gatoratlarge

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Everything posted by gatoratlarge

  1. PS just incredible pics of the cheetah/wildebeest struggle!! WOW!!! Strong will to survive on both ends...
  2. WOW! Stunning pictures! THIS is why I'm on SafariTalk! The baby giraffe is definitely the cutest thing I'll see all day
  3. I've always believed it's best not to go on safari with a checklist mentality...I've set myself up for disappointment before by expecting to see a particular animal: a lion trekking safari in Matusadona NP: no lions seen...a rhino sanctuary in southern Zim: no rhinos spotted...it's best to let nature decide what to reveal to you because that's how it's going to be anyway, right? My attitude is "a bad day on safari is better than a good day doing just about anything else!" I think a lot of Safaritalkers would agree there's no wasted time spent in the African bush. That being said, you certainly have hopes to see certain animals---call it a "goal"--- and on this particular choice of safari locations (thanks to being a faithful reader of SafariTalk), I became fascinated with the number of folks who had spotted an aardvark at Tswalu in the "green" Kalahari (mostly during the winter months) and the fact it had one of my favorites, Black Rhino, as well as cheetah, lion and leopard...and even better, pangolin!! I just had to go and see for myself! i checked online availability at Tswalu and only found one set of dates in late September to take advantage of their buy four nights get one free deal...so I jumped on it. After several attempts and multiple calls to my bank, my deposit finally made it past "security" and into the right hands at Tswalu...nothing was standing in my way and the long months of anticipation began... Next I booked Devil's Pool in Livingstone to get that up close and personal view of the falls only available during the dry season. Finally I reached out to Safaritalker Tony McKeith about visiting Zambia's Kafue NP which I've read a great deal about on this site. He quickly arranged a "too short" but well worth it safari with 2X each at Kaingu Lodge as well as Musekese bush camp...it's hard to describe but I fell in love with Kafue. In many ways it's the opposite of Tswalu. Tswalu is a well managed game reserve. A vast, strikingly beautiful reserve, fenced but so large as it is not something that particularly registers with you. There is "the lion side" and then everything else. I imagine they know exactly the numbers of certain species and their DNA such as lion, rhino and wild dogs...they raise sable for sale, I believe. In fact I think this is a feature of a lot of reserves in South Africa. What is not managed would be all the interesting species you can see like pangolins and aardvarks and aardwolves and brown hyena...my point is that Kafue has that totally wild, free range feel. And very few camps to share the experience with...my only issue with Kafue is that it is intensely burned. Virtually the entire park is burned at one time or another during the year. In certain places it doesn't make for the best pictures with the charred landscapes. I have to agree with Tyrone McKeith that it tends to create a mono landscape over time that favors the fire resistant grasses etc...around Musekese they have taken a different approach and I love the results. The habitat appears more varied and it certainly makes for better pictures My itinerary was as follows: Sept 21 Depart US Sept 22 overnight in Jo'burg Sept 23 - 28 five nights at Tswalu Sept 28 overnight in Jo'burg visit to Kliptown in Soweto Sept 29 over night in Livingstone, Vic Falls Sept 30-Oct 1 2X at Kaingu Lodge in Kafue NP Oct 2-4 2X at Musekese Camp in Kafue Oct 4 Depart for US To get to Kafue required flying to Lusaka and then an approx five hour drive to the park. I didn't mind it. I enjoyed seeing the countryside and the villages along the way. The roads were good although its a bit tough getting through Lusaka. Linda and Rick, part owners of Kaingu picked us up and we had great conversations all the way to the lodge. But apparently next year Proflight will be offering a certain number of flights each week which will make the park more accessible to visitors. I must say that Kafue had lived up to its reputation as a diverse park with the most antelope species but it was only on the ride back to Lusaka (still in the Kafue) through beautiful Miombo woodlands that we came across a galloping herd of sable. They kept pace with the car for a long stretch running through the woodlands. It was a memorable, beautiful sight! So a visit to Tswalu typically begins from the Fireblade Hangar owned by the Oppenheimers. It's plush and certainly not reminiscent of my 16 hour journey flying coach to get to South Africa! You can have a meal, a smoothie, a drink...it's all included and the plane ride is about an hour and a half, shortened by wine and beer if you like to drink and fly. As many of you know Tswalu is pricey, but there's no single supplement and each person or two person(s) get(s) their own guide and tracker. We were thrilled with Jonas as our tracker (I requested him based on recommendations here on Safaritalk) and our guide Moses. The had a great rapport with each other and kept us laughing in between seeing all that Tswalu offers---the were skilled trackers, spotters, knew about the environment and wildlife we were seeing---they were as good of guides/trackers as I've had. I'd highly recommend them! The arrival and departure lounge has been taken over by an enormous sociable weaver nest---I love this place already
  4. @AandA thank you---I hope you keep traveling to Africa as well---the plane ride is the only negative---I just settle in for 24 hours of misery and take my lumps!
  5. gorgeous pics! Love the Wild dogs and Boswell and the hippo!
