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A Busy Week in The Botswana Bush

May 30 2014 Written by: Richard Field

I have just arrived back from Africa, where I spent a very busy week in Botswana. I saw 13 different camps in 7 days. This kind of travel is essential for us to be able to maintain our level of knowledge of the different camps as well as the overall safari experience in these areas. As you might imagine though, it isn’t exactly relaxing but regardless it is always wonderful to be in the pristine wilderness areas of northern Botswana. Despite the fact that I was rushing around (certainly not the recommended way to experience a safari!) I was also rewarded with some phenomenal game viewing and other incredible experiences.

My first afternoon in the Okavango was spent watching a female leopard and her very playful 5 month old cub. I was also able to spend time with an Okavango bushman named Joe – a wonderful fellow who was keen to teach me a few of his well honed bush skills. He carefully selected some small twigs from a knobbly combretum tree, smoothed them out using his knife and with a bit of effort and no shortage of skill he had a decent fire going in minutes – no matches in sight.

I was very fortunate to spend a night at Abu Camp in the Okavango Delta. Here there is a small herd of elephants that have been hand reared. They had either been orphaned or come from zoos, and now these elephants are able to live in an incredible part of the world and have a wonderful life. Guests at Abu are able to ride and walk with the elephants in the morning and afternoon, and otherwise they spend their day moving through the bush with their mahouts (elephant handlers), where they feed, drink, splash and sleep and generally live the life many other African elephants would envy. The care for the elephants is outstanding and the overall experience is unique and very special. Whilst there I was also fortunate to meet Naledi. She is a 5 month elephant whose mother died shortly after birth. With her mother gone, she needed more sustenance and specific care and so was removed from the Abu herd and is now looked after by carers who are with her 24 hours a day (they even set up a bed and mosquito net next to her at night in case she needs any milk or gets frightened by the night sounds of the Okavango). She is a gorgeous little creature (although a bit cheeky at times – twice she managed to steal my sunglasses) and the hour or so with her was certainly a major highlight. She will shortly be reintroduced to the herd which will cause great excitement all round.

In addition, I saw more leopards and canoed past hippos, elephants and baboons on the Selinda Spillway, and in the Khwai area of the Okavango I watched two young spotted hyenas play fighting outside their den, another female leopard and cub and a pack of 10 wild dogs hunting on the floodplain. Added to this was the regular assortment of impala, giraffe, kudu, baboons, warthogs and plenty of elephants. All in all it was a productive week in the bush!