Mmegi Online :: When Lady Luck becomes your “blesser”
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Last Updated
Wednesday 22 November 2017, 18:39 pm.
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When Lady Luck becomes your “blesser”

Fresh from a recent safari trip to the Okavango Delta, Staff Writer THALEFANG CHARLES* counts his blessings as his ‘blesser’ spoilt him with some incredible travel moments in the wilderness
By Thalefang Charles Fri 29 Apr 2016, 13:32 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: When Lady Luck becomes your “blesser”








Social media has just redefined the word “blesser”. It evolved from a picture, seemingly taken from a very elegant lodge, of a pretty young woman lying lazily under an oversized white gown on a huge cosy bed covered with white sheets. The pretty lady with a charming smile posted a picture with a caption declaring, “I’m blessed”. Evidently, her “blessings” was just that moment of being there, surrounded by alluring elegance. Social media wanted to know the provider of such “blessings” and that is how the faceless men who spoil their pretty young women at exotic destinations became known as “blessers”.

I thought of that blessed woman when our small airplane from Maun Airport approached Abu Air Strip in the Okavango Delta. When I saw the great plains showing the first arrival of the waters that poured down on me during my stay in the Angolan highlands in February, and the breathtaking view of the endless plains dotted with picturesque islands with palms trees, I knew I was blessed. It is only when you are surrounded by things that make your heart sing in happiness that you think of “blessings”. I felt the wilderness opening up its heart to welcome me and I related to the pretty blessed woman in the huge cosy bed.

Speedy Senase, a guide at Seba Camp picked us from the airstrip. As we drove to the Camp, Speedy (everyone calls him Speedy) asked us what we were really hoping to see. “I want to see the super predators,” I told him. I wanted to see the hyenas - my favourite predators. I love hyenas so much but they have proven quite elusive throughout my safaris. I have been to almost all the game parks in Botswana and many in foreign countries and I have always been unlucky with hyenas.

I wanted to see them in their natural habitat and living the true hyena life. And I also wanted to see lions. The leopard would be the cherry on top. The guide said “nothing is guaranteed” but he would try and if we were lucky we could see four of the Big Five at this Abu Concession as the one of the Big Five, rhinos, are only found in another camp. If we were lucky, we would also see many other common wild animals, he said. With nothing guaranteed, we left everything to luck but I felt hopeful because Lady Luck has been good to me.

On the third corner on the dirt road on our way to Camp we met a large herd of elephants resting under the tree and blocking the road. They have the right of way and did not want to give it away anytime soon, and so we had to find another way. All the wild animals are given respect and there is no intrusion by humans that could irritate them. Before we reached the Camp, we spotted a lone buffalo bull grazing at a distant. We were already two out of the possible four sightings of the Big Five and it appeared Lady Luck was out to treat me. ‘Good going my blesser,’ I thanked her quietly.

The following morning we left before the sunrise for the game drive with Speedy. We spotted another bull elephant silhouetted against the sunrise – another beautiful picture moment. Our guide Speedy then spotted some lion tracks – it is just amazing how they do this from a moving vehicle. He radioed other guides to be on the look out for lions.

And before long the voice cracked

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from the radio. A guide called Mate said, “Ditau dia lwa le diphiri ka kwano, old airstrip”. Guides use Setswana as code in their communications so that “makgoa” cannot easily follow their conversations. But I was a Setswana speaking “lekgoa” and understood that Lady Luck had struck again. By the time Speedy made the official announcement to the non-Setswana speaking tourists we were touring with, I was already urging him to imitate his name and speed to the old airstrip.

However, he was only allowed a maximum of 40km/h. “Come on Speedy, speed up,” other guests begged him as well, but the guide would not be persuaded into breaking the law.

The old airstrip was however not far – Lady Luck at work once again. Right ahead of us, in the open field, was a pride of four lions ready and positioned to battle against a noisy clan of nine hyenas.

There was tension and the lions’ irritation was almost visible but the hyenas, led by a large, earless matriarch, did not care. Speedy told us that the hyena matriarch is a “badass” leader that has been through many confrontations. He said she had survived many battles against lions, leopards and even rival hyena clans.

The matriarch indeed looked like a fighter and had no fear of the lions. The lions on the other side were led by an old female as well. Together with two other young females and one juvenile male, they were growing agitated by the hyenas. The young male lion charged first scattering the hyena clan. The experience looked like a scene from the National Geographic’s Eternal Enemies. A rare sighting that even our guide Speedy was overly excited about. He told us that we were very lucky guests and in my heart I thanked my blesser – you rock Lady Luck.

In the evening game drive, Speedy got another big call on the radio of the elusive leopard sighting. However, by the time we got to the scene it had already vanished into the bush. We missed it. In my mind I wondered whether Lady Luck thought she had spoilt me enough. I wanted to see the leopard but it was already dark and we had to return to camp.

On our last morning game drive at Seba, our guide Speedy shot back to where we had left the trail of the leopard. I did not have much expectation because I understand how elusive the animal is. But Lady Luck was on a spoiling spree so I had not given up on her just yet.

There was a huge elephant carcass near the spot where the leopard was spotted the previous night and there were hyenas devouring it. After photographing the hyenas, content and feeling blessed to have ticked a huge mark on my bucket list, we continued to track the leopard.

The impalas betrayed it. A group of impalas signalled that there was lurking danger towards the westerly direction and Speedy was quick to understand that it might be the leopard.  And we found it. The elusive leopard – number four out of four that we could find in the Big Five list and an amazingly beautiful animal. It was an incredible sighting because the light was perfect. The animal was relaxed and calmly walked in between our vehicles.

I was elated with joy. Thank you Lady Luck. “I’m blessed”.

 *Thalefang Charles was a guest of Hotel and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) and was hosted by Wilderness Safaris’ Seba Camp at the Abu Concession.

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