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Found 14 results

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. This also happened in March, this year, at Selinda, but on another red-billed hornbill’s nest. When I arrived, this subadult african harrier-hawk was, I think, just finishing its work of destruction and plundering. The red-billed hornbill was vainly trying to chase it away. Eventually, the gymnogene moved to another tree.
  6. Here's an identification challenge for SafariTalkers. Recently seen on the Selinda Spillway in northern Botswana.
  7. After some hesitations, I decided to post this topic in the historic trip reports, mainly because the actual Selinda, at least with regard to the philosophy of the owners, the lodging and the natural surroundings, is quite different from the one that I knew. So, it will probably not give any relevant information to those who want to go there now ? Besides, as a general rule, I never take information, given in trip reports, for gospel truth, it only has, for me, a good indicative value. For example, I went to Selinda in May 2004 and the sightings were great. In 2005, I came back at the same period of the year, as it was May, and it was totally different with mediocre sightings. It’s interesting to see how this segment of the eco-tourism industry underwent a fast evolution, mainly under the pressure of the tour operators and travel agents whose clients’ main concern was and always is Security. I had the privilege to go 9 times to Selinda during different periods (May, July, September & November). The best years were the first four (1998 to 2001). If you ask me if I feel a great nostalgia for this period and this place, my answer will be a massive yes. Brian Graham’s Selinda still remains far above any other, even great, place I’ve been to in Africa. Yet, I do have similar feelings for Barranco, Alto in the Pantanal : http://safaritalk.net/topic/13219-barranco-alto-and-pantanal-a-yearly-appointment/ To build this topic, I scanned more than 500 slides, of the 7 first trips, that I am now processing. I had to call 8 to 17 years souvenirs to mind So, if someone feels the need to add information or to correct something that might be wrong, please do not hesitate to invite yourself to this topic. I particularly think of you, Geoff, you that have been there several times during about the same period. The lease of the Selinda concession was conceded to Linyanti Explorations in 1995. Two camps were built, Selinda and Zibalianja as well as two fly-camps, Mokoba and Tshwene, for their walking activities. Linyanti Explorations was created in 1976 by one of the pioneers of the safari industry in Botswana, Brian Graham, followed close behind by the opening of Chobe Chilwero. He sold Chilwero in 1999 and his company in 2005 to the Joubert, associated as it was to some other investors. Brian Graham had always practised a policy based on a deep respect of environment ; traditional tented camps with a capacity limited to 12 persons, comfortable but without useless sumptuousness and perfectly integrated into the vegetation, attracting a regular clientele of safari-goers, of which some were coming more than one time a year. As far back as the end of the last century, as I already said, under the pressure of tour operators, some « improvements » were brought to the main camp tents, so as to give them a less traditional nature, like replacing the entrance zips by a door, building a thatched roof above the tent or paving the bathroom, but always in the respect of the initial policy. A simple electric fence, that was erected at night only, was added, mainly to keep the elephants away. At Zibalianja, the only change they made was to add 1 more tent to the 3 initial ones. The main camp in 1998. The bar/lounge/dining room building is on the right. The palisaded out of doors bathroom in 1998. One of the fly camps, visited by an elephant. The new owners, though they told me, when I met them in May 2005, that they would, to a great extent, keep the camps like they were, decided to bring strategic changes to the main camp ; the capacity was increased to 16 persons and the tents completely converted to make a luxurious camp of it. As nothing had yet been done at the main camp, I came back in November 2005. Apart from an excellent sighting on the first game drive, the rest of the week was more than mediocre. Nevertheless and as Zibalianja was still existing in its original layout, I went there in May 2007 and also to Motswiri, where hunting had been banned. Motswiri had 3 tents and was very similar to Zibalianja. Those 9 days were again a great disappointment in terms of sightings at the 2 locations. Concerning Motswiri, it was not a surprise as hunting had recently been stopped. Yet, I enjoyed the remoteness of the place and the simplicity of the camp. Then the new owners decided to dismantle Zibalianja and to create Zarafa. This was the coup de grâce, and together with the decrease of good sightings and the environment natural changes, it made an end to the love story. I have never been there since and will probably not, just because I will always have in mind, in this particular place, those great days of an age that has gone. I am sure that actually there is more professionalism in the management of the camps, that the food is better, and so on,…… but it just became a place like many others in Botswana and elsewhere, where everything is irreproachable but where there are no more any originality, spell, inspiration