Wilderness Safaris general
Monthly update from Linkwasha in Zimbabwe.
Monthly update from Makalolo
Plains in Zimbabwe.
Kwando Safaris game reports for
as of July 30, 2005.
Monthly update from Mombo
and Little Mombo Camps in Botswana.
Monthly update from Selinda
and Zibalianja Camps in
Monthly update from Jacana
Camp in Botswana.
Monthly update from Jack's
and San Camps in Botswana.
Report on the new Pafuri
Camp in South Africa.
Dive Report from Rocktail Bay in
of the Namib safari update.
Monthly update from Serra
Cafema Camp in Namibia.
Monthly update from Ongava
Tented Camp in
Wilderness Safaris general Safari
Scheduled Safaris Updates - July 05
the valuable experience gained since launching the new scheduled
now time for some fine-tuning to the existing 2005 itineraries, and 2006
safaris. Since the continuing aim is to enhance the guest experience and
to create that perfect Exploration, there have been some small innovations
to the present itineraries:
• In the Khwai region of the Delta, both Discoverer and Adventurer camps
have moved to the Santawani concession in the stunning, seasonally flooded
• The Great Namibian Journey will no longer travel through the dunes to
Sandwich Harbor. Instead, the Harbor is experienced by going on an extended
Dolphin Cruise complete with a delicious seafood lunch.
• Canoeing on the Linyanti is dependent on the number of hippo residing
at the time in the channels in which we canoe. It is therefore completely
up to the hippos whether canoeing takes place!
• Itinerary changes are to be introduced in 2006, on the itineraries of
the Discoverer and Adventurer products in Namibia, as well as the Pans,
Sands and Rivers and Untamed Lands itineraries for Botswana.
• We are also proud to introduce a new and
exciting Discoverer itinerary: The Great Botswana Journey.
Linkwasha update - July 05 Jump
July has still been very chilly in
the evenings and early mornings, although it has been warmer than June.
However, it has not gone below zero but it has been close on a few occasions
and on the coldest morning we recorded 3°C. On some evenings a cool
breeze has been coming up at about seven in the evening, not lasting long,
but we have had to relight some candles at dinner and put some blinds down.
During the day it has been getting very warm, with so much dust and smoke
in the air from the animals and surrounding fires outside the park it has
given us some spectacular sunsets!
The concession here at Linkwasha is looking very
dry and most of the grass out in the open plains is disappearing
very quickly, especially closer to some of the main waterholes, as
these are areas that are being frequented by most of the animals like
the elephants. Huge herds of buffalo have also been around, so a lot
of grass that is not being eaten is being trampled by herds moving
in and out of waterholes. We have not had a lot of wind, as the July
and August winds have not yet arrived, but despite this, many of the
deciduous trees have lost their leaves and are starting to look very
bare now, even more so than last month. Waterholes are struggling,
as we have had trouble with pumps here but lucky for us, some early Christmas
presents were received – some new engines – so Back
Pans is back to normal, pumping away.
Game viewing this month has been awesome - probably some of the best
we have had in a long time. The waterhole in front of the camp has had
a lot of action, with one of the best days showing four herds of buffalo
drinking from there and each herd being more than 200 animals. Elephants
are there all night and march out of the tree line at several different
times during the day. Zebra, wildebeest, eland and some of the other
smaller plains species are to be seen out the front of camp at all times
of the day.
On the rest of the concession things have been very good as well, in
the Scott's Pan area there has probably been the most pressure in terms
of numbers of animals. Big varieties seem to congregate there especially
around the hotter times of the day, including elephant, wildebeest, eland,
warthog, impala, kudu, buffalo, sable and also the rare roan antelope.
On most occasions these could all be seen at once!
On one particular morning drive, three cheetah and one of our resident
leopards were seen in the exact same area! In the Back Pans area things
have been good as far as elephant go. The resident pod of hippo there
are doing well and are now wandering further and further away from the
pan in order to find decent grazing. There has been one female lion in
this area and on the few occasions that we have seen her she has looked
quite heavy; we have been watching her for some time now and hoping in
anticipation that she will have her cubs and share this with us too!
She mostly moves around the camp here and on one occasion chased some
buffalo from the waterhole whilst we were sitting at the fire after dinner.
Ngamo Plains has become very dry but still boasts with a lot of the
plains animals such as giraffe in the acacia forest. We have seen rhino
but they have been elusive and we were only lucky to see them on a few
occasions. Our four male lion in the area have also been around but have
been moving a lot so we have not seen them as much as we usually do.
We have seen wild dog but unfortunately the only one we saw had been
injured with a wire snare around its neck, we hope he will be fine after
reporting this issue to the wild dog researchers.
This month, in terms of variety, has been very good, in fact excellent.
As the season progresses we only expect it to get better! Some of our
percentages this month were as follows. elephant 100%, buffalo 81%, lion
32%, leopard 6%, bat-eared fox 100%, eland 74%, sable 100%, giraffe 100%.
On our best day we had seen 23 different species.
On a funny note however, we had a rather unusual incident of a baboon
falling through the roof of one of our senior staff houses!! We will
leave the rest to your imagination!
This month with our bird sightings there has not been too much new
happening, other than the arrivals of the Red-breasted Swallows and
one sighting of what we were sure was a Yellow-billed Kite! We were
not a hundred percent sure as it was seen from a distance but looked
very much like it. If it was it would be unusually early, but then
again stranger things have happened. There have also been some White
Storks in the Back Pans area, probably the same birds that were recorded
in June. This month our total bird count was 112 species.
Jim and Jill Kielty, Omaha Nebraska, U.S.A. - Thanks for the wonderful
hospitality. We saw a lion eating her kill and a wild dog eating a
wildebeest. Great memories, thanks.
Elain and Marvin Mack, West palm beach, Florida, U.S.A. - Left a little
of our hearts in Africa, taking a little of Africa home with us! Thanks.
Laurie and Chris Buettner, Occidental, CA, U.S.A. - An African fantasy
Willem and Trish
Makalolo update - July 05 Jump
A minimum temperature of
5 and a maximum of 31 degrees Celsius were recorded during July.
The earlier part of the month was characterised by heavy dew
on the boardwalks in the mornings, which allowed guests to track
their guides' wake-up call movements! In mid-July the temperatures
started to creep up into the late 20s and early 30s during midday,
and outdoor showers during siesta times once again became a hit!
The latter part of the month has seen the build-up of August
winds, twisting and twirling, swaying and swirling amongst
the trees, covering everything in a fine layer of dust. Early
mornings and evenings still have a high chill factor, and our
gorgeous ponchos are still the most popular fashion item out
Everything is looking a little arid now, as the effects of
winter have taken their toll. There is not much ground cover
as far as grasses and scrubland are concerned. This is due
to the large herds of buffalo and elephant moving across the
Plains, leaving a trail of devastation and a smoke screen of
heavy pink dust behind them. The forests are looking rather
gaunt and because of the lack of leaf cover, game viewing has
become somewhat easier than usual. Rugs of fine autumn leaves
ranging from Kuduberry, Ordeal and Teak trees cover the cold
Kalahari sand floor, providing warmth and a safe haven to a
hodgepodge of small creatures. It's
raining Large False Mopane seeds as the little crimson and
brown buttons fall from the heavens and thud onto roofs and
boardwalks, ensconcing themselves amongst the carpets of dry
It has been a spectacular month for the more uncommon antelopes!
