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Found 72 results

  1. As last year, I left Selinda in the middle of the morning and landed at Kasane at noon. A driver was waiting for me. The formalities at the two border posts were carried out, as usual, without problems. Two hours later, we reached Hwange Town where we turned right and quickly arrived at Mbala Gate where my guide of last year, Washington Sibandi, was waiting for me. He was again my guide but only for the three first days. For the two last days, I joined Adam Jones, who was guiding a keen photographer who was in camp for fifty-five days. For information, the journey to the camp is about 2 hours and a half if you do not see anything spectacular on the way. In this year of heavy rains, the situation was similar to that of Selinda ; water everywhere, on the roads and on the plains. Hwange had, moreover, given itself some airs of Okavango. So apart from hippos, shy elands, solitary elephants and some plains game, we did not see a lot of mammals. No matter what, we were again able to focus on birds and smaller creatures. There were nevertheless some good and interesting sightings of lions, leopard, martial eagle, spotted eagle owls and…… bullfrogs. Concerning the camp itself, nothing more to add to what I wrote in the report on my stay last November : still a great place with great people. The day of my arrival, between Masuma and Shumba, we found the Masuma pride making its way on the road. Unfortunately, it did not stay there and disappeared very quickly on the left side in the mopanes and the kopjes. When we arrived at the camp, we were told that four lions, two females and two sub adults, called the Super Models, had been spotted nearby. Photo taken in the space between the hood of the vehicle and the windscreen, turned down on it. One of the two dominant males of the Masuma pride, Liam or Mandla, seen near Masuma. Another lion, this one nomadic, was heard roaring every night and even seen by other guests feeding on a dead elephant.
  2. Saturday 24th June The road from Mowani once we leave the sandy D2612 and head towards Khorixas is dreadfully pitted and lumpy gravel. It's horrible, poor Beryl is being battered around, but we motor onwards. We've got an easier travelling day today, around 120km/70 miles to Sophienhof Lodge, just outside Outjo, which is about halfway to our main destination of Etosha. We needed somewhere a reasonable distance as you have to be inside the Etosha National Park gates before sunset and sometimes things unexpected happen and it's impossible to predict road journeys here in Namibia. So much so we have quite a shock having driven on this ghastly road for 50km, literally outside Khorixas we see Tarmac!!! A beautiful, smooth, flat, drivable Tarmac road. It extends all the way to Sophienhof, I cannot tell you how wonderful a smooth journey is after being bounced around on gravel and dust. Sophienhof Lodge pool Restaurant We pull into Sophienhof at 1pm a couple of hours earlier than the requested time. I booked this Lodge through booking.com as apposed to all the other places that were decided by Peter, myself and Marie at Trailfinders. It was difficult to find somewhere suitable in the location we wanted that was available at this time of year. Etosha is always popular and most folks book up to a year in advance if they want certain times after the rains when the waterholes are full and therefore the wildlife is plentiful. The Waterhole at night Sophienhof is a pretty place, perfectly painted reception area, clipped deep green lawns and rust red sand surround the trees and shrubs. A pretty thatched roofed dining room/lounge with heavy wooden tables and chairs. Beyond a stone and slate Brai (bar-b-que area to non Africans) and fire pit with a circle of stone bench seats. Also a lovely pool which I'd love to try, again surrounded by gorgeous grass, it looks very English or German maybe. With the connections of Colonial days past, I think quite a majority of visitors to Namibia are German. As well as the main house which is used as a Guest house during the busy times, a camping area, also there are 10 semi-detached chalets, again all built of stone and number 4 is ours with its own wooden table and chairs outside. We meet the Manager and he informs us of a game drive in a couple of hours so we agree to go and in the meantime enjoy a picnic on our own raised patio overlooking the beautiful surroundings. Chalet No. 4 The one thing when I was looking for somewhere to stay, that made me notice Sophienhof Lodge was the waterhole. It's just opposite their dining area and it's lit up in the evenings but I've found it fascinating and have seen various animals. They have a webcam on it that updates every 30 seconds. I've watched it day and night for months, I copied pictures of Wildebeest, birds, Antelope and in December last year I saw 4 Giraffe and by the time I copied them there was just one, but it's been a wonderful thing to watch and for me to be here and actually see the waterhole is brilliant. I love it. 3.30pm arrives and our German guide - Sorry I didn't get his name - drives us off with only an African helper to join us. Five minutes later we pull up along the perimeter fence where there are half a dozen Ostriches all scampering about as they know it's food time. They are superb, so funny as we take it in turn to give them hands full of pellets, they peck away madly. Im having so much fun, but it's time to go to the next stop, five minutes down the fencing. We stop and I don't think Peter or I are prepared for what happens next. Evidently a local farmer last year shot dead a mother Cheetah for causing havoc to his livestock and in front of us are her two orphans. If any wildlife farms or Lodges take in Cheetahs they must have at least 1 hectare of scrub/grassland to be in. Our two young orphans have six, but are at the moment in a smaller pen until the end of the month when the vet has agreed when they will be free to roam. They are enjoying dinner, a bit ‘meals on wheels’ Cheetah style. They look well and are very happy, thankfully. We leave them to it. We then drive off into the game park to see various animals as we go. Giraffe, Ostrich, Dik Dik, warthogs, Wildebeest, Impala, Kudu and Waterbuck. The views everywhere are fabulous, the wide open Savannahs are just so stunning. I know I've said this before but as the sun goes down you can see why people fall madly in love with this place. As we look at one more beautiful vistas our driver sighs “Aah, Africa!” That says it all. Back at base we have a few minutes to change before we are expected at the Brai area as there is a huge fire going and soon the boss will be cooking us Steaks for dinner. It's a lovely warm evening and in the open air dining room we have the largest loaf of freshly baked bread to cut and a delicious bowl of potato salad also swirls of garlic butter to add to our cooked steaks. Bliss, with a bottle of red what more could you want? We enjoy another relaxing evening under the African night sky. Giraffes at sunset Sunset is beautiful on a Sophienhof Game drive Sunday 25th June. Another day, another venue. Today it's the pinnacle of our Namibian trip, we head to Etosha. After a lovely relaxing breakfast looking over the waterhole, we watch the Hornbill birds messing about and making a silly racket as usual. We wave goodbye and drive towards Outjo the next small town 10km away to fill up with fuel before driving the 100 km to Etosha. ( Be warned if you follow our footsteps, the Petrol stations around Namibia tell you they don't take Credit cards, then the Big Lie, they tell you the other Petrol stations don't, when actually they do - a great sales technique - if you want to pay by card in places like Outjo, Okakuego, drive round first, it takes five minutes and find out for yourselves!) Some do take credit cards, June 2017! We are still on Tarmac roads when we slow down to join the queue of now 3 at the Anderson Gate one of the few gates into the national park which started as almost 100,000 squ km in 1907 It's size has altered but since the 1970s it's stayed at its reduced size. It's mainly an enormous salt pan at its centre but with a multitude of vegetation around what is a desert in the main. Through the winter months from May to September it holds the major number of animals in the world around its waterholes. The rains come to Angola during December to