If I had my way right now, I would love nothing more than to escape to a chalet deep in the bush where there’s no cellphone reception. So I thought instead of spending time day dreaming I may as well reminisce via my blog about a trip to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Serowe that I took earlier this year with a group of 14 American exchange students.
According to the official website, The Khama Rhino Sanctuary is:
“a community based wildlife project, established in 1992 to assist in saving the vanishing rhinoceros, restore an area formerly teeming with wildlife to its previous natural state and provide economic benefits to the local Botswana community through tourism and the sustainable use of natural resources. Covering approximately, 4300 hectares of Kalahari Sandveld, the sanctuary provides prime habitat for white and black rhino as well as over 30 other animal species and more than 230 species of birds.”
The trip to Serowe was farily quick and stress free, took about 4 hours to get there which in terms of long distance travel in Botswana is very short (it takes 10 hours to get to the northern part of the country). Unfortunately as soon as we arrived we were greeted with a power cut, but I suppose it didn’t matter since we weren’t going to watch TV or use computers. After buying some firewood for the evening bonfire and checking in at the reception we headed to the dorms.
Similar to the Mokolodi Nature Reserve the Rhino sanctuary have educational facilities for students and a hall for classes or activities. The dorms we stayed in were quite humble, just a couple bunk beds crammed into a decent sized room. Luckily I got to live it up in a double en suite room meant for teachers. I shared the room with the second tour leader (the first being me).
Dinner was served in the Sanctuary’s restaurant and the best dish in the buffet was easily the oxtail stew. Heaven. It was made perfectly! The rest of the spread was decent but the oxtail stew stole the show.
Because we were in the midst of winter I knew the night game drive that we were scheduled to go on after dinner would be extremely bitter. However despite all the jackets we piled on, we were not ready for that icy assault in the back of the Safari truck. It was an excruciating 2 hours spent looking for animals in the dark. We did see what we came for though, spotted a couple of Rhinos hiding behind a tree and other nocturnal animals that my humble point and shoot camera couldn’t quite capture. We also found a dead Impala which the guide told us must have ingested poison because it had froth at its mouth.
The bonfire could not have come soon enough! We sipped some ciders and toasted some smores while chatting the night away. The power came back before bed time which made me happy because I didn’t pack a torch, you’d think I’d know to bring such being the tour leader and all.
The following day we were woken up at 4:30am to get ready for a 5am drive and Rhino tracking. We all did the right thing and took our blankets with us and it made the drive a little more bearable than the night before. I had also worn pretty much every piece of clothing I brought for extra warmth.
We drove for a while and spotted other animals before the guides located some Rhinos we could track. As big as they are, they are quite elusive given that amazing sense of smell they have. Every time we inched closer, they would disappear into the bush. The guide’s did all the cliche guide things; licking dung (yes that happened), feeling the temperature of the footprints and insisting on absolute silence. After a failed attempt (the wind kept blowing our cover), we gave up and went to track another herd. We were downwind the second time around so we caught up with the herd in no time. We were a decent distance from them but could still observe them clearly. The guide rattled off facts about them like age, type (white or black), sex and told us a bit about their behaviour and life while we took pictures.
When we returned to the Safari truck, it was 9am and the sun was beginning to do it’s scorching thing. The Botswana sun is just something else! We shed our layers and headed to the restaurant for a breakfast buffet. After breakfast, it was time to pile back on to the bus and begin the journey back to Gaborone.
It was a pleasurable night in the bush-aside from the cold. Plus we didn’t have to do any bush work like we did in Mokolodi so I was very happy with that! Check out the Khama Rhino Sanctuary website here, their YouTube page here and their Facebook page here.