thumbnails below to see larger photo. To return here, click
the browser's back button)
Too big for one
page! Click here to see African Safari
Part 2 Nov 24 to Dec 07
15/16, 2011 (01)
On Monday, Nov. 14,
Elaine and Joel flew down to Tom’s in Oakland on the first leg of
the journey that would take us to Southern Africa to join with a
group on safari. We had decided that it would work out the best to
leave from San Francisco since they have a direct flight to London
and from there to Johannesburg. Since all the packing was done, we
had a leisurely day. Randy and Bob are staying with Tom while they
move to the Bay Area and complete a home purchase, we had a full
house. They had fixed an African curried stew with sweet potatoes
and peanuts which put us in the mood for what is to come.
Bob, Tom and Randy
African Peanut Stew
Randy and "Lucky"
Tuesday, Nov. 15. It was a pretty fall day
in the Bay Area which we could enjoy since our flight didn’t leave
until 4:15. Friend, David Snow was kind enough to drive us to the
airport where the boarding was accomplished and the flight left on
Elaine, Joel, Tom, David
Tom had suggested that we all reserve seats
in the last couple rows on the side where there are only two
abreast. This worked very well since there is extra room to stow
stuff. We tried to sleep, but since the flight was between 4:30 and
2:30 our time, it didn’t work too well to sack out early. Following
a recommendation, Joel set his watch for the destination time, and
it seemed to help us think on the new time.
British Airways Tail at SFO
We arrived in London at 10:30 AM with the
question: “What to do?” since the flight to South African was not
scheduled until 8:15 PM. Our tour provided a day room at the very
nice Sofitel hotel within walking distance of terminal 5, it was
tempting to take a shower and fall asleep. That certainly wouldn’t
help us for the next day. We needed to stay up and keep moving, so
we bought a pass on the express train to London.
Tom, Joel at Paddington Station
We got a 6 hr. return ticket plus a 6 hr.
underground pass. The express was just that and we were downtown in
about 20 minutes! From Paddington Station we went to a little cafe
near Gloucester Rd where Tom had stayed several times. We were
starving after the pitiful breakfast of a non-descript muffin, a
little lump of something that looked like we would normally flush
down the toilet, a little yoghurt to drink, and some raisins in a
box about the size of a thimble. It was partly sunny but on the cool
side. Because we’re facing heat later on, we didn’t pack very heavy
From there we went to Harrods Department
Store, already lighted for Christmas. If Elaine and Joel had been
there before, it would have been 46 years ago. It was fun to walk
through part of it with lots of people, and very expensive. We kept
our eyes peeled for the owner Fayad, whose son might have married
the former wife of our cousin Charles had they not met their fate in
the car crash in Paris.
Tom, Joel - Harrods in the distance
Returning to our hotel, we ran into a couple
from Texas, who are going on our tour. We spotted them since they
had the distinctive baggage tags from O.A.T. We are now at the
airport waiting for our gate to open, and we met two more fellow
travelers, two women from Nebraska.
We’re expecting to land in Johannesburg
tomorrow morning after another 10 hour flight followed by a tour of
Soweto. More later…..
Tom Just fyi - Fayed sold
Harrod's, perhaps a year ago. Cheers David
Tom, I am so interested in
hearing from you about the South Africa trip! I was there in 1993
and had a fabulous trip – Jo’burg, Cape Town, The Garden Route with
all the great wineries and ostrich farms, a safari in Krueger Park
and lots more. Enjoy it, especially having another go at summer. And
keep on writing and sending your great photos. Love, Sylvia
Hi Sylvia, Thanks! Yes, it was
definitely Summer yesterday, but in a nice way. We sat outside for
lunch at our hotel before the tour of Soweto.
I did the same South African
trip as you but in early 1999 with my partner, mother, sister and
friends. You were there so close after the end of apartheid!
I'll see you and the rest of
my Fromm Friends in January if not before. Love, Tom
Tom, Joel and Elaine, Keep us on
the list. As usual I am enjoying your trip. Wish we could get over
there, but AUS draws us always now. Claire
Hi Tom; I love all the pictures u
send me thank you hope u have a wonderful time. gabe:)
Well, they say that getting there
is half the fun. Dick
Ooooh, goodie, another Daniels
trip to read about and enjoy the pictures from! Love to you all,
That's right, I remember now that
he also is in the Peace Corps. Neat that Paul and Audrey are going
to go over, and pretty soon now! I think you have been to South
Africa before, haven't you? Sounds like you like to go back, too!