Large herds of roan have been seen, as many as 20 at a time,
with a remarkable sighting of roan calves dodging death with
cheetah! Gemsbok made an appearance at Ngweshla and a lone
male reedbuck has been seen at both Madison Pan and on the
road to Mbiza. Our solitary red hartebeest has returned to
the Plains with her wandering wildebeest connections. At one
time we suspected that we may lose her to the hungry hyaenas,
as she had injured her front left leg and was walking with
a dreadful limp, but luckily, she healed and is prancing around
amongst the wildebeest once again!
Walking safaris have proved to be quite thrilling this month.
After proving how far one can spit kudu and giraffe dung, Belinda
and her posse strolled into the Ngweshla area, to discover
a cheetah pair feeding on a baby wildebeest! Then, those with
a pioneering spirit put on their best walking shoes, clasped
walking sticks perfectly carved by nature and trundled through
the scratchy bushveld, whilst tracking a large herd of buffalo
for 8 km!
A total of 21 lions was seen in one day comprising the resident
pride of 16 (3 females and 13 cubs) at Gardenia Pan and the
sub-adult pride (1 female and 4 males) at Broken Rifle Pan
(these being the older cubs of the 3 aforementioned lionesses).
The pride of 16 has been a little elusive, moving between the
Linkwasha vlei near the airstrip and Ngweshla. The cubs seem
to be doing well, though one young chap had a big bleeding
gash above his eye when last seen - probably a clumsy infliction
from a sharp stick.
On one particular evening, we watched the most
exciting play on earth, lit from the ceiling by moon and stars,
and spot lit by the red beams of the game drive vehicles. The
scene of our astonishing drama was FRONT OF CAMP, WARTHOG BURROW!
The collared lioness and her two sub-adult male cubs were
already placed on set; one of the young male lions with an
injured back right leg had taken refuge in the warthog burrow
whilst his brother, who looked a bit on the bloated side (had
obviously made a meal of some of the warthog piglets), spent
a lazy day amongst the trees with mother. Later that evening,
7 haggling hyaenas were cued and arrived on the scene, forcing
the injured young male lion deeper into the safety of the warthog
burrow. His mother and brother were all too quickly warned
and came to his rescue! By this time, front of camp had come
alive with an African sonata
of cackling, giggling and calling for reinforcements from
the hyaenas and then the bass of the low "emergency air horn" moans
from the lions kicked in!
The hyaenas were about ready to launch
an attack on the lions when suddenly a herd of 50 trumpeting
elephants bulldozed their way onto the stage, sending hyaenas
and lions scurrying in all directions. Two black-backed jackals
that were hiding in the dark then added their sopranos to the
chorus. During all the commotion, in the distance was heard
the deep, drawn-out hum of another pride of lions, making their
approach! When the collared lioness and her cubs heard the
harmony of the call of the other lions, they immediately made
their exit and headed towards camp, disappearing into the shadows.
The seven hyaenas were quick to kick up a cloud of dust as
they exited the scene, but not before one of them disappeared
down the warthog burrow to "take away" what we
suspected was yet another piglet! The final star attractions
of the show arrived, our sub-adult pride of five. They
sniffed around and investigated the event, very disappointed
to discover that the gig was cancelled! They called out
into the dark, the little female taking the lead with her
powerful and impressive voice, but nothing answered. Eventually
they moved off and the front of camp was left in complete
and utter silence, as if nothing had ever been there!
Other sightings for July were as follows: baboon, giraffe,
hippo, springhare, steenbok, warthog, waterbuck, zebra, sable,
tree squirrel, black-backed jackal, kudu, common duiker, vervet
monkey, side-striped jackal, eland, banded mongoose, African
wildcat, small spotted genet, scrub hare, white-tailed mongoose,
bat-eared fox, lesser bushbaby, leopard, Selous mongoose, leopard,
striped polecat, cheetah, reedbuck, slender mongoose and gemsbok.
69 different bird species were recorded during July. Birds
of prey have provided awesome sightings, as well as migrant
birds who shouldn't be in the southern hemisphere at this time
of the year, but decided to stay! A rather frazzled White Stork
was seen at Madison, trying to escape the clutches of a pair
of Tawny Eagles. The stork flew into a herd of buffalo and
almost landed on a bovid's back; this scattered the herd and
left the stork out in the open, eventually being caught, killed
and eaten by the Tawnys! Another pair of Tawny Eagles have
been seen building their nest in a Rain tree situated to the
west of camp.
Love or lust has been in the air with the birds this month.
A pair of romantic Hooded Vultures were seen mating, whilst
perched in a tree at Little Somavundla, while a love-struck
pair of Black-breasted Snake Eagles were seen at Somavundla
Pan also mating on a branch. At Ngweshla, a pair of Bateleurs
were seen doing the same thing! Martial Eagles have been frequenting
the front of camp, an adult and immature seen sitting at the
front waterhole and earlier in the month an immature Martial
made an attempt to hunt a flock of guineafowl in the early
morning hours. We had 3 Red-billed Hornbills visit camp, and
Fork-tailed Drongos have been up to their usual tricks, mimicking
the calls of the Pearl-spotted Owls and recently riding on
the backs of the throngs of wildebeest
swishing across the Plains. A Yellow-billed Kite flew over
the front deck of camp on 27 July - this either marks the start
of summer, or the YBK didn't make it north with the migration!
"Thank you so much! You've all been such gracious hosts,
showing us a fantastic time. All of the guides managed to keep
their promises, a feat I think that shocked even the animals!
The warmth we found here made up for the windy mornings for sure.
We will miss all the "thousands and thousands of animals!" DANIELLA & GIORA,
CANADA & FANNY SCHNEIDER, SOUTH AFRICA
"What a wonderful adventure! Like the elephant, we will
never forget! The animals, the people, the Makalolo hospitality...all
the best one could ask for! What a beautiful camp!" TOM,
DEBBIE, BRAD & KURT NEWMEYER, CALIFORNIA, USA
Please get directions to Makalolo and we'll take you around
a few loops and turns!
Take care out there,
Shelley & the Mak squad
Kwando Safari Camps Update
- July 05
• 2 male lions were found mating with
2 nomadic females.
• The Lagoon pride of 12 was followed hunting a herd of
buffalo – they chased but were not successful.
• The were followed hunting several times but did not make
a kill – however they are in good condition suggesting
that they are making their kills very late into the night.
