This is not some clickbait title. It does sound way more badass than that we were at that time though…
During our trip in Botswana we stayed at the well known Khwai Campsite. Khwai is located in the Northern part of Moremi National Park. While booking Botswana’s campsites can be quite challenging (which we will cover in another post) we did see our name in the book at the Khwai reception. We actually were allowed to sleep there.
No shade at all!
While checking in the very friendly receptionist started laughing. When we asked why, she said: ‘Campsite number one, no shade at all haha’. And boy was she right. There was exactly one tree without any leaves where only the big trunk offered some protection from the sun. Add to that we were visiting Botswana in the so called ‘suicide month’ (October) so I guess you can imagine what it was like.
Finally African Wild Dogs
We couldn’t complain though. After a short exploration of the Khwai campsite we jumped into our car at the end of the day. After only a couple of minutes we stumbled upon a leopard! She was making her round and ended up walking towards a small river. However, this spot was taken by a pack of African Wild Dogs. We’ll come back to this story in another post. Could the day become any better?
Tired, a bit dusty but really satisfied we drove back to our campsite. This might be a good time to describe an average campsite in Botswana. If you’re used to European campsites it is somewhat different. There’s no wandering around at night to the loo with some toilet paper in your hand. There’s no animation, no shop, no drinkable running water. It is way better. It’s just you on a big piece of land called a campsite in the middle of the bush.
Make a fire to keep the animals away
Just drive up there, pick a nice spot and get your rooftop tent ready for the night. Go take a shower before it’s too dark to see lions or other predators on the campsite and start a fire. You’ll need this fire to cook and it might also keep the animals away, that’s what we thought at least. This is what we did that night as well. With that amazing late afternoon drive in the back of our minds we set up camp and took a quick shower. While we enjoyed a proper African sunset we started a fire with some deadwood. After about an hour or so the fire had produced enough heat to grill some food.
What’s that noise?
While we were enjoying our homemade (kind of) burgers we heard some branches cracking. While we had our car right behind us, the table in front of us and the fire nearby we did wonder what caused this sound. Then one of our headlights caught a glimpse of something greenish. This isn’t the best thing to experience while being in the bush (and not in your car). A green reflection of the eyes mean one thing: a predator.
What kind of predator
Until then we didn’t really know what kind of predator it was. It did move closer and closer towards us until he reached the end of the small bushes. We stood up, ready to jump into our car. However, our curiosity was way bigger than our fear. We walked towards the predator and took our bigger torch. Then we saw it: a hyena!
What should we do?
And there you are. Standing there with your iPhone, camera, poor headlight, a sizzling fire and some plastic cutlery. And a hyena. You’re basically standing in between him and what he wants: food! Without a lot of thought we actually approached this scavenger. We made some noise, clapped our hands and hoped for the best. This approach actually seemed to be working. We were so proud of ourselves.
Go away hyena!
But not for long. While doing the ‘dishes’ the hyena had circled us and was standing only 2 metres away! By then all of our toughness had disappeared. While the hyena did go away for a bit when we started screaming Go away hyena (yes, really), it kept coming back. This was our sign to pack everything into our car in a new world record and took the ladder to our rooftop tent.
What a big head
The myth that animals are afraid of fire isn’t that accurate when it comes to hyenas. We were in our tent for about five seconds when our new ‘pet’ came around, stuck his head into the fire just to see if there was anything to scavenge. Without a lot of adrenaline we tried to get some sleep. Probably dreaming about hyenas. Just another day in the bush…