Duniart – Photography and Blog by Toine IJsseldijk

Moremi & Okavango

Namibia & Botswana, June – July 2018

Day 22 – Jul 10: Khwai – Moremi Game Reserve (North Gate Campsite)

We checked-in at North Gate and picked a camping place nearest to the river, where a couple of hippos did not seem to mind our presence. We then drove up northeast through the flood plains, into an area which is not visited much, judging from the roads.
We were back in camp on time for another spectacular sunset. In the evening we had a couple of elephants walk straight through camp, passing within meters of our camp fire. A great experience.
North Gate bridge seen from our camping spot, with hippos to the right, just outside this photo.
Day 23 – Jul 11: Moremi Game Reserve (South Gate Campsite)
Today’s plan was to game drive to South Gate, via Xakanaxa and possibly Third Bridge, and to explore the Okavango by boat. And hoping to find wild dogs along the way… We had not made any advanced arrangements for a boat, but I had read that it should be possible to charter a boat direct at the Xakanaxa Boat Station; this turned out to be correct.
And finally… Wild dogs! Probably a fews scouts rather than a whole pack. We saw 3 but they were gone into the bush within half a minute…
We waited for half an hour and, as we had hoped, one came back and walked right passed our car. I was too busy enjoying and almost forgot to click…
We had a picnic break near Xakanaxa, at Paradise Pools. A magical spot indeed.
Time for some boating and finally see the Okavango Delta from where you should see it, the water!
After our Okavango boat trip we had to drive straight to South Gate, as we were running low on fuel. We therefore decided that I would drop Stan and Dio at South Gate to prepare dinner, and I’d drive to Maun to get fuel and then come back asap. It was not possible to be back before dark and the gate would close, so I informed the lady at the gate. She was very kind and told me she’d leave the gate open, just for me! And she did…!
South Gate was a nice camp, well-looked after and clean. Much better than North Gate and although it is located right next to the gate and the border of Moremi it is absolutely still completely in the bush and wildlife is as abundant as anywhere else and there are no human settlements within probably 30 kilometres.

Day 24 – Jul 12: Moremi Game Reserve (South Gate Campsite)

Our last full day in the bush, and although we had a glimpse of wild dogs, we were not satisfied with that and decided that in the morning we would visit Black Pools and Xini Lagoon, where lions and wild dogs are often seen, and then in the afternoon go to Third Bridge and Xakanaxa, to search for wild dogs.
The buffaloes were quite alert, which was really great to see. The largest individuals were clearly taking a front row position in between us and the rest of the herd. Very different from the buffaloes we saw near the Chobe River.
Black Pools was really beautiful. We saw only 1 other car, and only once. Xini Lagoon was surprisingly busy with cars from Maun as well as nearby lodges. It was very dry though and I didn’t really understand why they all went to Xini Lagoon and not Black Pools… We certainly didn’t mind!
We then drove to Third Bridge, enjoying some water birds and crocodiles fishing.
 The network of small tracks to the west of the main road between Xakanaxa and Third Bridge are often described as the most rewarding for game, and also as very beautiful. Both are true!
We only had a few hours left, so I bet on the area that I thought had the highest chance of wild dog sightings: the area around the Xakanaxa airstrip, where the Mula pack often hangs out.
It was clear that we were not the only ones around and that this is probably the most visited area in Moremi, or in fact the entire area between Maun and Kasane. It soon became obvious why, when we ended up in a queue of a couple of cars, for apparently a leopard. We had 1 more car in front of us, when all of a sudden another jeep passed us with fairly high speed, whispering “dogs”. A few other cars were apparently not sure to go for the dogs or the leopard, but we didn’t have to think twice… We followed the lodge car ahead of others and that gave us instantly an excellent position when less than hundred meters further we saw the dog pack on the road.
More and more dogs came suddenly from different directions, as if the meeting point was right in front of. And off they went, in a rush…!
They were clearly on a hunt. The next half hour or so was quite crazy and tested my driving skills, with initially about 10 cars trying to follow the dogs. Half were self-drivers, half from lodges. In that area the network of roads is very extensive, so it’s not easy to decide which road to take. I had anticipated a little (actually a lot….!) for these kind of events, and read a lot of trip reports. From the reports I had memorised which of the lodges seemed to have the most senior guides, and decided to keep an eye on these lodges’ cars, and if I had no idea which way to drive myself, just follow them. That plan worked out perfectly and soon we were with only 1 other car from a lodge following the pack, leaving all other cars behind, most likely lost in the network of roads.
The lodge car went off-road; we followed… The dogs stopped, and so did we. Another car from the same lodge joined and obviously the first car had radioed its position. We greeted both guides and their guests and it was clear they didn’t mind at all sharing the sighting with us, as self-drivers. I gestured if it was ok to drive there, off-road, and he only smiled.
I really appreciated these guides, and every time the dogs made a move we followed, sometimes we drove first and sometimes the cars of the lodge drove first, it was no longer a race, it was just about being polite and share the moment all together, as it should be.
The lodge cars had to go, I guess for some pre-planned sundowners. We followed the pack for as long as we could, but eventually they disappeared behind the staff quarters of the Xakanaxa camp.
What a thrilling and rewarding end of our last full day on safari! Now there was a big “Check” for Wild Dogs. The photos of the dogs are not great and some are taken with 1 hand, while my other hand had to steer, but that’s a good reason to come back…!

Day 25 – Jul 13: Moremi Game Reserve – Ghanzi (Thakadu Bush Camp)

The original plan was to do one more half-day game drive before leaving Moremi, but as we were still ecstatic about yesterday’s afternoon and our overall time in the bush we decided to take it easy and spend some time in the camp. We had not done that before yet, as every day for the last 24 days we were in the car way before sunrise..!
We then drove slowly towards Maun, enjoying our last wildlife, and then on to Ghanzi, where we stayed at beautiful Thakadu Bush Camp.
One more coffee in the bush. And Dio with the spade, going to a dig-yourself toilet. He walked off into the bushes 20 meters away, until we heard some noise we didn’t really know from where or what… Oh well, then better dig a hole on the other side… All good.

Day 26 – Jul 14: Ghanzi – Windhoek

Today we drove from Ghanzi back to Namibia and Windhoek, for our last night in Afrika, having plenty of time to reflect back on our trip and so many unforgettable memories that I’m not even trying to think about what I liked most; what a fantastic trip it was and how beautiful Namibia and Botswana are. We’ll be back, sooner than later!
So, I’ve been back to Namibia a lot sooner than I though…! I simply couldn’t resist. Check out our trip in October 2019:
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