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Kingfisher Safaris

Botswana 2014

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I have just arrived back from a stunning trip to Botswana camping in the Okavango. Our itinerary was as follows:

 

3 x nights Kaziikini campsite, Sankoyo Trust

3 x nights Third Bridge, Moremi Game Reserve

3 x nights Khwai, Khwai Development Trust, Mogotho site

2 x nights Ghoha Hills Savuti Lodge, Chobe National Park

 

I will continue this report over the next few weeks as I catch up with work after my return. I will start with a little taster photo from Kaziikini campsite. As we were self-driving we paid to enter the Santawani private concession with our escort guide, KG, from the Sankoyo village Trust.

 

Our first drive, not 2 kms from the camp we found a huge herd of Buffalo at a waterhole just off the main road that runs from Maun to south gate and as we had an escort guide we were allowed to go off road to the sighting.

 

post-17608-0-40567500-1403012002_thumb.jpg

 

As we were watching the Buffalo two Hyena ran past from behind the hole and we then noticed the Vultures and found this dead Giraffe.

 

post-17608-0-27716200-1403012035_thumb.jpg

 

There will be more to come when I get the chance.

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Let me explain a little more about Kaziikini campsite. As I think you have realised it is a community owned campsite some 30 minutes drive from South Gate in the Moremi Game Reserve. You can either visit the park for P120.00 per person per day or you can have an escort guide take you around the Santawani private concession for P60 per person per game drive and each drive lasts about 4 hours.

 

This concession is stunning and the wildlife is superb and when you add in the fact someone who knows the roads very well is showing you the area, the experience is almost as good as a luxury lodge. I like this system as it means you can focus your drives on your own particular interests.

 

As I've already mentioned we saw a huge herd of Buffalo, a dead Giraffe, a few Hyena and some general game before we had entered the concession proper. The drive from the campsite is about 20 minutes along the main road which runs from Maun to south gate.

 

Our first sighting was of Giraffe and there were a lot of them, and this would be a continued theme throughout the whole trip.

 

post-17608-0-03714000-1403111610_thumb.jpg

 

We spent about an hour seeing some general game with our first Elephant of the trip. As we were driving along, our guide, who was sat on in the guest seats of the game drive vehicle I had borrowed from a friend said he thought he had seen a Leopard, so we went off road, it being a private area we were allowed to do so, and much to my surprise, our first sighting was not a Leopard but a Cheetah with three cubs.

 

post-17608-0-25447700-1403111901_thumb.jpg

 

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Great stuff, Martin! Looking forward to hearing about Ghoha Hills. How does this work on a mobile with you? Can people spend a couple of days here and there at lodges if they like?

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@@Sangeeta Unfortunately no we don't book mobiles on a F.I.T basis, you would have to join a whole trip of 6, 9 or 12 nights.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks, Martin!

 

Another quick question - Do you have any Bots-side KTP mobile group trips in the offing at all?

Edited by Sangeeta

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@@Sangeeta No we don't go to Kalahari Transfrontier Park as it is so far away from our base in Maun and makes it very difficult to make a profit. We would, of course, be more than happy to do a bespoke trip for a group but it would need to be a minimum of 6 clients for 6 nights.

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Posted (edited)

The afternoon saw us head back to the Santawani concession.

 

We came across many Giraffe and general Plains game and after a short drive we saw some fellow self-drivers with their own Escort Guide who told us of some Male Lions lazing around a few kms away, so we went on our way in search of our first Lions of the trip. We found them and, as usual, they were lying around not really doing much.

post-17608-0-08597300-1403523199_thumb.jpg

 

We didn't spend too long at the Lion sighting as there was not much chance of them getting up and moving until after dark. We carried on and saw some more general Game including Ostrich, Zebra, Tsessebe, Giraffe, Kudu and more. We ended back in camp after dark where oue Chef, Thaelo, had dinner almost ready.

 

That night it was very cold indeed and we found our milk and water slightly frozen in the morning. We decided to head back to Maun and get more blankets and a thick coat. It is a little unusual for it to be that cold at this time of year and the coat I had taken was not quite warm enough and Maun was only an hour's drive away.

 

When we returned we decided to go back to the Santawani concession with our escort guide, KG. We headed onto the main road and after 5 minutes came across a Game Drive vehicle and the guide told us to leave the road where we saw his vehicle tracks and we would find something interesting. Sure enough we found the sighting:

 

post-17608-0-92464900-1403524135_thumb.jpg

 

This male Cheetah was not in the concession as such but just off the main road, and this area once would have been considered as the hunting area, although they would never have hunted this close to the road. So far the trip was superb as we had already seen 5 Cheetah. In my estimation it is likely that this Cheetah was the Father of the three young cubs we had seen the day before as this, in a straight line, would have been only 25kms or so from the previous sighting.

 

This Male had a bid of a roll around in the sand and after a while he got up and looked interested in hunting. There were several Impala at a dry waterhole only 50m away and he seemed interested in them and moved off after a staring at them for a while. We thought he was stalking them as he walked off but he crossed the road into the concession. Our guide said we could follow him off road as went to hunt but we decided against it as we had spent quite a while with him and thought it was best to give him the best chance of a kill without us blundering along behind him as they have tough time of it anyway.

