September at DumaTau Camp in
Wild Dogs, Leopards and Lions at Kwando
Safaris in Botswana.
Wilderness Safaris Botswana Camps changes.
News from Deception Valley Lodge in Botswana's Kalahari Desert.
Zimbabwean Odyssey - a recent safari to the camps in Northern Zimbabwe.
DumaTau Camp in the Linyanti Jump
Another great month at Duma
Tau, with exceptional game viewing, fantastic weather and a lot of fun had by
guests and staff alike. The sun is definitely
closer and we have been experiencing some high daytime temperatures but
absolutely unbeatable evenings and mornings. The last week has seen a big increase
clouds and we are entering the sunset phase of the year with wonderfull
pinks and reds painting the evening skies.
We are extremely happy to have the DumaTau pack of wild dog
on our reserve after another successful denning. We hope that they continue
the same mold as
the last 2 years and provide us with extreme action, both in and around
the camp as well as for our guests on game drives. This year they have successfully
8 pups so far, and with a splitting of the adult dogs, there are now
21 dogs all told.
We were blessed again to witness the military like precision
with which the 3 male cheetah coalition hunt. These guys seriously should have
made about them. They are starting to get fairly old now, as Theba (DumaTau's
head guide) tells me he has seen them since Duma Tau was built (1997) but still
they look extremely
healthy and are wizards of bringing down game.
Unfortunately the "surfing lions of the Linyanti " pride,
the famous hippo killers swam into Namibia last month and have still not
returned. As a result, our leopard sightings are way up and also cheetah and
wild dogs are
able to keep their kills. The Hyaenas after chasing off 2 male lions
from a giraffe kill seem to have taken over the area. A large percentage of
followed has revealed numerous hyaenas on kills like zebras and wildebeest.
The latter also exposing fresh spoor of a male lion, possibly again denied
his food by the queens of the night. The hyena den was raided by 2 male
lions who killed off a lot of the younger hyenas in full view of our guests.
This year, strangely, we have seen a slight decrease in the number of elephant
in the area compared to last year. However, we are still able to view elephants
in bigger numbers than most places and no guest has ever complained about seeing
too few elephant. Most guests see hundreds of elephant each and every day right
now. The drive along the Linyanti River during the heat of the day or early
afternoon is still a spectacle to be observed with numerous numbers of general
game in the vicinity of the river - and with never a moment without some sort
of mammal in view. Even though water levels are low, we are still able to go
boating and this continues to be an awesome activity and a very different experience
from the game drives.
George the elephant is back in camp along with numerous other
bulls on a daily basis. We are still wowed by the respect with which our large
hold our new walkways and incidences of damage are minimal. We were treated
to a first the other day when we had 2 Georges in camp and george the
elephant as well and all parties happily posed for a picture or two. The flowering
the mangosteens has come and gone and the beautiful scent still is lingering
in some parts of the camp . Happy smiling staff and a wonderfull relaxed
atmosphere have been the order of the day once again at Duma Tau and this has
in happy smiling guests, coupled with great game viewing, and this has
been another super duper month at Duma Tau.
Kwando Safaris September Update
Kwara camp Jump
Excellent Leopard sightings again at Kwara with 3
different Leopard during one game drive. There was one sighting with fantastic
other species – whilst tracking a large male Leopard the vehicle bumped
into female Lions hunting. The Leopard suddenly appeared and quickly avoided
the Lions, only to bump into a Caracal that had caught and killed an African
Wild Cat. The Caracal dropped the Cat to avoid the Leopard, and the Leopard
then picked up the dead African Wild Cat, only to drop it again as it raced
up a tree to avoid the Lions!
Good Lion sightings in general. A pride of 25 Lions were seen consisting of
10 cubs – on this particular night drive, a total of 31 Lions were seen!
Lions strolled through camp last night with their calls echoing under the trees.
One Cheetah sighting this week.
Excellent Buffalo sightings from a herd of 200 – 300. The birth of a
new calf was witnessed and the scene attracted Vultures and 6 Jackal, all fighting
over the after-birth.
Boat sightings include good Elephants in the channels, Cape Clawless Otto and
nesting activity is building up at the rookery.
Lagoon camp Jump
Two Lion kills on large prey were witnessed this last week – the most
dramatic one being a pride of 10 Lions (including the 3 large territorial males)
killing a 5-6 month old Elephant calf. The lions have been feeding on it for
6 days now! The Lion cub with a shoulder injury has recovered well and has
been feeding on the Elephant carcass. Four other Lion cubs have died.
