We got up early in the morning to tackle a four and a half hour plane ride to get to our new destination. We arrived in Maun, Botswana and from this point on everything was non-stop fun. We were here to see everything the safari had to offer, so we kept breaks to a minimum. It was very tiring but well worth it in the end.
The plane landed on a dirt airstrip and we were met by three open jeeps waiting to take us to the camp. During the drive we all went through a total culture shock, because everything here was so beautiful. Just on the way to the camp we saw many different animals, with one of them being a whole pack of mongoose running through the grass. The sight was so amazing because the way they traveled made the grass move like waves in the ocean.
After arriving at “Chief’s Camp,” the staff was there waiting to greet us with a song. When they were done we were led to the main lodge, and just outside the place we saw warthogs and hyenas all around. The staff simply said, “don’t worry about them, they won’t bug you if you don’t bug them.” This may seem like solid advice, but these animals were huge and in no way cute or cuddly. In fact they were part of the “Ugly Big 5.” This list is a lot like the “Big 5” but with all the ugly looking animals that you can only see in Africa.
The camp’s manager then gave us a safety briefing along with a general schedule of the different activities. The briefing went by quickly and before we knew it we were having snacks and getting ready for our first safari drive. We picked a driver named Kenosi and stuck with him for our whole time at the camp. Their title was “Tour Guide” but that was a severe understatement, because they were skilled trackers and experts on the different animals that lived here. Every single animal we got to see while on our trip, came with the price of spending the time tracking them and just generally getting lucky.
Luck was definitely on our side because one of the first things we saw was a Cheetah! What was so fortunate about this, other
than the fact we got to saw the fastest land mammal in the world, was that a cheetah hadn’t been seen in this area for over a month. It was a mother and two cubs, who were enjoying laying in the tall grass away from the sun. After getting some pictures of them we moved on to search for other animals.
While we were driving, Kenosi suddenly stopped and turned the car off. We looked to the right and there was a male lion laying in the grass only five feet away from us. It truly was scary being that close to a lion while in an open jeep, and knowing that if anything wrong were to happen it wouldn’t end well for any of us.
What happened next made my heart stop. The driver turned the car on and within a second the lion was on its feet. I was sitting in the back of the jeep, alone, and in the most elevated seat, so I was the one it made eye contact with. Even though it didn’t do anything I will remember that moment as one of the most thrilling in my life.
Shortly after, we left the lion to allow it to continue its nap. At this point someone in the jeep with us spotted something moving in the grass a good distance away. We decided to get closer to investigate, but when we got close a leopard abruptly ran past us and into a bush. We waited around the bush for a while but it refused to leave, so we decided to let it be.
We were happy we didn’t get too far from the bush when two male lions appeared, one of them being the lion we saw earlier. They slowly prowled over to the bush where the leopard was, so we quickly stopped the car and watched to see what would happen. Our driver, Kenosi, was astounded and said, “You guys have no idea how lucky you are.” Seeing three big cats in one day and all in the same area was extremely rare because they’re very territorial.
Nothing did happen because before the lions could get too close the leopard rapidly ran out of the bush. The lions just watched it go, knowing that it got the message. After seeing all this it was time to head back and have dinner. Some of the members from the GCCA organized this safari trip, so we ate and spent almost of our time with them.
We all sat to have dinner together where the menu consisted of either a kind of fish or pork. When the waiters confirmed that
the pork was from the warthogs my dad, grandpa, and I had to give it a try. It was cooked and seasoned perfectly and had to be the best pork I’ve ever had in my life. Who knew that one of the ugliest animals I saw in the safari would taste so good!
After dinner we sat around a big fire for a while just talking and relaxing after a busy day. Not much time went by when we decided it was time for bed. Our room was great, it was pretty much a giant glorified tent. Although it did have a wooden roof, the walls were just like a tent’s. When we climbed into bed we all fell asleep quickly because we knew we had to get up early in the morning the next day.