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  1. 18 likes
    we had two special sightings - one of a pair of abysnnian rollers and another of a cold blood curdling type.... we stopped for this beautiful roller, sitting all alone ..... .... when another flew in and landed near it. the second had an insect in its beak and we thought this bird was courting the first one.... "well, the insect is juicy... and she seems disinterested... ...maybe i could woo her with this fat insect.... or shall i not? ah well, he threw it into the air, and ate it (which I missed by a split second ) I sat at the left of the back row with Mahamat sitting in front of me as safaridude had commandeered the front passenger seat. as we passed a bush, i could see a strange vine around it. Mahamat called up, squack reversed and I made a lightning switch to the right side of the vehicle. I was going to put as much distance as I could from that long wriggling snake in the bush - a cobra (I can't recall which cobra this was). so I've seen a black mamba, boomslang, rock python and now a cobra. I did see a small snake at our chosen bush toilet, but i stayed away till it had slithered off. I'm terrified of snakes, and the less I see of them, the happier I will be.
  2. 18 likes
    More antelopes and galloping giraffes and flying tiang from the morning drive: baby hartebeest
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    We lost him when he crossed into the other end of the pans. We never found him again, but we found two other females that morning, each at different locations but all just as jittery. Lioness 1: such a beautiful lady, i had to take quite a few shots of her. she may be looking at an empty plain on this side, but on her other side was this: Lioness 2: we had stopped at one of those crowded lovely pans and we were all focussing on the cranes around us. squack had taken to his binos and in the far distance at the treeline he saw a lioness dragging a baby hartebeest in her mouth, walking towards the trees and dogged by a herd of hartebeest which were joined by a handful of waterbucks. we joined those antelopes and found her by a bush with her kill stashed inside the bush. the others could see the kill, but i was as blind as ever and couldn't see a thing. we sat to watch her but she started to make soft calls. after a time, we decided to move on to give her more space. our vehicle was probably preventing her cubs to come forward.
  4. 16 likes
    So I forgot this entertaining clip of the abssynian ground hornbill : Part 3: Night drive A surprise spotted cat, lots of white-tailed mongoose and black-tailed one as well, pale foxes (2 including one adorable curious one), and honey badger (woohooo!) this elusive cat lived up to its name, squack located it a few times as it kept vanishing into the dense foliage. my photos were crap, and so was the filming, as the cat slinked away quickly each time. black tailed mongoose (i thought I had taken pics of the white-tailed ones but I can't seem to find them so it looks like I dreamt I had press the button on the camera...) and what is better than a honey badger? two of them!
  5. 16 likes
    It was our last day, and it seemed with the cats bidding us farewell, the animal kingdom came out on parade to satiate as much as they can our long, lingering looks. Perhaps, it is only right that the pictures tell of an ordinary day in the Parc Zakouma. Ordinary in its very extraordinariness - in the abundance of lives, in the sanguine beat of life, in the tranquil pace their footsteps trod, in the measured grazing of the short trodden grass, in the immense diversity of lives. Part 1: AM drive at surrounding areas of Rigueik Pans camp nomade in the background Camp at the back
  6. 16 likes
    Leon had mentioned that sightings of cape fox have been had around the HQ/Tinga area. So we headed into the dusk in search of the slippery fox. And all that Leon said was true. Another point in favour of Tinga..... I didn’t have many photos of the creatures that trod lightly in the night, but it shouldn’t mean we didn’t see anything. I do vaguely recall seeing some but decided against using my camera for photos or videos as the results were just blots of light and shadowy spots. But the last two nights were the most productive, perhaps because I wasn’t thinking about dinner as much, but mainly because I suddenly woke up to the fact that they were the LAST two nights. Here are some samples of the night life in the park: an owl tries its luck... a delightful cape fox! an elusive serval a visit from a driver ant who got drunk in my butter....
