still plenty more ahead of us. I was in my element, this was soooooo stunning.
Part 5 to follow….