Dive Report from beautiful North Island in
Monthly update from Makalolo Plains in
Kwando Safaris game reports for
Monthly update from Mombo Camp in
Monthly update from Xigera Camp in
Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in
Monthly update from Chitabe Camp in
Monthly update from Savuti Camp in
Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in
Monthly update from DumaTau Camp in
from Rocktail Bay in
Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in
Update from The Great Namibian Journey safaris
North Island in the Seychelles
North Island Dive Report - Nov 05 Jump
to North Island
The sea conditions for the month
of November have been quite temperamental, ranging between flat,
mirror-like and rough with strong shore breaks. The temperature
is up to 29 degrees with the odd 30-degree mark on some days.
Visibility on a few of the dives has been as good as forty metres – very
We’ve had the pleasure of seeing dolphins on almost every
trip that we made this month and have snorkelled and dived with
them at least six times. There has been a lot of shark activity
around the island and, very surprisingly, a Whale Shark was seen
at the end of the month. From what I now understand, it is not
uncommon to see them at this time of the year and it is due to
coral and fish spawn which is apparent towards the end of the
year. Other sightings for November have included: Giant Sleepy
Sharks, hundreds of juvenile Flying fish and lots of juvenile
eels. The beaches around the island are shifting quite quickly
now with the main beach, reasonably narrow over the past couple
of months, filling up with sand daily. After two to three months
the beach will extend out about forty to fifty metres!
FISH CATCH STATISTICS
Makalolo update - Nov
to Makalolo Camp
Through the month, heavily pregnant skies promised the arrival of
long-awaited rains; thunder rolled and echoed across the plains
and the horizon grew darker and closer, as flashes of lightning
flashed in the distance. The air was still, nature holding its
breath in anticipation, as temperatures fluctuated during those
suffocating, lingering weeks. Rival winds roared and pushed clouds
away, fighting off the brief intermittent showers which begin
a true Zimbabwean rainy season! Eventually, the heavens opened,
steadily at first and then unrelentingly - we welcomed the rains!
Temperatures during the month of
November ranged from 18° to
40° Celsius. The highest recorded rainfall at Makalolo was
16mm on 29 November. Our total monthly rainfall for November was
VEGETATION, LANDSCAPE & WATER
During the earlier part of the month, some areas of dry bush became
susceptible to fiery fingers of lightning which set it ablaze.
We completed a back-burning fire fighting mission and the last
of the flames were eventually extinguished by light rain showers.
The combination of fire and rains is always a welcome relief
to the environment, allowing new plant life to germinate.
Encouraged by the rains, the bush has splashed out in a variety
of lush greens, making Makalolo rather picturesque at this time
of the year! Large trees are adorned in lime and emerald leaves,
which are a striking contrast against the dark blue and grey overcast
skies. New varieties of as-yet-unidentified colourful little succulents,
plants and grasses are pushing through the surface of the Kalahari
sands. Ensconced in the leafy undergrowth of False Mopane and Zimbabwe
Teak woodlands, different types of fungi are bearing their mushrooming
heads. The damp air is thickly scented with sweet smelling perfumes
from sprays of white flowers, including white bauhinia and wild
jasmines, which are entwined amongst the branches and clustered
on the carpets of the forests. Splashes of colour are being sprinkled
amongst the foliage, as a few of the Zimbabwean Teak trees have
produced their first pink blooms and glorious gargantuan red fireball
flowers emblazon the scrublands.
We have recently noticed that the termites must have predicted
the wet weather, as they have re-modelled and constructed bigger
and better ant-sized apartment blocks! Cicadas hang like Christmas
tree decorations from branches, screeching their monotonous high-shrilled
melodies, bringing back childhood memories.
Puddles of water are collecting in the roads around the concession
and it is pure bliss to experience full and overflowing water holes,
after a somewhat demanding dry season. If the rains continue in
this manner, we are optimistic about turning our pumps off for
a couple of months to allow nature to sustain our wildlife. Frogs
are making the most of the abundance of water and they are having
an extraordinary mating season, or so it seems!
Sightings for this month included: aardwolf, lesser bushbaby and
reedbuck, caracal, leopard, white-tailed mongoose, square-lipped
(white) rhino, side-striped jackal, Selous mongoose, slender
mongoose, bat-eared fox, cheetah, tree squirrel, lion, banded
mongoose, spotted hyaena, scrub hare, small-spotted genet, red
hartebeest, vervet monkey, eland, roan, sable, giraffe, kudu,
impala and baboon, Cape buffalo, common duiker, elephant, hippo,
black-backed jackal, springhare, steenbok, warthog, waterbuck,
wildebeest and zebra.
The big (and medium) cats have had a bit of an extravaganza at
Makalolo this month! On one particular evening, caracal, cheetah
and leopard were all seen on the same drive! Three adult cheetah
were seen lounging around the front of Makalolo Plains for two
days, and later on in the month a couple of male cheetah were seen
at Little Mbiza lying in the shade of a Jackalberry tree. A pair
of oblivious warthogs happened upon them, and luckily for the warthogs,
the cheetahs were full and therefore uninterested in the menu!
Two adult leopards were seen at
Madison Pan during “elephant
happy hour.” The male leopard, being the first on the scene,
delicately approached the waterhole to drink despite being watched
by three game drive vehicles and being surrounded by herds of surly
elephants! He slunk around the elephant gauntlet to prevent himself
from getting in the way and being flattened. After pretending not
to notice the hero’s fanatical feline tactics, a shy female
leopard then made her way over a rise and inched her way towards
the waterhole to drink. On seeing her advance, the male leopard
seemed to do a double take and nobly moved forward to meet the
lady. However, an unruly elephant intercepted their union and threatened
the female leopard, sending her scurrying off swiftly. The male
leopard stood his ground with the elephant and after defiantly
staring down the brute, moved off in search of his damsel in distress!
An awesome sighting of two sub-adult caracals was had at the top
of Linkwasha Vlei. They were lying in a refuge of Terminalia scrub,
with only their heads and pointy little ears showing! They were
seen licking each other and appeared to be very relaxed.
During early morning breakfast, two lionesses strolled across
the front of camp to feed on a baby buffalo they had killed the
night before. They then returned in the direction they had originally
come from, settled at the foot of a termite mound and gave a few
lazy groans. All too soon the lionesses were joined by an intermingled
number of bouncing lions of different ages and sizes! An extraordinary
pride of twenty lions majestically strode in single file across
the Plains, accentuated on the yellow sand by the golden morning
light. They congregated around the water outlet pipe to drink,
with a rhythmic lapping of tongues. Some of the younger cubs drank
their fill and then teased the hundreds of doves festooned around
the water by pouncing at them playfully. The older lions dispersed
slowly and signalled the start of breakfast on the buffalo with
low grunting noises. The pride hungrily devoured their morning
offering and then moved off into the scrubland.
Elephant sightings have not been as prolific since the arrival
of the rains and the Makalolo swimming pool is chock-full of water
and on a much deserved break from being elephant cocktail after
months of being drained dry on a daily basis! There is the occasional
surprise visitor to the pool in the evenings, but it seems that
our long-nosed friends are making the most of the natural waterholes
in the bush.
Timid waterbuck herds have been
nibbling on new green shoots around the front of camp and warthogs
come clambering out of their burrows in the late afternoon, nuzzling
their snouts into the wet earth, feeding and show off their new
young! Majestic herds of as many as 60 eland have been seen and
their familiar clicking is heard in many areas around the concession.
We had a very special sighting of a mother and baby rhino at
Mbiza, as guides and guests were able to approach them on foot
and watch them from a short distance away. A solitary wildebeest
has been parading his territory on the Plains – a first-class
screensaver for when nothing else is happening on the big screen
in front of camp!
