Saturday, March 15, 2008

First Few Days of the Kalahari Trip (more to come)

My friend Chris and I completed a drive of about 2500 miles through the Kalahari in South Western Africa. The Kalakari is a huge desert that spans through all of western Botswana, much of Namibia, and into Northwestern South Africa. The green line on the map below shows our route through the Botswana Kalahari.

We went from Lusaka, Zambia south to Victoria Falls. Crossed into Zimbabwe breifly to see Vic Falls with some Dutch friends from Lusaka. Then we continued on down into Botswana to the Central Kalakari Game Reserve. We camped for four nights in the CKGR, then headed south to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park on the boarder of South Africa for another four nights of camping. Then drove on to Johanesburg for the last couple days before I flew back to Alaska.

Here is one view of Vic Falls from the bridge across from Zambia to Zimbabwe. Vic Falls is one of the largest falls in the world. It is 1 mile long and 360 ft high, which forms the largest sheet of falling water anywhere in the world. It is called "The Smoke That Thunders" in the local language since you can hear the falls and see the "smoke" from a long distance away. Another unique aspect to Vic Falls is that it falls into a gorge. I think this adds to the "smoke" appearance of the falls from a distance and certainly gets you very wet when you walk up to the edge of the gorge.
Here we are on the bridge with Vic Falls in the background. This is Chris and I with some Dutch volunteers that we traveled with briefly.

These pics are from the Zimbabwe side of the Zambesi River.

More jumping pics. These are very fun if you've never tried. Actually, the ones that don't work out right are even funnier. I'll have to make a blog of those sometime too.

We all went out for a nice lunch. Actually, this lunch was on the Zambia side. The Zimbabwe side is kinda messed up at the moment. They have the highest inflation of any country. There are bread lines and no one has any money. They just started printing million dollar bills there. Many stores aren't even open and the ones that are only accept foreign currency. It's a pretty sad situation there.

I got an artist to do a jumping pic with me. This guy was really cool. He and his friends were very good artists.

From Vic Falls, Chris and I left our Dutch traveling companions and drove off into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. There was some fun 4 wheeling to do, and check out some of the animals we saw:

This is a Gemsbok, aka Orynx, not sure why the two names, maybe it has something to go with the mugger coloration on the face. Only a mugger needs two names, right? Actually, these guys are pretty amazing animals. We saw herds of them.

This is a lilac breasted roller, which is one of the most colorful birds we saw. It's really beautiful.

This Leopard Tortoise was super cool.

You're not technically supposed to be out of your car, but we couldn't resist this tortoise, he was so cool.

Here's another jumping pic we did while having our lunch when we were driving around looking for game. Soon after this pic, we came across 4 lions chilling out in the shade.

That's a nice yawn!

Here's our campsite. This was a pretty sweet spot. Good views from here and good sunsets too. We camped here the first few nights. It's kinda crazy cause you see lions and then drive about 10 minutes to here. no fences. no nothing. which is a little creepy, especially after the sun goes down and you know the lions are out hunting (cause they mostly hunt in the evening/night/morning when it's not so damn hot out).

This concludes the end of round one. More photos to be posted soon from this trip, including those of the mating lions. Ooooooo... mating lions. That's right.