• A very relaxed young male leopard was followed hunting
impala but missed his kill. He was seen later in the
week sunning/sleeping on a termite mound.
• There was a leopard sighting most days over the last
period – mostly marking territory or hunting. One
set of tracks showed that an adult male walked right
through the camp at night. Another leopard was followed
hunting without success.
• A female cheetah with her two cubs was followed hunting – they
killed and ate an impala. She was followed several times
over the last period and was seen killing another two
impala – the cubs are in excellent condition.
• 2 adult male wild dogs were seen a couple of times, once
finishing off the remains of an impala.
• Elephant sightings excellent as usual for this period,
being seen in large numbers now through to the beginning
of the summer rains.
• Large breeding herds of buffalo are seen daily coming
down to the river to drink – especially in the
late afternoon, one particularly spectacular sighting
of large herd of each elephant and buffalo drinking and
• Night sightings include black-backed and side-striped
jackal, flap-necked chameleon, hyenas moving through
the camp, large spotted genet, a porcupine, a couple
of caracals hunting and an African wild cat with young.
• General game - giraffe, zebra, impala, waterbuck, reedbuck
and small groups of tsessebe.
• Also seen – a good number of Bateleur eagles adults
and juveniles, osprey, tawny eagle, several hawks, a
Bradfield's hornbill, yellow-billed storks and spoonbills,
a couple of puffadders, a honey badger and a family of
• A mating pair of lions was seen over a period
of a few days – there was an additional male
lion in attendance
• Another pride of 2 males and 2 females were seen
for several days in the area – showing signs
of pre-estrus but no mating activity as yet.
• A female leopard caught and killed a porcupine. Another
female was found sleeping on a termite mound and
was seen several times over the past period.
• An adult male leopard killed a warthog.
• Several sightings of a young male leopard – he
was eventually found feeding on an impala kill – judging
from the tracks he had robbed a cheetah of its kill.
• A adult female cheetah and her 2 male cubs were seen
almost every day – they were followed hunting
several times but were not successful until the 22nd – they
caught and killed and impala.
• An adult male cheetah was tracked several times but
• A pair of male African wild dogs was seen in the
• Excellent elephant activity in the area - it continues
to increase as the dry season persists – large
breeding herds of elephant as well as solitary bulls
are seen throughout the day drinking in front of
the camp as well as throughout the concession.
• Like the elephant – a number of large herds
of buffalo are seen daily throughout the concession – most
often coming down to drink from the river in the
late afternoon and evening.
• Night sightings yielded chameleon, hyena, side-striped
jackal, black-backed jackal, white-tailed mongoose,
large-spotted genets and African wild cats.
• The general game in the area continues to abound – zebra,
impala, blue wildebeest, tsessebe, a herd of roan
antelope with 5 youngsters, a large male sable antelope,
giraffe, reedbuck and warthogs.
• Most mornings bands of dwarf mongooses are seen sunning
themselves, as well as the occasional sightings of
puff-adders and black mambas.
• 3 lionesses stalked and killed an adult
zebra just behind the camp on one evening game-drive.
• The pride of 15 was seen numerous times, also hunting
zebra and resting in the morning and late afternoon
• 2 leopards were followed on consecutive nights
in the area west of camp.
• Leopard were tracked several times with guests
which was enjoyed by all.
• Another leopard was viewed across the Maunachira
River close to the site of the new Island Camp.
• A female cheetah was followed hunting in front
of camp, and a full-bellied male cheetah was found
sunning himself on a termite mound.
• A pack of 3 wild dogs (one had an injured foot)
were found drinking one morning in front of the
camp – they were followed hunting and killed
an impala. They came back to drink in front of
the camp again during lunch and were followed hunting
again – they caught and killed another impala
on the afternoon game drive.
• Hyenas were seen most evening drives also seen
wandering close to camp.
• An elephant bull provided some entertainment drinking
and wallowing in front of the camp.
• A group of 5 elephant bulls have been spending
most of their time feeding in and around the camp
including two of them scratching themselves on
the managers tent.
• A large herd of buffalo (approx 1000) was followed
close the old Mekoro station.
• A mating pair of black-backed jackal was seen for
a while, another pair was seen in front of the
camp at the pan, a pair of side-striped jackal
are seen each late afternoon on the airstrip, seen
hunting and catching a mouse.
• A herd of 8 sable antelope, as well as good numbers
of zebra, impala, giraffe, tsessebe and a few warthogs
also seen in front of the camp and on the surrounding
• Hippos were seen fighting in the pan in front of
• Night sightings include aardvark, a couple of very
relaxed honey-badgers,, a number of genets, a civet,
a serval and African wild cats (one was hunting
and caught a mouse)
• Interesting birds – several wattled cranes,
a couple of pelicans and a family of 5 ground hornbills
• A pride of 3 lions was found calling
and marking their territory. 5 lionesses and an adult
male found resting, later drinking at the lagoon
in front of the camp, and were followed hunting the
• The 3 males were followed harassing a large herd
of buffalo during the morning – they
managed to isolate and brings down an old bull which kept them feeding for
• A pride of 12 – 9 females and 3 young males were found – very relaxed
were found together feeding on a giraffe carcass – there were 2 large
adult males in attendance but they were resting in the shade. The 3 young males
later killed a buffalo calf but were robbed by the 2 adult males.
• The 3 adult males later killed another adult buffalo – again during the
day – hundreds of vultures in attendance.
• A very relaxed female leopard was followed for a couple of hours, a sub-adult
male was seen for a little while but was not as relaxed.
• An adult female leopard (little shy) caught
and killed a large male baboon next to the Kwara camp managers quarters, she
stashed her kill in a tree close by and continued to feed there for 2 days.
• A large relaxed male leopard was seen in the vicinity of one of the buffalo
kills but kept well clear of the lions.
• An adult male cheetah was found sleeping – he later was followed hunting
and killed an adult reedbuck.
• A group of 3 sub-adult male cheetah were seen drinking in front of the camp,
they rested in view of the camp for the whole day – made 2 attempts to
kill but missed – they were successful in catching a reedbuck on their
• A pack of 3 wild dogs were seen in front of the camp – one still limping
heavily – they rested in front of the camp for most of the day.
• Small groups of elephant bulls were seen around the concession.
• A breeding herd was seen at close quarters from the boat by guests on a river-cruise.
• A herd of 250 buffalo came past the camp from the west and were last seen close
to the Mekoro station – feeding and drinking from the river – some
mating activity was noted.
• 3 large herds of buffalo were seen further east – largest est. 1500
• Night sightings include – civet, African wild cat killing a mouse, honey-badger,
hyena at the lion kill and side-striped jackals
• A large herd of zebra was seen feeding with some wildebeest on the burnt areas
west of the camp, impala, tsessebe, hippo, a herd of 24 giraffe, baboon, reedbuck
• A couple of pelicans are still in front of the camp, also see were fish eagles,
wattled cranes, 20 yellow-billed storks, secretary birds and a long-crested
Lebala camp Jump
• An adult male lion was found feeding on a
warthog. Another male was found feeding on the remains
of a buffalo calf.
