Nxai Pan

Nxai Pan Camp, December 2021

The biggest show at Nxai Pan National Park has begun! The zebra numbers started climbing towards the end of the month in what will soon culminate as the second largest migration in Africa when these animals move south from the Savute area to make the most of our luscious landscapes.  

Every day our guides noted the zebra numbers improved, but they were not the only plains game that moved in to enjoy the feast of fresh grass. Many animals resettled to these pans and plains during December, including large herds of wildebeest. One day, we encountered a Black-backed jackal feeding on something that looked like a placenta. On another occasion, we located a zebra foal carcass on West Road, which looked like the tidy remains of a cheetah kill. Two Black-backed jackals were seen feeding on it, but interestingly, no raptors were noted in the area. 

Springboks were seen during every game drive, often nursing their lambs, but our guides on the ground noticed that the Blue wildebeest hadn’t dropped their calves just yet. As always, the waterhole in front of the camp was incredibly active. Breeding elephant herds, buffalo, giraffes, impala, and springbok all stopped past for a drink in the midday heat. 

With the presence of all the young animals, predators were never far behind. As guests had breakfast one morning, our guides heard a lion calling from an easterly direction. They soon located the solitary animal walking along the road as he roared. We followed it for some time, and although it seemed hungry, none of the nearby zebras interested him. We also noticed a tower of giraffes and a few ostriches in the area during this pursuit. Another day, we tracked a pride of eleven lions to West Road, feeding on a giraffe.

Being our rainy season, one afternoon, the clouds gathered into an impressive storm and buckets of rain transformed the camp. Bullfrogs hollered from newly-formed ponds and the central area enjoyed the acoustics of all the thrilled ephemeral insects enjoying renewed waters. Botswana becomes a photographer’s paradise in the green season, and we loved being able to get close to all the frogs! 

Three Grey crowned cranes were also seen at the waterhole in front of camp. Standing rather regally at over a metre high, we never take these sightings for granted as they are an endangered species. We also couldn’t help but wonder how many times they have visited before. Did you know? They can live for up to 22 years in the wild. Furthermore, these clever cranes co-opt with large herbivores (like our blossoming zebra herds) who flush out insects as they walk. 

Meanwhile, two White-headed and a hooded vulture were seen soaring the thermals while the Tawny eagles were ever-present. There was also a fabulous sighting of a pair of Verreaux’s eagle owl spot sitting in a big Purple pod Terminalia tree on the road to the airstrip. 

During a morning drive to Baines Baobabs, there was plenty of general game to be seen. We were beyond pleased to discover two breeding birds making use of the trees on arrival: a pair of pied crows roosting up high plus Southern yellow-billed hornbills nesting in the trunk of the famous sleeping baobab.

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