Every day, we have two game drives. The first is about 5:30am-9:30am, and the second is about 4:30pm-7:45pm. These are scheduled in order to maximize the amount of animals we see, as most predators are sleeping or inactive due to the heat of the day. One the afternoon game drive, we always stop for “Sundowners” (or as we say in America, “happy hour”) at around 6:15pm. It allows us to stretch our legs, “check the tires” (i.e. have a “bush bathroom break”), and just hang out and enjoy the beautiful sunset scene we are in.
Monday, we had a special guest on the trip, Ireland’s own Thomas O’Vanloon. Thomas is an Adjunct Professor in the Zoology program at the University of Dublin. He’s world-renowned and a fountain of information, and we were lucky enough to have him volunteer to narrate the short video. Here it is…..
Tom and I arrived to Gaborone, Botswana on Thursday, 22 hours after leaving Chicago. Ethiopian Airlines Business Class fed us 4 course of delicious food with every meal, had comfy beds, and every flight was on-time. We spent an hour or so in the evening at a local “bar” called King Power, where we were the only foreigners and did stand out a bit. We went back to the apartment before any interactions with enthusiastic locals turned sour. 🙂 Friday morning, we took a taxi 20 minutes to the border, crossed out of Botswana and into South Africa, and took the same taxi another 10 minutes to the entrance of Madikwe Game reserve. We had burgers for lunch at Nkurru Lodge with a view of elephants, zebra, impala and giraffe drinking at the nearby water hole.
The first game drive was at 4:30pm on Thursday. Very quickly, we came across two cheetah brothers resting in the shade. We got about 30 feet away from them. I had seen these guys last year, when there were four male cheetah in Madikwe. These males killed one of the two other males, and park officials captured the other male and he was sent to another park in Africa and swapped for a female cheetah. So there is hope for some cheetah cubs in the future. These guys didn’t move much while we were there but we got some photos and video and then we moved on.
We came across four lions at the end of their day of sleep (lions hunt dusk to dawn). We were very close to them (50 feet or so). Nice view of one of the males up. The females nearby were not really stirring yet, and they are the ones who decide when to hunt, so no one was moving.
Moving on, we ran across a white rhino going to drink at a water hole at the same time as a herd of elephants. Although there was not much intereaction between the groups of the two largest land mamals in Africa, it was interesting to watch. Next, we saw two large rhinos having a bit of a territorial scuff. Snorting, dusting and marking of territory, and even a faceoff and a head butt. See the video below. Finally, before dark, we ran across a different group of lions. This time, the females were awake but they were not moving. Darkness set in and we headed back to the lodge for 8:00pm dinner. And somewhere in there, we had happy hour in the bush. Nothing like a cold beer in a clearing under a setting African sun.
At the water hole at the lodge, just after dinner, a rhino came for a drink.
What a great start to the trip!
Pictures and video are below. All pictures taken by Tom, all video shot by me.
On Wednesday of this week, I am on the way to Madikwe Game Reserve in the NW corner of South Africa, near the Botswana border. My friend Tom will be going with me, and it is his FIRST safari and first trip to Africa. One of the cool things about going to Africa with someone who has not been there before is to wach them experience something so special for the first time! “There is AFRICA, and then there is everywhere else!”
We are both looking forward to being guided by Trevor McCall-Peat and Grant Marcus from Wild Eye. I have not yet met Trevor but I have done two trips with Grant – both outstanding!
Thursday, we will arrive in Gaborone, Botswana (22 hours after leaving Chicago) after a brief stop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On Friday, we will find our way across the South African border and join the group of 3 others for the start of our 6 days in Madikwe.
Madikwe is a very special place… here are the videos I produced from our last two trips to Madikwe..