and moving spirit. It was far from perfection but it was great !!! During all those years, I had the opportunity to meet great guides. I cannot mention them all. So, here are the best : - Ian Mc Coll, nicknamed the « Lion Man » who managed Zibalianja in the first years, - Alan Williams, who managed the main camp in 1998, - Mompati Aaron, Paul Moloseng and Barberton (BB) Mundu. If someone knows what those guys are actually doing, please let me know. - The late André Maertens and last but not least the best of the best, Kanawe Ntema who finished his career in Kwando, last year. My first visit to the Selinda was in July 1998 and my second, in September 1999. Hunting had been banned from that part of the concession in 1995. The lions (males), that had survived to hunting, had moved away. It gave the opportunity to 3 young males to be in power. They mated with the resident females and had cubs. The Selinda pride was born. But all this was too good to be true. Five big males arrived from the north, killed one of the three and assumed power. When I came back for the third time in July 2000, there were 24 lions in the pride. Selinda was really at that time the kingdom of lions. The subjects of the pictures for the first four years will mainly be lions, lionesses and lion’s cubs. They were present on every game drives.
  8. Kane Motswana, guide and photographer at Selinda Explorers, Botswana writes: Great Plains write: Images courtesy and copyright of Kane Motswana / Great Plains Conservation.
  9. @@Kane Motswana said I could post up his sighting from Selinda of 24 wild dogs killing a wildebeest. He writes: What an amazing wild dog sighting, this following on from his honey badger vs lion series which I posted up recently for him here. Kane's internet connection is slow hence me posting but we are in contact and he'll be contributing to Safaritalk soon. Photos courtesy and copyright, Kane Motswana and Great Plains Conservation.
  10. Great Plains Conservation will be giving calving season bednights away in the Selinda Reserve to raise money to translocate 100 rhino from South Africa to Botswana. Book a stay at either Zarafa Camp, Selinda Camp or Selinda Explorers Camp between now and 31 May 2014 or from 1 November 2014 to 31 May 2015 and guests will be directly contributing to the total USD8 million target needed to move these rhino in July/August 2015. You can book through your usual safari specialist, quoting #ZerosForRhinos. For more information visit http://www.greatplainsfoundation.com
  11. GREAT PLAINS CONSERVATION IS THE "MOST LIFE-ENRICHING EXPERIENCE" Great Plains Conservation is thrilled to receive the award for Most Life-Enriching Experience at the inaugural and prestigious PURE Awards 2013 last night at the close of the PURE Life Experiences show at the Palais des Congrès, Marrakech. The award is described by PURE as “truly transformational, thought-provoking and perspective-shifting travel experiences that help the individual reconnect with both themselves and the world around them.” The selection process is rigid, starting with initial nomination by 'PUREists', a collection of the world’s elite buyers and sellers of experiential travel services. It is then judged by a distinguished panel of visionaries in travel: oceanographer and explorer, Sylvia Earle; actor and director, Edward Norton; environmental entrepreneur, Colin Bell; award-winning author and adventurer, Richard Bangs; and sustainable architect, German del Sol. On describing Great Plains Conservation's co-founders, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, Sylvia Earle commented: “The Jouberts convey their passion and deeply held conservation ethic and respect for the natural world that is unsurpassed, no matter what the setting, but especially in their beloved African plains. This is conveyed to those fortunate enough to travel in their presence.” Dereck Joubert, Great Plains Conservation CEO, feels particularly honoured and says the award "encapsulates exactly what we set out to do at Great Plains Conservation: create experiences which spotlight the spiritual, personal, cultural and environmental Africa. Through these experiences we change lives and create conservation ambassadors - a positive outcome in the face of many challenges on the continent." All at Great Plains Conservation like to thank the judges and all the PUREists that kindly nominated us for this award. WINNER: GREAT PLAINS CONSERVATION Great Plains Conservation’s collection of exquisite high-end camps offers guests the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the magical African wilds across Botswana and Kenya – whether it’s enjoying uninterrupted views across the prime wildlife territory of the Selinda Reserve, shaded by a canopy of African ebony and Red ivory trees at Zarafa Camp; meandering on horseback among the “Big Five” mammals in their natural habitat in Kenya's Chyulu Hills; or paddling serenely down the waterway linking Botswana’s Okavango Delta and Linyanti and Kwando water systems on the Selinda Canoe Trail. Encouraging people to appreciate nature and learn how to better protect the environment is at the core of Great Plains Conservation’s mission, so it’s no surprise that the experiences they offer have a unique simplicity and rawness that allows for no distractions. Coupled with the beauty and comfort of the camps themselves and the attentive, personalised service, Great Plains offers a host of truly life-enriching experiences that are unique to each individual. 