• A lioness was seen several times on her own as well
a a couple of male lions patrolling the area.
• A pride of 5 females lost their warthog kill to a
clan of 10 hyena.
• A mating pair of lions was found at the old hippo
• A very relaxed female leopard was followed for a
• 3 different leopards were seen on the 5th July
• A young male leopard was followed for a while – he
caught and killed a springhare.
• An adult male leopard was seen with the resident
female north of the camp a couple of times as well.
• A pack of 2 male wild dogs were found resting with
full bellies after a considerable tracking effort
over a couple of days. (thanks Evelyn)
• Lots of breeding herds of elephants all around the
camp – one game-drive saw about a thousand
elephants spread over a distance of about 3-5 km
(2-3 mi) “the whole area was covered with elephants – a
few bulls were fighting”
• Large breeding herds of buffalo (up to 1000) concentrating
to the south of the camp – some fighting and
mating activity as well.
• Another couple of herds of 500 strong seen around
• Lots of water-birds, cranes, marabou, saddle-billed
and open-billed storks, Bateleur and tawny eagles,
goliath, little, purple and green-backed herons,
as well as white-headed, hooded, lappet-faced and
• Both black-backed and side-striped jackals have been
seen frequently along the open plains, a pair of
each were found feeding on a reedbuck carcass, cause
of death unknown.
• Lots of hyenas esp south of camp – and occasionally
in camp as well.
• Excellent sightings of several rather large crocodiles
sunning themselves along the riverbanks.
• Very good general game including impala, zebra and
giraffe all around, also seen steenbuck, sable and
roan antelope, baboons and vervet monkeys. Also an
excellent sighting of a sitatunga north of the airstrip
• 2 honey-badgers were found as well as yellow, dwarf
and banded mongooses.
• Night-sightings include an aardvark, striped polecat,
a couple of civets, African wild cats.
• A female pangolin
and her offspring were found feeding in the late
afternoon sunshine - digging for ants and termites
• A number of excellent birds sightings seen including
a couple of carmine bee-eaters – unusual for
this time of year
• A single lioness was tracked and found on an impala kill close to camp
• A pride of 4 male lions was found at Skimmer pan.
• There were several sightings of single male lion roaring and marking his territory.
Later he was followed until he started digging at a hole on the side of a termite
mound, and later was rewarded with a warthog.
• An adult female leopard was seen close to Skimmer pan – but was a little
shy. A male leopard was later found on his impala kill at Lechwe corner. There
were several other leopard sightings including one hunting baboons without
• A single male cheetah was found, as well as a female cheetah and her 2 cubs – she
was seen several times during the last period.
• 2 adult male wild dogs were seen a couple of times – they hunted and
killed an impala.
• Later in the week a single wild dog was seen
at the hyena den south of camp.
• Large breeding herds of elephant are seen throughout the day and night-times
all over the floodplains – the largest group seen together was about
• Excellent sightings of several different herds of buffalo were seen north,
south and west of the camp, one of the herds moved right through Lebala camp
to the river.
• Hyena still continue to dominate the Lebala area, packs are seen patrolling
all over the area nightly - up to 10 together.
• Night sightings include both black-backed and side-striped jackals, porcupine,
serval, civet, genet, African wild cat, white-tailed mongoose and chameleons.
• Excellent general game all over the floodplains – lechwe, impala, giraffe,
tsessebe, zebra, wildebeest, reedbuck – all especially prolific close
to the water in the late afternoons.
• Consistent sightings of the resident raptors – snake eagle, Bateleur
eagle, Marshall eagle, tawny eagle, African hawk eagles, osprey as well as
a variety on herons, Bradfield's hornbill, honey-guides, ostriches and wattled
The 2005 Okavango Flood
update - July 30
may be gathered from the camp newsletters, flood
levels in the delta are subsiding.
Water levels at Duba
Plains, Vumbura Plains, Jacana and Kwetsani have all
been reported as dropping. The reason for this
is very clear (see graph below of the water flow
at Mohembo in the Okavango panhandle). The level of flow
has decreased enormously since the peak of the second
spike at the end of April. Now at the end of July we
are almost back to the levels experienced in January.
Floodplains and lagoons will stay innundated for some time still, but from here
into the summer months levels will continue to drop.
Mombo and Little Mombo monthly update
- July 05 Jump
is perhaps the coldest month of the year in northern Botswana
- but it's all relative! We are in the middle of winter now,
with generally warm, dry weather, and cool nights and mornings.
Average temperatures this month were a little lower than
in June, but on the whole we are having a much milder winter
than in 2004. Even the occasional cold snaps, when ghostly
wreaths of white mist curl around the palm islands before
the sun rises, are soon burned away by the tropical sun,
beaming down out of cloudless skies.
At this time of year there is an extra special quality to
the light in the evenings and early mornings, making for
excellent photographic opportunities and the chance to capture
some incredible images, like the steam that forms when a
lion exhales on a cold morning or a Lilac-breasted Roller
perched on an acacia branch, brilliantly-coloured chest feathers
puffed up to insulate him against the wind.
July is a time for reflection, a month of quiet calm - the
floodwaters have flowed into the Mombo area and have now
continued beyond us, along the fringes of Chief's Island
until they flow into the Thamalakane River which snakes its
way through Maun, before seeping away into the Kalahari sands.
The annual arrival of the waters in Maun, the chief town
of Ngamiland, is always a cause for much celebration, representing
as they do the advent of new life and an annual covenant
At Mombo, the floodwaters have reached their greatest extent
- less than last year, but on a par with 2003. The lower
water levels this year have meant that many areas which we
cannot reach in a high flood year have remained accessible,
allowing for some wonderful game drives along the myriad
rivers and channels of the incredible Delta.
The full moon this month was a true spectacle - an enormous
flame-coloured disc rising beyond the trees to the east,
and slowly turning the colour of old weathered ivory as it
inched its way above the layer of airborne dust which hangs
in the air over distant deserts. Once the moon was higher
than the trees, its pale white face was reflected in the
waters which flow past the Camp, and must be a constant source
of wonder to the enormous Goliath Herons which fish there
Out on the dry plains, rising columns of warm air create
dust-devils which dance their enchanted path across the sun-baked
pans patiently awaiting the next rainfall, in October or
November. It is as if everything has paused, between the
onset of the floods and the start of the rain. An ideal time
to contemplate the wonders of nature which are writ large
here, and to take stock, to discover those things in life
which are truly important.
