Besides the Okavango Delta, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most remarkable phenomena of the natural world, there is a neighbouring mini-delta system that flows from the Kwando and Linyanti Rivers into northern Botswana. This is the site of Wilderness Safaris’ Linyanti Concession and the place where you will find a selection of accommodation to suit your safari needs. Our recent visit to this area left us amazed at the amount of wildlife that we saw.
The Linyanti River runs in front of the DumaTau Camp and at this time of the year is pulsating with elephant herds coming and going to feed their need for water. Along the river it is green and lush while inland areas appear dry and quite dramatic. The concession’s unobscured landscapes make for excellent wildlife viewing and photography. Also noticeable are the striking colours of birds, for example, the vivid green spots on the emerald-spotted wood-dove shine like jewels, contrasting beautifully with the dusty hues around us.
The ubiquitous yellow-billed hornbills are massively entertaining. Their calls are all around and they fly in a wave movement of flap-flap-up-glide -down. Their large, almost awkward, yellow bills allow them to peck at things as if eating rice with chopsticks, doing so one grain at a time. Another commoner, the helmeted guinea fowl, cackling and racing around in mad senseless frenzies makes them impossible to photograph yet they are beautifully ‘dressed’ in simple polka-dots with a turquoise blue turkey-shaped head. All of this activity adds life and colour to a dramatic landscape of mighty leadwood trees.
They say that ‘birders’, or ‘twitchers’, get to see the most spectacular sightings because they patiently spend time identifying and carefully scrutinising each bird and also challenging themselves to count as many different species in as short a time as possible.
A birding spectacle at this time of the year must be the beautifully iridescent crimson and turquoise southern carmine bee-eaters. Very close to King’s Pool, on an open patch of ground close to the river, these communal birds gather from further up north in Africa to breed. They drill down with sharp beaks to make holes in the ground into which they will deposit their precious eggs. The noise of all these birds is a continuous, slightly muffled chirp that sounds like music and eventually melds into a muted background sound. I wondered whether the elephants would simply walk through this breeding ground… but was assured by our guide that these animals are extremely sensitive and will choose another path during the breeding season. The same is not to be said of other predators. Thankfully I did not witness this, but our guide, Lucky, told me that they have seen both monitor lizards and black mambas gorging themselves on un-hatched eggs.
Linyanti is famous for wild dogs and we were so lucky to catch up with the resident pack of five adults and nine puppies. They were massively entertaining as the evening started to form in light pastel colours and the heat appeared to let up. We actually were just at the right time to catch their greeting ceremony before they made a trip to the water’s edge to drink and head out on the evening hunt. They played and teased one another endlessly. Eventually the adults had to get the show on the road and we watched as they set off into the woodland followed by their playful puppies. Even the more confident straggler puppies eventually dropped the game and stepped in line. We stayed with them for as long as possible until we could just see shadowy movement in the dappled sunset.
Huge herds of buffalo are around now, especially along the Savute Channel , but also in the woodlands. A cloud of dust gave their whereabouts away as we were ambling along from Savuti towards Kings Pool. We saw such a large variety of wildlife from smaller creatures to wonderful sightings of roan, sable, kudu, giraffe, elephant, warthog, zebra, lechwe and even a bush pig! And that was just in the 180° panorama around us!
What a wonderful treat.
Written by Marian Myers and Photographed by Mike Myers