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hannahcat posted a topic in BotswanaThis is a continuation of the trip report started in the South Africa forum. To sum up: my mom and I traveled to South Africa and stayed at Dulini Lodge, where I had stayed once before. After a quick overnight at Victoria Falls, we were now venturing on to a place new to both of us: Botswana and the Okavango Delta. First off, as newbies to the whole system of small flights in and out of the Delta camps, it was thrilling to be flying in our first small aircraft. (Side note: I've just realized that this trip report is probably going to be full of lots of squeals over little things that will probably get annoying to people who do this more regularly. Small planes! Look, we're *driving* through water! There are *elephants* actually *in camp*!!! etc. Sorry about that. What can I say, I'm still excited about it all. When I was a little kid, I watched "Animals are Beautiful People" obsessively, and I mean really obsessively. I couldn't be convinced to rent anything else at the video store. So, maybe I watched it at least once a week, maybe more, for at least a year. The only thing that stopped me was my older half-brother coming into town -- he thought I was going a little nuts and insisted that I be made to rent a Disney movie. Disney movies never did catch on with me, but it did break me of my compulsive nature documentary watching. Anyway, even though that movie was about the Kalahari, they do mention the Okavango, so by the time I got there, I was ready to be there. Everything was exciting. The water was exciting. The reeds were exciting. The sky and the wine glass noises of the frogs were exciting, and keeping my mom from being trampled by an elephant was most definitely exciting (more on that later). Some days you're not up for that. Some days you want to read trip reports from someone who can distinguish all the antelopes or from someone who has learned opinions about the state of the elephants. This is not that trip report. This is mostly a squee! trip report, with a few, "hmmm, I do wish this human bit had been a bit different" moments thrown in for good measure. Anyway, just a fair warning for those following along.) Along the "squee!" theme, it was wonderful to watch a dry landscape slowly transform into a wet one. As a reminder, we were there in mid-May, so just as the flood was coming in -- ever stronger each day, it seemed. We had quite a welcoming committee once we landed, including this LBR with a little snack offering (no thanks, we're really not hungry). And, spectacularly, a pack of wild dogs nested down for the day at the end of the runway. This was the only time we saw the wild dogs, however, something which was only a partial disappointment to me: I would have loved to see more of them, of course, but I was a little worried about my mom on a wild dog chase -- having done those a couple of times at Dulini the year before, I think it might have been a bit much for her. On the whole, therefore, I was OK with how things worked out: we got to see them, but without mom having to bounce around all over the place. If there is a next time (as I very much hope there will be), I'd love to see them again though ...
Still trying to wrap my head around the time and temp changes between Botswana and Minnesota so I don't have a real trip report yet. However, I want to post a few photos from an experience we had at Chitabe to see if anyone else has ever seen this. We stopped to watch a small herd on elephants - maybe 8 in all. One young mother became quickly agitated and displayed a behavior that we had never encountered. She knelt down and dug her tusks into the ground; pushing dirt toward our vehicle. As soon as she did this, the other adults came charging right toward us with ears flared, heads shaking and lots of trumpeting. We moved away from the herd, but they gave chase.....something that has never happened to us. The next thing we knew, elephants were coming out of the mopane from all directions. We were quickly confronted by 40+ elephants -- many of which were very young. That might be why the herd was so skitterish. We stopped again in an open area, feeling that they would calm and wander on. There was a lot of noise and scrambling about, but things were calming when the huge matriarch made her display. She, too, flashed at our car and then did this odd behavior of stabbing her tusks into the ground and pushing a good amount of dirt with her head. Once finished, she gave a flick of the head and a swagger as if to say, "there!". Has anyone encountered this behavior? I have Googled and found no mention of this as a threat display in elephants. I am attaching some photos. They are stills pulled from the crazy video that I made (with my SLR) while all this happened, so apologies for the quality. The first nervous mama. Part of the herd....so many little ones. In the end, there were probably 40+ elephants running toward us. Many were little ones...maybe half. They came out of the woods from all directions. Finally, the matriarch made her feelings known. She was maybe15 feet from the car when this happened. She drove her tusks into the ground all the way to the skin. Lots of dirt flung around as she withdrew her tusks. Then a flick of the head and they all headed off in the opposite direction.