Of course a stage as wonderful as this needs some incredible
actors to grace it, and the never-ending dramas, great and
small, unfolding in the lives of the majestic animals which
live around us are as always utterly compelling. Every aspect
of life is on display, from courtship to mating to the raising
of young, feeding and grooming, and the necessary violence
of predators hunting and killing. It is impossible to describe
every magical moment that has been experienced on game drives
this month, but we've tried to include a few of the more
special ones. Mombo is well-known, and rightly so, for predator
sightings - the sheer profusion of game here means that this
area can support unusually high densities of the major predators,
and following a sighting of mating leopards just to the east
of Camp earlier this month, this situation looks set to continue
with a new generation of these wonderful cats soon to enter
the scene. Some of our leopards are becoming adept at digging
warthogs out of their burrows, which is of course very bad
news for the warthogs, usually safe when they are underground.
Leopards are patient and clever enough to catch them even
here, however - to a hungry predator, no chance of a meal
can be overlooked! This philosophy was demonstrated by one
our female leopards, who one afternoon was rudely awakened
from her siesta by a guineafowl landing next to her head!
Instantly alert, she flushed the guineafowl into the air
twice more, and as the flock began to descend, she had already
selected her victim, and pounced with unerring accuracy.
The shallow floodwaters provide fantastic grazing opportunities
for the large herds of buffalo which move through this area,
and a herd of buffalo in turn provides a real opportunity
for a pride of lions - particularly a pride like the Mathatha
Pride, long-time Mombo residents, who have a plethora of
hungry mouths to feed at present. The cubs are now at an
age where they can be left relatively safely while the adults
hunt, although even lion cubs are never entirely safe - we
realised during the course of this month that two of the
nineteen cubs are missing. This sadly is not too surprising,
as there are many pitfalls along the way for a young lion,
and only the strongest survive. For the pride to have only
lost two cubs is an incredible achievement. Evening sightings
of this pride in particular are very special, as the adults
prepare to set off to hunt, and the cubs play together in
the last light of day. On one notable occasion, this pattern
was reversed, and guests on a game drive saw a long line
of adults returning to where the cubs had lain concealed
in the shade of acacia trees throughout the long afternoon,
and there was a fantastic ceremony of rubbing heads and noses
and purring as all the members of the pride, large and small,
As with the leopards, no chance to feed is overlooked. Perhaps
the most unusual moment we witnessed this month was an African
Fish Eagle being killed by a lioness. The eagle had hooked
a large catfish from a channel, and as it struggled to take
off with the fish in its talons, a lioness, undoubtedly attracted
by the sudden flurry of activity, bounded through the water
and batted the eagle out of the air. Still clutching its
fish, it tried to take off again, but the lioness again knocked
it down, and this time killed it with a bite from those terrible
jaws. After this however she seemed to lose interest - unlike
the guests of course who were spellbound as this curious
piece of natural theatre unfolded right before their eyes.
As yet we still cannot
be certain whether our nascent pack of wild dogs has
successfully denned. Each time we see the two males,
their behaviour is very typical of dogs on a mission
to feed new puppies, but so far we have been unable to
confirm this. Meanwhile the legendary cheetah brothers,
Boys’, have been very much in evidence of late. Their
territory covers a huge swathe of Chief's Island, but the
impala herds of Mombo are irresistible to them. Just this
morning they killed an impala, only to lose their kill to
lionesses, and the half-eaten kill changed hands once again
when a big male came in to claim the lion's share.
The great variety of habitats at Mombo mean that many of
the Okavango's hundreds of recorded bird species are found
here, from wetland specialists stalking through the reeds
on spindly legs, to the plovers noisily defending their eggs
from any animal that might accidentally step on them. A number
of endangered or rare birds are regularly seen here: White-headed
Vultures soaring down from their vantage points at the top
of the giant baobab trees, Slaty Egrets, and the stately
and graceful Wattled Cranes. The presence of some of these
species is a fine testament to the pristine and unspoilt
nature of these wonderful wilderness areas.
The acacia woodlands in the centre of Chief's Island also
host a great variety of species, and it is here that some
of the more colourful characters are found: Crimson-breasted
Shrikes, Melba Finches, sunbirds, and Violet-eared Waxbills,
each of them a glittering jewel in amongst the thorns of
This month our guests have enjoyed regular sightings of our
reintroduced white rhino. Following the discovery of the
newest calf last month, there are now more wild rhino in
Botswana than there have been for perhaps two decades or
more, and the fact that they can be seen roaming free in
the Okavango again makes a sighting of these magnificent
animals not just a great safari moment, but also living proof
of a conservation success story.
Some great detective work by our guides this week resulted
in a sighting of one of the very elusive black rhinos. One
of the adult females in particular is known to regularly
move about the northern part of Chief's Island; she rarely
stays in one place for long. Once her distinctive tracks
had been seen, however, the guides soon worked out where
she was heading and were able to give the guests a chance
to see the rarest of Botswana's mammals.
One of the great delights of Mombo is that we have been
able to create a home from home for our guests in the very
heart of the Okavango. The cooler weather of winter is no
real challenge, now that we have hot water bottles available
not just in the beds at night, but for those first few moments
of the early morning game drives. Extra blankets on the chairs
around the fire and a few extra Leadwood logs blazing away
soon have the cold on the run. And then of course there is
the food - what better way to keep warm on a winter's night
in Africa than by tucking into a wonderful meal by the light
of candles and paraffin lamps? Hot desserts, particularly
the fig pudding with caramel sauce, have been real winners.
And for anyone who overindulges, we now have a new fitness
centre, with exercise machines for people who are feeling
As always, we will leave the last word on Mombo and Little
Mombo in July to the guests who shared this little piece
of paradise with us during the month:
• You seem to have covered everything to make our stay
an unforgettable experience!
• I will always tell everyone that Mombo is the Camp not
• The staff are all tremendous - what a pleasure! What
a very special place!
• Multiple leopard sightings - hot water bottles - landscape
- best food on our trip!
• Thompson (our guide) - so intelligent and a wonderful
• This is a very special place: the beauty of the landscapes,
the majesty of the animals, and most especially the warmth
and generosity of the people make Mombo an unforgettable experience!
• Just keep up the wonderful work you are all doing.
That's all from your July Mombo and Little Mombo teams:
Brandon & Debs, Pete & Sharon, Craig, Noreen, Kate,
Thompson, Mavis, One, and Nick.
Until next time, or until we see you here!
Selinda & Zibalianja Camps update
- July 05 Jump
sighting of the 2005 Selinda wild dog pack’s litter of
pups was on the 12th of July and 13 little tykes came waddling
out the den under the alpha female’s watchful eye. The
rest of the pack were as excited as we were at their emergence,
and there was much cavorting, yipping and yelping.
The dogs continue to wreak havoc with
the local impala and kudu herds – twice daily.
With so many extra mouths they need to double their
hunting efforts now that the pups are being weaned.
The Zibalianja waterhole now has an
almost continuous procession of animals visiting it.
The most commonly seen are impala, warthogs, elephant,
kudu and zebra, all stopping in throughout the day and night.
Action though is never far away, and a dramatic chase
ensued when a big male baboon took exception to the leopard
presence, and sent the leopard packing across the floodplain
to the refuge of an acacia tree.
