Wilderness Safaris News -
Info and updates from Wilderness Safaris
North Island Dive Report from
Monthly update from Mvuu in
Monthly update from Busanga Camp in
Kafue National Park, Zambia.
Monthly update from Kapinga Camp in
Kafue National Park, Zambia.
Linyanti Explorations updates
Kwando Safaris game reports.
Update on the 2006 Okavango
Monthly update from Mombo Camp in
Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in
Monthly update from Jao Camp in
Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in
Monthly update from Duba Plains Camp in
Monthly update from Little Vumbura Camp in
Monthly update from Ongava Lodge in
Monthly update from Doro Nawas Camp in
Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in
Safaris Updates - July 2006
Greetings from Wilderness
Safaris in Namibia!
We’re humbled to be the recipients
of a particularly wonderful and unsolicited
accolade – congratulations Skeleton
Coast Camp the first ever destination
to achieve five out of five flowers in
the Namibian National Eco-Awards ratings. We
are enormously proud to have earned this
award and full credit must go to our Environmental
Skeleton Coast Camp
summer rains have meant a sea of grass across
the Palmwag Concession
and an abundance of plains game “hundreds
of mountain zebra, thousands of springbok
and plenty of oryx” and occasional
sightings of lions which have colonised the
area. Yet another new white rhino calf born
This one was photographed by Riaan Compaan.
Elephant and Rhino Expedition in the
Palmwag Concession is winning new fans.
This unique Exploration follows a camel
train across the concession, ending at
the new Discoverer Hoanib Camp. On the
latest expedition guests walked 90km in
4 days and saw no less than 11 black rhino
as well as plenty of desert-adapted elephant,
Hartmann’s mountain zebra and other
The annual travel
awards of the US magazine ‘Travel & Leisure’ has
voted Wilderness Safaris the second best tour
operator & safari outfitter in the world
(top ranked safari operator).
- NORTH ISLAND
For a few days in June, North Island
closed its doors to paying guests to give
a group of 36 disadvantaged Seychellois
children the time of their lives. It was
the first ever Children in the Wilderness
on North Island and hopefully the beginning
of many more! North Island staff teamed
up with The National Council for Children,
an organization on Mahe, to run the program,
the only project of its kind in the Seychelles.
The mission statement
love, commitment and exposure to our environment
make these broken children whole again” and
as a councilor said, “it was 3½ days
filled with laughter, the most incredible
energy and endless learning for the kids
and all involved.” The camp was opened
by the First Lady of the Seychelles who
stated: “North Island’s environmental
philosophy and the National Council for
Children’s living values program
come together today to give us all an opportunity
to reflect a bit more on what we want for
our children and what our children want
It was the children, however,
who put it best: “I thank you with
love and happiness. Thank you for keeping
me safe from danger and sharing your
kindness with me. I am glad for me the
friends I made on this island.”
two existing camps in northern Kafue
National Park, Busanga Camp and Lunga
River Lodge, both opened for the season
at the beginning of June and have hosted
guests while we put the finishing touches
on Shumba and Kapinga Camps – both
due to open at the beginning of July.
the challenges experienced at the beginning
of the construction process, the plains
have dried out progressively and building
has become easier. The camps are essentially
finished and the game around the camps
has settled down and adjusted to our
presence. We are proud to say that negligible
impact has been had on the environment
of the two camp sites and we are confident
that this is a special product.
Safaris has employed eight scouts for
active anti-poaching work in the areas
around our camps and has also employed
some 40 men from the communities north
of the park (many ex-poachers) for the
construction project. The attraction
of employment has been such that some
have walked several days to the park
boundary before boating in makeshift
craft down the channels of the northern
Kafue River to arrive on site and ask
for work. Such commitment deserves reward
and we employed all those who arrived.
The “boats” used were very
original – one a piece of tree
bark that supported three men for a two-day
trip along hippo-inhabited channels!
Game viewing is impressive
with large numbers of puku on the Busanga
Plains complemented by healthy numbers
of zebra, wildebeest and red lechwe.
Hippo are numerous both here and in the
Lunga and Lufupa rivers. More unusual
species such as oribi, roan, sable and
Lichtenstein’s hartebeest are seen
regularly as are herds of buffalo. Leopard,
lion and elephant are also being seen
at Lunga, while recently a 3-hour drive
between sites saw two wild dog packs
(11 & 14), 3 cheetah on a kill and
a female leopard!
Child policies (Botswana):
Camp: Children 8 years and over
are welcome at normal adult rates and
are able to participate in all normal
Abu Private Villa: Children of all
ages are welcome and participate in
all activities available at the Private
Villa. The price is per villa regardless
of whether guests are adults or children.
Camp: Children of all ages are
welcome at adult rates and are able
to participate in all activities.
Jack’s and San Camps: Children
from 4 years (no longer 8 years) and
over are now accepted at both Jack's
and San Camps with immediate effect.
Please note however that a Private
Vehicle and Guide must always be booked
and paid for on all bookings where
children between 4 and 8 years are
included. Jack's will offer a 33% discount
to children between 4 and 8 years if
they are traveling in November, December,
January or February (from March to
October children pay the same rates
as adults). Children at San Camp pay
the same rates as adults.
Changes to Chitabe
- No walking trails may overlap
- The trails will operate 01 May to 30
- The Trails can accommodate a maximum
of 4 guests
- As before no children less than 12
years old may be accommodated on the
Wilderness Safaris camps have been the
recipients of various accolades: Rocktail
Bay made the 12th position in The Observer’s
list of the World’s 20 best deserted
Plains made it onto
the Condé Nast Traveller’s
Hot List for Africa and the world for
2006; and finally the quality and uniqueness
of Pafuri within the greater Kruger
National Park has been recognized by
the UK’s Guardian newspaper who
voted the camp in the Top Five Best
Camps for the area.
Pafuri Wilderness Trails Jump
The Makuleke Concession in the north of Kruger
is perfect for Wilderness Trails and last
week saw the first trail being run in the
concession for journalists and operators.
It was a great success with highlights being
30 elephants seen from above while on a kopje,
following a honeyguide to a beehive, nightly
relaxed bushpig in camp, a Pel’s Fishing
Owl along the Limpopo and an exceptional
sense of wilderness.
