Rising to the chill of the air on Day 3 of our safari into Moremi and Chobe National Park we all were feeling like old hats at this safari thing. We began to settle into a nice, relaxing routine and knew the expectations placed on us by our guides. Morning breakfast with tea and coffee was taken care of by Tosu our Assistant Guide/Cook; out with Prince on a game drive by 8am including a mid-morning fruit break; back to camp at noon to assist Tosu with lunch, then a siesta and shower, and out by 2pm for our evening game drive, and back to camp by dusk (6pmish) to assist Tosu with dinner preparations including cocktails and lively after dinner conversation around the campfire or possibly another shower or the first shower of the day. As exciting and busy as our schedule was it was also incredibly relaxing and spiritually cleansing. This morning was a bit different as we arrived back to camp from our morning game drive around 10am, broke camp, backed the safari vehicle, and were off to our next campsite before noon. While on safari, your days are full of activity and your nights spent soundly in a deep sleep (except for awakening to the occasional intrusion of a hippo or honey badger in camp).
After our morning game drive we broke camp and headed towards our second campsite in the Savute region of Chobe National Park. During our drive we came across a large area of savanna recently burned by a massive fire. Our safari was taking place in October, right at the end of the dry season, just before life giving rains return to this part of Africa. The landscape was parched and brown. Anyone who has traveled by car across the grass and shrublands of the Great Basin in western U.S. or the grassland steppe of eastern Colorado, Wyoming, right up to Calgary in Canada during the end of August knows exactly the type of landscape I am talking about. Months without rain have left the grass cured and dry. Fires are common in such ecosystems and are necessary for the proper function of the landscape. They supply the life giving nutrients vital to the sustaining the biodiversity of the ecosystem. They return life giving nutrients of phosphorus to the soil almost as if the fires know the rains are returning soon and that the grasses will be springing back to life, craving nutrients that the fire will release from them. As a biologist it was fascinating to see this ecosystem still functioning as it has for 1000s of years. Quite a contrast to the familiar landscapes of eastern Colorado where I live and work, where the landscape is fragmented by development and agriculture, and where fires are suppressed or controlled if they occur at all. For further reading on the vital role fire has on African savannas go to the following link:
Fire plays an important role in maintaining the ecological integrity of the African savanna