Villiers reports from Okavango Machaba: A Grand Slam Day …
We headed to the Khwai River this morning in time for a glorious sunrise as we drove along the rivers edge, with those magnificent, iridescent, golden colors reflecting in the water and creating a dream world.
A pod of hippo were perfect in that beautiful light, and to really please us, a Coppery-tailed Coucal flew past right next to our vehicle. Spoonbills and Yellow-billed Storks relaxed along the water’s edge to the delight of the birders in our group.
We decided to check a local Wild Dog den when we received a call – the dogs had killed an impala in the Mogotlo area. We raced there, not even stopping for three lionesses lying right next to the road, enjoying the early warmth of the sun.
We spent a full 40 minutes with the dogs as they finished off their Impala and then started to trot along the road next to the river. They stopped occasionally for a drink from the river, and headed without further interruptions to their den.
We stuck with the dogs, passing large herds of elephants eating and drinking along the river, –
– photographing a Spotted Hyena almost without stopping, but we did stop momentarily for some Reedbuck and captured a lovely collection of images.
Finally, with the dogs back at their den, our cameras full, and tummies empty, we headed back to the Lodge for a meal.
This afternoon a very friendly Lilac-breasted Roller posed for us as we left the Lodge and then flew alongside our vehicle, ensuring that we all got super images.
We were delighted to see a herd of Tsessebe and then two calls came in close together – first, a about leopard nearby and then news of two cheetahs. We dashed to see the cheetahs as this is only the second time that cheetahs have ever been spotted at Machaba! We felt very privileged to see them, and although they were a little skittish, we still a managed to get some really good images.
Then on to the leopard. We found the Machaba Female just as the sun was setting. She was so very relaxed, and strolled next to our vehicles, passing between them from time to time. So everyone captured the finest possible images against the setting sun, and then as darkness fell, we continued with spotlights and flash! Wonderful stuff!
We went to Leopard Pan for sundowners, and there we met Wim and Fanus with the ODP Botswana Overland group, currently at Khwai Lodge, and spent a really convivial time sharing notes, laughing, teasing, and admiring images.
So all in all today was a Grand Slam day – what with lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena – and Wild Dogs! All in one day! Whew! Who could dream of more!?
We plan to start tomorrow at the river in time for another amazing sunrise …