madaboutcheetah

Kwando Lebala/Lagoon - August/Sept 2012

65 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Dear All,

 

Just back to reality after a lovely Kwando safari in Botswana.

 

As usual, my Thanks to my friends and guides - Spencer and Mr.Moe for all their skill and dedication to providing a great safari viewing experience. Thanks also to the wonderful camp management and hospitality at both Lebala and Lagoon camps run so efficiently by, Lebo and Charles (Lebala) and OB and Thuso at Lagoon. Fun times, Indeed!!!

 

This trip was all dogs and cheetahs for me ........ can hardly complain. At Lebala the pack had moved dens to the concession and great fun watching the interaction with the 9 puppies. Dogs setting off to hunt etc etc.,

 

Likewise, the Lagoon pack too in sublime form - moved dens a little more South (probably fleas at den) to the Zebra Pan area on the fringe of the mopane. Unfortunately, they went off hunting into the mopane everyday - but, great social interaction at the new densite. They were hunting buffalo on a regular basis when based from the old den, when they used to set off to the flood plains where the buffalo herds are at the moment. Guess they are doing kudu and warhog now. 18 dogs with 9 puppies here. With a large pack of this size, they are always doing something or the other.

 

Cheetah brothers doing well. Have been temporarily seperated the past two weeks. They are getting closer to the re-union as two brothers seem to be sniffing at the trail of the lead brother. All hunting and feeding well on kudu and impala. Saw two brothers take down a female kudu the other morning. They have been calling out in hope of the re-union ....... at one stage, they were over 50Kms apart. One brother way South near Twin Pools and the other brother way north in the upper Kwando. Still, always unpredictable and that's why they are my brothers ........... sleep all day when you think they are going to be active and then when unexpected, whack a kudu at 8am and let you get back to camp in time for brunch and a shower!!!!

 

Leopard and cub (smallest cub I've ever seen) right behind Lebala camp. Another female Leopard trying to defend it's Reedbuck carcass from a hyena at Lagoon. Missed the Magician - we did track for over 45 minutes the other day, but, I lost patience as we were transferring from LEbala to Lagoon that morning and was on a mission to get to the cheetahs in time.

 

Saw some random Lions here and there........ mostly sleeping as Lions do! The others at Lagoon saw a female and sub-adults take down a warthog!!! (I was at the dog den, ofcourse)........

 

Great general game at Lebala (Kudu, impala, warthog, a bushbuck in camp, giraffe). Big buffalo herds and plenty of elephant. One nice herd of Roan.

 

At Lebala, saw a single flamingo in 3 pans (Motswiri, Kubu and Baobab). Only the big pans down South hold the last drops of water. Bone dry at Lagoon, though ........

 

Elephants everywhere .........

 

One herd of 20 Sable and a shy biggish herd of Eland at Lagoon.

 

One lovely Kudu watching from a termite mound that I was able to inch closer and closer to get a good photograph. He was obviously watching the dogs running wild as they were returning to the den after their morning hunt.

 

Short boat ride to the Elephant drinking/crossing point across the left side of Lagoon camp. My first time on the Lagoon boat, ever!

Overall, a great time .............

 

Questions, please give me a shout.

 

Regards

Hari

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Welcome back - sounds like you had some great sightings! :)

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Hari, this sounds very good - in fact better than that. I still live in hope one day you're going to give us another proper trip report, photos and all, but I am a realist. I suppose everything that we really need to know is there.
:P

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I am guessing the dogs that moved into the Lebala area are the Selinda Pack? There was mention on the GP website that they'd moved the den (I think due to lion activity).

 

Lucky Kwando, with 2 dens on the concession! And one at Kwara I believe.

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Welcome back, look forward to seeing the pics. Pen

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Wondered why you had been so quiet, should have guessed that you were off in Bots. Sounds like quite a trip.

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Thanks all for your kind comments and greetings.

 

Stokeygirl, I believe the Kwara dogs have already finished their denning - running wild now......

 

Good trip for sure and a great time after all the visa hassles and last minute changes.

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Sounds like a dream trip... Agree with Pault... a proper day by day trip report and 200+ photos please. For once put the effort! :P

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Sounds like a dream trip... Agree with Pault... a proper day by day trip report and 200+ photos please. For once put the effort! :P

 

Ouch!!!

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Sounds a terrible experience, glad I didn't have to endure it....... :)

 

PHOTOS PHOTOS PHOTOS..............(he chants)

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Welcome back Hari. One more call for a Trip Report and pictures!

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Glad you had a good time Hari - why did you give Kwara a miss on this trip?

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Welcome back Hari. Aaaahhh, Kwando! How old do you think the 3 brothers are now?