Jack’s and San – the wet Kalahari Jump
summer rains have ensured that there
is plenty of water still lying in the
pans and this has resulted in the presence
of hundreds of thousands of flamingos
and plenty of other waterbirds breeding.
The zebra migration is still in the Jack’s
area in full force and, due to the abundance
of water, is expected to stay until at
least August or even September.
female in the Mowana meerkat troop is
heavily pregnant and there have been
regular sightings of aardvark, aardwolf
and caracal. Best news of all is the
discovery of a brown hyena den site close
to camp where the cubs are rapidly becoming
habituated to game drives!
Seychelles / North Island
North Island Dive Report - July 06 Jump
to North Island
July saw a slight drop in wind
strength compared to last month, although the ocean has remained
unsettled and at times very choppy. Strangely though, the visibility
has gone from 8m to 15m, despite a constant wind, and even more
strange has been the presence of a reverse current, which means
that the current has been going in an opposite direction to that
of the wind! Usually the wind blows from the south-east and the
current is in a south to north direction, but of late we have
had a north to south current. Water temperature has remained
at a chilly 24°C. Some of the dive
team who dive on a regular basis have been diving with a chicken
vest and hood and we have had guests diving in a full suit with
a short suit over it for extra warmth.
We have had some exciting sightings: a sea grass
ghost pipefish on 'Sprat City', incredibly well spotted by one
of our divers, the first flounder (sole) spotted floating across
the sand at 'Twin Anchors' dive site and more nudibranches than
usual. In addition, on one of our recent dive outings to 'Sprat
City', as the divers descended, the skipper and deckhand on the
dive boat noticed a local fishing boat hook a Tiger Shark not
10 metres away from where the divers had descended. The shark
was pulled up to the boat and it came off the hook. The size
was estimated to be 1.5 metres. From our point of view, it is
hugely encouraging to know that a member of this species is on
the plateau region, as the Seychelles has an active shark fishing
and shark finning industry and this species has been forced into
the drop off regions of Aldabra and Farquahr Islands. On the
same topic, our boat maintenance contractor saw a tiger shark
off Mahé recently, which is again exciting.
White tip reef sharks are still regular sightings and continue
to be highly active amongst the sprat shoals.
'Sprat City' is still the site to dive, with the active little
sprats all over the place, the ever-excited blue spot kingfish
giving constant chase, never letting the little sprats rest for
a second. This in turn encourages the white tip reef sharks to
move in closer and the entire region bursts with life at the blink
of an eye. Three giant sleepy sharks have been hiding off North
East Point and have surprisingly not shown their faces in the sprat
Whilst on a dive at 'Sprat City', a massive fulvie kingfish was
spotted, tipping the 35kg mark. It was, by far, the largest kingfish
that we have seen to date and it clearly commanded huge respect
from the others in the shoal. An impressive-sized napoleon wrasse
was also seen out and about on this dive site recently, which confirms
our theory that 'Sprat City' rocks with life in the south-east
monsoon season. The predator fish have been wild and yet again
getting back to the kingfish family, it has been a common sighting
to be surrounded by a massive shoal of these fish and on closer
inspection, there have been four species of kingfish, the likes
of fulvie, big eye, blue spot and golden kingfish, within the same
shoal, all spending time together and all ranging in size. Surface
action has been exciting all around the island, with fish chases
everywhere, sailfish jumping clean out of the water, excited couta
chasing this way and that and large shoals of milkfish just skimming
the surface, in a hurry to be where the food is.
Along with all of this life, we have experienced the arrival of
the seasonal jellyfish. In addition, plankton has been thick in
the water and because plankton is weak, it uses the ocean current
to drift. Some of this plankton is of the stinging variety, so
we have had a little stinging here and there whilst out diving
Spotted eagle rays have also been a huge attraction in front of
the dive centre, playing in the shallows, floating and then leaping
clear out of the water and splashing back down again. Sting rays
have also been more frequently sighted, as have porcupine rays
in the shallows off main beach.
Mvuu Newsletter - July 06 Jump
to Mvuu Camp
and Mvuu Wilderness Lodge
Apart from the usual course of events here, such as
elephant creating havoc around the camp and lodge, and hippo keeping
guests awake by eating near the rooms, there have also been a few very
interesting incidents and sightings here in Liwonde National Park.
officially marks the beginning of the dry season; it means different
bird species, more elephant encounters, change in animal behaviour
and a scenic metamorphosis of nature. Impala Lilies blooming
in the dry season with absolutely no leaves are a good example.
Over the last three months the river has receded about 70cm or
so, and no rain in the rest of the park means concentrations
of animals close to the water with lush green vegetation restricted
to this area. It's here where most of the sightings have been seen:
next to the watercourses.
Some of the new bird species that have started
to show themselves only in the last months include the following:
African Skimmers, Pink-backed Pelican, Grey-headed Gulls, Black-winged
Stilt, Spur-winged Lapwing, Half-collared Kingfisher, Miombo
Blue-eared Starling, African Spoonbill, Crested Francolin and
Livingston's Flycatcher. As a newcomer, I've seen about 10 new
species - quite a change from working in Namibia. Apart from
these species some of the other guides have had a few very rare
sightings: Southern-banded Snake-eagle, Brown-breasted Barbet,
Allen's Gallinule, Green Malkoha and Narina Trogon.
This excludes the 'usual' specials
like Pel's Fishing-owl, Böhm's Bee-eater, Lillian's Lovebird,
Grey-headed Parrot and Black Egret. There was one particular incident,
where a Pel's was perched very close to the Lodge boma with a fish
in his talons, while the guests were having dinner. Quite special
to have dinner with a Pel's - enough to create a birder out of a
non-birder. Another special sighting was a Giant Eagle-owl taking
a Guineafowl, and also a Bat-Hawk catching bats.
With the water going down, it
creates these big open sandbanks. The crocs and hippo love the
sunbathing and some huge individuals have been seen, one large
male in particular estimated at 5m! Because the weather is cooler
the hippo spend much of their time outside the water. On the
early morning walks you can see quite a few hippo on the way
to the water. Some other interesting water-related sightings
include the following: a group of about 70 elephant crossing
the river, two crocodiles mating in front of the lodge dining
area and incredibly, a waterbuck crossing the river, swimming
forward with back-bent horns like a grey-hound about to catch
the rabbit! It was quite spectacular to witness the two crocs
mating, the series of grunts and roars followed by blowing bubbles
madly. The show ended with the male swimming off after about
2-3 minutes, as if nothing at all had happened.
