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Found 44 results

  1. Mr. SafariChick and I have been back about a week from the three-country 20th anniversary trip that we'd been planning for over a year. Still not entirely caught up on sleep and haven't been through all the photos yet, but thought I'd best get started on a report before too much time passes. I have decided to write the report in three separate parts, since each part of the trip took place in a different country. (And also because this allows me to use different fun trip report titles. This title was provided by Mr. SafariChick). Here is our oldest daughter hugging me farewell after she drove us to the airport to drop us off (a first for this almost-18-year-old) This trip was an ambitious undertaking, visiting three countries in 12 days - and with each country, our destination for wildlife viewing required a drive of some significance to reach from the airport in which we landed.Nowhere was this more true than our first stop, Ethiopia. After a flight from SFO to Heathrow, a 6-hour layover (at least spent in a very comfortable United lounge with some decent food and beverages), and another flight from Heathrow to Addis, which were about 24 hours total of travel, we arrived at Addis at 6:30 a.m. local time. We obtained our visas without much trouble, changed some money, picked up our bags, and went outside to find our driver, Demiss. Demiss was waiting for us and had us packed up into the car quickly. He was a very nice fellow, with good English and great knowledge of Ethiopia and its history, geography as well as it’s endemic animals. We knew we were to be assigned a guide employed by Bale Mountain Lodge once we arrived there, but having Demiss along was almost like having a second guide, which was great. We asked if there was somewhere to grab a quick bite to eat, not a sit-down place but just something to serve as breakfast. Demiss was a bit unsure what we might want and we tried stopping at a Supermarket called Safeway which amused us since we have a chain of supermarkets in the U.S. called Safeway. We ended up getting a piece of banana bread to share and getting on the road. The drive to Bale Mountain Lodge had been described to me as everything from 6 hours to 7-8 hours to an “all day trip” so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Even though the road was paved most of the way, the trip actually took us closer to about ten hours including about an hour lunch stop and a couple of short bathroom stops. It was pretty brutal after the air travel we had done, I have to say. In retrospect, it really would have been better to break it up with an overnight half way or at least have had an overnight in Addis first. But we were concerned about not being away from home too long, both because we were leaving our teen girls for the first time for more than two days (with their former babysitter staying at the house) and being away 15 days was about as long as Mr. Safarichick felt comfortable being gone from work. We stopped for a sort of brunch late morning at a restaurant that was quite good. (I am trying to find out the name from Demiss and will post it when I do). I had scrambled eggs and toast, and I don’t recall what everyone else had except that Demiss ordered a macchiato. I was surprised this was something they made in Ethiopia as I think of it as Italian (and co-opted by Starbucks and the like). But the coffee in Ethiopia was delicious and nice and strong and Demiss told us about the history of Italians having attempted to colonize Ethiopia – twice. He and our guide Biruk and some of the park staff would say “Ciao Ciao” to each other to say “goodbye” and he said that came from the Italians who lived in Ethiopia. The drive was made longer and more difficult by the many villages we had to pass through, each of which was populated it seemed by large numbers of humans and their cattle, sheep and goats, as well as cart horses pulling little buggies with people in them. We had to slow to go around all these obstacles and I became somewhat queasy from this and probably from my all around fatigue. In addition to the animals being moved along by people, there were many animals just hanging around at the sides of the road on their own, usually trying to eat something it found on the ground like this goat eating some orange peels. We passed through the park headquarters at Dinsho I think at around 3:00 pm and purchased our park tickets for the next four days, and I was surprised when Demiss told me we still had about two and a half hours to go to get to the lodge! And we actually still had to go through some populated areas even though we had entered the park. There are villages and people living around the park so you will be in what seems total wilderness but then come to a village before getting back to wilderness. The first wildlife we saw was some aggressive baboons that came right up to the cars, seeking a snack, and some warthogs and Mountain Nyala. I didn’t get great photos but here are a few: You have to drive up to and over the Sanetti Plateau, which would be our viewing grounds for the wolves, in order to get to Bale Mountain Lodge. We were hopeful that we might possibly get a glimpse of wolves on this first trip across the plateau but were dismayed to find it started raining and then hailing as we drove through the plateau! This was unexpected as it was not even the rainy season and we hoped it would not continue during the rest of our stay. (Luckily it did not!) The plateau is quite other-worldly looking in any kind of weather, but the hail really made us feel we did not know where we were. We were very glad to finally arrive at Bale Mountain Lodge 10 hours after we left Addis! We were given a room called a Tree House that was a free-standing little house up a half-flight of stairs about a five-minute walk from the main lodge where meals were served. It was r private and in the trees, but there were a few problems with it that would cause us to move to another room halfway through our stay, but more about that later.
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/science/wild-dogs-sneeze-hunt.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-shareThe number of African wild dogs in a pack who sneeze determines whether or not the pack goes on a hunt.
  3. This is only the third time in the past five years that I am aware of that wild dogs have been spotted in the Mara Triangle. I belive that the other times they were spotted they were around the Serengeti border and near the Serena. This time I think that they were spotted by the Serena and also by the Oloololo gate. I hope that they stay in the Reserve or head south t the Serengeti. Does anyone have any details of other wild dog sightings in the Triangle? I believe that there may also be a small population in Mara North (Aitong area). https://www.facebook.com/maratriangle/
  4. Hi everyone, This is my first post...I hope it's in the right place. We are looking for help in planning a safari for 2018. We really want to see ***wild dogs*** and predators/elephants/rare animals...as well as all other wildlife. We are avid photographers and have narrowed the trip down to two options...for the most part. The question is which is the better option for what we are looking for, I.e. Wild dogs. Both options are in the same price range. We know nothing is guaranteed but are looking for reliable sightings during the times we are going. Option A - Botswana in late June 2018 1 night Vic Falls 2 nights Lebala Camp 2 nights Lagoon Camp 3 nights Little Kwara Option B - Zimbabwe and Zambia in June or August or September 4 nights Nkwali Camp in S. Luangwa 4 nights John's Camp in Mana Pools *****Which is the best month for option B taking into account what we want to see? We welcome all advice/information/opinion. Thanks in advance for the help. Cheers, Eric
