June 11 – to campsite in Moremi Game Reserve

In camp in at the Khwai campsite in the Moremi Game Reserve waiting for dinner to be served. Flew back into Maun this morning, hooked up with Grant Craig of Papadi Safaris at the airport. Because of the cold front, he decided to switch to a closed vehicle (openings in the roof for photos) and I for one am grateful. It is COLD in those open vehicles! Did some shopping for snacks and drinks (including plenty of bottled water) and set off.

The road from Maun to Moremi begins as a paved road. Then it turns into gravel. Finally it turns into sand. And it isn’t supposed to get any better until we get into Kasane at the end of the trip! Oh the roads of Botswana are a joy…

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Grant has brought along a camp assistant (I will butcher the spelling of even the short forms of names, I’m sure…) called Nami for short and another field guide who he wants to work with him in the future named Likan. So there are three of them, and two of us! Amazing…

Nami, Likan & Grant

Nami, Likan & Grant

We are not 15 minutes down the road before we feel entirely comfortable with Grant and his crew. Grant is, I think, a little younger than I am (early 50s, perhaps), quiet-spoken with a wickedly dry sense of humor. He’s obviously a perfectionist, wants things done right the first time around, and makes you feel thoroughly confident that he knows what he’s about. Likan is very quiet but with a ready smile and an easy way about him. Nami is even more quiet than Likan, but gets things done. Nice group. And even before we got into the reserve we saw elephant and giraffe and some more lion tracks. (Eventually, we are going to HAVE to see lions. At least I hope so!)

Once we arrived at the campsite, the team disconnected the trailer and took down our gear, then Grant took Fred and I off for the first game drive of this mobile safari. Here in the reserve we have seen impala, which Grant calls “moneybacks” (“we call them moneybacks because if you don’t see them, you get your money back”), red lechwe, young male kudu, zebras, pelicans, storks, guinea fowl, young fish eagle, francolins.

stork

Saddlebilled stork

lechwe

red lechwe

kudu

Young kudu

Grant took us out to a location that is frankly gorgeous to take sunset shots, and unless I am very wrong, there are going to be some terrific shots in that group.

Moremi sunset

Moremi sunset

We started back to camp and then — just at dusk when we were really late for getting back (the camps have hours for the gates to be open) — we saw a truly amazing sight: Fred spotted and we stopped and watched a large pack of wild dogs who had just taken down and were in the process of devouring a red lechwe stag. The light wasn’t good enough for photos but I got a little bit of video from the S5 where you can at least see what’s going on.

Wild dog are so rare, it was just astonishing to see them. They yelp as well as bark and demolished the lechwe in minutes (the pack was 12 dogs or more — hard to count with the lighting being so bad). (Note: we found out later that people travel for long distances just to have a chance to see these wild dogs — and we got ‘em the first night out. And with a kill! Not bad!)

There are hyena and baboon tracks throughout the campsite so it’ll be interesting to see what we find by morning, but there’s a noisy bunch at a nearby campsite so it may not be all that much.

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