Mammal-wise, there were many very
special experiences. One evening, the lodge manager walked the
guests to the room, with the last person being a lady that had
come to Malawi especially to see elephant. She told the manager, "It's
my last night here at Mvuu and I still haven't seen any elephant..." The
words weren't even out of her mouth when the manager whispered
an excited reply of, "Here they are!" Right in front
of them there was a big female enjoying the trees, truly a memory
that will stay with the guest for the rest of her life.
The black rhino have also not been
hiding away with 6 sightings recently. Hopefully it's going to
be an even more successful year for rhino sightings; it looks
like two of the females in the sanctuary are pregnant according
to Mr. Zimba, our rhino tracker. This will put our numbers at
10 rhinos - very exciting indeed.
The smaller mammals have also been exciting. Some of
the specials have been a few civet sightings, porcupine, striped polecat
and a lot of side striped jackal. The sighting of the year thus far
was a pangolin. The first pangolin sighting in 6 years was a very memorable
moment and one that was repeated on 27 July when on one drive we saw
sable, Lichtenstein's hartebeest, buffalo, lots of birds... and another
pangolin that we had an exceptional look at. A sad but rare sighting
was a baboon that took a bushbuck lamb; the baboon had to run for its
life to get away from the others who wanted a piece, but the poor lamb
didn't stand a chance. We also have a few warthogs around the camp
who consider themselves as resident. They behave like vacuum cleaners,
picking up the jackalberry fruits that the monkeys drop down, and trimming
grass like lawnmowers on feet - very useful.
So that's life at Mvuu, interesting, fascinating, intriguing
- and wonderful!
Busanga Camp Newsletter - July 06
(Busanga is one of Wilderness Safaris' new camps in Kafue National
Lions, lions, lions, lions... it's been all lion this month - and what
a fantastic month it's been! 'Big John' and his pride have been all
over the camp, almost daily we've been waking up to the sound of lions
not far away; and on three occasions, they actually made kills within
the camp itself! One being between our tents in the staff accommodation
- that was awesome! They also decided it would be amusing to join us
in camp for the day when a family arrived with four young (and very
active) children! Needless to say, everyone was extremely well behaved
Unfortunately, the enormous presence of lion recently seems to have
silenced the cheetah. Yet, one moonlit evening while sitting around the
campfire, we heard a short burst of alarm calls from the puku and a surge
of activity not far from the dining room, a quick scan with the torches
revealed a lightning quick ewe with a cheetah in hot pursuit! Unfortunately,
a second search with the vehicle proved to be in vain, as the cheetah
had pulled her down in the long grass - and we didn't want to frighten
the mother of two cubs off her hard-won dinner! Hopefully, as the water
withdraws back into the earth, there will be more space for the cheetah
to move in, without fear of the lions.
There have been great sightings of serval, porcupine and other small
critters, not to mention a beautiful herd of over 300 buffalo moving
up and down the Lufupa channels. Recent fires have given birth to fresh
new grass, attracting the herds of wildebeest, which are almost set to
drop their calves in September. The wonderfully relaxed roan antelope
should also be dropping their comical looking young in the next few weeks!
Sadly, one of the lion cubs, a female - has been injured, and is looking
very poorly. We don't think she'll make it. On the good news front, however,
we recently discovered that one of the other females has given birth
to cubs as well! Also, there has been a coalition of two adolescent males
moving around the area. Big John, my boy, watch your back!
All the best,
Phil, Andrea, Lexon, Benson, Santos, Kapaipi, Winnard, Boston, Emmanuel
Camp update - July 06
(Kapinga is one of Wilderness
Safaris' new camps in Kafue National Park, Zambia)
Herewith some recent images of newly-opened
Kim Nixon's recent trip yielded
a sighting of a lion kill, a herd of 300 buffalo, good roan and Lichtenstein's
hartebeest amongst other highlights.
Explorations Update - July 06
• The Selinda
pack of wild dog has been very active this last
month. They are back to using the CMU camp as their
catch net for impala. One poor individual was
chased into and smashed, the office window before
becoming breakfast. They also cornered the old
wildebeest bull, who
is practically a camp resident, in the car park.
He was too
wise for their tactics though & saw them off.
• The poor francolins at Zibalianja
are at their wits end with
a dwarf mongoose clan that has taken up residence
their camp. These little guys are prolific
nest raiders &
as fast as the hens lay, so the mongooses steal the
• The return of the buffalo
herds has been particularly welcomed by the Selinda
lions. They have been seen
following the herds hoping for a straggler or a weak
individual to be exposed. Beef is back on the menu,
you have to catch it first!
• We welcome a new couple to
Zbalianja Camp! Stuart Bell& Tessa Campbell
will be taking over from Sam & Sean
who move over to our CMU camp. Stuart & Tessa
from Islands Of Siankaba in Zambia where they have
for the last two years.
• Selinda also has an addition
to the management team -
taking it to full strength. Zane Volker, who is no
to The Selinda, joins us on a permanent basis. We
him a hearty official welcome to the Linex
• Once again lions have dominated
the predator viewing over the month. The cubs are
doing well; the males are
sticking around (roaring in & around the camps
frequently), & the lionesses are providing
• The Trails team seems to
be getting all the leopard action.
Chris & his following band were stalking some
francolins in a bush, hoping to see a snake or genet,
they flushed a large male leopard. It is unsure who
• Morning coffee at Mokoba
Camp was all action when a
leopard cornered a troop of baboons in the tree above
of the tents. Eventually, the baboons decided to
retreat, en masse, in a shower of leaves, twigs & copious
amounts of poo!
Camps Update - July 06
Lagoon camp Jump
• The Lagoon
Pride pride (currently made up by 4 lionesses
and a young male) has been spending a bit
of time further north.
They returned south and killed a buffalo
and few for a few days, and were subsequently
seen closer to the camp for several days.
• A couple of nomadic male lions have been
seen in the area, one of them was mating
with a collared lioness. They were later
seen hunting buffalo in the mopane woodland.
