Flying to the Kalahari the green of the Delta was giving way to brown parched landscapes, we flew over several small salt pans before finally coming to our landing strip.
We were met by Timber and KP who took us on a dusty drive to our lodge. The lodge is the only permanent camp in Nxai Pan National Park and faces out over one of only two watering holes in the park. We were welcomed to the camp and given a quick briefing. They asked us to shower as long as we wanted and to turn the water on at least 10 minutes prior to showering.... to get the hot water to our 'tent' and because all the shower and wash water goes out to the watering hole for the elephants.
After freshening up and a snack of quiche, we were asked what we wanted to see. Kay and I would both like to see Cheetah on this trip... so we answered with a resounding, "CHEETAH!!". Well, they said that they would see what they could do and off we went.
We drove around the park and saw Elephants, one Zebra, hundreds of Springbok and what was that under that bush?! Two Cheetah!! We were patient and waited a long time before they decided to get up and come our way... we were lucky enough to have them cross right in front of our Jeep before they dashed off into the distance. Day one at Nxai Pan and we had seen our Cheetah!
Dinner was served family style and there was a lot to choose from, everything was delicious.... I don't think we really had a bad meal in Botswana.
We were awoken every morning at 5:30, then everyone went to the main lodge for muffins and tea around the fire pit at 6:00am . While we were enjoying the freshly baked muffins we heard two lions roaring in the distance.
We left camp at 6:30 and went in the direction of the roars. Our jeep rounded a corner and there was a magnificent male lion on the road. Another one was running into the thicket. As soon as the first one noticed us, he ran into the bush as well. We managed to get some decent photos of him as he seemed intent on keeping an eye on us. Eventually both lions moved into deeper brush.
We then went looking for our Cheetahs. We saw several Jackals and Bat Earred Fox a long distance away. Some Springbok were running and there were Oryx in the distance. Laying in the shade of a bush were our two Cheetahs, brother and sister, about two years old. We patiently waited and they eventually got up and made a big circle around the Oryx.
At about 10am we went to a water hole, there are only two in the area..... One in front of our lodge, fed by all the grey water.... the other is some miles away and also fed by a borehole.
We watched Springbock, Impala, Wildebeest and Ostrich cautiously come to drink. On our way back to camp we stopped under some trees for tea and a snack.
Brunch was waiting for us when we returned. There was some kind of tasty beef casserole, pork sausage, bacon, rice, beans, fresh sweet bread and eggs made to order. Meal number three. "I lost weight on my safari.", said no one ever!
We're resting now in our cool rooms with full bellies, imitating the lions and at 2:30 we're going to the Baines Baobabs which is a four hour round trip on bumpy, sandy roads. I'm betting that we will have meal number four when we get there!
We went to the Baobab Trees, which Baines found and painted in 1862, one hundred years before I was born. The trees are estimated to be between 2500 - 4000 years old. Standing in the middle of them and realizing that they were here before Christ, is kind of surreal.
Meal number four was served on the Nxai Pan salt flats right in front of the trees. Our guide, Timber, seemed offended when I declined.... so I ended up taking the smallest sandwich in the basket.
On our way home we spotted the same lions that we had seen this morning. They were far less shy, but the light was not good..... so I blinded the poor beasts with my flash. I hope they don't hold a grudge.
Dinner was awesome.... Gazpacho soup, really tender roast beef, scalloped potatoes, mixed veggies and purple cabbage. Meal number five ended with cheesecake.
We managed to roll down the boardwalk to our rooms and now it's time for bed. Wake up at 5:30..... game drive at 6:30.