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Chris Bonner and his wife Marelle live on a farm in the beautiful Scenic Rim of South East Queensland where Chris uses his camera to showcase the scenery and wildlife of the area. Besides wider Australian travels, he has also produced a portfolio of pictures from across the world including  the wildlife of Africa to e magic of the Amazon to the history and beauty of Europe.  While Chris' primary motivation is to share his experiences, photos are available for sale in digital or print format. 

All profits from photo sales go to a Cambodian charity www.newhopecambodia.com. Non-profit organisations may apply to receive free photos for Promotion or Fundraising.

The Okavango Delta in Northern Botswana, was our next stop. It forms the largest intact delta and inland wetland habitat in the world, is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and UNESCO World Heritage Listed, and consists of swamps, and channels covering 6,000-15,000 km² area depending on the time of year.

It is formed from rains in Angola feeding the Okavango River which takes 6 months to reach a tectonic trough in the Kalahari basin and spreads out into an inland delta and does not flow into any sea or ocean. The Moremi Game Reserve, is on the eastern side of the Delta. Plenty of space to launch the Drone.

While logistically difficult for the big tour companies, this area is not to be missed in an African adventure. Xobega Island Camp consists of safari tents and while there is a comfortable bed, ablutions rely on a bucket shower and wash basin filled on request and chemical toilet. The service however is 5 star and the staff are great company: 4 guests and 12 staff while we were there.

Here one enjoys powerboat and Mokoro (canoe) cruises ….

…careful to avoid submerged hippos and angry elephants…

...and traditional happy hour sunsets accompanied by a rising moon…

In the Okavango and Africa in general its easy to forget the traditional objective of seeing the African Mammals and African birdlife becomes the focus of my 600 MM Lens. Here’s just a few.

Last post I posed the question of how they are beating poaching in Botswana. The solution is simple: they shoot them. It’s called a Shoot to Kill policy conducted with the help of the army and during the past two decades, 30 Namibians and at least 22 Zimbabweans who have tried their hand at poaching over the border in Botswana because of the decimation of wildlife in their own country, have been killed in Botswana antipoaching operations.

Those who get wounded or are quick enough to surrender get a similar jail sentence as for murder. We were told that animals have learnt they are safer in Botswana and have moved into Botswana from neighboring countries. The only reasonable way to get from the Okavango Delta to Kasane and our next adventure on the Chobe River was to drive along the Morani Reserve Highway to fly by light aircraft from a dirt strip where we were reassured to see the usual fire emergency facility in the form of 4 buckets of sand on a rail adjacent to the terminal.

Kasane sits near the quad point of the border between Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia lies in the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi River and no one knows the precise point and besides the river channels move around a bit.

We spent 3 nights on a River Boat that’s doesn’t move far but sends us out on tender boats to explore the river. Chris noticed that they offered a turn in a photographic boat specially rigged with swivel seats and an amazing camera support. Incredibly and to Chris’ delight we had it to ourselves for 3 full days. This helped a lot with the tricky bird shots.

Cruising the river and channels gave us a wonderful view of masses of Elephants, Hippos, Buffalos, various Antelopes, Baboons, Zebras, Giraffes, Warthogs, Birds, and an occasional Leopard and Lion that comes to quench its thirst or better still eat out on nice bit of venison or warthog with a water view.

Elephants swimming the river to Namibia to graze and return to the safety of Botswana at night make an interesting sight. The dedication to conserving its wildlife and border security was evident with Botswana army’s regular boat and helicopter patrols.

The evening cruise ends up, as do all the safari experiences with the mandatory sunset happy hour…

…followed by dinner to the sounds of Elephants munching on the grassy banks and Hippos grunting at each other.

We have seen numerous hippos so far during our African Adventure and despite looking like a giant slug they are quite scary. Despite being herbivores who graze on grass at night, hippos kill more people than any other animal. They are noted for their nasty unstable personality and if they feel threatened or territorial a hippopotamus will not hesitate to attack.

