Saturday, June 7th, 2014

After I wake, I put my jacket and hat on in my room.  It is very cold this morning, colder than yesterday.  After I pack, I start looking for my new Oakley sunglasses I bought before the trip.  The camp radios Salani, who’s out on safari, they are in the game vehicle and they will send them to me at Savute Game Lodge.  I leave for Xakanaxa airstrip at 8:40am.  We reach the airstrip and drive beside the runway checking if there are animals nearby before the plane lands.   My flight arrives and I will be the only one on the flight to Savuti.  I am on board a GA8 Airvan.  Same plane as my earlier flight from Maun to Xakanaxa.  I transfer to the floor of the plane, then to the seat.  The flight is 30-40 minutes long at 5500 feet.  (video of take off)  The flight was good with views of the Botswana landscape and the dirt runway.

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(video of landing)  The game drive vehicle is a little too high so I need some help into the front passenger seat.  It’s a 15 minute drive to Savuti Game Reserve.  After checking in, it’s a 3 minute ride to Savute Game Lodge.  I am able to get out of the truck alone.  I meet Juan and Priscilla who I previously met at Camp Xakanaxa.  They are part of management at Savute Game Lodge.  There is once again sand from the truck to the entrance with a 3” lip to a tile landing.  More sand in between the entrance and bar area that Juan helps me through.  The bar area is tile with sliding glass doors.  I sign the liability form and Juan goes over the daily schedule.  Very similar to the last two camps but we leave for the morning game drive 30 minutes earlier.  On the way to my room there is sand between the bar and inside eating area that has tile and sand to my room that Juan helps me through.  There are rocks at the bottom of the ramp to my room plus the ramp is too steep that Juan helps me up.  He quickly shows me the room that is still being cleaned.  Everything looks good in the room but I will need a chair for the shower.

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He takes me to the eating area/fire pit.  The ramp is way too steep to go down without help.  Juan holds the chair and slowly walks me down.  I am back to limited freedom relying on people to get me to/from my room, eating area, bar and game vehicles.  This is the second camp that’s supposed to be accessible that’s nowhere close.

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The eating area overlooks a watering hole and Savuti marsh.  I have lunch then talk with Erny, another part of management, for a while.  The Savuti Marsh was dry for more than a century when in 1982 a tectonic plate shift caused water to flow again from the Savuti Channel.  Wildlife comes throughout the day and night to visit the watering hole by passing the marsh.  This is because the nutrients in the watering hole that is not in the marsh water.  I stay by the fire pit writing notes from the morning until 3pm tea.  There are kudu and elephant drinking at the waterhole during tea.  Several birds are around camp including red billed hornbill, yellow billed hornbill and lilac breasted roller.

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I meet Baba my guide while at afternoon tea.  It’s time for the afternoon drive and Baba helps me up the steep ramp.  He starts by trying to push the wheels up the ramp.  I politely tell him to never push or hold onto the wheels.  He pushes up the ramp by the seat back, through the sand, bar area, entrance and to the Toyota Land Cruiser.  I get stuck in the sand so Baba pulls the wheels from the front and flips me over backward in the sand.  Now I not so politely tell him again never to grab the wheels.  He picks me up and puts me back in the chair.  I transfer to the front passenger seat with no help.  I am glad I’m here only two days with the amount of help needed to get around.  On the game drive with me are 6 Germans.  The terrain is a little different than the Okavanga Delta.  The grass is lower, more open areas and some hills.  Unlike the Delta that has many water sources Savuti only has one main the water source, the Savuti Marsh.  The front window does not go down in this vehicle so it will be warmer but I will not be able to get photos out the front.  Shortly into the game drive we see the largest flying bird, a kori bustard.  We see wildebeest, impalas and kudu.

kori bustard impala and wildebeest

Another game drive vehicle has found lioness and cubs that they were tracking this morning.  It takes about 30 minutes to get to the lioness and cubs.  On the way we see lilac breasted roller, giraffes, warthog and elephant.  There are 4 lionesses and at least 8 cubs about 15 feet away.  Several of the cubs are having fun playing while mom sleeps.  (video of lion cubs playing) Heading back to camp we see a secretary bird and lone buffalo.

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secretary bird buffalo

I get help to my room to get showered before Erny helps me to the bar for drinks before dinner.  While talking with Priscilla I mention that I was sick on Wednesday morning, she was also sick Wednesday at Camp Xakanaxa.  My guess is something we ate was bad.  Dinner at Savute Game Lodge is served buffet style.  Appetizer tonight is carpaccio, dinner is ox tail, fish, potatoes and corn, with crème brulee for desert.  I pass on the carpaccio with just getting over being sick.  During dinner elephants, a pregnant hyena and mongoose visit the waterhole.  After dinner we sit at the fire pit for drinks.  Once again several animals are at the waterhole the same hyena, an elephant and buffalo.  There is also a large owl sitting on a tree.  I’m the last one at the fire pit, Juan pushes me back to my room around 10pm.  I’m very aggravated having to deal with sand again.

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