  7. 15 likes
    And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings. I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart's core. Willam B Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree And that's all folks. Zakouma defied my expectations of what a normal national park would be. The remoteness of Zakouma all these years allowed the wildlife to be widely untouched, unmoved, unharassed as they've been for years, with the sad exception of the elephants. Now with the protection of AP and the government, the elephants are finally getting the peaceful reprieve within the park. I know I have a romantic view of the park. But in these times where humans are angry with the land given free, as they see it, to wildlife while they struggle to survive, or are frustrated that wildlife and natural parks yield no economic value for them, or that the population explosion have squeezed everyone into tighter and tighter and intolerable tiny spaces, these pockets of magical wildlife that have yet to know humankind become even more precious. I hope I have somehow conveyed some sense of remoteness and accessible quiet beauty of Zakouma. My only wish and hope is that those who have read the report will desire to go to Zakouma, see the beauty of its inhabitants, and support AP’s efforts there. staying at tinga does all that too. A BIG thank you to all those who have followed this rambling TR which became rather personal as it went on. Much thanks to those who contributed in comments and feedback, and those encouraging words that lifted my spirits. Much appreciation to @twaffleand @Sangeeta for their contributions and to @Galago for helping me id the birds, and much gratitude to @inyathi for filling the vital gaps of knowledge and also id-ing the birds. A HUGE shout-out to @Safaridude, Mr and Mrs @twaffle, @Sangeeta and Squack for their fabulous company, laughter, singing, lessons on life and flora and fauna. And thank you for tolerating my whiny hunger calls and blinkers that blinded me to the African wild cat and those big lions (how I managed to not see them for ages is beyond me) and for not feeding me to those cats and having the mother of all sightings as a result. Thank goodness you all were just too nice. As I sit here at my computer, as I relived those moments of our journey, I can feel once again the wind on my face as the truck trundled along the routes with the antelopes milling around us. Sitting at the back row, I started to hum a tune, and took flight - winging with the pelicans, gliding with the cranes, and dancing on the pans with the antelopes.
  8. 15 likes
    Part 2 : evening drive near Salamat River (I"m determined to complete my TR today!) After seeing so much in the morning drive, our last game drive was less hectic. The buffaloes eased us into a dusty start. There were hordes of them on the pans and my camera couldn't begin to capture most of them in one shot. then a very placid roan came by as we drove along a seemingly quiet stretch. we spent a long time with him as Squack tested his patience and tolerance. the awesome mythical antelope hardly bothered to glance at us as he went about tasting different morsels of trees and bushes. another pretty waterhole, followed by Salamat River scenes
  9. 15 likes
    There were other signs that the lions claimed the grounds we were sleeping on as their own; it seemed CN has camped on their favourite territory. While we were fly camping on the river bed with little to threaten us, the lions were hanging around Nomade. Kate told me she had to get the staff to accompany her back to her tent one night as the lions were close by. Every night, a lion would be roaring its presence and on the night of a braai when Leon joined us for dinner, lions were roaring on either side of the camp. On the last night, I fell off to sleep lulled by the roars and with vague hopes of seeing them walk by my tent. The next morning, I learned of a huge ruckus at the other end of camp but I had slept through it. Seemed there was a mighty lion fight. So on our last morning, it was only fitting that we went in search of the lion king. We had seen adult females, with sub adults and with cubs. Where were the pride males? And there he was, lying under a bush looking rather forlorn and lonesome. He chuffed softly, as if calling for his coalition mate or his pride. None answered. He rose slowly and cautiously and it became apparent that he was hurt. He limped towards the pans, and walked slowly, stepping over the rocky pans, punctured by all footfalls that the antelopes and buffaloes printed as the muddy ground hardened. There was however no obvious injuries; perhaps it was a muscle pull. The male lion looked small compared to his distant cousins in the east African savannah, and his mane was sparse. With that limp, he looked less than a royal king of the world, but I had no doubt he would prove exactly that if anything threatened him. in the distance, he paused and laid down for a drink as the birds decided to keep him company. with his back to us, and with the saddle billed stork keeping by his side, he looked a forlorn figure.
  10. 13 likes
    Before we knew it, the sun was setting on our last day in Zakouma and the colours were brilliant and bright as if reassuring us that the park would stay strong and healthy for many many decades to come.
