We have been to Khumaga in the Makgadikgadi National Park many times and at different times of the year, but this was our first time we have been so early in the year. As Sue’s sister, Pauline, was up visiting us, it was good excuse to go again.
Between Letlhakane and Rakops one crosses the Boteti River, one of our highlights of the journey, except this time it was very, very dry. In fact it was the lowest Sue and I have seen it.
In the past we have seen the river like this at the bridge
At the village of Rakops, however, things were different, the little village was completely flooded.
We had heard that the Boteti River was very low and that the ferry wasn’t operational, so we decided to stay at Tiaan’s Camp, which is situated on the river, but on the approach side of it.
The ferry crossing had always been a challenge for Sue as it is small and narrow and an interesting trip, so I was taken back when Sue said “I am not crossing without the ferry”.
We arrived at Tiaan’s Camp to hear that they had 33mm of rain the night before, which was their first rains of the season.
That afternoon the clouds started to build up and soon it started to pour, it just didn’t stop and we soon found that our camping equipment was not really designed for such massive storms and we got drenched, but loved the rain. 50mm was recorded that night.
It was up early to the sound of a lion calling. We have never heard, seen tracks or seen a lion before at Khumaga, so this was a first. It was time to go and see if we could find the owner of that call, but first we had to tackle the river crossing. I first walked through it to find the best route and where we were to cross was about knee height. We got through with ease.
When we checked in at the Makgadikgadi National Park gate, they asked for our vehicle’s registration number, not remembering it, I popped outside to get it, only to find out we had lost our front number plate. Pauline ran back to the river and there it was. We just left it off as we had to do the crossing again, when we came out.
We were the first one’s in the park that morning and after the rains the night before we knew that all the animal tracks we found would be fresh. But there was not much at all to be seen.
This time of year the zebra and wildebeest migrate to the salt pans and most of the elephants have gone on a walk-about.
Something on the ground caught my eye. It was huge footprints of what had to be a massive lion. As the tracks were going in the direction we had just come from, we reversed back and found another point where he had crossed the road. We searched and searched but couldn’t see him.
Sue and Pauline got out of the car to take photo’s of the print, whilst I looked around. I noticed a tree about 50m away, which had a strange shape on it. As Sue was still out of the vehicle I thought I would have a closer look at the tree through binoculars.
It looked very much like a cat and as I focused, spots became clear – it was a leopard. It was just sitting in the tree, looking at us. We watched each other for quite a while, before we decided to continue looking for the lion.
We hadn’t gone far when the leopard climbed down the tree, stopped at the base, looked at us and then disappeared into some thick bush.
We gave up on the lion and continued down to the river. Here we found the tracks of two lionesses, which were heading in the direction of where we had see the males tracks. We assumed that was what all the roaring early that morning was all about.
We looked for them as well, but the result was the same – nothing. After having never seen or heard any signs of lions in this region, this was still very exciting for us.
It was quite a shock to see the river so low as the below photo’s show.
At least there was some water for the animals and the bush was green, so they had food as well.
Part 2: Close encounter with elephants, more river crossings, police encounter and more
Read more on Tiaan’s Camp: https://ourbots.wordpress.com/botswana-travel/khumaga-makgadikgadi-national-park/tiaans-camp/
Read more on Khumaga in the Makgadikgadi National Park: https://ourbots.wordpress.com/botswana-travel/khumaga-makgadikgadi-national-park/