This is definitely one for the campfire. We were on an early morning game drive, which happened to be our last drive of our three nights’ stay at Chiefs Camp in the Okavango Delta. It was our first overcast morning in 10 days, which added to the very quiet, soft feel that morning. I guess we might have all been thinking about our past trip, and how it was coming to an end, after viewing a magnificent pride of lions , we slowly moved off. At this stage, anything else would have been a bonus, as we were quite satisfied with our adventures so far.
Running a camp in a remote location, like the Okavango Delta, is a challenge for the most stout-hearted, resourceful individual. One January, our camp was closed for routine maintenance. Heavy rain caused the water in the permanent channels surrounding our camp to rise dramatically. Skies remained sullenly bruised and the clamour of rain battering against the thatch and canvas became the ear-numbing soundtrack for an entire week.
This would be my first encounter with these magnificent fish and the fluttering feeling in the pit of my stomach grew as the briefing on seal behaviour unfolded. On Seal Island the massing Cape Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) prepare to leave their rocky sanctuary in the early morning. At the southern end of the island, they gather in a “bait ball” and in groups of fifty to a hundred individuals, head out to their usual feeding grounds at sea. The stragglers return to the island and it’s these vulnerable individuals that the great whites target. At this time of year - May, June and July - the pups that were born during the peak birthing season in December are newly weaned and their inexperience makes them easy prey for the cruising great whites. This area is prime for the spectacular breaching predations and we were briefed by the crew to watch like our lives depended on it!
We started our safari in the central west side of Tanzania at a small remote camp called Oliver’s. It consists of a thatched dining and lounge area, and six en-suite luxury tents on the banks of the Tarangire River. This river is the lifeblood of the park during the dry months, and is also what makes Tarangire such an incredibly rich game area at this time of year, for it is the only water source for miles. t didn't take us long to see its rich diversity and density of animals. From the entrance gate to the camp we saw a multitude of animals, from the common yet beautiful impala, to the majestic giraffe and colossal elephants. Prides of lions, big herds of buffalo, and a huge number of birds featured. Another thing that Tarangire is well known for are the forests of baobab trees. I’m not joking when I say “forests”. In some areas, there are stands of between 100-150 of these incredibly archaic trees dotted throughout the landscape, with elephants in their shade, baboons eating their fruit – truly something to see.