Struggling to remember what we have done since the last update....after our lion walks and a night encounter with captive hunting lions (who nearly ate the parks horses!) we then went to Bulawayo and were supposed to do Rhino tracking on foot. Our white Zimbabwean guide was hopeless and spent more time telling me he was on facebook than telling us about Rhinos. By chance we bumped into an anti poaching team who were learning to shoot poachers on sight, an interesting concept (and i wont be losing any sleep over shot poachers). These guys were really helpful and informative but only 2 people could go with them so the rest of us waited in the truck. It was also one of the best raptor sites in Africa, but the rain meant we didnt see a single raptor! We did see some rock paintings and Elephant shrews (one if the 'small 5')
That night Jules, Azusa, Chris and i cooked 'boerenworst', mash and garlic and tomato kale, i was so hungry especially after the night before when i had been so ill that i thought i would never eat again!
At Victoria falls we met up with Dan, who stayed with us for all of a week before he had to fly back to London for medical reasons, he is still awaiting the results of his tests but we wish him all the best and hope to hear how he is getting on soon.
From Vic falls we drove into Botswana. The days are a bit of a blur now but on one afternoon we took a boat trip on the Chobe river and had great views of hippos, elephants etc. I celebrated my birthday by waking up in a bush camp, and returnig to my tent to find it filled with baloons (that would explain last nights banging noises). That afternoon i saw my 2000th species, Meve's Long-tailed Starling, was treated to curry by Remkes cook group, a few beers, cake, a swim, some presents, a bottle of wine from Katka and Katie, African Baileys, a wooden bird and a book about Botswanan mammals and various monkey related things from Remke : )
The next day we left early for the Okavango, where we were 'poled' by our mokoro poler 'beauty', whose poling was bettered only by her howling when singing! The delta was beautiful and we spent our time swimming (the area was delcared croc and hippo free by our local guides), doing bush walks and trying our hand at poling, not the easiest!
After getting back to Maun we cleaned up our tents and cooking equioment from the delta and then drove to town for a scenic flight over the delta, sadly cancelled due to inclement weather (read - Botswana were playing Ghana in the African cup of nations?)
The following morning we took our flight and could appreciate the deltas sheer size. It was also possibe to see elephants, giraffes, hippos and crocs from the sky, in fact i could even make out Pied Kingfishers so we must have been fairly low!
In the afternoon we crossed the border to Namibia and slept at Ngepi camp with hippos calling at night and a lion roaring in the distance, apparently it was ok to walk off birding on my own, whilst 3 of the group went jogging.
That night we bush camped illegally (as it all is in Namibia apparently), our site was near a famous big baobab tree called 'the big tree'.
From there it was just a few hours to Etosha where we did a game drive in Gunga. Highlights were the Leopard that Brendan found, plus a pair of Lions mating, Gemsbok, Black-backed Jackals and lots of birds. We stopped for lunch at a campsite, with swimming pool and ice creams! That evening we arrived at our camp, complete with waterhole and spent from 1830-0130 sitting watching African Wild Cat, more Jackals but this time within a few metres, Verreaux's Eagle and Barn Owls, Rufous-cheeked and Mozambique Nightjars and 2 Common Genets at stroking distance, had we wanted to stroke them that is!
After dragging myself to bed i was woken at 0500 by an ever increasing Lion roar, sadly i didnt muster the energy to get up, others did and saw the lion drinking. The waterhole was amazing, floodlit, benches and tables etc. We even ate a great veggie coconut curry that Katka had made whilst watching the wildlife.
We left the park seeing more game, more Springboks (actually springing) and drove to Cheetah park where we were allowed to stroke their 3 pet Cheetahs as well as seeing other Cheetahs being fed. The latter have apparently been collected from the wild as the local farmers wanted to shoot them. Not sure what was really going on....a bit of an odd place!
Then we drove to Spitzkoppe, beautiful scenery, we cooked zuurkool stampot with more boerenworst and then slept on the sand next to our tent. Thankfully no snakes or scorpions found our sleeping bags to their liking and we could gaze at thousands of stars. Also lots of birds present but no sign of Herero Chat in 4 hours of searching.
The girls bush stop the next morning produced a small snake, the reason i was running towards the girls with my camera honestly! It was a young Horned Adder.
We are now in Swakopmund having visited Cape Cross Cape Fur Seal colony yesterday (30th). There we fulfilled our last cooking duty of the trip, followed by a group hug. Swakopmund is very German, with great food, some German beer and right on the beach. For Remkes birthday i have upgraded us to a room, with ensuite facilites, chance for laundry and internet before we do our last 3 nights camping. At the South African border we leave the truck behind (due to extortionate overland costs) and travel the last few days by bus.
Hope to get some more online tomorrow but for now here are a few photos of our last week or so.