March and slowly filter down to Namibia making it a hive of activity for all these wonderful creatures. We pay our fees just over £10 a day for 2 adults and a car. There are very strict rules in the park. But the only way in is by vehicle, of which you can't get out of unless you are within the boundaries of one of the few Rest Camps. Animals roam, similar to Dartmoor but here you see Zebra, Giraffe, Elephants, Antelopes and what you don't see are Lions, Leopards and Cheetah but they are about, as well as a myriad of others. You can only drive in the park between sunrise and sunset, so our timings are 6.20am to 5.28pm today. You can only sleep in a designated rest camp in either a chalet as we are, or tent, some of which are perched high above vehicles, for safety when normally camping out in the bush. At Halali where we are staying for the next 3 nights, there is a floodlit waterhole on the outskirts of the camp where you can sit and watch the animals come to drink and is particularly nice as the sun goes down and the sky turns from blue to orange and then black. Halali wasn't our first choice in the park as it's a large camp and really isn't given a great write up. But it's central for all the waterholes and as long as we get something to eat each day we will survive for our three nights before we move on to Onkoshi. We unload our gear into our chalet (Peter says it reminds him of Butlins circa 1965!) and head off to do our own mini game drive before curfew. We are told of a waterhole just 10 miles away and it will be a good learning curve as there aren't any good maps of the park and we have a time limit to keep to as they close the gates at 5.28pm whether we are in or not. The thought of sleeping in our vehicle without a loo until morning is not my idea of heaven! First we see a Giraffe munching away at some leaves, a few Impala as usual, they are always around. Then we see an unusual bird called a Bataleur, it's large and black with a red face and a yellow hooked beak. Wow, that's one for the twitchers! A Bataleur We get back to Halali in time for curfew and park immediately as it's time to get to the waterhole for sunset and we are a bit late. When we get there we are told the Elephants have already left but as we take our seats, from stage right comes a huge Ellie, waving his trunk as to start his performance and walks forward to have a drink. He's so beautiful. We enjoy watching him for three quarters of an hour and when he decides to wander back into the bush, we depart for dinner. Monday 26th June. After a really good sleep in our Butlins chalet we go to breakfast, but like everything at Halali it's nothing to write home about. We load our stuff into Beryl and drive off to see some waterholes. After an aborted attempt because a road was closed (if you saw the state of the good roads, you wouldn't try a bad one) we decide to return to Halali as we forgot to connect our on board fridge and there's no way you can stop on these roads to wander about, a Lion was seen just outside the Camp yesterday. Finally we restart our mornings Safari and at the first waterhole we are at the Salt Pan for the first time, gosh it's barren. At its widest it's 110 km x 60 km around 4700 square km We see Ostrich in the far distance, a few Oryx and Wildebeest. So we move on to Reitfontein a large area where we had seen a huge herd of Zebra yesterday. Again there are Zebra, also Wildebeest, Kudu and Impala all congregating around two large waterholes, surrounded with plenty of greenery. A large coach of Japanese tourists pull up next to us and a couple of 4x4s we all sit in the beautiful sunshine, snapping away out of our open windows when………….. whooooa!!!! What's this gently wandering towards us about 250 yards away at this moment. I feel like screaming at everyone, ITS A RHINO!!!!!! He eventually stops at the waterhole in front of us 100 yards away. Oh how amazing is that? We all just stare at him, whilst he nonchalantly sups water. We are mesmerised, such an amazing creature, so endangered and we have the pleasure of looking at him for half an hour until he wanders back into the bush and we move on to see what we can find. When finally back at Halali we dash up to see the sun setting at the Waterhole and guess what is supping water? Yes! Another Rhino, but even more fantastic, when this one moves away, another one pushes by her or him and takes their place. Can we believe it, we've been looking to see a Rhino for the past 3 weeks and now we see three within a few hours! What a terrific day. Haha, a Zebra crossing. Tuesday 27th June. The late risers manage to get to breakfast before there's nothing left at 8.30am for that's the sort of place Halali is and we're not in the mood for a 5am start. We've decided to drive eastwards today and visit the waterholes to see what's about and we have a brilliant time. We lost count when we got to two dozen Giraffes during our 5 hours out and about, as well as a dozen Elephants, some grazing, some standing fast asleep under the trees in the midday winter sun as it reached 27C. Down by the salt pan we realised the huge herd far in the distance but coming gradually towards us were Wildebeest and there were over a hundred. With the sun blazing down over the huge expanse of the pan, the shimmering heat shows mirages across the miles we can see. It's a stunning sight with Zebra and Ostriches meandering across the plains. We've decided to go on an organised night drive today at 7pm and are kitted out in extra warm gear of puffer jackets and woolly hats. It does get very cold after sunset here. There are eight of us and a guide Paulus who has a strange very dry sense of humour, but he's funny. We drive on the pitch black roads with just the help of an red filtered light that Paulus uses to scan the fields and bushes either side of the road. He manages to find plenty of Springbok, some Jackal, a prowling Lioness, a mother Rhino and baby, as well as herds of Zebra. Now as they say on the BBC news if you don't want to see the results of the Football, look away now! Well my story turns really nasty here, but it's nature in the raw, but I struggled with what happened next so please don't read on if you are of a delicate nature, it's truly very gruesome. By 9.15 we thought we'd seen everything and it was very cold so I was prepared that we would head back when we saw a Lioness going into a canter chasing a Springbok. I've never seen ‘a kill’ and even though I know the carnivores have to eat, as I've said in earlier blogs, seeing things live, is something I didn't particularly want to see. At that point, remember it's virtually pitch black except for the guides strong torch, straight in front of us, not 20 yards away is another Lioness lying on the road with its giant paws around a young Zebra. Within seconds there are three more Lionesses and a male Lion with just a little ring of mane showing him to be between 2-3 years old. They all want some of this food. Then to terrify everyone, a huge adult male Lion jumps from out of nowhere through the side hedging and claims the kill as his. This is all going on remember only yards from us (just nine humans sat in an open-sided Safari vehicle) and the growling and fighting was loud and horrendous. But the worst part as I was struggling at the beginning to cope with it all was the Zebra hadn't at that point died. But at last it was inevitable and they fought and ate and we were present. I've never been so terrified but also in awe of nature as it was happening live. Thankfully a funny moment lightened everyone's mood when a Jackal appeared and kept walking up and around the commotion like a Court Jester, every time he got close to the action, the growls got louder and the Lions more ferocious and he scooted away only to return seconds later and repeat the performance. Eventually Paulus said we should leave to get back to Camp and we drove by within 10 feet of the hungry mob. Oh what a night! The Lion Kill The extras
  3. A Very Unlucky Zebra Since WildEarth partnered with Governor's Balloon Safaris to film from the sky we have seen some amazing things. From elephants to lions hippos to hyena and many wildebeest. Nothing, though could of prepared us for this moment. This footage was shot live the moment it happened via Facebook Live. It was amazing. Unsure if others have seen this video yet, but it's a good one. The person narrating is James Hendry and Senzo is on camera.