BIRDS & BIRDING
An improved total for Makalolo of 153 different bird species was
seen during November! This has been due to the arrival of migrant
species settling in for their summer holiday, making the most
of the waterholes and puddles – Spur-winged Geese, Knob-billed
Ducks and Red-billed Teals paddle around amongst Egyptian Geese
and stir up a diet for Plovers, Sandpipers, Greenshanks and Black-winged
Stilts! African Fish Eagles’ soothing calls currently have
some competition from the ‘yarping’ sounds of a pair
of Grey-crowned Cranes who seem to have returned again this year
to build their nest in one of the natural waterholes near Somavundla
It has been exciting witnessing nest building, and searching for
and identifying nests of the smaller and unfamiliar birds. Red-headed
and Southern Masked Weavers have dominated the scene with their
brilliant colours and battles for females. Their creative little
nests are teeming from the branches of False Mopane and Teak trees.
Our resident pair of Paradise Flycatchers has returned to build
their little cup-shaped nest above the boardwalk near the kitchen,
utilising an array of different materials to make it as comfortable
as possible. It is near completion now and we look forward to inspecting
the completed unit and eggs later on! A pair of Southern Yellow-billed
Hornbills has set up home in one of the sturdy Leadwoods in front
of camp. We have often seen the male flitting in and out of the
tree carrying mud and juicy morsels back to his female. Kurrichane
Thrushes have built their somewhat untidy nests in the forks of
trees, but their humble abodes appear to be a bit washed out! We
recently discovered the minute nest of a Chinspot Batis, held fast
to the rough bark of a Red Syringa tree just outside the workshops.
Bird melodies start camp life every
morning and keen birders can spend a few hours around the woodland
in camp identifying the likes of Coqui and Red-billed Francolins,
Pygmy, Grey-headed and Brown-hooded Kingfishers, African and
Green Hoopoes, African Golden and Black-headed Orioles, and an
array of Cuckoos, including African, Red-chested, Black, Great
Spotted, Jacobin, Diederik and Klaas’s.
Finally, on the human side, we are proud to announce that Tendai
Mdluli passed his proficiency exams and is now a fully-fledged
Professional Guide, winning Best Guide at Proficiency 2005!
“We had a marvellous time! The weather was great – a
variety of raindrops, wind and hot and still. Amazing wildlife!
Thanks for everything” – BH, USA.
“What a treat it has been to experience Africa in all its
glory – the landscape, the animals and the friendly people!
Thanks for sharing your country with us!” – CS, USA.
There is a piece of Makalolo wanting
to be touched, a memory waiting to be made – come and find it for yourself! We wish all our
guests, readers, friends and colleagues a “wild” and
enjoyable festive season and all our best hopes, thoughts and plans
for 2006 are with you!
From Shelley and the team at Makalolo Plains
Camps Update - Nov 05
Lagoon camp Jump
• Several different groups
of lions were seen including the Lagoon pride that
has moved back from Namibia. Amongst the pride are
2 lionesses and 4 cubs. They killed an adult buffalo
bull and 3 calves early in the month, as well as another
buffalo, and finally in the latter part of the month
pulled down a young hippo after an epic 3 hour battle
(guest got to bed at 4am)
• Also seen several times were a couple of lionesses
hunting as well as 2 male lions mating with 2 lionesses.
• A relaxed young male leopard was seen over a period
of about 10 days in the same area – it is assumed
he had a kill in the area
• A female cheetah and her 2 cubs (one make and one female)
were sighted and followed a number of times through
• Also seen was a shy adult male cheetah
• The pack of 3 wild dogs and 5 puppies were seen almost
daily, and several times while they were followed they
killed impala. Later on the month they shifted their
den together with the puppies about 4 km.
• Elephants were seen in large numbers – herds
up to 200 but they later dispersed into the mopani
after the rains filled the numerous pans away from
the river. Good numbers of buffalo were seen throughout
the period - the largest was about 1500 strong.
• The general game has been quite good, including sightings
of roan and sable, and impala lambs in their hundreds.
• Night sightings include hyena feeding on a young buffalo,
a caracal killing a springhare on the airstrip,, porcupine,
black-backed jackal, honeybadger. And a number of sightings
• The birding has been excellent all round, the huge
carmine bee-eater colony is still very active.
• Also seen since the rain – hundreds of frogs,
and several different species of snakes.
Kwara camp Jump
• 2 male lions fed an an
adult female giraffe for 3 days.
• A pride of 8 was followed hunting and chasing impala,
• A pair of male lions followed while they were roaring
and marking their territories
• A pride of 15 lions split into groups of 6 and 9 – both
groups were followed hunting several times without
• 3 male lions and 2 lionesses were found feeding on
a buffalo carcass with plenty of vultures and jackals
• A very relaxed female leopard was viewed near the camp
for some time
• An adult female cheetah and her 2 cubs were seen a
number of times and were followed while hunting.
• A trio of adult male cheetahs was followed hunting – they
pulled down and ate a tsessebe calf, and were subsequently
seen in the area for a few days.
• A pack of 3 wild dogs was found – a male and
2 females – they were hunting impalas, chased
• Lots of elephant bulls were seen around the camp especially
in the evenings, and were also seen frequently bathing
in the channels of the delta by those on the boat-cruises.
Also seen from the boat were a couple of breeding herds.
• A very large herd of buffalo between 1500-2000 was
seen a number of times including at the pan in front
of the camp.
• Plenty of impala lambs, tsessebe calves and other general
• Night sightings include hyenas hunting, one from a
pack of 15 caught an impala lamb and ran off with it
into the night. Also seen at night both species of
jackal, African wild cat, serval honeybadger, large
spotted genet, and aardvark.
• Plenty of different species of frogs and toads seen
including banded rubber frogs, and huge bullfrogs after
a heavy downpour.
• Boat trips to the heronry still producing wonderful
• Also spotted by one of the trackers – a huge
python coiled up in a tree.
Lebala camp Jump
• A pride of 2 adult male
lions killed a buffalo bull close to Johns Pan.
• A couple of male lions were found mating with 2 lionesses.
• A pride of 2 adult lionesses and 5 subadults were
followed hunting buffalo north of half-way pan – they
eventually caught and killed an injured buffalo..
• A pride of 6 lions was followed hunting – they
chased baboons without success.
• 2 adult male lions killed an adult buffalo cow close
to Johns pan.
• A large adult male leopard killed a young zebra and
was seen feeding on it for 2 days.
• A couple of sightings of shy leopards as well a relaxed
male found resting on a termite mound.
• A pack of 23 wild dogs were followed hunting and
killed impala regularly (sometimes quite close to
camp) throughout the month
• Large breeding herds of elephants (up to 500 strong)
that were seen all over the concession at the beginning
of the month started to disperse in to the mopane
woodlands using the rain-filled pans after the rains
• Several herds of buffalo numbering up to several
hundred strong seen all along the floodplains – they
have started moving away from the river but are still
frequenting the floodplains
• General game good with newly born youngsters everywhere.
Also a sightings of a lone sitatunga in the floodplains
• Night sightings included African wild cats, serval,
a clan of hyena feeding on a hippo carcass, a clan
of hyena trying to kill a sick giraffe calf, and
then feeding on it in the afternoon, side-striped
jackal denning on the floodplains just north of camp
• Also seen a wide variety of snakes and frogs out
since the rains, as well as excellent migratory birds
Camp update - Nov 05 Jump
to Mombo Camp
Climate and Weather
November has seen the start of the summer rains. After the breathless,
hot anticipation of October, the heavens finally opened in the second
week of the month, and we had a phenomenal deluge - 110mm (4½ inches)
of rain fell in twelve hours - approximately one quarter of our average
annual precipitation in just one night! Since then we have had several
less dramatic rain showers, and in total now we have had a third of
the rain we would expect in a typical year at Mombo. To have so much
rainfall early in the summer is of course unusual, and in previous
years when this has happened, we have then had a long period without
significant rain, followed eventually by late rains in February and
March; that is now the pattern we are expecting this year.