• A pair of male cheetah were seen south
of the camp at Water-cut where they appear
to have taken up residence over the last
few weeks – in excellent shape successfully
preying on the smaller antelope that rely
on the floodplains and the water supply
in that area.
• An adult female cheetah and her litter
were found on the floodplains south of
the camp and appeared to be making their
way slowly northwards.
• The Lagoon wild dog pack of 3 adults
and 3 year-old youngsters have been seen
frequently hunting and killing impala – the
Alpha female was heavily pregnant. The
pack seemed to vanish sometime during the
last week, and the guides suspect they
have denned in the area somewhere – probably
deep into the mopane woodland as they did
• Good numbers of elephants in decent sized
herds inundating the woodlands and floodplains
with excellent sightings as usual to be
had from the deck overhanging the lagoon.
• Herds of buffalo are widespread both north
and south of the camp moving to and from
the river daily, lots of activity - mating,
fighting, and a birth was seen as well.
• Birding – good winter species still
seen –secretary birds, several egrets
species, Egyptian, spur-winged and pygmy
geese, and various large raptors.
• General game has been excellent – giraffe,
zebra, tsessebe, impala, kudu, steenbuck,
impala, reedbuck, baboons and vervets.
• Night sightings include several porcupines,
genets, honey badgers, serval, African
wild cats, caracal, as well as both jackal
species and hyenas.
Kwara camp Jump
• A pride of
five – 4
lionesses and an adult male killed an adult
male buffalo and was viewed by guests for
several days from the boat on the Delta
• A couple of nomadic male lions seen as
well resting on a termite mound.
• A pair of lionesses and their 3
cubs were seen feeding at an elephant carcass.
• 2 male lions killed a buffalo at the boat
station – an excellent sighting had
• A young reedbuck was killed by a
leopard, another relaxed leopard was found
and viewed for some time.
• A shy adult female leopard was seen – she
appeared to be lactating.
• A pair of adult male cheetah were found
and followed – they killed an adult
impala. They were subsequently seen for
most of the past 3 weeks moving up and
down hunting across the floodplains.
• A pack of 3 adult wild dogs were found
at their den with 8 puppies - they relocated
their den a few days later.
• A couple of small breeding herds
of elephants were seen in the Kwara area – most
elephant sightings however have been bachelor
herds throughout the area as well as moving
through the camps. A herd of seven bulls
was seen swimming across the channel.
• A couple of bachelor herds of buffalo
as well as a herd of about 150 seen close
to the camp.
• Smaller game sightings include serval,
civet, springhares, genets, various mongoose
species (including Selous mongoose), both
side-striped and black-backed jackals.
• General game – lots of zebra and
tsessebe, a herd of 16 sable, small herds
of wildebeest, as well as giraffe, impala,
reedbuck, waterbuck and lechwe as well
as the usual groups of hippo in front of
the camp and along the delta waterways.
• Birds seen – Ground hornbill, wattled
cranes, brown snake eagle and various other
raptors active due to the abundance of
• Also unusual sightings of an African
rock python swimming as well as a brown
water snake seen from the boat on the cruise.
Lebala camp Jump
• An adult male
lion was found resting in the shade – he
had been feeding on a buffalo carcass.
• The Lagoon pride came south and spend
some time harassing – they were later
found feeding on a buffalo.
• A pair of male lions were followed several
times hunting buffalo.
• A shy lion cub (5 mo old) was seen
close to the airstrip.
• 4 lionesses and a lion found hunting at half-way
• A very relaxed female leopard was found hunting
in the late afternoon – she got a few
mice for her troubles.
• A relaxed and very large adult male leopard
was found relaxing in the shade – he
was seen over a period of several days (and
• A couple of other leopards were seen - some
of which were quite shy.
• 2 adult male cheetahs were found resting
in the morning sun – they were followed
hunting in the afternoon.
• Good numbers of elephants seen daily - mostly
in large breeding herds up to 200 strong
moving across the floodplains from the woodlands.
• Herds of buffalo seen – the largest
of about 1,500 seen on most game drives moving
between the floodplains, the river and the
• The general game still good including wildebeest,
zebra, giraffe, a herd of about 20 sable
antelope, kudu, impala, warthogs, waterbuck,
• Smaller game including porcupines,
honey-badgers, Selous, slender and yellow
mongooses, genets, African wild cats, serval,
civets – a
highlight was an African wild cat and her
litter of kittens.
• Hyenas and jackals seen hunting and patrolling
most night drives – a clan of hyena
pulled down an adult buffalo 5 min from the
• Excellent bird sightings – Kori bustard,
southern ground hornbills, secretary birds,
long-crested eagle, African hawk eagles and
other various raptors – large numbers
of queleas, and good viewing of water-fowl
along the edges of the floodplains.
Little Kwara camp
• 2 male lions and
a lioness were found feeding on an elephant carcass – the
female appeared to be coming into estrus. They
were later joined by another lioness with cubs
4-5 months old.
• A pair of lionesses and a young male killed a warthog close to the boat
station, and were seen in the area for several days thereafter.
• 2 male lions were followed for a couple of days, on day 3 they killed
a buffalo but were chased off by another 2 males who took over the carcass.
• A female leopard was found resting and then and followed hunting for a
couple of hours.
• 3 cheetah – a pair of males and a female were found resting – they
• Three male cheetah were found resting on a mound, and were found later
having just fed on an impala.
• A bachelor herd of elephant was seen crossing the vlei area in front of
the camp – a few other bachelor herds were seen in the area on game drive
and from the boat.
• 2 big buffalo bulls were seen lying on the lagoon bank in front of the
camp. A small herd of buffalo about 150 strong – mixed males and females
were seen close to the airstrip for several days.
• Night drives yielded lots of hyenas patrolling their territory, black-backed
jackal foraging, side-striped jackals, several genets including a large spotted
genet feeding on a mouse, a civet feeding on a mouse, serval, African wild cat
• General game included sable antelope, giraffe, impala, warthogs, reedbuck,
kudu, zebra, tsessebe and steenbuck as well as slender and dwarf mongooses, scrub
hares, springhares and baboons.
Flood update - July 10, 2006
After the heavy rains,
which occured throughout northern Botswana in 2006, the water
levels in the Delta are presently far above average. This
is because the flood water arriving from Angola has supplemented
the above average rains over the Delta. The result
is that pans and channels which would typically have dried
by now, still have water.