What a great trip you've embarked
upon. I hope there will be lots of photos to share at the next Yoder
reunion, especially lions and leopards. Pam and Larry
Hi Tom, We read your email as we
sail into Sydney harbour, just completed an 18 day cruise from Perth
to Sydney via New Zealand. We have done Africa many times and have a
friend living in Botswana who we communicate very often. Kee[ the
reports coming, we love reading them and safe travels Cheers Ian &
My best to you, all. Bon
Voyage... Keep up the communication! Greg
Was beginning to wonder when next
you would start another journey beyond our shores. Will look forward
to your next entries during your three week adventurous foray into
Africa. Pity you don't have Namibia on your schedule -- we
thoroughly enjoyed our excursion a few years back when our son John
and his family were living in Windhoek and when we took a number of
trips and mini-safaris around the country -- very lovely time. And
we expect so shall you as you go through Southern Africa. Enjoy!!
Until soon. Cleo
Hi Judy, It will be quite an
adventure (I expect!) As we neared Johannesburg (in London), we kept
running into people with the same yellow baggage tags as ours. There
are 14 of us. As you might predict, I'm wide awake at 3AM (now
5:30AM). However I slept very soundly until then, so I don't mind.
I'll meet Joel and Elaine for
breakfast then we go back to the airport for the flight to Victoria
Falls and into the wilds.
And Ryan Yoder is in the Peace
Corps in Cameroon. Audrey and Paul are going over to visit him in
Oh, I am looking forward to
hearing about this! I loved Africa, though I was in a different
area. A young man from our church is currently with the Peace Corps
in Zambia, working with forestry. I hadn't realized that Zambia had
that many forests! Safe journey, and be our eyes, ears, and noses
while you explore!--Judy
Johannesburg/Soweto Nov 17-18
In London, we didn’t even take time to lie
down in the room we had for the day. However, the shower
helped a lot. Soon enough it was time to get ourselves over to the
airport for another wait. Even though everyone in the international
terminal waits in one big room for their flights to all parts of the
world, we managed to single out various members of our tour group,
at least those on our flight. We boarded and found that the plane
had hardly any passengers. In our section for the most part there
was only 1 person in the center section of 4 seats and they were
busy getting their beds ready for a good night’s sleep. While we
didn’t change seats, we barely made it through dinner before we were
asleep. In fact, Tom hadn’t got to his sumptuous dessert before they
whisked it away. Since there were so few, it was very quiet and we
all felt more rested as we touched down in Johannesburg, South
Africa. Out tour guide was there to meet us as we cleared customs
and transferred to our hotel a few minutes away.
Lunch at the hotel patio
Protea O.R.Tambo Airport Hotel Room
We had time to get a shower and a little
lunch before meeting our guide for an afternoon tour of Soweto (SOuthWEst
TOwnship) via downtown Johannesburg. Our driver was a very
knowledgeable South African who focused on the 1976 uprising in the
township that was one of the sparks that helped to change South
Africa’s brutal system of Apartheid.
Soweto, originally called shantytown, became
under Apartheid, a prime example of the policies that shaped the
country prior to 1990 when the system was dismantled. South Africa
needed workers from around the country to work in the mines after
gold was discovered in 1886. The Bantu peoples (Zulu, Xhosa and
others) came there, but there was no place to live but the rudest
shanty’s made from scrounged materials. As a result of pressure, the
government built housing that was very small derisively nicknamed
“matchboxes.” The government thought maybe if they rounded the roofs
it would be better, and they got named “elephant houses.”
Elephant House (rounded roof)
Nelson Mandela's House/Museum
The real problem was that people were not
able to acquire any property since the government enrolled all the
Bantu workers into tribal groups and designated a homeland. They
were expected to go home when they no longer were wanted as workers.
The purpose, according to our guide, was to keep the various peoples
from building a common culture and getting political power. The
breaking point came when it was decreed that all black schools had
to be taught in Afrikaans, a Dutch-derived language that most of
them didn’t know very well or at all. The students began a massive
We visited an excellent museum named after
Hector Pieterson, a 13-year old who was the first victim of police
action. We also visited the Catholic Church, Regina Mundo, (Queen of
the World) where 5000 of the protesting students took shelter. As a
choir of children was practicing, we were shown the bullet holes
where the police fired inside the building. The massive marble altar
had been hit so hard that a corner was broken off. Beautiful stain
glass windows depict the uprising and the successful outcome. They
proudly showed us Michelle Obama’s signature in the guest book and
those of Bill and Hillary. We briefly stopped by the first house of
Nelson Mandela and nearby, the Soweto home of Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Children's choir practice
Catholic Church in Soweto.
They skies got very dark, thunder rumbled
and rain began as we drove back to our hotel, where he had dinner
and went to bed early.
Now, the next morning we are preparing to
leave for the airport at 8:30. It won’t take long since we can see
the planes outside our window. We fly to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
where we will leave excess luggage and after joining our Tour
Director will travel by land rover to our first camp in the Chobe
National Park of Botswana.