  4. Friday 9th June, Today truthfully is a lie-in for us, as we are woken at 7am and are able to pack our final things before breakfast and a 5 minute walk to the Airstrip. No problems here with weighing luggage, queues through security checks, passport control, no thoughts even to look at our onwards ticket or any jostling for seat positions on the plane. The 12 seater Safari Air flight lands gracefully with a very young looking lady pilot, two guys in luminous jackets are on board who are hitching a lift to the next lodge so Mac, Denise, Peter and I take our seats as Aaron loads our luggage and after sad goodbyes we are in the air in seconds rather than minutes and winging our way to Leroo La Tau which is a Safari lodge situated on the Boteti river and the next stop on our incredible trip. A couple of photos taken from our sundeck, literally we have the perfect 'Room with a view' of the Boteti river. Another easy landing 50 minutes later and before the four of us are off the plane, our luggage is already stowed in a Safari vehicle awaiting us. Leroo is at the end of a twenty minute, very bumpy sand road and Chemical our driver gets us there safely. This lodge is owned by the same company as Camp Okavango and also Safari Air. Everything is very familiar to us as the format of trips, meal times and rules are the same, even the free bar and free laundry services, both of which are a huge bonus. We are shown to our rooms with sweeping views of the river, from the large wooden decked balconies. The rooms aren't quite as large as our previous one as they hold one double and one single bed, but again with fabulous bathrooms. The view from the deck later that afternoon includes herds of Zebra, Impala and Elephant so we can't complain. It is magic. The hot African sun is shining on us and before long we will be on a game drive with T.S. our guide who will look after us throughout our stay. It's a great system and it works wonderfully well. He answers our questions, takes us out and about and at the end of each day escorts to our rooms. There is a strange rule here that as soon as it is dark we are taken to and from our cabins by a member of staff as evidently roaming animals, including a wayward Elephant who drank the entire swimming pool water supply dry, meander into the camp and frighten the guests. After a very filing brunch we unpack and make the most of our wonderful balcony watching birds and animals come to feed or drink and very soon it is time for a high tea of savoury snacks and delicious cake and then we are off on our first game drive in the Makgadikgadi National park which is within the Kalihari desert. We have to firstly take a boat for 10 minutes along the Boteti river to get to the opposite side where the Safari vehicles are kept. Once seated comfortably the six of us, we have been joined by two Americans Alan and Beth, listen to T.S. who tells us the name of every bird along the river bank where we stop every few minutes for fantastic photo opportunities, it's an amazing vista and I only hope the pictures I've taken do it justice. There are the herds of Impala along the way, we see Hippos, Ellies, Giraffe and Kudu as we meander for miles around the sandy road structure. It's bumpy and the gorse bushes and Acacia trees are lethal as we speed past, it's difficult at times to keep out of the way of their thorns. We have been driving for over an hour when a message comes over the radio to say there is a Lion close by, so we head in the hopefully right direction and within 15 minutes we see a Lioness coming out of an enclosure of shrubbery and long grass. We are silent but utterly speechless at what is happening yards in front of us. She walks to the back of this tightly covered area where we quickly realise she has some cubs. We park within meters of the covered enclosure and see there is a Lion inside eating a black and white striped meal. Sadly for the Zebra, he is on the menu today and it turns out to be one of the three cubs that is enjoying this good feast. As I've said before, this is nature in the raw, it's not the most pleasant part of life, but I try and equate it with me tucking into a gorgeous peppered Ribeye steak, we all eat to survive and Lions hunt, kill and eat their prey. These three cubs, our guide tells us are 15 months old, all males who will slowly gain their wonderful manly manes at around 3 years of age. To be honest they aren't much smaller than their Mother now, but she is still very much in charge and it's unbelievable to watch her wash their faces as they play and cuddle just like any close family unit. We sit for easily 40 minutes clicking away, taking videos and marvel at the luck we've had at being able to be a part of this. As we decide, as the sun is setting to head back to Camp, the Mum moves away to rest on her own whilst the boys play and just as we leave one of the lads bounds towards the back of our vehicle for a few strides, as my heart pounds he gives up, just like a little boy who's taken on too much he decides it's not what he should be doing so goes back to rejoin his brothers. We arrive back at camp to prepare for our own dinner and to sit and recall to the other guests an afternoon we surely will never forget. Saturday 10th June Morning game drives can be very different to afternoon ones. I can't say it's my favourite time at such early hours. Being woken at 6am, getting ready in semi darkness and having breakfast, but I have to mention the sunrises in such remote areas are out of this world. Like my first vision of a Botswana sunrise when we were aboard our plane from Heathrow they just take your breath away. Our boat ride to the game park at this unearthly hour shows the Hippos are wide awake. We see at least 14 of them frolicking in the reeds and their heads bob up and down. I've loved the sound of them and that definitely will be one of my lasting memories from this amazing African adventure. Hippos up close are terrifying, we know they only eat grass and aren't in the slightest bit interested in using us as a food supply but when a couple of tons of raw angry Hippo comes too close you have to very gently get out the way. All records show they are the most deadly creature against humans in Africa but not because they want to eat us, just because we get in their way. We have a great morning taking loads of pictures and enjoy a restful siesta before we head back to do it all again in the twilight. We see all the usual creatures but the last half hour before we return brings not one but two amazing highlights. Firstly out of nowhere a Lioness literally walks nonchalantly within yards of us, looks me straight in the eye as she wanders past and I try very hard to snap a steady picture whilst my nerves are shredded. Secondly as it's nearly dusk and we are hurrying to get back to our boat before complete darkness falls, a large herd of Elephants are having fun washing and swimming in the river, but decide to get out just as we are passing. There are so many bushes, trees and dead shrubbery littering our path it's impossible to, so we have to wait. We move gradually forward trying to hurry them along but one waves his huge ears furiously at us and trumpets so loud it scares the living daylights out of us. The river at this point is too deep to navigate through with our vehicle plus the water is full of Elephants going through their cleansing ritual. One bull Elephant is not amused that two Safari vehicles are taking up his space but eventually we find a gap and get through successfully without upsetting the boss too much. Scary moment! Back at camp we sit around the bar enjoying nibbles and the gorgeous South African wines whilst we wait for another superb meal. The waiting staff, chef and guides here are just as harmonious as our previous camp so they sing and dance around the long dining table before dinner is served. As they dance we are plucked from our seats and everyone of us join in clapping and humming along. It's a very special time. The food on this trip has been stunning, varied and thoroughly enjoyable. We've experienced Carpaccio of Springbok, also grilled Kudu, just like steak. Impala pie, just like chicken! As well as delicious Hake, Pork, Lamb and a multitude of vegetables and salads.. Sunday 11th June Our last full day in Botswana and I have to say I'm exhausted. Another 6am call and we're on our way for one more game drive with all the usual suspects around. There are so many beautiful and interesting birds along the river and each day there seems to be some weird and wonderful named variety we haven't seen before. I've never been a twitcher and I must say before we arrived in Botswana I never dreamt I'd enjoy taking photos of birds but this has been a joy! Due to the variety of size and colour we have seen. But the one bird I'd never even thought about is gracefully stepping through the bush around 100 yards beyond our truck. We dare not try and get any nearer because once they take off at speed running, we would never catch sight of it again. Yes we have spied an Ostrich! All alone but happily wandering around, no doubt catching bugs for its breakfast. It's quite a wonderful sight to see and except for Kudus, Impala, Ellies and my favourite Hippos, he is the highlight of our morning. Peter and Mac join T.S. on the afternoon drive but Denise and I decide it's time to chill on the deck, watch the river and whatever presents itself and get prepared for tomorrow when Peter and I move on to South Africa and just one more interesting part of our trip. A beautiful lonesome OstrichMy smiling baby Hippo, isn't it gorgeous? Here is an array of bird pictures taken around the Boteti river, some named (hopefully correctly!!!) some not During our trip, these birds are so plentiful in all parts of Africa we just called them H.G.F. They are, of course, Helmeted Guinea Fowl, but they are funny!Red-billed Hornbill African Fish Eagle I believe a pair of Secretary birds, but I'm happy to be corrected.Starling A pair of little Bee Eaters, perfectly perched for me in opposite directions to show their plumage . A beautiful pair of Saddle-billed Stork My all time favourite a Lilac breasted Roller! Always found at the top of a tree watching everything around. Perfectly beautiful.
