This morning three of us (me, Stephen and the male Bluer who is with us) decided to get up at sunrise and head to the Mahango National Park. It is part of the greater Babwata National Park but separate from the main park. The eastern boundary of the park is the Okavango River. It is about 45 minutes drive from our lodge and the first challenge we had was to get the owner to come and unlock the gate (he seemed surprised anyone would go out at sunrise).
Our aim was to do some birding without feeling guilty stopping regularly and holding up the other people who are traveling with us. It really did work out well. The road follows the river for most of the way and the game was prolific. In fact I would say we saw the most we had seen of any of the parks we have visited so far. The guidebook did say the game life was substantial especially in the dry season (as everything comes to the river for water) and they were absolutely correct. We saw giraffe (a large journey of them – two of them fighting), a massive herd of buffalo (could have been 500), elephant (we are getting bored with them now), impala, baboon, vervet monkey, red lechwe & kudu. Still no lion or leopard though they are found in the park. In addition we saw numerous birds including another lifer (taking my lifer tally to 413 in total and 17 for the trip). Our birding tally for the trip now stands at 148.
On the way back we made a quick stop at Divindu to see if we could get some additional food but both of the supermarkets in town are really appalling. For instance, neither of them had any kind of chocolate at all. It does make you wonder where you would actually buy food (especially perishables) in a place like this. Even though it is sparsely populated you would think that there is a market opportunity for a properly stocked supermarket (if not for the locals at least for the tourists that must be regularly coming through).
The rest of the day was just spent chilling (and in my case trying to do a little work using ‘edge’ signal on the cellphone). Most the group spent some time on the island (sun tanning, reading or doing nothing). One of the group also tried their hand at fishing on the river but unfortunately caught nothing. Late afternoon we went on a sunset river cruise both up and down the river from our lodge. The cruise was nothing like that of the one in Chobe River but was still enjoyable. We saw some birds, a few crocs (including two who decided to jump into the river right in front of us) and we cruised in the Angolan side of the river as well. The other bank of the river is Angola and our guide told us that they are allowed to cross into Namibia to come and get healthcare in particular (no border post or any formalities for these people).
Half of the group braai’ed for dinner and the rest of us (including us) had pasta for dinner (we were tied of braais). We ate together and once again it was an enjoyable and relaxing evening.
Until tomorrow … P, S (because he came birding with me this am), H, M & C