Saturday, June 5, 2021

Kadizora Camp, Okavanga Delta - Botswana

Both Judy and I will tell you that our favorite safari and wildlife experience in Africa was at the Kadizora Camp in the Okavanga Delta of Botswana, and the next favorite is not even close. Partly by circumstance, all of our activities were just the two of us and a guide (or two). The scenery was Edenic, the camp was terrific, and the variety of animals we encountered up-close were amazing. Kadizora Camp is located in the remote northern part of the Okavanga Delta, between the Vumbura River and Selinda Spillway. 

We visited in June 2018. To get there we flew from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Maun, Botswana. From Maun we took a small charter flight with Mack Air, about a seven-seater, for 50 minutes to a small dirt runway about a ten minute drive from Kadizora Camp.
The airplane that dropped us off at Kadizora. 

Views of the Okavanga Delta from the plane. 

We were met at the runway by our guide, KT, in a safari modified Land Rover. KT took us to the camp, checked us in quickly, and then hurriedly took us on a late afternoon safari, through swamps several feet deep, to see two two year old leopard cubs feeding on a red lechwe (a type of antelope that I'd never heard of) that had been killed by their mother. 
KT driving us through a swamp. 

On the way we saw several common or ellipsen waterbuck, the kind that have a round "bullseye" on their rear-end, one of my favorite antelope. 

When we arrived the two young leopards were laying down in the long grass. There was one other safari vehicle there from another camp, with one passenger. We were parked just yards from the leopards. 

Eventually one of the leopards moved toward a mound, surrounded by a clump of trees, where the red lechwe was stashed. 

It began to feed on the red lechwe. 

After about 45 minutes KT said we needed to start back, the sun was going down. We saw several Verreaux's eagle owls along the way. 
KT stopped along the way for what he called a "sundowner." He got out some soft drinks and nuts and we watched the sun go down. We got back to camp after dark and enjoyed a nice meal with the 12 or so other guests and a few staff member, then KT led us to our tent, flashlight in-hand. The "tent" was more of a cabin, above ground on stilts, with a queen-sized bed, carpet, a toilet, shower and running water. That night we heard what sounded like the rumbling of a lion, near camp, and we were petrified. We found out the next morning that the noise was coming from Franklin, a resident (but not-welcomed) elephant. I didn't believe it was an elephant at first, but later heard Franklin make the same guttural noise that sounds like a growl. KT woke us at 5:30 a.m. for our 6:00 a.m. safari. As we made our way to the main camp we came across a number of warthogs and a calling card left by Franklin (a large elephant dropping). 
Kadizora Camp

Franklin, the very large elephant. 

Warthogs near our tent. 

It was just the two of us and KT in the Land Cruiser. I told KT I wanted to see wild dogs. He said he knew where a den was with a mother and young pups. First KT took us back to see the spot where we'd seen the leopards feasting on the red lechwe. Along the way we saw some giraffes, some elephants, including one that threatened to charge us and cause KT to put the vehicle in reverse and get out of their quickly, and some impalas.  

We encountered some zebra.

When we got to the kill-site we'd visited the night before, we got just a brief glimpse of the two-young leopards and their mother. The red lechwe carcass was gone, probably partially eaten and then moved by the mother leopard. We stayed in that area for awhile, watching a herd of red lechwe with one tsessebe (another antelope I'd never heard of) mixing in with them as well. 

We had lunch near a small pool that was inhabited by hippos. Several other safari vehicles joined us, but on the other side of the pool. KT let us walk-about, despite my concern of the hippos. I'd heard that the hippos are responsible for more deaths in Africa than any other animal. He assured me that, if anything, they would run the other way. 

During our lunch break KT talked with another guide that thinks the wild dogs have moved on. He hasn't been able to find them for several days. When we got back to our vehicle KT told us the other guide didn't know what he was talking about. He is waiting for the pack to have their morning hunt, then we will find them later at their den when they go back to nap. We started out in the direction of the den. We stopped to watch some gray-footed chacma baboons in several trees. 

Awhile later KT drove toward some trees and there laying in the grass were three or four wild dogs taking a nap. I was jubilant. We spent about 20 minutes watching, taking many, many photos, sitting just yards away. Then we drove about 15 yards and KT identified the male of the pack with one or two other wild dogs. The other pack members are older cubs of this father and the female of the pack. Then we drove about 20 yards more and KT identified the matron of the pack, by herself, sleeping in the grass. There was a hole in the ground not far away and KT said that there are baby cubs down that hole. Then the matron sat up and looked around for a few minutes. 