  5. Hi guys tonight we had some facebook live specials with SafariLive where they followed a pride called the Purungat Pride. I was wondering if anybody in here had any information on them such as pride size, who dominates the pride and any identifiers that might stand out. Just a few screenshots to share.
  6. We were staying at Kitchwa tembo camp on the west side of the Masai mara, just outside the actual reserve. We chose this area as we knew from past experiences that this was good Lion country. We were not far from the Musiara mash and it's famous Lion's when we thought we had found Lion's on a kill, technically we had, but on close inspection we realised that the Zebra was still alive. The other unusual thing was, all the Lion's were youngsters. We could not see an adult, but did not think these young Lion's had made this kill as they did not seem to know what to do with the Zebra which was braying and trying to get up. Two of the female Lions were holding the zebra down while the male kept walking backwards & forwards near to the head. It was as if the females were waiting for the male to finish the Zebra off, and the male looked like he knew he should, but how? He jumped on the Zebra which gave out a stifled cry. He bit at the Zebra's neck but looked confused, as did the females who were depending on the male to give the coup de grace. The male tried to pull the Zebra over to expose it's throat but the females holding it would not let go. We had been here about half-hour and it was a little distressing but were aware this has to happen for the youngster to learn. The male walked around the other side and jumped upon the Zebra again biting at it's neck. The zebra was kicking out weakly when the other female decided to join in and grabbed at the Zebra's flailing leg's. As the Zebra struggled it cried out in desperation which startled one of the Lion's which leapt backwards looking a little confused. At that moment we noticed a movement in a bush just beyond where the Lion's were. We thought it must be another youngster about to join the struggle. We drove slowly around to the other side and there was the architect of the kill, Mama. She had reacted to the Zebra's last cry of desperation, probably not believing her young had still not finished the job. She made no attempt to go and help them. She had chosen well, the Zebra was a sub adult, a good size to test her youngsters but had they been paying attention when she had previously shown them what to do? From what we had seen so far the answer was No!. The last effort by the Zebra caused it to turn more onto it's back and the male suddenly gripped the Zebra by the throat, a few adjustments and a final effort by the Zebra to get free, and it was all over. It was only now that Mama came over to show them the art of opening up their pray. As distressing as it all was, we must assume the Zebra was in shock through out. It had been about one hour in all and mama had resisted any temptation to help. She had done her part in bringing the Zebra down. You can imaging the scenario; Ok kids, here is your lunch. You have seen me do it now don't disappoint me. And eventually they didn't. On another occasion in the north of the Masai mara near the Talek river we saw a mother Cheetah do the same thing. She caught a young Thompson's Gazelle and carried it back to her three cubs. She dropped it in front of them and surprisingly the gazelle just lay there.The cubs stood looking at the young gazelle and then at each other and then back at the Gazelle. The gazelle got up but the cubs never moved, the gazelle started to run and the cheetah cubs instinctively gave chase. They soon caught the up with the gazelle and the lead cub tripped it with a quick flick of it's paw. The three cubs once again surrounded the gazelle and standing there staring at the gazelle seemed totally bemused as to what they should do. Two of them clawed at their prey but without any real conviction when suddenly the gazelle was up and running again. Once more they gave chase and caught the gazelle once again, this happened two more times until mama decided that was enough practise for one day, and she calmly walked over, dispatched the gazelle, opened it up allowed the cubs to feed first. Resting a short distance away she waited until they had finished and then ate herself.
  7. https://www.panthera.org/blog/2017/06/15/what-happened-angolas-1000-lions After 3 years of civil war Panthera's test zones revealed shocking statistics about the lions of Angola. The story is on Panthera's own blog.
  8. Last month, I was once again in Selinda, as everyone will have already understood, my favorite place in Africa, this time for eight nights. A few days later, there was still only one heavy downpour of one hour. I first spent five nights at Main Camp and then three at Zarafa, in order to make game drives along the Savute Channel and the lagoon, and more generally in this part of the concession which was fairly easily accessible in the past departing from Main Camp and not being so nowadays and especially in this year of heavy rains, perhaps one of the most important since the year 2000. It was a good decision in terms of species seen, mainly giraffes in abundance, as in the past, and zebras, in fewer however, as generally all other species that the rains had dispersed. On the way to Zarafa, I visited Explorer’s. As last year, some tents had been flooded after heavy showers, these were raised by about fifteen centimeters in order to avoid this problem in the future. Water was everywhere, on the roads, on the plains and the pans were overflowing. Some large ones, as Twin Pans, would probably not dry out at the end of the dry season and the water coming from the mountains of Angola was just about to arrive. What impact will this have on the quality and frequency of sightings in the high season? For starters
  9. After a few days rest it was time to venture out and see what splendours Ol Pejeta had in store for me. Well, those splendours were, an abundance of young. The were Zebra foals and Buffalo calves everywhere. Impala & Defassa Waterbuck were also breeding well, and as a friend at camp said, "this is good news for the Cheetah". Not a thought that sprang readily to mind, but I understood what he meant. That said, I never saw a cheetah during my time here, though I did hear they were being seen. With the dense croton/whistling thorn bush which covers a lot of Ol Pejeta seeing the cats was never going to be easy. That said, my first drive gave me my only sighting of Lions. Two big males, which made up for any other lack of sightings. They were lying out in the open about thirty meters apart enjoying the early morning sun before it became too hot. Night drives were more successful, with lions being seen quite regularly as well as Hyena. One night at camp the call of a Hyena was so loud I instantly thought it must be very close to camp. Curiosity got the better of me and with torch in hand I headed off to the far end of camp where the call came from. As I shone the torch into the bush the waterbuck, which move close to camp at night for safety, were very agitated. They suddenly moved away in that delightful trotting way they do, then suddenly there he was. The Hyena appeared from behind a bush moving across the line of the waterhole and slowly vanished into the darkness. The waterbuck settled down again and calm was restored. Ol Pejeta was very dry, but the rains were due, and with this in mind the Elephants had started to appear in good numbers. Back from their migratory wanderings on Mt Kenya and the Laikipia plateau, they too had many young among them. I was fortunate, no blessed, to see Elephants on every game drive I took. One memorable moment was when a youngster about 3/4 years showed great bravado in threatening us with mock charges. He did this several times then retreated behind a large bush. He would then peer from behind the bush at us, and as we had not taken the hint, he would repeat the scenario again. On the last charge his mother moved from where she was feeding passing behind us to feed on another bush across the road. On seeing his mother move off his bravado melted away as did he into the bush. Back at camp the resident Egyptian Geese had nine very young gosling, and I found myself counting them each day to make sure they were all safe, as there was a rather persistent Pallid Harrier taking an unhealthy interest in them. He appeared regularly through out the day, but after three days I never saw him again. An African Harrier Hawk made a brief appearance one afternoon but was chased off by a mob of starlings. I was becoming a little apprehensive about the survival of all nine goslings, though mum and dad showed great courage in the face of the Pallid Harrier. Every time he appeared, swooping low the goslings instinctively took cover and mum & dad reared up, wings spread out and Honking their contempt at his audacity to think he would be getting an easy meal. The small guy's were showing a lot of courage around the waterhole and on another occasion three Pied crows saw off a Tawney Eagle that had come a little too close to camp for their liking. Watch this space for news on Ol Pejeta's stars & more..................
