Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
modleski

Kwando and Selinda trip report, June 6-15, 2017

73 posts in this topic

Genevieve, who took all the photos on our trip, and I had been on one other safari two years ago in South Africa. We loved it, but then we wanted something a little wilder. So after much research (a lot of it on Africa Travel Resource), we chose three camps, two in the Kwando area—Little Kwara and Lagoon—and Selinda Explorers. I joined Safaritalk to make sure I had chosen wisely and was reassured by a couple of experts that these were great selections. I know a lot of people claim that their photographs aren’t as professional looking as others in Trip Reports, but our camera really was inexpensive and looked very small compared to the huge equipment with giant telephoto lenses everyone else in our vehicles were wielding. Madaboutcheetah and Wilddog and a few others urged me to post nevertheless, and I am happy to share our experience and hope to convey our sense of awe and wonder at our various sightings, some of which pale by comparison to the kills and matings seen in other reports. But enough disclaimers.

 

Our itinerary was: Los Angeles to Frankfurt to Johannesburg to Maun to Little Kwara. The safari began on June 6, and we spent three nights in each camp. After 40 hours of traveling we hopped, bleary eyed, into a vehicle and our first sighting was something we had tried so hard not to count on seeing: wild dogs!! In fact, out first shot was of the pregnant alpha female, who with the other dogs were beginning to hunt as night fell. They were spread out, but then they came together and started barking wildly, and it turned out they were attacking a hyena. They were behind a tree so we couldn’t get a good photo, though we have video in which you can hear the blood curdling screams of the hyena (who was not killed and later was spotted lurking nearby). Our guide looked up, and spotted the source of the commotion below—a leopard in a tree with an impala, most of it eaten. Presumably there was some competition for the scraps. Needless to say our eyes were no longer bleary but wide open with astonishment.

 

Our guide Tom was mock-worried that he had set the bar so high so quickly that the remainder of the trip would disappoint!

 

 

P6063687.thumb.jpg.c23725a34c2cfd988fc259d836a0efc3.jpgP6063670.thumb.jpg.f474069e8ab4b13c7d3ed86cfb647dae.jpg

 

P6063709.thumb.jpg.bf3f1297ad26df08b07d20c7fc8b95ae.jpg

 

 

The next morning began peacefully with some pleasant sightings: baboons posed picturesquely in a tree at dawn. (We were not quite as taken with them when they used our tent as a trampoline during naptime.) Then a two-headed tsessebe :-) a single tsessebe, a side-striped jackal, a lechwe posed in its native environment, a hamerkop, and ostriches. The female looks so delicate and flirtatious.

 

P6063760.thumb.jpg.a3b68af5f7ab8c2144ad6bedce8af703.jpgP6063776.thumb.jpg.b14c710b76110975b012176ce0798122.jpgP6063786.thumb.jpg.b353dfc6a8d77c464a0c91691c2df8b6.jpgP6073896.thumb.jpg.591a563a62077d1031e9acd7e23a9e60.jpgP6073901.thumb.jpg.ff3712e39ac046185b4b1c8d2c25c111.jpgP6073931.thumb.jpg.8557a33f573ebdd8f16d6e4350736664.jpgP6073980.thumb.jpg.bb40d9df3a4b2a08de600ed9ce106d28.jpgP6074002-1.thumb.jpg.b87bd45bffd3127558a401284e220d27.jpg

 

 

As with the wild dogs, we had tried not to get our hopes up too high about seeing a cheetah. But on the first full day, a cheetah! It seems the cheetah brothers that had reigned for so long in this area had been pushed out by two young male cheetahs, then, not being from the same litter, the new ones went their separate ways. This one was well fed and had obviously just fed.

 

 

P6074115.thumb.jpg.4df13836a6c0df389d3a1cf51b69cf5b.jpg

 

P6074060.thumb.jpg.36d0194e5272e898cb80c4e2787f7ef9.jpgP6074101.thumb.jpg.a6bcb5be8e6eb88cc7c3de64562a9f86.jpg

 

A fabulous end to our first full day on safari. 

P6063808.jpg

26 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome start!!!  

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a welcome!

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well these photos are nowhere near as bad as threatened. :P

 

Great at start to the trip. Amazing. And do just tell it all - you'll probably not give madaboutcheetah much new info but me and many others haven't been to these camps so we would be newbies just like you if we did. And June is an interesting time of year there - how were conditions? 

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, a great start. Thank you for sharing. 

 

I am in the process of planning a couple of trips to Africa for this year... going back to Kwando is high on the list. Its funny.... I'm usually a person who wants to try different areas, and different caps for Safaris. Lagoon / Lebala are ones that are the exception for me.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, what an entrance - Dogs, Leopard and Cheetah - fabulous stuff! (And your photos are absolutely fine.) I was there in 2014, your report really makes me want to return! Looking forward to more.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A great start - I am glad you were persuaded to post. SOme great sightings and photos so soon!. I would welcome some camp details as I have never been to these camps.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are all very kind. Thank you so much for the encouragement. 

