Joe Marais - Wildlife Artist

11 July 2011

Hi. We just returned from a two week trip to Botswana. On our way there we stayed at Le Kubu Island for one night. To experience those huge pans, as well as the massive Baobabs at the campsite, was amazing. The place has such an ancient, primitive feel to it. From there we went through Maun to Moremi. We camped for most of the tour on the banks of the Khwai river,in the Moremi.What a setting. We had the most brilliant time, as per usual. My brother Awie, his wife Martie as well as Ilse and I enjoyed every minute. Camping in the campsite of the Khwai Community Trust in Moremi, means that there are no facilities whatsoever. No ablution, no drinking water, no fences, no protection. You are part of nature. You experience Africa like nowhere else. 

Sitting around the campfire under a huge thorn tree one night, we saw two lionesses walking passed us, a mere 15 m away. Every morning we found a variety of spoor around the tent, from hyena to leopard. The hippos were entertaining us day and night. Elephant walked right passed our camp to drink and cool off in the Khwai. The birdlife was also spectacular with Lilacbreasted Rollers, Fish Eagles, Jacanas, Kingfishers, Ground Hornbills, Saddlebilled Storks, to name but a few.

We also came across a kill. A pride of lions killed a buffalo a couple of days earlier. We could come really close and specifically enjoyed the two cubs. We also saw a leopard with a cub. On the fourth day we had to go to Maun to get drinking water. On our way we saw a huge herd of buffalo crossing the road. The same day we drove passed a couple of Roan antelope. 

I took a lot of photos again, as I use these for reference material for my paintings. Botswana has never disappointed me in this regard, and this trip was no different. That is why I prefer to use my own photos to work from. In this way I can share the story with the person who buys the painting.

The best time of day for me is at sunset when we start the fire. Picture this: sitting next to a fire, smelling the smoke of a Camelthorn. The sun is busy setting and you hear the last call of a guinea fowl. Soon part two of every day will start - the night sounds! Perhaps a jackal in the distance or a hyena scavenging around the campsite! Another unforgettable day in Africa. Another day filled with memories. After all, that is why we keep going back to Botswana time after time.  

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