Some of the habituated meerkats at a colony near Jack's Camp. They're standing at attention next to their burrow watching a snake eagle hovering far away.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
I was taking three passengers to Xaxanaka, an airstrip on the northern edge of Moremi National Park in the Okavango Delta, and was to pick up four from there to take to Jack’s Camp. I had already gotten a late start because of a mix-up with the flight plan, so was trying to make up some time (or at least keep from getting later). There were three of us approaching the airstrip around the same time, so as we got close I was busy talking on the radio and trying to see the other airplanes so we could sequence ourselves to come in for landing. While all that was going on, an airplane was trying to depart the strip but had to wait for vehicles to clear some elephants off the runway. When they finally had it cleared, he started his takeoff run only to have another elephant step out in front of him determined to cross the runway, and the pilot had to abort the takeoff, turn around, and taxi the whole way back for another go. This made the three of us trying to land have to circle and wait for him to get off. Finally, the airplane on the ground managed to take off, and I ended up number three to land behind the other aircraft. They both landed uneventfully, but as I was coming in on short final behind the second plane, a big herd of impala scampered out right in front of me. I had no choice but to add power and go around for another try, buzzing low over the impala to scare them off the runway. Finally on the next attempt I was able to land, by this time probably a good 30 minutes behind schedule. From there, all went normally and I was able to pick up my next passengers and hurry away to Jack’s Camp.
So that’s a day in the Maun life. There definitely hasn’t been a shortage of excitement since I came up here, between the airplane’s brand-new alternator dying on me twice in a week, taking passengers to the wrong airstrip because someone messed up their itinerary (meaning rushing them to the right place and being late the rest of the day), doing last-minute flights for one of the other charter companies here, racing against sunset to get passengers delayed by Air Botswana to an unlit airport before dark, etc. Luckily this week has slowed down a bit…most days I only have one flight, and no nasty surprises have popped up as yet. And that’s good, because too many weeks like the last two might have had me booking an early ticket home :)