  11. 13 likes
    Midway into the dunes, the wind settled down, and the sun did its magic on the dunes. There are just so many photo opportunities, wherever you point your camera . Dune 45 must be the single most photographed dun in the world! And it surely deserves all the attention it gets. For the change of the pace (and scenery) this bird of prey was noticed on the top of the tree near the Dune 45 parking lot. Greater Kestrel The Posers Back in the camp, just before the inner gates closing time, and the task of preparing the roof top tent for the first time ever .
  12. 12 likes
    Day seven: Rigueik Pans-Salamat River The Lions of Camp Nomade “He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe I feared we had camped on the grounds of the Zakouma lions. One morning, while we were focused on the dancing of the queleas, three lions stepped out of the morning mist and calmly and majestically strode into the camp as if they owned it, which they probably did. All eyes were on them, including those of a handful of buffaloes, scattered around the pans to graze on the fresh grass sparkling with the dew of the day. The cats showed no signs of wanting to hunt. Two of them strode between the two tents taken by Mrs and Mr T, and by Safaridude, while the third lagged behind, seemingly trying to look more menacing than the first two. A risk-averse buffalo cantered away, but others were more watchful of a potential hunt. But those fears were unfounded. The cats showed no interest and vanished among the tents.
  13. 11 likes
    @pomkiwi you might be interested in this section of my TR. We flew from Buenos Aires to the Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls. From here we were taken to the Brazilian side as we had splashed out to stay at the Belmond Hotel which is inside the park. Our plan was to visit both sides during our three night stay. The week before the boardwalks on the Argentinian side were closed for several days because a puma and its cub were roaming the area. Imagine going all that way and not being able to visit The grounds of the Belmond were also off limits after dark as there was a jaguar spotted the night before we arrived. Needless to say we saw neither of the cats. Belmond Hotel it reminded us very much of the hotels we stayed in on our two trips to India. Impeccable service, great food and a beautiful old heritage building. From our bedroom window. The following morning we took a taxi to the Argentinian side. A small train takes you to the walkway leading to the devils throat. You walk through beautiful forest with thousands of butterflies, coati and monkeys. It was very hot and humid even early in the morning so the spray from the falls was great. We got very wet. You can also see the walkways on the Brazilian side. We were going on a boat trip the following day and could see people in the boats. It is a wet or dry ride! Back at the hotel we took an evening walk and watched the sun go down. It was lovely as only people staying at the hotel are there after the last bus load leave.
  14. 11 likes
    Thanks @@xyz99 Back in camp, in the stand next to ours (which was currently un-occupied), there was a communal weaver's nest. Then, I took a walk to the water-hole. At first, there wasn't much going on. Some swallows And a few eagles, far away There were a herd of Zebra on the edge of the clearing, who were slowly approaching the water-hole. It took about an hour and a half before they gathered up the courage to take a sip. On the way back toi camp The afternoon drive was very un-productive as far as game went. Just some Wildebeest and Springbuck near Newbrowni. But the weather was the most spectacular yet! After this shot (which took about a hundred attempts to get), I had to race back to camp to meet gate time (again). There, I discovered that the rain I had been photographing had been falling on the camp. Fortunately, everything had held up to the accompanying winds.