  5. This is part three of Mr. Safarichick and my three-country safari in February 2017. The first two parts were in Ethiopia http://safaritalk.net/topic/17178-into-thin-air/ and Rwanda http://safaritalk.net/topic/17209-mud-sweat-and-tears/ We’d tried to get to bed early the night before in Kigali at the same hotel at which we’d stayed the night before our two nights in Musanze. We had made it back with a full battery worth of charge and I think the other one even still had a little bit left on it. @@Sangeeta had kindly checked for me after I WhatsApped her where we might be able to find another charger. She found a store in Nairobi that sold Panasonic Lumix cameras that might have our charger. (I knew that Nairobi traffic might make that impractical, though). We had a 7 a.m. flight from Kigali to Nairobi so we had to be at the airport early. Luckily we had no problems such as @@michael-ibk and @@AndMic had on their trip out of Kigali and got through security very quickly. We were pleased that our plane to Nairobi had been changed from one with a stop to a non-stop so that we would arrive in Nairobi an hour earlier than we originally thought and Chalo Africa had emailed Laikipia Wilderness about that. But when we arrived, our driver was nowhere to be seen. He was to be driving us all the way to LWC, about a 5.5 hour drive. We were having trouble with communications – our phones didn’t have phone service and wifi was only free for about 15 minutes. To get wifi you paid for you had to go inside to one of the gates. Luckily, we found RwandAir which let us use their wifi so we could contact Chalo Africa. They got in touch with LWC who got in touch with the driver. Apparently LWC had never seen the message we were arriving early so the driver didn’t know. And then he was at the wrong terminal also. So by the time he found us, it was about the time we’d originally expected to be picked up. We asked our driver about the camera store @@Sangeeta found online but he said it would be a big delay to go there, and we decided not to do it. We were not at all sure our camera battery would last for four days at LWC though so we were worried about it. I was hoping maybe by some miracle some other tourist would have left one at LWC just as we’d left ours at Bale Mountain Lodge. When we got to Nanyuki, the last city/town/civilization before we’d reach Laikipia Wilderness, we stopped for some lunch and then asked our driver if we could drive through the town to see if by some miracle there might be a store that had a chance of selling our battery charger. We didn’t really think it would be likely but we thought why not just see. We passed one store that had a Kodak sign and sure enough, it was a little camera store. We went in and told the proprietress what we were looking for and amazingly, she had a collection of used camera battery chargers – including one for a Panasonic Lumix – but not ours. She told us if we had about 3-4 hours in town she thought she could get us one (from where I have no idea!) but we told her that unfortunately we could not wait, so off we went. Our driver was not quite sure where the turn off was for LWC and there was a bunch of calling LWC on his cell phone, losing reception, stopping to ask directions of a local who didn’t seem to have a clue, etc. Finally Steve Carey, owner and guide at LWC, was dispatched to meet us on the main road and then we followed him back to camp. It had been a long travel day, from a 7 a.m. flight from Kigali to now about 4:15 pm. Other guests were having tea and getting ready to go out for their afternoon activity, so we went to our tent quickly, washed up a bit, and came out to tea as well. After a quick bite of delicious cake with a passionfruit frosting, we were off on a game drive as well. Our first guide was Steven. (It was a bit confusing because there was this Steven, Steve Carey, and then Mr. Safarichick whose name is ALSO Steve!) Also with us in the vehicle was a young woman named Emmy, an Australian student taking a gap year who was living at the camp volunteering. She wants to be a guide eventually and was to be starting university in the fall. We found one of the dog packs in the area, the Tui pack (not sure if I’m spelling that right). The Tui pack seems to be the one that LWC sees most regularly these days. It was the one I was aware of before arriving, that I’d seen photos of on Facebook and Instagram. I knew how many puppies this pack had – I think it was 10 - and had been looking forward to seeing the pack with excitement. I was shocked and saddened to hear that there were only two puppies left. Not sure if it’s known what happened to the rest. But at least the two pups seemed happy with each other and I was grateful that at least they had each other and that at least these two had survived this far. You have to be grateful for small favors sometimes, as my mother used to say. When we first saw the pack, they were still resting, so we hung out watching. Eventually, they began waking up, first the puppies playing then all the rest began to wake up and take part in a greeting ceremony. From where our vehicle was stopped, we couldn't see the greeting ceremony well as they all had started moving to the side. Steven asked whether I wanted to go down on the ground. On our very first outing at LWC? Oh, ok, twist my arm! Emmy got out with me and we got down on ground on our stomachs and tried crawling forward. Unfortunately it hadn’t occurred to me that we’d be doing this when we went out on drive and I was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt so my knees and elbows were not very comfortable! The dogs didn’t take any notice of us and we watched them for a little while from there. This is me and Emmy: When they began to walk off to go hunting, we quickly clambered back into the vehicle. We attempted to follow them hunting and we would see them and lose them. At one point something jumped out and almost crashed into the car - it was a warthog dashing out of its hole - luckily it stopped short of crashing into us and ran off the other way. Eventually, we had some success. We didn't manage to see what they caught but we did see the alpha male regurgitate food for the pups which was very cool! The alpha male and female are both collared; the male is very old, much older than the female: It was pretty dark by now - here's the only halfway decent photo we got of the whole (or most of?) the pack: In addition to the dogs, on this drive we also saw zebra, giraffe, white-tailed mongoose, vulturine guinea fowl. All in all, we were quite happy with our first drive!
  6. I haven't seen this posted yet. Both Offbeat Mara and Serian have posted photos on Facebook the last couple days of wild dogs spotted near their respective camps. Now if THAT doesn't make me want to hurry back to Offbeat....!
  7. 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.
  8. First of all I wish to thank Sangeeta Prasad of Chalo Africa for suggesting Gonorezhou Bush Camp in the first place. I was planning to visit Pamushana Camp,and she felt that it would combine very well with Gonorezhou Bush Camp because the two offer such a superb contrast. I have to say that she was completely right. I feel that Pamushana is a superb lodge in terms of food,accommodation, and service. It offers a wide range of activities including a boat cruise,game drives,and walking . There is no doubt that Pamushana's guides are amongst the best in the industry. I was ably guided by Brad the head guide,and also Japheth. They were both superb. Pamushana also uses trackers as well as guides. I have to say that the viewing of both wildlife,and birds was just outstanding. I was fortunate to see both Liechteinstein's hartebeest,and Sharpe's grysbok both for the first time. I also saw a lesser galago. I was fortunate to see duikers,klipspringer,greater kudu, wildebeest, and even plenty of magnificent sable. I also saw nyala which I had only seen once before.
  9. This is a fascinating article about what could someday be an incredible safari destination. When I met Rod Cassidy who was literally the one man that I wanted to meet more than ever in the whole world I was quite struck by his honesty. He admitted that the game viewing was too uncertain and the flight too long and expensive to justify visiting Chinko. I think that like Zakouma,it would pair very well with Dzsanga-Sangha Special Reserve. However,in all probability it will probably take a minimum of 10 years and more like 20 before it's a possibility. The first thing that has to happen is that the Central African Republic needs to become more stable,and the civil war has to end. I have to say that I'm happy that African Parks is dedicated to saving it.As Rod explained to me,African parks will not support an area unless hunting is ended. http://pulitzercentre.org/reporting/fight-chinko.
