On 1)Safari: the Wilds of 2)Botswana 南非博茨瓦纳：野生动物的天堂
The army of elephants stood stiffly, alert and 3)imposing, their powerful gray 4)silhouettes facing our open-air 5)Land Cruiser. It was our second night on safari, and the sky was dark and 6)foreboding as we drove alongside Botswana’s Khwai River, a 7)tributary that feeds into the 8)Okavango Delta, on the northern border of the 9)Moremi Game Reserve.
Hundreds of elephants filled the river, bathing and drinking, after the heat of the day had 10)sub-sided. Seemingly endless herds continued to arrive, like phantoms, mutely making their way from the brush to the water. We had parked next to the river to quietly observe the herds.
I sat silently, wrapped in darkness, with three other safari goers, and our guide. The calm and tranquility was abruptly shattered when a vehicle 11)careened down the dusty road, obviously in a hurry and with little interest in watching elephants or concern for startling them.
Our guide, Dave Carson, sensing the animals’ surprise and tension, remained calm, but on high alert. “Are you ready for a show?” he asked. I held my breath, not knowing what to expect. The elephants panicked and tore through the water, trunks in the air, 12)trumpeting and screaming. Nearly 30 enormous animals 13)stampeded toward us, looking like a wall of 14)doom and sounding like a rushing waterfall.
My heart raced; I couldn’t breathe. Mere feet from a mass collision of flesh on metal, the 15)tirade of elephants veered to the left, running behind our vehicle and disappearing into the bush. I 16)heaved a hot breath and sighs of relief were heard all around.
It was my first trip to Africa, the land of dreams, rugged and untamed. I wanted to witness one of Earth’s last wild 17)strongholds—a feral frontier—before it’s gone. Botswana, in south-central Africa, I was told, is the place to do just that: a land teeming with wildlife, but few tourists.
Our adventure began at a small airport in 18)Maun, gateway to the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta. As we journeyed through barren desert toward one of the delta’s wet, outstretched fingers, the landscape transformed from lifeless desolation to wildlife heaven. I watched, mesmerized, as a monstrous, confident, wild-elephant bull 19)sauntered across the dirt road mere feet away. He 20)strutted slowly, with 21)uncanny silence, his enormous gray feet kissing the earth without a whisper.
The spicy smells of 22)sage and wild 23)basil wafted through the dry air. Regal giraffes stretched long necks, browsing on 24)acacia trees lush with yellow, fragrant blossoms. 25)Impala gracefully leapt through golden grasses alongside grazing zebra and 26)waterbuck. Within the 27)marshy reeds and lilies of the waterway, a 28)hippo-potamus bubbled. Then, eyes peeked out, slow, curious, intense. Purplish-gray nostrils breached, 29)snorted, and then submerged, disappearing under a glassy surface.
Three large, 30)tawny figures took shape among the 31)ocher grasses alongside the road. Lions! A large, commanding male shot up and stared at us with daunting yellow eyes. We were in awe. He was not, however, and quickly fell back down with a thump, and went to sleep.
Not far from the lions, our campsite was tucked into a cozy 32)grove of acacia trees. A cheerful staff greeted us with a candlelight dinner. To my surprise, it wasn’t typical campfire fare. Instead, we were treated to 33)butternut-squash soup, 34)quiche, fresh-baked bread, vegetables and wine.
My tent was as delightful and extravagant as the meal—a roomy tent adorned with a comfortable bed, a hurricane lantern and nightstand. Most surprising, and certainly a bit of a relief, was its attached primitive bathroom and shower. After seeing the lions, the idea of leaving the tent for a midnight visit to the 35)latrine wasn’t appealing.
Despite the 36)comfy beds, sleep was nearly impossible, as I lay awake, reeling with excitement, listening to the fascinating foreign sounds of the night: deep 37)guttural moans from lions in the distance; choruses of 38)painted reed frogs like a symphony of bamboo 39)wind chimes; the nearby 40)whooping of 41)hyena; a hippos’ 42)rowdy 43)honks, groans and snorts were comical-sounding, like hundreds of 44)whoopee cushions. With the morning came a whole new world of music from the birds, chattering to the 45)drone of thousands of bees in the treetops.
A peculiar blend of 46)adrenaline and a sense of total serenity was the prevalent feeling while living in Botswana’s wilderness. Within days, we observed enormous herds of 47)cape buffalo, zebra and antelope. We witnessed the 48)ferociousness of lions, 49)ambushing and killing an unlucky 50)warthog right in front of our eyes. On another day, we saw how the entire ecosystem teams up against the predators, as a male lion was nearly killed by a hippo, while crossing a river, and then was charged by bull elephants when he eventually made it to land.
I was forewarned that the magic of Africa would forever change me; it would be stirring in my blood. Indeed, it’s true.