Although we will probably keep writing our
journal, it is likely that we will not be able to send anything for
some time. Philip, Joel and Elaine’s son, wondered we had patches to
wear for internet withdrawal. No, unfortunately, the portable
satellite receiver just didn’t fit in our weight allowance.
(Note to the homies) Hi,
We’re all packed ready to leave for the airport. We had a nice
breakfast at the hotel. The décor is very interesting, kind of like
a warehouse with lots of metal, packing crates, etc. In the toilet
room of our room, there is an oxygen mask handing on the wall like
you would have on a plane. I couldn’t think what that was for, but
now I think it is part of the atmosphere—going down like a sinking
ship. It is a Protea Hotel which I think we have stayed in before
maybe in Australia or NZ. Very nice.
We have met all those on our
tour, and think they will be very compatible. We’re probably the
oldest. One poor lady came over this morning and said she had lost
her camera. She thought it might have been left on the bus
yesterday. It wasn’t a big expensive one, but thinking how to
replace it is hard. She was calling around to see if it had been
picked up. She and her travel companion are from Lincoln, Neb. I
think everyone was on our flight from London except 3 who came on
Delta direct from Atlanta. Their flight was 15 hours so with their
connection to Atlanta, I don’t think it was any shorter than ours.
We were awake early this
morning and feel pretty well adjusted to the time changes. S A is 2
hours ahead of London.
Johannesburg isn’t a very
exciting or particularly pretty city, so I’m not regretting that we
have such a short time here. There are about 4 million people. Big
heaps of mining dirt all all around.
Now must go, Joel
How wonderful it is to hear from
you and to be part of your trip. I love getting your updates and
photos. Thank you. Carol
Tom, Elaine and Joel - thanks for
the detailed account of you travels so far. It seems strange that we
just saw Tom the other night and now you are all a half a world
away. I hope to hear more when you are able to get the word out.
Here’s hoping for “the big five” for you. I’d love to see pictures
of the animals. I’m very interested as this is a trip I would like
to do someday. All the best, Carl
Thanks for sharing.
You probably won't be receiving
this, since you won't have internet, but I am wondering if any or
all of you have read Alexander McCall Smith's books? If so, Botswana
will seem familiar--Judy
Hi Tom, Elaine and Joel, it
has done fun again to read your report - but I would like be present
Have much fun and best regards from the cold Germany, Michael
Tom - fascinating! hope the trip continues good. occupy
movement continues vigorous. hugs xxxxpam (Peggy M.)
Botswana Fri, Nov. 18
After breakfast we flew out of
Johannesburg destined for Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Our flight was
pleasant. Even though it was only 1.5 hrs., we were served a
nice hot lunch. The descent was rough through summertime thunder
clouds. The Boeing 737 landed and at the end of the runway it
made a u-turn and headed back on the runway to the terminal.
Breakfast in Johannesburg before departure
Once inside, we got in lines to get a visa.
It wasn’t quite clear where to go, but it soon was evident that one
needed to keep gently pushing forward. The cost changes frequently,
so those in front could let us know what bills to have ready.
Zimbabwe’s currency collapsed and now the country uses U. S.
dollars. After we gave in your Passport, you had to go back and get
in an adjacent line to get have someone else do a double check and
do some more stamping.
Arrival in Victoria Falls
Past immigration and customs, we were
greeted by a group of African dancers complete with leopard skins
singing a welcome song. There, we met our tour director, Tinashe, a
Zimbabwe citizen who has worked for the travel company for 7 years.
He told us we are not to worry, that’s his job. He will be with us
for 14 days. We boarded a small bus and began our journey to the
Baobab Lodge about 2.5 hours away. As the bus was leaving, we saw
two baboons come off the roof of the terminal and climb down the
wall to the ground ... not enough time to take a picture.
About half way, we crossed the border into Botswana. This included
getting out of the bus twice, the first was to exit Zimbabwe.
The second was to enter Botswana. Here we had to cross on foot
through the Hoof and Mouth prevention dip tank. The pedestrians
walked on insectacide soaked cloth and the vehicle drove through a
pool of treated water. Our guide had us walk on to Immigration
building to get rid of the strong smell from our shoes.
Although we were on the main highway, our
transit was somewhat delayed since we were constantly pulling off
for photo ops of all the animals. We saw Cape Buffalo, elephants,
giraffes, a warthog, numerous birds, and sable antelopes to name a
few. We eventually turned off onto a dirt, two-track road ending up
at the camp. We were serenaded with a welcome song by the staff as
we made our way to the main hall used for gathering and dining.
Camp singing welcome song
Giraffe sighted on way to camp
Our breath was taken away by the beautiful
vista of the river delta teeming with animals. With binoculars, we
could see zebra, antelopes, and baboons. As we were getting our
briefing, we were distracted by a herd of elephants passing by on
their way to the water. They made us sign the rules to be sure we
understood. For example, not going unaided to your cabin at night,
or if you have a medical emergency at night you are given an air
horn to sound. You are then to turn on your lights, and everyone
else is to turn theirs off so that the staff can get to the
Fresh off of the van!
