After our stop in Maun our next destination was Moremi. Moremi is in northern Botswana bordered to the east by the Okavango Delta and to the west by Chobe National Park. The surrounding areas are also all protected areas so game is renowned to be plentiful in this park. Throughout our travels we’d heard that it was extremely difficult to see game in Moremi because the vegetation was too thick and that all the cool animals were in Chobe given the strange weather patterns this year. We easily dismissed these with the knowledge that, even though it may have been a professional guide who told us this, we’ve each got eyes so certainly we’d be able to see more then them for sure.
Well, maybe not. After our first game drive in the park our spirits were high. We saw a bunch of game after all. All buck with the occasional buffalo but if the food was there, we were sure predators would be there as well.
No such luck. After 5 days of searching we had a very quick sighting of a lion cub but that was about it from the cats. I did get a good picture of it though. And of course we saw the massive herd of elephants that I already posted about.
Lion cub. A bit far but he was definitely staring back at us.
We still enjoyed the game drives, even if we didn’t have many epic sightings.
Despite the few animals, we still thoroughly enjoyed our 5 nights in the park. We spent 3 at Southgate (you guessed it, in the south of the park) and 2 at Xakanaxa (said with a ‘click’ wherever there’s an x) in the northern part of the park. We were in a nice, relatively secluded campsite at Southgate while the campsite at Xakanaxa was on the main road to the lodge so we had safari vehicles driving past us for the better part of the day. Still a great spot next to a reed-filled river though. Most people don’t spend more then a night at Southgate since there is typically less game in that part of the park. For us, however, that’s where we saw the most game.
Camping in Southgate and Xakanaxa
As we drove into the park we noticed a bunch of vultures circling and a small road off to the side that looked like it led right to where they were casting their gaze. Perfect! As we drove down the road we noticed 100s more vultures. In trees. On rocks. On the ground. On a big rock, oh wait, no, that’s a dead elephant. No predator around but just a dead small elephant. It was fairly fresh as it hadn’t started to smell yet. (Unlike a couple of days later when we went back and made the mistake of having our windows down as we drove up. Multi-day-old dead elephant stench is disgusting it turns out…). We waited around for the predator to come back but it never did. Not sure how the elephant died but it was really neat to see so many vultures in one place.
Vultures on a dead elephant
The real highlight of Moremi was that Morris and Gill taught Cheryl and I how to play Bridge. Although the card game is more popular with a certain generation we played multiple times and really enjoyed the game. I personally like that whoever is playing gets to play their partner’s hand as well and everyone gets to see it. Makes the game so much more strategic.
Perhaps the most memorable moment during game drives in Moremi was the water crossings. In Southgate we came across a few water crossings that we decided not to attempt since we were a lone vehicle and there were few trees around them to hook our winch to if something happened. In Xakanaxa that all changed. We watched a safari vehicle head through a water crossing and immediately decided to follow suit. Sure it was a bit higher then we were but we’ve got a snorkel. Boy am I glad we did too. Water came up as high as the hood of our Hilux but she made it through swimmingly.
This water crossing made us nervous. It was just child’s play compared to what we would be doing by the time we were out of the park. The issue with this one was the mud underneath, it went on past where we could see the end and there were no trees close enough to winch ourselves out if things got bad.
Here’s the link to a video of our bigger crossing. Stops before the big splash on the hood but you get the idea.
For our last night with Morris and Gill we are camping outside the park to the East. They drive north to Chobe the next day and Cheryl and I return to Maun where we prepare for a few days in the Okavango Delta, transported via Mokoro (dugout canoe). When we came across water today we went through it with much more confidence then when we first saw water on our path. Nothing can hold us back now!
This one we were (fairly) sure was safe to cross. It was!
The rive is called the Khwai river. This is literally the bridge over the river Khwai, just the Botswana version.
Posing with our Hilux in our last campsite.
Photo with Morris and Gill our last night together. This was the reason I was allowed to keep the tripod.
Practising our newly learned bridge skills our last night together.
Cheryl and her mom.
Cheryl and her dad.