Merry Christmas from Mokolodi

US AT LAKE

We had the good fortune to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the Mokolodi Animal Reserve which is only about 10 miles south of Gaborone. This doubled as Christmas and birthday celebrations. Since we don’t have a car, getting there and back were the biggest challenges. (the picture above was going to be our new Facebook picture but we like the giraffe better)

Christmas Eve Day began early with water arriving at about 6 am so we spent the next few hours stocking up, doing laundry and cleaning. As Teresa was coming down with the cold Gary had the week before, she started out pretty tired. Luckily we got a ride to the combi rank and then on to Gabs. But when we go to the main bus rank, it was literally a zoo with several hours wait for any buses going anywhere and we needed one to take us south of town towards Otse/Ramotswa/Lobatse. So, we got a taxi- cost us P100 instead of P4 but given the heat and Teresa not feeling up to par, we decided it was worth it.

We arrived around 2 pm and were taken about 3.5K into the park, passing impala and zebra on the way to our chalet.

chalet hartebeest

We spent a pleasant afternoon watching the wildlife come to drink at our pond which many of the pictures show. One of the highlights was a display by two leopard tortoises. One (guess who) only wanted to get to the water while her pursuer only wanted one thing as you will see in the video. Should have kept filming as she just kept walking… We later learned that the male has a concave bottom shell while the female’s is flat for reasons the video makes obvious. (for both videos in this posting, if anyone can tell me why the final shot is a montage of FB postings and how I can get rid of it- please let me know. Otherwise- just click on the X to get rid of it. I can’t afford to waste any more data trying to figure it out)

Another was a visit by four zebras who marched by right in front of us. Most of the other action was at the other side of the pond.

zebra at chalet

We had a kitchen so we had an early dinner and were picked up at 7 for our private night game drive. Saw a giraffe and a millipede before it got too dark. After dark saw mostly kudu and impalas but did get to experience the bush at night. Two hours with a full moon and cool air extended the peace we had felt sitting outside our chalet. We did get to see a hyena but she is kept in an enclosure as she was orphaned and cannot survive in the wild. Her brother died and she is alone but watching her in her little pool- she sure was having fun.  There are leopards in the park- pretty much the only predator but pretty impossible to see despite our valient attempts.

We were up early Christmas Day and watched the pond parade again over breakfast. Got picked up at 7 am for a morning game drive- lots of impalas including lots of babies, kudu, an eland (only got a picture of his rear end so not included), two giraffes and amazing scenery. Unfortunately, no rhinos and the cheetahs (also kept in an enclosure) weren’t cooperating either. In the pictures, you get to play Where’s Waldo with one of the giraffes who was very thirsty. Camouflage is absolutely amazing!

After the drive, we hung around for our lunch reservation as the restaurant is supposed to be very good and it did not disappoint. Our table overlooked the bush and a small waterhole. sure enough, two duiker came to visit but are very shy and we didn’t get a good picture. Gary spent the better part of lunch taking a critical view of the pizza oven at the restaurant- a barrel shape rather than a dome like he did. Whatever, the pizza was amazing.

Then we had to find a way back home. Our intent was to walk to the main road (about a mile) and catch a bus back into Gabs but Teresa was feeling pretty poorly by now and it was threatening rain so we wimped out and took another taxi. We had been told that the stores at Game City Mall would be open and this is one place we can get a direct combi back to Gabane so we got out there and did our grocery shopping at the only place open in the entire mall. Then voila- no combis to Gabane. So we had to take a combi to the main bus rank and then easily got one to Gabane with a taxi from the Gabane combi rank to home. Our driver is an aspiring motocross professional. Teresa then slept for the next 12 hours and is recouping so she is feeling better by birthday Monday.

All in all, a wonderful getaway with our appetites whetted for more wildlife adventures and eventually the Big 5. For now, we are content with the Big 5 Antelope/Deer family- Kudu, Eland, Waterbuck, Impala and Duiker (yes- just made that up as there are probably at least a dozen in the antelope/deer family but we are well on our way to seeing them all). This is good since we used to count successful vacations by the number of deer we got to see until we moved to deer country in Oregon and California.  And, giraffes- they are the most incredibly majestic and calming animal ever.

If you made it this far- go ahead and click on the link to see 50 more pictures from how we spent our summer vacation (literally cause it’s summer here 🙂 The house at the end (in the background of our picture) is the owner’s house- Mokolodi is privately owned and exists for the education and conservation of the animals. The tree growing out of the rock is called a rock fig and literally grows in rock.  On one of the hidden zebra shots you get a close up view of the amazing thorns (a botanical survival adaptation). I used one of these to take a splinter out- that’s how sharp they are! What plants and animals do to survive is amazing

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