  10. After so many years, it seems difficult to actually make a report, so many details having disappeared from my memory since. So, it will mainly be pictures (scans of slides) with a few comments. Let’s start with pictures taken in September 2001. I do not remember how many they were, on and alongside the road but let us say something between twenty five and thirty. In those days, Savute was an extremely dry area. The marsh was no more, and not yet again, a marsh. As at Hwange, drilling had been carried out but most of the pumps were down and maintenance services were not very efficient. As a result, some camps had carried out their own drilling in front of their facilities. In a sense, they had few other alternatives to prevent lions but mainly elephants from coming daily to drink the pool water. That was the case with Savuti Safari Lodge, where I was. A pride of lions had settled on the outskirts of the lodge. We could hear them roaring every night. At any time, returning to or leaving a room was like playing hide-and-seek with them. They were not the only ones looking for the few water sources, the birds also like this Meyer’s parrot.
  11. Our 8 days in Kenya and here are some of the lions we saw:
  12. Botswana, where I spent ten days last November, and more particularly Selinda, again provided a series of extraordinary sightings. Indeed, at Selinda, we did not even have time, during the four afternoon game drives, to take the sundowners as there were so many interesting things to see. On the other hand, at Shinde, all was well gone so that it was going to be a hit and miss…… until the dogs ! Here are some opening pictures.
  13. This happened in Selinda last month, just a few meters in front of Explorer’s Camp, along the spillway. Nine lions of the Selinda pride had decided to settle down there, for a while, as there was still some water on the bottom of the dry spillway. During their games and exploration of the outskirts of the camp, some of the youngsters found a hammock. They began to try to detach it or rather to tear it away, which they succeeded in at one of its ends, but the other, despite their efforts, did not give way. As a result, they tore the hammock apart. The picture below shows the « crime scenery » before they found the hammock. It was, on the left side of the photo, left of the canopy, behind the bushes and the two trees. We were in the late afternoon and the light was no longer very good, especially since the sky was overcast. On the other hand, because of the position, hidden from our view, of the hammock, one guessed more than one could see what was going on. So, no pictures of this part of the story. The next pictures were taken at 13.000 to 51.000 ISO, between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. A little frustrated, at not being able to completely detach the hammock, the youngsters returned near the rest of the pride. However, a young lioness lingered and only returned moments after the others, with a new « prey », the ax in question, which had probably been forgotten there by a staff member. But the lioness was not really motivated to keep it. So, after examining it, it left it near the young males. At once, one of them took possession and played with it, until the iron slid along the handle to fall on its muzzle, which caused the occupants of the three vehicles present to laugh more enthusiastically than ever. But that was not a problem, it succeeded, by some miracle, to put it back in its place. While showing off, it went from one to the other, flaunting its « prey ». Although their size was already impressive, those youngsters still remained children. History does not say what it did with it after we were gone and especially soon after when the two dominant males arrived and made it flee, it and its brothers.
  14. http://overlandingindia.com/camping_browse_tours.php?pid=13&tour=22%20Days%20Big%20cats%20of%20India Guranteed Depature on 10th Feb 2017 Itinerary of the trip -- Prices from: Rs. 250000/- per person Accommodation: Bush camps (dome tents), budget hostels Max. Participants: 8 No. Of crew: 2 Vehicle type: Adventure maxi-van Duration: Days- 22, Nights- 21 Meals: Breakfast X 21, Lunch X 21, Dinner X 21 Departure: Jabalpur End: Ahmedabad Departure dates- 10th Feb 2017 Highlights of the trip Wildlife safaris in game rich jungles Royal Bengal tiger Indian leopard Asiatic lion India's diverse culture Indian cuisine bush camping Rajasthani & Gujarati hospitality Places to visit - Jabalpur (Trip departs) Pench national park (tigers & leopards) Kanha national park (tigers) Bandhavgarh national park (tigers) Khajuraho (temples – world heritage site) Ranthambore national park (tigers & leopards) Bera (leopards) Gir national park (Asiatic lions) Ahmedabad (Trip ends) Day to day Itinerary of the trip - Day 1: We will pick you up from the airport/railway station in the Central Indian town of Jabalpur. Today there will be a trip meeting at 18:00 hrs. No activities are planned today and tonight's stay will be in a good hostel in this city. Meals – lunch & dinner. Day 2: This morning we will start early and take the drive up to the Pench National park. Accommodation is in dome tents at a bush camp. After reaching and setting up the camp, evening will be at leisure. Meals – breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 3: This morning we will go for the jungle safari and explore this tiger heaven for 4 hours. Post lunch we will take the afternoon safari. Meals- breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 4: After having our breakfast we will drive to our next destination, Kanha National park (approx 157 km). Accommodation will be in dome tents at a bush camp. After setting up the camp, evening will be relaxing at the dry river bed with sundowners. Guided birding is also an optional activity. Meals- breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 5: Kanha has an amazing diversity of both mammals and birds. It surely is one of the most special places to see a wild tiger. Today we will take both morning and afternoon jungle safaris in the park. Meals- breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 6: Continuing our search for the ever elusive tigers, leopards and other animals of Kanha, we will start the day with a morning safari. After a relaxing afternoon and lunch, we will go for the afternoon jungle safari. Meals- breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 7: Moving on to the next tiger country, today we will take the drive up to the Bandhavgarh National park. Bandhavgarh arguably has the highest tiger density in India. Accommodation will be in dome tents at a bush camp. After setting up the camp evening will be at leisure. Meals- breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 8: Both morning and afternoon jungle safaris are planned for this day. We will spend the evening in a wildlife artist's studio learning how to paint tigers and other wildlife. Meals- breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 9: Starting the day early, today we will explore Bandhavgarh again on both morning and afternoon safaris. Meals- breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 10: Taking a break from the jungle & the big cats, today we will drive up to the historical city of Khajuraho. Aptly declared a World Heritage Site, this place will take you back in time. Accommodation will be in a good hostel in the town. In the evening we will go for the sound & the light show about the temples. Meals- breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 11: Today we start very early as we have to cover more than 400km to reach our next destination, Ranthambore. It’s a very special place to see tigers and other predators among the ruins of a 1000 year old fort. Reaching Ranthambore late afternoon, we will do the camp setup and evening will be at leisure. Meals- Brunch & dinner Day 12: Waking up to the calls of the peacocks and deer this day, we will explore the interesting terrain, forest and wildlife of the Ranthambore National park on both morning and afternoon jungle safaris. This park combines the tigers with history. Evening will be very entertaining with the rich Rajasthani folk music. Meals- breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 13: The day again starts with the morning safari looking for tigers. Post lunch we will do the afternoon safari in the park. In the evening we will visit a local wildlife artist's studio. Dinner will be hosted in the traditional Rajasthani way at a home-stay tonight with all sorts of local cuisine. Camel ride is also an option in the evening. Meals- breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 14: Leaving the abundance of Bengal tigers behind, this morning we will drive to our exclusive leopard destination called ‘Bera’. Conserved and maintained by the royalties, it arguably has the best leopard sightings in India. After setting up our camp evening will be at leisure. Meals- Brunch & dinner Day 15: Both morning and afternoon jeep safaris are planned for today looking for a wild leopard. The culture around the little hamlet of Bera is also something to be experienced. Meals- Breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 16: Same as day 15, both morning and afternoon jeep safaris are planned for today looking for a wild leopard. Meals- Breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 17: Finishing up with leopards in Bera, we will drive up to the city of Ahmedabad. A night’s halt is planned here. Meals- Breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 18: Leaving Ahmedabad early in the morning, we will drive up to the savannah country of India, the Gir national