“Morning, Morning is Ewan Masson’s wakeup call. After many years of safari life he is still the first one up, ready to start the day, to be on safari. There is the smell of wood smoke from the small fire that burned all night, letting animals know we were present. After several days we know the routine, listen for the sound of the camp staff bringing hot water to our washbasins. There is the dawn chorus of African birds. At some camps the belching of hippos, others the snorts of stotting male Impala. We keep breakfast simple and get into the Land Rovers to be out when animals are active. We alternate between two vehicles, riding with guides Ewan Masson and Mr. Fish, a native of the Okavango region who offer a different perspective and style that is complimentary, providing variety. We learn taxonomy, ecology and native stories. We laugh. We focus at times on tiny birds, at times on large, magnificent mammals. At times we just stare at the lushness of wetlands that seem so improbable in this arid realm.
Every day brings surprises, a pair of massive, courting Wattled Cranes, a Leopard bent on routing a Tree Squirrel out of a tree cavity, a Honey Badger racing across an opening, caught out in the open at dawn. Our vehicles often head different directions but stay in touch, allowing us to traverse more area, share key sightings.
By lunchtime camp is a welcome site, a place to rest, to renew ourselves with lunch, cold drinks, time to record our morning’s finds. Like the animals we learn to stay in the shade; we move our chairs as needed. Some retire for a nap. No one wanders – too many lions, elephants and buffaloes about. These animals and others come through at night. Gentle Sallie Masson tells us not to worry, “Elephants are very careful where they step, they can’t risk falling down and a tent is not a secure place for a footstep.” Several times we hear hyenas hoot at close range. One morning lion tracks etched a path through the adjacent clearing. Camp is the center of our universe; it feels far more like home than a hotel ever could. We find our bush showers and cots just fine as trade for the richness of the ease at which we flow with animals. We enjoy an indulgence of animals, indelible for all of time.