  6. And I'll finish it with a few more meerkats cause how can you get enough of these little charmers:
  7. A few more Wild Dog Pics from Tswalu:
  8. @michael-ibk They referred to that hippo at Musekese as Satan as he relentlessly attacked the other hippo long after the fight was "over" --- the sounds were horrific apparently. But when we were there he never left this little trough in the flood plain and so it's fascinating that at the end of the day he not only killed the other hippo but died himself. What an aggressive animal! Sort of belies the cute ear wiggles, rotund body and snorts that are so endearing on the river...
  9. I believe Kafue is known as the park with the most antelope species in Africa and between Tswalu and Kafue we certainly saw a lot. Overall 55 species of mammals between the two reserves/parks. Lichtenstein's hartebeests, red hartebeests, sable and roan at both reserves, duikers, impala, beacoup puku; oribi; eland; oryx and springbok; mountain reedbok and bushbuck, mountain and Plains zebras; Defassa waterbuck and kudu; wildebeests; even a sitatunga at Musekese; here's some of what we saw:
  10. I continue to go through pics from the trip---I'm not the most patient writer but I do take lots of pics figured I'd continue to post in groups by animal until I wear everyone out. The four sub adult cheetahs we found on a kill, and then two cheetah brothers on the crest of a dune:
  11. I'm not really a bonified "birder" although I do love birds and my camera isn't one that can bring them in as clearly with the great zoom but this trip was very good on birds...goliath herons, open billed storks, yellow billed storks and spoonbills, ostriches, a variety of weavers, kingfishers of all types as well as a variety of bee eaters, sunbirds, cordon blues, two types of owls, four species of vulture, wattled cranes, the list goes on and on...thought I'd share some pics as I go through my trip pics of some of thosee beautiful birds:
  12. Wow---lucky guy to go from safari to safari Enjoyed the forest hogs especially! Beautiful sable bull too...
  13. Worth the wait! You know how to draw out the suspense---I just blurt out the conclusion in the first few posts! We saw the butts of two brown hyenas on the run, no picture however...thanks again for the great read and pics...
  14. @Raelond excellent! where are you going in Zim? If you haven't been to Kafue and to Musekese before you are in for a treat! I loved it! And yes Tswalu is special for a lot of reasons, the wildlife, the scenery, the staff....really wonderful.
  15. Wow! Great photos! The Sabyinyo group was the same family group we visited about four or five years ago. How cool to see an update---looks like they're doing quite well!
  16. @SafariChick I'll check them out---I know I saw some pics from Facebook but maybe not the trip report---it's interesting these reports do not show up in the various TR for the countries even when tagged...I think it requires a separate report for each country?
  17. How did I miss this?? Great report and pics!!!
  18. @Kitsafari we were close but no cigar----next time! I feel pretty certain with this forum and the enthusiasm and energy of the members that we'll cross paths in the near future. I'm glad we didn't wear out our welcome at Musekese and Kafue I just powered through my trip report knowing that if I paused long enough I might never finish it LOL Although I think there's a rhythm to unfolding the report over time, people following along and commenting along the way that is completely lost in my method... I can't wait to read yours for the rest of your trip. So interesting that we covered the same ground---I did meet @optig in Tswalu as our time there overlapped.
  19. I thought by tagging my recent trip report it would appear in both forums but it only appears in the South African Forum. Here's the link to the report which includes half the time spent in Zambia. I sure hope to be back!
  20. One last sighting I thought I would mention...I've heard over the last few decades there's been a sharp decline in carrion eating birds/vultures throughout Africa for a variety of reasons including the use of poisons. So even though some might think them gross, I was pleased to see a gathering of vultures including four different species: lappet-faced, white-backed, white-faced and hooded vultures on a buffalo carcass. Shows the signs of a healthy ecosystem:
  21. Thanks @Alexander33 It turned out to be a fantastic combination with the unusual desert dwellers of the Kalahari but also lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino and wild dogs...then to Kafue with elephants, hippos and crocs...so by the end of the trip we got a full range of African wildlife with the exception of great apes...and Kafue will add flights next year so it will be a bit easier to access...
  22. That's really cool---maybe they shed the hair a bit in the desert?
  23. I've spotted two aardvarks on safari---one at dusk moving at a good clip in South Luangwa thus no picture. But Just a few weeks ago in late September, Tswalu, South Africa I got my pics of an aardvark! Quite a thrill to track and follow for about 45 minutes or so I've got some video I shared in my TR as well...love these little guys...
  24. @KaingU Lodge oh man! The pics look amazing! Next trip I'll stay in the basket! Now you just need a pic of a hippo down below
  25. I've run out of steam on my report but just in time. We had a nice ride back to Lusaka picking up some chickens and charcoal on the way. One last sunset on the Kafue... I'll remember that galloping herd of sable running pace with us through the miombo woodlands as a lasting memory of Kafue and of one fine trip to Zambia...back to reality I go....

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