On the way to Tom's room
We had some time to settle in before putting
on mosquito repellant and heading back for our second briefing and
dinner. Afterward, our guides walked us back to our cabins. The
night sounds surrounded us. We are in the Chobe National Park and
there are no fences around us. A furry creature run along where the
wall meets the canvas ceiling, and a spider the size of a 50 cent
piece scurryed along the floor.
The morning will be started by a drummer (to
wake us up) at 5:30 AM, breakfast at 6:00 AM and safari departure at
First I went on safari in Tanzania,
just across the border from where you were in Kenya. This was a trip
with my college roommate, and we had a wonderful time, and I was
rather shocked and amazed to find out I loved Africa! I had thought
of it as something to "get through", and was just delighted with it.
I had fun studying my Kiswahili tourist phrase book, making some
rather colossal bloopers, and finding out I could sort of understand
what our guide was saying over his two-way radio. At one time he
said (in a nice way) "Watch out for that one! She understands
I can't even think of what I
liked best, but probably the animals in such close proximity to our
van. Seeing the baby giraffe hiding (sort of) in some brush, seeing
the baobab trees, having elephants eating right outside the van
window, watching the leopard stalk the wart hogs (go, leopard! But
they chased her off, so no meal at that point.) We had a pretty
congenial group (and yes, we did meet up with some of them as we
traveled from Amsterdam, finding them by their luggage tags and
t-shirts. We were on an REI safari.) with the exception of a rather
odd woman who was a professional clown, and who carried a stuffed
monkey everywhere with her. There were 3 Judys on the safari, and
one of them could often be heard commenting on "that damned monkey".
Just to make things less complicated, my roommate (Judy Floyd Starr)
became "Starr", and I became "Shangazi Judy" (Auntie Judy). Then the
third Judy could just be Judy.
The second time I also went to
Tanzania, two years later. I had visited with a veterinarian at our
church about Tanzania (he and his wife had spent 6 years there with
the Heifers International Project/Peace Corps.) and he asked if I
would like to accompany him back again, as he was going to go over
to do some vaccinating and testing for brucellosis and TB, and would
like someone to go along to help. I jumped at the chance! And of
course I had spent at that point 40+ years living and working on a
cattle farm, so I knew somewhat what I was doing! It was very
interesting (walking through streams infested with who knew what
kind of parasite, barefoot) and we stayed with a wonderful family
Bruce knew from having lived there previously. To little Kathryn,
age 4, I immediately became Shangazi Judy. Again, a very interesting
situation, because we were (although pretty royally treated) living
the same life as everyone else in the town.
It was such a neat experience,
and we have kept touch through e-mail. They keep saying, "When are
you coming back?" This was in the town of Kilindoni and surrounding
farms, on the island of Mafia, east of Dar es Salaam and south (I
think) of Zanzibar. We flew in, and the ferry ride back across when
we went home was quite another
experience to add to my tales to tell! I think I liked this trip the
best, because of meeting and getting to know the people (I am
looking at a beautiful 5' x 7' handwoven mat that a lady named Aisha
gave me, which is now hanging on the wall of my office.) and because
Bruce and I were looking for a project that would help the area,
that we could come back and raise funds for in Oregon. We decided,
after visiting clinics, schools, and farm communities, that we would
put in a well in the Baleni school area, which is where most of the
farmers lived whose cattle we worked with. My friend Bruce
discovered he had terminal cancer when we returned to the US, and he
passed away this last May, but we did get the well completed, and
now those people have clean water to drink and use, as does the
school. (which was quite large.) I guess you can see why I liked
that trip the best. I don't know if I'll be able to afford going
back again, but it would be really neat if I could.
My friend Judy ("Starr") is just
nuts about birds, so our guide on the first trip made a special
effort to point out and find them, which was pretty delightful.
Early on we bought books that had plants, birds, animals, snakes,
etc., and wrote when we saw anything in the book. The birds are
really exotic, and sound so different than the ones here. Who knew
(well, probably everyone but me) that storks are scavengers? Make
the idea of them carrying little babies rather sick! Our guide
called them "the undertakers".
Do have fun!!--Judy
forward to opening my emails and seeing your entries! I am so very
excited that you 3 are getting to have this experience. If you can
collect a teaspoon of sand over there
I would love to add it to my
collection! Be safe ~! Hugs, Mar (Mary N .8 Gr. Science Teacher)
Baobab Camp, Chobe
Sat. Nov. 19 (04)
thumbnails below to see larger photo. To return here, click
the browser's back button)
We sat in the dining room just after brunch
during our siesta time. The tour leader said we should be spending
the time "ten toes up", but we decided it was a good time to write
in our journals and sort pictures and such.