  10. 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
  11. This is the second part to my trip report from November/December, 2015. This was a last minute visit to East Africa which included two new places for me which were Ruaha and Zanzibar. I would have to say a big thank you to everyone who wrote about Ruaha because these trip reports on SafariTalk were the stimulus for my visit. After visiting Asilia's Naboisho Camp in the Naboisho Conservancy for 9 nights (trip report on the Kenya thread coming soon), I decided at the very last minute to tack on a visit to Ruaha and Zanzibar. The ever patient Troy from True Africa was brilliant in organising these add ons and to get me out to Kwihala for 6 nights with 6 nights at Matemwe, Zanzibar. I was able to take advantage of the shoulder/green season rates and their special stay 3 pay for 2. I stayed at the Transit Airport Motel, Dar es Salaam before my flight out to Ruaha and used free transfers/local taxis to cut down costs as much as possible. I thought I was organised but unfortunately I forgot my additional memory cards so I ended up concentrating more on photography and less with my videoing to not use as much memory. I also spent plenty of time just waiting and watching because I really wanted to observe animal behaviour and to enjoy the scenery that I knew Ruaha was famous for. I arrived in Ruaha on the 23 November with only 3 other guests in camp. I think I waved hello to @@Jaycees2012 when they were heading back to the airport and I too had the Umbele Tent during my stay as well as having Alex as my guide. It was a pleasure to be welcomed by Tam and her excellent team at Kwihala. I was hoping to meet the Italian head guide Pietro because I was interested in having a foreign guide who had come to love Africa and the bush so much that they stayed. I really thought that they must be extremely passionate and dedicated to do something like that. The tent was very large with an attached bathroom, which had a flushing toilet, running water, a bucket shower and toiletries. Water for the showers were provided after lunch and evening. Due to the hot weather I chose to have showers with no hot water added. The bed was extremely comfortable, additional seating was provided, a desk and chair for catching up with trip reports and an undercover patio with seating and a birdbath outside to attract visitors. The tent was hot during the day so I spent most of my downtime up in the communal areas where a breeze would pass by and I had access to cold drinks and ice. I was fortunate to have to only share a car for the 1.5 days during my stay and was alone in camp for 2 days as well. My guide for the first 4 days was Alex who is a very experienced Asilia floating guide who moves around the different properties to where he is needed. He knew all of my previous Asilia guides in Tanzania so we were able to share lots of great stories. He was accompanied by a trainee guide during my time who was a lovely young man who was a little quiet but came out of his shell during my stay. Alex also accompanied myself and two other guests on a walking safari during my stay which was lead by Hamza. Hamza also guided me on my last 1.5 days when Alex left for his break. Hamza was permanently based in Kwihala and was able to share some wonderful stories about some of the famous leopards in the park. He was a real character and a brilliant mimic of animal sounds which were very entertaining throughout the evenings. The weather was extremely hot during the day, with storms circling the park but not necessarily bringing rain to the Kwihala Camp. The park looked a patchwork of brown and green from above as well as from the ground as we drove around really highlighting where rain had recently fallen. During my stay we had two drives affected by heavy rains, strong winds, lighting and thunder. This only lasted a maximum of 2 hours and brought a lovely fresh feel to the camp. The rain assisted in providing new smaller sightings for myself including emperor scorpions, a smaller clear/white scorpion (I can’t remember the name), red baboon spiders, many different types of flying insects which flooded the sky around the lights in camp and of course frogs. With everything in abundance it meant that the birds and lizards were having a field day with so much food around. Due to the rains we didn’t have daily lion sightings because I was told they normally head to the higher areas to stay dry. I did manage to see lions on 3 out of the 6 days but they were very inactive due to the heat. I had 3 spectacular leopard sightings and then an additional 3 from afar. I spent a day tracking wild dogs after the rains (when the lions headed to higher grounds) without any luck (we found spoor and scat) but then we found the dogs the next morning and spent the morning and afternoon drives with them with some brilliant photo opportunities for everyone including the Ruaha Wild Dogs Conservation researcher. The elephants congregated along the dried rivers digging holes to find water because there was not enough rain to even produce a trickle in the dry riverbeds. Giraffes were present but skittish and had what I remember as fungal infections around their knees which resulted in them having large hard inflammations which were supposedly contagious. Researchers and vets were trying to understand this disease and how to treat it. I was able to enjoy a wonderful walking safari and saw elephants, giraffes, kudu, impala and learnt about different flora in the area. I loved my time at Ruaha and was very impressed with the fantastic management, staff, lovely tents, communal area, my favorite the bush tv as well as the wonderful park and its animals. I loved the authentic bush feel, the landscapes were amazing and the sightings were wonderful. It is a park that requires great guides to track spoor and to find animals in the bush and it is extremely rewarding when everyone in the car is trying to help out. There are pockets of tsetse flies but we generally chose not to drive in these areas unless there was a great sighting. It certainly didn’t detract me from my time at Ruaha. I will definitely revisit this camp because I found it to be the type of camp and park that offers a true safari experience.
  12. This is a great mobile tented safari to Mana Pools, guided by Doug Macdonald which has 4 spaces left. The safari is 4 nights on the Mana Pools Flood Plain and then 3 Nights at Chitake Springs. You also have the option of adding in Kanga Pan at the start and then Chikwenya for the last part to give you the complete Mana Pools experience. This is a great time of year to see the Wild Dog Packs operating on the flood plain and hopefully they will have all their puppies with them at this time of year learning to be Wild dogs. Please have a look at the link below for the full details and contact me doug@dougmacsafaris.com to book your space for this top safari. Mana Pools 7 Nights – Chitake and Flood Plain – Guided by Doug Macdonald
  13. 1) Name of property and country: Sandibe Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana 2) Website address if known: http://www.andbeyond.com/sandibe-okavango-safari-lodge 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Shoulder Season, May, 2013 4) Length of stay: 4 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? My travel agent recommended the property. I wanted to see the Okavango Delta and this property offered significant long stay discounts (along with other andBeyond properties), no single supplement and an all inclusive price. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Go2Africa 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was my first trip but I have now been on many more. 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? This was unique but the landscape/terrain is similar to Ruaha NP,Tanzania. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 10 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Brilliant views over the wetlands in front of the property 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable cottages with an additional separate balcony over the wetlands. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes but a little too salty. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Varied menus suitable to all dietary requirements and 2/3 choices for all meals. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables, guides/managers do offer to accompany solo travellers. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Very good meals on game drives and normally freshly cooked/prepared on a bbq. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open vehicles sitting up to 6 people (3 rows of 2). 19) How many guests per row? 2 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Drives were between 5-10 hours depending on what we were looking for. 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 flexible, agreement between the guests as to what we were looking for dictated if the drives were standard or all day (wild dogs were all day), afternoon drives finished around 7:30pm. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Private concession and there was only another lodge in the vicinity which we saw only one vehicle maybe once a day or saw their lights during the evening. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. No rotation policy. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Excellent leopard, lion, plains game, wild dogs, cheetah and elephants. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Very good guiding and tracking. There was little reliance on other car’s sightings because there was not many in this area. 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? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: They found wild dogs and cheetahs which at the time was the two things I hadn’t seen and really wanted to. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Excellent service from the staff. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. andBeyond does provide local community conservation initiatives but none were available in the direct vicinity of the camp. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: "Sandibe allowed me to tick off cheetah and wild dogs from my list of must see things during my 3 week trip of Southern Africa. The guides were wonderful in dealing with a diverse group of birders and non-English speaking guests and keeping everyone happy. The game drives were not easy (compared to Sabi Sands) and quite long especially when tracking the wild dogs and cheetah but definitely worth it in the end. Be prepared for bumpy rides with sandy areas that are not ideal for everyone, especially if you have back issues. If you are someone that can’t handle long drives then make it clear to the guides/managers when you book and also when you arrive so they put you with like-minded people in the vehicle. I can say that the drives are very rewarding at the end of the day (3 days actually to find the wild dogs!) with amazing experiences and photos being testament to that! The rooms and sundecks were wonderful, although I didn't spend much time there as I was always on drives or hanging out in the main lounge area editing photos and enjoying the drink service from the ever smiling staff members. The bed was extremely comfortable; the outdoor shower was lovely but a little fresh when showering during the early morning or late evening. There was plenty of space in the bathroom and wardrobe to keep your clothes/toiletries in order and of course the daily laundry service is really handy. Toiletries such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, insect repellent and soap granules for hand washing are provided. The food wasn't the best of all the camps I stayed in (very salty) but I never went hungry because there was always snacks and morning/afternoon teas on offer so nothing to worry about there. We dined outside one evening under the stars, which was beautiful, and the other evenings we ate in the main communal dining area, which was open to the elements. Breakfast and lunch on different occasions was also out in the bush depending on what we were trekking. This was a great way to enjoy a bush breakfast/lunch which adds to the whole experience and means that you don’t have to return back to base which would waste time when on long safari drives. There is also the opportunity to have morning tea/sundowners with snacks whilst out on drives. This too can break up a big drive and allow you to stretch your legs. I never once felt unsafe during any of these occasions including “marking my territory”. The guide/tracker will always check around and endeavor to make it as safe as possible. I loved the natural and open aspect of the camp and there were close encounters with elephant, impalas, monkeys and hippos within the camp, which was wonderful to see. The staff took all precautions to keep guests safe and secure whilst enjoying the amazing proximity to these animals from our dining table. &Beyond goes above and beyond to make a safari experience even more special and as a single traveller this was important to me. The staff contribute this significantly by remembering your name, your drink of choice and any special snacks you like. A brilliant experience awaits anyone travelling to Sandibe. Be aware that the camp has undergone extensive refurbishments and was reopened in July, 2014. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. https://vimeo.com/152223142 https://vimeo.com/152231445
  14. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Sosian Ranch, Offbeat Safari partner, Laikipia, Kenya 2) Website address if known:www.offbeatsafaris.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known).January 16 to January 21, 2016 Shoulder season. 4) Length of stay: Four nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? My wife and I wanted to visit the Laikipia region and since this property was part of the Offbeat group and they were offering the pay 3 stay 4 special this worked for us. Also the Sosian ranch is a wildlife/cattle ranch and we are cattle ranchers so this was appealing to us as well. Thirdly, our TO, Ellie at Expert Africa suggested this place. We got a VIP tour of the cattle facilities, livestock, and time to visit with the Ranch Manager, Sean to learn about how they operate. He was very patient and took time out of his busy day to visit with us. This lodge would be especially good for families. There are so many things to do as a family that would keep youngsters involved. They have horses, camels, fishing, walks, swimming in the river or their nice pool, rafting a tennis court, and of course game drives. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Booked through our agent Ellie at Expert Africa 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was our sixth safari. 8) To which countries? We have been to SA, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Kenya in 2001. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Offbeat Meru, and Offbeat Mara. Other similar lodges in other countries that we have visited. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No it was not fenced. 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? There were 7 rooms 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We stayed in the Italian Cottage which is probably considered the honeymoon cottage. It is the largest of the cottages and sits off to the other side of where the other accommodations are. It is very unique with a round design to the rooms. It has a nice view out in to the yard as do the other cottages. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? It was very comfortable with a king size bed, several lamps and a desk. There is a hall between the bedroom and the bathroom that is used to store and hang clothes in wardrobes and drawers. The bathroom is huge with a tub and separate shower and two basins. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was first rate. They have a formal dining room with really good art on the walls. You are individually served by the staff so you take what and how much you want of the many dishes offered. They usually have several vegetable dishes. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) The offering was very creative and there were many choices. A vegetarian would be totally satisfied. “We are meatatarians and their meat offerings were tasty. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? You sit at a large communal table with the managers in a formal dining room. There are also opportunities to have an evening meal out in the bush. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? The breakfasts were fresh and tasty. We had one hot breakfast at the river side out in the bush then did a walk to the waterfall from there. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. They have open top Toyota Cruisers that have a canvas top that can be rolled back. They also have a Land Rover with hard removable tops that can be closed up and windows rolled up if it rains. 19) How many guests per row? 3 row with two seats per row. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Game drives start at 6 AM and run until lunch at 12:30 to 1 PM. Afternoon drives were from4 until dark or later. 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? You can do any type of drive that you want. I’m sure you can stay out all day if wanted. They do night drives and walks with an armed guide. You can do horse safaris and camel safaris and fly camping. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? This is a private ranch so the only people doing game drives are the guests staying there. There would not be over 3 vehicles out on the 24,000 acres. There was generally only one other couple there while we stayed there so we had private vehicles to ourselves with the same guide the entire time. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? NA 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes, we drove off road occasionally. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. NA 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? There are wild dogs in the vicinity and we were able to go onto the neighboring ranches to look for them. We followed wild dogs while they were hunting off road. Also, they have Grevy Zebra, Oryx, and reticulated giraffe. 27) How was the standard of guiding? The guiding was good, not as good as the other two Offbeat camps we were at, Meru and Mara, but plenty adequate. 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: Our guide Mishekt worked very hard to get us up close to the wild dogs and to lions in some heavy cover. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff was super. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, we visited a Boran village. They also help with a school. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: As I said above, this is an ideal place to visit with a family. Also, if you want to get a good chance at wild dogs this is a good place for that also. You have the opportunity to do horse safaris if that is of interest. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  15. http://jmammal.oxfordjournals.org/content/96/6/1214 ~ This article from the Journal of Mammalogy explains salient factors influencing wild dog ranging patterns, based on field observation of five wild dog packs in Botswana's Okavango Delta. Litter size was found to have the greatest influence, with pack size also being significant. Intrinsic factors were found to be more influential with regard to wild dog ranging than such extrinsic factors as prey availability.