For a number of years we have been considering canoeing
on the Selinda Spillway. Well, it has now become a reality
and our new Canadian kayaks are being put to good use at
Motswiri. The floodwaters make it possible to silently explore
the banks of the spillway where a variety of animals come
The most spectacular sighting of the year has to be the
arrival of a massive herd of buffalo in front of Selinda
Camp. At a conservative estimate, 2 500 beasts covered the
floodplain and spillway in a noisy, dusty, black blanket
as the whole herd drank their fill. The herd has since been
seen on numerous occasions.
We are very concerned that some calamity
has befallen one of the three male cheetah. We noticed
recently that he was not well and had become separated
from his two comrades. The other two have been quite
distraught and spent a good deal of time searching and
calling for their missing buddy. We can only hope that the
sick male recovers and rejoins the coalition – we will
keep you posted.
For the first time
ever we will be open for the “Green
Season” of December, January and February! Scenically,
this is one of the most dramatic times of the year and a
photographer’s dream. Game viewing is rewarding and
the birdlife is at its best. See you there!
Jacana Camp update
- July 05 Jump
“NO, JACK! DON'T
BREAK THAT TREE!”
What does one do with a 5-ton landscape artist? A lot of
After a two-week absence, Jack the elephant, is back in
full force. He has successfully shaken every last nut from
the Real Fan Palms and is now doing serious gardening. He
lacks planning, though. Several big Feverberries are no more
and lots of branches are lying around. We clean up as best
we can and wait for the next onslaught. For all the hassle
he causes, he does provide great experiences for guests and
good close up shots near the rooms and dining area.
A second, larger elephant
has been visiting as well. He has stunning tusks, but
keeps his distance and lingers only a few hours. Earlier
this month, a whole group of bulls were huddled under
a tree near the airstrip. It seemed like an “old
boys” convention. Wonder what they were discussing?
The water around camp is dropping more and more. We will
soon be taking the long channel to the jetty. Guests can
expect a 45-minute or more transfer to the jetty. The route
follows the main channel and is filled with birds and great
Activities at Jacana
have been more water-based this month. Lots of birds
and elephants out on the islands. Cats have been scarce.
Not much lion around at the moment. Leopard have been
seen and a great sighting of a female stalking impala
at the jetty – she was unsuccessful,
but it was a great sighting for guests coming from the
The local herd of tsessebe have become very relaxed and
can be seen at a close distance when on drive. Big herds
of lechwe are still on the Jao floodplains together with
wildebeest and zebra.
The hippos are moving around more and more, and can be heard
close to camp at night. Other noisy things at night are big
catfish feeding in the shallows around the rooms, sucking
and splashing as they hunt small critters in the grass and
Fishing has been successful this month: Some impressive
bream, nembwe, African pike and some feisty tigerfish. The
water is warming up and proving attractive to bigger fish
with many more bugs on which to feed.
Fish-eating birds are plentiful as usual. Some African Fish
Eagles were seen battling at dizzy heights, followed by lots
of calling by onlookers. The Pel's Fishing Owls are around
a lot and can be heard regularly at night. They are accompanied
by their elusive cousins, the Scops Owl, always heard, but
And don't forget Jack, who will be continuing his landscaping
The Jacana Management team
Jack's & San
Camps update - July 05 Jump
to Jack's & San
in the desert! Golden sunrises, cold feet and mountains of
fleeces! Looking out over this parched, shimmering landscape
in the cold hard light of morning it’s a miracle that
anything survives here at all, but survive it does.
For one, the Mowana troop. This hardy
troop of meerkats has recently increased its numbers
from 8 to 11 with the welcome addition of three males from
outside sources. At first these males were very stand-offish
but soon won the favour of the dominant female who has
been without a mate since October. This is fantastic news
as now this troop, which had diminished to a worrying eight,
now has breeding potential. All that is needed now
is time while the new males settle in, habituate and then
start getting romantic ideas! This they have done with surprising
speed, with the vigilant Tobesani reporting back that
the males were soon sleeping in the same burrow and then
foraging closer and closer to the main colony each day.
The next developments will be when one of the three will
vie for the title of “daddy” and
start breeding with our lone damsel!
July also saw the arrival of Anna,
in from Abu Elephant research, her mission to locate
and habituate the ‘Taka
group’ - a second colony of meerkats that we had
been keeping a loose eye on in a neighbouring territory.
Taking on slightly smaller subject from what she is used
to, Anna has been setting forth in all modes of transport
in an attempt to habituate them to all possible conditions,
from flapping trousers to quad bikes to the sturdy chug
of the Land Cruisers. The habituation process has been
a lot smoother than expected: having been within two
metres of the den site on their emergence in the mornings
and then keeping within 10 metres of the troop as they
head off to forage - all within five days!
Other developments have included very
gratifying success with the Brown Hyaena project. Glyn
Maud, supported by vet Dane Hawk out of New York State,
managed a capture rate of four hyaenas and one research
assistant in a period of 2 nights! On the first night,
using new techniques of outlying bait from the main
carcass in a hope of tempting in more timid animals 2 hyaenas
were attracted. The trap site was deliberately set up on
the supposed boundaries of 3 clans to pull in hyaenas from
all sides. They didn’t have
to wait long: at 22h08 the first hyaena came in and was held
firm by the traps. Dane and Glyn moved in to do the business
of darting, collaring, weighing, measuring, sexing, assessing
age from teeth wear, blood and hair samples and ear nicks
for ease of field identification. Puduhudu, as she was subsequently
named is a 2 ½-year-old female fitted with a GPS
During the hyaena’s medical exam
an ominous sign was found: A loop of synthetic rope
around the rear right leg of the animal. Although this did
not appear to be causing the animal any distress it does
lead to more sinister problems of the hyaena-human conflict
in the area, a subject that Glyn is vociferous about.
However, no sooner had the hyaena lolloped off, the traps
reset and the team pulled out another hyaena walked straight
up and became ensnared. The well-practiced team swung
into action and the result was an 8-year-old female named
Gweta, also fitted with GPS.
The following night proved equally
successful, with ambitions knowing no bounds as Glyn
set up 2 trapping sites within radio communication of each
other. The first victim came in the shape of a research
assistant, a prime adult male, but his wife deemed
it unnecessary to collar him. So the traps were set, the
donkey smelt ripe and the team settled in for the stake-out.
At 20h30 the first hyaena was drawn to the bait, a young
female maybe 20 months old, caught and subsequently named
Tabatsukudu. After all the necessary data had been collected,
experiments with new combinations of sedation and reversal
drugs had reduced the recovery time to that of 7 minutes
from the point of administration, a remarkable feat
of achievement in itself. 00h15 and site No. 2 struck lucky,
a 6-year-old male who, according to Dane, had to be
wrestled to the ground single-handedly. Other reports confirmed
that he twitched in his sleep. A new technique of body
condition rating was used, looking at hydration levels
and muscle mass and this gave the hyaenas a rating
of 4/5 and 5/5 respectively, which bodes well for the health
of the hyaena population in the area - even at this
point of the year where the last rains fell back in April.