park. It’s the only place in world where one can see Asiatic wild lions. Accommodation here will be in a budget hostel. After checking in at a comfortable budget hostel, evening will be at leisure. Meals- Breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 19: The day begins with a morning safari in Gir national park looking for lions. There is a very good possibility of leopards here as well. Post lunch we will take the afternoon jeep safari in Gir. Meals- Breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 20: Same as day 19, both morning and afternoon lion safaris are planned for this day. Meals- Breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 21: Moving towards the end of this trip, today we will drive back to the city of Ahmedabad. Tonight’s accommodation will be in a budget hostel. Meals- Breakfast, lunch & dinner Day 22: Marking an end to our experience in the Central and North Western India with the Big cats of India, we will share our experiences in our post trip meeting for the last time and then depart for the Airport/Railway station. Meals- Breakfast Includes and excludes Meals 3 Meals a day – Breakfast, Lunch, DinnerAccommodation Single sharing dome tents for camping Twin sharing for hotels, hostels and homestays Single sharing for hotels, hostels and homestays (only if extra single supplement charge paid) Includes Fully equipped safari vehicle Camping and cooking equipment National park entries, forts/monuments/heritage building entries, city tours, adventure activities as mentioned in the itinerary All road tolls and vehicle taxes All ground transportation Meals as indicated Services of two crew + 1 local guide (if applicable) Excludes Visas Flights Travel insurance Airport transfers Sleeping bag Sleeping mats Optional activities Drinks, tips Items of a personal nature "For enquiry kindly contact us at info@overlandingindia.com" Thanks
  15. Samburu in July, after the rains, is a proverbial garden of Eden. The landscape changes dramatically from being semi arid into a verdant oasis with an abundance of grasses & foliage for the game to feed upon.The Elephant herds which left the area at the height of the dry season return, their numbers bolstered by new born calves, and even the greater Kudu come down from the surrounding hills. The whole reserve springs into life and at this time the birdlife is prolific. During a morning game drive we picked up on the smell of a dead animal. We were following a track which ran parallel with the river. The smell was getting stronger the further along we drove. The breeze was coming from the rivers direction so we followed a track that looped and took us closer to the river. Stopping half way we could see in a small open area the cause of the smell. There were two of them, big males, feeding leisurely. One had his head inside of the victims underbelly while the other was feeding on a large piece of meat. The Lion on, or should I say in, the kill started backing away pulling a large piece of flesh from within the victims belly. His light coloured mane was darkened with the blood of the young Elephant. It must have been several days since they had made the kill but they had devoured most of the abdomen, in contrast their bellies were bulging. We returned the next day, and as we approached we could see the top of an Elephants head & back. We stopped in the same spot and the Elephant, a female, was standing just to the right of the dead Elephant, swaying slightly side to side. We could not see the lions anywhere, we assumed she must have chased them away. After about fifteen minutes she raised her trunk into the air in our direction, was she picking up on our scent or could she still smell the Lions? Suddenly she let out an enormous trumpeting and half charged towards us. We were at least 3meters above where she was, was it us she was angry with? No, it was the Lions who were right below us in the scrub. She trumpeted again and this time charged in earnest. The two Lions appeared at speed from beneath us running off through the bush to the right. The Elephant did not pursue them but turned and walked slowly to where the dead Elephant lay, her trunk reaching out towards the lifeless body. By chance I looked towards the rear of our vehicle and saw one of the Lions appear from the bush. He walked around the rear of the vehicle and as he did he defecated, rather loosely, no doubt because of the shock of the Elephant charge and the close call it was. The other Lion appeared from the bushes a little further back and they both moved off together, no doubt to return later as there was still a lot of meat on the carcass. The Elephant must have been the dead calf's mother. Standing over her youngster she gently touched and meticulously examined every inch of what remained. It was such a sad scene and she looked so forlorn. We felt like we were intruding so we left her to mourn as only Elephants do. Over the next few days the remains of the carcass was devoured and the Vultures did the rest.
  16. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Lion Sands River Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa 2) Website address if known: http://www.lionsands.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Sept 2015 - Peak season is approx Dec 18-Jan 3 We did get a special offer of 2 free nights in Capetown 4) Length of stay: 4 days, 3 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? The safari was only a part of what we did in SA. We chose here based on almost guaranteed sightings of cats/tripadvisor reviews, no kids, and we wanted to relax in a luxurious room after being on numerous flights and over 30 hours of driving to and from places. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Direct - yes 7) How many times have you been on Safari? First time 8) To which countries? NA 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? NA 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? Yes 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 20 rooms 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? I think #4. It was not connected to another room. There is a lodge layout on their website. Our room overlooked the Sabi River. Fantastic view!! Across the river we saw elephants, impala, and kudu. One afternoon I woke up for a nap and saw a lioness hunting! 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Extremely comfortable. Well stocked bar with alcohol and chocolates. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes! There was so much delicious food you won't be in danger of going hungry. The desserts were ok, everything else was superb. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Breakfast menu was the same each morning, though it offered at least 7 options. Lunch and dinner were varied. I am not vegetarian and can't comment. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at meal times? Depends on the meal. Breakfast and dinner were usually communal (no guide) and lunch was single table (no guide). One day out of 3 there was a traditional south african theme night with a bonfire. We sat with our guide and vehicle group while the staff sang and danced. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? NA 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. open safari, 4WD. Pic to come 19) How many guests per row? 3 rows, stadium seating. 2 guests per row 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? I don't have the best sense of direction but yes there were varied routes taken. see 21 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Set game drives: morning game drive 0530 to 0830, evening game drive 1630-1930. The morning and evening drives we stopped for a sundowner outside the vehicle. Private vehicles available, not sure of the cost 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Private conservancy. Lion Sands limits the vehicles that traverse the property. The most we saw at a sighting is 4. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes. No off-road driving in Kruger 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. I'm not sure if there is a specific policy. If we spotted something, we'd observe on our own, then use the radio to call others. When others radioed us, we'd get a decent position, then get a better position as others left. There were never more than 4 vehicles to a sighting. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Big 5, including leopard. Did not see cheetah. Excellent sightings including leopard on 2 days out of 3, a lion with his tooth hanging out, and a lion and lioness with 2 cubs. Also saw baby giraffe, baby elephant and rhino. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Very good. We had the head guide, Landon, and he was in constant radio contact with other guides. The only frustration was we didn't seem to have much say in what we pursued for the game drive. Our vehicle wanted to see cats but since we had seen so many already we were taken to buffalo and rhino. None of us spoke up so not sure if that would've made a difference. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? NA 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: He had thorough knowledge of the animals and their history. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Definitely! With a smile, nothing was too much trouble though we are not high maintenance guests 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Pack for a Purpose - guests bring suitcases packed with basic yet necessary supplies as listed on the Pack for a Purpose website Save the Rhino Foundation - anti-poaching rhino Bhubezi community projects - educate and provide car for children, create jobs for disadvantaged http://www.lionsands.com/more/responsibility/ 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: no children under 10 allowed. Management has set the bar for this property. Service and friendliness were better than our honeymoon at the St. Regis in Bora Bora. I loved everything about it and would definitely go back. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Pics to come