 

@michael-ibk I sure am happy to know I was able to inspire someone to want to return!

 

@pault The dry season was upon us, but the grasses, though dry, were very tall--I would think yellow-brown grasses would make for better camouflage for the animals than the green grasses of summer, no? The lions were the exact color of the grass, for example. A friend we met last safari, who is a regular safari-goer, said that he always goes in the winter and would never go at any other time. "Africa, to me, is blond." That statement has stayed with me. By the time we got to Lagoon, various migrating animals, like the buffalo, were coming in. The Selinda spillway was slowly filling by the time we got there on the 11th. Folks were just about able to canoe a fairly short distance.

 

I was a little worried about the cold at night, but the afternoons heated up the tents so much that sleeping was very comfortable. The mornings were cold, but I rather liked that. I love getting all wrapped up and then gradually discarding the outer layers as the sun warms you up. At Little Kwara and Lagoon in the winter you are woken at 6 to get breakfast (porridge over an open fire, warm muffins, yogurt, fruit) at 6:30 and then you get going around 7, which struck me as a little late even in winter, especially for camps that have such a rugged reputation. At Explorers we left at 6:30 or earlier and had breakfast in the bush.

 

@TonyQ I will try to give details of camps as I go along. At Little Kwara we were jet lagged and so swept away by the sightings and all that we neglected to take pictures of the camp. The tents were the simplest of the three, but more than adequate, large with large comfy beds which prohibited sleep only when a huge bunch of baboons jumped up and down on the top of our tent, swinging into the trees and back, screeching and sliding down, and looking in at us mockingly (at least I thought they were mocking, but maybe it was just anthropomorphizing paranoia lol. Our diary calls it "the afternoon of the baboon terror").

 

What we appreciated about the Kwando camps is that Kwando is a "100% citizen owned company," operated and run by citizens. That was not true at Selinda. I am sure you know of the online site Africa Travel Resource, but I am amazed at how accurately their detailed descriptions of the camps and their pictures captured the look and feel of the camps and the nature of the activities.

 

Take the above for what they are: the musings of a newbie. 

 

 

 

 

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@modleski Great images, great writing, great report so far. You mentioned about videos: the best thing to do is upload them to a video hosting site, eg Youtube, Vimeo, etc., and then copy and paste the video's URL into the post.

 

Thanks, Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Our next day at Little Kwara began with the announcement that leopard tracks had been seen by our tents, so all the five vehicles combined from Little Kwara and Kwara (a somewhat larger camp; Little Kwara has only 5 tents) spread out to look for it—rather like wild dogs spread out in their search for game. We stopped by a hyena den on our way. It was quite active. We got shots of an adult hyena and a young hyena clearly just awake from its nap. A mother watched her little baby gambol, but it was too active for us to get a good picture. I love the soulful eyes of the adult hyena, much maligned by Disney, though capable at times of unseating the lion “king.” (One of our friends told us that her little boy came home from school talking about how much the other children hated hyenas—and therefore he did too!)

 

P6074183.thumb.jpg.6dc3f83c3b22a0578d6964c24e845b7c.jpgP6074196.thumb.jpg.ee20021c73385672d41fc962fab3931c.jpg

 

 

We learned that the rule at Kwara (common, I believe?) is that only three vehicles were allowed at a time at any given sighting, and we were third to come upon the leopard. Thinking that his next meal was somewhere over the rainbow?

 

P6074234.thumb.jpg.ce89518a7dfad9d238e1143aa3686fa6.jpg

 

It was almost as if he decided to pose for a few photos to get us to move on and leave him be.

 

P6074257.thumb.jpg.8e586b57fb06409cb7382cd20454c86a.jpgP6074263.thumb.jpg.171f38eb964b938e6d6fb7b583f10258.jpg

P6074265.thumb.jpg.89c109e9ffc28a999f2d078ca86a22a2.jpg

 

Then, as morning came to an end, this . . .

 

P6084279.thumb.jpg.c0676f25e3e7687caf9c0aa41f2e5895.jpg

 

Edited by modleski
18 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@modleski - who were your camp managers at the 3 camps?  Oh and your trackers were?  Thanks - enjoying the report!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The manager of Little Kwara was Leso, who was charming and fun; of Lagoon, Levo (not totally sure of her name but she was very attentive and professional); and of Selinda Explorers, Michelle and Gerard, a young married couple who had been there for only two weeks. When Genny was not feeling well one day, they plied her with a special tea that worked to bring down her fever and, basically, cured her. They were gentle and kind folks.

 

As for our trackers and guides, we loved them all:

 

Tom (guide) with whom we felt a special bond and Mike (tracker)

 

Josiah (not the legendary Spencer but we thought he was fabulous) and Oti (tracker--again, not quite sure of the spelling). We thought Oti was great and felt that he was well on his way to becoming a guide. 

