Botswana Overland Safari – Khwai Lodge … from Wim: Leopard – Elephant Close Encounter
The peace of the bushveld was shattered momentarily this evening when our safari group met with the Machaba Safari group for sundowners. It was wonderful to say the least. 28 people from ODP all together our there – miles from anywhere – it developed into a real party, with jokes flying, everyone comparing their images, anecdotes about the trip … yes, the 24 guests and and 4 ODP Photographic Hosts all had a rip-roaring time! And it was somehow just that much more special because of the remote setting!
Back to this morning, then.
As we left the Lodge before sunrise, we headed to a smallish inlet on the river, and almost gasped at the scene. A thick mist hung heavily over everything and we could see dozens of elephants in the mist – how many was difficult to tell as they continually appeared and disappeared into the mist.
When the sun came up and started to shine through the mist, it was breathtakingly beautiful. There was a hush as we simply looked and absorbed the sight, and although we took hundreds of excellent photographs, they do not really do the scene justice.
We headed toward the Wild Dog den area, but on the way we found the tracks of a leopard – the blue-eyed leopard that lives in the area. Before long we found her moving through some thick bush. We followed her as she walked along with determination. Then we spotted a huge elephant bull right in her path. We held our breath! What now? This could be a really tricky, even dangerous encounter …
Wait for it!
Nothing! The leopard continued to walk straight ahead, not even bothering to glance at the huge elephant – and the elephant? Likewise! He carried on munching at leaves while the leopard passed almost a trunk distance from him. He didn’t even acknowledge her presence other than a cursory glance as she approached.
We continued following the leopard until she disappeared into some really thick bushes and this time she showed no sign of re-emerging.
As it was time for lunch, we turned our vehicle in the direction of the Lodge.
This afternoon we went straight to the Wild Dog den, where we found the whole pack out, lying asleep in the sun, with their bellies distended from their morning meal. The matriarch was there, checking on the pack, and disappearing from time to time into the den, from whence we could hear the sounds of young pups. We hoped that the pups would come out to play, but they stayed in the den, with the matriarch checking on them every few minutes.
We spent so much time with the dogs that before we knew it, it was time for sundowners – where we met our fellow safari group.
Our drive back to the Lodge was punctuated by stops for different owls.
Tomorrow we plan to return to the Wild Dog Den before first light …
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