I recently stayed at beautiful remote Haina Kalahari Lodge in Botswana, thanks to Sun Destinations. One of the novel experiences offered by the lodge is an overnight adventure to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which has to be one of the most unique biodiversities in Southern Africa. For me, this was an absolute highlight!
It took us about 2 and a half hours from Haina to Deception Valley where we were in for quite a surprise as Wanda and Adriaan (Haina’s warm and generous camp managers) had set up our overnight camp. They had a caravan with a kitchen, tents with comfy stretchers, chairs and pretty much anything you could need or want (and more) in the unfenced Kalahari campsite.
In the campsite I was entertained endlessly by the antics of the yellow-billed hornbills! I love this description in Mark and Delia Owen’s book, “Cry of the Kalahari” (set right here!) about these hilarious birds…
“The yellow-billed hornbill is an odd assemblage of parts: a hooked yellow bill that seemed too large for it’s scrawny black-and-white body, a long black tail that looks like an afterthought, and seductive eyelashes that flutter over foxy eyes – a most beguiling companion.”
Deception Valley is an ancient fossil river. Large crusty pans and yellow grassy landscape are dotted with impressive-sized herds of gemsbok, springbok and wildebeest. The area is especially known for it’s black-maned lions and other smaller predators – cheetahs, bat-eared foxes, honey badgers, aardwolves and shy brown hyenas. We weren’t afforded a sighting of many of these (being there for only one night), but it’s definately possible. Luckily, we did see my very favourite – the bat-eared fox – crouching in the grass with big gorgeous eyes and bat-like ears. This tawny-colured little insectivore becomes quite active in the early evening and the chances of seeing one are fairly good.
I loved our afternoon drive. As the sun set we watched black-backed jackals sniffing out scavage-worthy snacks, kori bustards patrolling the plains and the odd ostrich running on tip-toes like a prancing ballerina (complete with feathery tutu).
We stopped for sundowner drinks as the sky turned fiery orange…
Back at our cosy campsite we sat around the fire eating Wanda’s delicious food. It was all rather surreal – just our small group in an unpopulated campsite around a flickering fire, eating 5 star food under a billion-star sky. In the clear unpolluted Kalahari heavens, the star-gazing is incredible. It’s no wonder that the Kalahari !Kung bushmen (original inhabitants of this remote land and the whole of human kind) have so many myths and stories about the stars! One of these stories is that stars are actually ant lions staring down to earth with their bright eyes. When they are hungry and see an ant, they quickly fall to the ground to catch it (a shooting star). Some even say that all stars fall to the earth each morning and we see them on earth as insects.
Another belief is that Orion’s Belt is three zebras, a male zebra in the middle of two female zebras. Venus (the “morning star”) was called the “Old Star” to the !Kung bushmen who believed it’s job was to guide the sun across the sky.
If you stay at Haina Kalahari Lodge I would highly recommend talking to Adriaan and Wanda about a mobile safari in the reserve. Thank you to Haina and Sun Destinations for allowing me to be part of this adventure!
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