  15. 10 likes
    256)Great Spotted Woodpecker juvenile Dendrocopos major A new recruit to my garden feeders this afternoon, the red top of the head will soon disappear. Great Spotted Woodpecker juvenile by Dave Williams, on Flickr
  16. 10 likes
    BY075 / SI026 Spotted Crake - Porzana porzana
  17. 10 likes
    Arriving early in the afternoon into Sesriem Camp, there were not many people at the reception. We have checked-in, checked our allocated camp site for later, and were entering the park at around 15:00. Our plan was to drive slowly the 65 kms to the 4x2 parking lot, then back again ... Sossusvlei the easy way. It is all tar road, with ample shoulders where one can stop for taking countless breathtaking photos! At the beginning of the valley the wind picked up, plenty of dust/sand in the air yet it gave Zvezda the opportunity for some not usually seen end result. (to be continued)
  18. 10 likes
    Day 1 - Chasing the Rainbows Our Qatar flights were both on time, and it was only 90 minutes on Doha airport, so barely time to get from arrival to departure gate. The DOH is very new and very modern and very big airport. On return the connecting flights were 7 hours apart so I have promised my two ladies that instead of paying 250,00 Eur for the room in the airport hotel, they would be able to spent that amount in the shops. Little did they know I have made a secret deal with Qatar (more about at the very end of this report). We were a bit late, for which I have used 15 minutes of free wifi time on the plane to send an email to mrs.Carla at Advanced; obviously the message did not reached the driver in time. Yet he gave us time to get some money from the ATM, and to buy an MTC SIM data card. Based on last year experience in Kruger 3 TB for cca. 30 USD. Even the MTC guy has had some problems activating it. Then quickly to the Advanced garage, where Chris, head of the fleet has been waiting and our car was ready to roll. Not really, first a thorough inspection of the car and of the supplied camping gear, where mr.Driver (aka Alex) impressed Chris with his intimate knowledge of the pick-up process. Ha, easy task being our third visit to Advanced garage. Tires are my field of expertise; some of you might remember me mentioning that in 2015, all 4 tires has to be changed as they did not comply with my high standards (or, with me having absolutely no inclination to fix a flat tire on the road, probably in the midday heat). This time, this was what happened: me: "Chris, look, I have not changed tyre in a long time. Why not doing one test change here?!" Chris: "Of course, mr.Alex, that is one great idea. I will help you with the jack." He lifted the car (the complicated part of the process) and me and Tanja took of the wheel. Chris: "Job well done! Put it back on and You are ready to go!" me: "Not yet, Chris. Please take this tire and get me a new one!" Because, inspecting the tires I have noticed one has a plug in it!! Chris saw the same, took a deep breath (or swallowed hard) and, with a smile on his face ordered the mechanic to bring a new tyre. Only now we were ready to roll! It was 10 am when the plane arrived, 11:15 when we exited the airport (quicker then on our previous two arrivals), 12:00 entering the garage and 13:00 exiting it. With a brief stop at nearby Shell gas station to fill up almost 140 litres of diesel into two tanks, we have hit the road in time to be at our first stop, Barchan Dune Lodge, before sunset. Another stop in Rehoboth to add food to the steaks that mrs.Carla has graciously provided for us. Driving on B1 was as smooth as possible, scarce traffic, well maintained road. Soon after Rehoboth we left the tar for next couple of days, turning first onto C24 and then on D1261 direction Spreetshoogte Pass. All of you readers have surely heard or read about abundant rains which have blessed Namibia this year. Most people have been nervous about the effect on the wildlife sighting in Etosha. I have had no such thoughts. Rain means green, and green means colourful photos . Yet, Windhoek was overcast, and when leaving the tar road shortly after Rehoboth, the signs of non-typical weather started to show on the sky. The Sign Approaching mountains weather goes from bad to ugly! Not that I have any problems driving in rain, even in thunderstorms, as in Costa Rica I have had plenty of those. Yet in Namibia, one is not accustomed to encounter this type of the weather . On top of Spreetshoogte Pass, the rain was hard, yet the storm has moved east and the sun started to shine below the clouds ... and that is when we have started to chase the rainbows ! Plenty of fun for the photographers but not that easy on the driver, keeping both eyes on the road. Yet for an experienced driver like me, this was a "drive in the park" , and we have reached the valley without any unwanted problem. Here the chase for the rainbows continued. With weather like this we were hoping for some scenic sunset! We got it, even better then hoping for. As we knew already that the rainstorm has "flushed away" the sundowner drive with Willem so we took our time, stopping frequently and starting to fill the cards. This is a photo of one very happy travellers !!
  19. 9 likes
    Ok @Game Warden here´s the Stoat again:
  20. 9 likes
    BY074 / SI025 Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago
  21. 9 likes
    BY072 / SI023 Night Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
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    BY071 / SI022 Mute Swan - Cygnus olor
  23. 9 likes
    BY068 / SI019 Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa
  24. 9 likes
    BY067 / SI018 Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
  25. 9 likes
    Fortunately, when we arrived at the water hole, we did find elephants. Not as many as the day before - this time we estimated we saw about 30 - but they were once again very entertaining and having a wonderful time, it seemed. here's a video where you can really see eles both young and old just having a grand time rolling in the mud and dust.
