Written by: Natasha Springer
I’ve just got back from a thirteen day educational trip with Pulse Africa in Botswana. Although it was my eighth visit to the country, it was the first time that I had been to Makgadikgadi National Park. And flying over the salt pans minutes before we were due to land, I felt a sense of excitement about what lay ahead over the next couple of days.
I was to spend two nights at Camp Kalahari which is situated on a private concession within the park. We were met by our guide, Bart, shortly after landing, and en-route to the camp he asked us if we’d like to see some wild dogs that had been spotted earlier. Naturally we all jumped at an opportunity so rare – in the two and half years that Bart has worked in this area, it was his first wild dog sighting!
We headed out into the park and shortly found the pack of wild dogs relaxing under an acacia tree. We sat watching them until the sun set, and as we headed back to camp, we came across three bull elephants, which is again not something you see every day in Makgadikgadi.
The following morning we went in search of the semi-habituated meerkat colony that live on the concession. This is an amazing opportunity for people, and particularly children, to get close to these intriguing little animals and to see their social behaviour. I loved watching them going up on their hind legs to scout the horizon for potential danger. Sometimes if you are sitting on the ground, you may be fortunate enough to have one of the sentinels climb on top of you to get a better view of the surrounding area.
Later that afternoon we made our way towards Jack’s Camp to fetch our quad bikes for a drive out on the pans. This was one thing that I was really looking forward to doing, and I wasn’t disappointed. Riding out onto the pans and seeing miles and miles of nothingness ahead of you is a truly incredible feeling. We stopped for sundowners in the middle of the pans to watch the sun set and to listen to something that not many people get an opportunity to experience – silence!
Our last morning at Camp Kalahari was spent with the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen. Getting to experience a little bit of their culture and learning about the bounty that nature provides for them was an extremely humbling experience.