As always, the Okavango
Delta is truly a dynamic ecosystem and this year's rains
have made it a very interesting place indeed. The
Savuti Channel actually "flowed" for the first
time in over 20 years (over 6 kilometers down the channel).
Mombo Camp update
- July 06 Jump
to Mombo Camp
The August winds have arrived
early this year gusting from the east, creating a dark haze
on the horizon perfect for sunsets. Afternoons this month have
been warm, temperatures reaching 27C but dropping to 8C towards
the early morning.
Many of the plains game have gathered, forming
large herds relying on the lush grasses that are being provided
by the reseeding floodwaters. Water levels around Mombo are
dropping seeming that we reached our peak a few weeks ago.
This does not mean that the flood regime has stopped; we still
are observing flood waters creeping into the remaining depressions
of the island. These still waters create a mirror image of
the beauty above, reflecting the palms and enhancing the winter
The acacia nigrescens have started to flower,
the first signs that summer is on its way. These flowering
trees create a canopy of activity, attracting birds, monkeys
and insects as well as a beautiful backdrop against the winter
Our developing wilddog pack was sighted a few
times this month, they are looking healthy and it’s believed
that the alpha female could still be pregnant. On one occasion
we found the pack close to camp with three hyenas trailing
them. All the dogs and hyenas had bloody faces; the hyenas
had stolen the wilddogs kill. Whilst observing the dogs two
nomadic male lions arrived on the seen, alerting the dogs which
ran into the safety of the thick acacia. Not more than a few
hundred meters down the road the giggling antics of the spotted
hyena were heard; we sighted seven hyenas, presumably feeding
on the remains of the dogs kill.
Interestingly the five wilddogs
returned to their kill hoping to pick up a few scraps but the
seven hyenas were too much of a challenge for them. Then, out
of nowhere the nomadic male lions arrived on the scene asserting
their dominance and power over the kill. The hyenas dispersed
from the lions, disturbing a curious leopard who quickly took
to the trees. So there you have it, mombo magic, five wilddogs,
ten hyenas, two male lions and one leopard all in one scene!
Moporota pride has two more additions to this ever increasing
pride, now attaining a total of 15 cubs. These new additions
to the pride total the pride to 24 lions. This pride still frequents
the northern tip of the island, which is home to large concentrations
of game, thus giving the lionesses the ease in raising fifteen
Many of the giraffe have gathered into temporary
aggregations, thus giving the lions an opportunity to spook
them into thicker vegetation, causing the giraffes to fall
and slip. During the last week of July four giraffe were
killed by lions.
The picture below shows one of the Mathata
pride males feeding on an adult bull giraffe, picture two
taken on the same day shows a lionesses from the old trails
pride feeding on a giraffe.
All our guests that have visited us in the
last few years, have without fail, been introduced to Jimmy,
the female hyena. This “famous” hyena has starred
in the Mombo cookbook and was known for her persistence in
breakng into the Mombo Kitchen. A few months back she was
evidently mauled by lions which left her with a broken paw,
making life a little more complicated than usual in surviving
out in the wild. In addition to this she had two cubs to
look after. Due to these conditions Jimmy decided that her
only way to survive and sire two cubs was to depend on the
kitchen, the office, the laundry, water pipes, electric cables,
doors, books, chairs and many more items. It was thus decided
that it was time to relocate Jimmy and her cubs to a better
The wildlife department was called in along
with Map Ives, Wilderness Safaris environmentalist, deciding
that she be relocated. So…….Jimmy and her cubs
were darted and flown off Chiefs Island to a Botswana Defence
Force training facility close to the capital, Gaborone. We
bid farewell to Jimmy whose stories will remain a great part
of Mombo forever.
Just to give you a quick update on our leopard cubs: At present
the Tortillis female has been seen with two cubs and the far-eastern
pan remains with her one cub. Both leopards are doing very
well considering the hyena, lion and baboon density at Mombo.
Two individual male cheetahs have been seen this month, frequenting
the floodplains of our concession. We still await the arrival
of a female cheetah into our area, although in order to raise
a litter in the paradise of Mombo you would need a medal.
The August winds have arrived early this year
gusting from the east, creating a dark haze on the horizon
perfect for sunsets. Afternoons this month have been warm,
temperatures reaching 27C but dropping to 8C towards the
We leave the month of July with Scorpio above our heads, as
Jupiter sets to the call of the goliath heron.
Cheers from the Mombo team
will always tell everyone that Mombo is not the camp to miss”
“Just keep up the wonderful work everyone is doing”
“You seemed to have covered everything to make our stay unforgettable”
“leopard, lions, rhinos, cheetahs and lots more”
“this is a very special place”
“all was fantastic and the staff were excellent”
“the highlights were the leopards, up close and personal”
Tubu Tree Camp update
- July 06 Jump
to Tubu Tree Camp
Although the floodwaters
are receding fast, the floodplain viewed from the camp is a
picture of grazing lechwe, zebra and impala. The green canopy
of Marula, Jackal-berry, Fig and Sausage trees shading the
main lodge are a beehive of activity, with vervet monkeys and
baboons competing with a wide variety of noisy birds and chattering
squirrels for tasty fruits.
this month have been very moderate and cool morning game drives
turned into warm afternoons for lazing by the pool. Evenings
around the campfire turned into late nights under the clear
winter skies, reliving the day's activities or just relaxing
and enjoying the night sounds. The warm afternoons enticed
the guests from their siesta time to enjoy the lodge and great
fun was had by all with mokoro races on the floodplain in front
of camp. (see photo at left)
Leopards were the main attraction
this month at Tubu. Three different females with cubs were
spotted. In fact, one of the July highlights was a leopard
(Boat Station female), in a tree above unsuspecting grazing
Impala which made for great photos until they spotted her and
scattered. Another encounter with the same female saw her meet
up with a second female we call 'Moselesele', and a territorial
dispute ensued with much growling.
Our resident female lion
'Brown Sugar' who was heavily pregnant at last sight has been
spotted briefly twice and she seems to be hiding her cubs on
an island on the west side. Our male 'Monati' has also been
spotted twice although looking a bit worse for wear with a
nose injury. A nomadic male was seen passing through from the
south heading north through the water.
