Delta Dawn


“What’s that flower you have on?”  In the Okavango Delta, it’s the water lily of course.  We arrived at the Kasane Airport with anticipation.  We were taking a small (read:  tiny) plane to the Okavango Delta, about one hour and 15 minutes flight time.  There were five of us on the plane plus the pilot. Pamela, one of the passengers, had to sit in the co-pilot’s seat. I was nervous, but excited too.

 

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Nero preparing for takeoff from Kasane airport

 

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The Chobe River in flood.

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Everything looks fine from where I sit.

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Landing at Xugana Island.  Yes, that’s dirt.

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We had a bit of ground congestion at the beginning.

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This is the extent of the airport equipment at Xugana Island.

The flight was uneventful and relatively smooth for such a small plane.  Upon arrival we were graciously met by staff of the Camp who would take us the rest of the way by boat through the marshes and bayous of the Okavango Delta.  I found it absolutely thrilling.

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Locked, loaded, and ready to roll.

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My bed at Xugana Island Lodge.

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The equivalent of the hotel lobby at an Okavango Delta safari camp.

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The transportation hub.

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My room.

As we pulled up to the lodge in the boat  we were greeted with great fanfare.  Lots of singing, clapping, stomping, and trilling of voices. The rest of our time was spent exploring our little niche of the expansive inland delta.  The first activity was a mokoro ride.  A mokoro is a narrow, canoe-like boat designed to move through the narrow and shallow channels of the Delta.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard such silence.

 

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Mokoro ride.

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Mokoro selfie.

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A gorgeous Okavango sunset.

 

 

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Our first dinner at Xugana Lodge

 

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The view from my room.

 

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Our guide, Flame, preparing for our walking safari. 

 

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Elephant encounter on the walking safari.

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Just a baboon on a termite hill.  Walking safari.

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A swallow that was trying to build a nest on my porch.

 

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A close encounter of the Nile Crocodile kind.

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Smile pretty for me.

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At sunrise, on our final day, I left Ray’s ashes here.  I did not even need to leave my porch.

Alas, our African Odyssey must come to an end.  My travel buddy, Amanda Easton, was amazing in spite of bugs that flew and are not fried or grilled.  While the natural beauty of the flora and fauna will linger in my mind, it is the genuine warmth and friendliness of the African people that we encountered that will be most memorable.  My thanks the team at Anastasia’s Africa for their diligence and thoughtfulness for planning such a wonder excursion.  Until next time because you know…”My life is a trip.”

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Leaving Okavango. It’s sad.

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I Ain’t Lion


I thought my previous post was to be my last from Chobe Game Reserve, but we had a pretty productive game drive last evening and I wanted to share it. It’s always thrilling to find big cats in the bush.

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We came across a pride of lions just lazily napping by the river!

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Lebo, our game driver at Chobe.  She has an eagle eye, and is always on the lookout.

We also had a very close encounter with a bull elephant but my memory card was full on my camera. A very ditzy move on my part. This morning we’re flying in a small plane to the Okavango Delta.  I’ll report back when we reach Johannesburg.

 

The Road to Botswana


So we left Zimbabwe in the dust bound for the Botswana border and then the Chobe National Forest beyond. I was looking forward to the drive as I wanted to see more of how local people went about their daily lives, but I was to be disappointed. I don’t think I saw a single structure or person for the entire two hours after we left the little town of Victoria Falls…nothing but bushland.
The border crossing was really interesting. First we pulled into a large and dusty parking lot filled with semi trucks and a little shack. This was the departure immigration station for Zimbabwe. We then had to pull the bus up a few feet to drive through a sanitizing solution for the tires. We then entered another little building to have our passports examined and stamped. After exiting the vehicle again we had to walk through a sanitizing solution to cleanse our shoes. I was now just a few steps and a rickety gate away from Botswana where we boarded a second vehicle, a safari jeep this time, for our final journey to Chobe Game Lodge on the banks of the Chobe River.

Chobe National Park in Botswana is 4,500 square miles and sits near the borders of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia and is home to Africa’s largest elephant population.  Our time here is centered around game both from the water and on land.

Safari drivers and trackers here in Africa highly sought out jobs and are held almost exclusively by men.  But not here at Chobe…They are all women!  This is something they are very proud of. Here, in the order seen, are some of the animals we’ve encountered so far.  None of the big guys yet, but we’re still looking!

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Female Kudu

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African Fish Eagle

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Crocodile.

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The Chobe River.

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Chobe River at sunset

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Elephant skull

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Chobe River at sunrise

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Another Fish Eagle

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Buffalo skull

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Baboons and Impala

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Vervet monkey

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I could watch the Baboons all day.  They are crazy.

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Ah yes, Right there. Right there!

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This may look like a statue, but it’s really an African Buffalo up close and personal.

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Hornbills.

We still have a couple more game drives before we move on to the Okavango Delta tomorrow.  If we come across anything interesting, I’ll try to update this post.  Our lodge in the Delta is going to be so remote that there this no internet connection.  I will try to update you from Johannesburg in a few days.

 

Life on the Zambezi


Life on the Zambezi can take many forms.  From getting soaking wet walking along the mighty Victoria Falls, to cruising along in a Range Rover scouting for game to eating a scrumptious dinner at the lodge, it’s all good.

