We woke up and wished the staff a happy Botswana independence day. If we had thought about it some more, we might have re-done our schedule to stay the night, as Mombo (plus many of the other camps, we found out) had grand party plans for the night. We couldn't think of what we would change, though. Malinga had done his homework, and told us about the nice smelling shrub that we had noticed the last two nights, plus throughout the rest of the trip. He told us it was Capparis tomentosa – we'll have to check whether we can grow that at our house.
On our last drive, we tried to find the pregnant elephant from the day before, but no luck. While the day before was giraffe day, this morning was hyena day. We must have seen 10-15, including one that was eating a buffalo carcass. That hyena looked back at us with a scowl that seemed to personify "hyena." Meanwhile, another one nearby looked almost cute – as much as a hyena can. There was also a regal hyena nearby as well.
We saw a group of baboons in a tree – Justin noticed only certain branches moving around, which seemed a little odd. We also spotted yet another honey badger – our third sighting and our fifth honey badger. We also saw another jackal and another lilac-breasted roller.
After watching one group of hyenas, we came around the corner and there were three lions. One of them was the ill lioness, along with her son and daughter. We saw her the first day at Mombo on our drive in, and she looked emaciated. We saw her later that day as well, just before getting back to camp on our afternoon drive. That time she looked much better, and she was chewing on the buffalo carcass. After that sighting, we told Malinga to purposely avoid her, as we wanted to remember her looking well. This time we had no choice but to see her, but actually we did not notice it was her – she looked "normal" – and Malinga drove off before we could see anything bad. So we wish her well.
We drove around some more, seeing a ton more plains animals and birds. We thought it was pretty good, but when the radio asked Malinga how the game viewing was, he responded "nothing much." One of the things we saw was a Kori Bustard, the heaviest flying bird (since ostriches don't fly). We also got some good photos of two tawny eagles (number one and number two). There was also a big giraffe nearby, and a giraffe family. There was a yellow-billed kite on a tree – it more or less does the same thing as vultures in terms of scavenging. One of the last sightings we had was the same as one of our first – some impala, this time fighting. The last thing we saw, on the way to the airport, was a group of mongooses (mongeese? mongi?).
We never did see a rhino, but we certainly could not complain, as our game viewing was much more than we had ever hoped for. We asked Malinga when the last time anyone at Mombo had seen a rhino – he said one and a half months. We had no idea they were that hard to find – if we had known that going in, we would not have asked to go look for them. That being said, we liked everything we had seen at Mombo.
It was 75 minutes to Kasane, which Justin somehow managed to sleep on. The view of the Delta on the way out was very nice. As we approached Livingstone, nobody felt very good, as the plane was very hot and very cramped. We went through customs, which was a piece of cake, then went on to Livingstone. As we were arriving, we did a couple of circles around Victoria Falls, which looked amazing. We had no idea there were no so many gorges around the Falls.
At the Livingstone airport, we felt air conditioning for the first time in a while, and it sure felt good. We met our guide Joshua, who told us our itinerary, which sounded roughly correct, but they did not give us a copy, and we weren't really ready to go over it, so it went in one ear and out the other. We were driven to our hotel, the Royal Livingstone, which looked amazing from the outside, front and back. The inside was impressive as well. The rooms themselves, while nice enough, left a lot to be desired in terms of space and electrical outlets.
After we checked in, we had almost no time before we were on our way to a Sundowner cruise on the African Queen, heading up the Zambezi River. It was a little odd being around a large group of people again. The boat was nice enough, and the scenery was good, despite the large number of people. Fortunately, the sunset was nice. We also finally got some good shots of a hippo opening its mouth wide – there were a couple dozen in the Zambezi . When we got back, we got room service for dinner and crashed early.