The rains have completely transformed Mombo. One very noticeable change
this month has been a significant reduction in average temperatures,
caused by the number of cooler, cloudier days we have had. Often though
we experience our hottest days just after rain, when the dust has been
washed out of the air, and the sun's rays reach northern Botswana in
Environment and Ecology
Many parts of our concession are almost unrecognisable now; such has
been the transformation that has occurred with the onset of the rains.
Dry, sandy areas have turned green overnight, as though painted with
sweeping strokes - countless small plants have sprouted, rejoicing
in the sudden availability of water, and a verdant carpet has spread
across wide areas of once bare sand.
In the acacia woodlands, pans that were dry and cracked have become
oases of life as they have filled with water again. This sudden profusion
of water means that animals are no longer so dependent on the channels
and floodplains, and can now spread further afield. These oases are a
gift to the wading and diving birds which have flocked to them, including
Dabchicks and Painted Snipe - flickers of colour darting across the muddy
Grasses and trees everywhere are shining with a new lustre of life.
Newly washed zebras contrast beautifully with the greenery in the lush
meadows, and elephants now come in three shades of grey as they wade
through channels in the gentle rain - dark wet feet, dry dove-grey flanks,
and medium-grey, medium wet backs.
The rains have had a reviving effect on every aspect of life at Mombo.
They illustrate the synchronicity of Nature's plan for the Delta perfectly:
just as the last floodwaters dry up, and the last hapless barbel are
speared by Yellow-billed Storks, the clouds gather, thunder drums across
the sky like the hooves of running zebras, and then the flash of forked
lightning unzips the clouds and down comes the rain. This brilliantly
dove-tailed change in the seasons achieves a balance and precision that
no watchmaker ever could, and ensures the ongoing survival of this area
as a perfect haven for wildlife and humans alike.
The onset of the rains not only revives the vegetation and animals, but
it is also the signal for an incredible explosion of new life. Termites
are perhaps the first to respond, as their mounds erupt with clouds
of potential kings and queens, taking to the air to search for mates
and then begin new termite colonies. This nuptial flight represents
a bounty for birds especially (and for birdwatchers too) as Marabou
Storks, Yellow-billed Kites, Bateleurs, and even Fish Eagles gather
to swoop on the millions of termites. Those that aren't taken in the
air must run the gauntlet of mice, jackals, and baboons, and in some
parts of Botswana, humans too: the termites are fried to make a delicious
protein-rich snack. Anybody hungry?!
This week we have seen the first baby tsessebe and impala, the forerunners
of a great tide of new antelope life set to break over Mombo any day
now. In a further demonstration of impeccable timing, thousands of baby
impalas will be born as the rains begin, and all of them within just
a two-week period. This inundation of babies is designed to swamp the
predators - many of them will fall prey to leopards, hyaenas, and even
baboons, but many more will survive. The first few babies have taken
their initial uncertain steps in the world, fur still wet from the womb,
following the gentle calls of their mothers as they guide them away from
danger. To watch the first moments of a new life is an incredibly heart-warming,
affirming experience. No matter how many times we see a brand-new impala
lamb, it is impossible not to be moved by its determination to keep up
with the herd and to survive.
Of course the sudden profusion of new life is something of a bonanza
for the predators of Mombo, and they have been very much in evidence
this month. We have been trying to establish just how many lions we
have in the area, and we think the number, including new nomadic lions,
is over 90 now. This includes the mighty, 27-strong Mathatha Pride,
with the four territorial males known as Bob Marley and the Wailers
for their matted manes. The "missing" lions known as the
Old Trails Pride have now reappeared to the east of Mombo, and six
of their eight cubs have survived to the age of eight or nine months
old to ensure the survival of our most elusive pride.
Even in these numbers, the lions don't get everything their own way,
and some of our guests spent a spell-binding morning watching interaction
between the big cats and a herd of buffalo. At one point, a buffalo cow
had two lions on her back, but she valiantly struggled back towards the
herd who came to her rescue. The lions hung on until the last moment,
before giving up and dropping off their chosen victim, who lived to fight
another day - there was no kill that morning.
This month has seen the end of an era for Mombo's cheetahs. In a very
poignant example of predator competition, a coalition of two male cheetahs
killed an impala and the noise of this kill attracted a nearby pride
of lions, which attacked their much faster rivals. Caught by surprise,
one of the cheetahs was badly mauled and subsequently died of his injuries.
This was the end of an incredibly long-running and successful partnership
between the two male cheetahs known as the "Steroid Boys." Regularly
seen on game drives at Mombo for many years now, they were justly famous
for their hunting prowess and had even graced the cover of National
Geographic. The second brother was uninjured in this incident, but
it is hard to believe that no longer will we thrill to the sight of
these two grizzled, but still lightning-fast Mombo veterans, gazing out
across the floodplains from a termite mound vantage point, nor racing
along at breakneck speed in pursuit of a fleeing lechwe. We will all
mourn the passing of this very special cat. But in the bush very few
stories have absolute endings, and there have been sightings of a young
female cheetah in the Moporota area, who could be a breeding prospect
for the surviving Steroid Boy brother.
Logadima's mother, the Tortillis female, produced two cubs in very late
October - a very exciting event, and we had high hopes that these twins
would be as successful as their big sister, now fully grown, and who
seems to be taking up residence in the Bird Island area. However, at
just a few days old, these tiny, defenceless cubs vanished. We saw
the mother return to the place where she had hidden them while she
went hunting, and heard her calling for them in an increasingly plaintive
voice, until it became all too apparent that they had disappeared,
possibly killed by a hyaena, although we will never know. With the
exception of Logadima, the Tortillis female has lost every other cub
she has had, and it seems particularly cruel that she should now suffer
a further, double tragedy.
Camp and Guest Experience
Mombo is such a beautiful camp that even a rainy day cannot dampen spirits
here. We have all become adept at cloud watching and picking the right
days for our legendary "bush brunch" picnics, and traditional
boma evenings, when guests can experience the rich musical and dance
traditions of the Tswana people, and sample the delights of Botswana's
traditional cooking (minus the termites, of course!).
This month we finally saw an advance copy of 'Elephant in the Kitchen'
- Craig's long-awaited Mombo cookery book. Much more than a recipe book,
it is the story of all his adventures (and one or two misadventures)
over more than five years at Mombo, and how the natural beauty we are
all marinated in every day has shaped his unique cooking style, infused
with the flavours of a continent and of one very magical organic pantry
- the Okavango Delta.
We invite you all to come and share in this feast with us... and here
are the experiences of a few of the friends who have drunk deep from
the cup of plenty with us this month in paradise... A cornucopia of delights
* The highlight was seeing a rhino, and the marvellous termite mounds!
* I will be back next year!
* The Camp itself if so beautiful, and the staff so friendly and efficient…
* Absolutely we would be happy to recommend Mombo to our friends! The
friendliness, helpfulness, and care were wonderful - we loved it!
* The Little Mombo team made our trip to Africa an unforgettable experience...
thank you very much...
* The traditional Botswana dancing at dinner was a real highlight!
* Our safari was fantastic!
* An incredibly memorable two days - thank you all very much!
* Brandon, Kate, Jean and the whole Mombo team treated us like royalty
and we felt very special, especially with the dinner on our deck to celebrate
* We have never seen so many lions together!
