On our small-group expedition through Botswana, we enjoyed many mammal highlights: hyenas feeding on a leopard’s kudu kill at Chitabe, a morning spent with a male and female leopard at Mombo and then the subsequent discovery of her little cubs, a lot of time spent with two male lions when they were separated and eventually found each other and walked off together. It is quality viewing such as this that makes a safari truly special. I would much rather spend the morning watching something like that than get glimpses of lots of different species.
Our most memorable mammal sighting was the evening at Xigera when a elephant bull interrupted our dinner and reached up into the tree next to the dining room to give us a really good look at his molars. Not often that one can stare deep into the mouth of an elephant at dinner time! Some of us were even lucky enough to see a sitatunga from the boat!
We saw a total of over 200 species of birds (219) with the greatest number (142) being seen at Duma Tau. For the non-birders amongst us I am sure that lilac-breasted rollers, carmine bee-eaters, beautiful egrets, herons, storks, hornbills, and the giant eagle owl will not be forgotten.
For the more serious birders it was great to see Okavango specials such as the slaty egret, the brown firefinch, the western banded snake eagle, the various coucals and smaller birds like the greater honeyguide and the yellow fronted tinker barbet. And we can’t forget the hard work that some of us did, fighting our way through reeds and swamps in dug-out canoes in the pouring rain only to find that the Pel’s fishing owl had settled in a tree right in camp!!
Excerpts from the Welcome Home Letter written for our September 2009 Ultimate Botswana expedition.