We left the US on March 22 after realizing that my daughter’s passport only had 4 ½ weeks left until it expired. We took our chances with immigration in Maun and got lucky, all was well and nothing said. We stayed at Vumbura four nights, Jacana for two and Chitabe for three nights. A fairly short trip but all we could do because of school. I used Erica from Safari Specialists and she was very competent and responsive. The camps were selected mainly due to a PV being available. Erica worked hard on that when other TA’s came up empty for availability of a PV. We just missed the Wilderness Specials and wouldn’t you know once the trip was paid for they extended the dates! Jacana, while being very well maintained, was a little disappointing wildlife viewing wise. I had assumed that being a water based camp it might be similar to Sausage Tree in Zambia and that we would see a lot of hippos….we saw one I think. But I did get satisfying photography in in spite of the scarcity of animals. Vumbura was very nice but starting to look a tiny bit tired I thought, Lazurus was our guide and was very good. Chitabe was our favorite because of how the management and staff interact with the guests. Tiny and Chris were exceptional as was Phinley, our guide. I relayed hello’s from Graceland. The highlight. Actually it started the evening before as we were following a pride of 9 lions with one small cub. We stopped as it was getting dark to take a sunset photo and as luck would have it in that 20 minutes they made a kill. We headed to the sounds passing that two month old cub all alone trying his best to locate his family in the pitch dark. Amazingly he found them shortly after we did. Listening to those sounds of crunching bones and the snapping and snarling in the dark and all alone at the site was thrilling. We left early the next morning and again stopped for a landscape shot just missing a pack of two dogs killing a large impala ram. This was probably for the best since neither my daughter nor I think we want to witness that scene. While the two dogs fed we looked to our right and there sat a leopardess also watching. After the dogs fed and left she took the kill, they returned chasing her up a tree. They left again and she hauled the kill into the thicket but was soon interrupted by a 2nd pack of 8 dogs. The impala was gone in no time. We met Glen (Duma Tau) and his wife in the Joburg airport and flew with them all the way to Vumbura. We really enjoyed our time with them and discussing photography and gear, etc. Photographically I was a little disappointed. I have many soft or plain OOF images and still have yet to figure out why. Different camera bodies and lens combo’s so everything points to me and my lack of experience and knowledge. We used the Lenseon with a Manfrotto super clamp coupled with a short stud clamped to the roll bars in front of us. I would do this again as it’s so easy to move from stabilized to hand held. I would make a few modifications to it however. As Duma Tau says my D4 was huge for rapid fps. I have 13 consecutive shots of lechwe jumping over water that set to .5 seconds each in a slide show look pretty cool. We also discovered time lapse for sunrise and sunsets and I want to play more with that feature. I really, really look forward to going back to Botswana but I won’t miss the specials the next time around. I just purchased the Nik bundle and it's special effects.....can you tell?
Itinerary: Jan 2: Kalahari Plains Camp Jan 3-4: Camping in Passarge Valley Jan 5-6: Camping in Deception Valley Jan 7-9: Chitabe Lediba Jan 10-12: Duba Plains I just returned from my second safari to Botswana. Our last trip was in June, so I wanted to try something different for this trip. I settled on a green season trip to the Kalahari and the Okavango Delta. I organized the trip through Natural Habitat Adventures (NatHab). Once again I was traveling with my family. There was a total of 8, including spouses and significant others. We also went with the same guide we had on our last safari, Thuto Moutloatse. Thuto is an excellent guide and has a wide breadth of knowledge about wildlife, tracking, conservation issues, etc. He is an avid birder and has a near encyclopedic knowledge of the birds of Southern Africa. However, I think his best characteristic is his ability to balance the desires and needs of everyone in the group. Even with such a large group, Thuto kept everyone interested and involved no matter what the activity or sighting. We arrived in Maun around 2pm and immediately transferred to a Wilderness Air flight to Kalahari Plains camp. It was quite stormy and bumpy the entire flight as we zig-zagged around storm clouds. We could see plenty of rain and lightning in the distance. We had been in Botswana less than an hour and already you could see a huge difference between the green season and the dry season.
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