  16. Big Dam in Chishakwe 2 adults Pungwe Pack Pungwe Pack Some of the 15 Pungwe pups This thread is about Chishakwe Ranch, but my entire Aug-Sept 2015 itinerary was: 23 Aug, arrive Harare. (Depart Chicago 0600 on 22 Aug, Jet Blue to JFK, then SAA thru Joburg to Harare, arriving 1220 on 23 Aug) Overnight Guinea Fowl B&B, 35 minutes from the airport. Road transfer by Prosper Transport, arranged through Doug MacDonald’s Safaris to Africa 24 Aug 07:15 – 12:05 Road transfer with Prosper Transport to Devuli Gate at Chishakwe, then camp transfer (40 minutes) to the lodge. It was about 400 kms from Harare to the gate. 25 - 27 Aug Chishakwe Ranch 28 Aug 11:20 - 16:45 Transfer with camp vehicle to Devuli Gate (40 minutes), then Prosper Transport back to Guinea Fowl B&B in Harare for o/nt. 29 Aug 06:15 Departure from Guinea Fowl B&B to Charles Prince Airport in Harare. Fly Altair to Mana Pools Main Airstrip 07:15 – 08:40 with Guide Doug MacDonald and our group of 3. 09:15 – 11:15 Drive to Chitake. Campsite 2 30 Aug Chitake Campsite 2 31 Aug 10:15 - 16:30 Drive to Mana Pools Floodplain with 1.5 hour stop at Bezhjan Pan near Kanga, arrive Mucheni Campsite 4 1- 3 Sept Mucheni Campsite 4 in Mana Pools Floodplain. 4 Sept Morning game drive to/from airstrip where Doug and other 2 guests flew out. Noon, I met with Natureways guide and staff for the Tamarind Canoe Safari and was driven to Nyamepi Camp. Departed on canoe safairi 15:00 (later than usual, waiting for high winds and whitecaps to die down. O/nt island camping. 5 - 6 Sept Natureways Tamarind Canoe Safari through Mana Pools, Sapi Safari Area including Chikwenya and Chewore Safari area. O/nt island camping 7 Sept 11:15 Depart Chewore Airstrip on Altair for Harare in time for 19:00 SAA flight to Joburg, onward to Chicago. 8 Sept Arrive Chicago 10:25 photographic composite of the whole trip - pup is Chishakwe The 6-night Mana Pools section of the trip was led by Doug MacDonald for a party of 3 (Wilddog Dog, Blue Bird & me). Canoeing for 3 nights was with Natureways (arranged through Doug) for the Tamarind camping trip that I joined as a solo. Each segment of the trip will have its own trip report. Thank you @@Sangeeta, for alerting me to Chishakwe by sharing your experience on Safaritalk, found here! http://safaritalk.net/topic/13039-a-meander-through-the-zimbabwean-lowveld/ Didn't Cher so something ike that with her tongue? I think some comedians even imitated that maneuver of hers. Since Sangeeta summed it up so well, here are her words about Chishakwe in Save (pronounced SAH vay) Valley from her report, A Meander through the Zimbabwean Lowveld The Save Valley Conservancy: This enormous tract of land was originally a cattle farming area, but as a result of multiple droughts and soil depletion from over-grazing, a consensus was reached some 22 years ago to return the land to wildlife ranching. The conservancy's revenues are/were derived mainly from hunting but as I learned during this visit that they have always had a broader mandate to also protect endangered species like rhino. Subsequently, the conservancy has an excellent anti-poaching program, including well trained scouts and rangers etc. Much as I am no fan of trophy hunting, I [meaning Sangeeta, but atravelynn concurs] must concede (and the numbers show this) that the SVC's game management plan over the years has been sound. The conservancy is now home to over 3000 eles from an original 300 that were translocated here from Gonarezhou when the conservancy was started. [i observed a shy herd of 30 crossing the road to the dam ]. Rhino numbers are healthy, as are populations of lion and leopard. Cheetah have not done very well here - possibly because the lion population is quite high. [i saw no predators or rhino but spent 3 drives at the dog den, 2 drives walking, 1 drive at the dam, which left 2 regular game drives.] One of the braver elephants of the herd, willing to show himself to the camera. The Save Valley was once Africa's largest privately owned and operated wildlife area, but with the recent political problems and re-settlements, the size of the conservancy has shrunk quite a lot. It was distressing to see small agricultural plots within the conservancy - and to hear about the large scale clearing of magnificent old mopane forests for subsistence farming. Anyhow, as a result of the ongoing political fracas, no hunting quotas have been issued for the past 2-3 years [this same situation persisted during my visit a year later]. This has left the properties scrambling for income and many of the ranches now offer basic photo safaris. From Moon Rock Chishakwe Camp is a small and comfortable camp located on the bank of the Msaize river. With its 5 simply furnished thatched chalets, it blends in beautifully into the countryside. The camp was hosted by Courtney, a learner guide [who was quite learned by the time of my visit] who had spent his initial years on the hunting side of SVC. Courtney was ably supported in his role as host by a very capable staff of 4 and the adorable Boris, his Rhodesian Ridgeback mix puppy [adolescent dog by the time I visited], who won all our hearts the minute we arrived in camp. Between Boris and the wild dogs pups, it was puppy paradise at Chishakwe! Boris and me [in addition to Courtney, camp owner L J was present during my stay and she was a delightful host, making sure I always felt at home. Her 11 or 12 year old daughter did the same. L J is the founder of World Rhino Day!] Tallest baobab in the world at 27 meters - the people give it perspective There was a strong smelling carcass in this cavity, an omen of strong smelling things to come. I am wearing gaiters and Guide Courtney always wore them. One of Sangeeta’s missions was to see firsthand how photography and hunting safaris can operate in close proximity and if conversion from a hunting to an all photo concession would work. My visit offered glimpses of opportunities tempered by economic reality. First the economic reality. I was told it takes 10 photographic safari nights to equal the income of one buffalo hunt. However, hunting is a shrinking rather than a growing sport due to the high expense of hunting and the general decline in its social acceptability. Long term, some of the hunting concessions see the need to shift their focus. I saw the results of cooperation between hunting and non-hunting interests. If the dogs den on the Chishakwe property, which is often the case, then you can visit the den or the roaming pack with the Chishakwe guide for free. The pack from Chishakwe had recently left the den and moved out of the area, per the trackers who closely monitor the dogs. This could have spelled disappointment, but there is an agreement with some of the neighboring concessions to allow visits to dogs on their property. Pungwe pack denned in Sango, a concession neighboring Chishakwe, in an amazingly open area, about 25 meters from the road Neighboring concession Sango’s policy was especially amenable, and Pungwe pack’s den with late-in-the-season pups (5 weeks old at the end of Aug) was active. Guests in Chishakwe could visit dogs in Sango even if hunters were in Sango. Through communications we just had to keep out of their way. Not only could guests visit the dogs, but Sango always allowed the dog researchers to follow the pack and the hunters were made aware that they might encounter the researchers. Note the wound on the adult female’s head. Another adult was missing and never appeared during my 4 days, raising speculations about an altercation with other predators. There was an “economic reality” component to viewing dogs off the Chishakwe property, though, because a dog researcher had to accompany guests visiting other properties’ dog dens. And there was a required donation to the African Wildlife Conservation Fund of $250 per vehicle per visit. Best $250 you’ll ever spend! The fee listing, which was provided to me in written detail when I was contemplating a visit to Chishakwe, is: Viewing dogs in Chishakwe = no charge To have an AWC researcher accompany you within Chishakwe to offer their expertise = $75 per vehicle Viewing dogs, not at a den, on another property, which requires an AWC researcher = $200 per vehicle Viewing a den site on another property, which requires an AWC researcher = $250 per vehicle Having an AWC researcher join you for a meal to discuss their work = $50 The researchers referred to (at the time of this writing) are Jess and Rosemary. Here is a link to Rosemary’s interview on safaritalk. http://safaritalk.net/topic/12589-interactive-interview-rosemary-groom-field-projects-coordinator-the-african-wildlife-conservation-fund/ Unfortunately I was not able to meet Rosemary personally because she was gone. Jess was highly knowledgeable and did an outstanding job of answering my questions and patiently spending hours with me at the den. Sundown at Big Dam 1) Name of property: Chishakwe Ranch 2) Website address: http://www.mydestination.com/zimbabwe/accommodation/129128/chishakwe-ranch-river-camp 3) Date of stay: 24-28 Aug 2015 4) Length of stay: 4 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Sangeeta’s experience in here report. http://safaritalk.net/topic/13039-a-meander-through-the-zimbabwean-lowveld/ 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Doug MacDonald’s Safaris to Africa booked the accommodation and arranged the road transfer through Prosper Transfer. I had already locked in Mana Pools with Doug and then added this. Doug was quick and efficient. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 21 in Africa 8) To which countries? South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe for African Safaris 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Not comparing it to any in particular. It is very nice and very comfortable and compares very well with quality African properties. The personal touch of owner, LJ Campbell and the surprisingly mature customer relations skills of her 12 (I think)-year old daughter made for an exceptionally hospitable stay. 10) Was the property fenced? I believe there is a 300+ km fence around the conservancy but the individual properties within the conservancy are unfenced. Other than enter the gate at the road, I did not encounter any fences. 11) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? I think #1, farthest from the dining lounge on the right when facing the dining lounge. I’m not sure they even have #s here with only 5 chalets. All chalets overlook the Msaize River. 12) How comfortable was the bed - were suitable amounts of blankets/duvets/pillows provided? Lovely! Very comfortable. 13) Did you like the food? Wonderful. Such a talented chef. 14) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? Lots of food and variety. I had to ask that breakfast be curtailed because I could not eat it all. I also skipped one lunch prior to the breakfast curtailment request. 15) Can you choose where you eat, ie privately or with other guests, guides? Single tables or communal dining? Communal table. I did not inquire about other arrangements. 16) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? n/a 17) What are the game drive vehicles? They used a truck where guests sit in the back. Here is a photo, with Boris the dog, that shows one row of seats. When we were 5 guests, there were 2 rows of seats installed. Boris in front of the vehicle—Boris only went along if guests wanted canine company. He never went to the dog den. He did not bark and was marvelous company. The front row of seats had an extra hurdle to climb over on both sides, as shown here. I will mention that we had lots of punctures—at least 8. These occurred during drives, at the dog den, enroute to pick me up, and on a transfer drive to the gate. My stay was near the end of the rotation for new tires so I was driving with tires on their “last legs” before it was time to put on the new ones. Guide Courtney, in his gaiters, making a puncture repair with faithful Boris looking on, all in very nice light. For 2 visits when I was alone with Jess, the wild dog researcher, the vehicle looked like this. This is Jess’s vehicle. I am re-enacting a sighting which Jess found humorous. If there were more guests, the back bench is used.. When Courtney accompanied us to the dogs, he sat on the bench and gave me the lower, inside seat--better for photos. See 29) below for one more vehicle comment. 18) How many guests per row? Probably 3. I only sat with maximum of one other guest. 19) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? In general about 3.5 hours. Options were the wild dogs, the dams especially for sundowners, a scenic overlook known as “Moon Rock” also for sundowners, traditional game drives, plus we did two mornings of aardvark tracking/walking, and one mid-morning unofficial visit to Courtney’s home, which is one of the settings for Alexendra Fuller's biographical Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. Recommended reading for a Chishakwe visit! Courtney in front of his home, from Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. Also the kitchen, which was mentioned often in the book. 20) Are game drive times flexible? Dogs at the den are best visited early morning until about 9:30 am and then again about 3:30 pm until dusk. No definite time we had to be back. 21) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Presently it is known for wild dog sightings and partnering with The African Wildlife Conservation Fund. The Save Valley had 12-14 packs at the time of my visit in late Aug 2015. If dogs are not present on the Chishakwe property, it is possible to try to find them on neighboring properties, accompanied by an African Wildlife Conservation researcher for a fee. That's what I did. I got not good, but phenomenal sightings. I can imagine that viewing the Big 5 and other favorite species and having them all to yourselves will also become more popular for photographic safaris as Chishakwe becomes better known. 22) How was the standard of guiding? Very good. I put Courtney to the test with two fascinating mornings of aardvark tracking. Courtney was fun to be on safari with and often joined me at meals. His eagle eye confirmed that there were 15 wild dog pups when it was previously thought there were 14. He was knowledgeable on conservation and hunting issues and very swift and efficient at changing tires after a puncture. Aardvark tracks and tail markings See 29) below for comments on standard of “guesting.” 23) 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? Definitely n/a 24) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: He loved guiding and was personable. We did both driving and walking. 25) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Highly hospitable. I don’t recall any special requests. 26) Safaritalk trip report link n/a - this is it 27) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: In sum, here is what I sent LJ, the owner to use in any guest comments: Chishakwe Ranch hospitality was outstanding. It was like visiting old friends. Great food and a beautiful setting. This is a fantastic place for game viewing from a vehicle and for escorted walking in the bush to appreciate the smaller things. The wild dog experience is second to none. I can only imagine Chishakwe will become more and more attractive for photographic safaris and for nature lovers as it becomes better known. One of the small things from our walk – spider and ant. 28) Please add your photographs of the property. View of chalet from the Msaize Riverbed Dining room. If you detect a figure hiding under the table to the left, it is Courtney. Frequent residents inside decorative vases and on picture frames ---------------------- Addendum 29) Combining vehicle qualities and the standard of guest behavior… Don’t do what I did. For much of our outings either I was with Jess the researcher sitting next to her in her vehicle, or one of the Zimbabwean guests sat in back behind Courtney and signaled to stop with a knock, or we were walking and not in the vehicle, or we were stopped in a scenic area not moving, or Courtney spotted the sightings first and stopped. Near the end of my stay, for the first time, I found myself alone in the back of the truck with Courtney at the wheel and needing to signal a stop when I saw a lovely baobab as we were bouncing down the road. So I gave a hearty knock knock on the cab, not an insipid, half-hearted, weak-wristed little tap. I wanted to save Courtney from the uncertainty of wondering whether he had heard me or not. Well, there was no uncertainty in his screeching halt. “What is it?” he shouted in alarm. “I’d like a baobab photo please.” I responded sheepishly. After the photo op, I underwent some remedial training on tapping skills. A light touch is best. Some of the many photogenic baobabs in Chishakwe to be continued
  17. In 2003, I decided to see what was happening north of Selinda, while saying that the region should be similar. Although the atmosphere of the Kwando camps was different, I was not disappointed. I spent a week in Lebala & Lagoon. This trip was followed by three others in 2006, 2009 & 2011, each time including Kwara. In 2003, there were many lions, including the three males’ coalition that had dominated the Selinda pride for a few years, and wild dogs, but no leopards or cheetahs. During my four travels, I will, moreover, see, and very briefly, only very few cheetahs, at Kwara, as well as at Lebala and Lagoon. Like what, an individual reality never totally reflects THE reality of a place. There is not a single cheetah’s picture in this report. The lion population has decreased over the years. In 2011, I saw only 2 shy males feeding on the carcass of a young elephant, they had not killed, and that hastened to clear off when we arrived. In Kwara, on the other hand, the lions were still present, and continuously. Wild dogs, more discreet in Kwara, were mostly found in Lagoon, on a daily basis. As for leopards, from 2006, we could see them regularly everywhere. Elephants were everywhere, especially in Lebala. There were more great buffaloes’ herds in 2003 than in subsequent years. There were also sightings, that if not many, were regular, of smaller cats and honey badgers. May 2003 The pictures and some of 2006 are slides’ scans. Lagoon was managed by a lady who, if I remember correctly, was the wife of the chief-pilot of Moremi Air. Charles Sebaka was my guide. The camp was as I like, comfortable and without ostentatious luxury. The tents had a side entrance. It was then a small hall / dressing room with, en-suite, to the right the bathroom, and left the bedroom, facing the lagoon. I remember all this because one day, returning to my tent, I came up against something unpleasant, that, at the extreme, could have ended badly for me. More details on this a bit further. The dining room had no floor or tiles. The table and chairs were laid on the sand. Pictures taken from and around the camp. Lebala was managed, on an interim basis, by a charming young woman, Dee. Ras Mundu was my excellent guide. Ras is a brother of Barberton (BB) who was guide at Selinda. I do not quite remember the details of the camp. I imagine that the tents were to be similar to those of Lagoon. To be continued
