To wake up in the middle of the night isn’t ideal, but when you look up and see Orion’s Belt through your fly sheet in the inky black sky (no light pollution) and hear Reed frogs tinkling away in the background it puts your mind at ease straight away. I laid there for a while then heard the occasional Hippo grunting, Hyenas whooping call as they alert other members of their clan that foods nearby and a Lion grunts in the distance.
After falling back to sleep I was woken by one of the camp staff calling morning gently outside my tent at 5am then waiting for me to reply to make sure I was awake before filling my canvas sink ready for a quick wash to wake me up completely.
After a breakfast of coffee and porridge or scrambled eggs on toast and everyone cheerfully (well I did try at that time of the morning 😁)greeting one another we collected our various cameras, binoculars and for those talented folks who could sketch a vast selection of pencils and books (not me I hasten to add, I wish I could ) and set off into the bush as the first light of the day broke through.
As our truck rumbles into life and Ofi our driver/tracker/guide checks to make sure everyone’s ok and Frank the other driver/tracker/guide does the same with the other group in the other vehicle we set off in different directions to cover more ground and keep one another informed of anything we find.
There are no concrete or tarmac roads so as Ofi puts it, it’s a bumpy bumpy windy windy drive for the day on sandy tracks (even bumpier when the other truck finds something or trying to keep up with hunting wild dogs if you’re really lucky)
It’s such an education watching these two gentlemen in action I’m in complete awe of them, not only driving on bumpy windy tracks but reading tracks, looking out for all sorts of wildlife, and answering all and I mean all the questions about the flora and fauna of this beautiful country at the same time.
We bounced along through the bone-dry countryside past trees and bushes screaming out for moisture as the dry season pushes everything to its limits, we pass carcasses of animals for who the rains didn’t come quick enough.
It’s a beautiful country but very hard at the same time, there’s predators everywhere and they all demand absolute respect, it’s very easy to drop your guard but it does make you constantly vigilant and doing what your advised to do is a big part of it.
Having said all these things, it wouldn’t be the same without these things and it is brutal at times but it’s all about creatures just trying to survive the only way they know how.
Ofi was constantly checking his emails his little joke for reading tracks and definitely more interesting than the majority of the emails I read Constantly listening out for alarm calls was another thing that helped put another piece of the puzzle into place to complete the picture of where leopard, Lion or Wild dogs were hiding from the baking heat of the day that was high up in the 40s.
Then the next minute we were being shown elephants crashing through the scrub or splashing joyfully in whatever water was available whilst various antelope species, Giraffes and Zebra were constantly browsing or grazing whilst keeping a wary eye out for predators.
Huge eagles or owls then various other birds, butterfly’s and dragonfly’s whose fine details were being added to the picture.
Camp in Botswana

Halfway through the morning we would find a shady spot and Ofi would scout round the area to make sure nothing was lurking, and we could stretch our legs and get our coffee and rusks at one of his and Franks coffee shops (the best in the world😁) whilst still looking out for things to be identified.
As the morning went on you noticed the scent of wild sage in the air and the temperature creeping upwards,
so, water was being constantly sipped.
Sightings came thick and fast along with Ofi’s constant source of info and tales, sometimes we sat for a good while photographing, sketching or just taking in the wonder of the moment then early afternoon it was back to camp along more bumpy bumpy windy windy tracks for lunch that had been prepared for us.
After lunch it was time for comparing notes and just trying to keep as cool as possible. At around 4pm we set out again to hopefully witness predators coming out of their shady hideaways to start hunting, and animals heading to whatever water was available to quench constant thirsts as the heat finally started to ease.
As the sun started to set, we found a lovely spot for a sundowner whilst watching a bright red sun fall out of the sky almost literally.
Then bumping (known as an African massage) back to camp for a wonderful bucket shower, honestly, it’s the best shower ever before sitting around a log fire comparing more sightings and stories.
Then everyone sitting down to an amazing and very welcome three course meal (I don’t know how they manage it over open fires, amazing)
Then torches on, just to keep an eye out for visitors as we make our way back to the tents and sinking into our cots for the night, gradually falling asleep listening to the night chorus of Reed frogs, Hippos grunting and getting ready to feed and ably supported by various predators keeping in touch with one another.
Before you know it there’s that gentle voice saying morning again and it starts all over again, Wonderful!!
Many thanks to Elephant Trails the whole experience wouldn’t have been possible without them.