The question was asked, “When is a good time
to come to Africa?” The answer, “When you are in Africa.” We truly
are here at a good time! It is late spring, the beginning of the
rainy season and the trees and bushes are just beginning to leaf
out. There is some water in the Chobe River overlooked by our camp.
Later on in this season, the delta will be completely covered with
water. No animals then. Looking just across the river is Namibia,
the strip that comes across between Zambia and Botswana where with
Zimbabwe, 4 countries meet. Any time we look out, we see many
animals including herds of cattle owned by Namibians. They are
subsistence farmers, we were told.
Elaine walking to cabin No. 4
Tent cabin No. 4
Inside tent room
Our Guide Tinashshe, Tom, Elaine (& Joel) Swinging on the "Python"
View from the lodge
The camp's IT staff
Our lodge/meeting center
The drummer came at 5:30 this morning, but
due to the upset of our circadian clock, we were already awake and
ready for a quick shower. A light breakfast was served before we
boarded the safari vehicles at 6:30. They are typical for this area,
Land Rovers, open with a canvas top and four rows of seats including
the driver. As you go to the back, each row is higher than the one
in front so all have a good view. We set off down the dirt road to
the highway to take us to the entrance to Chobe National Park. We
had to give our passports to the tour guide so he could get us in.
From there, we were on dirt roads some with quite deep ruts. Elaine
and Joel got out their inflatable cushions to help smooth out the
bumpy ride, otherwise called an "African Massage".
Down the highway in the Land Rover
There was a hard rain two days ago that
settled the dust which is a blessing. The temperature was about 70
as we left. We immediately started seeing the animals:
antelope, greater kudu’s with the spiral horns, cape (or African)
buffalos. Many birds including the endangered ground hornbill
(with large crimson bill), lilac breasted roller, red billed teal,
open billed storks, carmine bee eater, etc. Even the ugly warthogs
with a face that only a mother could love, were cute scampering
along with their babies. The giraffes were close by and crossed the
road ahead of us looking for some trees to nibble on. Our guide has
said several times, when looking for animals, look through the bush,
not at the bush. It’s true.
Entering the Chobe National Park
We dropped down along the river which was
clear of most of the bushes and scrub trees. We could see
herds of zebra’s, maybe more than a hundred, lots of impalas and
water bucks. The many birds including flamingos (white), black
storks, and even an African fish eagle, about the size and coloring
of a bald eagle. The list goes on and on.
The protocol is that when we get to some
animals, we take pictures first then ask questions. We are not
allowed to stand up since animals see us and the vehicle as one
object. Standing up would break that image and perhaps cause the
animal to charge or run. We are to wear neutral colors especially
avoiding black and blue. The former offends some animals, the latter
attract tsetse flies.
Midmorning we stopped for a coffee, tea and
"rest room" break.
|Viewing various African animals.
Ugly wart hogs
Impalas watching the tourists
African Fish Eagle
A short time later we arrived back in camp
just in time for brunch. This afternoon it is probably 100, but
sitting under the fans drinking ice water, it is not too bad. At
3:00 some women from the village came to demonstrate basket weaving
during which we had tea and coffee. Many baskets were
purchased and wrapped to be sent on to Victoria Falls (to keep our
luggage weight down. The basket show was followed by an
afternoon game drive that ended about 7:00 and dinner. Every review
we read of this trip talked about how many animals we would see, but
it was impossible to believe. After this morning, we are believers.
Buying African baskets
are Coming" Baobab Camp - Sun.
Nov 20 (05)
thumbnails below to see larger photo. To return here, click
the browser's back button)
Many were awakened after
midnight to a crashing and thrashing outside our cabins. The
elephants were attacking! First we need to tell you a little about
where we are staying here at first of four camps. It is operated by
Overseas Adventure Travel, from whom we booked. Our group of
14 are the only ones here (and that's about the capacity of this
camp). There is a main lodge, open air with a lounge, bar and dining
area. We are on a hillside looking down onto the Chobe River
estuary. At times the bottom land is all water, but now there is
lots of pasture. Adjacent to the lodge is a pool and patio area.
Down a trail from the lodge are 8 cabins
each about 50 feet from the other. They are built into the hillside
with about 8 steps up to the front door. The walls are cement with
rock on the outside and plaster on the inside. The roof is polls
with canvas on top. The ends, and windows are a mesh to let air in.
There is a bathroom with shower and very comfortable beds with a
frame to hold the mosquito netting. We were provided with "Peaceful
Sleep" insect repellent, bug spray, and a mosquito coil. We
also have a ceiling fan.
