Sand covers 80% of Botswana's land surface and it's quite deep, very effectively buffering the country from frequent earthquakes deep below. There are channels where the sand is very deep and hard to traverse even in a Land Cruiser, but Brooks is a very experienced guide and is not daunted (as other greener guides often are) by the Kalahari sand.
In truth, I think he rather enjoys the challenge!
So one morning we ventured an hour's drive from camp toward the river, which involved crossing back and forth through the thickest, most intimidating ribbon of Kalahari sand in the area. And when another of the guides at Chitabe found out Brooks was going into the far area of the reserve and crossing the dreaded Kalahari sand ribbon, he decided to brave it and take his guests too.
What a fantastic morning it turned out to be! One of our first sightings was a very young giraffe.
Brooks could tell he was just a few days old because of the position of his horns. When giraffes are born, their horns point inward (I'm assuming that's God's gift to the mama giraffe giving birth!) and then they gradually move apart as they grow. As you can see, this little babe's horns are still pointing in.
Even at 6 feet tall, the baby looks tiny against mama giraffe.
Then, as Brooks was driving along, from a distance (and I do mean FROM A DISTANCE...I swear Brooks has binoculars for eyeballs!) he spotted what we were looking for...
...a cheetah family!
A female cheetah and her 3 cubs.
We sat in the Land Rover and enjoyed watching the cubs' loving interactions with their mother...
...and each other.
When mama cheetah began to move to find a better napping spot, we followed her.
Nice termite mound, but not enough shade....
Such gorgeous animals!!!
They finally settled on a shady termite mound, and we left them there...a beautiful family portrait!
We continued on to the Gomoti River area where we spent about an hour or so just watching at least 10 different animals species from one vantage point. Totally impossible to photograph, but in our 360-degree sight of visibility we saw impalas, red lechwes (a type of antelope), reed buck (another antelope), elephants, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, cape buffalo, cheetahs, and giraffe. And that doesn't even count the scores of different birds we saw!
A glimpse of Eden!
I loved it when Brooks said, "Let's stop and stretch our legs."
...and coffee and cookies! Amazing the nice picnic spread Brooks (with the help of the camp staff back at Chitabe) could set out in the bush!
One of the few hippos we saw out of the water. We saw lots in the water, but they aren't out and about during the daylight hours too much.
This cormorant has caught itself a pretty big fish.
A couple of gulps...
..and it's down! Wowsie! That put a lump in his throat!
A couple of male hippos (very territorial animals) were fussing at each other in the water.
Snorting and spraying feces...
...and threatening bellows. A wild-eyed look...not a happy hippo!
And they didn't really appreciate our vehicle being so close either.
Okay, okay...we're leaving!
Leaving the river, we passed an acacia tree with 4 lions sleeping beneath, a lioness and 3 bigger cubs). We hadn't seen this pride yet. That makes a total of 20 different lions we'd seen in Chitabe!
Not much going to happen here...they seem to be settling in for a nap. So we continued on...
As we approached the dreaded stretch of deep sand, Brooks received a distress call. The other guide was stuck in the sand.
The other guests had tried to help dig him out and place branches beneath the wheels to get traction, but nothing worked. Of course, when you help someone get out there's always the risk that you might get stuck too.
And there is the factor of guide pride at stake too...
But Brooks pulled them out successfully.
And then, once more, it was his turn to put that Land Rover in the big gear and our turn to hang on tightly. Gotta take the sand at a fairly high speed and not stop...that Rover gets to rocking and rolling. Kinda like the high temperature version of driving through a big snow drift at home...
Another fantastic morning in the delta!
But oh, that Kalahari sand...