Winter is almost here, as we can see by the crisp, clear early mornings. A steaming cup of coffee or hot chocolate around the fire warms up the soul and the discussions start to flow about the noises of the night. A few hours in the beautiful winter sun and the layers of clothes start peeling off. Squirrels and birds at Kings Pool can be seen sunning themselves up on their favourite perch to the background harmony of the dawn chorus.
Seasonal water pans are drying up and the beautiful mopane woodlands of the Linyanti are changing colour to eye-catching browns, yellows and reds giving it that autumn feel. Watching elephants appear through the mosaic of colours is truly a magical experience. The ‘Place of Giants’ is living up to its reputation; elephants are already starting to gather in large groups along the Linyanti River and are spending most of the day in the riverine forest among 100-year-old ebony and leadwood trees. Daily temperatures are pleasant and averaging around 28 to 30 degrees Celsius. Haziness lingers in the air from the dust and smoke of the Caprivi Strip, creating beautiful sunsets that we witness from Kings Pool every afternoon.
Impala, baboons and vervet monkeys are familiar friends in the camp as well as a family of warthogs that have made their home underneath the swimming pool. They are always fun to watch and provide loads of entertainment.
On a few occasions the powerful and thunderous roar of lions have awoken our senses at night and like ghosts in the darkness they have moved off by the time morning has broken, leaving only their tracks as evidence. Elephants are visiting us every day in camp and are seen crossing the Linyanti River, totally submerging themselves with only their trunks showing like a periscope from a submarine. They seem to enjoy this as it is a large weight off their shoulders!
Hippo have been crossing the boardwalk dips almost every night and we were very lucky to witness 10 hippos crossing the dip at one time, unfazed by our presence and only metres from us. We all tried to work out how those tiny little legs hold up such a huge weight when they go in search of grass at night. The local “Pub”, the Sunken Hide, is becoming very popular. Warthogs love the cool mud to wallow in and large herds of zebra and impala come to quench their thirst by mid morning. The pub has also witnessed the biggest leopard tortoise ever seen; she was about the size of a very large soccer ball.
Elephants, elephants, elephants - trumpeting and rumbles are echoing across the Linyanti through the mopane and across Botswana. One young male elephant has lost half his trunk, hopefully to natural causes. He has to kneel down to take a gulp of water. A very sad thing to witness indeed but despite his disability, he seems to be doing just fine. At night hyaena and elephant do battle in the darkness and just recently a very young calf was killed behind camp. It was quite a thing to hear the laughing hyaena amongst the orchestra of outraged elephants.
The beautiful markings of the wild dogs are blending into the dappled woodland extremely well, making it difficult to see them if they are lying down. Nevertheless, we have had wonderful sightings of the dogs in the Linyanti. The LTC Pack, as they are known, has been covering large areas in the quest for food, moving in and out of the area. They have made several attempts hunting impala at the “Pub” but to no avail. A young kudu, not too far from camp was the latest victim to Africa’s most successful predator.
Politics, squabbling and marking territory is what’s happening with the lions in the Linyanti Concession. The Kings Pool Male has not been seen much this month, he is probably keeping a low profile because a coalition of five male lions is moving in from Chobe. The resident pride known as the LTC Pride are also under pressure and are constantly on the move. A lone male lion was also seen crossing from Namibia to Botswana, close to the Kings Pool Camp; he stayed for a few days snooping around before disappearing back over the border.
The elusive leopards have proven difficult to find this month but we have had excellent sightings of them when we did. They are probably lying low with all the lion activity around. One of the resident female leopards which currently has two tiny cubs has been seen a number of times. The cubs are still very shy but we are happy to note that they are growing rapidly and appear to be healthy. Towards the end of the month we witnessed the small feline family being chased up a tree by the LTC Pack of wild dogs.
Guests aboard Queen Sylvia, our double decker barge, have witnessed stunning sunsets and have had the delightful experience of elephants joining them for the view.
Staff in Camp Managers: Brett Greenaway, Sherie Blackwell, Frank Maule and Rikki Lotter.
Guides: Khan Gouwe, Ndebo Tongwane, Lemme Dintwa and Odumetse Modikwa.
Newsletter by Brett Greenaway Images by Khan Gouwe, Sherie Blackwell and Frank Maule.