Jess’s safari video diary of an epic Botswana wildlife adventure
Jess travelled to Botswana for two weeks exploring the Okavango Delta, Linyanti, Khwai and the Makgadikgadi salt pans, on an active safari with quad biking, boating, mokoroing, night safaris, walking safaris and vehicle safaris. The wildlife highlights included elephants, wild dogs, honey badgers, bat eared fox, jackals, cheetah, lions, buffalo, leopard, red lechwe, sable, meerkats, long toed lapwings, a gymnogene (African harrier-hawk), malachite kingfishers and an aardvark. Jess also spent time with the bushmen for a cultural safari. Here are a collection of videos filmed by Jess and Super Sande (safari guide).
Honeybadgers and wild dogs stand off, Splash Camp, Okavango Delta
We had spent the morning following seven wild dog on a hunt; the pack had split, having been unsuccessful, and we were watching five catching their breath on the grassy plain in front of Splash Camp, when a honey badger and her cub appeared trotting towards the waterhole not far off. The dogs didn’t notice them until the pair came pattering straight through the middle of the pack. The dogs delight at an apparently easy breakfast froze as the honeybadgers made it clear in no uncertain terms that they were not to be trifled with, and nor were they, to the great perplexity of the dogs, who looked just a little embarrassed at their morning’s work. I love how the honeybadgers take one last look before carrying on as if nothing had happened.
Aardvark on a night safari, San Camp, Makgadikgadi – filmed by Super Sande
After my first full day in Botswana, and following a sleepout the night before, I was enjoying a relaxing post supper glass of wine and looking forward to a good night’s sleep, when Super and Laps, our guides, suggested heading out again in to the bush. After only a little persuasion off we set and within minutes my sleepiness was evaporating as I gazed at the outline of an aardvark in the glow of the spotlight.
Glasses went on, scepticism went out and the beautiful, almost mythical creature came into focus. In many years of visiting Africa this was the first time looking at this creature which gets talked about so much, is so essential to the bush, and after which our company Aardvark Safaris was named. We watched him for around ten minutes before letting him get on with things and I returned to camp feeling dazed and a little smug as this makes me only the third person at Aardvark Safaris to have seen one.
Elephants filmed on a mokoro at Khwai Bush Camp, Moremi Game Reserve
I am the first to admit that I am a scaredy cat when it comes to elephants, something that guarantees some good humoured teasing in the office if it comes up. Having driven through the bush on countless occasions, often in areas where elephants are not that used to vehicles, I’ve learned to have enough respect for elephants to match their enormity and intelligence. So floating towards a group of bulls drinking on the river made my heart thump a little. The mirror like reflections and the water gurgling and echoing as they drank was however, totally magical and I wouldn’t have missed these precious few moments with them for anything.
San Bushmen camp fire game, San Camp, Kalahari, Botswana
Laps took us to meet San bushmen and women on a hot afternoon and we stood under the shade of a tree whilst everyone was introduced and then set off for a walk together through the bush. Although the San no longer live in the bush their culture is still very much a living one, as this video shows. It’s a game that was described as being similar to rock, paper, scissors, but I couldn’t keep up with it! The music brought tears to Laps’ eyes and I was very moved by how the voices layer so beautifully, these are integral sounds of the Kalahari.
Elephants in the water at Vumbura Plains, Okavango Delta
This was a quick jaunt down the river after a site inspection at Little Vumbura and even in that short time we came across this guy chilling in the water in the heat of the day. The colours and softness of the papyrus against the water with the elephant framed in the middle made this a very special moment.
Malachite kingfisher, Khwai Bush Camp, Moremi
I bought a new point and shoot camera for this trip, so whilst this isn’t comparatively the best video, it is one I’m pleased with as it means I can look back on this tiny bird in enough detail to get me through grey days in England!
Meerkats at San Camp, Makgadikgadi
One species I knew it was possible to see but hadn’t though too much about before arriving at San Camp were the habituated meerkats. I adored sitting amongst these diminutive creatures, watching them scamper across the sand digging for insects, roots and scorpions and occasionally taking their turn as lookout. Their balance as well as their concentration, I think you will agree, is impressive!
Quad biking at San Camp, Makgadikgadi
I arrived straight off the international and internal flights into Tsigaro Airstrip for San Camp and was whisked straight off to join the group I would be spending the afternoon with, who were sitting with the guide on quad bikes looking out across the Makgadikgadi Pans. After a short briefing we were off, and so this video captures my first proper moments in Botswana! Not too shabby!
Wild dogs and pups at a den near Mapula Lodge – filmed by Super Sande
Wild dogs masking their scent at Splash Camp, Kwara private concession, Okavango Delta
I’ve always marvelled at the beauty of wild dogs, but this video shows they are earth’s creatures as much as anything else. There’s not too much to say about their behaviour except that it certainly raised my eyebrows – keep your eyes on the one on the far right!
Wild dogs and elephants at Splash Camp, Kwara private concession, Okavango Delta
I thought I had a very special video set up with wild dogs in the foreground and elephants in the background, and then a vehicle blocked my view! However, this does at least show how utterly surrounded by wildlife you are in these areas – in short, Botswana is hard to beat!
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