 

At Selinda, only Oaks as guide--no tracker. But he seemed to perform both roles admirably, especially on night drives when we saw some smaller cats (of which we have few pictures because our camera wasn't up to night shooting--though we got a few videos). Oats was the most emotional of the three guides, in the sense that he talked with great love of the country and spoke nostalgically to us of his youth. 

 

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

So glad you had Lesso and Lebo - they are both amazing!  Good to know Lesso is back!

 

Sorry I'm not familiar with your guides at Lagoon - might be new. 

 

I'm sure you were well looked after in Selinda too - they have very very high service standards both in camp and in the field.

Edited by madaboutcheetah
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@modleski follow up to my post #9 - see you had already managed to embed video into your report. Great stuff. Matt.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

In the afternoon we went out on the motor boat to heron island, where not much was happening at this time of year, but the sunset was gorgeous, the ride out was very peaceful, and our birder companions enjoyed some nice sightings.

 

P6084329.thumb.jpg.6ba4f61b5840a13c054fa8cf5d643786.jpg

 

In case you wondered what we look like:

 

P6084339.thumb.jpg.87fdef8946235e930ee1b9756e66c6f3.jpg

P6084340.thumb.jpg.afb3b47cfbd05369868475b9bd3022ed.jpg

 

Seriously, we had been warned to protect ourselves from midges on the way back—hence the get-up. (As you can see were in the latest fashion with our Kwando buffs. Make sure you purchase yours on your next visit.) We were glad we heeded our guide Tom’s advice; others didn’t and were mercilessly pinged in their faces the whole ride back.

Edited by modleski
9 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:ph34r: :)

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The next morning we saw two lion brothers in the distance and got closer up to one of them. Also: our cheetah was passing by!  A short while later we got the briefest glimpse of him far off chasing an impala, which got away.

 

P6094385.thumb.jpg.a1453b74382956250d32813c2598c2d5.jpgP6094390.thumb.jpg.d1c518267465d5ca5922955501924172.jpg

 

 

P6094406.thumb.jpg.8995ae3b05cc5ddd5f7c46d4f437e299.jpg

8 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Then it was time to head to Lagoon.

 

On our first drive, in the afternoon, we encountered a sight that was for me one of the most impactful scenes of the safari—a group of lions, part of a larger pride, on a giraffe kill. They consisted of a mother and two cubs being introduced to meat eating:

 

P6094442.thumb.jpg.7db523a52a6f0e34bfd7188ee27193b7.jpg

P6094480.thumb.jpg.72b310ba912b19af7801971132eed785.jpg

 

There were also a female sub-adult and a male sub-adult—a sister and brother, we were told. Apparently they were from a different pride, but, the story went, the male had been kicked out of his pride and the sister went with him, and the two attached themselves to this pride. The female rolled around and around in ecstasy at having so much food to eat. The male, in the foreground, had eaten, but shortly made it clear he was ready for second helpings. The mother, anxious for her cubs to get their share, warned him away.

 

P6094471.thumb.jpg.5ea5c4b369ef711984988287cc2955dd.jpg

 

P6094488.thumb.jpg.a34f4400ee21dc6f6c66b54532d2108e.jpg

 

He rolled over submissively, only to inch closer to the food. The mother was not fooled and kept a strict eye on him and continued to growl and snarl.

 

P6094505.thumb.jpg.c6d79814078e064bb851145c8fa14466.jpgP6094499.thumb.jpg.78e119fed179d87ba3ef2df684be65c1.jpg

 

We sat watching these fascinating family/group dynamics for a long time. So much drama, I could have stayed all day

13 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@madaboutcheetah

 

Hari, Michelle and Gerhard were transfered from Main Camp where they were assisting Noxy but perhaps you now that already?

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@modleski You had some great sightings, and in so little time. Luck was on your side. Now, where are you planning to go next? :)

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm open to ideas :) and have been looking at trip reports, but of course we can't help but think nostalgically of going back to these places. And from the trip reports it seems Kwando is favored by a lot of those experts who frequently visit Botswana.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Bush dog said:

@madaboutcheetah

 

Hari, Michelle and Gerhard were transfered from Main Camp where they were assisting Noxy but perhaps you now that already?

Thanks, Mike .... Gobo was assisting Noxy when I went to main camp in 2016

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amazing sightings! The leopard photos are particularly remarkable.

Your story about the little kids hating hyenas is breaking my heart!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know. It made us mad. The boy's Mom (though not a safari person by any means) was upset about this. We were talking about ways to counter Disney's pernicious influence.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That night on the way back to camp we saw more cats, including a leopard cub in a tree. We could see it best by taking a video:

 

 

7 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


© 2006 - 2017 www.safaritalk.net - Talking Safaris and African Wildlife Conservation since 2006. Passionate about Africa.