A Baby Hippopotamus!

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.

Marabou Storks

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.

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.


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.

Leopard! (Need I Say More?)

The first sighting of a leopard on a 6 am game drive was definitely an adrenaline rush of excitement. Our driver from Chobe Safari Lodge zoomed through the sandy trail of the park to get us to see the leopard and followed it by booking it to see a pride of lionesses only a few meters away! Quite the big cat day to remember.

Camping Trip Part 2

This was our second camping trip while here in Botswana. We had the privilege of seeing many animals we had not seen yet or had not seen many of, such as these wildebeests seen in this image, as well as ostriches, and two more male lions. It was quite the sight to see elephants at the watering hole, with giraffes at the other, wildebeest roaming, and warthogs running around.

King of the Savanna

There is nothing more magnificent than going through a game drive and thinking it’s over only to come up on a male lion relaxing along the side of the road. This was the first king we had seen so far and our hearts were racing, to say the least. I think it was the luck of it being our only game drive with Dr. Kelly, the master of big cats, to see our first big cat.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Day 2 of Victoria Falls consisted of us exploring the Zimbabwe side. We started the day with gorge swing thrills paired with Ian, followed by popsicles from a local cart, and finally entering the park to see the endless waterfall and rainbows. Words cannot describe the jaw-dropping view… or your breath (literally) being taken away from you on a gorge swing.

Pro tip: Pair up with someone who will remember how to use their legs when rock climbing at the end 🙂