Caprivi Strip, 2014 Part 8

by david on April 3, 2015

The morning launch at our pace.

This morning started off as a mad scramble, with Murphy’s Law randomly raining havoc.  The British family and Australian couple were supposed to leave this morning – the Australians at 9:00, and the British at 11:00. Something had changed from the previous evening and the order was now reversed. When Janice and I were ready to leave on our morning game cruise, the Brits were scurrying around like meerkats and the Aussies were chilling out with a third or fourth cup of coffee. We bid our farewells and shoved off.

It was sort of neat that Janice and I were the only ones on the boat and had Victor all to ourselves. The wind had changed direction and picked up a little overnight, forcing our pilot to take a slightly different route than the day before. This worked out fine. It was greatly appreciated as the Chobe is quite wide in places and the wind can whip the surface into whitecaps with little to no effort. This was my third game viewing expedition and I was still in jaw-dropping awe at the number of elephants and buffalo to be seen. I eventually quit taking stills and started taking video. I reasoned if I wanted to accurately portray the views I was seeing there was just no way still photographs were going to do it. Victor got us extra up close and personal with the buffalo (5 to 10 feet), dozing hippos (10 to 15 feet), and a ± 14-foot sunbathing croc (10 feet). The croc and the buffalo never gave us so much as an eye roll, but one of the hippos was sleeping with one eye open so we did not push out luck.

We lucked out in a couple of other ways as well. We added Roan and Blue Gnu (wildebeest) to our species count. The coolest thing, however, was watching a herd of elephant materialize out of thin air and go down to the river to drink and play. I do not know if I can adequately describe the scene, but I’ll try. The edge of the veld was about 60’ away and 20’ above the river. We saw one elephant standing about halfway down the bank, so we stopped for a quick look. Then, as if by magic, there was one more, then another, and another. Each just seeming to appear from thin air. I finally saw a tree move and noticed a shadow behind it. The shadow turned into a trunk floating about in midair. Next, a large flapping motion turned out to be an ear. The ear and the trunk momentarily disappeared and blended in with the shadows. The shadow moved and half a blink later the head and shoulders of an elephant popped into view. It took two more steps for the back half of the four-ton animal to appear. It was quite stupefying that something so large can blend in so well with its surroundings as to be imperceptible to the untrained human eye at 25-30 yards. Little did I know that later in the trip elephants would appear and disappear at a much, much closer distance. Before their magical appearance was over, there were probably 50 elephants romping and playing up and down the bank. I felt as if I should be on a National Geographic film crew as the older elephants slaked their thirst and the little ones squirted water every which way. Whether it is by design or some cruel quirk of fate that time goes by so quickly when viewing sights such as these I do not know. What I do know is that it was time to head back for lunch much sooner than it should have been.

A holdover from the time of the dinosaurs.    A holdover from the time of the dinosaurs.

 

 

Soaking up some sun. Soaking up some sun.

 

Materializing out of thin air.  How many do you see?  Materializing out of thin air. How many do you see?

 

There were eight. There were eight.

 

Can you see me? Can you see me?

 

Time for a drink. Time for a drink.

 

Monday, Tiger Fish Rematch

 

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