  26. 8 likes
    The next day we flew back to Buenos Aires for a couple of days. There was a big storm during the night and the falls had changed from rainbows and white water to a huge brownish roaring giant. A few photographs of Buenos Aires to finish. Hope you enjoyed this Trip Report. Pen
  27. 8 likes
    The following morning we got up early and walked along the falls walkway on the Brazilian side which starts just opposite the hotel. Guests have until 9am when the first tourist bus arrives. It was beautiful with many rainbows. Devils Throat in the distance In the afternoon we took the wet Macuco Boat Safari booked from the hotel. The boat takes you right under the falls several times. We shared the boat with a group from both North and South Korea!! It was great fun.
  28. 8 likes
    BY076 / SI027 European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
  29. 8 likes
    BY073 / SI024 Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
  30. 8 likes
    BY070 / SI021 Eurasian Curlew - Numenius arquata
  31. 8 likes
    BY069 / SI020 Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus
  32. 8 likes
    BY066 / SI017 Little Grebe - Tachyhaptus ruficollis
  33. 8 likes
    BY065 / SI016 Ruff - Philomachus pugnax
  34. 8 likes
    BY064 / SI015 Garganey - Anas querquedula
  35. 8 likes
    On two consecutive visits to Škocjanski zatok protected wetland, Zvezda has had much better luck. Below photos taken on April 1st and 2nd. BY063 / SI014 Eurasian Teal - Anas crecca
  36. 8 likes
    After a very long break, I am finally back to try to finish this report or at least post another installment or two. On the afternoon of February 15, after our siesta we went back out to look for dogs again. On the way, we saw a few other things of course: About half an hour later, we found the Crock pack, the pack with 5 puppies. By this time it was about 5:45 p.m. and still they were mostly resting though some of them did get up when we first arrived, but they soon settled back down. [/url] Periodically the pups got up and tried to rouse the adults but when that didn’t work they lay back down. We waited a long time watching them and even at 6:05, the puppies had gotten up and played a bit and adults even getting up again from time to time but then resettling, We were not sure if perhaps the dogs were hunting at night rather than late afternoon/dusk but eventually it was getting dark at about 6:30 p.m. and we left them to their rest. On our way back to camp, we saw and a peaceful group of ellies at the water at sunset:
  37. 8 likes
    Day 2 (part 1): Choosing the knife Zvezda and me loved Barchan Dune Retreat 2at first sight" so it was the obvious choice for our first night in Namibia. And we did not opt for camping, and this was a lucky draw as rain was on and off through the evening. The dinner was delicious, and as in many of such places, a communal affair. We have met other guests, and have exchanged interesting stories. A few photo impressions of this unique lodge: Our room Dinner table Tanja's room Early morning wake up call was not needed at all. This is the view of the main house and of one of the cabins Before breakfast we went out to have some practice: Unknown beetle Local lady Resident meerkat Rock Agama - male ... ... and female Photographers at work Another local lizard ... ... and a huge grasshopper As the dinner also the breakfast is prepared in a very upscale manner: (to be continued)
  38. 8 likes
    Day 4, morning drive: I apologise for all the photos of rain in this report, but to my mind rain in the desert should be celebrated! And then a Jackal: Another very tame Korhaan: A couple of double-banded Coursers: Blue crane: Some more weather: And some more Jackal, with oldish cubs:
  39. 8 likes
    Finally I am continuing the report. I’ve had a particularly hard time trying to decide which photos to post for this day because so much happened and I have so many so it’s taken a little longer than it might have to get back into this! I will do my best to not overwhelm you with photos! This day started with a beautiful sky as the sun began to rise. It was an auspicious beginning to what would turn out to be an incredibly jam-packed day. At not quite 7 a.m., we encountered the original pack we had seen on the first afternoon, the one with two pups called the Tui pack. We had to laugh at the way we found them. We had been looking off road where we thought we had signal from them and got into some really thick bush