The landscape of Savuti was quite different from what we've experienced so far. There are wooded areas, grassy plains, and large marshes. The expansive grassy plains feel like big-sky country with the sky and clouds filling up the surrounding space. Herds of wildebeest (gnu) make the landscape appear like what 19th-century wagon train settlers crossing the great plains of North America must have seen.
In the woodlands of Savuti, we saw more Vervet Monkeys including one cutie who cocked his head to the side every time I pointed a camera in his direction.
When we reached our campsite on the dry Savuti Channel about 2:30 pm our tent, smelling of freshly laundered sheets, was ready for our siesta.
Our neighbors at this campsite are several birds called Francolin who sporadically, even at night, begin a noisy chattering. Their alarm call is a two-part call that sounds like "watch it." They make this call if there is some kind of danger about like a serpent or a large cat. Thankfully, I didn't hear that call near our campsite.
In the afternoon, we saw lots of impala. We've seen impala in every park, but they seem to be even more plentiful in Savuti. We watched male impala chasing each other. As they chase, they grunt.
Nearby elephants were trumpeting and when we got closer, we watched a group of young elephants playing in a waterhole.
|A Watering Hole at Sunset|
An interesting thing happened on our morning drive to find leopards and lions. We found a cheetah barely visible above the tall grass. Moses is always saying that we get what the bush gives. The surprise cheetah was definitely a gift.
In the Savuti Marsh, we watched Carmine Bee-Eaters hitch rides on a Corey Bustard. The Corey Bustard is Botswana's national bird. As the Corey Bustard walks through the grass some insects are snatched up by the Bee-Eater. Carmine Bee-Eaters swooped and sped like fighter jets around the truck grabbing insects that were disturbed as we drove through the marsh grass.
One afternoon, we drove to a grove of magnificent Baobab trees which sit in a slightly elevated place. Many of the trees have suffered elephant damage from having their bark and inside fiber stripped off.
We saw a small group of Ground Hornbills making their way through the grass.
One late afternoon, the bush gave us another gift--a leopard. We were driving around in one of the bush areas of Savuti and a male leopard strolled across the road into the thicket. He had his tail held high like he was signaling us to follow him. Because we have to stay to the road, we went around and down toward the dry riverbed. As we were searching for his whereabouts, I looked over at the dirt road on the other side of the riverbed and there he was--just watching us and waiting for us to notice him. Now the tables were turned and we were the ones being watched. He allowed us to take a few photos and then he sauntered over the hill and out of sight. A while later when we returned to the dry Savuti Channel, we saw him again just walking along a meander not far from where our tent is perched.
The night of the leopard sighting, our chef Eddie cooked us a fabulous traditional Botswana meal of his favorites. He fixed Mealimeal (similar to polenta) and a pounded meat dish called Seswa. He served both with a less traditional ratatouille of eggplant. Seswa is prepared by cooking a meat for hours with spices and pounding it until it has the texture of a finely ground meat. Our meal, like all of them, was excellent. Seswa and mealimeal are always served at weddings, funerals, or any large get together.
The next morning a light fog softened the landscape.
|Impala "Boys' Club"|
|Tsessebe's Grazing in the Savuti Marsh|
Savuti has a very large pride of lions that are so fierce that during a long dry period in 2012, they attacked and killed elephants. In fact, the Savuti landscape is littered with the skulls and bones of elephants brought down by these lions. For the first two days we saw no lions, but on our last afternoon we found the lion motherlode. We found three lionesses and about 10 very young 2-1/2 to 3-month old cubs. The lionesses were laying in the shade of a bush taking turns nursing the little ones. The cubs were so cute, it was hard to remember that they will grow up to be killers of elephants.
Sometimes the 10 little ones would become so annoying that a lioness would remove herself from nursing.
We watched these lions so long that it finally became time for these formidable ladies to hunt. They got up and purposely strode toward a thicket with the little ones following behind. It was truly like herding cats because some had trouble crossing the deep sand on the road and two were too shy so they took a detour and hid themselves in a outcropping of rocks and grass. The other eight were herded into a thicket and the ladies went to work.
|Cubs waiting in the thicket|
|The two shy cubs|
Leaving the lions behind to hunt, we drove on. Dan, who had not spotted anything this entire trip, spotted a Cheetah in the bushes.
It was also hunting time for the cheetah. Unfortunately, the impala the cheetah was chasing ran toward our truck causing the cheetah to put on his/her brakes letting the impala escape. We watched the cheetah as he/she rested before the next surge of speed and energy was expended. The cheetah, flicking its tail, looked quite annoyed with us. We politely absented ourselves.
Tomorrow, we drive to Chobe National Park for our last night in Botswana.