 

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My Crocodile Randee look

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Another spot where I left Ray’s ashes

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Sundowners in the bush

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An elephant tusk stuck in a Baobab tree.  Yeah, I’d like to know the story too.

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From my balcony

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The walkway to my balcony

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A highlight has been Victoria Falls.  Well, that’s actually the primary reason we came to Zimbabwe.  I have now seen the “Big Three,”  Niagara, Iguacu, and Victoria.  While seeing it up close and personal is truly awesome, it is so wet that it is not conducive to photos.  But going up in a helicopter…well, that’s a different story.

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Welcome to Zimbabwe


We had to get up really early, like 4:00am early, to catch our flight from Cape Town to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. But now that we are here I don’t really mind.  We were met at the airport and driven to the Zambezi River for our final journey, by boat, to our safari lodge.

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The Victoria Falls River Lodge is a spectacular luxury tented camp on the banks of the river.  It’s shear heaven on Earth.  As I was walking out to my terrace facing the river I was greeted by an unexpected guest.

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I simply can’t say enough say enough about this lodge.  The setting is spectacular on the banks of the Zambezi River in the middle of a national park.  The staff could not be more gracious and helpful, and the food is good and plentiful.  What else does one need on safari?  As we arrived by boat with three people waving at us in greeting I knew it was going to be a memorable visit.

 

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My “tent” at the Victoria Falls River Lodge

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After getting familiar with our “tents” we embarked on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.  Honestly, there’s nothing like it.DSC03426DSC03413DSC03404DSC03412

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Our captain “White”

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Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the wildlife is abundant here.  Amanda and I are keeping a list…sort of…of all the species we see.  However there is nothing like walking out of your tent to see this:

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I just know that Zimbabwe is going to please.

 

 

At the End of the Cape


It took a long time to get here, but we did.  Two hours from Palm Springs to LAX, and I was there three hours early.  Then on to Dublin, Ireland where we discharged some passengers and took on fuel.  From there we’re off to Adidas Ababa, Ethiopia for a four hour layover.  Then finally on to Cape Town, South Africa. It was over 30 hours.  We were giddy-exhausted.

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Cape Town from above

But we did make it.  It’s worth it.  I love Cape Town.  This is my second time here and I still love it.  If it weren’t so far I’m sure I’d come often.

We have a quaint little apartment in the De Waterkant area of the central city (City Bowl in local parlance).  We’ve been able to walk to many places for eating and entertainment from here.  It was a good choice. Amada found it.

 

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The Bo Kapp neighborhood

The first day we took “the big red tourist bus” around the city to get a lay of the land. These are really not as corny as they sound.  One of the highlights was taking a gondola to the top of Table Mountain that overlooks the city.  The views are breath-taking.DSC03288DSC03286DSC03284DSC03282DSC03279

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From Table Mountain

The next day was also very interesting since we took a Cape Malay cooking class in a Muslim home in the Bo Kapp neighborhood.  This area is and old slave quarter and is full of culture and especially color!DSC03305DSC03300

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Our host for the day

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Today we took a tour down to the Cape of Good Hope.  It is probably one of the more scenic drives in the world and I’m sure my photographic skills does not do it justice.DSC03361 (2)DSC03360DSC03356DSC03351DSC03339DSC03334DSC03332DSC03324

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Just an ostrich at the end of the world

Tomorrow we’re off to Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls.  Really early!

 

 

 

 

 

Magical Wadi Rum


We left Petra this morning but not without a short stop about five miles outside the city to visit “Little Petra.”  Little Petra was not an actual city like Petra itself, but rather was a resting point for caravans that traveled to Petra from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.  Although much smaller it was still impressive.

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Our real destination today was Wadi Rum (and then on to Aqaba).  Wadi Rum is a spectacularly scenic desert valley in the southeast of Jordan.  This area of Jordan is quite isolated and largely inhospitable to settled life. The only permanent inhabitants are several thousand Bedouin nomads and villagers. There is no real infrastructure, leaving the area quite unspoiled. Apart from the Bedouin goat hair tents, the only structures are a few concrete shops and houses.

 

 

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Wadi Rum

Joan and I took a three hour tour in a 4 x 4 that was timed to end at sunset.  Our driver, Faisal, then made us tea in the typical Bedouin way as the sun dipped and changed the color of the environment.  It was truly a memorable experience.

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Petroglyphs.

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At a Bedouin camp.

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Faisal talking to one of the locals.

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Notice the sand has changed color as the day progressed.

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Faisal preparing to make tea.

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Making tea.

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The kids loved the sand. It was very soft.

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Our view for sunset.

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Bye bye Wadi Rum.

I made a little video when we stopped at the Bedouin camp.  If you would like to see it, you can do so  here.  But this is how a professional does it:  Wadi Rum

We are now in Aqaba our last stop before heading back to Amman and the journey home.  So, this is probably my last post from Jordan.  I’m so happy that I have come here. It is a country so important from a historical perspective.  The people are warm…just walking down the sidewalk it is not unusual for a passerby to say “Welcome.”

There’s not much to see here in Aqaba.  It’s draw is it’s location on the Red sea and nearly a stone’s throw from Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.  It’s a resort city and has Jordan’s only port.  I was ready for a break and this little town provided it nicely.

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