 

On entering the concession some 25 minutes later we saw some more general game including many Giraffe. After a while we saw a vehicle we assumed to be a self-drive vehicle at a sighting off the road, so we went over to have a look. It turned out that it was a research vehicle from the Botswana Predator research group. Usually you would not follow a research vehicle but as they had their young families with them and were, effectively, on a game drive like us I did not feel guilty. This spot was only about 200m from our previous sighting of the female Cheetah and cubs so we knew what we were in for. The researchers told us she had made a kill that morning so they were all happy and healthy.

 

post-17608-0-04871400-1403524928_thumb.jpg

 

After a while we carried on with more general game until around a corner came a Hyena

 

post-17608-0-82975100-1403525161_thumb.jpg

 

A great afternoon on safari and we headed back to camp only to come across at least two male Lions in the road.

 

http://youtu.be/octMQxJkqkE

 

If you listen carefully you can hear one Lion calling at the end. They were much closer than the sound suggests as i took the video on my cell phone. A great way to cap off a great day.

 

Below is the video of the Vultures from the previous day

 

Edited by Kingfisher Safaris
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Not sure what's gone wrong with the video but I'm enjoying reading this report. What beautiful cheetah cubs.

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@@twaffle Yes I think you might have been a little quick off the mark as I was trying to figure out how to embed it in the post. Please have another look and let me know if you can see and hear it as it should work now. Thanks for the nice comments.

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Ah yes, I was a bit too keen. All working now thanks. :)

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Thanks for the info on the concession. We spent a night at Kaziikini in 2012, but never new about the concession!

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Posted (edited)

The next day we were travelling from Kaziikini campsite to Third Bridge in the Moremi Game Reserve. We left late to meet our guide, Pilot Manga at South Gate and we would then travel in convoy with his vehicle and our Game Drive Vehicle.

 

Whilst waiting for Pilot at South Gate - He was on a trip with clients - we came across this cheeky little chap at the South Gate picnic site. The reason he is so bold is that the Tourists who come through here often feed them, which, of course, they shouldn't.

 

 

Whilst at the picnic site we left the cab windows of the vehicle open and when I heard some noise coming from that direction I went to investigate and found this:

 

 

It seems this Hornbill couldn't figure out where the one behind the mirror was so continued to peck at the mirror and window seals until i turned the mirror down.

 

Pilot eventually turned up, his clients having left a little late and we headed to Third Bridge. Here is the crossing. A bit bumpy.

 

Edited by Kingfisher Safaris
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Our first morning in Third bridge started with tracking the Lions we had heard the night before. They had headed off towards Mboma Island so we followed the loop road that went past the turn off for the Island. It was reasonably quiet in this area and we did not come across the Lion, just some plains game, some birds and a breeding herd of Elephant. As we came across the Elephants in the road we startled them somewhat and one of the adults with a young baby was not happy with us and gave a little chase, nothing too serious but a swift getaway was wise.

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After the drive we headed back to camp for a wonderful Lunch prepared by our excellent Chef, Thaelo. It never fails to impress me what she can cook on an open fire, no matter how many times I've seen her do it.

 

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During our Lunch we were visited by a Breeding Herd of Elephant. This is unusual as they would normally avoid going anywhere near people but these ones had obviously been hanging around this campsite for a long time as they were very relaxed. Unbelievably I stood only metres away whilst a baby suckled from its Mother.

 

 

post-17608-0-70284500-1404206075_thumb.jpg

 

That afternoon we headed out around the area of Third Bridge gate again. It was a relatively quiet afternoon with some general game until we drove around a corner and came across this lying in the road.

 

post-17608-0-18081800-1404206453_thumb.jpg

 

As it was still quite hot it was obvious he was not going anywhere so we continued on our drive not coming across too much except a very, very grumpy male Hippo in a waterhole on his own. As it was getting dark we headed back to camp with a quick stop at the Lion who had not moved a muscle. Another excellent Dinner followed by me finding a Hippo sleeping 8 metres from my tent at 4.30am, which was exciting.

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Posted (edited)

The next morning we started early as usual and headed out through the Third bridge gate. Just as we went around the first waterhole I spotted a vehicle some distance off at a sighting but could not make out what the animal was and as we got closer (it wasn't far enough away to bother with the Binoculars) we all realised it was Wild Dog, our first of the trip. Initially there was just the one and he was intently looking in one direction. We thought he was probably looking at prey but could not see any and he appeared to be on his own, thus unlikely to be hunting.

 

post-17608-0-92435900-1404393690_thumb.jpg

 

 

After a few minutes, as I was sitting in the back of the vehicle, I noticed there were several more dogs lying down in the grass close to him.

Eventually we figured out he was waiting for the rest of the pack to return from a hunt (we found their tracks an hour or so later).

 

post-17608-0-52389900-1404393911_thumb.jpg

 

As it warmed up the rest of the dogs became more active and then they started moving more vigorously as the rest of the pack arrived and spent some time greeting each other in that special way the dogs have.

 

http://youtu.be/wXDbF_YHJSU

 

After they had greeted each other they went out hunting again and we followed them the best we could, not being able to go off-road as they went through the public campsite to the shock of at least one set of campers. After a while they headed off where we couldn't follow them. We spoke to one of the guides from Xakanaxa Camp and he told us about a sighting in that area, so we left the Dogs and headed to the Xakanaxa side. After we came back, our Chef, Thaelo, told us the Dogs came through our campsite and killed an Impala just a short distance away which became evident after dark as the Hyena were circling.

 

http://youtu.be/_tSwN4n4ECU

Edited by Kingfisher Safaris
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