That's all from your November Mombo and Little
Mombo teams: Brandon & Debs,
Tlamelo, Craig, Pete & Sharon, Jean, Kate, Thompson, Siobhan, and
Xigera Camp update
- Nov 05 Jump
to Xigera Camp
The month of November has come and gone, once more bringing another
season of change here at Xigera. There has been a recent increase in
elephant numbers within the concession and more and more herds are moving
within the area of the main camp. The baby elephants have been fascinating
to watch and to see them use their tiny trunks for the first time is
an experience to behold.
We have had an incredible month birding-wise with
migratory species like Great Snipes, Bar-tailed Godwits and Black Cuckoos
being heard and seen at regular intervals. We had another record broken
with a group of clients having seen 213 species in two days and four
species counted as "lifers" by the experienced specialist
guide Dave Luck, well done Dave! Skimmer Pan, at the top end of Xigera
Lagoon, has at least 20 pairs of nesting African Skimmers. These birds
are a protected species and at Xigera we have made a concerted effort
to keep the human influence to a minimum on the breeding area as they
are sensitive to outside pressure.
Guest-wise, we have had another busy season and our new honeymoon tents
are beautiful. These new tents look out on the floodplain that is on
the east side of the island. Guests can be woken up early and greeted
by spectacular sunrises while sipping on a steaming cup of strong coffee.
Our famous footbridge and "sandpit" have yielded interesting
results throughout the month. Most nights spotted hyaena and the smaller
genet cross, but if you are lucky or patient you could be rewarded with
sightings of our resident male leopard as well as the occasional lion
pride. Our guides have found a new leopard in our concession and to our
surprise we discovered that she has a small cub. We have had excellent
sightings of her and her young cub and the cub has on occasion entertained
by testing her nascent stalking skills on the Land Rover – disconcerting
at first, then a treat to behold.
The month of November gave us our first rains for the season and on
one day we had over 74mm which was much-needed by the dry islands in
the area. The large Mangosteen trees are nearing the end of their cycle
of producing fruit but a few trees still have fruit on the upper branches
where adventurous vervet monkeys can still feed readily.
Well, best wishes for the festive season and for the new year.
Wade McKenzie & Jean Niemand
Tubu Tree Camp update
- Nov 05 Jump
to Tubu Tree Camp
David and Leigh took care of Tubu this month and were lucky enough
to be present for the first rains which have turned our island
into a jungle paradise! The rains initiated a plethora of new life,
from newborn impala lambs to hornbill chicks, and termites to young
Almost 75% of impala lambs are born within three
weeks of each other, flooding the ‘market’ with young animals.
The predators will take a certain amount but the vast numbers mean
that many should survive through their first precarious months
There is a herd of about eight tsessebe which are often on the
floodplains in front of camp, several with young calves.
The rain has filled up many of the temporary pans, meaning that
the animals are no longer restricted to areas with permanent water
and appear to be more widely dispersed. All the trees are in leaf
and where there was simply dust, new shoots of grass now cover
the ground, providing food for all kinds of creatures.
The damp earth provides ideal conditions for termites to found
new colonies. At times the air is filled with flying termites who
have only limited amount of time to find a partner and dig into
the earth, taking advantage of the softening effect of the rains.
The termites lose their wings, and must then found their colony
before the next heavy rains wash them or their partially built
The warmer temperatures and abundance of water and nutrients stimulate
insects to reproduce, in turn providing food for many birds, reptiles
and mammals. Reptiles are very evident, terrapins and tortoises
patrolling the pans and plains respectively. We have seen many
young monitor lizards in camp and think they may be recently hatched
from a local nest. These creatures are incredibly interesting and
often overlooked. They feed on mainly insects but devour any small
creatures, eggs and the like. They are considered a delicacy by
many Motswana living in rural areas but are now protected under
Botswana law and will not be found on the menu at Tubu!
Another animal seen lately was the spiky porcupine. Porcupines
are actually rodents, mainly nocturnal, and some guests in November
were lucky enough to view one on an evening game drive.
As for birds, summer migrants such as Striped
Cuckoos, Barn and Red-breasted Swallows, and Eurasian Orioles
are definitely in residence, as are summer visitors such as Paradise
Flycatchers, Broad-billed Rollers and Woolly-necked Storks. Moa
witnessed a flock of over 40 Carmine Bee-eaters busy catching
insects on the wing, preening and resting in the mopane veld
to the east of the camp. He also came across a Ground Hornbill
nest not far from the road, and observed a female taking food
to the nest. We are keeping our distance from the nests so as
not to disturb the birds. Ground Hornbills are an endangered
species and have incredibly low reproductive success, partly
due to the lack of suitable nest sites in old trees, as the holes
need to be big enough to accommodate the birds whilst secure
enough to be safe from predators, but also due to the incredibly
long time it takes the birds to mature – up to nine years!
We will continue to monitor the site and feel very privileged to
Another spectacular sighting was of an African Fish Eagle feeding
on a terrapin, probably a Helmeted or Marsh Terrapin.
Mokoros are no longer available at Tubu as the flood levels have
now receded, leaving only the deepest channels with water, accompanied
by the odd grumpy hippo hanging onto the last pools.
As you can see, life at Tubu is incredibly
busy and every day brings something new! Come and see…
Anton & Carrie
update - Nov 05 Jump
to Chitabe Camp
November is the month of transformation. The long-awaited rains finally
washed away the heat and dryness of October, and the earth responded
with a grateful palette of colour - green shoots appeared from what had
been barren sand carpeting the ground like a billiard table, fireball
lilies exploded from the earth in bright flashes of red, and innumerable
other flowers popped out. We were also treated to the arrival of many
migrant species of birds - a particular delight is hearing the liquid
trilling call of the Woodland Kingfishers as they welcome the first rays
of dawn. Some days, myriads of birds take advantage of termite appearances
- everything from Francolins, Babblers and Bulbuls on the ground to Marabou
Storks, Tawny Eagles, Bateleurs and Steppe Eagles swooping in the heights
We have had a spectacular amount of rain for the month of November.
In less than three weeks we have had over 150mm of precipitation, which
was way above our expectations. The landscape transformed from a dull
brown to a vivid green almost overnight. The outlying pans in the woodlands
have filled up with water, providing a reliable supply there for both
grazers and browsers, taking pressure off the riparian edges of the channel
systems. The elephants have now moved deep into these woodlands. The
rain has also triggered mass births among the antelope species, so everywhere
there are tiny impala, tsessebe and wildebeest - some naturally fall
prey to predators while others find safety in numbers and survive.
Just before the rains came, huge herds of buffalo were seen moving through
the concession. One herd numbering over a thousand came within a couple
of kilometres of the camp, and some splinter herds from this wandered
by right in front of the camp.
The wildlife highlight of the month was when Ebs spotted a rare sitatunga
antelope along Lechwe road - the first seen here in a long time. It almost
became the last, because as he and his guests watched, a male lion, up
to his belly in water, was stalking the antelope. The sitatunga ram nonchalantly
watched the lion approach, confident that in that depth of water that
he had the advantage should evasive action be required. As soon as the
lion attempted his final lunge from about 30 metres, the sitatunga leapt,
effortlessly leaving the lion clumsily splashing through the water. He
has since been seen a few times in the same area, and we hope that he
will remain, giving us more sightings of his singular and rare beauty.
The next highlight is that Mosadi Mogolo, the Acacia Road Leopard, has
given birth to two beautiful little cubs. This brings the total number
of leopard cubs we know of in the area to three - Ebs found another female
with a cub in the Maun Road area. For three days Mosadi Mogolo and her
cubs stayed near a kill right next to Airstrip road, so often this was
the first sighting people had arriving from the airstrip!
