leopard in tree in pom pom

Day 6 – Botswana Safari in Sango and Pom Pom

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We spent our final morning at Sango Safari Camp before flying out to Pom Pom in the Okavango Delta.  We paid for six activities, and we were supposed to have one more safari drive in Moremi Game Reserve, but the bush airlines scheduled us for an early departure. 

At first, Sango wasn’t going to provide a morning drive due to limited time.  But Mack Air and Moremi Air fly in and out of the Khwai Concession bush airport, which means there is only a runway…no buildings, no bathrooms, no control towers, no security.  So, we pretty much only needed to show up a few minutes before departure time.

As a result, I countered, “You can give us ½ a drive or return our money.”   We promptly had a drive scheduled with our awesome guide, July! 

I’m noting this for beginner safari goers because flights take place all day and passengers can be moved around (which happened when left Pom Pom for our international flight).  So be sure to notify the camp staff the day before departure so adjustments can be made. While Botswana was my fourth safari, it was my first as the organizer working with the handler and camp personnel who always go above and beyond.

Morning Drive in Sango

Anyway, once again, we loaded up in the safari vehicle before sunrise.  We were supposed to go to Moremi Game Reserve and look for the cheetah.  Unfortunately, the area in the park we planned to explore was too far away, so we returned to Khwai Concession.

Right off the bat, we spotted some parrots!  I don’t think I have ever seen parrots in Africa.

parrots in africa

Lions

We also found two male lions waiting to send us off at the airport!  We patiently watched them for while, in hopes to see something exciting, but they were pretty lazy.

They only sauntered from the “tarmac” to the end of the runway and plopped down in the morning sun.  All the guides in my previous safaris mentioned male lions don’t hunt.  They protect the area while the females hunt and reap the rewards.

That said, if they are out on their own like these two young males, they will.  They will also help out if their power is needed to bring down a bigger animal.

These two lions scanned the horizon and acted interested in the nearby red lechwe, but in the end, the water separating them proved too daunting and lazily soaking in the sun trumped a meal.

As a result, we moved on, only to find a large pride of lions on the banks of the river.  They sure were majestic!  I can’t believe by our sixth day on safari between Chobe and Sango, we had already seen at least thirty lions, some of them twice!

It’s funny, the last animal we saw leaving Chobe was a lion, and now we were sent off from Sango by many lions!

Flight to Pom Pom in the Okavango Delta

We returned to the runway and waited for our plane.  Our last plane was a twelve-seater.  This one was a six-seater. We piled in as the pilot loaded the bags.  July smiled and waved to us as the prop plane took off.  He was so nice! We missed him as soon as we got on the plane.

In Pom Pom, we landed at another bush airport.  Here, Thabo and Skills greeted us!  Thabo was our guide and Skills was our scout.  The runway was just a five-minute drive from camp. Upon arrival at camp, of course we were greeted with lovely dancing and singing.

view of the okavango delta from plane

Pom Pom Camp

Pom Pom Camp was definitely the nicest accommodations of our 7 day safari in Botswana.  The main area included a dining area, sitting area, bar, gift shop and small pool.  It, along with the tents were situated on the water.  The enormous tents featured a sitting room, bedroom, a huge bathroom, and a giant outdoor shower.

All the tents had nice views, though I’d recommend tent 12.  Especially if you like elephants!  Its canvas bathroom had slashes in it from elephant tusks!

Located inside the concession on a private island, Pom Pom had very active wildlife.  Mongoose, warthogs, bushbucks, and elephants visited daily.  Hyenas, leopards, and lions tended to pass through during the evening.  Or at least that’s what the tracks implied while we were eating dinner.  The hippos were relentless at night. Noisy suckers!!

This camp was so posh, I ended up not being too upset that our safari drive at Sango got cut short for our early arrival.

Pom Pom, operated by Kwando Safaris, replaced another camp in which we were originally booked in 2020.  COVID, however, closed the other camp so we got upgraded.  I can’t complain.

We enjoyed some down time after we checked in.  Then we selected lunch from a nice buffet, shopped in the surprisingly nice store, and eventually piled into the safari vehicle for our afternoon drive.

Afternoon Safari Drive in Pom Pom

All the pressure was off Thabo and Skills because we had literally seen the big five, the cats and the wild dog hunt in the last five days.  When Thabo asked what we wanted to see, of course we said cats, but also, we requested upgrades to a few of our “security” shots.  So, we asked to see wildebeest, red lechwe, and hyenas!!!  No problem!

Red Lechwe and Jackals

With the water too low for a boat safari, but too high for us to drive far, the area we covered was limited.  That said, we still saw plenty.  We certainly upgraded our red lechwe photos as we watched them leap through the marshy terrain.

We also upgraded our jackal photos.  We watched one try to catch a fly before it trotted off.  It was kind of fun to see. 

Lion Cubs

And while we thought our lion cub experience in Khwai Concession couldn’t be topped, we were wrong!  We saw three lionesses with TEN cubs!!!  To be more specific, three lionesses were resting with one cub, while nine cubs played 50 yards away.

They stretched, coughed up hairballs, wrestled, plopped down on one another, chewed on sticks, and climbed a low tree branch.  Then suddenly after 30 minutes and 60 pictures later, they scampered to their moms and began nursing!  It was amazing to hear them all suckling the teets at once.  It like a low, continuous roar!

While we didn’t see them, we learned there was also a fourth mother that had two cubs just a few weeks old, rather than a few months old.  She was hiding them in den somewhere away from the pride.

Since this was our second long encounter with lion cubs, we left them to nurse and drove into the woods to find the leopard.  Thabo and Skills knew the general area where it had dragged a kill, but they didn’t know exactly where to look, so we had our eyes peeled.

Leopard

I spotted it in a tree!  WOW, another leopard in a tree!  I mean we have been so lucky to have so many encounters with the elusive leopards.  It was a little difficult to position the safari vehicle in the brush for unobstructed pictures of the leopard, but we managed a few.

She lounged at the base of a tree branch, with her paw dangling to one side as her extended belly digested her meal.  Her kill was still down below hidden beneath a nearby bush, so she kept a look out of lions and hyenas, the only predators that might take it from her.

Soon she perked up and with her fierce amber eyes, she stared in the distance and occasionally at us.  After switching her position a few times, she trotted down the tree branch and trunk and leapt to the ground.  We hoped we might see her eat or move her kill, but she simply rested on the ground.

Sunset and Night Drive in Pom Pom

The sun was setting which provided great light on her spotted coat, but we need to get out of the trees before dark and have our sundowner.  We took in a beautiful sunset, while apparently another safari vehicle was following the lionesses.  We learned the following day, that they tried to capture a baby buffalo, but the elephants helped the buffalos defend it, so they failed.  That would have been a sight to see!

It turns out, as we were spotlighting on our night drive back to Pom Pom, we stumbled upon them walking aside the road.  One of the mama’s looked angry.  Skills had to temporarily blind her with the light as she passed within feet of his tracker seat to ensure he was safe.

Normally, when we see cats he moves inside the vehicle, so he doesn’t scare them away, as animals which see in black and white can’t differentiate the people in the car unless people make quick movements.  But perhaps at night, it is a different story with angry felines hunting for dinner!  Because they were not afraid of him perched on the end of the hood. 

sunset at pom pom

Along with the lions, we also saw some more jackals! It was pretty good night drive which generally are not my favorite.  As usual, our sixth day on safari in Botswana did not disappoint!! Pom Pom is a great final destination. ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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