Thursday, May 3, 2012

Giraffe survivor on the way to Baines Baobob

Nxai Pan - Botswana





Dear Dorothy

It is hot. At least it's not humid. All the camps have issued either a plastic or metal liter reusable bottle for water when away from the camp. This is the first place that I have felt the need to really use one. There is a hot breeze so any moisture evaporates quickly and I don't think I realize just how much fluid is going through me and not coming out in the standard method.

My jeep mates are a couple from Southern Germany. They are both professors, she English and he Optics. He's 77 and she's somewhere near that. A good group to travel with. They are interested in almost any animal they see whether it is a mammal, reptile or bird. A little too interested sometimes, but a welcome change from the Eskimos who only wanted to see what they had already seen in National Geographic. 
Battle scarred giraffe


Donald and Kaser took us on a game drive around 4:30. We saw mucho birds and zebras. A giraffe or two and some wildebeest. Nothing that I hadn't seen and photographed a dozen time or more on this trip. The same with the birds but Donald does take the time to stop and move the Land Cruiser to a spot where the light is best for photography when it is possible. No off roading in this park. There was one zebra alone in the plain and it had a bad, bad limp on the left side. We all knew what that meant. Sooner or later it was going to enter the food cycle and probably sooner than later. I wish I could remember more about the drive but it was the same and most before only the animals were generally further away.

Back at camp we did the afternoon shuffle. Back to the room before dark to wash up and then get picked up by a guide at your room and escorted to dinner. A younger couple from Brittan had joined the camp while we were driving. He is an ophthalmologist and she is hospital admin. They had been working in Ethiopia. He in a flying surgical unit where they did mostly cataract surgery. She was doing admin for field hospitals. There are enough doctors and nurses to staff the field hospitals, but neither know how or have any interest in the admin side of the care unit. So she goes in and sets things up so they work. They had just finished their assignment and came down to Botswana to get a bit of a vacation in before going back to England.

Dinner was an instant replay of the ones that Wilderness Safari serves. Soup, meat and veggies and a nice dessert with a white and a red. The conversation over dinner flowed easily. Rob (the doctor) had lived here as a boy and knew all the right topics to bring up that kept everyone including the staff engaged in the dinner.

Back at my room a shower and bed was the order of the evening. I slept pretty alright. I had smoked a cigarette on the deck after getting back but got a little cautious it being totally in the dark except for starlight and went back in the room even though it is against my principals to smoke inside. Just as I was about to really drop into that first deep sleep I hear the roar of a lion and it sounded like it was in camp. Really truly, I'm not exaggerating. When the pack says smoking kills I don't think they had lions in mind.

Five-thirty came about the time that five-thirty comes around here. Just a lightening on the horizon to let you know that shortly it will be dawn. Breakfast was exactly as the past 2 weeks.

Today the plan was to go to Baines Baobab. It is a stand of possibly 2000 year old Baobab's that Mr Thomas Baines painted in the later 1800's. Mr. Baines was a painter and writer who was traveling around with the great white hunters of that era.

Baines Baobobs


We left around 6:30 am and drove to the Baobabs getting there around 11 am. The way there the only thing new to me to see was a Bat Eared Fox. The usual gang of critters were all along the way as well. We did pass a large herd of Springbok who gave me that iconic photo of little deers on the Savannah that we've all seen that were probably shot in Tanzania. We crossed several dry "Pan"s. Dry salt lakes that were littered with fist sized stones that looked like fossils but in fact were the salt and other alkaloids hardened as the lake evaporated.

Baines Baobabs were located on the edge of a large salt pan they were huge, which I suppose what makes them special. I'm taking a wild guess there, but the main one must have been 50 feet in diameter. They were massive. I had brought my camera and telephoto lens; it is the one I've used almost exclusively because of the animals. There were very few times that it was too large to get the picture. I started walking into the pan to get the picture of the trees. Walk, walk, walk - stop. Nope too close. Walk, walk, walk stop. Nope still too close. Walk to the next little bush - almost but not quite. Schlep, schlep to the next bush. Finally. THE SHOT. I look down and someone had made a small circle of the stones there. I think it was made to signify that this is the place to replicate Baines painting. It sure looked good through the view finder. The smaller lens would have been ideal to get the start background but you gotta work with what you got and I was tired of walking across a dry lake bed in the middle of summer.

We had a picnic under the trees of fried chicken, pasta salad and a salad. Wine was available as were a large assortment of canned soft drinks. With fruit and cheese for dessert. Then came the looonnnggg drive back to camp. The road so rough that I wish I had worn a sports bra today. I kept hoping that we wouldn't stop to look at very many critters on the way back and I think Donald realized that. He didn't mess around with the Master Race and their video diary. Some but not too much. We did see another Bat Eared Fox on the way back.

We got back a little after 2 pm (our morning game drives generally end 11ish). I decided to "Count me out" on the 4:30 game drive as did Christina. Hans wanted to go but not alone. Donald and Kaser said they were happy to take him out, but he opted not to go. I needed this afternoon in camp. Time to do this journal and just sit back and maybe read a couple chapters in my novel. The has been very little extended (read; none) down time this entire trip.

Tomorrow is my last full day in country and I'll get both drives in anyway. .

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