Weather and Landscape
The year started off on a good note, with the peak rainy season living up to its name. On one occasion we had about a third of the average rainfall countrywide. This resulted in water levels rising and, with our camp being water-based we took full advantage of the tributaries that overflowed and filled the nearby floodplains, attracting species of every imaginable shape and size. Minimum temperatures averaged 22° Celsius with highs of 32° Celsius, making the morning and evening game drives most pleasant.
The bridge onto our island, informally known as the Catwalk, has lived up to its name, with two different leopards using it to cross from one side to the other, whilst guests were enjoying a cocktail at the open-air bar, having dinner or enjoying a first fresh cup of coffee at the crack of dawn. If you miss the actual show, the ‘Xigera Times’, a patch of sand on the walkway, offers you an opportunity to catch up on the previous night’s activities.
On one special evening after a late afternoon storm, termites in their numbers were attracted to the lights on the bridge. A male genet found this the perfect opportunity, somersaulting as it tried to catch the termites in flight, entertaining us for quite a while. Once the genet had its share he moved off and a Pel’s fishing-owl perched on the bridge, targeting the unsuspecting fish moving below. A rare sighting indeed, especially when he swooped down, unfortunately coming up empty-handed… better luck next time!
We’re happy to report that our local male hippo is still alive, not deceased as we had suspected last month. He has been hanging around camp a lot over the past month; perhaps he was missing the safety and nutrition that the mangosteen canopy harbours?
The pack of three wild dog was seen early in the month, but has since headed south – with all the water we did not really expect them to stay.
Another rare sighting was of a bachelor herd of 19 elephant bulls, all within the space of less than a hectare! Yes, you read that right, 19! And the majority of them were fully mature bulls that have wandered these parts for years. With the rains, obviously they had moved out of the Delta to drink rainwater captured in the ponds and feed on fresh leaves and trees.
Birds and Birding
As the floodplains filled up with water after the season’s rains, they attracted flocks of great white pelicans and plenty of other wading birds that took full advantage of the fresh shallow waters. We saw a lot of acrobats in the sky too, in the form of swallows, lilac-breasted and broad-billed rollers and the beautiful southern-carmine bee-eaters.
The eerie hooting of a Pel’s fishing-owl added a dark beauty to the still nights and the orchestral backdrop of tiny reed frogs.
A rise in the water levels meant we could take our boating a little bit further, allowing us to visit one of the Delta’s important geographical sites, known as Xigera Lagoon. These exposed and shallow sandbanks offer our guests the opportunity to soak in the fresh Okavango Delta water.
Cocktail hour at the open-air bar added to the relaxed feel of the camp, while we chatted softly and appreciated the coucals that seemed to hoot at the sun as it disappeared below the horizon.
Tranquil mokoro rides and a boat cruise past ancient-looking sandbanks where languid crocodiles bask in the sun have been particularly worthwhile this month, and the game drives offered spectacular sunrises painted with orange to purple nimbus clouds.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Neuman, Rauve, Alex and Gladys
Guides: Des, Dips, Paul and Goms