Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Botswana - Makgadigadi and Central Kalahari

The sight that greeted us from the air, Clouds reflecting of the ancient lake's surface.
It was with great excitement that I received the request to go to the Makgadigadi Pans in Botswana during the wet season. This is one of the most dramatic, isolated and in my opinion, exciting places in Africa. On the edge of this ancient inland lake is Jacks Camp, one of the most surprising camps in Africa. This destination is certainly for the safari connoisseur. At first glance, it's not an obviously wildlife filled destination and for someone who is purely after the big stuff my leave empty handed. However once you start scratching the salty surface of this remarkable place, an array of interesting wildlife starts showing itself.    

Jacks Camp is one of the best places to see habituated Meerkats in the world.  
If there are a few animals that everyone should try and see at least once in their life, Meerkats will be among them. At a parr with the Gorilla trekking in East Africa, The great Migration or the big cats of the Sabie Sands, spending a morning with these endearing animals will remain etched in ones mind forever. As one of the guests put it so eloquently "Now I know exactly how Gulliver must have felt."
The Meerkat family getting ready for the days foraging
Undoubtedly one of Africa’s most endearing animals, I can honestly not think of anyone who is not totally in love with them. They are the stars of classic Disney animations movies, the face of international add campaigns and the mascot of cellphone companies and even has their own reality show that makes the Kardashians look pale. People just love them! But unlike many stars of the silver screen, their real life personas are exactly as they are when the camera’s start rolling.  Some destinations have habituated groups of Meerkats to the presence of people which allows for unparalleled insights into their daily lives. Jack's Camp offers the best.

The unusual green surrounding of the Makgadigadi pans.
Although we were not expecting to see lions at this destination, when a group of females and large cubs were seen at daybreak one morning we took our chances to catch up. What a magnificent experience seeing these big cats out on the open terrain next to the pans, especially when the pride erupted in a bout of play in early morning light.  

Lions at play in the early morning light

Truly remarkable to view lion on the edge of the pans, something we didn't expect.
Early intrepid explorers such as John Chapman who braved the harsh waterless terrain en route to Victoria Falls camped on the edge of Nxai pan. He was accompanied by Thomas Baines who painted these trees on the edge of Nxai Pan. Today they have changed little in appearance since the original painting in 1862.  The cloudy conditions of the day actually made for great landscape images, especially when converted to black and white.  

Legendary Baines Baobabs where a host of historic explorers camped out.
Below are a few images of the really cool Jack's Camp.

A definite first for me to take a photo of a loo. But yes, you read correct. The coolest loo in Africa!
Jack's Camps Lounge. 

A tented pool!! Imagine stepping off the teak floors onto the salty crust of the ancient salt pan!!
Stopping for an early morning photo session on the pans. 

The laziest lions in the world. Three days of this!!!
We tend to share all the great wildlife moments. In reality, as anyone who spends time with wildlife knows, this is not always the case. Wildlife, and especially the big cats, can spend hours inactive each day. But these two lions beat all records. For three days we visited them and in all that time had hardly moved 200 meters, and that at time no one saw the "action". So I think its only fair that we also share this with you all. 

Piper pan in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Mark and Delia Owens put the Central Kalahari on the map and ever since reading their evocative Cry of the Kalahari wanted to visit this place. Piper Pan on the western edge of Deception Valley encapsulated the supreme beauty of the area. This images was taken as we departed the area one afternoon. I'll definitely be back and if you want to join me just click here

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