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January 29 - February 5, 2011

I ain’t lion…

Hello from our third plane of the day.  We are en route to Cape Town to begin the last leg of our trip.  This morning we departed the fine country of Botswana and camp Xakanaxa.  Sadly, this camp is actually pronounced “Cock-a-knock-ah”.  Because of this, every time an employee would come up to me, I would flinch and cover my crotch.

Besides the crotch endangerment, we had the experience of sleeping in a tent with a King sized bed in it, but no power past 5pm.  So when we’d get back from afternoon game drives, the room would be lit up with candles and lanterns.  Each night at the camp, a guide would have to walk you to your room so that you weren’t eaten by wild animals.  This seemed funny to me until this morning when we unzipped our tent and saw a leopard lying in the grass 20 feet from us.  We debated whether or not to sound the alarm (an air horn in a leather case on our bookshelf) and instead opted to try to take pictures of the leopard while standing large.  The leopard quickly got tired of our paparazzi attempts and slunk further into the nearby woods.

Xakanaxa proved to be the camp with the coolest room and had lot of animals that we hadn’t seen.  This morning we caught up with six cheetahs and followed them from our jeep while they stalked some impala breakfast.  The whole jungle reacts as the cheetah get near.  Birds start squawking, impalas stare and snort but don’t run (stupid impala), and even the squirrels make a noise that our guide liked to impersonate.  In the end, the impalas got away because the cheetah was lazy (my opinion) and didn’t want to continue the chase.  But it was fun to watch them hunt.  We also got to see some wild dog hunt and a whole lot of lions sleeping in funny poses.  I hope to come back a few years down the road and embarrass the lions with these pictures the same way my mom loved to show the pictures of me potty training.

Xakanaxa sits on the Okavongo Delta and we also got to take a boat ride through the swamp which was relaxing and felt a bit like a video game come to life as we would maneuver through narrow lanes of high delta grass.  While on the Delta, we also got to ride in a traditional mokoro canoe made from the local Sausage Tree (despite my attempts to wait under this tree with eggs and pancakes, I couldn’t cajole any sausage to fall from the tree onto my breakfast plate.  We saw some hippos who looked just like the Hungry Hippo game (minus the neon pink one) and got to see a land hippo mark his territory by pooping and then spreading it like lawn fertilizer with his tail.

Before Xakanaxa, I had experienced my first small plane ride of my life going from Chobe to Savuti Safari Lodge.  That plane, a five seater Cessna, was possibly the first plane ever invented.  I think the name was the Spirit of Saint Louis and the Red Baron was our pilot.  Anyway, it was fun (scary) for the first five minutes and then bumpy and crazy enough that I had the pleasure of using the in-flight sick bag to deposit my lunch, and my breakfast, and possibly all of the candy I’ve already eaten on this trip.  It was the exact opposite of awesome.

Once on the ground though, the Gods of Equality allowed us to get the Honeymoon Suite room at Savuti – a series of private little cabins arranged throughout the camp.  It was possibly the most exciting, smelly and loud room (all good things) that I’ve ever stayed in.  Right outside our front door was a watering hole (set up by the government because much of Savuti is in the desert) that elephants loved to frequent.  At all hours of the day there were usually two to seven elephants slurping water, pushing each other out of the way with their tusks, and being awesome.  There was also a high voltage fence between our room and the elephants so they couldn’t crush us like ants.  When the sun would go down, there was a spotlight on the elephants so we wouldn’t miss the action and when we felt like sleeping, the elephants would trumpet to let us know they wanted more pictures taken.  Elephant – the most vain animal in Africa.

The camp was great and the people running it and guests were the most interesting of our trip.  We made some Australian friends and each night got to dine under the Botswana sky, a full moon, a different view of the elephants and enjoyed some really good food.  We even were treated to some traditional African song and dance by the staff complete with a woman doing shrieking cries that made the camp very worthwhile to me.

Our guide at Savuti, “Bubba”, was a bit of a renegade.  He wasn’t too good at spotting animals but he did like to drive really fast over very bumpy and sandy roads as soon as someone else would spot something.  On our last morning, we pulled into a spot where a leopard was stalking a small antelope.  The antelope got within five feet of the leopard and somehow was able to avoid the leopard’s pounce.  The leopard didn’t chase because it was lazy.  This furthers my theory that cats (jungle and domestic) are super lame.  After falling short, most cars watching the leopard left the area but we stuck around and sojourned off-road and about five feet away to take a picture of the leopard sleeping up close.  Bubba didn’t think this was a good enough picture for us so he drove at the sleeping leopard until it had to scramble away.

Now we’re headed to Cape Town – hopefully with fewer leopard encounters and more wine glasses.


  1. sarah d. Said,

    guess which picture is my favorite…!

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