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We went to Savuti in search of leopards. We didn't find them there. We found a sandy high land rustling with wind and leaves and wild dry sage scenting the air so powerfully that each breath seemed to clear one's soul of any old poison. There our vehicle broke down, and we had to tow it over the sand, to the amusement of a breakfasting elephant overhead. There  we met eagle-owls drumming their hearts out with big 'Ouf! Ouf!' sounds at one another. And there also, we found these little creatures almost concealed beneath a bush:
This photo doesn't convey the fay sense of them, the expressiveness of their faces, but I wasn't surprised to learn of old bushman tales of a raiding party defeated by a bat-eared fox who used their own weapons against them and could turn into a man.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
yapman
Aug. 23rd, 2016 09:07 pm (UTC)
I felt so sorry for the leopards we saw in Kenya. There were so few of them (we were incredibly lucky to see two) that the queue of vehicles to drive past the one sat quietly minding it's own business was huge. Literally hundreds of people leaning out of vehicles, many far too close to it, trying to get a good look and photo. It's one of the best pictures I took, but in some ways I'm embarrassed by it, the poor animal may as well have been in a zoo.
smokingboot
Aug. 24th, 2016 06:28 am (UTC)
Yes, this was one of the big comparisons made by other group members who were not safari virgins; apparently if you want wall-to-wall guaranteed wildlife sightings, Kenya's the place, but there is this whole thing you describe, huge numbers of vehicles watching and all sense of the wild displaced. We were very fortunate.

We didn't have that at all,though I fear it's what Botswana may become. It was still very wild, though you would see other vehicles on occasion. The guides share info via radio of course, because they all want to give their clients as many sightings as possible.
yapman
Aug. 24th, 2016 07:54 am (UTC)
Most of the rest of time in Kenya was fine. We saw other vehicles all the time, but it was seldom crowded. Most of the time we were watching animals there were a few other vehicles. One of the times we saw Rhinos there were a fair few vehicles, one of which seemed determined to get charged, but the rest of the time it was fine.

There were moments of magic, too. We saw the same cheetah with her 5 cubs twice, once with a kill, the champagne breakfast on the savannah after an early morning balloon ride, the leopard we had to ourselves, just lying in a tree.

The drives we did in Namibia were all on private parks, and there was only a handful of vehicles out at any time, but they were much, much smaller, with fewer animals, some of which (crocodiles) had been brought in (the part of Namibia we were in doesn't have enough water for crocs ...).
smokingboot
Aug. 24th, 2016 08:26 am (UTC)
That sounds wonderful! The one sighting we failed to get was of a cheetah.

I am in two minds about Kenya because of what the other group members said, and now because of what you describe. It sounds at once incredible and touristy, so I don't know what to think!

Your description makes it sound amazing, and makes me want to rush off there... as for Namibia, I am extremely interested! But Larians is suggesting no safari for a few years, in case we go expecting a repeat of the magic and are disappointed...

yapman
Aug. 24th, 2016 08:42 pm (UTC)
The size of the herds in Kenya was awesome, even though we were a couple of weeks late for them at their peak. We were lucky with the cheetahs, and we were saved from spending an absolute fortune in the Masai village we visited by not having enough currency, but it was quite touristy. I don't regret it in the slightest, however.

I think you'd absolutely love the Namib desert. If you ever do decide to go, there's a guide (Tommy) I'd drive well out of my way to have show me the desert. Our trip was based around visiting friends in Walvis Bay, and the friend network did us well. See this facebook album for the briefest of impressions.
smokingboot
Aug. 25th, 2016 08:00 am (UTC)
Love the album, thank you!
It does give that momentary savour... I would very much like to see Namibia...we travelled through it to get to Livingstone,a burned out road somewhere in the Caprivi strip, and it was rather depressing. It would be great to see the place in all its glory!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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