Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chitabe, New Friends & Little Vumbura

We spotted these handsome lion brothers on our first full day at Chitabe.

I guess before I go into a description of another day on Safari, I should give a basic outline of what a day in camp consists of… So, here’s how it usually goes:

5:30 AM – Wake up call (a personal knock on the door of our tent)

6:00 AM - Escort comes and we are taken by flashlight to the lounge area. We grab a cup of coffee, some yoghurt or a muffin and then head out for the game drive.

6:30AM – Game drive starts.

11:30 AM- 1:00PM – Return to camp and grab some brunch.

2:00 PM- 4:00 PM – Siesta

4:00PM – Tea is served in the lounge area. Light snacks, beers, wine and tea are served.

4:30 PM – Evening game drive begins

6:30 PM - About this time, we pull off to a safe spot and enjoy a ‘Sundowner’. Light snack and drinks as we all enjoy the sunset.

8:00PM – After returning to camp, we are given about 30 minutes to shower, change and join the group for dinner. Dinner is shared with our guide, members of the staff and hosts/managers.

9:00 PM - After dinner drinks, conversation around the campfire.

9:45 – 10:00 – Lights out

The atmosphere at Chitabe camp was just fabulous. There were just 6 guests in total: James & me; Ed and Marty; and Tom and Leigh. Tom & Leigh, from Cleveland, Ohio, married last Fall and were on a belated honeymoon. We all enjoyed an instant camaraderie, and the six of us had such incredible moments together… so many discoveries, so many laughs and truly joyful times.

We were having so much fun on our first morning game drive that the 6 of us decided to continue on, without returning to camp for brunch. We had so many incredible game sightings, that we didn’t want to miss a thing. Imagine our surprise when we came to a clearing and found the following scene:

We even had a ‘loo with a view’ !!

We enjoyed our brunch in the bush and had a fantastic afternoon. We enjoyed the setting sun that day with such excitement - the things we had seen were awesome!!

We returned to the camp around 7:30 PM having spent 13 hours with our guide Oates. It was a long day, but we were so happy that we did it because the following morning drive (Monday) was our last at Chitabe. Our flight into the Okavango Delta and the Little Vumbura Camp was to leave at 11:30AM. It was only a 20 minute flight, but it could have just as well been a world away - so different was the environment in the Delta.

The Game viewing at Little Vumbura took a back seat to exploring the channels of the Delta. There was, however, plenty to see. On our evening sunset cruise, I located what I thought was just a really pretty owl. Turned out to be a Pell's Fishing Owl - an owl revered by birdwatchers and apparently quite elusive. Marty was calling it 'Michele's Owl' and we ended up chasing it from tree to tree for a good hour, capturing incredible photographs of this stunning creature.

Check out the talons on that big boy!!

Our guide Lazarus, and his game warden observer, James, pulled ashore on a small island in the channels. Lazarus gave us an incredible lesson on the Delta, the movements of flood waters and the deposits of salt left behind. He also pointed out hippo tracks which were all over the area. Those guys are fast (yes, really fast!) and we heard them snorting in the distance.

Here's a few photos of the SAME sunset as it progressed during our ride home:

Upon our return to camp that evening, we were treated to a 'Traditional' dinner. The staff sang celebration songs and danced with serious enthusiasm. I finally began to understand the phrase " A Joyful Noise"... that was what popped into my head as I listened to the harmonies of the male and female voices and the pure, uninhibited beauty of the dance.

I'm going to close for the evening and hopefully I will have some quiet time in the morning to share the rest of our time at Little Vumbura. It was at this camp where we took a mokoro (dug-out canoe) safari...Very cool.

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