Ben and his guests had the excellent fortune of
encountering a mating pair of leopards near the new hide area - a sight
that few ever see. Ebs found an aardwolf near Phinley’s Pool,
and subsequently it has been seen a few times again in that area.
The Chitabe pack of wild dogs has once again had a run-in with lions,
this time with fatal consequences. One adult and two pups were killed,
leaving six pups and six adults in the pack. Subsequently, one more adult
and one more pup have gone missing. Now there are ten left. More encouraging
news, however, is that after an absence of a year, Phinley came across
sixteen dogs of the Mogogelo Pack east of the Maun road area, and we
have reason to think that there may be more in the pack.
In the Gomoti area, a family group of four cheetah
were sighted a few times, while in the Old Chitabe area one male has
been operating on his own - he has left his mother and sister, who
haven’t been sighted
The lion vs. hyaena battle continues, with losses racking up on both
sides. A male lion killed a large hyaena in front of Trails Camp one
night, and the hyaenas killed six of the youngest lion cubs over the
next three weeks. Two large male lions are also regularly being seen
on the Gomoti channel, which has started to dry up. The pride there has
also been seen feeding on hippos that were killed in territorial battles
beside the dwindling river.
The weather has cooled down significantly with
the advent of the rain - the average lows have been around the 20°C mark, with the highs
never going above 32°, making an altogether pleasant change from
the burning heat of October. All the water around has contributed to
a rise in humidity, however. For December we expect very similar weather – humid
and warm, with thundershowers every few days.
Savuti Camp update
- Nov 05 Jump
to Savuti Camp
The Savuti Channel has gone through a major change this month, from a
dry, bare and desolate sandy area which, after our first rains, has transformed
into a beautiful, lush, green paradise, full of thick trees, singing
birds - a time of plenty.
The start of the month was intense with the usual dry season elephant
population congregating around the Savuti waterhole at the front of camp,
desperate for a sip of fresh water. The end of the dry season is a testing
time for the elephants, with very little vegetation left and very little
water around. Animals stress levels are up and only the strong survive.
Predators have taken advantage of young, weak elephants, and hyaena took
advantage of those that couldn't fight the dry season any longer.
Sightings of wild dog early in the month were exciting, with a few right
outside of camp. There was quite intense fighting between wild dog and
hyaena near Manchwe Pan in the middle of the month, with both parties
finally relenting to a more peaceful co-existence. The cheetah brothers
(the Savuti Boys) were around for quite a bit of the month and both chases
and kills were seen. Our female leopard and 8-month-old cub were also
spotted regularly during the month, with very relaxed sightings of them
resting and feeding. The Savuti Pride of lion was active towards the
middle of the concession and the Linyanti River with sightings of mainly
the three females and three juveniles. Small lion cubs, approx. 5 - 6
weeks old were sighted which is always delightful to see.
Right outside of camp we were witness to two young male lion giving
a family of porcupine a hard time! The young males were attempting to
steal a very small porcupine baby, but mom and dad were giving the lions
a very difficult time, protecting their young one with all of their efforts.
Luckily, the porcupines won, and the two young boys moved off, probably
hoping to find slightly easier prey!
On the 11th of November, we had our first rainfall of the season, always
a spectacular event to witness. The skies opened up and huge amounts
of thunder and lightning stole the show. We only received approx. 32mm
that afternoon, but it was enough to cool everything down and make the
animals (and us!) very happy. With the rain, the elephants knew that
it was time for them to move on, and slowly made their way out into the
bush for better feeding areas. It was literally days after the rain that
we went from having up to 200 elephants outside of camp, to nothing!
It was quite an eerie feeling falling asleep to the sounds of just the
bush and not trumpeting elephants.
The rains have been reasonably frequent since then, which has brought
about thick, lush vegetation throughout the area - the Savuti Channel
is looking like a championship golf course!
Lots of fun was had at our traditional nights,
with dancing and singing - by staff and guests too! Peggy and Mike
returned for their 5th visit to Savuti, and were impressed again with
their game viewing. Several pairs of honeymooners enjoyed the surrounds
of Savuti during the month - to all those that came, our wishes to
you for a long and successful marriage – and how about a return
visit for one of your anniversaries!
Average maximum temperature was 36° Celsius, with our maximum reaching
a very hot 41°C! Minimum temperature was down to quite a cool 10°,
with the average minimum being 15°. Rainfall for the month totalled
The team at Savuti would like to wish all of its guests and colleagues
a very happy holiday season, a safe, happy and healthy year ahead, and
we hope to see you all in the near future.
Tammy, Alex, Richard, Kane and the whole Savuti Team
Kings Pool update
- Nov 05 Jump
to Kings Pool Camp
Greetings from all of us at Kings Pool. November has been another great
month in the Linyanti!
November is the month of changes and the area is certainly changing
with the return of the rains. October was an extremely hot and dusty
month and the first two weeks of November were no different. On the 11th
we received our first rains. This immediately cooled the area down and
settled the dust. Clouds now fill the skies and the promise of more rain
is in the air. Altogether we have received 97 mm of rain this month.
The maximum temperature this month was 42 degrees Celsius and the minimum
During this period the Linyanti River was the only source of water for
many kilometres and the game was incredible! Visibility was at its peak
and in the afternoons the river was crowded with elephants, buffalos
and zebras, all coming for the life-sustaining waters of the river. However,
many of the animals were in poor condition due to the harsh stresses
of winter and because of the long walk between the last remaining foraging
areas in the woodlands and the permanent waters of the river.
From the beginning of the month the clouds were building up in the sky.
Big, fat, dark, pregnant clouds, showing us that the dry period was almost
over. Finally on the 11th the clouds let loose and the rains began to
fall. On this day we received 20 ml of rain and within a day or two we
could see a green flush over the sand where the new grass was pushing
up through the dry earth.
The rains have also heralded the arrival of a few
of the summer flowers, and scattered throughout the riverine woodlands
are patches of bright red “Fire-ball Lilies”. These flowers
are quite amazing to behold. They consist of numerous small florets
that are arranged in a ball-shape (about the size of a volleyball)
on top of a short stalk. Near the base of the stalk a few bright green
leaves appear. These lilies often occur in small patches in the woodland
and it looks quite incongruous to see these bright red areas in amongst
the green of the leaves and grass.
Immediately after the first rains had fallen the elephants dispersed
from the river, and they are now difficult to find. A few bulls are still
in the area and one cheeky bull has been seen on a few occasions in the
camp. After the first rains we also saw a reduction in the numbers of
zebra and buffalo. Both of these species have now started their long
trek towards the Savuti Marsh, approximately 70 km to the south-east
of camp. These creatures migrate towards the marsh after the first rains
to take advantage of the palatable grasses that start to grow there.
It is also at the Savuti Marsh that the zebra give birth to their young
foals. Although most of the buffalo and zebra disappear from the Kings
Pool area during the summer months we have been fortunate to have sightings
of a large herd of buffalo (+-300) that seem to have remained behind
after all the others have left and have been frequenting the grassy area
near the airstrip. A small herd of zebra (1 male, 3 females and 1 teenage
foal) have also been seen in the grasslands to the west of camp right
up until the end of the month.
With the onset of the rains most of the migrant
birds have returned. It feels like we are once again seeing old friends
after they have come back from a long journey abroad. The Carmine Bee-eaters
are all back and are busy digging holes in the river banks in which
to lay their eggs. The shrill “Yip-trrrrrrrrrr” call of
the Woodlands Kingfishers resounds once again from within the woodlands
as they too start to look for mates and nest in holes in the dead trees.
