Our itinerary was Xigera, Motswiri, Linyanti, and Toka Leya. Those camps are in the Okavango Delta, Selinda concession, Linyanti concession and Zambia, respectively. I traveled with seven very enthusiastic guests.
During our three nights at Xigera we boated to Xigera lagoon, where we had fantastic viewing of African skimmers flying over the clear water. Skimmers breed on exposed sandbanks and are rare. We also did a full day boat trip to the north, passing through a wonderful variety of habitats on the way, some permanent water, and some seasonal. We saw hippo, elephant, giraffe, crocodiles, and the highlight was a pride of lions moving about near the water’s edge. Some of the lions looked as if they might cross through the deep water channel we were boating in, but they never quite built up the nerve. Hundreds of waterbirds kept us entertained as we cruised along through the channels. We had a midday picnic under some shady trees. Birding highlights of our Xigera visit included Pels’ fishing owl, and western-banded snake eagle.
We flew onward to Motswiri for 2 nights where our activities were more physically active with some canoeing on the Selinda Spillway, as well as some game drives on which we saw elephant and buffalo.
We then flew again, this time along the now-flowing Selinda Spillway, to the Linyanti concession in the north, and there we stayed for 4 nights. We hadn’t even reached camp yet when we found one of the Linyanti pride lionesses with her 3 month old lion cub, but she was stressed and searching for a second cub, which was missing. I had seen her on my last safari with both cubs, so it was sad to see that one had gone missing. Before reaching camp that evening we also got to watch a pack of twelve wild dogs on the move along the river. Aside from these large carnivores, the road provided us with a steady procession of elephant, kudu, baboons, warthogs, impala and red lechwe, all moving about close to the river. This is a great time of year for the Linyanti concession as the rising daytime temperatures push many animals towards the river, especially from the late morning onwards. More highlights were to follow. Many elephant herds were to be seen each day, especially in the afternoons. Several elephant bulls visited us in camp.
Early one morning we came across a female leopard and her cub, sunning themselves on a termite mound. They provided us with excellent photo opportunities and as we had several very eager photographers on board, this was most appreciated. Male lions resting next morning, one called Silver Eye and his coalition partner, were more highlights. On our last afternoon drive we found a male leopard on territorial patrol. At first we had some difficulty trying to approach him, as he was continually being warned off his course by a herd of elephants, but then he went up a termite mound and sat down. Next moment he put his head into a large hole at the base of the mound, and two warthogs exploded out of a hole on the other side of the same mound, leaving the leopard standing in a cloud of dust. If only the other hole hadn’t been there, he may have gotten lucky with a meal. Apart from spotted hyena, our stay in the Linyanti also turned up some great birds like whitebreasted cuckooshrike, rednecked falcon, gabar goshawk, whitefronted and carmine bee-eaters to name but a few.
We flew again to Kasane, where we spent our midday on a Chobe boat cruise, viewing great herds of elephants along the river bank, as well as many crocodiles, buffalo, hippo and scores of birds. One more very short flight took us to Livingstone where we had a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River and then had a very comfortable night in the luxurious accommodation at Toka Leya lodge.
I said goodbye sadly to the group next morning at Victoria Falls itself, from where they were heading to the airport and home. This is a great time of year for big game viewing in Botswana, and the Linyanti especially didn’t disappoint.