My Safari to Botswana
by Jane Baltzars.
After an 11 hour flight from London, I arrived in Johannesburg and had a short aeroplane flight to Livingstone
to view the Victoria Falls. The hotel was sheer luxury, although wildlife was free to roam. My first encounter was
with zebras on the way to dinner. I do not mind wild cats, dogs, etc but I am petrified of horses and similar
animals. So I had to be extremely brave to pass them to get any food. Luckily enough there was a wall which I hid
behind until somebody shooed them away.
I have photographic evidence mind. There were also vervet monkeys resident in the grounds of the hotel. At
breakfast they managed to steal a few biscuits from one of the tables and hurriedly scampered into the trees. From
there they smugly taunted the guests with there booty and I’m sure I saw them give a victory salute.
Anyway, onward to Botswana by truck and then a small boat across the Zambezi to finally have my passport duly
stamped and I had arrived in Botswana. Here we would be travelling around spending 2 nights in the open and 2
nights in luxury in various parts of Botswana.
My first day in the wild was in Chobe. Got up at 5 am to be given tea and biscuits with a morning call at 5.30
am. Hurriedly washed and dressed for breakfast which was in a nearby tent. As I moved my chair to sit down for my
cereals, there was the most beautiful silver grey and green snake curled up like a coil. ‘What’s this gorgeous
snake’ I asked innocently, to be told ‘Don’t make any sudden movement that’s a puff adder’, which is quite a
venomous snake and extremely harmful. It looked very innocent and definitely was beautiful. It was quickly
despatched back into the wild and we did not see it again. After breakfast we went on a game drive in an open sided
vehicle. We saw a leopard, elephants, and various antelope including the Red Lechwe, which only inhabits certain
parts of Botswana, usually near water, lots of different birds and lots more. However, no cheetah which is my
reason for my constant trips to Africa. There was still time. We would arrive back in camp around 10 am, which gave
us time for a ‘wash and brush up’ before brunch around eleven. This was followed by an afternoon siesta. Much
needed due to the VERY HOT weather. After tea at 4 pm we were back on our game drives to view more wildlife and to
have a drink while watching the beautiful sunsets. We would then go back to base to spruce ourselves ready for
dinner. After that we would watch the stars before retiring to the tents to be serenaded by the wildlife. Heard
Hyena several nights, elephants, but the highlight was hearing Lions roaring when we were in the Okavango
During the trip I stayed at Chobe, Savuti, Moremi, Okavango Delta, Central Kalahari, Deception Valley and Maun.
I managed to see cheetahs at Moremi and again in the Kalahari. At the first encounter, they had eaten their fill so
were just quietly sleeping while their food was digesting. However, in the Kalahari, they had just made the kill
(which we were not lucky enough to see) and were getting down to eating it. They had killed a springbok and had
just managed to open it up when we arrived. Two heads were deep into the tummy and as the heads came up the
entrails were being consumed. It looked as if they were eating spaghetti! Two gorgeous male cheetahs with bloody
red faces. It was fascinating to watch. It took them about ten to fifteen minutes to have consumed most of the
carcass. They then took a few minutes rest and then with extremely full tummies nibbled at what was left. I did not
think there was any room for more, but they kept on trying.
Another highlight was seeing a pack of seventeen African Painted Wolves (also called wild dogs). Their pups were
huddled together in a fluffy ball trying to keep warm as it had been a chilly night. The adults were lying close by
and were definitely ‘on guard’. They were ready for the action needed for obtaining breakfast. They were very
Also saw an attempted kill. A young lion tried to take down a Zebra. It was extremely comical because she did
not stand much of a chance. Other members of the pride looked on, and they seemed to be laughing at her. Anyway
lion nil, Zebra one (or should it be won). Saw a young male lion as well. However, it was a bit sad, because he had
attacked a porcupine and the quills were still dotted in his leg, chin and upper body. His paw was very swollen,
due to infection, and cellulitis had set in. It probably would have been kinder if he had been given a ‘lead’ pill
because he could have a slow painful despatch.. However, here nature has to take its course. I just hoped he would
get septicaemia and that would be a quicker despatch for him.
I have many more wonderful memories. Too many to mention here. I am just now trying to organise my next trip to
Africa, and give the staff at SMPU some more quiet time.
(Jane is a pharmacist from Barry).