that was quite tricky to get back out once we realized they were not there. Just as we finally got back to the main road, all of a sudden there they were running at us on the road. We were thinking great, we should have just waited here instead of getting into that mess, but we were still very happy to see them coming towards us, one pup having a dik dik leg in its mouth. After they finished off the bits of dik dik they had brought with them, they ran off out of sight for a bit. While we didn’t see another kill, they apparently caught more dik dik and we caught up with them eating again about 5 minutes later. As we were watching them, suddenly from behind and to the side of us, a Hyena came walking up! As you’d expect, this began an interaction in which the hyena tried to steal some of the bounty. The dogs resisted and moved away, carrying the leftovers with them and still eating. But more Hyena appeared and eventually one intimidated a pup into dropping a dik dik head! [/url] After the drama with the hyenas was over, Mugambi asked if we wanted to get on the ground with the dogs, and this time both Mr. Safarichick and I said yes. The dogs were coming towards the road from one side of the road and we quickly got out and got on the ground on the other side of the car, then Mugambi backed up the car. This time, unlike the first time, they were interested, looked right at us and some came up until they were maybe only a couple of feet away and sniffed at me! My heart was pounding but it was amazing! Mr. S. took this one of me with the dogs in the background: and we got some shots of the dogs from ground level: and Mugambi took a few of us from the vehicle with my phone (the other vehicle in the background is other guests staying at LWC who drove up after we were already on the ground and the dogs were already approaching us): With all that had happened, we were with the dogs (and hyenas) for about an hour. When they started to settle down for the morning, we decided to leave them to their rest and move on. [/url]
  40. 7 likes
    When we were back at the camp after our second outing of the day, Mr. SafariChick hung out with another of the Careys' dogs: In the afternoon, we went out for a third outing/activity for the day! This day, Steve Carey took Mr. SafariChick and I out in a vehicle along with the Israeli couple. He tried valiantly with the telemetry equipment but the dogs were proving very elusive. He thought they were in an area that we might be able to find by walking along and up and down some rocks. George, another gap year fellow who was staying at LWC and volunteering, had come out with us and agreed to take the vehicle and meet us at a certain spot at the end. We walked quite a bit but try as we might, we could not find them. Eventually we had to give up as it was getting dark and we were supposed to meet George and then meet the other guests at Baboon Rock where we would have sundowners. However, somehow George was missing. It turned out there was a miscommunication and he had gone back to the camp, but we did make it to Baboon Rock. I was impressed with myself that I climbed ALMOST to the top of it. Of course, Mr. SafariChick did climb to the top. I was also impressed with the other guides who had carried a cooler up to the top so guests could have G&Ts at the top of the rock! A few creatures we did manage to see while not finding the dogs: So that was the end of our last full day. We'd seen no dogs the whole day. We only had a short morning drive the next morning for a last chance at them. Would it happen?
  41. 7 likes
    We went to a conference in Boston, USA at the end of April, but only had an iPhone as we were wandering around.... Boston public gardens, 27/4/17 iPhone 6 228) Common grackle (a new species for us)
  42. 7 likes
    Ebony Irises Photographed at 2:58 pm on 17 February, 2017 in Kruger National Park, South Africa, using an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto lens. ISO 250, 1/2500 sec., f/2.8, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure. **************************************************************************************************** The heavy rains of mid-February had closed most roads such that we were restricted to the major highways. Nevertheless in the cool air there was considerable wildlife activity. This lioness was one of two who emerged from a grassy thicket, making her way through the wet grass with a measured pace as birds loudly chirped around her.