Elephant visits to camp and
encounters during game drives were special, as a very relaxed
breeding herd allowed for incredible photo opportunities at
very close range. Large spotted genets, civets and hyaenas
made for great night drives.
Bird lovers were not disappointed
either; our day and night drives produced spectacular sights:
hundreds of African Open Bill Storks taking off and obscuring
the sun; a lone Tawny Eagle feasting on a mouse; a beautiful
Lilac-breasted Roller doing an aerial display and a pair of
Ostriches feeding on the grassland and performing an impressive
he friendliness of our staff
and the delicious meals received constant compliments from
all our guests and all left with the promise of a swift return.
Dave, Leigh, Moa, Moyo and the GREAT Tubu Team
Jao Camp update
- July 06 Jump
to Jao Camp
has been milder than June was, with temperatures above 10°C
and the maximum on some days already up to the mid-30s. The nights have
been clear with some great opportunities for star gazing when hosting
bush dinners out in the open. The wind has not been bad: a brief breeze
as the sun rises in the mornings soon dying down to be followed by beautifully
still days. We wouldn't be surprised by one more little cold snap before
the advent of spring though. There has been no rain in July.
The water levels have been dropping considerably and compared to last
year it seems as though the floodwaters will not persist as long. Our
game drives are still traversing wet areas with some guests commenting
that we are currently driving in more water with the cars at the moment
than with the boats! The grass is drying out rapidly and the contrast
between this and the greenery along the channels has become so much more
evident than months before. The fig trees are shedding their final load
of fruits that keep the baboons, monkeys and an array of birds within
the vicinity of the camp. The Mopane trees are getting deep green leaves
contrasting to the harsh dry grasses in the area which makes for fabulous
photo opportunities when an elephant or any other animal for that matter,
is spotted amongst them.
Our leopards 'Beauty' and her cub 'Tumo' have once again been a highlight
at Jao this last month, even though they largely eluded us for the last
two weeks of the month. Some of the sightings have been overwhelming
to say the least. Late one evening, while I was taking a group to their
rooms for orientation I walked up towards our furthest room (tent 9)
when suddenly Beauty and the cub jumped out of a dead tree five metres
from us onto the walkway we were on. We froze in amazement and Beauty
jumped off the walkway to the ground while Tumo decided to hang around
on the walkway and lie down staring at us for about five minutes. Another
great sighting of this mother and cub was when the mother dragged down
and killed a male lechwe right next to the parking apron at the airstrip.
Seeing an animal dragging something more than twice her size was amazing.
She managed to drag this kill about 50 metres into a palm thicket and
spent the next two days feeding on it until a hyaena picked up the scent
and stole the remains from them on day three.
The lioness known as 'Broken Nose' has been frequenting the area just
beyond camp and around the airstrip. This has probably been due to the
loss of all her cubs and she has been seen wandering aimlessly around
the concession. There have been nice sightings of the resident pride
lionesses and two surviving cubs towards the area of Kwetsani. On one
occasion the lions were seen feeding on a wildebeest. Sightings of the
males have been seen few and far between this month with just two sightings.
Elephant bulls continue to forage in and around camp both delighting
and alarming guests. The camp warthog and the island banded mongoose
troop continue to frequent the lodge surroundings. One of the highlights
of the month on the drives must surely have been our guests going out
one morning and as they came around the corner, about 30 minutes into
the drive, they stumbled onto a male leopard just starting to cross quite
a deep channel and then proceeding to swim all the way through to get
to another nearby island - who said leopards do not swim?
We had a second influx of birds into the camp to benefit from the ripening
Sycamore Figs: from the beautiful Green Pigeons, Babblers, Starlings,
Bulbuls, Doves and Orioles eating the fruit to the Woodpeckers and Hoopoes
eating the bugs that eat the fruit. A Giant Eagle Owl has made its presence
known on a couple of nights this month and we found a single Pel's Fishing
Owl from the walkway in camp. The birds of the month must surely be the
big flocks of Red-billed Queleas that sit and rise so often in enormous
numbers around the concession, making such huge clouds of birds that
you can almost not see the sun through them. This is indeed a spectacular
sight every year and seems much more intense than last year.
Some of the feedback from our guests this last month:
"Loved it, loved it, and loved it! Will be back. With hugs and
thanks." - J&PM (USA).
"Thank you to all staff especially management. The great example
you set for general staff shines through in everything at Jao. We had
a fantastic time. Thank you once again." - LC.
"We enjoyed a lot and we saw many animals and the food was excellent
especially the tea. We loved the soccer time and going fishing, it was
great. Also all the people we met were very friendly and kind to us." -
"Thank you very much, two wonderful days. The staff is very professional
and polite. We will return!" - R&YK (Germany).
- July 06 Jump
to Kwetsani Camp
the floodwaters have reached their maximum height and slowly but surely
as the days come to an end, the waters are receding. The days are getting
longer and the nights shorter as summer approaches with every sunset
and sunrise. The temperatures this winter have been great with an average
of 14°C in the mornings and evenings, and a balmy 25°C during
the day. As July comes to an end and August draws closer, we have started
experiencing some very windy days.
The lion have been living very close to camp this month, with regular
sightings from all the rooms. The two cubs are growing (5 months old
now) and are nursing many times throughout the day. One of the lionesses
is very pregnant, by the looks of things at the end of August we should
have new cubs to welcome. The depredation on the area's wildlife have
meant that we sadly lost the lone wildebeest to the lions this month.
This meant that the cubs had their first taste of meat. They played with
the meat, as it is not on their diet yet. It seems that another pride
is in the area, during the nights they call back and forth to each other.
The father has a lot of interaction with the cubs and they are seen often
with him alone while the lionesses are away hunting. The surviving cub
has been missing now for the month of July, with no sightings.
The leopard cub is still in its growing years and stays close to mom,
not wandering off too far. There have been some really spectacular sightings
of them. The female leopard is killing very successfully; the hunting
area is becoming larger now that the water is receding.
The winter visitors in the bird world have started moving back home
and soon we will see an influx of the European birds flocking our way.
Having said that, the bird watching has been amazing here this July.
A pair of Giant Eagle Owls have made their home here on the island with
a taste for the banded mongoose. We also have a pair of Bateleur Eagles
sharing the island. As the water recedes, the Storks are feeding in front
of the lodge on the smaller insects and frogs that get left behind, with
great sightings of Saddle Billed Storks and Marabou Storks. In addition,
large numbers of Open Bill Storks have also started flocking to the flood
plains for the same reason.