The matron of the pack.

The matron sitting up. 

Giddy, we headed back to camp looking for some cheetahs that another group had spotted that morning. KT eventually saw the mother cheetah peering over the side of a hill at us. We pulled off the dirt road and went up within about ten yards of the mother cheetah and her two adult cubs and watched them about 20 minutes. 

On our way back to camp KT spotted a reedbuck in the reeds that bounded off as I was taking photos of it. 

I couldn't believe our fortune. In less than a day we'd been within yards of leopards, wild dogs and cheetahs, had almost been charged by an angry bull elephant, were within throwing distance of some giraffes and had walked to the edge of a pool with hippos. 

We had lunch and then our afternoon excursion. We drove a short distance from camp and looked out upon a sea of reeds. We were each put in a small wooden boat, called a makoro, kind of like a Venetian gondola, but smaller, and each had a man at the back standing up with a pole, like a gondolier. It was fun for awhile as we went slowly through the reed sea, but we only saw a couple of small frogs, a distant hippo, and an elephant that was probably Franklin. The gondoliers (or makoroliers) made great pains to steer clear of anything exciting like hippos, elephants or crocodiles, so it got boring after awhile. I was happy we did it, but once was enough. 

Longnose reed frog. 

Angolan reed frog


Elephant, perhaps Franklin, with Kadizora Camp in the background, near where we put-in with the makoros.
Our second night in camp we had a nice dinner and were led to our tent for the night. The next morning we spent about two hours in a motor boat, just the two of us and a different guide. Next to the safari the day before, it was one of the most fun things we've ever done. While on the boat, Judy turned to me and said, this is just like the Garden of Eden. 
The Land Cruiser, a boat similar to what we were on, and Kadizora Camp in the background. 

A Nile crocodile in front of the boat on a small island in the river. 

Lots of Nile crocodiles. 

And with the boat we could go near to them!

Then perhaps the most amazing animal experience I've ever had. In this small boat we come upon about 30 hippos. I'm thinking, "what if they go under the boat and come up and tip us over?" Our driver gets closer and we are staring at these big, beautiful, ugly, massive brutes straight into their eyes and they suddenly erupt. Water is splashing everywhere - they are grunting, plunging, pushing, diving, shaking their heads and displacing tons of river water around us. It was the hippo haka and it was incredible. I was thinking, "I can't believe I am witnessing this." It was primal.  

It was a river trip, but elephants were still involved. This big guy got ticked off and raised his ears and looked ready to charge and this time I had my camera ready. 

All of this big stuff would have been more than enough. But there was more. There were birds - lots of them, large and small, everywhere. 
White-faced ducks in the foreground; African darters behind them, necks held high; and a black and white sacred ibis. 

A hamerkop in flight.

The African fish eagle

African great egret

Little egret - western race

A juvenile black-crowned night heron. 

One of my favorite photos - a gray heron and an African open-bill stork (in the background). 

A sacred ibis and white-faced ducks. 

Glossy ibis

African jacana

Pied kingfisher

Blacksmith plover

Yellow-billed storks and Egyptian geese.

Long-tailed cormorant

African darter

We got back to camp in time to have a late breakfast, pack our bags, and be driven to the airport. We were picked up by Mack Air for a flight to Kasane, Botswana and then a drive to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. 
The plane landing on the dirt airstrip to pick us up for our flight to Kasane. 

The pilot was a young black woman who had grown up in the bush. It was amazing to see her have that opportunity. Later, as we were beginning to land at another airstrip to pick up someone else, the pilot pulled up to circle and do another approach in order to avoid some impala that had wandered on to the airstrip. Several other passengers mentioned that a flight earlier in the week had hit a giraffe on a runway. 
We hated to leave Botswana. It was the experience of a lifetime. 


  1. This camp was the destination of a lifetime. I think it would be impossible to replicate. There was something so untouched about the area that we just didn't feel in other parts of Africa. I'm sure that is because it is so hard to get to. I don't think I would want to go back because I would be disappointed. How could we ever have another experience this amazing?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. What a wonderfully interesting attitude to have Judy. The pictures are great and the stories Bob has written to go along are even greater. Thank you both for letting me virtually travel with you.