  43. 7 likes
    I can't recall if I mentioned that there were a couple of families with kids staying at LWC at this time, at least one of which knew Annabelle and Steve's kids from school. It was a school break that week so it made sense that some local families were taking time to go to the bush. We were having a wonderful time and did not want it to end. Some of the families decided to do a fly camping experience, including the ones with the kids. Steve Carey was sleeping out with his kids and they brought some of the dogs. We all had dinner out by the camping area, which was near a body of water. When it was pretty dark, as we were eating, someone (one of the guides I think) spotted a leopard! I tried to see it but I could not make it out, but it was drinking at the water. I wished I could see it, but it was exciting knowing it was there! That late afternoon, a new couple had arrived, an older couple from Israel, and they were at the dinner. They had been on safari before but not to Laikipia. They were in our vehicle on the way home that night and we learned that the next day, for the first time we have them in the vehicle with us. The next day would be our last full day. We'd been fortunate to be alone in the vehicle the whole time we'd been there til now. It was perhaps not ideal to have a new couple in the vehicle with us since we'd been there several days but they were very nice, and it all turned out ok. So the four of us went out with Mugambi the next morning. We spent the whole morning looking for but not finding dogs. We had been so lucky to see them on 5 out of 5 drives, every drive we'd been on since arriving, that we could not be too upset. We did feel bad for the new couple but they had a few days to go. We went back to camp for a big breakfast. Before going back out, I finally took a snap of the collection of bones near where the vehicles would pick us up to go out on drives: When we went back out, we did see something the woman of the new couple really wanted to see: giraffes We also seen something we'd not seen at LWC: 4 jackals! We decided to meander our way back to the water hole where Mr. SafariChick and I had seen so many elephants the day before. On the way we saw: Did we find elephants when we arrived at the water hole? You will have to wait until the next installment to find out!
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    @Kitsafari Wow fantastic views of the pale fox (Vulpes pallida oertzeni) I only saw them on my first visit and not quite as well as that. The Tinga/Zakouma HQ area does seem to be the one area of the park where you have a chance of seeing one, anyone who desperately wants to see this species is definitely going to have a better chance of doing so if they stay at Tinga, if you miss them on your first attempt it's not a major inconvenience to have to try again. On our last visit we tried after our flight over the park as we were driving back from the HQ to Rigueik but had no luck, to have to drive from Rigueik to Tinga several times specially to look for them would not be very convenient. I presume that they are exclusively nocturnal or nearly so, whereas the Cape fox (Vulpes chama) seems to reasonably active during the day at least I've seen them very well in the daytime. The pale is a good bit smaller so perhaps it's bit safer being out at night when daytime predators like hawks and eagles aren't around, I think though they mainly spend their days in their burrows to escape the ferocious daytime heat in this region of Africa. Of course many of the small rodents and invertebrates that they hunt are more active at night but they do also eat fruit which at the right time of year they can find day or night. I'm please you saw the fox because this species is entirely restricted to the Sahel Region so this one you certainly can't see in East Africa, looking at the map it should occur in Pendjari NP I'm not sure otherwise where you might see one, as much of the region where it's found isn't too friendly at the moment. @aholman The blotched or Central African large-spotted genet (Genetta maculata) despite its name is not actually confined to Central Africa it occurs from Nigeria all the way across to Eritrea and then everywhere south to central Namibia and north eastern South Africa. So it is found throughout East Africa, the name Central African is really to distinguish it from the Cape genet which also known as the Cape large spotted genet (Genetta tigrina), both species are often just referred to as large-spotted genets which can cause confusion but then this is another case of recent taxonomic splitting as they were considered all one species. The small-spotted or common genet (Genetta genetta) also occurs in Zakouma but I'm pretty sure all the ones I saw on my visits were blotched, I'm not conscious of having seen a common genet in the park. The a common would have many more and much smaller spots than this animal, Kingdon also states that the blotched does not have a pronounced dorsal crest, this animal does have a dark dorsal line but it doesn't form a noticeable crest. The common genet is absent from the rainforest regions of West Africa and the Congo Basin and also from the main part of the Sahara but otherwise occurs pretty much throughout Africa, sometime way back in the past animals from Morocco were introduced to Spain probably by the Moors and spread throughout Spain and Portugal and up into south central France. Interestingly this species has also been split even more recently, common genets found throughout Southern Africa up into Angola are now regarded as belonging to a separate species the South African small-spotted genet (Genetta felina), confusingly the range maps in the latest edition of Kingdon show considerable overlap between the two, with both species occurring throughout Zimbabwe, Botswana and eastern Namibia but I suspect this may not be correct. The blotched and the common are the only genet species found in Chad.