Another hole-nesting bird that has returned from its wintering grounds
in Central Africa is the Broad-billed Roller. Another stunning arrival
is the Paradise Flycatcher. The cuckoos have also arrived back now and
can be seen flying quickly through the woodlands in search of nests in
which they can deposit their eggs, leaving them for the surrogate parents
Early one morning, while sitting at the fireplace drinking coffee, we
were surprised by an adult male Pennant-winged Nightjar which flew slowly
right over our heads with his beautiful long white wing-streamers fluttering
Just before and after the rains have fallen we have often seen the emergence
of huge numbers of winged termites (Alates) that have come out to take
part in their nuptial flights and to start new colonies.
The snakes have also started to appear and we have already had a few
sightings of these reptiles. A large Banded / Snouted Cobra has been
seen on a few of the game-drives. This is a particularly impressive snake
with thick bands of cream interspersed between bands of black or dark-grey.
We have also seen a few Rock Pythons on many a night drive towards the
end of the month. These snakes can get quite large and are constrictors;
suffocating their prey by wrapping coils around it and tightening the
coils each time the prey exhales.
With the rains that have fallen the night sounds
are dominated by the sounds of the different frog species. Banded Rubber
Frogs give a high pitched trilling sound, while the Bubbling Cassinas
make a loud “blooip” sound
(reminiscent of bubbles bursting or water droplets falling from a height
into a pool of water). Raucous Toads add to the cacophony of sounds with
their loud rasping calls. At night on the road one can see numerous Bull
Frogs and Tremelo Sand Frogs in the puddles. Platannas (Clawed Frogs)
can also be seen after the rains, hopping in the veld.
Towards the end of the month the impalas started
to give birth to their young. There are now baby impalas throughout
the riverine woodlands, gathered in small crèches and extremely
cute. Near the camp we have noticed a baby impala that is rather different.
This particular baby has large white blotches all over its body and
is partially albino (leucistic). It is quite noticeable and we hope
that it will manage to survive to adulthood, even with its camouflage
November is definitely the month of babies and we have also been seeing
a tiny baby hippo wandering around in the company of its large mother
in front of camp.
Predator sightings have been pretty good this month, particularly before
the rains started falling. All in all we have had 22 recorded sightings
of leopard this month (on 17 out of 30 days).
The Chobe 1 Female / Deadwood Female was seen on
a few occasions this month, mainly in the region of Chobe 1 Road and
the Weather Station. On the 6th we heard the francolins and squirrels
giving warning calls in the thick bush. On investigating we found the
sub-adult (Chobe 1 Female’s
cub) lying up on a dead tree trunk. She then climbed down and a short
way along the path, she came across a bull elephant, who took exception
to her presence and gave her a warning charge. The leopard reacted quite
calmly and stood her ground as the elephant towered over her. When the
elephant returned to his browsing, she then carried on walking in the
direction that she had been going. The elephant then decided to follow
her and as he came closer she disappeared into the thick bush. The elephant
then lost sight of her. The leopard then climbed up another dead tree
trunk and lay there resting. We could see that the elephant had lost
her and was trying to relocate her, without success. We then left her
lying there, quite amused with the whole scenario that we had witnessed.
The stars this month have undoubtedly been the Boscia Female and her
young cub. The cub is now approximately 8 weeks old and is extremely
cute. Its eyes are still bluish in colour and its fur is still fluffy
and greyish. Boscia has been hiding her cub near Waterbuck Pan and we
have seen the two of them on a few occasions. One of the den sites was
in a large hollow log near Purple Pod Road. On The 5th we saw the two
lying nearby the log, the cub suckling, which was an amazing sight.
Lion sightings have also been reasonably good this month. We have seen
lions on 16 out of 30 days. On the afternoon of the 6th we found the
two Savuti Females and their three cubs resting in the shade near Chobe
The two DumaTau females were seen feeding on a
dead elephant near Chobe 1 on the morning of the 9th. They were with
their two young cubs who were either playing with each other or suckling
on one of the females (“Black-eyes”). They stayed at the
carcass until the 12th, at which stage the carcass was positively ripe
and smelly, yet the females were still feeding on it.
On the 18th we were called in to a sighting of
the two DumaTau females and the two cubs just behind DumaTau Camp.
We were watching the cubs suckling and playing when “Isis” suddenly started staring
intently into the bushes to the south. Out of the bushes appeared two
other females. It was the two Savuti females. They were followed by their
three youngsters. The Savuti females approached the DumaTau females,
rubbed heads with them and then lay down next to them. The three Savuti
cubs then came running up and appeared to be quite curious of the two
younger cubs, but “Black-eyes” gave them a warning growl
and they seemed to realise that they were not going to be permitted to
play with the younger ones. From this date on these two groups have joined
up and have been walking together.
On the 30th we were on a site inspection of Savuti Camp when we were
informed that Silas (a guide at DumaTau) had spotted these lions near
Forest Rd. When I arrived there the lions were resting in the shade.
I noticed that there were only two of the older cubs present and only
one of the younger cubs. It appears that one of the older cubs and one
of the younger cubs have disappeared and I assume that they have been
killed. This is very sad news.
We managed to see wild dogs on only two days this month, right at the
beginning. On both occasions it was sightings of the DumaTau Pack (consisting
of 12 adults and 11 pups). We understand that they have spent the rest
of the month outside of the concession. We have not seen the Linyanti
Pack this month.
That’s all for this month
Best wishes from all of us at Kings Pool.
We wish you all a merry Christmas and a great New Year
DumaTau update -
Nov 05 Jump
to DumaTau Camp
month of November heralds the end of our dry season and we were all keen
to move on from the hot and dry conditions of October. Although we had
good cloud buildup virtually every day since the start of November, it
was not until 12th that we were blessed with the first rains of the season
- 31 mm. The whole area rejoiced and within days the grey dusty landscape
started to rejuvenate with fresh shades of green appearing everywhere.
It remains truly amazing how such vast areas of barrenness and apparent
lifeless flora can transform so rapidly into beautiful lush green growth
and sprouting green grasses everywhere. Interspersed among the shades
of green are the beautiful round scarlet flowers of the Fire Ball Lilly
Average min/max temperatures for the month were
recorded as 22° and
34°C respectively. Total rainfall for the month amounted to 75mm.
Another treat of the season is seeing the heavily pregnant impalas now
starting to drop their lambs. Within days our area has come alive with
the boundless energy of sprightly youngsters running around all over
the place. Of course this is also prime time for the many predators in
our area to grab a tasty snack.
On the opposite side of this eating scale and especially during the
first part of the month, we had numerous sightings of lions feeding on
young elephants. Now, with the start of our rains, the vast majority
of elephants in our area have moved off into the Mopane forests as they
are no longer dependant upon the permanent waters of the Linyanti river
system. Notwithstanding this, we still see elephants on our drives although
not in the huge numbers that we had during the dry season. Our wildlife
sightings for the month included the following: elephant, wild dog, African
wildcat, leopard, lion, cheetah, zebra, hyaena, wildebeest, roan antelope,
black-backed jackal, hippo, crocodile, kudu, African rock python, giraffe,
baboon, warthog, impala, red lechwe, steenbok, waterbuck, kudu, leopard
tortoise, buffalo, Ground Hornbill, White-backed Vulture, Hooded Vulture,
Marabou Stork, Wattled Crane, Giant Eagle Owl, Wood Owl, Barred Owl and
numerous other bird species.
Our guests enjoyed many interesting sightings, especially those of predator
interactions. The most entertaining was watching wild dogs chase a leopard
up a tree after it had attempted snatching their freshly killed impala.
Our sighting of the month was probably seeing the Savuti pride and their
respective cubs all being together for the first time in well over a
year. What an awesome sight to watch 11 lions (4 adult females, 3 sub-adults,
2 cubs, and 2 adult male lions) going about their daily routine of feeding,
grooming, playing and sleeping. This pride seemingly decided to go large
this month and were often found feeding on elephant and also at one stage,
an adult male giraffe which they brought down.
