Impalas were probably one of, if not the, most common animals we saw in Botswana. They are probably more populated in this area than White-tailed Deer in America – which is saying a lot. We had a joke as a group that every time we would see an impala we would say, “Oh look! An Impala!”
The Kudu’s antlers are some of the most beautiful, in my opinion. Their stripes on their back only add to the beauty of this African ungulate. I have been blessed to be able to observe them both on the game drives and by the side of the road through our travels.
This image is also from the first camping trip that we went on. Heaven was watching the elephants on the bank across from the bore hole we were camping next to. We could hear the elephants coming for drinks throughout the night (and other wildlife as well)!
This was from our first camping trip in the bush! If you look closely enough, you can see the elephants’ reflection in the water, lit by the setting sun.
This little baby was popping up behind its mother, I’m assuming, as his pod was cooling off in the Chobe River of Chobe National Park. I had never heard hippo vocalizations before, and was amazed at their methods of communication. The baby was super cute, as well.
These amazing birds are Marabou Storks! A fun fact about them is that they mate for life. I am still amazed that they have the ability to fly due to their large size. The storks that we have at CARACAL are both missing their left wings and cannot procreate because of balance. It was super cool seeing them in the wild.
On my last Sunday before leaving Botswana, my alarm went off at 5 am. A group of us had paid for an early morning game drive because we knew there was a possibility of seeing animals we don’t typically see out in the afternoon. We (miraculously) made it to Chobe Safari Lodge by 5:45 to meet our guide and head into the park.
Except our safari car was the one with the flat tire (of course), so we waited and held the light while our trusty guide, Mbata, changed the tire. He asked us a lot of questions, one of which was “what do you want to say most today?” to which we all answered “a leopard!”
We knew they were rare and we probably wouldn’t see one. So, we’re going along the game drive, watching sunrise in the park, when all of a sudden people start yelling on Mbata’s radio, and he takes off down the road. We’re flying over the bumps, bouncing around in the car and laughing hysterically. We meet up with probably 20 other safari cars who are all looking into the bushes, we follow their eyes and BAM! A leopard. A real life leopard, we couldn’t believe this was actually happening. We followed it for a good 45 minutes before moving on.
The main animal we wanted to see and our last chance to see it in the park. It was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had.
While driving through the park during our second camping trip, we were told by a passing car that there were 2 male lions near one of the watering holes. When we got there, they were snoozin the day away as lions do. Not the first time we saw a lion, but just as exciting! I will forever fangirl over lions.
Mary the chameleon. When we first arrived in Kasane, she was very weak and sick. By the end, she was changing colors all the time, running around with crazy grip strength, and eating all the grasshoppers she possibly could.
Many of us would spend hours a day catching grasshoppers and stick bugs for her which, however frustrating, became an entertaining routine in no time. She is precious and such a character.
When I got accepted into this study abroad, I was nervous. Happy and excited, but also nervous. Flying across the planet with a bunch of people I’d never met before, it’s a little intimidating.
This was taken at the end of our second camping trip after leaving the campground at 11:30, one of our cars breaking down in the middle of the bush, sitting at a craft center for 3 hours waiting for the car situation to be sorted out, and getting back on the road to go home at 6.
Home. I never thought a place 8,000 miles away from Virginia could feel like that. But these people made it possible; I truly feel like we became family by the end of this trip. Bonded by laughs, tears, heart-to-hearts, silly quotes, nothing working right the first time, and impala. So many impala.