Harriet Smith Photography


"For The Love of Africa"

AFRICAN SAFARIS - Trips Of A Lifetime

Eye On Africa

Country: Botswana                                            
Location: Okavango Delta               
Reserve: Moremi Game Reserve 
Camp: Xigera Camp  (pronounced kee-jer-ah)


Eye On Africa

This is a picture of a curious, big bull elephant leaning his weathered looking hide against the dining area railing getting an eye full in the early morning. Xigera's dining area is on a platform about 6 feet off the ground, putting us eye to eye with this big guy.   Elephants can roam right into camp, up to any platform railing. The detail here clearly shows his wrinkled and folded skin, his long gray eyelashes and semi hidden behind the lashes, his small golden eye. Elephants have very poor eyesight with a range of only about 25 ft and, because of the eye's position and size of the head and neck, they have limited peripheral vision.

Given that elephants have the largest nose in the world it is perhaps not surprising that elephants are thought to have the best sense of smell of all animals. Monitored wild elephants have shown that they are able to pick up smells over distances of several miles. This big guy smelled us long before he saw us. The tip of an elephant's trunk is constantly moving, testing the smells in the air in every direction as we might perhaps use our eyes.

Why does he have such a wrinkled skin? The folding of their skin helps him regulate his temperature. The wrinkled/folded skin retains 5-10 times more water than a smooth skin and the mud stuck on it dries much harder, keeping him cooler for longer periods. Wrinkled skin also loses more heat, cooling him down.

This picture was taken in the Okavango Delta.   The Okavango Delta is rightly considered one of the most incredible wildlife and wilderness sanctuaries in Africa.  It is the largest inland delta system in the world, an area of about 6000 square miles making a mosaic of grasslands, floodplains, palm-tree islets, forests, lily lagoons and winding water channels combine to form a perfectly constructed puzzle, in which animals wander as they please. The Kavango River, born in the uplands of Angola to the Northwest, flows into and fans out across the Kalahari Desert to form this immense inland delta. What makes this area most remarkable is that it is a wetland paradise located deep within the arid Kalahari Desert. The Okavango is Africa's largest and most beautiful oasis. The water of the Okavango literally floats on a saturated sea of sand.

Xigera Camp is situated on "Paradise Island" within the Moremi Game Reserve, close to its western boundary, in one of the most beautiful corners of the Okavango Delta. Nestled amid a magnificent, old riverine forest, Xigera is set in what is truly a wetland paradise, surrounded as it is by deep channels and lush riverine vegetation. The entire Xigera Camp itself is situated on platforms and walkways 6-8 above the ground.

Xigera can only be reached by light aircraft, and a mokoro (dug-out canoe) is used to move from the airstrip to the camp. Xigera is in an area that has permanent water all year round - yet there are lots of large islands nearby which hold large concentrations of animals.  Mokoro and small flat bottom boats are the only transportation here. Many of the narrow, passable channels are walled in by massive stands of papyrus. Xigera is a place one silently glides in a mokoro, and as the mokoro makes a sharp turn through the reeds, a hippo or elephant can suddenly stare from the water 30 feet in front, giving quite a adrenalin rush.  All Stop!!  Also, experience by mokoro being surround by water covered by stunning water lilies.

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