Back to the elephants. a small herd decided
to feed on the vegetation that is beginning to green up around the
cabins. They make a lot of noise doing this. Joel woke up in cabin 4
and heard what first seemed like an animal inside the room. It was
determined that it was outside, but didn’t seem too bad. He went
back to sleep and Elaine slept through everything. Tom, on the other
hand in cabin 8 heard a lot of noise got up and looked out and saw
the huge shapes plowing through. In the morning there was fresh dung
around his place. The ladies in cabin 2 knew that their lives were
in mortal peril and blew the medical emergency horn. Another guy
looked out the door with his flashlight and saw a mother elephant
with a baby. He didn’t want to get in between, so he went back in.
Needless-to-say, people were not as rested this day.
Today was a whole day of animal viewing.
We left camp at 6:45 AM, entered the park and began driving all
around in search of lions. The guide knew they were around since he
saw fresh tracks, but they are pretty elusive. We drove on all the
roads, each vehicle going a different route keeping track with 2-way
radio. We did see jillions of impalas and 2 large crocodiles sunning
themselves with their mouths wide open for cooling. This aids the
digestion, we were told. Finally it was time for "peanut butter and
jelly" lunch. Actually the kitchen staff brought a complete meal to
us in the field! Chairs were set up for us to eat our quiche,
salads, sweet potatoes, fruit, bread, crackers and cheese.
On our way to the our river cruise, we
chanced upon seeing a lion. The male of the pride was lying under a
tree completely sacked out after feeding. I think we could have gone
over and sat on him and we wouldn’t have flicked an eyelash.
Let lying lions lie
The river cruise launched from the Safari
Lodge in Kasane on the Chobe River on a patio boat with a
guide/captain. At this point, the Chobe river is just a few miles
from joining with the Zambezi were the four countries come together.
We soon saw many hippos, crocodiles, birds, Cape Buffalo, warthogs,
etc. The highlight for all was getting quite close to about 60
elephants with lots of babies on a trek to the river for
socializing. Males come by to see if any females are in estrus, and
in a while the family groups separate and the leader of each group
charts a course and they go back up the hill. The males stay behind
then go off in a group.
Animals at the Chobe River
At the Chobe Safari Lodge
The dinner on our last
night was a special barbecue in a fenced area near the lodge. We
were invited to the “Chief’s (the camp manager) Meeting” where
disputes are usually settled. Before we were ushered in, we at on
the deck where the camp staff performed for us. We heard
traditional African music and saw the tribal dancing. Then it
our turn to entertain for them!! June came up with the idea that we
would sing “Old McDonald’s Farm” with a different twist. The
animals would be African and our tour director would have to give
sound effects for them. He had done them previously, so we knew he
was up to it. It needed a little more polish, but was declared to
be more than 90% perfect by our more than gracious hosts, who had
begged us NOT to do the “Hokey Pokey.”
The chief called the
meeting because he had been informed that there had been a grave
violation of customs by the camp. On one night, the ladies had been
allowed to go to the buffet table first. This could not be
tolerated. In fact, the ladies should come around and wash the
men’s hands. We were then served traditional food: beef, lamb
steak, spinach and butternut squash. We were told there would be no
dessert. It is not their custom. However, soon after dinner out
came a cake with candles and a card wishing Joel a Happy Birthday at
such a revered age.
Love the photos
Hey Tom Thanks for
sharing....amazing trip for you.....I love the 'feature' of a 5:30
Drum Alarm to wake you up.... have fun....Janek B.
What a treat to get to "see" what
you all are up to! It looks fascinating! Be safe!
Hi Tom, Greetings from Portland!
Thanks for your truly fascinating and well-written accounts of your
African adventures. What a trip of a life-time! Bart O.
Tom - Thanks for the new travel
update. I hadn't received one for awhile. Jim Y.
Chobe to the
Moremi Tented Camp Okavango Delta,
Mon Nov. 21 (06)
thumbnails below to see larger photo. To return here, click
the browser's back button)
Tinashse is the name of
our guide/escort for the entire time we are at the wildlife camps.
Beating the drum to wake us up!
Today we slept in an extra
hour since we would be travelling to our next stop the Moremi Tented
Camp in the Okavango Delta. We drove about 45 miles to Kasane,
Botswana to the airport. It is small with mainly propeller planes
to ferry adventurers to remote destinations. Our group boarded two
fourteen passenger Cessna Grand Caravan 208B's for an hour’s flight
to a dirt strip at the edge of the delta. There was no copilot as
would be required in other places. Dan, in our party, was a pilot in
the the US Air Force sat up in the co-pilot's. Our pilot was a
young woman, pretty new to flying, learning the business and getting
her hours in.
