2017-07-30: Machaba Camp, Botswana

I travelled from Leroo La Tau on the Boteti River to the Khwai River for the fourth stop on my last holiday.  We stayed at Machaba Camp and really lucked out in having a guide that we got on with fantastically, as well as the other guests on the vehicle.  Before I talk more about our stay, I’m going to sidetrack a moment on getting along well with the other guests on the vehicle, as it isn’t always a given that it will happen.

I’ve been very fortunate while traveling to only have a few encounters with other guests that I really didn’t see eye to eye with.  It’s not that they weren’t nice or decent people, but more they had a very different attitude to being on safari than I do, causing some negative energy and friction in the vehicle.  I’m very happy to go out and see what we see; sure there can be a general plan of action, but it’s fluid and flexible to take into account what is actually happening on the day.  Some people head out and are focused on having a very specific sighting, come hell or high water.  Maybe it’s all about a lion with cubs, or seeing a leopard in a tree, or finding a cheetah; whatever it is, that overwhelming focus on finding that one specific thing generally means you miss what is actually going on, and may end up seeing nothing at all.  And sometimes you get people that take it that one step further; the guide and tracker have found that amazing sighting; but the light just isn’t right, or the angle of the vehicle is wrong for the perfect photograph, and the guest still isn’t happy.

Interestingly, I spent several days (not at Machaba) with some people that were hyper focused on two things; seeing leopards and seeing lion cubs.  Try as our guide might, we never saw either, and it made for a lot of tension in the vehicle.  We left that particular camp  and moved directly to a different property, where on our first game drive, heading out without expectations, we saw a pride of lions with two sets of cubs, and saw a leopard – on the same game drive.  I’ve always been convinced that you have much better sightings when you go out without a lot of expectations, and that drive certainly proved me right.

Aside over, and back to Machaba.  Our guide Albert was an absolute riot, as were the other guests we were on the vehicle with.  There was much laughter in the vehicle, lots of silliness with made-up hybrid animals and their supposed lifestyles and habitats, and many truly epic wildlife sightings.  Due to heavy rains in the area, the airstrip for the camp was flooded, as were several of the tracks throughout the property.  As a consequence, there were quite a few vehicles getting stuck, with varying levels of success at getting out.  We had to tow one vehicle out of a swampy mess, when they got stuck going to rescue another vehicle.  We spent time with mating lions, leopards, baby elephants and wild dogs during our stay on the property.  We also saw a carload of guests from another camp at all the same sightings, looking completely miserable the entire time (I think they may have been a group of people dreaming of the perfect shot rather than enjoying the fact they were spending time with endangered wild dogs or watching a leopard moving silently through the bushes.

The Okavango Delta did not disappoint with wildlife my first trip there two years ago, and it certainly didn’t this time either.  I think the only real disappointment was not being able to take a helicopter tour this time, as the prices had gone up so much, we just couldn’t justify the expense.

That’s quite a lot of words, I’d better get to some photos!

MAchaba Camp

Flying over the Okavango Delta on route to camp.  The landscape is truly magical from the air.

MAchaba Camp-7

A flock of birds (red-billed queala I believe) in front of a beautiful sunset sky.

MAchaba Camp-9

A barred owlet that Albert found on the way back to camp one evening.  This guy was unbelievably tiny, not much taller than a standard 500ml water bottle.

MAchaba Camp-3

A baby zebra carrying two oxpeckers.  The rest of the herd was scattered around our vehicle, grazing.

MAchaba Camp-4

Coming in for a goal???  There was a pack of wild dogs that spent the afternoon on the football pitch of an adjacent camp.  I think the afternoon footie match was cancelled that day.

MAchaba Camp-2

A pair of ground hornbills searching the grass for dinner.  There was actually three of them, parents and a chick, but they were too spread out to et them all into a decent photo together.  We were quite lucky to see ground hornbills twice during our stay at Machaba.

MAchaba Camp-10

These guys have every angle of this road covered.  There would be no sneaking by them!

MAchaba Camp-5

A young male leopard moving through the bush.  It was at this sighting were vehicles were getting stuck all over the place, and we had to get the tow ropes out and lend a hand.

MAchaba Camp-8

A tiny baby elephant checking up out while Mom selects the tastiest branches possible.

MAchaba Camp-6

You couldn’t possibly ask for a lovelier leopard sighting than having one in a tree at sunset.  We were fortunate to be able to spend a couple hours with this guy.  Lots more photos from this sighting to follow!


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