www.greatplainsconservation.com For more information on the PURE Awards click here. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like any further information about Great Plains Conservation's camps, lodge and experiences in Kenya and Botswana and the conservation and community work that we undertake. Best regards, Alex Walters Great Plains Conservation Mobile +44 75544 31638 Skype personal.pangea, Email alex@personalpangea.com www.greatplainsconservation.com
  12. The Selinda Reserve, in northern Botswana, has become the wild-dog hotspot of Africa. Three wild-dog packs of 17 adults have denned with 22 puppies in 2013. This is exceptional and has left experienced guides and researchers absolutely in awe at what has transpired. Each year we anticipate one of the most exciting seasons, when our resident wild dog pack, The Selinda Pack, dens. This normally occurs in June or July and the result has been as many as 15 puppies from just the one alpha female. However, the 2013 behaviour, interaction and splintering of the Selinda Pack and neighbouring packs from adjacent concessions has produced activity that is not only remarkable on a local scale, but perhaps unheard of continent-wide among wild dog enthusiasts and researchers alike. Selinda Reserve is now home to three resident packs and, not only that, the denning calendar and alpha female dynamics are in total disarray and hunting has taken on new proportions. Read the full story and get to know The Selinda Pack, The Mopane Pack and The Makoba Pack; it reads like a Quentin Tarantino movie script with dogs possibly called Mr. Orange, Mr. Brown, Mr. Black, Mr. Orangey/Brown with a bit of Black and White, a few alpha females and perhaps a ripped ear in a fight or two.
  13. Hello all, I have completed the write-up on my Safari to Little Kwara, Selinda, Matusadona and Mana Pools in March 2013. In a nutshell, the safari was fantastic and while I certainly had some big misses, I also had some wildlife encounters that I am tempted to call "once in a lifetime" opportunities. This involved joining on foot a pride of lions at breakfast in Mana Pools. Little Kwara will definitely see me again. Great guiding by Hobbs and Mike. Selinda feels like my 2nd home anyway and this time we had a private vehicle to arrange a proper boys outing. It was just Josh Iremonger (lead guide for Selinda Canoe Trails), my friend Humphrey Gumpo (Tailormade-Safaris.com) and myself, so full days on end following game around. Rhino Island and the Rhino Safari Lodge was a lot of fun, too. Matusadona and Lake Kariba is stunning to visit at this time of the year. Westerly winds blowing up waves and crests made for very attractive, dark blue backgrounds. It was great to see a lot of game along the lake shore, including black rhino. Mana Pools: Since it was just Humphery and Phil from Tailormade Safaris and myself travelling, we had arranged a light mobile camp for this part of the safari. The camp team was absolutely outstandig and the stay at Mana was once again legendary in every way. Chitake was full of wildlife, although no concentrations, no moving up and down the river bed, as there still was a lot of water in all the pans around the area. So we only spent two nights at Chitake 3 camp site and then moved to Mucheni 1 (as camp sites at Mucheni 3 and 4, Trichilia and BBC were inaccessible). The floodplains provided some stunning scenery, and as said, some unbelieavble lion sightings. The best I have ever had. Check out photographic results in my galleries (I will upload some pictures to my safaritalk.net gallery shortly). 