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Welcome back Hari. Aaaahhh, Kwando! How old do you think the 3 brothers are now?

 

I would say the ones at Lagoon/Lebala are around 8. In 2007, four adolescent cheetah were being seen. Most believe these are the same cheetah sans one, possibly their mother. So, 2-3 years to to that stage, so perhaps born in 2004/5.

 

The three Tsum Tsum (Kwara) boys. That is a tough one. There are reports of the three brothers going back to at least 2004/5. I would put them in them in the 10-12 category, maybe older.

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Thanks for the continued kind comments. Appreciate it!

 

Gaurang, regret not having gone to Kwara. Every guest I met, spoke highly of very good cheetah viewing there - the 3 brothers and a mother and cub. Mainly gave it the miss due to potential lack of access to Tsum Tsum this time of the year.

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Posted (edited)

Welcome back Hari. Aaaahhh, Kwando! How old do you think the 3 brothers are now?

 

I would say the ones at Lagoon/Lebala are around 8. In 2007, four adolescent cheetah were being seen. Most believe these are the same cheetah sans one, possibly their mother. So, 2-3 years to to that stage, so perhaps born in 2004/5.

 

The three Tsum Tsum (Kwara) boys. That is a tough one. There are reports of the three brothers going back to at least 2004/5. I would put them in them in the 10-12 category, maybe older.

 

I'd say the 3 boys at Lagoon are 8-9. I personally feel very strongly that they were already dominant inside the western woodlands and in the upper Kwando north of Kwena Lagoon (where there is such limited road network - only a single road all the way to Besa). They came out onto the game drive routes only in 2007/08 when the blood brothers were on their last legs. Consistently viewed only from early 2008. Familiarized to vehicles around late 2008. I have pics of them from October 2008, where they already look in their prime. Even now, they go into those areas like a ghost without a trace for weeks at a time. BDF trucks have seen them in an open area wayyyyy north when they go out on patrol.

 

I heard that story of the 4 young males from Charles (2007) - but, it really can be any cheetahs there ........ Recently Balli and Spencer saw a mother with 4 cubs at John's pan never to be seen again (took off at the sight of the vehicle).

 

TT boys at Kwara - I saw them as young males in 2005. So, I'm guessing atleast 9-10? Not sure. Hobbs says there were 2 big boys prior to them.

 

Bear in mind, although the blood brothers were in existance from the late 90's - their dominance in all 3 concessions was only post 2001. In 2001 there were 2 coalitions of 2 boys in Kwando (one on each side died in a territorial dispute). That coalition came to an end in mid-2008. They at different times, liked different areas didn't they? They loved Selinda when really dry. Towards the end, they ignored Lebala and Selinda and spent most of their time either at Duma Tau or Lagoon.

Edited by madaboutcheetah

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Sounds a terrible experience, glad I didn't have to endure it....... :)

 

PHOTOS PHOTOS PHOTOS..............(he chants)

 

Haha - will get to it hopefully soon .......

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Welcome back, Hari! Adding my voice to the chorus... more pics AND more writing :)

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I am guessing the dogs that moved into the Lebala area are the Selinda Pack? There was mention on the GP website that they'd moved the den (I think due to lion activity).

 

Lucky Kwando, with 2 dens on the concession! And one at Kwara I believe.

 

When in Lebala, it's the Lebala pack, no?

 

Sure thing, Sangeeta. Will work on pictures when i have some time to breathe ......... and will write for sure.

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Bits of this and that ..........

 

On my way home at the JNB airport, I had left my Kwando baseball cap in the airport someplace and realized it when i got on the plane. The purser would not let me off the plane after boarding, but, offered to have the airport staff check it out. Finally, they had found it just when the doors were going to be closed. She said they'd have it mailed to me just like a lost luggage (yeah, what are my odds to see it again????) ....... I just bought it at the Lagoon gift shop the previous day because the older caps were tattered and done. I just had to have it!

 

What happens next - the plane sits on the runway and the pilot announces that there is something with the electricals that need to be checked ....... off we returned to the gate. Need i say more - it was a two hour delay and they got me my Kwando hat!

 

Karma?

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A word on the current environmental conditions in Botswana and the Kwando concession. This has been a very dry year in Botswana with probably low rainfall from last summer, combined with lower flooding (rain in the highlands). Most of the large pans are completely dry in the Kwando concession (more in Lagoon). The large pans at Lebala still hold a little water (very little).

 

Some old flood plains in the Lagoon area and some islands are opening up again with all the dry conditions. This area has been out of access the last couple of years - very pretty area (almost like a dry Twin pools sort of thing). These islands are very good for Leopard at the moment and plenty of Elephants and general game of all type. This time of the year, if you go tracking predators outside of the flood plains/river side ........... you are going to have a quiet game drive overalll as the plains game has really moved away to the flood plains (pans hold absolutely no water).

