Sunday, 24 November 2013

Botswana - Mombo camp

After an excellent if ,comparatively, basic start at Meno A Kweno we moved on to a camp at the other end of the scale at Mombo*. This involved a short flight in a 6 seater plane or it would have been short if the plane had not had to make a couple of stops first to drop off guests at other camps in the local area – This gave the flight a feeling of being on a bus journey, all be it one with  the alarming prospect of losing your last meal as you got buffeted around by the turbulence. This time we made it intact, unlike my luggage which was still missing in action. The latest news I had on it was that  neither Air Botswana nor British Airways had the foggiest idea where it was. Apparently not a good sign and so the prospects of ever seeing it again started to fade like the orange tan on a low rent wag….

* To describe our room at Mombo as a tent is a bit like describing Buckingham Palace as that cottage at the end of the Mall.  

Possibly the most fantastic day of my life

It started off with your average  everyday lions frolicking in front of the camera – like it was an everyday occurrence down Bishop’s Stortford high street

The queen of all she can see
Next we ran into a leopard - the first one we had seen in the wild.  My excitement levels went through the roof. Our guide spotted him and told me to get a shot in, in case it was the young male which is quite shy. As it turned out  it was the older male (nicknamed Killer, for his habit  of eradicating any leopard offspring who were not his progeny) who allowed us to not only trail him through the bush but didn’t bat an eyelid when Doc (our guide) got ahead of him and just padded towards us and then passed us as if we weren’t there… simply a magical experience. 

I just hope that's not Killer eating
 someone else's  offspring...
Still floating on cloud nine we went off in search of crocodiles and came across two groups of rival hippos squaring off against each other over a water pool. Doc asked us if we wanted to get off the vehicle, to get some better shots.  My feet hit the ground before Doc had finished asking the question and before I had thought through whether being around 10 metres from some rather aggressive hippos was actually sensible. Mrs B was a bit more hesitant and it took Doc to explain to her that while hippos are one of the most dangerous animals when you meet them out of the water, once immersed they feel secure and while happy to attempt to kill each other can’t be bothered to get out and trample innocent bystanders to death.  This makes them sound like pensioners, lethal if you get between them and  their packet of  Garibaldi biscuits but relatively safe once they are ensconced in a Parker Knoll  chair, with a cup of cocoa and the Daily Mail. You’ll be fine as long as you don’t succumb to the smell of lavender, extra strong mints and cat pee (probably not cat but out of respect I wanted to give the elderly and incontinent  the benefit of the doubt).
This is my pool and don't you forget it...
Thunder and lightning – Is it meant to be frightening….I was loving it…
To finish off the day as the light faded we ran into a huge storm – We seemed to be at the centre of it all as  lightening flashed from all different directions and then our guide got excited as we found ourselves being pelted with hailstones (he had only experienced this once before and it was probably the highlight of his day).  I managed to amuse Mrs B and Doc as I chased the lightening around the sky with the camera, desperately trying to capture the perfect flash… It was only after I returned to our room and sorted through the day's shots did I realise what I had captured:
You can imagine how stoked I am with this shot....
– And for the icing on the cake, my bag had finally had got fed up on its solo travel  and turned up totally intact….
Has anyone else got a contender for a better day???

To Quote Mrs B

This is the only type of holiday I want to do in the future….
Next week it is off to Kingspool but until then I'll leave you with a few more shots
A big thanks to Edward at Africa odyssey for sorting our booking out.

Photo Finish

Some pictures to end with,  if you want to see some more check out my photo page . BlackLOG & The Beast
If you missed our first camp Meno A Kweno

Hyena - enjoying the midday sun

"Just a bit of sunscreen on my shoulders please..."

Not a bad sight to wake up to...

"Please don't move - it's taken ages to find this shade..."

Nothing to see here leopard on a mission

The rather beautiful lilac breasted roller 

Yellow billed stalk - fishing for supper...

Doc - keeping an eye on Mrs B

Just a little word in your shell like....
Classic Delta shot
confusingly this is the dry season when you get  rain while
during the wet season there is little chance of rain??? 

Mrs B in the co-pilot seat

I just hope her non-flying skills are not required.... 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Botswana - Meno A Kwena

Welcome to the start of our odyssey into the heart of Botswana.  Mrs B and I count ourselves extremely fortunate to be in a position to make such a trip. My hopes of posting live were somewhat dashed, however, when I shockingly discovered that Wifi is not  available at every corner café (I guess the fact there are no cafés in the Botswana savannah was a somewhat limiting factor – Blimey not  a Starbucks within a 1000  miles). 

So much has happened over the last couple of weeks that I could blog daily to the end of the year and still not do justice to the trip.  Instead I have decided to break the trip down into 4 parts covering the different camps we stayed in.

Camp 1 – Meno A Kwena

Not the most luxurious of camps but all the better for it (The showers were posh buckets filled with hot water ).  I arrived under a cloud of disappointment having discovered that my luggage had not made it to Botswana with us. It was last heard of enjoying a solo trip around the world… My disappointment was tempered because I had wisely secured all my camera equipment and a spare set of clothes in our hand luggage…This was at a great personal cost to Mrs B  who practically tipped over backwards every time she struggled to heft her overladen rucksack onto her back.  At times like this I truly appreciate Mrs B’s ability to pitch in.  I had managed to get our luggage weight down to a respectable 45Kg only 15KG over our allowed weight so I guess I should have been grateful that my 10KG hold luggage went off on its own….

A huge thank you to Toff  and Kiddy, the camp managers, for making us so welcome at Meno A Kwena  and also the two lovely Brazilian girls who waited patiently at the airport  for us while we tried and failed to find out what had happened to my luggage.  I got chatting to one of them, Helena, at dinner one night and the subject of why she had come all the way to Africa came up.

Helena “I have come to Africa on my honeymoon….”

I was about to ask her where her husband was.  Fortunately, as the words formed in my mouth I had a flash back to the wedding of our friends Philip and Christian and Christian’s comment about a couple of gate crashers being not only confused about being at the wrong venue but also at wedding where there was no bride…. Helena may have had similar confusion at her wedding only in this case it would have been about the lack of a groom…. While just about managing not to put my foot in it Helena recommended the Brazilian Pantanal  as a great place to see wild life….

We only had two nights at Meno A Kwena and as we arrived late (thanks luggage) and were leaving early on our last day we only had one whole day to cram in as much as we could.  We decided to take the full day out option rather than a morning game drive with a break followed by an afternoon/evening game drive.  

A big thanks to Edward at Africa odyssey for sorting our holiday itinery out.

Photo finish

Hippo - This beautiful creature has a bit of a dark secret
So be wary of the potential  consequences  next
time you try  and sneak one out ...

Zebra  manoeuvres...

A tent with its own private...well tent???

Mrs B who had a big smile on her face for the majority of the trip -
it was only the rudest people in the world  who managed to dislodge it
but more of that in a later posting...

A Slender Mongoose who's attempt to eat a whole Zebra
 was going to leave him a long way short of being a
member of the  slender club....

Vulture  - looking almost regal....

Dusk - bringing to an end the first of our Botswana post  
If you want to see some more pictures from Meno A Kwena then follow the link  Next time we move onto Mombo camp deep within the heart of the Okavango Delta...