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One of the most frightening experiences you can ever imagine is waking up to the sound of elephant footsteps right outside your tent. This was my wake up call on my first Botswana safari expedition.
During the autumn month of April, me and my close friend Michelle went on our usual yearly escapade. We were like two girls seeking a little adventure, camping in the heart of the Botswana wilderness. We were staying in bush camps in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve in the Okavango Delta. A place filled with promise of adventure, but I don’t think elephants creating havoc in our campsite was something either of us expected.
It was a breezy cool early morning. The signs that winter were approaching was becoming clear. Michelle woke me up. Alarmed we sat in our safari tent listening to the sound of something approaching. It didn’t take long before we realized that it was a small group of elephants moving in on our campsite. The small group turned out to be two young bulls travelling together, looking for an easy meal.
We unzipped our window as softly and as wide open as we dared, for it is a common fact that young bulls, like these two, can show quite aggressive behaviour. We sat there for what felt like an eternity watching them sniffing around, pushing over and shoving around the camp. I can tell you that luck was on our side that morning, because they never showed any real interest in our tents. A good thing that our safari tents are also situated on raised teak platforms, which also provided some kind of sense of security. I breathed a sigh of relief when the two continued on their merry way.
The Moremi Wildlife Reserve
As soon as our two uninvited guests were gone, everybody came out of their tents, adrenalin pumping; the atmosphere was filled with excitement. During our hearty breakfast our guides informed us that the occurrence was not unusual. We were after all in their territory now. This was just the beginning of five days filled with Africa’s wildlife set in what is most certainly nature at its most beautiful.
The reserve is set in the north-eastern corner of the Okavango Delta and has stunning varied scenery. I can’t remember in any of my previous safaris ever seeing this amount of wildlife in such a short amount of time. As usual there was the big five: elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and hippos. But we also had the privilege of seeing the unique sitatunga antelope.
Game for a little drive
We had a game drive every morning and evening on the back of an open 4×4 Land Rover. On one of our night drives we struck gold! A pride of lions were hunting and their victim was a feisty zebra. Although most people see this as horrible and cruel, the fact remains that it is still amazing to see nature in action. It took two lionesses to pin the zebra to the ground for what seemed like seconds to happen. The power lions possess is exhilarating. With panache they won a most difficult battle. I did feel sadness for the zebra, but this is the circle of life, even though it’s so cruel.
I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of being so up-close and personal with Africa’s wildlife. I’ve been privileged enough to have gone on a couple of safaris, but this being my first safari in Botswana I couldn’t really understand why I hadn’t travelled there previously.
Heading back to camp
After our game drive we headed back to camp. The guides set up a campfire and Michelle and I soon joined the rest of tourists to around the fire. Discussions involved the day’s sight-seeing and mainly about the lions hunting tactics. I think some of the tourists would take a long time to get over the initial shock of seeing something like that, for most of them found the experience simply horrible. The only thing everybody could agree on was how beautiful Botswana and specifically the Moremi Wildlife Reserve were.
After dinner and a relaxing nightcap, everybody set off to their tents with our armed guards, to what would be our last night of our safari. I think this trip was more than what Michelle and I could have hoped for and definitely set our expectations higher for our next wildlife adventure.
write by Ionel Pascan