We were met by the camp's
Land Rovers and began the drive to our camp. We didn’t quite know
what to expect since Tinashse, our fearless leader, had emphasized
that this would be a “tented” camp. Before heading back to camp, we
were driven on a bumpy ride to the side of the airstrip where we saw
a pair of male lions. They were returning to this lion
territory to try to claim leadership of the pride they had been
kicked out of several years ago. They had been in a big fight last
night, but now were just lion in the shade where they spend most of
their time. Later that afternoon game drive, we returned to find
they had moved to the edge of the runway close to the terminal
(looking like a bench at a bus stop!). Two university students were
in a vehicle watching them for research. They will follow them all
Found free WiFi at Hasane Airport (Botswana)
Departure lounge at Hasane Airport
Airstrip called Santawani for the Moremi Tented Camp
Welcome to Moremi Tented Wilderness Camp
After lunch, Tinashse, gave us a talk regarding the problem of the overpopulation
of the elephants in the African national parks. The good news is
that the decline in numbers (from hunting and ivory harvesting) has
turned around and they are no longer on the endangered list. The
bad news is that in Chobe, for example, there are estimated to be
120,000 in an area that can comfortably handle about 40,000. They
need a tremendous amount of feed each day, and they eat almost
everything, including twigs, branches, bark, roots, leaves, grass
and dirt. All the bushes look like they have been pruned (mangled),
and huge trees are girdled and left to die.
One difficulty is that if
you kill one elephant, you need to kill the entire family since
those remaining will take revenge, so to speak. For example, if a
vehicle drives up, shoots and kills one, the others elephants will
attack the next vehicle they see. An elephant never forgets. An
organization called Elephants without Borders vigorously opposes
culling and the issue is not resolved.
Any concerns about our
quarters quickly subsided as we walked into a beautiful canvas
roofed common area built around a huge tree, on piers which are
about four feet off the ground. On either side raised walkways go
out to the individual tents, placed far from each other. When you
are in yours, it seems like there are no others around. They have
toilets and showers and a very comfortable bed. There are down
comforters that seem excessive when the daytime temperature
approaches 100. You find yourself pulling them over you before
morning comes. (More photos of our tent cabins, to follow)
We were escorted to our
tents, and told to remain there until daylight unless there was a
medical emergency when we could use the air horn. It had been a
Young male lions near air strip
Gift shop at Moremi Tented Camp
The Santawani "Airport Terminal"
(Nov 21, 2011) We are at the Kasane Airport awaiting our
flight to the Okavanga Delta. It will be a little under and
hour. We found wifi, so I’ll try to get a message off. It
really isn’t possible to send more installments of our travel
journal with pictures, so this will be a stopgap. Our messages
are written, but will probably not be sent for at least another
finishing our first leg at the Baobab Lodge in the Chobe
National Park in northeast Botswana. We were there for three
nights and three incredible days. The lodge overlooks the Chobe
River delta, and we could sit in the open air lounge area and
gaze upon animals of all sorts who have come out to graze on the
green grass as the rainy season starts. We heard thunder and
lightning, but didn’t experience any rain. It could get up to
100 at midday, but was comfortable at night as we slept under
mosquito netting in our cabins. Second night excitement was
when a herd of 20 elephants or so decided about midnight to
forage around our cabins. Quiet and dainty they’re not!
We had game
drives beginning at 6:30 until about 11:00 and from 4:00 until
7:00 when the park closes. One afternoon was spent on the
river in a patio boat watching the crocodiles, Cape buffalo,
lots of birds, many hippos, some in the water and some out, and
about 70 elephants with lots of babies that came down to drink
kids came in from the villages and the staff to sing for us
traditional African songs. Then we had a traditional African
dinner complete with a birthday cake (not traditional.)
we’re moving to the next room. ... Joel and all
Wow, this so takes me back to my
safari, that I am going to forward your reports to my college
roommate, who went with me on ours. The presentation of the meals
(don't you find the food really good?), the closeness of the animals
(no telephoto needed, right?), the danger outside your tent at
night, the luxurious tents--wish I were there!
I had heard about the elephants
in Botswana, and that the farmers really have a plight, because what
(besides shooting them) is going to stop a herd of elephants? I
hadn't realized they take revenge, but why not? But having been one,
I really feel for the farmers, who have currently a losing battle.
The daughter of my friend from
Mafia, Tanzania, is studying to be in the hotel business, and I
think that probably means working at the lodges. We really liked the
lodge workers, and were especially appreciative of the "guards" who
walked us to our tents, etc., because there were lions, buffalo,
wildebeestes, etc. right outside the tents and near the paths.
I should tell you that for my
computer the pictures don't come through, so Nancy is forwarding her
letters to me, and then I get them. No idea why I don't!
I bet you are using the gift
shops for Christmas shopping! When you get back it will be cold
December in Oregon again, though Tom will be in sort-of-sunny
Sure enjoying your reports--Judy
Okavango Delta, Moremi Tented Camp
Nov 22 (07)
thumbnails below to see larger photo. To return here, click
the browser's back button)
We were awakened before
five this morning with someone calling in the tent to ask if we had
any water. Thinking they were referring to drinking water, we said
yes. Later, we went to start the shower, and found out he meant
something else. First we heard it was caused by elephants, who
sense where water is there and dig up the pipes with their feet.