About a week later, an aerial survey
with the kind help of John Schwikkard’s piloting skills and plane, collected
data for the above animals and other collars roaming the
area and saw that Puduhudu and Tabatsukudu were operating
in the Planka area, to the north of Jack’s. Gweta
is out to the west in the Makgadikgadi National Park
and another collar, Dingary, collared 7 weeks ago, operates
north on the Orapa Road. In hindsight the success of
the night was given to the laying of scent trails to
the carcass by dragging entrails around the surrounding
area in the evening before each night. All this, and
the fact that all hyaenas that came into the sites were
un-collared, suggests again that populations in the Makgadikgadi
area are doing well.
Other excitement in
camp includes Kudu, a prime bull with magnificent horns
seen roaming the area in between Jack’s
and Tsgaro airstrip, along with a harem of 3 females. Aardwolf
have been showing themselves earlier and earlier as the nighttime
temperatures fall, forcing them to utilise other termite
sources. African wildcats have been spotted on Lion Island
(we suspect delusions of grandeur) as well as along the Ntwetwe
Pan shoreline. We have had two confirmed reports of two black-footed
cats out towards Chapman’s Baobab which has created
much anticipation. The two resident Red-necked Falcons are
still causing consternation within the resident dove population
of Jack’s Island and the yellow mongoose family have
been proving as bold as ever in and around camp.
Pafuri Camp - July 05 Jump
to Pafuri Camp
I am feeling a little dizzy, my first month at Pafuri Camp is drawing to an end
and my head is spinning. How does one begin to describe the multitude of mind-blowing
experiences that a month in Pafuri delivers?
On a birding walk on the Mangala floodplain a male lion walked straight towards
us. His roar reverberating off the sandstone cliffs, yellow eyes locked
on us, unafraid of the small group of humans. He passed within a stone’s
throw of us!
Dusk and dawn from the main deck is heralded by the appearance of the sensational
and much sought-after Bat Hawk. This phenomenal raptor is roosting somewhere
in the camp and we are treated to regular shows of bat-hunting prowess over
the Luvuvhu River during morning tea.
At the confluence of the Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers two bull hippos clash.
Enormous mouths stretched wide open, deadly tusks slashing and stabbing. The
water turns to foam in the frenzy and the foam is red with blood. We are standing
on the bank not more than fifteen metres from the gigantic warriors.
Thousands of pink nectar vases are tended by countless twittering sunbirds
beneath a canopy of fever trees. Anisotes formosissimus – its botanical
name meaning “most beautiful” is in full flower and the sunbirds
have never been happier. The tiny birds dart from flower to flower in search
of its sweet nectar. A whitish smudge marks the head of every sunbird in
the area. The flower is perfectly formed to deposit its pollen onto the
head of the unknowing sunbird which then spreads the pollen from plant
to plant with nectar-inspired enthusiasm.
The month of July has brought no measurable amount of rain to the dusty earth.
An isolated storm did however drop about a millimetre on game drive one afternoon.
Apart from a few windy days at the beginning of the month the days have been
warm and clear with the nights and early mornings tending to be a little icy.
The night sky has been sensational with Venus, Jupiter and Scorpio dominating
the early evening sky.
Game viewing along the Luvuvhu has been fantastic. Large numbers of buffalo
and elephant kick up dust and trample the earth on their regular trips to the
water. Literally thousands of baboon, vervet monkeys, nyala, kudu, bushbuck
and waterbuck visit the river during the hotter times of the day. On one of
our first afternoon teas, a leopard was seen strolling along the south bank.
Cat sightings have been good, with sixteen lion and leopard sightings for the
month as well as sightings of serval and African wildcat. Lion highlights included
a pride killing a buffalo within earshot of the camp, some great views of two
young cubs (about 4 -6 months) and the regular roaring patrol of the Makuleke
male. Leopard viewing was best close to camp with a large male being seen near
the bridge on a number of occasions as well as a female in the same area. Leopard
track density everywhere in the concession is very high and we look forward
to tracking these less known leopards.
Six white rhino are presently in a boma becoming accustomed to their new home.
The return of white rhino to this area is cause for great celebration – no
white rhino have been here for over a hundred years. Eland herds have been
seen on two occasions, with the herds numbering 20 and 25 animals each.
Buffalo herds have been seen on an almost daily basis. Typical herds number
between 50 and 100 animals, the larger herds up to about 200.
A personal highlight of the month was two separate sightings of four-toed
elephant shrew. These crazy-looking insectivores bring great joy to anyone
swift enough with binoculars to get a good view.
A bird list of confirmed sightings for July numbers 200 species, in keeping
with our expectations of awesome birding at Pafuri. Racket-tailed Roller,
Fishing Owl and Bat Hawk are the month’s crackers. Other exciting birds
included Böhm’s and Mottled Spinetails, Green-capped Eremomelas,
and Mosque Swallows.
Rocktail Bay Dive Report - July 05 Jump
Sea conditions have varied
from flat to 2.5m swells; 8m to 20m viz.; with water temperatures
around the 21-22 degree Celsius mark. Even though divers arrive
warmly wrapped up for the early morning dives, we are blessed
with mostly sunny days during winter, and there is nothing
better than coming up from a dive to have the sun shining on
We continued to see
Humpback Whales throughout the month, out on the horizon
breaching and blowing and a couple of close encounters.
Another occasion saw two Humpbacks sleeping just north
of Island Rock. As we stopped to take our life jackets
off Clive spotted their tails sticking out of the water.
They lie in the water in a head-down position, with just
their tails sticking out of the water; this is called “sailing.” We
sat for a while and watched as they alternated between this
position and lying flat on the surface as they took a breath,
before doing their headstands again.
The most spectacular
sighting of the month was a lot more active. As we were
travelling to the dive site we saw three Humpback Whales
putting on the performance of a lifetime. They were travelling
in the same direction as we were, northwards, and it
was incredible to watch them breaching time after time.
One would breach followed by another, then two would
breach together, then the other and on and on. It was
incredible to see such huge creatures lift their bodies
almost clear out of the water before crashing down in
a huge spray. Normally a whale breaching about five times
in a row is a sight to see, these whales must have breached
about thirty times! Each breach was echoed by ‘oooh’ and ‘aaaah’ as
we watched in amazement.
The reefs have been
extremely active and full of life. A wonderful dive at ‘Elusive’ began with a huge
honeycomb moray eel swimming right past us, followed closely
by a curious potato bass who charged right in to see what
the commotion was about. Then another big honeycomb eel came
out from under a ledge to see what the potato bass was so
interested in – all this as we were exchanging OK signals!
