From the Chobe National Park and Sevute Under Canvas, I flew Safari Air to Stanley’s Camp, a permanent camp just outside of the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. Stanley’s Camp is run by Sanctuary Retreats, and is a beautiful camp. The tents have canvas sides, but the floors are hard wood and the bathrooms have running water. The food here, created by Harry, the chef and camp manager, was very good.
Because Stanley’s Camp is in a private concession, night game drives are allowed. I arrived in the afternoon and got a night drive the first evening. We drove out of camp at around 5 pm, slowly making our way through the bush. Just before sunset we stopped, Sundowners were served, of course, and then we drove back to camp in the dark. We had a lucky night, and saw some elusive carnivores; an African Wild Cat, a Genet (Viverridae family), and a Leopard. It had rained in the evening and the trees and bushes were dripping. We came upon the leopard in our headlights as it walked along the dirt road we were driving, trying to stay dry. We stopped the vehicle as the leopard went into the bushes. It passed us, and then popped back out onto the track, headed in the direction we had just left. We used the spotlight to watch it as it walked away. Cats, hyenas and predators are OK to spotlight. Elephants, giraffe, zebra, impala and other prey are not, and we did not use the spotlight to see them. The technique is to quickly scan the sides of the road with the light, looking for the reflection of eyes. The color of the eyes will tell you what you have found.
Genets are nocturnal and very difficult to find. On my night drives, I was lucky and had genet sightings three times. They are smaller than I had realized, but with a long striped tail, and move very quickly. We watched one in our spotlight as it hunted.
I chose Stanley’s Camp because of its association with the Living With Elephants Foundation (livingwithelephants.org).
Living With Elephants is run by Doug and Sandi Groves, and supports their three rescued elephants, Jabu, Thembi and Morula. Guests can join the elephants on their daily walk, and become personally acquainted with them. Living With Elephants is involved with research and educational projects, and each year offers the residents of neighboring villages the opportunity to touch, feel and walk with Jabu, Thembi and Morula. The Foundation has set up an explorative research project to understand more clearly how increasing human pressures alter elephant activity and vice versa. The findings from the research have been passed on to Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, to use towards developing effective mitigation strategies in dealing with negative encounters between elephants and humans. I spent three hours with the elephants and their handlers and very much enjoyed the time.
I had both day and night game drives at Stanley’s Camp. The driving in this part of the Okavango is slow going, on bumpy dirt roads and some of it in areas of high water. Here are photos from those drives.
On my last evening game drive, I requested we drive out to the hippo pond, a drive time of about 1:30 to 1:45. I had my Amarula sundowner out at the hippo pond and watched as the hippos became more active as the sun went down.