Safari in northern Botswana and Zambia

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August is a good time of year for safaris in northern Botswana. At this time of year water levels are still quite high in the rivers, temperatures are quite moderate, and there are gatherings of wildlife around water sources in the drier areas. This report details our recent safari in northern Botswana and a visit to see the Victoria Falls.

Lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

We started out at River Club, along the Zambezi River just upstream from the Victoria Falls in Zambia. We were lucky enough to coincide our stay with the last lunar rainbow of the season. This happens only on full moons during those months that the river has lots of water and is created by the spray from the Falls being illuminated by moonlight, which results in a night-time rainbow. The Falls were spectacular both day and night.

Leopard – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

Linyanti Discoverer camp was our next stop; here we had an excellent sighting of a female leopard feeding on a baboon kill in a tree. We also saw 13 African wild dogs, asleep in the late morning, but for me the wildlife highlight happened on our last morning here, when we spent nearly an hour with two lionesses and their two 7-week-old young cubs. The cubs were still a little unsteady moving about and one climbed on top of a fallen tree trunk, giving us some wonderful photo opportunities.

Lion cubs - Copyright © Grant Atkinson

Lion cubs – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

We traveled next to Savuti camp for two nights and here we were witness to the spectacle of deep, clear water flowing once again in the famous Savuti channel, which until just last year had been dry since around 1982. Northern Botswana is an area of change in terms of river flows and currently there are big changes happening around Savuti. Here we enjoyed our best elephant sighting of the trip, when we were literally surrounded by a herd of more than thirty elephants for half an hour. We also saw kudu antelope, giraffe, hippos and zebra on every drive.

Hippos – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

After Savuti we flew to Jacana Camp in the Okavango Delta for the next two nights. Here we boated, enjoyed mekoro (dugout canoe) excursions, and drove through the wide, inundated floodplains, with great sightings of herds of red lechwe antelope and a wonderful variety and number of waterbirds.

Wattled Crane – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

We boated to our last camp in the Delta Tubu Tree Camp. Here we had a sighting of three young male lions that were tucked away in a thicket of scrubby trees, making photography difficult. Our persistence was rewarded the next day when we found the same lions out in the open floodplains, just after sunrise.

Male lions – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

We also saw a male leopard, spotted hyenas, many zebras, wildebeest, giraffe, impala, elephant and other creatures. One evening we went out after dinner with good supplies of steaming coffee and tea and spent an hour under the stars, appreciating the brilliance of the southern night skies away from camp.

Giraffe silhouette – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

All eight guests had a good time and we were all sad to say goodbye to our safari.  – Grant Atkinson

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