Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Botswana Photo Safari - Next Stop: Chitabe Trails Camp in the Okavango Delta

Pre-chase yawn
Continuing my posts about our 2004 trip to Botswana, we left Chobe National Park and our lovely hosts at Muchenje Safari Lodge (blogged about here), and boarded a very small plane to our next stop - Chitabe Trails camp, now called Chitabe Lediba camp (and looking more upscale than when we were there), in the Okavango Delta. The Okavango Delta is massive and is now one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. Wikipedia has some good info on the seasonal flooding, what it provides for the wildlife, and how it eventually flows towards the Kalahari Desert.

NASA view of Okavango Delta, with national borders added (from wikipedia).
This should give you an idea of where the camp is relative to the Okavango Delta.
To get to the camps around the Okavango Delta, you almost have to fly, and it was about an hour and a quarter flight from the town of Kasane. Chitabe Lediba is a very small camp, as you can tell from this photo of the dining area. It's a real bush camp set amongst trees overlooking a flood plain.

Dining area at Chitabe Lediba
We had just enough time to drop our bags before boarding a jeep for our afternoon safari. We were in for a treat.

Leaving for the hunt
As you can see from my first photo in this post and the one above this paragraph, we were privileged to hang out with some lionesses for a little while. Our guide, Relax, was radioed that they were nearby, so we just sat. Sure enough, they came to us, literally 7-8 feet from our jeep. It didn't hurt that we were also close to a very large herd of Cape buffalo. In the photo above, they decided it was time to start the hunt and they are moving off.

Note the stalking position of this lioness.

Dust from the buffalo and one lioness to the right
But the hunt was a bust from their perspective. Another pride of lions/lionesses came at the buffalo from the other direction and ran the girls and one lion off, right past our jeep!

Were these the guys the lions were stalking the previous night?

Cape buffalo

The next morning, after a 6 a.m. wake-up drumming and some hot tea delivered to our tent, we went out to see if we could find them again. We didn't see the lions that day but we did find another herd of buffalo. It was interesting to see how they have male sentries surrounding the females and young ones, as you can see from the photo above.

Older giraffe

The area had some vast plains with concentrations of trees and shrubs here and there. That meant a variety of different animals, such as this older giraffe. How can you tell he/she is old? By how dark the areas between the spots are.

Wattled cranes

There were so many interesting birds that I will probably never see again, like these wattled cranes that are almost six feet tall.

Francolin chick that didn't make it.

Life in the wild can be difficult, especially for the newborns.

Baboons and termite mound
Not a great photo but I wanted you to see the size of the termite mounds here. They're like little condos!


The highlight of this day (and any day, ha!) was our leopard sighting, a 3-4 year old female.

Now you see me, now you don't?

What a master at blending in this leopard was!

Watching impala
The leopard walked right past our jeep, sat on the edge of a termite mound, and watched some impala. For some reason, she was not interested in pursuing them, and she eventually just walked away.

Several tsessebee, a type of antelope, and one impala
Some days you see a lot of wildlife, some days you don't. The following morning, after being kept up most of the night by the roars of some dueling lions, I headed out on safari as my husband stayed behind to write a lecture (he was interviewing for a job as soon as we got back!).

Wildebeest running away

We didn't see as many animals this day but I did finally see my first wildebeest.

Every afternoon I captured in a diary what we saw and did. Yes, this is a tent!
Morning nap. Note the gash on the lioness' nose.

The next morning, our final morning at this camp, we found three beautiful lionesses and one handsome lion.

Youngish male
It was lovely just sitting in our jeeps watching these animals sleep and roll around. The guide thought maybe they had eaten the night before. It was so quiet and peaceful.

And then it was time to catch a little plane to our next camp, Duba Plains. More about that in my next post!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2014. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


  1. How fortunate you were to see a leopard at close range in daylight and for so long! They are so elusive, and eluded us in Tanzania. I took notes every day just as you did, and am so glad I did, as I couldn't have written my posts as well without them. Have to say, I can't believe your husband stayed in the tent to write a lecture instead of game driving one day! Also, your photos are wonderful.

  2. Yes, the poor guy was under some stress even though we were far away on vacation! It's not easy landing those professorial jobs. Two days after we returned he drove to Ruston and before I could think twice, we were making plans to leave Austin after 30+ years! But I digress. What eluded us on our trip was a kill. Not that I was really that eager to see one but still, we were on safari. I was happy for the leopard that blithely walked past our jeep!

  3. What an adventure and to see these wonderful creatures without a fence and at such close range. Marvelous photos.

  4. Magnificent photos, Jean! The leopard is beautiful, and your shot of it in the brush really shows what is meant by camouflage. And the last photo--wow! He really is the king of the beasts!

    Ironically, I was watching "Ellen" yesterday, and Meryl Streep was on, showing some videos she took while in Africa. What an amazing place!


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