The dive continued to impress as we watched numerous devil
firefish on the prowl; a huge school of blue-lined snappers
enveloping us; tropical kingfish cruising in and out; and
even a good-sized cobia – often mistaken for a small
For sheer numbers of
fish, ‘Gogo’s’ was
certainly the winning reef this month. For those of you who
have dived here, you know just how beautiful the coral is
on this reef and how diverse the fish life. Well, the fish
seem to have multiplied even more! There are literally hundreds
of redfang triggerfish, blue-lined snappers, humpback snappers,
sea pike, concords, lemonfish, dusky rubberlips and sea goldies.
As two of our Dutch guests said: “Our first sea dive
and it was amazing. Saw too much to describe. A wonderful
Another special reef
is ‘Solitude’. This reef
is a lone outcrop surrounded by sand, where all the life
gathers. With just Dave Gilbert and myself it truly was a
dive of solitude! We descended in clear blue water to the
reef below, a black tip reef shark had a quick look before
moving off across the sand. We saw five giant kingfish (Caranx
Ignoblis) in the cave and sat on the sand watching as they
swam around and then out the other side. As there was quite
a strong north-south current, we headed straight for the
northern side of the reef so as not to be swept off across
the sand. This current seems to be the one that the fish
like! They sit facing into it and wait for the plankton to
be swept to them. We sat and watched them feeding in the
current - dusky rubberlips, soldiers and schools of fusiliers
that swam around the rocky outcrop. The beautiful black branched
coral swayed in the current and we quietly watched the garden
eels and razor fish going about their business on the sand.
Our time was all too quickly finished and we surfaced slowly
watching the reef disappear below us. Dave completed his
PADI Advanced Diver Course with us – Congratulations
and we wish you many more wonderful diving experiences!
Till next month!
Darryl, Clive, Michelle
The Rocktail Bay Dive Team
Spirit of the
Namib Safari report -
July 05 Jump
of the Namib Safari
On this past Spirit of the Namib from the 12th of July to the
22nd, we had an amazing trip with many great sights and scenes.
One of the biggest highlights was when we went for a great morning
kayaking at Pelican Point at Walvis Bay. We had tons of seals
right amongst us whilst kayaking. It was great seeing all of
them so very close to you in the water!
There were also numerous Heaviside’s
dolphins that came to investigate. Some of them came
up into the air, being completely out of the water. This must
have been about 40 metres away from us at times! We also
did a full-day excursion to the Sandwich Harbour area with
an amazing adventure through the Kuiseb Delta and some of the
big dunes on the coast.
The real unexpected treat came when a
humpback whale showed up and actually surfaced out of
the water for a brief glimpse of its forequarters before shooting
out some spray from the blowhole and then plunging back
into the water. We only saw a few more "sprays" before losing sight of it. About
2 kilometres north along the beach we had another brief glimpse
of another whale, this time only seeing a small part of the
back and the spray again. We thought it was the same one, but
the second vehicle with the other half of the group was about
1km back and radioed us to report that they were looking at
one as well! Even though the sightings were brief, it was truly
amazing as whale sightings around these areas are still quite
rare – a wonderful addition to the Spirit of the
Serra Cafema update - July 05 Jump
Another month has passed,
they really fly by – it must be because we are having
so much fun!
The worst of the winter
is over and our days are warming up. We still have thick
fog coming up the river valley most mornings, but it
burns away quite early, and the temperature does not
drop so low over night as it did in June. For all of
July we had a minimum temperature of 13ºC, and a
maximum of a very pleasant 33ºC.
The camp is looking great, much of our furniture has been
re-upholstered this month, giving the main area and guest
rooms a real face-lift. We have almost completed work on
the new laundry, and have planted grass and various herbs
around the kitchen to give the back-of-house a new look also.
With regards to guiding
it has certainly been the month for predators! A small
pride of 3 male lions (1 adult, 2 sub-adults) moved through
the area, coming up from the south and crossing over
the airstrip where we found their tracks, then heading
down to a nearby canyon with the appropriate name “Leeu Rivier” (Lion
River). This had us all excited and the Himba people fearing
for their stock. Their fears were put to rest, however, after
we all spent two days helping to move all the livestock away
from the canyon.
Lions were not all
we saw in July. We had numerous brown hyaena sightings,
several times actually viewing them in and around camp – which
can be a thrilling experience when walking in the dark!
Crocodile sightings have also been regular, especially
now that the river has dropped to expose a few obvious
sunbathing spots. To top it all off, we ended the month with
two cheetah near the airstrip spotted by two of the camp
staff on their way to the Marienfluss to pick up a staff
member who had been on leave.
Not bad for the desert …
Ongava Tented Camp update - July
The idyllic hues of the
winter season dot the landscape with a kaleidoscope of yellow,
ochre, burnt orange and brown with spurts of green as the last
few Mopane trees refuse to relinquish their summer foliage. The
warm days and cool nights remind that winter is still eminent
but with the promise of spring yet to come. Driving through pockets
of cold and warm air in the early evening, the cool breezes waft
across the grassy plains lifting the heady, earthy, grassy smells
as one returns to camp, wrapped under a poncho, knowing a glass
of sherry, a hot shower, a scrumptious meal and the warmth of
the camp fire awaits one.
Antelope, followed by the predators, abound at the waterhole
as the dams start drying up. Both black and white rhino frequent
the waterhole at night, mostly at dinner time, sending the
guests scurrying for their cameras, only returning to their
meal once the rhino has left. Spotted hyaena whoop through
the night after drinking their fill under the spotlight of
the waterhole. Lion are heard in the early evenings and mornings
roaring their dominance to the animals on the plains just beyond
Guineafowl herald the
new day, raising clouds of dust in the chilly morning air.
screeching, Bare-cheeked Babblers a-babbling and a host of
other birdsong join the cacophony orchestrated by the tok-tok-tok
of the hornbills. A perfect start to a new day.
Sightings at both Ongava
and Etosha have enthralled guests by the sheer numbers
of springbok, gemsbok and Burchell’s
zebra. 63 elephant were counted in one morning’s drive
between Olifantsbad and Aus in Etosha. Bloated lions were often
found lying next to zebra and gemsbok carcasses surrounded
by White-backed Vultures, Lappet-faced Vultures and black-backed
jackals. Rarer sightings of cheetah on the Ongava Reserve and
in Etosha sent the guides into frenzy of excitement, not to
mention an even rarer sighting of an aardwolf in Etosha.
Tawny and African Hawk Eagles were often seen perched high
in the branches waiting for unsuspecting prey to come past.
Majestic Secretarybirds, crowns displayed, strut through the
grasslands whilst the Lilac-breasted Rollers grace the dry
woodland with their beautiful plumage. In the twilight of early
evening Double-banded Sandgrouse plonk themselves down in a
cloud of dust just beyond the light of the waterhole indicating
the day is just about done.
The campfire lit, smoke
wafting through the barren trees as the crickets start
their evensong, ends another perfect day in paradise … Ongava.