We’re driving from Moremi to Chobe National Park and arrive at the Mababe gate. At the reception area they warn us for lions. Then we hear a loud roar of a big cat nearby. While driving slowly we manage to spot the Savuti lion. After a while we arrive at a big tree where there were eight (!) lions lying in the shade. If you wouldn’t pay attention you’d almost drive over them since they were so well hidden. We stop to admire these wonderful felines. There are a bunch of lionesses and two little cubs. The lionesses are covered in mud to keep themselves cool. After five minutes another lion pops up, a big male which we heard roaring from the reception area. He finished his morning round and decides to stay in the shade of another bush.
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After we’ve spent some time with the Savuti lion we drive on. Not on the road but a little bit ‘off-road’ as the lions decide to stay on the road. It is then another 40 kilometers to the Savuti Marsh. If you visit the park during the dry season this means that you have a long 40 kilometers where you don’t see any animal activity because there is no water in this area. As a result, we close our windows for a bit, turn on the air conditioning and listen to some music. This was a great idea since it was 43 (!) degrees Celsius outside.
“Chobe is the first national park from Botswana and has the most wildlife.”
Then we arrive at the Savuti Marsh. Unfortunately, there is no water when we are there. The Savuti Marsh is very special because for 28 years it was dry but then, in 2009, water suddenly started flowing again. Since then however it has been dry again. There is no clear reason to explain this sudden inflow of water. It is not because of the rain. There is a theory that it starts to rise due to the tectonic plates in the earth. When the marsh is flowing there is a lot of wildlife in the area. We visit Savuti in October 2016 when no water flows in the canal. Luckily there are two artificial water pools built in Savuti and there is still an abundance 0f wildlife in summer. This does mean that all animal activity takes place in and around the water pools. This makes it easier to spot animals but for the animals themselves it is dangerous at the water pools. The chances are big that they meet their natural enemy…
The elephants and lions in Savuti are each other’s biggest competitor when it comes to the water pools. During the day the elephants drink but during the night the Savuti lions hang around the water pool. The Savuti lion consists of large troops and are known for attacking and killing elephants. Troops of up to 40 Savuti lions have been found here. Nowadays the troops are smaller (which is a good thing if you’re an elephant).
“The Savuti Lions are known to kill elephants.“
We arrive at the Savuti Campsite in the afternoon. Our campsite is located near the shower building. To get there you have to pass this large concrete wall around the building. Later we hear that this is because us humans aren’t the only ones that like some fresh water. This big old ‘Ellies’ always want the freshest available water. In times of drought they have even pulled all the water pipes out of the ground. We rest a bit in the shade of a tree on another campsite. Because of the heat during the day there is no point in cruising around to spot some wildlife. Just like us, the animals are all chilling under a tree in the bush.
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When the sun starts to set and the air gets cooler we set off. We drive southwards and reach the Marabou pan. We turn off the engine and patiently wait until something will happen. After a while we see hyenas coming our way. They too have gotten thirsty from the heat and want to drink some water. They constantly look around whether it is safe or not. Then this big elephant is arriving and holds his trunk at the source of the water pool. Probably because this is the freshest water. Occasionally he shakes his ears when animals come to close to his liking. Antelopes keep a safe distance from the hyenas and wait for their turn. We can watch this for hours.
After some great sightings we drive back to the campsite and visit the water pool in the North called ‘Pump pan’. How lucky are we? There is a troop of lions at the waterhole and they are not alone. There is a small group of elephants drinking. These old bulls do not let the lions come to close and shake their ears regularly. The lions are scattered in the sand and wait patiently. There are several large lions and a number of lionesses. There are also a few young and somewhat older cubs. They play with each other. It is amazing to see the Savuti Lion. Then, as if it had to be like that, we are treated by a true African sunset.