  17. I left Somalisa Camp in Hwange early in the morning. Another car was waiting for me at Main Camp. We took the road to Vic’ Falls. Conversely, there was a continuous traffic of trucks carrying copper from Zambia to South Africa. Without entering Vic’Falls, we took the road to the border post of Kazungula. After having met the Zimbabwe and Botswana exit and entry formalities, we went to Kasane airport for the Mack Air flight to Selinda. For those who did not have a look at my report on Duba Plains, I repeat, here, certain things that were said there. Selinda was the third stopping place of a three weeks trip in Zimbabwe and Botswana. Thus far, I had never been in Africa in March, it was my first green season safari. Throughout the trip, thunder storms and rains were present until they abruptly stop the day after I arrived in Duba, my fourth stop. Moreover, when I arrived at Selinda, it was raining and there will be daily showers throughout my stay. Wet morning Wild dogs in the rain The priority concern of Great Plains is the Guest. He is king. In this context, game drive times are extremely flexible. Secondly, their policy is to allocate , to the extent possible, a vehicle by visiting entity (family, small group or individual). In fact, it is almost a private vehicle included in the daily rate. In each tent, as well as in Duba, there is a pair of Swarovski binoculars at guests’ disposal. Why did I come back to Selinda after nine years? In the following report, http://safaritalk.net/topic/13958-selinda-a-ten-years-love-story/ I said, for some reasons, that I would never go back to Selinda. Well, never say never. When I prepared this trip in the beginning of February, I decided to go to Duba Plains. At this stage I had not yet chosen a second camp. I said to myself that I might get a good price if I chose one of the same company. Selinda was the only option. I got a fair price and eventually, I realized that I was very happy to go back. Off the plane, two typical aspects of Selinda made me immediately dive into the bath of the past, despite the tall grass and the fact that the vegetation was lush and extremely green : the omnipresent smell of the wild sage and the tall palm trees. Taken from the seat near the driver Selinda Camp is a luxurious camp but is not like a lot of others of the same type, more a hotel than a camp. It still has that deep camp spirit and atmosphere maintained by the management and staff. So, thanks a lot to Noxy, Banaki and the whole staff for their competence, professionalism and great sense of humour. There is a wine cellar, which is for me totally unnecessary in a bush camp but I must say, as a fan of good wines, that it is well stocked with fine south african wines. I was very surprised and pleased to meet someone that I was not expecting to see again. I did not know that he was still working at Selinda. When he guided me in 2004, when I was staying at old Zib, Motsamai (Mots) Murundu was a young guide with no experience at all. Now he is the new Kanawe. My excellent guide, this time, was one of the Mokopi brothers, Gobusamang (Kops). Both are called Kops but fortunately the other one is guiding at Duba. Selinda was not as spectacular as Duba, mainly because of the tall grass. Yet, the five days allowed me to see many species. I did not see sables and cheetahs. Giraffe in the rain Wet jackal in the wet grass
  18. I was coming from Selinda. As my stay in Great Plains two camps exceeded six days, I had the advantage of a helicopter transfer, a thirty-five minutes flight at very low altitude, with some showers on the way. Duba was the fourth and last stopping place of a three weeks trip in Zimbabwe and Botswana. It was my first trip since October 2014 and after a year 2015 to forget, due to serious health problems. Thus far, I had never been in Africa in March, it was my first green season safari and my first visit to Duba . Throughout the trip, thunder storms and rains were present until they abruptly stop the day after I arrived in Duba. I was one of the last guests. Indeed, at the moment, the full demolition of the camp is in progress and construction of a new, that will open on April 10, is nearing completion a few hundred meters further. The priority concern of Great Plains is the Guest. He is king. In this context, game drive times are extremely flexible. Secondly, their policy is to allocate , to the extent possible, a vehicle by visiting entity (family, small group or individual). In fact, it is almost a private vehicle included in the daily rate. I was lucky, the guide that was allocated to me was Vundi. Indeed he was by far the best of all those present during my stay. The first two days, Dereck and Beverly Joubert were in the camp and as, at mealtimes, it is communal dining, it was an opportunity to discuss with them about many issues related to wildlife conservation. Duba is a unique place, the scenery like nowhere else. Despite the absence, of the fact that it is an island, of a number of species, this place is really mesmerizing. On the island, there are no cheetahs, or wild dogs, or zebras, or wildebeests, or black-backed jackals, or elands, or giraffes, or roan and sable antelopes, or ostriches. It was the first time that I visited a place without impalas and that was rather disconcerting. Red lechwes and warthogs are in great number and lions and elephants, the stars. There are also, in broad daylight, a lot of hippos on the ground, as many as in the water. It was a moment question of introducing white rhinos but the project was canceled, perhaps because all the guarantees of their safety and protection were not met.
  19. I do not know how common it is to see thirteen male Lions together (with no females) aged from about three to seven. Would it still be a pride? Or bachelor pride? We saw these Lions just south east of Keekorok lodge on the east side of the Masai Mara. They were spread out over a large rock formation. A few days later we saw them again watching an enormous herd of buffalo heading down towards Sand River. There must have been almost a thousand Buffalo spread out across the plain. The Lions were spread out on an incline, hidden by a line of Croton bushes. Four of the older Lions had positioned themselves so they could ambush any of the buffalo who may come their way. After about twenty minutes that is exactly what happened. A small group of Buffalo veered away from the large herd heading for a gap in the bushes. This is obviously why the Lions chose this spot. As the buffalo entered the bushes several of the other Lions recognised the opportunity that was opening up before them and moved into position. The younger Lions watched from a distance, one taking more interest than the others. As the Buffalo came through the bush, one of the Lions could not restrain himself and broke cover. The Buffalo veered right in the direction of the big herd, and as much as the Lions tried to recover the situation the Buffalo were now in full flight and the Lions had to give up. They stood there looking around at each other with expressions that said, what the hell happened there? And with an accusing eye for the one who launched his attacked too early. They settled down to await another opportunity that would surely come as there were still many more Buffalo heading that way. The young Lion who had taken more interest than the other youngsters moved forward and took up a position to the left of where the Buffalo had escaped. The older Lions seemed to know almost telepathically what the youngster had in mind. They took up new positions and waited. Eventually another group of Buffalo with some wildebeest leading the way headed for the same gap. I have no idea what it was about this gap that was attracting them. The youngster seemed to signal with a movement of his body and all the other Lions, including the other youngsters, prepared themselves for another ambush. The tension in the air was acutely noticeable; we were literally on the edge of our seats. As the wildebeest came through the gap the Lions did not move a muscle. It was amazing to see how close the wildebeest came to the Lions, but only one reacted and sped off, but not enough to give the Lions away. The Buffalo were now in the same position as the previous Buffalo, but this time the Young Lion held his nerve and waited, and waited. We could see the other Lions fidgeting, but they did not move and then, just at the right moment the young Lion leapt forward forcing the Buffalo to veer to the right of the bushes where the other Lions were waiting. It was a big female they had set their sights on and one of the two larger Lions leapt on to her back from the left hand side, followed almost immediately by the other large male from the right. She managed to stay on her feet for a full 30 meters before the weight of the two Lions caused her to stumble, and as she went down she disappeared beneath the overwhelming attack of the other Lions. As the older Lions secured their prey the young architect of the ambush sauntered over to receive the accolade he so richly deserved. Two of the older males came over rubbing their heads against his, but this did not mean he automatically went up the feeding order; no he was still a young male and would have to await his turn to feed.