  18. Wow! The pack was photographed just outside the park (probably in Bahr Salamat) for the first time, though they've been reported to occur in this area for a while. They don't look much like other arid-adapted Wild Dogs (compare these to the scrawny, dark animals in Ishaqbini or even in Laikipia) - lots of white and gold on their coats. https://www.facebook.com/ZakoumaNationalPark/posts/1005665132809119
  19. I spent the last 3 days of July 2013 in Laikipia Wilderness Camp as the start of a longer safari in Kenya/Tanzania. It was my first time in Kenya and LWC was the first camp visited -- what an intro to the country it was!! It seems that LWC is pretty well covered on this forum with lots of TRs, so I'm not going to spend too much time going on about logistics, etc. Day 1: Laikipia Wilderness Camp is centrally located for the wildlife action, but not as accessible as some other camps in terms of airstrips, etc - exactly the way I prefer. Anyway, given that flying into either Sosian or Loisaba airstrips would entail an hour or two of driving after an hour's flight from Nairobi and a reasonable amount of airport procedures, I figured I'd be better off (or at least the same) driving instead. At the very least even if I didn't see too much wildlife, I'd get to know the country a little better. I did the standard "tourist drive" north from Nairobi up to Nanyuki, but at this point things got interesting as we turned off the main road into the bush (eventually heading North towards Maralal I think). I first saw small numbers of Thomson's Gazelles (not present in LWC, so this area near Nanyuki is the only place to see them according to Steve) and Plains Zebras in some degraded bush just outside Nanyuki, but things got interesting as we headed deeper into Laikipia. After traversing several small ranches, we then began following the border of a ranch, which Steve informed me later, was called Naibor. I then spotted two small dik-diks drinking from a puddle next to the road. I grabbed my camera and shot off a couple of poor pictures before leaving after snatching a view of the animals in my binoculars. I was expecting Gunther's as that is the only species present in much of Laikipia but these seemed much more like Kirk's, lacking the pronounced proboscis of Gunther's. I was surprised as Kirk's has not been confirmed from the plateau but Steve informed me later that he has seen them at this same area. Shortly after, I then spotted my first Reticulated Giraffe, a beautiful animal which I stopped to admire a bit, and a Martial Eagle in a roadside tree. As we headed along Ol Jogi, I started seeing increasing numbers of Impala, Olive Baboons, and small groups of Grant's Gazelles. But one bigger surprise was in store for me. As we drove through a large area of dense, scrubby Acacia, I spotted a few slender antelopes run off into the bush; I first thought they were Impala, but then realized they were my first Gerenuk and my driver confirmed! This was a species I thought I might miss on this trip as LWC was the only area in Gerenuk habitat I was visiting, and here they are apparently rare. I was amazed at my luck regarding this sighting the rest of the day until Steve told me that he sees Gerenuk often here - he told me that if I found a Lesser Kudu though, I'd be truly lucky (he's only seen tracks in this area, probably the only place in Western Laikipia where they occur - they are common further E in Tumaren, Tassia, etc.). I also saw some Warthogs at this site which I thought might be Desert at first due to their small size and habitat; I was later informed by Steve that there are no confirmed sightings of Desert Warthog in Laikipia and these animals are Common Warthog, which can be very to tricky to differentiate sometimes. We continued onto the Mpala Plains past the main bridge, where I saw more of the same species (except Gerenuk and Kirk's Dik-dik of course), plus a distant herd of Beisa Oryx - my first of the species. It turned out that this small, far-off group of 4 animals was the only sighting I would have of this species as it is apparently quite rare in the area around LWC. My next goal was to try to find a Greater Kudu, one of my main targets for LWC, but all concerns about kudu subsided when I found out we were back at a place we had passed earlier and my driver didn't really know which turn to take to get to camp. We called Steve at LWC, and he sent a staff member on a motorbike, who found us and led us back to camp. We had a bit of a late lunch with Steve (due to the unexpected detour along the way) after meeting our fabulous guide, Barend. My main question was the Wild Dogs, which Steve seemed a little apprehensive about as he hadn't seen them in a couple of days and feared they might be deep into the next ranch, Mpala, which he doesn't have free traversing rights for anymore. After finishing lunch, I returned to my room for a few hours before coming back out for a snack. I met Steve and Barend here again and both were looking off into the distance, watching the heavy downpour over the escarpment to the South. Steve told me there would be a change in plans for the evening - as instead of taking a longer drive up to the escarpment (with our dinner), the best area for night drives, we would stick to the area along the river (the rocky road to the top of the escarpment is too tricky to drive with recent heavy rain). I was a little disappointed, but knew no one was at fault here so hoped that the shorter drive might deliver too. We set off for our drive with dark clouds overhead, but got our first lucky break barely a minute from the leaving camp; on the track towards the river, Mugambe spotted 3 Defassa Waterbuck in an area of tall brush. We weren't in a position for pictures, but got great views at the animals moving through the tall grass and dense Combretum. I was happy to hear that these are difficult to see in the area - it's always great to stumble upon something unexpected. I was interested to notice that these were Defassa, not Common even though they are East of the Rift escarpment (the general pattern is Common to the East, Defassa to the West), but it turns out that Laikipia is an exception!! **Interestingly, I saw lots of Defassa Waterbuck the next year at Lewa Downs, much lower in elevation and further East in Laikipia as well - this was an area I was expecting Common in but apparently even up to the Samburu reserve complex you can see Defassa characteristics in the animals (birding tour groups have recorded hybrids in Buffalo Springs). As we arrived at the river, there was slight drizzle in the air but concern subsided when we soon found a group of African Bush Elephants coming down to drink at the Ewaso Narok. We walked down to the river opposite the elephants, following Joseph's lead. The rushing river, drinking Elephants, drizzle, tall grass, and breeze made the moment truly sublime. At this point, 3 Hippos cruised into the shallows not far from us. Not a species that I was expecting to find here in this rocky and fast river, but apparently they are commonly seen here. At this point, we continued into denser brush as the sun set, spotting lots of Guenther's Dik-diks, African Savanna Hares (they call this animal "Scrub Hare" here, but true Scrub Hares are native to Namibia/SA!), and my first flocks of wonderfully iridescent Vulturine Guineafowl (pictures are poor due to dim light though). As darkness fell Joseph pulled out the spotlight and started scanning for wildlife in the dense bush. I was hoping for a Side-striped Jackal, Zorilla, or African Wildcat, but Joseph shocked me when he quietly said "Caracal." As I stumbled around trying to get a look, the animal moved into the open a little more and Joseph and I realized it was probably just a Bush Duiker. Oops!! As we continued back to camp, we saw lots of Dik-diks, Hares, and Nightjars along the road, but little big wildlife, but this changed abruptly when 8 Eland dashed off into the bush next to the car, giving great views - the closest I had during the course of my stay. We then headed to a den which was apparently occupied by a family of Spotted Hyenas, but were shocked to pull up and see a Common Warthog dash out! Seems either the Hyenas have left or he is an incredible lucky tenant to leave that burrow alive!! At this point the wildlife came thick and fast as we started seeing large groups of Impalas, then a Common Genet and a White-tailed Mongoose foraging very close to each other. We then hit a big break when Barend spotted a small herd of Plains Zebras trailed by 2 magnificent Grevy's Zebra stallions - a truly magnificent sight and my first sighting of this species (lots of firsts/"lifers" for me here!). I was a little surprised to see Grevy's mixing with Plain's like this but apparently the species have hybridized in the past and there is one hybrid animal that crosses into LWC's ranch (Ol Doinyo Lemboro) occasionally from Sosian. As we neared camp, we checked a burrow at the entrance that is home to a Crested Porcupine, but no luck - only some freshly shed quills at the entrance. I was really happy at this point as the only primary herbivore target I had left for Laikipia was East African Greater Kudu -- so now I could focus on Wild Dogs and nocturnal species. Since Steve and Barend informed me that there was a female kudu that could often be observed on the kopje behind camp, I figured I'd have plenty of opportunities to look for her at some point in my stay. After such a long day, all I needed at this point was some rest!
