Day 2: Rhino Sanctuary to Maun

Waking up at dawn’s crack isn’t so bad if the sun’s coming up and there are a few insects and birds starting to hum their tunes. By 5:30 we had our stuff packed and were ready to hit the road to check out a Rhino Sanctuary.

The sanctuary is a privately owned area of land with a variety of indigenous wildlife, but focused, of course, on rearing rhinos which have been in particular decline. They started out about 20 years ago with 4 rhinos and now they have around 80.

Having not read up much about this place in advance I was concerned it would be more of a zoo or an animal hospital – the good news it was a a good “wild” opportunity for a game drive on the lookout for animals. The bad news was it was raining 😦 and pretty chilly – not what we’d expected. Also the BOMBSHELL: we saw no rhinos in our 2 hour drive around the place!

For probably not the first time I was struck by the paradox that we want to see “wild” animals in their “natural” setting but when they’re not all there on a plate we are very impatient!

Regardless, it was really a great first piece of sight-seeing and great to see some wonderful animals up pretty close:

  • Zebra
  • Kudu (a sort of antelope with wicked antlers – the bottom picture)
  • Springbok
  • Impala (the middle picture)
  • Wildebeest
  • Red Heart Antelope
  • Massive caterpillar

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We had guides helping us spot tracks and animals and answer stupid questions.

Rich (after seeing KUDU – deer with the biggest antlers in Africa): “Does that mean he’ll take on Springbok and other antelopes in a fight to show who’s toughest?”

Guide: “No. They only fight their same species” (his expression emphasised that this was a pretty dumb thing to ask).

On reflection, it’s true that I don’t seek monkeys or apes for a wrestle very often (maybe because I’d lose) but it seems that these kudu are missing a trick a bit. What’s the point in evolving these massive antlers if not to take on the next deer a bit?

After the “rhino” sanctuary we were off for a drive to our next stop – a place called Maun (pronounced – mauw oooon). The most interesting part of the journey was that the heavens opened on the way. So much so, in fact, that at times we were driving totally through flooded roads, with smaller cars getting stuck in channels beside us.

As we got to the end of the flood we saw half a dozen cars all stranded at one end. What was amazing to see what that they were all smiling as they waved us by. Hakuna Matata (I guess)

The truth is we were getting pretty worried that the rain wouldn’t stop by the time we reached camp and for our upcoming 2 day trip into the Okavango delta.

“Don’t worry, Rich, Africa is not like Britain – it doesn’t rain for days on end here” was our guidance. Fingers were crossed, but it was still not dry when we sat down for dinner that evening…

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Learnings of the day:

  • Botswana is VERY flat and mainly a dessert. Flooding can happen pretty easily.
  • Zebras are wicked. No two have stripes which are alike, just like fingerprints.
  • Kudu have the longest antlers in all of Africa (but they don’t fight other antelope…weird)
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