One report suggested they kill 2900 people annually in Africa each year. Commonly this happens because the hippo which rests in the water during the day and may be submerged for up to 5 minutes at a time may chomp on a canoe that happens to pass overhead then seemingly just out of spite crush the occupants with their huge mouth. Hippos, whose nearest living relative is the whale can run or swim up to 30km/h so could catch a human on land as well.

Hippos urinate backwards and spin their tails like a propeller while defecating and urinating to distribute their excrement over the greatest possible area when marking territory. Hence, they are not popular as pets.

So, if herbivorous why such huge canine-looking structures in their mouth. Those sabers are weaponry made of ivory and with the personality of a hippo they can fight to the death while the scarred ones are assumedly the winners. George Washington’s false teeth were not made of wood, as is commonly believed, but were carved from the tusks of a hippopotamus.

We headed the short distance through the Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe border posts to get to Victoria falls to see the sun rise through clouds of the spray that the falls are noted for but otherwise make photography difficult…before giving the Drone got a tentative airing to get a better angle and do a video sweep…

In terms of height, width or volume the Victoria Falls is way down the list but when combining these factors, the 3 biggest waterfalls in the world are Niagara, Iguassu and the Victoria Falls. However if you are looking for the highest widest sheet of continually falling water then the Main Fall of Victoria falls takes the cake.

The Victoria falls were named by none other than who was presumed to be Dr Livingstone, famous for exploring Central Africa between 1847 and 1873. In that time as a missionary he converted one African, a Chief (who complained because Livingstone could not order rain from his God like his rainmakers, who said that they could) and failed in his other purpose to find the source of the Nile. While Livingstone helped open up central Africa to Europeans, his aim was that this would bring his humanitarian form of Christianity to the African population, rather than the mayhem that ensued.

His great achievement after witnessing the depravity of the slave trade in Africa was however to use his fame to influence the abolition of slavery by Britain. His one regret in later life was that he did not spend enough time with his 6 children which was surprising in the sense that he managed to fit in fathering 6 children. Sir Henry Stanley found Livingstone after searching for 2 years in November 1871.

He later worked for the unscrupulous and opportunistic King Leopold of Belgium to open up the Congo for Leopold’s commercial gain for which he received the Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold from King Leopold II in 1890 and while despite his reputation for indiscriminate cruelty and occasionally murder of black Africans he was also honoured with a British Knighthood in 1899.

This quad point border between Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia has its challenges as one negotiates the maze of border crossings to flit between Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia to enjoy the river sights and the nearby Victoria falls.

There are hundreds of trucks lined up to clear customs and cross one at a time from Botswana to Zambia by the Kazungula Ferry which will eventually be replaced by a bridge. Alternatively, trucks from Botswana head into Zimbabwe to join the Zimbabwe traffic to use the Victoria bridge to cross into Zambia. Either way trucks may have to wait in line for many days to finally cross the Zambezi.

The Victoria bridge was the brain child of Cecil Rhodes to link Cape Town to Cairo assumedly so that he could own all of it, and was constructed in England for assembly over a gorge just below the Victoria Falls. One of the team involved designed the Sydney Harbour bridge.

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Being in Zimbabwe for a couple of days begs a comment about this country. While the black Africans in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe were a delight to meet, whether as fellow travellers, residents or hospitality staff, the Zimbabwean’s, many of whom were now living in Botswana or South Africa, were invariably saying Zimbabwe is getting worse, assumedly presently in terms of mis-governance rather than widespread murder as in the past.

A South African newspaper article highlights the extent of this with a report than allow the Zimbabwe police to retain the fines they collect because of the country’s inability to fund its own institutions. Roadblocks are a legitimate way of checking a driver’s licence but getting the licence back without admitting to an offence is a different matter.

A highlight of the falls was the accommodation at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge which overlooks a lagoon which attracts a constant stream of wildlife…

...some of which turned up at the BOMA Restaurant and proved to be surprisingly tasty while being entertained by African drumming. I need to add that thankfully I never saw Giraffe on any menu in Africa.

The next adventure will include a drive down through South Africa’s scenic spots and the wildlife of South Africa’s Kruger National park before the final leg to Kenya

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