  20. Saw this recently on the Ndutu Lodge facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.825667707547243.1073741922.430197203760964&type=3 - seems like they have local Wild Dogs with pups now. Wow!
  21. A great new for conservation, something I was expecting. African Parks decided to take over Chinkou project management. http://africageographic.com/blog/african-parks-takes-over-management-of-protected-area-in-central-african-republic/ Chinkou is a huge area of CAR within a 70.000 km2 without any villages. African Parks willl control 17.000 km2 currently managed for trophy hunting. Let's hope African Parks will soon take over other huge areas in Central and Western Africa. I know they were involved in Gambela survey with other NGOs in Ethiopia. Any information is welcomed. http://www.chinkoproject.com
  22. Ok guys be gentle with me, this is my first trip report! A short summary, impressions, maybe some helpful information and some photos from my trip last October/November to Kenya. Green season (not so busy, also not so expensive) and a return trip but visiting parks which were new to me. Basic schedule was 2 nights Lake Elementaita /Lake Nakuru (Sleeping Warrior Camp) 3 nights Samburu (Elephant Bedroom Camp) 4 nights Laikipia (Laikipia Wilderness Camp) And to end my trip 6 nights on Zanzibar to (finally) visit Stone Town and for some R&R after the wildlife, Why I hadn't managed to see Stone Town on my previous visit is a story for another time.,,,,,,for that you will have to wait Impressions. Most importantly I totally lucked out with my guides. Apart from Laikipia which I had chosen because I knew I would have good guides this was more by luck than judgement! As I am serious about my woldlife I wasn't going to tag on a few gane drives in between lazing by the pool or having a facial. Nope I was going first and foremost for the wildlife and birdlife! Therefore my guides made this a truly memorable trip. Their knowledge, experience and intuition meant I had some fantastic sightings. I chose three new parks to experience different habitats, eco-systems and to see new species. High point was always going to be the wild dogs in Laikipia. But I also wanted to see African Rhino for the first time. The camps were not completely my choice, I went with the advice of my travel agent. He had also spent time at LWC and was so enthusiastic that I knew I had made the right choice there. Sleeping Warrior was really a stop off point to visit Lake Nakuru NP. I ended up in the lodge instead of the camp as it was closed for the start of the short rains. The lodge was a tad more luxurious than my usual camp! I have the impression that it is more a place to kick back and relax with the odd game drive thrown in. Their morning game drives are not usually scheduled to start before 9am! View from the lodge was spectacular, overlooking the Sleeping Warrior crator (which you can climb.) From my cottage (huge, by the way!) I got an excellent view of one of the waterholes. Food was excellent but way too much for me: cooked breakfast, 3 course lunch and 4 course dinner. I was really pleased I wasn't staying longer, I would have gained kilo's If going to the lodge I would check for national holidays/long weekends, it gets packed with residents from Nairobi coming up for the weekend. The co-owner Jacqueline was fantastic, nothing was too much trouble and she manages the lodge very very well. Her hisband who had designed and helped build the place was unfortunately away so I didn't get to meet him. . I did one afternoon game drive in the Soysamba Conservency. The lodge is the only camp/lodge in the conservency so no danger of being overrun by other vehicles. They also arranged a proper night drive (starting 9pm).for me. Lots and lots of birdlife, zebra, Rothschild giraffe, golden and black backed jackal, buffalo, hippo, impala, Thomson and Grant's gazelle and yes, a leopard. A fleeting glimpse of it stalking through the bushes but I saw one, Night drive was pretty quiet but Spring hares were spotted leaping or is that bouncing around! A new species for me! Day in Lake Nakuru NP was great. The lodge did take some persuasion to leave earlier than 9am but as I had booked sole use of vehicle and guide I eventually got there a bit earlier. The black rhino were elusive but in total I spotted 7 white rhino, one lion (high up a tree....Uganda isn't the only place with tree climbing lions then!) and the usual suspects of buffalo, gazelle, dik dik, jackal, zebra, giraffe, impala etc etc. There are a few more flamingo on the lake but defintely not the high numbers in years gone by. Water levels were retreating so they were hoping for more to come back from further north as lower levels meant more algae for them to eat. So I got my wish to see African Rhino. The way things are going with poaching I count myself very lucky! My guide on all drives and my day in Nakuru was John. Knowledgeable, personable. Very good! Ok, that is part one. It's not very short afterall Thank goodness fior my notebook from the trip! Photos coming up but am going to post this in case I lose it all.
  23. http://www.iol.co.za/scitech/science/environment/on-the-trail-of-africa-s-wild-dogs-1.1874391#.VZV0ZXi1-PM This article from the Pretoria News explains the steep challenges for wild dogs, which require substantial habitat in which to roam. Brendan Whittington-Jones lived in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi game park in KwaZulu-Natal, monitoring and protecting wild dogs.
  24. 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.
  25. Having aborted our trip during October last year, due to non availability of permits, we had resolved to get permits for Bhandhavgarh well in advance which we did in December for a a visit during march end. After researching all reports, i got 5 permits for Tala zone. we packed our bags and started off by road to Bhandhavgarh, about 1250 kms from where we live. On the way we stopped at Indore and then Bedaghat, near Jabalpur- a nice place on the banks of the river Narbada. The marble rocks are scenic and the waterfall is quite awesome, the short drop being made up by the huge volume. () We reached Bhandhavgarh on 27th evening and checked into Jungle mantra, a nice resort run by Rhea and Shalin, Shalin had already arranged for the gypsy jeeps and guides based on our permits and we were off the next morning at 5.45 am. While during the next 3 trips we sighted a lot of birds and some animals, the tiger was elusive. to add to my misery, sightings were now taking place in zone 2 every day ( for which we had no permits) and none in zone 1 ( where we had permits!) On the forth trip, our guide a smart person declared that we wait besides a waterhole and after a wait of some 90 minutes we got our first sighting. A tigress coming out of the grass for her evening meal. () Truly a magnificent sight. Patience pays! The light was failing and i had to crank up the ISO much to my chagrin, but better to get a picture with noise rather than no picture. Well, photographers can never be satisfied- thats what keeps us going. () The next day we managed to get permits for zone 2 (Magadhi) and we saw a tigress with her two cubs. There was a rumour that she had three but a poacher had killed one of them. Some thing needs to be done about these poachers, if the story is true. The sighting was not very good since the cubs and the mother did not come out from the thick bamboo. However on the next day we got a reasonably good sighting of the same family, We had unseasonal showers and the jungle was cool- not the right conditions for tiger sighting. But that apart, there is something about the jungle that gets you. Once in, you are hooked. we drove to Panna after 5 days and were lucky to sight Dholes. Then it was the long haul to back home ' ( i am not sure whether my photos are embedded between texts and hence i shall post them again as attachments)

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