It all started with a flat tire

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.

 

The Lion King

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.

Queen Mary

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.

Family

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.

No step on snek

One of my favorite snakes to hold and hang out with, our smallest python. He is precious and is slowly inspiring me to possibly get  a snake one day.

Bush Bush Baby

Bonding time with Fungus, one of the bush babies here at Caracal. I didn’t even know what a bush baby was before coming here, but they remind me of chinchillas.

Fun fact: they pee on their hands to make them sticky for jumping and gripping onto things

 

 

 

Jeffy!

The beautiful, lovely, incredibly sweet (first) dog we adopted here. Jeffrina, the queen herself – our faithful mascot. Knowing everyone on this trip, it makes so much sense that we adopted a dog within the first week of being here.