african safari giraffe

The Great African Adventure Part 1: The Adventure Begins

WTA Travel Services booked a trip to Africa in 2014 for our client, Kathy Barry. Kathy wrote a journal as the trip progressed, and she has agreed to let us share her story. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see the story unfold. It begins with her trip to Botswana and the Moremi Game Preserve. We hope you enjoy reading about her trip to Botswana as much as we did!

Wednesday, May 7 – Chicago Illinois

Day One of The Big African Adventure had finally arrived.  Of course I couldn’t sleep!   I got up around 4 and Tim dropped me at the Airport for a 5:30am flight to Chicago.   Hugs and kisses goodbye and headed off to meet Cheri and Dad in Chicago.  We connected with no problem and arrived in Dulles and had a fun lunch together at Harry’s.  We are all in fine spirits and board a huge plan that will spirit us to Johannesburg with a refueling stop in Dakar, Senegal. We were very comfortable in our business class seats (good call Cheri) lots of stories, chatter, wine and food.  We met some nice folks from Texas, Bill and Caroline who were ranchers and an artist named Cheri and her husband Bob who 2 stepped in the airport, hotel and wherever the spirit moved them. A very nice young man picked us up from the JoBurg Airport and delivered us to our hotel.  Funny….he was listening to OLD country music….Don Williams I think. We stayed at the lovely Air Arica In with our Texas friends and enjoyed their stories and had a delicious dinner with these fun folks and got ready for the next big day!

Friday, May 9 – Moremi Game Reserve

We were fetched at 9:00am by that nice country music loving young man and transported back to the JoBurg Airport and flew to Maun, Botswana.   After arriving in Maun, Botswana we then hopped on a small plane that seated 8 and arrived in Moremi and met our guide, Clinton Edwards.  Clinton drove us to our camp in his beloved Green Mamba, a very sweet Toyota Land Cruiser all tricked out for Safari and on the way we saw a huge herd of elephants and a giraffe that was happily having lunch beside us.  We saw our first amazing bird, a brave little beautiful lapwing, who was scolding all of the elephants with her, “Git, Git, Git” warning to stay clear of her nest.  She was a tenacious little thing – fearlessly protecting her family.

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” William Shakespeare summed her up nicely.  Lesson One.

We arrived at our beautiful lamp lit camp in Moremi which was placed in a wooded area right beside a long marsh.  We met Lawrence and Degree who cook and tend to us like royalty. At night we can hear the hippos squashing around, baboons calling to each other and someone, “getting a hiding”, as Clinton would say.   First things first…Dad found the Southern Cross.  We made a deal that we would greet her every night.  Alpha and Beta Centurion were low in the sky and pointed her out to us. The next morning we were able to see Scorpio. She had slid down from the Eastern sky and settled in next to the Southern Cross.  It was a lovely sight that we are not privileged to in our northern hemisphere.

Cheri and I are sharing a nice big tent with two generous cots that have big fat bedrolls, sheets, blankets, comforters and pillows.  We each have a little bedside table with a small lamp and a bathroom is attached. We have a shower, wash basin and toilet and the room is spacious.  The toilet is a little tippy and placed in the corner so straddling the thing is dicey business.   We giggled a lot about the skill involved in this!

Saturday, May 10 – Moremi Game Reserve

Lawrence woke us early at 5:30 with a greeting of “Dumela Mma” and filled our wash basins with warm water for a quick wash up and had a big pot of coffee waiting for us in the Mopani fire. We had a breakfast of some wonderful creamy oat porridge and set straight out.  Right off we came upon 2 male lions (Mona Tao).  Clinton explained that they were a “coalition” or pride males.  Sometimes they are brothers, sometimes they are not, but they band together in small groups to support, hunt and, I believe, form friendships.  These particular two lions were napping in the sunshine. I named them Brad Pitt and George Clooney as one was fair, one was dark and they were both exquisitely handsome. Brad got up slowly to go lay in the shade and as he passed George he gave him a nice little face wash and nuzzle…..a small and kind gesture that did not appear submissive at all but rather supportive and nurturing.  I don’t know much about lion behavior but I do know what acts of trust and kindness look like. Just like the brave little Lapwing yesterday, these lions showed me something true and humbling that I had not expected – Even the fierce do well with kindness.

We “bumbled along” and came upon some Kudu and got our first lesson on antelope, long twisted horns, and cloven hooves and saw the Coppery Tailed Coucal and the African Darter.  A great long giraffe entertained us while chomping up the “sausages” from the Sausage Tree.  The “sausages” were heavy big woody pods that the giraffes and Baboons manage to gnaw their way through.  Neither the Baboons nor the Giraffes seem to enjoy them much – they must know that they are nutritious so they do their due diligence and eat their veggies…..funny from a Dietician’s point of view!

We had coffee and watched a nice herd of beautiful zebras and got a tutorial from Clinton on the big ant hills – which are sort of socialized like bees and eat the bacteria/fungus that is created by their industrious efforts.  Dad was fascinated by this and had read about it….I had no idea!  We headed back to camp after a while for lunch.  Lawrence and Degree had prepared a lovely meal for us and set a table under the shade of a big Jackalberry Tree.  We all sat down and then this happened……

A huge bull elephant, wet from the marsh, came sauntering up and stood directly in front of us, looked at us all and proceeded to give himself a nice mud bath- scooping mud up with his trunk and flinging it on his shoulders and back.  Clinton, very calmly, told us to go stand by the big Jackalberry Tree.  Cheri and Dad hurried to fetch their cameras and I just stood there…by the tree… I didn’t want to miss anything.  He was a beauty.  Dad said that he was telling us something…..perhaps that this was his marsh and he was allowing us to have lunch in his marsh. But he was the boss. And we were there because he allowed us to be.  I had the feeling that he wanted us to see just how incredibly beautiful and amazing he was……

So far we have learned a few names and phrases in Setswana – the language of Botswana…

  • Dumela Rra – Good Morning (Male)
  • Dumela Mma – Good Morning (Female)
  • Nagna – Baby
  • Tau – Lion
  • Nkwe – Leopard ( pronounced In-quay)
  • Nare – Buffalo
  • Letlotse – Cheetah (pronounced Le-Tootsie)
  • Sa Tonga – Water Antelope
  • Kubu – Hippo
  • Monna – Male
  • Mosadi – Female
  • Tlou – Elephant
  • Tshwene – Baboon
  • And a beautiful South African Word – UBUNTU- which sort of translates to …”I am because you are” and has to do with Human-ness….very nice

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