Apparently it was a mechanical failure, but we like the other
We figured everyone was in
the same boat, so we put on our clothes and trudged down the wooden
path to a continental breakfast. Our path does go down to the
ground for a patch, so that the animals can cross, then back up. At
23 degrees south latitude, the sun comes up with a bang, no long
Today’s plan: one group
would go on a game drive, and Tom, Joel and Elaine’s group would be
taken to the nearest Okavango channel. This, the world’s largest
inland delta, is formed by the rivers coming down from Angola with
no outlet to the sea. The water levels ebb and flow with the
seasons due to evaporating and filtering into the sands of the
Kalahari Desert. We boarded fiberglass versions of the "mokoro"
(traditional dugout flat bottomed boat) used through the ages by
peoples along the water. They are poled by a person standing on the
back. Ours seats two passengers. Some native people still use the
wooden ones but in an effort to conserve the large trees they are
made out of, they are encouraged to use the fiberglass ones.
Before we go further, just
a word on restroom facilities in the bush. There aren’t any! When
we pull up for a stop, the driver says, “women to the left, men to
the right after I check out the bushes.” This is fine for men, who
would like this all the time. For women in the western world, it’s
a little different. Just ask Elaine about the “Freshette” or “Lady
Jane” devices. If we need to make an emergency stop, we tell the
driver we need to check out a bush.
Speaking of the
facilities, the common lavatories in the lounge area are referred to
as the “loos with views.” Appropriately, there are anatomically
correct figurines on each door.
Hers and His
The "bat room" on the way to the bath room!
Standing under Bat Room waiting for Bathroom
Back to the delta: we
boarded the boats and began a lovely, peaceful trip of about 2
hours. The boats felt a little tippy at first, but one soon got
used to it we were instructed not the lean to far to the right or
left lest we cause the poler to lose his balance. The polers gave
us all sorts of information about what we were seeing. We learned
that they take courses and must pass tests and be licensed in
Botswana to be a guide.
Mokoro "native dugout canoe" ride with poler propulsion
Find the eggs of the African Jacana ("Jesus bird")
Hippo "road block"
We saw beautiful water
lilies, many bird species, including the huge saddle bill stork that
has to make 3 or 4 jumps for takeoff. The African Jacana, nicknamed
the Jesus bird, is especially interesting since it appears to walk
on water. It has long toes and is actually walking on the
vegetation. At the furthest point, we saw 7 or 8 hippos making a
pretty effective barrier. We stopped about 100 yards away and
watched them. Although more humans are killed by hippos in Africa
than any other animal, they won’t bother you if they don’t feed
threatened. Solitary ones are the most dangerous. If you are
attacked, the best defense is to swim underwater making no splashes,
we were told. Fat chance.
As we sit here and work on
journals and pictures during the afternoon ten toes up time in the
afternoon, we can look out and see a grassy partly open area. Cape
buffalo are grazing, and we can see just a few feet out where
elephants have pushed over a tree and stripped bark. We can walk on
the walkways during the day, but we are instructed to retreat if we
see an animal. They will come get us if they don’t see us for a
while. Or, perhaps, we didn’t heed the warning, and they won’t find
us at all.
Later in the afternoon.
At high tea we had a lecture on Zimbabwe from our trip leader, who
is a Zimbabwe citizen. He wanted to talk to us about the political
situation there, dire, while we were still in Botswana. When we get
to his country next week, he doesn’t want us to talk about
politics. Since most news organizations have been banned from the
country, if we were to be holding a camera and seen talking to
anyone about what is going on, we could be considered to be a
reporter and arrested. We wouldn’t be seen again.
We had a very nice
afternoon game drive with the main objection to find lions. When
the call was sounded, Capt. Jack Sparrow, our driver, took off
hell-bent for leather , ripping across the bush mowing down whatever
was ahead of us as we held on for dear life. We found 5 female
lions several with radio collars getting ready to go out hunting as
the sun went down. Our drive back was illuminated by headlights,
lightening and a gorgeous sunset.
Some lions wear radio collars
Wildebeast hiding among the zebras
Dinner was about 8, and
then we were escorted to bed. We’re asleep as our head hits the
Dinner is served
Tom and Gracious who made the baskets he bought.
Elevated pathway to tent cabins
On the porch
Closing the "door"
The IT Crowd at Moremi Tented Camp
Time to celebrate.
My Lovely daughter Eilona gave birth to my second
grandchild...she is a healthy 8 lb. 1 oz girl..Her name is Eva
Rose... Love ....Janek
Too big for one
page! Click here to see African Safari
This site was last updated