With the palm trees fruiting now, the elephants
around the island have been plentiful and breeding herds from Hunda
Island have crossed over with all the baby elephants following.
It is so interesting to watch as they all have their individual
personality and show a lot of bravery, especially with mom around
to protect them.
What a wonderful month we have
had, with visitors from all over this amazing globe that we live
in. Our guests that pass through Kwetsani leave here with memories
for life, and there has been plenty of romance with many honeymooners
visiting this month. What a place to begin a new married life
The delta is the place to be at
the moment, with the days and seasons changing.
"The least movement is of
importance to nature, the entire ocean is affected by a pebble"
See you all soon
The Kwetsani Team
Duba Plains Camp
update - July 06 Jump
to Duba Plains
After three months of rising levels, the floodwaters of the Okavango
are at last beginning to subside. This has been confirmed
by the latest flood statistics from Mohembo (situated at
the top of the pan handle) that shows flow levels peaking
a month ago. Due to the cold weather at this time of year,
evaporation is minimal and therefore we don't expect the
flood levels to drop significantly before September. Our
bridge is still out of action which means that our game drive
activities are being spiced up by a mokoro ride from the
camp to the vehicles. This has not proved an inconvenience
and means that everybody gets to experience this traditional
and wonderful mode of transport.
The Tsaro Pride has been
seen every day this week, with the pride ranging in number
from 3 to 8 lionesses. "Silver Eye", a 7-year-old
female is lactating heavily and she has spent much time away
from the pride, most likely tending to a newly born litter.
It is usually a month or two before new cubs are introduced
to the pride and Silver Eye will be very wary about one of
her sisters who, bizarrely, has been recorded killing cubs
produced by the other lionesses.
Three buffalo were killed
by the Tsaro Pride this past week. The first, an adult bull
was killed near Hyaena Den in the early hours of last Monday
morning. The carcass was cleaned within two days and as we
followed eight Tsaro females on Thursday they surrounded a
group of buffalo bulls at Sausage Point and managed to catch
a straggler as the group headed towards the safety of the main
herd. The male Tsaro cub, now nine months old, is being allowed
to feed with the rest of the pride and the Duba Boys. This
is an encouraging sign that the pride is willing to tolerate
his presence and raises hope that this one may survive.
On Saturday, three Tsaro
females caught a buffalo calf that they managed to separate
from its mother to the north of Lion Pan. One of the Duba Boys
snatched the calf immediately from the females.
We continue to have remarkable
aardwolf sightings in the sandy habitat close to Baobab Island
and for nearly an hour on Wednesday we watched two aardwolf
hunting for rodents. Birding here is always superb and flocks
of Open-billed Stork have been seen nearly every day close
This July is a special celebration for four staff members who are
celebrating 10 years at Duba. They are James 007, Smiley
(Housekeeping), Kenny (Barman), and Celia (Chef). I would
like to thank them all on behalf of the Duba team and Wilderness
Safaris for their dedicated and loyal service and we look
forward to their continued service for many more years
At the beginning of the
week, the three kinship buffalo groups came together to form
a larger herd on the plains close to Mtosi road. Over the
following days, they moved east from Sausage point to Kabule
Pan, later crossing the channel to the airstrip by Thursday.
This gave the Pantry Pride (two adult females and an adult
male) a rare chance to hunt bulkier prey and although we
didn't see a kill, we heard distress calls of a buffalo to
the north of camp. At the moment, flood conditions prevent
us from getting to this area and I was unable to find evidence
of a kill from an aerial survey. The herd then settled near
Phala Island before moving back south-west across the channel
to Munye Molokwane and into our game drive area.
We await the floodwaters
to fall further before looking in earnest for the Pantry
Pride. The adult male is very wary of the Duba Boys and it's
roar is a muted one since he does not wish to attract their
attention. The presence of this Pantry adult male explains
why the Duba Boys have been seen patrolling the area to the
north of the airstrip. Along with the young Skimmer males
and the Paradise male, the Pantry male provides the main
threat to the continued dominance of the Duba Boys.
The Tsaro Pride was seen
on six days of this week. On Tuesday, six females and the
male cub killed a female buffalo to the west of Kabule Pan,
having followed the herd for two days. Both Duba Boys come
into feed, though not to the exclusion of the others. During
the hunt a Warthog, oblivious to the lions presence, trotted
to within 20 meters of the pride. The young cub picked up
the scent and flattened itself in the grass before making
a hopeless attempt to chase it down. It's all a learning
Elephants are now here
in good numbers and the bush around camp is beginning to
resemble a war-zone as a couple of males spend most nights
peeling bark off the umbrella thorns. If you don't know what's
happening, the noise can be a little disconcerting!
Another great month at
Duba! Paul de Thierry
update - July 06 Jump
to Vumbura Camp
1st week of July
As far as game drives, walks, boating
and mokoro outings are concerned, this week has been superb. The
sightings highlight of the week was on the 4th of July when the guests
on game drive saw lions trying to kill a buffalo. The Kubu Pride
was on a mission to make a kill in the morning and on coming across
the buffalo, one of the lionesses leapt onto the bull's back. She
had clearly been expecting the help of the heavier and stronger pride
male, but he simply lay watching the struggle. Eventually the lioness
admitted the overwhelming odds and relinquished her hold on the buffalo
allowing it to escape.
Cheetah sightings have been recorded
on several occasions. Most of the sightings were concentrated in
an area called Shumba Island. The cheetah prefer this area because
of the short grass. A 'new' leopard was seen two days ago and it
seemed very shy, probably because it is not used to see the vehicles
(the resident cats of the area do not walk away or hide when they
see vehicles). 'Big Boy', the resident territorial male, on the other
hand, was seen in relaxed pose on several occasions, as were a female
and her cub.
The progressive drying out of the
pans away from the permanent channels means that our little island,
which stays green and verdant all year round, is now attracting elephants.
Two big bull elephants came onto the island and spent about two days
without moving away. They left evidence as some trees were pushed
down. Zebra, impala, kudu, red lechwe, giraffe, buffalo and a rather
large herd of sable were also spotted in the area. Some excitement
was also caused by the sighting of a large python that was seen on
a termite mound.
