Eagle Island Lodge
To get to this safari camp you must fly (our plane was full with 10 guests plus pilot and copilot) Our personal landing strip was the third landing and we were the last to get off. We were greeted by the whole lodge staff, waving and singing a native welcoming song...like Downton Abby with music. Just like the Ngoma Lodge, here at Eagle Island Lodge we were always given damp clothes to refresh ourselves after our drives, or in this case our flight. We stayed here three nights, and once again there weren't that many guests, so we were treated like royalty.
Our personal guide took us on two drives a day. He was a native of the area, a guide for more than 25 years and he knew the terrain and animal behaviors well. He didn't talk much unless you asked a question and then information and stories flowed. One morning we started to follow a large hippo who seemed alone and headed to the river, when we surprised a very large pod of hippos in the river. We hadn't approached with the wind in mind and our scent caused a minor panic. Suddenly the hippos started to run out of the river, up the bank and back down into the river on the other side, out of our view. Christopher managed to capture it all on video and has shown it to everyone we've met since then. We repositioned ourselves down wind where we could again see the whole group. I lost count at 89 hippos.
In February the delta is mostly dry except for a few watering holes and the river. If we came back in August or September, all the lush meadows would be underwater and the only way to see the wildlife would be from a small boat. We drove a Landrover anywhere our guide wanted to go, no roads, just across meadows and around the mounds that were crowned with termite castles and trees. I thought that all the wildlife would leave when the delta was flooded, but they don't leave. Our guide told us that they were easier to find as they tend to congregate on the mounds walking through the flooded meadows regularly. I want to go back to see this!
Interesting fact, the termite mounds are made from mud and termite saliva. When a termite mound is abandoned, the native people take the mounds apart, mix water with the saliva soil and use it to plaster their homes or to make bricks. tI's like cement and waterproof!
This is not a Nyala...it's a Cape Bushbok. Our bungalow had an infinity pool and spacious wood deck with two large lounge chairs. While Christopher took a nap, a sat outside to sketch. Roles were reversed when this young bushbok came to check me out!
As we walked to our bungalow after our first dinner, we spotted a very large furry looking owl up in the tree next to our door. It was too dark for a photo but a sketched what I remembered. When I asked the host of the lodge what kind of owl it was, he told me how rare it was to see a Pell's Fishing Owl and how lucky we were. There are expeditions especially curated for bird watchers hoping to find this owl. He only stayed the one night.
I started to list in my sketchbook all the animas and birds we saw, but there were too many.
One of the most interesting trees was the Baobab also know as the tree of life. Elephants like to use it as a scratching post. This three was was right below our deck at the Eagle Island Lodge.
Three nights was a perfect amount of time to spend here. The routine was simple...get up early for coffee and a small bite, take a drive with a tea and rusk stop along the way. Then brunch back at the lodge folded by a nap, dip or sketching time. High tea is served at 4 and then an early evening drive with a sundowner break (for me that was ice cold G & T). Then we return to the lodge for a 4 course dinner, then bedtime. Repeat the next day. Every drive was inspirational and surprisingly different. We saw so many different birds, white rhinos, elephants , giraffes, kudu, impalas, hippos, crocodiles, cheetahs, cape buffalo, ostriches, zebras and lions. We even watched as a lion stalked zebra from the cover of sage bushes. We were less than 20 yards away when she pounced on a baby zebra, killing it in an instant and dragging it back under a bush so other predators wouldn't see it. Our guide though our lion was a mother but we didn't see the cubs.
We did see babies everywhere. In February, the rainy season, everything is dense, green and lush. It took us awhile to be able to spot animals since they like the shade as much as we do.