Excellent Cheetah sightings and a group of 3 males were seen feeding on a baby
Sable that they brought down. A female and her cub were seen hunting.
Good Leopard sighting of a large male feeding on a Baboon kill on the ground.
Wild Dogs at the den are doing well. They are relaxed despite a pride of Lions
killing a Buffalo near the den.
Good general game sightings of Elephants, Zebra, Tsessebe, Sable, Giraffe,
Kudu and Warthogs.
Nocturnal sightings include Selous Mongoose, Striped Polecat, African Wild
Cat, Civet and Bat-eared Fox.
Lebala camp Jump
Pride of 19 Lions have killed another Hippo and have been feeding on it for
several days now.
Superb Leopard sighting perched on top of
a termite mound that offered wonderful photographic opportunities. Another
sighting was of 2 different Leopard on
a morning game drive.
Regular Cheetah sightings although no kills were seen.
Fantastic stalk, chase and kill was witnessed
with the pack of 4 Wild Dogs where they killed 2 Impala about 40m apart.
Superb general game with Elephants, Buffalo, Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, herd of
17 Roan Antelope, herd of 25 Sable and Giraffe.
Nocturnal sightings include Porcupine, Serval and a fantastic sighting of a
Pangolin that was observed foraging and digging for Termites for ± 10
Wilderness Safaris Botswana Camp Changes
have decided to decrease the number of camps and beds in their vintage
circuit. To balance this out,
they have increased
of beds in some of their Classic Camps.
Details of these changes are as follows:
Tented Camp and Kaparota
Camp will close, only
accommodating any existing scheduled Jacana
overland safaris. They will however, on request,
camps, including Pom Pom, to groups wanting to book out the
whole lodge at one time on a Private Camp Basis.
following Classic Camps will occur:
- Vumbura will
increase to 16 guest beds, Little
Vumbura to 12 guest beds, DumaTau 20
guest beds and Savuti will
have 14 guest beds.
Guests traveling to the remaining Vintage
camps, namely Jacana and Tubu
Tree, will enjoy the water experience at Jacana, and land
experience at Tubu. Guests
who combine Gudigwa with
any of Wilderness' Botswana camps will then be able to experience
the rich cultural heritage of the San bushmen peoples of the
News from Deception Valley Lodge
in Botswana Jump
Greetings from the Kalahari...
case you didn't know, September is high season in both Botswana
and the Kalahari - and the lodge is experiencing excellent occupancies.
If you didn't make it to visit Deception Valley Lodge this season,
take advantage of their Green Season Specials, to be released soon!
Guests visiting the lodge recently were fortunate enough to see leopard
chasing jackals off their guinea fowl prey (the leopard won the battle).
Leopards are extremely gifted hunters; unlike lions, which work in
groups to ambush prey, leopards generally hunt alone. Besides small
prey like game birds, rabbits, etc, these very strong carnivores are
able to take on prey animals almost their own size and weight. They
frequently drag kills into trees, to prevent them being scavenged by
animals such as hyena and jackal or stolen by lions.
Unusual sightings recorded at Deception Valley Lodge include aardvark,
a rare and interesting animal that feeds on termites. It is nocturnal
and seldom-seen. It breaks into termite mounds by digging at the base.
The aardvark has a long, sticky tongue, which it pokes into the hole
it has made. The termites stick to the aardvark's tongue and this curious
creature then swallows them.
Did you know? Termites, while also part of the genus Hymenoptera,
are not related to ants at all, although they superficially resemble
them. They are the sworn enemies of ants and the two insects fight
enormous battles on the rare occasions when they come into contact
with one another. Certain species of termites build enormous termite
mounds (misnamed 'ant hills'), which they keep at a constant temperature
of around 37 degrees C. They do this by means of honeycombing the mound
with tunnels or passages. Should the ambient temperature become too
warm, they open the passages to the outside air; should the temperature
decrease, they plug the entrances to the outside.
Here's an extract from an e-mail received from Bruce, head ranger
at Deception Valley Lodge...
