Elephants in Botswana..

Were you to ask a thousand safari enthusiasts to name their favourite animal, some might be attracted by the sultry beauty of a giraffe’s eyes, or entertained by the snorts and comic aesthetic appeal of a hippopotamus, but many the world over would immediately say the elephant.  Just like humans, they are clearly family creatures which tend carefully for their young and build complex relationships within the herd.  Both strong in stature yet gentle with their footsteps these huge creatures can pick a small flower with the tip of their trunk, or approach so quietly that you don’t realise this immense six ton creature is behind you until you feel its warm breath dampening the back of your neck.

 

If you want to see big herds of elephant on your safari then the best place to head is to northern Botswana, and the best time to be there is from August to early December which is the long dry season which turns the land a marvellous ochre yellow and bakes the surface to dust causing the elephant herds to congregate around the age old perennial rivers and springs.

 

It’s fascinating to watch these creatures move slowly yet purposefully through the heat of the day iwith a cloud of dust swelling around their feet.  Refreshment is found as they lower their trunks into the rivers quenching their enormous thirsts before wallowing and enjoying cooling mud baths whilst the young bulls played.

 

A mature male elephant can drink 60 gallons of water a day and if you are fortunate enough to stay at Savuti Camp, you’ll enjoy and enthralling hour or so in a hide built of fallen tree trunks.  You’ll be within mud slinging distance so duck as the elephants flick water and mud across their backs in the heat of the day.

The Infamous Migration

The Migration; over a million Wildebeest, Zebra and Thomson’s Gazelles continually strive for sustenance on the Serengeti Plains. The annual migration of these animals does not follow a set time and route, however an educated guess can lead you to what is considered by many to be the greatest show on earth.

One of the wildebeest’s favourite haunts is the short grassy plains of the southern Serengeti. It is here during February and well into March that several hundred thousand calves are born, an event intensified by the numerous predators that wait in anticipation in the wings. As the area’s resources are gradually exhausted the herds will move away from these hallowed plains as late as they can with plans to return as soon as possible.

The routes taken by the herds are not well worn pathways with last year’s hoof prints to lead the way, they are ever changing. Millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle go forwards, backwards, to the sides, they mill around, split up, join forces, walk in a line, in groups, they spread out, and often they just hang around.

One can never predict with certainty where the migration will be and when; the best you can do is draw on past experience.

From May onwards, the short rains subside and the vegetation begins to recede. The southern and eastern area of the Serengeti is no longer the best location for a growing herd, and the exodus starts with a few hundred wildebeest taking their first steps towards the northern and western plains in search of lush pastures and a more dependable water source.

By early July the first wildebeest could already have reached the Mara River, ready to brave the crocodiles laying in waiting for them to cross into Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park. Not all of the herd cross the river. Some remain in the Serengeti. Some cross and – as if tempting fate – re-cross again for no apparent reason. However, the majority of the wildebeest, zebra and gazelle will reside in the Mara until October, when it is inevitably time to head back.

The infamous crossing of the Mara river buy large numbers of the migrating herds is elusive, rapid and unforgettable. The wildebeest almost show a fear of the river, it is clear that they are aware a danger lurks beneath the surface. The herd will mill around and procrastinate contentedly until some subliminal trigger ignites a sudden outbreak of mayhem and a chaotic free for all begins. Hundreds of clambering legs kick out as they stampede, stumble and fall down the banks into the river below.

The majority are lucky and the relative safety of numbers has helped in their plight of the river crossing. They struggle out of the river the other side, wet, relieved and unscathed by the hundreds of crocodiles that decide the fate of many. Others are not so fortunate and will not be returning to their birthing grounds in the south.

The Timeless Plains of the Serengeti National Park


We live in a world where everything changes, everything in our lives, from the jobs we do, to the places we live, the clothes we wear to the language we use.  But there is one area on the planet where the needle of time has worn a circular groove and where it is still possible to walk and wonder at the past. Here obeying ancient biological imperatives, millions of hooves thunder along timeless routes in the greatest of all wildlife spectacles.  This is the Serengeti.  This is how it has always been.

When the dry season begins, over one and a half million wildebeest, 250,000 Thomsom’s gazelles and about 200,000 zebras thunder north to find fresh pastures in the Masia Mara, before then moving southwards for the whole cycle to commence again.  

 

The Wildebeest thunder through a variety of reserves and protected areas and through a variety of habitat.

The Serengeti is justifiably famous for its dense concentrations of wildlife, especially the big cats, as well as being the host of the pathway for the great Migration, the annual race to find enough water and green grass for survival.

 

The Serengeti National Park is formed of three distinct areas, the Seronera Valley and Seronera River, the Western Corridor and the Northern Lobo area that extends northwards to join the Masai Mara.  This immense expanse was discovered in 1913 by Stewart Edward White at a time when great stretches of Africa were unknown to the white man.  A tailor made safaris into the Serengeti allows you to recapture the moment experienced by White all those years ago. 

 

Research your luxury safari and choose from a variety of luxurious camps and lodges and benefit from the most experienced and professional guides.  Wake up and feel like you are the only person for miles, in the safe knowledge that you are also being looked after.

Zambia’s Mfuwe Lodge and finest walking safaris

 

Opulent Africa would like to share a little secret with you…there is a fabulous safari lodge in the South Luangwa National Park ideal for your first couple of nights on safari allowing you to acclimatise to the African heat before heading out to the bushcamps.   Mfuwe Lodge is an absolute must on the Zambian circuit. This unique lodge is situated in the South Luangwa National Park. With 18 luxury, en-suite thatched chalets each with private decked area overlooking a sparkeling lagoon that

attracts abundant wildlife, this is the perfect stop over for you first night or two. Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is home to some 60 large mammal species including wonderful numbers of leopard and subspecies of zebra (Crawshay’s), wildebeest (Cookson’s) and giraffe (Thornicroft’s) that occur nowhere else on Earth.   Mfuwe Lodge has the added edge that it is one of the few places in this area that stays open during the summer, when the landscape in the valley transforms into a lush green environment that attracts wild dogs as well as a variety of migratory birds.

Mfuwe Lodge is the result of a partnership between The Bushcamp Company and Safari & Adventure Co. that combines the conservation effort of the two organisations. A major focus of both is to increase anti-poaching measures to protect the South Luangwa’s wildlife.

In addition to Mfuwe Lodge there are a good selection of bushcamps to choose from strung along the river where you’ll have the opportunity to walk from camp to camp with your belongs transferred for you. The camps compliment the Lodge perfectly and are ideal for a true African wilderness experience for those wanting to get close to nature.