As our rainy season is now expected to gain momentum,
we often hear the much repeated call of the Black Cuckoo as he utters
with monotonous frequency: “Here comes rain!“ or at least
that is what it sounds like to us!
We quote below just a few of the many great compliments we had from
guests this month:
“Botswana is amazing and DumaTau has the best accommodation
“This was our favourite camp – we had such a wonderful time.“
“3rd time at DumaTau and it is still a gem. Great staff and a Noah’s
ark full of animals!“
“Thank you very much for such a wonderful stay. This is a very
special place run by very special people.“
“The past 10 days of safaris, culminating in 3 nights at DumaTau
equals the finest vacation EVER. This is said after visiting and travelling
5 continents. Top stuff, DumaTau!“
Well, what more can we say!
IAN & the DUMATAU TEAM
Rocktail Bay Newsletter - Nov 05 Jump
to Rocktail Bay Lodge
Love has certainly been in the air during this last month of spring
and Rocktail has seen many honeymoon couples, anniversary couples, and
to top it off an engagement on our beach.
It was the afternoon of the 9th of November, when after an incredible
snorkelling excursion to Lala Nek, Rob and Landi decided to take the
5km walk back to camp along the beach. They could hardly believe their
luck, when on approaching the bay, they happened upon a loggerhead turtle
that had decided to come up onto the beach at 4:30 in the afternoon.
They crept up to her, careful not to disturb her, and took a seat to
watch this amazing creature do what her mother had done all those years
ago. Right there and then, Rob decided to ask Landi for her hand in marriage!
We wish you the best of luck, and we hope that you hold Rocktail dear
to your hearts forever.
With all the “lovey-dovey” couples
in camp through the month, the weather has been perfect.
The outside temperature has risen considerably since October,
as has the humidity. We have also had about 100mm of rain throughout
With perfect beach weather, word had seemed to
have got around, and Rocktailers were astonished as well
as pleasantly surprised to see their very first chacma baboon
soaking up the rays and enjoying a view of the Indian Ocean. The lonely
male had obviously heard via the “bush
vine” about the nesting season along the coastline. If the lonely
chacma is after a mate he sure is in for a big surprise heading
into peak season for Leatherback nesting turtles.
Staying with primates, vervet and samango monkeys have been reaping
the rewards of good rains which have brought plenty new succulent leaves
and fruit for the young to feed on.
With no exception to the rule birding has been
phenomenal. From beach to forest to grasslands, all have
lived up to their expectations. The rich food source of the
Indian Ocean has had Osprey, Fish Eagles, Palmnut Vultures and Yellow-
and Black-billed Kites jostling for position in Rocktail Bay. The forest
has produced some real coastal specials: topping the list has to be Narina
Trogon, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, Green Twinspot, Buff-spotted
and Purple-crested Turacos and White-starred Robin - all
of which were seen on forest walks and at the famous bird
hide. The grasslands seemed to bring out all the colours with Pink, Orange
and Yellow-throated Longclaws keeping low to the ground as Southern Banded,
Black-chested and Brown Snake Eagles soared above monitoring the rolling
hills for easy prey.
On an afternoon walk through the grasslands we stumbled across
what looked like a “den” of some sort with fresh jackal
tracks. Realising the significance of this, with the help
of the community, we decided to monitor the area for some
time. Lo and behold what should we find a small family of
side-striped jackals. WOW!
The distribution of these incredible mammals in Southern Africa is from
the northern parts of Namibia to the extreme north of Botswana, extending
eastwards into Zimbabwe and down through Mozambique and stopping in the
extreme north-east corner of South Africa. Which makes Rocktail their
most southern occurrence on the continent! We are hopefully going to
be monitoring these jackals on a more permanent basis.
Turtle season is in full swing as the end of November
marks the peak season for both Loggerhead and Leatherback
Turtles. What an awe-inspiring month it has been with numbers
of nesting turtles increasing with every drive! So far Loggerhead nesting
females lead the way with 67 successful nests and Leatherbacks follow
with 17 nests. December generally marks the month of the Leatherback
Turtle and we can be sure there are many more to come. The largest Leatherback
Turtle to date has had a mammoth carapace of 1.77m in length and
1.65m wide, one “mamma” of
a turtle. The “adopt a turtle” programme has been a huge
success so far this season. Congratulations to our new adoptive
Wow, what a month! The season is in full swing as good numbers of both
Loggerhead and Leatherback Turtles have been recorded.
The Loggerheads have graced our beaches with an impressive 60 nests
so far, this is almost on par with the same time last year. Leatherbacks
on the other hand seem to have been taking it easy with 16 nests, no
doubt saving their energy for their peak month of December when they
will probably catch up to their smaller relatives.
The beaches have been conducive to “easy” nesting
conditions with only 10 false crawls (turtles that have
come up the beaches but decided not to nest) throughout the 30km stretch
of coastline. Nine of these have been Loggerheads, confirming the fact
that being the size that they are (+/- 1 m length) they can afford
to waste excess energy levels finding suitable nesting areas.
Turtles that have migrated from foraging areas to the mating grounds
here at Rocktail Bay have been seen by many divers and snorkellers.
An incredible highlight this month is
a turtle who has still not been adopted, but who we at Rocktail have
nicknamed “Famous Freda”.
Famous Freda’s tag number is FF014; she was tagged at Rocktail
Bay 11 years ago. This incredible little Loggerhead reappeared
on the 28 November 2005 on a clear starry evening to once
again lay a successful nest.
This past month has produced eight old
hands returning to Rocktail Bay to once again show the way for the
new moms making their way up our beaches. The largest turtle of the
season to date has been adopted by Tobias Alexandra; she was christened “Flossy.” This inconceivable Leatherback
measured a carapace length of 1.75 metres and 1.65 metres in width. What
is astonishing about “Flossy” is that this is the first season
that she has been sighted and tagged, her tag number is PP630.
Where has she been all these years?
We at Rocktail would like to thank all
those guests who have contributed to this project to date; without
you it would not be possible to observe and protect these amazing reptiles
that nest on our beaches. So here are the names of the generous adoptive
parents we’ve had this month.
Richard & Nikki Swain from Johannesburg S.A. adopted “Nhlahla” which
Imke & Dieter Desel from Germany adopted “Bibo”
Rob & Landi Burns from Kings Pool, Botswana adopted “Caretta”
Chris & Rosie Thompson from the U.K. adopted “Rea”
Michael, Elizabeth and Dianne Baxendine adopted “Issy”
Julien & Marion Treich from France adopted “Juliette”
The Mann Family from the USA adopted “Harriet”
“Lahleka” was adopted from Olivia Pugh by Arno & Mary
Roy from Switzerland
Dustin and Shannon Ambrose from Durban, South Africa, adopted “Kusasa”
Tobias Alexandra from Johannesburg, South Africa, adopted “Flossy”
Monica Bretschneider from the USA adopted “Morning Star”
Just a few of the guests’ comments:
very impressed by this Wilderness Safaris operation and how
it works in co-operation with the local community. I hope
it continues to be successful”.
RM – USA
“Many 5-star hotels could learn a lot from you”.
A & MR – Switzerland
“Our stay was awesome. The staff
all went the extra mile to make an unforgettable weekend
HS – South Africa
“This was an old style Wilderness Safaris
experience. Great staff, lovely feeling around lodge, great
food and good activities”. L & ES – Cape
We wait in great anticipation for what December will
bring and wish you all a very prosperous up and coming festive season.