What makes life in the Kalahari so
worthwhile is the amazing things one gets to see. It doesn't matter
if it's a wasp trying to carry off
a small, dead lizard or watching a kudu feed, it's all so amazing and
rewarding. I've seen some amazing things since I've been here. I've
watched three goshawks feeding with a honey badger and a jackal; and
a honeybadger and a jackal feeding togtether. I've seen two striped
polecats mating and was lucky enough to see a pangolin in the middle
of the day in plain view for all to see! Last night I watched an African
wild cat stalk, catch and feed on a scrub hare, which was absolutely
wonderful... It is a real priviledge to work here and it's true that
'Once the sands of the Kalahari get in your shoes, it's hard to get
Zimbabwean Odyssey - an article on
Zimbabwe's Safari Industry
The following is an article written
by a full paying guest who has just visited some of Wilderness
Safaris' camps in Zimbabwe. We think it paints a true refelction
of what Zimbabwe is
about in these secluded areas and in the camps.
By Roy Watts
Question: It’s no secret
that Zimbabwe is in a state of severe crisis, and hardly a day
goes by without news of
and deprivation. Why on earth would anyone think of taking a holiday
Answer: There is a
collection of game lodges that are not only surviving, but thriving
and offering widely divergent safari experiences in
luxurious camps that are equal to anything in sub-Saharan Africa – and
better than most. With great ingenuity they have harnessed the
remoteness of the bush and insulated themselves from the reigning
So it happened that in late August,
I swapped a cold, wet, wintry
Cape Town morning for a steaming arrival at the Victoria Falls – springboard
for the light plane hop-around that would transport me to three
of the nine Wilderness
Safari camps dotted around the country. With surprisingly little fuss
I cleared Immigration and Customs, and found myself bound for Makololo in
the Hwange reserve. This is one of ‘The Greatest Elephant
Shows on Earth’ with
over 20,000 jumbos all crowded into 14,651 square kilometres.
the first of a succession of charismatic, bush savvy guides,
met us at the
transferred us to the very attractive lodge. The lounge, bar, and dining
room are built with a commanding view of a huge plain, and are connected
tented chalets by raised walkways. The whole area is teeming with game,
and a constant procession of elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe and
all the usual
suspects provide an ongoing backdrop as they closed in on nearby watering
holes. But it is jumbo activity for which Makololo is famous, and here
there are two
unique features that promote a degree of interaction you won’t
find outside a circus. First up is the raised swimming pool in front
The elephants of Hwange have developed a serious chlorine habit, and
they consider this to be their ‘local’, completely disregarding
would-be swimmers. The height of the retaining walls prevents them
from taking over
completely, and by keeping a trunk length away, you can stand in the
pool and watch them slake their thirst in 9 litre gulps. This activity
into the night and they usually manage to flatten the contents before
dawn. Down a pool – feel satisfied. (Apologies to SA Breweries)
other innovation that gets you up close and really personal with
an ingenious elephant hide. This is a collection of heavy logs piled
over and around a steel frame. Snug within the safety of our woodpile,
watching huge herds cavort around. These amiable leviathans are the
most sociable animals, and watching them splashing, jousting, trunk
having more fun than kids in a waterpark, we came to realise that
being an elephant is definitely one of the better wilderness careers.
at all the camps are convivial events, set at long baronial tables.
Ambience and a friendly atmosphere replace the inhibitions
and lively banter. The excellent repast caused me to wonder about
the extraordinary logistics behind getting the quality provisions
went into the sumptuous
menus. With bounteous Botswana not too far down the road however,
a 5-ton truck only has to cross the border and Bob’s your
uncle- well- er- maybe not!
The Makololo Plains are broad sweeping
affairs flanked by ridges of Mopani, Leadwood, Kameeldoring,
Acacia and Jackalberry trees.
before the rains set in they are stark and dramatic, although
the first downpour will
introduce a blanket of green. On the game drives and walks that
are the staples of these safari holidays, we witnessed the extraordinary
of Zimbabwean guides. Obtaining a licence is no easy matter and
a long apprenticeship under strict supervision. There are testing
examinations that demand an encyclopedic knowledge of birds,
trees, animals, insects,
lore and the micro-environment. Then there’s the development
of the skills necessary for the huge responsibility of safely
guiding tourists on drives,
walks and canoe trails. To graduate requires fervor, dedication
and in many cases, the instinct that is the birthright of many
Africans born to life in
bushveld villages. Foster, our guide for the duration of our
stay at Makololo, had all these qualities in abundance. On our
morning he doggedly followed
an obscure trail picked up near the camp, and tracked down a
pair of lionesses – two
of the few animals missing from our dance cards.
