Today we were treated to a unique feature at Jozi - mountain biking the elephant paths. We were provided with modern mountain bikes featuring front suspension for ease of travel over the rough terrain. The peddling was mostly flat but it was a bit challenging when the sand got deep. It also took some skill to avoid elephant dung, branches and other obstacles but it was exhilarating to be riding through the African bush down the narrow elephant trails that fanned out around camp. Our first stop was at an old abandoned camp whose walls were crumbling and thatch roofs full of huge holes. It was a bit eerie to walk though the buildings and think back to the time when this camp was first built. Apparently the owner abandoned the project towards the end and these buildings were left to deteriorate over the years. Next we stopped by the anti poaching team and said a quick hello. Then it was off down the trail into the wild. We biked for about 5 mi
I left my fellow travelers and headed back to Vic Falls. It was a long drive - 2 hours game drive to the park border, 2 hours on paved road to the falls, and one hour in a safari vehicle down the escarpment to the rivers edge and one of all time favorite camps, Zambezi Sands. A warm welcome from my friends that manage the camp, John and Nadine, and then I was off canoeing down the river for a sunset adventure past hippos and crocs. The river is highest in May and this year it was flowing swiftly so we made good time as we floated down river towards the falls. One side Zambia, the other Zimbabwe. So great to be back in the river again! A cold gin and tonic awaited us on shore as we toasted to the setting sun on anther great day in Africa.
As the day awakens birds call a happy song and wisps of clouds rise off the fast flowing Zambezi as it pushes its way to Mozambique and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Today I will cross the border into Botswana and fly into the norther part of the Okavango Delta, the largest freshwater body of water in the world. Each year as the rains fall in the highlands of Angola the rivers swell and feed down into the great sands of the Kalahari where they are blocked by the escarpment of the rift valley creating this eden for wildlife. As the waters rise new life blossoms from the earth. Dormant frogs come racing back to life. Catfish awaken from their hibernation and wriggle free of their muddy beds. The water then pushes up higher creating islands which concentrate wildlife creating the ideal situation for one to observe nature in all its glory. Predatory cats swing into action with easy prey now within reach. This cycle gives Botswana its fame as one of the top safari destination…
Today was spent searching for painted dogs - we picked up their tracks in the early dawn and followed them a long distance across the open plains. A hot air balloon rose in the distance and since we could not locate the dogs we went to meet the pilot who landed nearby. One of the great thrills available to guests in this area is a pre-dawn launch in a hot air balloon over the Okavango delta. It was fun talking to Mervin, the pilot, as we shared stories of balloon rides in Turkey, Namibia, Napa, and Burma. Unfortunately he could not fit me onto a flight this time but he left me an open invitation to come fly with him in the future. In any case, today was what we call a “slow news day” and we did not see any big cats or painted dog though we did see an African wildcat which was a treat.