The Rocktail Team
Camp (northern Kruger) Newsletter - Nov 05 Jump
to Pafuri Camp
With a much better amount of rainfall than last month and
the Luvuvhu River now flowing bank to bank, it looks like the
drought we have been going through is finally breaking. The
Pafuri region of the Kruger National Park is once again changing
but this time definitely for the better. The once dry and dusty
areas are now being transformed into bright green carpets as
the new shoots of grass break through the damp ground. Most
trees are now covered in thick canopies of fresh leaves; the
vegetation as a whole has become a lot thicker and lusher.
But one of the most amazing sights for
me this month was Crooks’ Corner.
At month end my wife Colleen and I were advised by some of
our senior guides to go and have a look at what was happening
there. Well when we arrived we were awestruck at the sight
before us. The fast-flowing waters of the Luvuvhu River were
pumping onto the sands of the dry Limpopo River bed. Although
the strong Luvuvhu only pushed up the dry Limpopo River bed
slightly, it flowed downstream with such force that anybody
below the confluence would have thought that it was the mighty
Limpopo flowing once again. What an awesome sight!
Again we are getting regular sightings of large breeding herds
of elephant mainly in the Fever tree forest area to the east
of Pafuri Camp, and also to the west along the Luvuvhu out
towards Mangala. We sat and watched two young bulls for about
twenty minutes having a mud bath from a puddle of water that
was lying on the Fever tree forest road. We have also had
sightings of solitary bulls around the camp and out towards
the airstrip west of camp, and in small groups drinking from
the Luvuvhu River in front of the camp.
We still have the three old buffalo (dagga boys) hanging around
camp. They seem totally unperturbed by our movements in and
around the camp. Sightings of herds continue to be regular
with herds ranging in size from 20 to 100 animals and seen
all over the concession. One memorable sighting saw a herd
of about 100 animals in the grassland fringe of Banyini Pan
in the north-west of the concession.
Sightings of species such as impala (we had our first lamb
on the 14th of the month), nyala, bushbuck, waterbuck, kudu,
warthog, chacma baboon, vervet monkey continue to be daily,
while leopard eluded us with just a handful of sightings in
the area around camp. Lion on the other hand were seen very
couple of days with good sightings of males, lionesses and
cubs. One evening three adult lionesses strolled along the
southern bank of the Luvuvhu in front of camp giving all our
guests a fantastic view.
We recorded a whopping 231 species this month. But the real
excitement came with our big birding day held on the 26th.
Our motto for the day was “quality not quantity” and
we managed to see some exceptional species in the 24-hour
period allotted for the event including: Three-banded Courser,
Bronze-winged Courser, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Black-throated
Wattle-Eye, Meves’s Starling, Grey-headed Parrot, White-crowned
Plover, Green-capped Eromomela, Dickinson’s Kestrel,
Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Gorgeous Bush-shrike and Crested
Lowest temperature: 19°C Highest temperature: 47°C
Average min temp: 22.3°C Average max temp: 37.7°C
Pafuri Camp had the privilege of hosting
the Children In The Wilderness programme this month. The
children, aged 10-16 were selected by the South African Police
Services from various shelters in each of metropolitan centres
around South Africa. During their stay the children participated
in a five-day edutainment programme, combining subjects such
as nutrition and HIV/AIDS education with the thrills of wildlife
viewing and bird watching. The SAPS were also very involved
in teaching skills such as how to survive in an urban jungle
and children’s rights.
It was a wonderful experience for all of us here at Pafuri
Camp to be able to work with these street children. We grew
very fond of them and were extremely sad to see them go when
it was all over. As we were waving good bye to them with more
than a few wet eyes, one of our senior staff members asked
the one question that had been bugging us all since our first
meeting with them: “How can anybody abandon such beautiful
Great Namibian Journey
- Nov 05 Jump
to Great Namibian
These safaris are receiving consistently
good feedback which we would like to share. Below is some feedback from
the guide (Gerhard Thirion) and guests who recently travelled on a Great
Namibian Journey from the 06 - 18 November 2005:
On the first day of the safari while driving down to Sossusvlei Wilderness
Camp, we had numerous sightings of gemsbok, springbok, ostrich and kudu.
We also discovered a dead gemsbok after spotting about 12 White-backed
Vultures perched in a camelthorn tree, patiently awaiting their chance
to join in the meal.
Sossusvlei was quite an experience as the east wind was blowing very
strongly and we experienced extremely dusty conditions while exploring
the dunes. We decided to go to Sesriem where we hoped that more favourable
conditions would prevail. En route we had our brunch in the welcome shade
of an ancient camelthorn tree, with ground squirrels and various birds
as an audience.
While travelling through the Kuiseb Canyon we encountered a German guest
who was stuck in a deep culvert next to the road. I was fortunately equipped
with a strong tow-rope and we managed to get him out in no time. Our
lunch stop was at Mirabib overlooking the vast and desolate gravel plains
of the Namib with its shimmering heat waves and mirages.
The following day we went to Swakopmund, where quad-biking was just
the right activity for this group and they enjoyed it thoroughly. The
next day we did the boat cruise and Sandwich Harbour trip with Mola-Mola.
A young humpback whale, heaviside's and bottlenose dolphins, a mola-mola
sunfish, lots of seals up close and personal and an exhilarating drive
through the dunes are just a few of the highlights of the day.
On the drive northwards to Doro Nawas we encountered 3 desert-adapted
elephants soon after entering the Huab River. At the camp the guests
thoroughly enjoyed being able to just pull out their beds onto the veranda
and sleep outside with the stars as a blanket! Six more ellies and an
abundance of gemsbok and springbok were sighted the next day, after visiting
the petroglyphs (ancient rock engravings) at Twyfelfontein.
Ongava Tented Camp was certainly one of the highlights as we saw seven
different white rhino and two lion on just the first day. The rhino also
visited the camp waterhole every night. We also discovered two young
jackal pups in their den, quite close to a lion kill! Elephants galore
at Olifantsbad - we must have spent over an hour observing 22 of them
play, drink and interact.
Skeleton Coast also ranked high on the “favourites” list
for obvious reasons. Everyone in the group was able to catch a Kabeljou,
thus providing for dinner! The guests were quite competitive when we
had a gemsbok-dung-spitting competition.
Excellent group dynamics, funny, keen, appreciative, interested, enthusiastic
and adventurous are just a few words to describe these fabulous guests!
It is easily one of the best trips I have ever taken. Namibia is
astonishingly diverse and beautiful. I was (most happily) surprised
by the terrain, the scenery, the wildlife, plant life, etc. at every
turn. The camps in which we stayed were great - I think Skeleton Coast
is a favourite for its location, Ongava Tented Camp for the waterhole
and wildlife we saw there (the rhino were incredible, the Olifantsbad
waterhole in Etosha was amazing, and seeing a giraffe come to drink
while we were having cocktails was unbeatable!), Doro Nawas for its
luxury and pampering, Aonin Dune for its beautiful location and wonderful
camp manager Carmen. The variety of activities, beyond just game drives,
helped make this trip really special. The boat trip and dune driving
from Walvis Bay down to Sandwich Bay was beautiful, and quad biking
outside Swakopmund was a rush - I can understand how people get hooked
on it. Our guide, Gerhard Thirion, was fantastic. He unknowingly set
the tone with one of his first questions to us "Are you normal?" We
knew right then that he was the guide for us. His love for Namibia
and all its facets was infectious. He really seemed to enjoy showing
us around, educating us, pointing out so many things that might otherwise
be overlooked, and getting us to try new things (dung spitting aside).
He has a great sense of humour, and his dramatic reading of our itinerary
was not to be missed. I am convinced that with a guide like Gerhard,
it is a mistake to fly from camp to camp when there is a driving alternative
-- you see and learn so much more when driving. I look forward to the
next one. M.F.