 

The flooded areas down south at Lebala might take a couple of years to dry up, though in that Eastern side of the concession.

 

If I were to pick a personal favourite between Lebala and Lagoon, I still hold the opinion that Lebala wins hands down - hey, it's just me .............. General game IMHO much more in the South.

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Posted (edited)

Onto the topic of the visa thing ........

 

Indian nationals need a visa for Botswana. Normally, a lengthy process because of the lack of a proper processing system in place. What is done is, I submit all the paperwork along with the application and visa processing fees to the consulate in New Delhi and then sit and wait. Apparently, all paperwork is sent to Immigration HQ in Gaborone and they send out a list of applicatants that are to be granted the visa by email. This turned out one heck of a long wait .......... It got so long (over a month) that I had to get the Kwando office to intervene and take it up with both HATAB and Botswana Tourism. HATAB finally came through after a lot of pressure from the Maun office.

 

Subsequently, there has been a newsletter requesting applicants to allow atleast 21 working days for visa processing (are you kidding me????) ......... 21 days plus weekends plus Botswana Holidays plus Indian Holidays = FOREVER

 

It was so frustrating, that I ended up sending an article to the Ngami Times which was published both online and in print. It really was funny one afternoon, when Tabo (guide at Lebala) came out for afternoon tea with the newspaper and asked me if I knew anything about that ............. Further delay and angst as the SA visa needed to be done. SA has an odd rule - Indian citizens need a visa if in transit to neighboring countries (but do not need one if visiting elsewhere) ........... I can't understand the logic, but, hey ............. who does!!!

Edited by madaboutcheetah

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Fires across the river in Namibia (Caprivi strip) just starting. In a couple of weeks, the haze will take over .......... right now, some haze in the evening, but, nothing to complain about. Cannot complain about the light conditions.

 

Temperatures during the end of August into September, exceptionally HOT. Cool early mornings that warm up very quickly into very hot days. I'm guessing 35-37 degrees C. I did hear that they had a couple of weeks of a very cold spell in July.

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Bits of this and that ..........

 

On my way home at the JNB airport, I had left my Kwando baseball cap in the airport someplace and realized it when i got on the plane. The purser would not let me off the plane after boarding, but, offered to have the airport staff check it out. Finally, they had found it just when the doors were going to be closed. She said they'd have it mailed to me just like a lost luggage (yeah, what are my odds to see it again????) ....... I just bought it at the Lagoon gift shop the previous day because the older caps were tattered and done. I just had to have it!

 

What happens next - the plane sits on the runway and the pilot announces that there is something with the electricals that need to be checked ....... off we returned to the gate. Need i say more - it was a two hour delay and they got me my Kwando hat!

 

Karma?

Bits of this and that ..........

 

On my way home at the JNB airport, I had left my Kwando baseball cap in the airport someplace and realized it when i got on the plane. The purser would not let me off the plane after boarding, but, offered to have the airport staff check it out. Finally, they had found it just when the doors were going to be closed. She said they'd have it mailed to me just like a lost luggage (yeah, what are my odds to see it again????) ....... I just bought it at the Lagoon gift shop the previous day because the older caps were tattered and done. I just had to have it!

 

What happens next - the plane sits on the runway and the pilot announces that there is something with the electricals that need to be checked ....... off we returned to the gate. Need i say more - it was a two hour delay and they got me my Kwando hat!

 

Karma?

 

:lol: Yes, your fellow passengers had obviously done something bad!

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Posted (edited)

I am going to add stuff that comes to mind every now and then.

 

No Bots trip report goes without mention of Air Botswana. Air Bots on certain days has a two a day service to JNB from Maun. On wednesday, it was mayhem at the Maun airport. Two days prior, the safari operators had been given notice that there would be delays to both flights and a change of schedule for wednesday. Flights scheduled for 12:25 and 17:15 for that particular day after factoring in the delays. Radio call from OB (camp manager) on my Monday afternoon drive to check which flight I needed to make my connections in JNB. I opted for the 17:15 as I had ample time in JNB even with that, so all I did was request the latest possible schedule out of camp (Moremi Air) so that I didn't need to wait in Maun.

 

As it so happens, the 12:25 never took off. Air Bots decided last minute to combine both flights and made it 16:00 hours. They chartered a bigger aircraft for this service. I had to race to the check-in desk to get stuff done. There were many irate passengers who were left waiting all day in the Maun airport. On the topic of which, the runway extentions seem to be making progress - yet, the airport infrastructure is at a standstill.

Edited by madaboutcheetah

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