Chapter 12: My Favorite Marsh-ians

After coffee and fruit, we headed out on the morning game drive. The target that morning was the Savuti marsh, which despite its wet-sounding name, was quite dry. And flat. Flat for as far as you could see, with far fewer trees than the wetlands around Moremi. Much of Botswana is made of large, flat, nearly-featureless stretches of sandy clay called pans. It was clear that somebody had a sense of humor, because on our way to the marsh, we drove over "Peter's Pan."

What the lions call "the buffet line..."
Photo by Pam Bloxham

The marsh was not quite as good for game viewing as other places we'd been. Because it was so flat and open, without many trees, the animals could get further from the roads. Nonetheless, we did get to see some new animals, including a couple of jackals skulking around in the grass looking for eggs, some wildebeest, and a bat-eared fox. And then there were the birds: the colorful lilacbreasted roller (Botswana's national bird), hornbills, the unfortunately-named kori bustard (which is the largest bird that can fly), the omnipresent guinea fowl, and we even finally saw some ostriches. The first few groups we saw were very skittish, and we couldn't get close. But later, we managed to get closer to a small group.

A lilacbreasted roller, Botswana's national bird

One of only four palm trees in the entire Savuti marsh

Run, little piggy! A warthog hightails it (literally) across the road in
front of us, heading for the shelter of the trees. He probably knew
we knew how tasty warthog is...

Towards the southern end of the marsh, we tracked a warthog for awhile. It was heading out across the open for a group of bushes in the distance, and we were paralleling it on the road. It would move away from us, but then the road would close in again on it. Just ahead of us, it made a mad dash across the road and into the bushes.

The birds and the beests...

A guinea fowl



After the morning snack, Edward heard a call on the radio that a leopard had been spotted back near camp. We made the decision to go after it, and so we went tearing up the road headed back north. Since we were now in a hurry, of course we started seeing more animals, including some giraffes laying right by the road. We made one or two very quick stops, and finally made it to the area where the big cat had been spotted...and which was now a traffic jam of safari jeeps. Just as we pulled up, we saw something dart into the bush, and another guide said that we just missed it. But Edward knew the area, and circled around on a road behind the spot, and we did manage to catch a very fleeting glimpse of the leopard.

A leopard. Honest.

In the afternoon, Edward took us out on a special side trip to the Gubasta Hills and we climbed up a short way along the rocks to see some San (Bushman) rock paintings. Although the paintings are not terribly spectacular, they are exceedingly old, perhaps as old as 40,000 years. At the base of the rocks was a small cave where you could still see the soot stains from ancient San campfires.

The afternoon game drive netted us the usual: elephants, warthogs, impala. Towards the end of the drive, we went down a road that got close to a thicket of acacia trees, and sat for a time with a close-up view of a small herd of giraffes munching at the thorny trees, their favorite food.

As the Sun headed down, we pulled over for afternoon tea by a clearing where another herd of giraffes was making its leisurely way across the field, and Edward pulled out a bottle of Amarula. Giraffes, with Amarula. You were wondering how I was gonna tie that in, hmmm? We sipped our Amarula and watched the sunset, lacking only the drunken elephants...

Thursday was our last day at Savuti, and we did one last game drive, catching a brief view of a mongoose poking his head out of a burrow in an old termite mound. Later, we came upon some lions lying right by the side of the road and got veeerrrryyy close. Too close, for my taste (which right at that moment, I hoped was something the lion wasn't interested in). I was sitting on the outside of the rear seat, and there was nothing between me and the cat but about 3 meters of air. The lion just looked bored.

An African animal jam: when interesting animals are spotted, the
guides put out the call on their radios, leading to a flocking of jeeps.

Nothing between me and the lion but 3 meters of air...
and its inability to recognize spam in a can


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