  20. And onto the second trip report on my blog page - this one's from Uganda. http://safarijunkies.com/2016/03/western-uganda-of-mountain-gorillas-and-tree-climbing-lions/ p.s. @@Tom Kellie check you inbox - I'm figuring out how to get the reports to you since you can't see them - anyone else have this problem?
  21. I'm always keen to draw attention to some of Africa's less familiar parks so I thought I'd post this about a park that is sadly on the list of Unesco World Heritage Sites under threat. While looking on YouTube for videos of Zakouma NP I came across this amazing French film “La Rivieres des Lions, la Gounda” Gounda the River of Lions filmed in Manovo Gounda St Floris NP just to the south of Zakouma over the border in northern CAR. Ever since I first read about this park many years ago in a copy of the East African Wildlife Society’s magazine Swara I’ve wanted to go there as much as anything to look for Derby’s “giant” eland. Almost constant instability has made this part of CAR pretty much off limits or at least very difficult to visit and has allowed poachers particularly from Sudan free reign to destroy the areas wildlife. The once very abundant but now entirely extinct western black rhinos were wiped out some time ago and elephants have been receiving a severe hammering from the Janjaweed horsemen from Sudan so just how many elephants are left there now I’m really not sure. Quite what the situation is as far as the other species is concerned I’m not sure either but I fear that in the recent chaos most of the wildlife will have been lost to meat poaching I really hope this is not the case. There is no doubt also a severe problem with illegal grazing which can only have got worse in recent years. Perhaps one day peace will be restored to CAR and the country will have a proper government for once, then maybe if there is some wildlife left this once glorious national park can be restored and protected like Zakouma now is.The following film which is entirely in French is dated 1998 so it just goes to show what an amazing place Manovo Gounda St Floris NP still was very recently and I hope could be again one day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkEnOHgCGng
  22. MASAI MARA, EARLY EVENING. . We were watching a pride of Lions feeding on a Zebra kill, and we noticed a pair of Oribi acting strangely a short distance away. The way they were acting made us curious so we went to have a look. We stopped a respectful distance away so as not to cause them any unnecessary distress, and started scanning the area for signs of anything unusual. Nothing had changed around the kill, but scanning in front of the Oribi we noticed a movement in the grass ahead of the them. Concentrating hard on that area we saw the movement again and realised there was a young Oribi lying there. One of the female lion’s, who was laying a little way off from the kill, under a bush, had also been watching the Oribi and we are sure she saw the movement too. She half rose staring intently towards the Oribi. Suddenly the young Oribi stood up, its parents snorting that it should not, and that was the signal for the lioness to launch an attack. The two adult Oribi fled in slightly different directions expecting the youngster to follow one of them, but it dropped back down in to the grass. This action actually confused the Lioness and she stopped, staring ahead not sure where the young Oribi had gone. The Lioness stared towards the two adult Oribi, now standing on the crest of a hill, trying to work out what happened, when suddenly the young Oribi broke cover and ran for its life. The Lioness was after it in an instant but the young Oribi was pretty fast and after a few moments the Lioness gave up. She had obviously fed well from the Zebra kill, and was not going to over exert herself for what would have been no more than dessert. There was a controlled cheer from us as the young Oribi circled round to meet up with its parents, but, just as we were congratulating the youngOribi on a nice flanking movement, another lioness, which we had not noticed, launched herself from behind a small mound. She must have been watching what had been happening and made the most of the situation as she caught the Young Oribi and brought it down . A loud cry of, Oh no! Echoed from our vehicle but, the Lioness did not kill the young Oribi there and then, no; she carried it back to where there were young Lion cubs playing near to the kill. She dropped it in front of them; the Oribi froze for a second and then ran. The cubs were after it in a flash and soon brought it down. After some playing with it they let it go and chased it again. The young Lions had obviously paid attention when Mum was hunting and they dispatched the young Oribi quickly. It was somewhat like watching a football match. One minute we were 1-0 up, and then the opposition drew level, 1-1, and then they scored the winner in extra time 1-2. AJ. Attached Images
  23. An article by Paul Ogden in the Manchester Evening News: Going back to nature on an ecologically friendly African adventurehttp://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/trips-and-breaks/travel-review-conservation-themed-safari-11002675 Camps and Lodges available from Gamewatchers Safaris
  24. 1) Name of property and country: Kleins Camp, Northern Serengeti, Tanzania 2) Website address if known: http://www.andbeyond.com/kleins-camp 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). January, 2014 (Green/should season) 4) Length of stay: 3 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I met someone on a previous trip who was extremely impressed with Kleins Camp and said I should visit. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I used Jacqui McNaughton from andBeyond 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was my second trip. 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None, it was unique 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 9 cottages 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Amazing views over the valley due to being situation high on the hillside. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Excellent, comfortable, luxurious with a large bathroom (no tub). 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Excellent food, brilliant soups and variety. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Always two options on offer for all meals. Three courses for lunch and dinner. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables and the managers do host for solo travellers. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Fantastic bbq breakfasts/lunches in the bush with great salads. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open vehicles with car fridge, charging stations 19) How many guests per row? 2 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Game drives were concentrated in the private concession and then a day in the Serengeti NP. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Drives were between 4-12 hours depending on where we went. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? I was alone during all of my drives including when in the Serengeti NP. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Alone 24) Are you able to off-road? On the concession but not in the park. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. N/A 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Excellent lions, elephants, giraffes, just missed the wild dogs. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Fantastic, informative, friendly, happy. The tracker was brilliant, the best I have every had. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: The tracker found rhino and lions from incredible distances. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Absolutely brilliant, helpful, proactive and friendly. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, they have local community initiatives. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Absolutely brilliant! The staff, location, rooms, food/drink and of course the amazing animals make this place a must for anyone wanting to go on safari. I had some of the best lion, giraffe and elephant sightings of my life there and had a trip to a non-touristy Masai village that was brilliant. The proximity to the Serengeti National Park enables guests to visit The Mara River and the park if they don't want to stay in Kleins' Private Concession. I can't wait to go back to this very special place! Thank you to everyone at Kleins for such an amazing time. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  25. http://www.nation.co.ke/news/KWS-looking-for-six-lions-on-the-loose-in-Nairobi/-/1056/3083808/-/uw9fp6z/-/index.html Boy, I sure hope this has a happy ending.

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