2013 Botswana Gallery 2013 Zimbabwe Gallery 2013 Afircan Impressions Copying the full travel report to safaritalk.net would probably be a bit much. But whoever is interested I welcome to read up on my photography website. Link to full travel report. In closing, what worries me is the fact that throughout the three weeks I spent in the field, I felt raindrops only for a few minutes, in transit at Victoria Falls. Botswana's northern concessions were still green, but already quite dry and hot, with many of the pans between Kwara, Savute and Selinda turning milky. At Mana Pools, the Chitake area was still moist, but the floodplains along the Zambezi were very dry already. Without further significant rainfall, Mana will again see a very dry year. So what's next: My next major trip will come up in July, when I return to Brazil's Pantanal in search of jaguars and to the Atlantic Rainforest for some birding. As for Africa, I am in the process of planning a south - north trip through Botswana for early 2014. Starting at KTP, crossing CKGR, then heading into the Delta, the northern concessions and finishing on the Chobe. Best wishes, Patrick
  14. At a spectacular ceremony in Italy this week, it was announced that Great Plains Conservation would be breaking new grounds for Relais & Châteaux. ol Donyo Lodge and Zarafa Camp are the first properties ever to be accredited as Relais & Châteaux members in Kenya and Botswana respectively and be accepted into this prestigious association. This Relais & Châteaux membership highlights the quality and mutual ethos of both companies. The Relais & Châteaux 5C’s ethos of Calm, Charm, Character, Courtesy and Cuisine personifies the experiences at both ol Donyo Lodge and Zarafa Camp. In addition these Great Plains Conservation properties add a further two C’s into the mix in the form of their underlying Conservation and Community ethics. "I'm delighted that Great Plains is joining the prestigious Relais & Châteaux association” says Dereck Joubert, CEO of Great Plains Conservation. “We have just seen, at the 38th Relais & Châteaux Congress in Turin, the level of excellence the association embodies and promises its guests. It is a really good fit, in that we strive for the gold standard in conservation tourism as well as in the experience we deliver. Guests come to our camps and lodges to change the future of conservation, whilst at the same time enjoy only the finest service and quality. This has been recognized by Relais & Châteaux even though our worlds are very different." The epitome of working with communities to their benefit from conservation tourism is ol Donyo Lodge. Its ten pool and standard suites are located on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills in 275,000 acres of Maasai-owned land in southern Kenya. This is quintessential Africa with Mount Kilimanjaro as an ever-present backdrop, wildlife-studded plains and acacia forests below offering the opportunity for numerous low-impact activities including day and night game drives, horse back safaris, mountain biking and guided walking safaris. Guests at ol Donyo Lodge can also meet with authentic Maasai villagers, or spend the day in a open air hide watching some of the world’s largest tusker elephants up close, or sleep under the stars from their rooftop star-bed waking to see Kilimanjaro illuminated at dawn. “This association makes us want to be better at everything, from cuisine to service, and as a result we’ll be fine tuning our operations and training our chefs with the finest in the world” says Dereck. Zarafa Camp, in the 320,000 acre Selinda Reserve of northern Botswana, is a very low environmental impact camp, but one that does not forfeit luxury to do so. With just four huge 110 square metre tents, the Relais & Chateaux board were captivated the minute they walked in. Sustainable building materials and ecological operations combine with authentic period furniture to create a discerning safari ambience and refinement, set in a private reserve with thousands of elephants, buffalo and hippo, with good lions and leopards and wild dog populations. This paradise is second-to-none. Guests can chose day and night game drives, catch-and-release fly fishing, use of the house boat, canoeing and walking safaris. As Great Plains Conservation and Relais & Châteaux team up we believe that we will enhance our mutual offering of an environmentally friendly, abundant wildlife experience as well as the finest hospitality. The perfect combination of heart and soul. Great Plains announces association with Relais & Châteaux.pdf

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