Last Boat to Elephant Bay
The time has come, the calendar says, to say goodbye to Pangolin lodge, the Chobe River and Botswana. Ah, but we have one last safari on the river before we depart for Zimbabwe and a flight to Kenya.
After our O-dark-thirty coffee/tea and snack, we once again head for the river, watching both sides of the road for any wildlife that ignored the boundaries of Chobe National Park, and waving at the conservation center where Badgey the orphaned honey badger now lives in safety and solitude.
The boat is ready, cameras mounted securely on the gimbal heads. First thing, we journey up a channel to check on the jacana nest, hoping to see the eggs have hatched and Daddy Jacana carrying the hatchlings under his wings with their long legs dangling down.
Not yet. According to Guts, the eggs are overdue by two days now. Mother hens that we are, we have been worried that Daddy Jacana has been spending too much time off the nest in search of food, letting the eggs cool and perhaps die. He’s there, sitting on the four exquisite eggs in the early morning coolness.
On the way down the channel to the main river, we find an African darter with a fish and stop to watch.
I begun to wonder if we should stick around in case a Heimlich manuever rescue is needed.
One last bend....
Success. Now it's time to dry the wings.
We check in at the Chobe National Park ranger station and head upstream as the sun comes up.
“Pygmy geese,” says Marg. Sure enough, there are pygmy geese in the water, but they are too close to a military installation to take photos. Fortunately, there are more a bit upstream where photos are allowed.
These little geese are skittish—and fast! Trying for birds in flight is next to impossible.
We find some resting on a log in difficult light conditions—dark geese against dark foliage, or dark geese against a light sky.
We stop to watch a hovering pied kingfisher and I take some photos for fun, though it is a long way away. I was blown away when I finally got the photos on a computer and could see what I’d captured!
|This is what the bird looked like to my camera.|
How I cropped the photos:
Eventually, we arrive at Elephant Bay. It’s a picturesque spot with a wide beach and plenty of room for multiple elephants, elephants that aren’t there right now.
|Elephant Bay sans elephants.|
So, we head farther upstream, passing creepy-crawlers on various perches, and finding a family of spur-winged geese far off in a field. These geese are the largest in Africa, weighing 11 to 13 lbs.
They often eat blister beetles and the poison from the beetle infuses the flesh of the goose, making it toxic to anyone who eats it. Nonetheless, the largest threat to these geese is uncontrolled hunting.
They are prized in Namibia for traditional medicine. And Namibia is just across the river from this flock.
On the way back downstream, we find a small herd of elephants and stop to watch. When most of the ellies have finished drinking, they head back into the vegetation. One lingers in the water.
Another elephant approaches and they intertwine their trunks. I am brought to tears as I watch these elephants conveying their affection for each other, and I cannot fathom how anyone can harm these beautiful creatures.
We reach Elephant Bay and it is full of elephants.
And more arriving every few minutes.
|You know the story. You get everybody together for a nice family portrait and there's always that one! (The upper ellie is on the salt lick.)|
|Challenged by a youngster.|
|The white on the elephant's trunk is salt. Elephant Bay has a natural salt lick.|
|Closer image of the above photo.|
Eventually, it's time for us to leave.
We say “goodbye until next time” and leave Elephant Bay. It’s hard to do so. It’s hard to leave the Chobe River, too, but our bags are packed and ready to go, even if we aren’t.