One of the corollaries
of Sod’s Holiday Law decrees that at the peak
of your enjoyment at any locality, when you are having the
most fun, it becomes necessary to move on. And so reluctantly,
myself flying over the barren
moonscape that is Zimbabwe at the end of winter, en route for
Kariba – the
third largest man made lake in the world. The plane approached
the broken jigsaw puzzle of shoreline, banked, completed a
fly past to clear the broad dirt landing
strip of baboons, and touched down.
is a place of great contrasts, and nowhere is this brought
relief than Kariba. In its hyperactive
aforethought, whilst hippo loiter without intent. Herds
of elephant, buffalo, giraffe and antelope roam the shoreline,
an eager cast of predators.
And in the skies an air show featuring a wide assortment
of birds will delight the most demanding twitchers. Tucked away
in a creek
away from the airport, is one those uniquely romantic travel
bookmarks – The
Water Wilderness in the Matusadona National Park. Ghostly
trees that drowned when the lake filled point skywards,
and petrified, above the
shimmering water. The atmosphere is surreal and hauntingly
beautiful, a Salvador Dalian landscape minus the melting
watches. And anchored in this unusual setting
is a flotilla of charming, beautifully appointed houseboats
with a central ‘Mother
Ship’ where entertainment and administration takes
place. Guests are ferried to and from their lodgings in
water taxi, or establish
their independence by using the sturdy Indian canoes on
On one of those balmy African evenings,
the lodge manager Dardley, big in stature and personality, held court.
at an immaculately
table on the mother ship, after having climbed the upper
cocktail deck to watch a flaming fireball disappear into
loosened inhibitions and repartee flowed along with the
wine as an all-pervading sense of bonhomie took over.
were the currency
of the night, and even hoary old jokes from the dim distant
past were as debutantes
in contributing to the merriment.
In addition to game
drives and walks, Water Wilderness offers tiger fishing and cruises
along the shoreline.
We saw lionesses
rare black rhino on a game drive, and got heart stoppingly
close to a herd of
elephant on a walk. One needs a lot of confidence in
your guide running into any of
the big five on a stroll, and we certainly had that
in Dardley. But we were having much too much fun, and once
Corollary kicked in and it was time to move.
Mana Pools and Chikwenya,
one of only four Heritage sites in the country, the
others being the Victoria
Falls Rain Forest,
and the Great
Zimbabwe Ruins – very select company indeed.
Situated on the Zambezi above a broad floodplain
far below the dam
wall, it is as lush, beautiful and
serene, as Makololo is stark and dramatic. But the
serenity is an illusion because in this neck of the
woods, the animals
hold sway. At night a bolshy
band of right wing hippos and herds of extrovert
elephants stomp around the camp, fully believing
that the grass
is greener closer to the raised tented
chalets. Chikwenya owes its status to a unique eco-system
that includes an abundance of Acacia Albida trees
and Jesse bush. In winter the Acacias drop
a bounty of protein rich pods, which attracts the
vast and varied mammal population concentrated on
during the dry season.
There are two exceptional activities
at Chikwenya. The first is an exciting canoe trail.
river guide took us past hippos who looked as if
they might abandon loitering in
favour of serious intent at the slightest provocation.
En route we enjoyed a spectacular tableau that
took in the wide
edged with lush green forests, framed by purple
mountains and set in a fiery sunset.
The other special event was a nature walk with
Sean, the camp manager who had a passion for, and an amazing
the insect world.
the big-game walks at Makololo and Matusadona,
this was a micro-tour that took in ant lions, air-conditioned
and 101 uses
bark along with fascinating on-going dialogue about
the local flora and mini-fauna. The small 5 you
Holidays according to Sod, are the
shortest units of time, and all too soon I found myself on an
airliner bound for
on a really
week. Each lodge had a singular charm and an
atmosphere all of its
own – I’m
sure that there are as many moods as there are
camps. But as a South African, who, like most
of his compatriots believed Zimbabwe to be a
zone, I was bowled over by the degree of normalcy
and the sense of security that Wilderness Safaris
have managed to achieve in the face of the overall
mayhem. Even choosing the Victoria
Falls as the
major entry point steers tourists
away from the Harare alternative where the prevailing
unrest would be more visible.
Falls are still one of the great tourist icons
of the world,
and any safari should end with a couple of
Ironically, I believe that
the places I visited are amongst the safest
destinations of the world. And you would be hard pressed to
find greater concentrations of game or a wider
range of different safari experiences. But
take my word for it – go and see for