Lebala is next, and it was wonderful. I’m really glad you suggested and encouraged it. Thanks for requesting Spencer for us – we didn’t get him, but we had a fellow named Bates, if I got it correct, and he was fantastic. He found things for us to see, explained everything and knew everything. The manager explained that Spenser (guides at Xakanaxa had recommended him) was working at Lagoon; it seems that the two camps work together.
The biggest thrill of the trip for me was watching the large pride of lions. There were 2 males, about four females (?) and a bunch of cubs that moved around so much that I couldn’t begin to count them! We were able to get really close to them and I was amazed at how sweet they are with each other. What an honor to observe that! Interestingly, a herd of elephants came by on the way to a water hole while we were watching them, saw the lions and formed a huddle as I’d seen on TV, protecting each other and the young. And the ‘head gal’ trumpeted at the lions as they left. Really interesting to watch! The female lions looked like they were ready to hunt at one point – walking together in a very determined way. Then they sat down and relaxed. I don’t know what they saw. We got some great pictures! As I said, watching them was really a highlight. I had no idea how sweet the lions are with each other.
We also got to see lots of dogs here. You had mentioned them – I think 14 adults and 15 puppies. What a blast watching them! The puppies were so curious about us that they even ran under the truck. We were able to watch them prepare for a hunt. Interestingly, when they went out hunting that evening they got an impala directly outside Lebala – at the place where we got into the trucks. We were out driving and looking for them… Unfortunately for them the hyenas took it away from them.
So we got to see lots of hyenas also. There were at least 3 adults (I believe) and 3 young. We were able to watch the young ones play with bones at the den! I decided I don’t like hyenas. The sound they made that night was really weird. But, again, I felt honored to have the experience of hearing that horrible sound.
The night drive was interesting. We didn’t see much, and I thought it was great that Bates and the ’tracker’ both respected the prey and didn’t shine the lights on them. We did, however, see a huge owl with a dove in its mouth. We all felt sorry for the dove – but the owl was lucky.
There were also lots of zebras, large herds of elephants, wart hogs, assorted antelopes, giraffes. We got to see a red lechwa jump!! That was ‘cool’!! We also got to see 2 honey badgers!! They were in a hurry, so no pictures, unfortunately. But we got to see them!! They were smaller than I imagined.
This area seems a bit wilder – we also saw tents from the Botswana army, set up to fight poaching. We actually were glad to see it. We’d heard that the government is really trying to protect, and it was nice to see it in action. Luckily, we didn’t see any poachers, however.
There’s an over-look, like the ‘hide’ in Ghoha Hills, in Lebala camp and it seems that we were the only ones who used it. We were surprised – we saw quite a bit during the day: wart hogs (close), lots of birds. There was a hippo one night between our tent and the Russian couple.
The tents were very nice. We enjoyed the double outdoor shower.
The food was great, management very professional and organized. We both loved it there and would have been very happy to stay longer!!
Royal Tree Lodge. We stayed here on our previous trip so there were no real surprises. Julius was as nice as could be, the food delicious, the tent comfortable. We enjoyed being able to walk around there since predators are fenced out. There are 3 different trails and we walked each of them, seeing mostly different kinds of antelopes, lots of birds, and aardvark holes. We were lucky because a fellow named ‘Dougie Wright’ was spending time in the area. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him – seems to be an old school safari guide who has just continued. He’s 75, fit, and knows everything about nature and the animals, seems to enjoy showing people around. We were lucky that he wanted to go out and check the water lines for Julius and we got to go out with him. We learned a lot from him!!
It’s a very calm, relaxing, beautiful setting. The staff was very helpful with anything we asked about. The bird song in the morning was amazing. Three days there sounds like a long time but we enjoyed it!