Birdlife has been spectacular as
usual and we were happy to have seen pelicans arrive in our concession.
from one of our guests in camp this week: "We loved our trip
and Matt was fabulous. Is there anywhere else you can have elephant encounters
just outside your tent? This was a great addition to out trip."
regards Little Vumbura Camp
Ongava Lodge update - July 06 Jump
to Ongava Lodge
Guest satisfaction makes Ongava Lodge tick and we are pleased to report
that we wave departing guests goodbye knowing that they would like to
come back to again enjoy the experiences we provide in the camp, on the
reserve and in neighbouring Etosha National Park. From the first welcoming
smiles through to the scrumptious meals, to a clean and cosy bed, our
guests experience hospitality of a very high standard.
Mother Nature also assists greatly in making the guest experience wonderful
by providing the backdrop to a perfect stay. During July 2006 we enjoyed
some great leopard sightings - one very relaxed individual for a whopping
30 minutes - and lions assist us in our daily wake-up calls by starting
theirs at 04h00.
At the moment black rhino sightings are exceptional with almost nightly
visits to our camp's waterhole. The cow named Ombika with her three-month-old
male calf, and the female, Etosha, and her one-month-old female keep
our guests at the lookout deck for hours at a time.
The days are getting a bit warmer and longer and the water acacias have
started blooming in Etosha! Simply the best time of the year to be in
the best place on earth.
- July 06 Jump
This month we are doing it a little differently and letting
a new addition to our staff (Rosta Janik) tell of his
impressions of Doro Nawas...
This season Wilderness Safaris
Namibia brought me to the "Heart
Before I arrived into this "wilderness" I had
completely different feeling about this place out here. I
did not expect that it would be so unspoiled and beautiful
and fascinating at all. Oh my goodness, I cannot believe
how lucky (I do not know how many times I have already been
luck with Wilderness Safaris) I am again to "explore" an
area new to me. I knew very little about this area before
- just basic general knowledge about Twyfelfontein, Burnt
Mountains, Organ Pipes or Petrified Forest which I had visited
in the past. I've now been here a month. Oh my goodness,
I am happy to be here...!
The chances of seeing desert-adapted
elephants are quite high in the winter season and to me
these are the "top
dogs"! Absolutely amazing! Going out and seeing the
elephants hanging around their favourite places and also
to come across so many new things like birds, trees, plants
and especially geology... These things - the little ones
- make the trips even more special and the dam in Twyfelfontein
area is "real birds' paradise" with millions of
Red-billed Queleas coming down to drink there every day and
many other species besides. Like yesterday I saw my first
Damara Hornbill and was also very lucky to see a Gabar Goshawk
trying to hunt down the Queleas while they were drinking!
On our drives we see gemsbok, springbok, steenbok and other
game regularly... also black-backed jackal and bat-eared
fox as well. But what happened yesterday was fascinating!
Something I will never expect! A few days ago we had cheetah
sightings on one of our game drives... But what happened
yesterday was absolutely mind blowing - we had a cheetah
sighting in the camp!
In front of Room 16 were spotted two cheetah and then after
they hung around the room they decided to move on. As they
moved on they passed room 17 and then passed the guides'
rooms and disappeared into the distance... what a show here
in Doro Nawas - absolutely amazing!
I was in my room and they just passed me few metres away
while I had my door open - what bad luck... But I must say
I am very happy for our guests and our staff that they saw
Scenery wise, the place out here is still like after the
rains we had few months ago... Beautiful golden grass and
all the beautiful desert flowers areas are still here and
especially late afternoon with the winter African sun I feel
like being in the most beautiful desert garden on earth!
Last but not least I am just loving it here!
Camp (northern Kruger) Newsletter - July 06 Jump
does not blow people away, particularly birders, then I acknowledge
I might be a little different. I did not make this up. These
are the sightings I have had with guests the last few days.
Make sure you are seated! 4 night guest stay leaving Friday
morning (14 July).
Monday pm - Drive to
Mangala: Black Eagles on nest site at Hutwini cliff face
and the below Impala.
Tuesday am - Drive Luvuhu
East to Crooks' Corner and back. Saw 17 hippos at Crooks
(see below). During the day I birded in camp with my guests
for an hour. Saw black-throated wattle-eye and yellow white
eye. There was also two buffalo in front of camp and an
elephant bull came down to drink at the river.
pm - Big Baobab stone tool site. The highlight was seeing
Wednesday am - Mutale
Gorge. Saw 2 big herds of buffalo on the way to the gorge.
Found black stork nest at the gorge. (Nest just above
all the white wash in pic below left).
Wednesday pm - Went to
Limpopo River at Mangeba. On way back to Middle road heard
impala alarm calling on Middle Road east of Mangeba. Went
there and saw where the impala were looking. They were
about 50 metres off the road, but they were looking behind
a small mound. We waited for about 30 minutes as they continued
to call. Next thing we saw a male leopard emerge carrying
an impala in his mouth. We watched him for about 5 minutes
as he slowly dragged the kill away into the bush.
am - While having morning tea on the main deck we saw a
bat hawk catch a bat right in front of the deck. It flew
off south of the river carrying it in its talons. We then
left for the drive to Lanner Gorge. On the drive we saw
a cuckoo hawk and an eastern nicator. Black eagle at the
Thursday pm - Spent 2
hours at Nwambi Pan in the middle of the day. Stacks of
game. Herd of buffalo, nyala, impala, kudu, baboon, monkeys.
Drive to Mangeba-Middle road to Spokonyolo Pan on the Limpopo
River. Saw 2 eland on the way. Probably the finest sundowner
spot on the property. On the way back we saw porcupine,
jackals and a large spotted genet as well as a spotted eagle
Thursday dinner - As
I am driving big birders I went to check for Pel's fishing
owl in front of camp during dinner. There he was on a log
right in front of the deck. We checked a bit later and
there were 2. While we were watching them the one caught
a fish. Yes, Pels and Bat Hawk both seen from the deck
making a kill on the same day!
Basically that was my
week. I have not put in the usual stuff. Stacks of nyala,
impala, crocs, baboon, monkeys, buffalo, kudu, bushbuck
to be working at Pafuri" Stobbs