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    Day 2 (part 2): Into the Dunes (the easy way) With a short drive from Gecko Camp to Sesriem ahead of us, we have plenty of time to stop again at Solitaire. Some people says the apple crumble is not anymore what it was while McMoose was still preparing it, and that now the title of the best goes to the one you can get in Helmeringhausen, yet, I cannot force myself to skip it. Weather was now as expected, nice sun and white clouds, and while I have enjoyed the crumble, ladies did the obligatory photo session with old cars. Soon after leaving Solitaire on the way to Sesriem we have had our first and only river crossing in Namibia, one that actually involved driving through water and not on sand. Just to celebrate this rare occasion, I have done several crossings , which were all duly documented. Baboons have also been happy with abundant food after abundant rainfall, which, when looking back towards mountains, was not at the end. (to be continued)
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    But there was one other, more important reason why I wanted to stay at Barchan Dune Retreat! In 2015, while driving towards Barchan, I have noticed a sign advertising "Hand Made Knives". There was no time to visit the place, yet when back home, I have searched the web for more informations. Now I have had enough time to go to Camp Gecko, where blacksmith and artist Rene is indulging in his life passion producing what he calls tools but what I call pieces of art! Although he was busy preparing for one of the largest specialised fairs in France he was kind enough to explain about knife making and different materials needed for blades, handles etc. After encountering Peter's brother Jack Connan who is also an accomplished knives maker, I have been looking forward to see one in action. Not this time, but there will always be a next visit! After we have done a short tour of the property (Camp Gecko offers both fixed tents as campsites), we went to the reception where some of Rene's beauties were on display. I never expected what happened next!! Both Zvezda and Tanja decided to buy a knife! OK, only one knife, so as usually when two ladies have to decide which one is the best (= the most good looking one) it took them some time. But they did chose well, and now we are proud owners of a Gecko knife . The area around Gecko Camp which is about 15 minutes drive from Barchan Dune Retreat (like close neighbours in Namibian terms) is as fascinating as the one on the other side of the valley: This is looking from the road D1275 towards BDR Table on the main road (C14) pointing towards Gecko Camp And finally, The Beauty Sadly, when asked if I will be allowed to use it during my Botswana adventure next April, I have received a sharp as the knife refusal . Now, how will I survive in the true wilderness without a basic tool any adventurer has to have?!
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    While I will be sharing a lot of photos in this report (I averaged about 1 photo per km travelled), one of the main purposes of this report will be to illustrate some of the pitfalls of self-driving and self-organizing, venturing into wild places without the backup of a large organization and of using one's own vehicle. But at the outset, I also need to point out that these risks also come with a set of unique advantages. If you are driving your own vehicle and camping with your own equipment, you probably know it fairly well, and you (hopefully) know how everything works. By planning your own trip, you can be far more flexible, and you can change plans at the drop of a hat (although this may incur additional costs). So, without further preamble, meet the party (from left to right): From left to right: Christiaan, Gerrit, Adri and Marizanne. Megan and Carla Sonja and me.
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    Malachite Kingfisher Marievale, 4/6/2017 As almost always, they were a little bit far away.
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    I had an unexpected afternoon off last week, so I thought I'd go to the lake. As usual, it clouded over as soon as I had got there . Pretty much all of the migrating water birds had left, but I had a few sightings. First the duplicates. Mute swan Yellow-legged gull Black-headed gulls oystercatcher great crested grebe and this strange bird!! I heard lots of cuckoos, but never seemed to get any closer to them and had 3 green woodpecker sightings, but too far for photos However, I did manage some new birds for 2017 and a couple of new species as well.
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    Day 5: The next morning, Sonja blessed me with her presence on the morning drive. We decided to head toward Olifantsbad. Scaly-feathered Finch: Then, we saw two Drongos badgering a Gymnogene: Another pair of Greater Kestrels And a Kori Bustard And then a couple of lion, being just about as un-cooperative as possible. A Capped Wheat-ear: Our first actual sighting of sand grouse (we had heard them several times). And our first Black-faced Impala But no elephant at Olifantsbad. In fact, nothing but a few geese on the other side. By now, it was time to head back. The only thing worth stopping for was the pan itself. A Capped Wheat-ear:

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