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South Africa camps
Pafuri Camp update - July 09 Jump
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Kings Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Kings Camp
Welcome back to all of our readers! We had a very exciting month and a lot of special visitors that shared it with us.
The Lion sightings were as good as it gets!
After the Schobele pride lost one of their adult Lionesses last month they struggled to re-compose themselves to hunt as a unit. The pride wondered around almost aimlessly to find food but with the experience of one adult gone all the attempts to hunt seemed “plan less”. They covered vast distances in search for food and on one morning stumbled across a buffalo carcass close to the camp…
Being so hungry they rushed in for the feed and got ambushed by the Timbavati boys, whose kill it was. The boys were patrolling in the area and on their return found some “unwanted” guests feeding on their kill! All hell broke loose and one of the large males got hold of the sub-adult Lioness and killed her. This was the second heavy blow to the pride as she was the one to replace the other Lioness.
The remaining 5 did have some luck on their side and managed to kill a Kudu on the other side of the camp 2 days later… a meal well worth its while!
The combination of the Timbavati Boys & the Machaton pride dominated sightings on the Lion front.
Various Buffalo kills were made throughout the month and the cubs were seen eating meat for the first time! I have some sad news regarding the cubs as well. One of the little ones got killed by one of our resident female Leopards.
Rockfig jr. found the little ones playing alone and found it wanting to take revenge on the babies of a much larger predator. It is sad for us as humans to understand it but it is the only way “Mother Nature” takes care of natural selection. The other 2 babies are fine and the mother has moved them back to a previous, well known and more secure spot in the Nhlaralumi riverbed.
The Mahlatini (Mashlatini – “From the Thickets”) coalition of 3 males in the North is still trying to settle on the vacant terrain. They also managed 2 Buffalo kills during the month and produced some good sightings. They are slowly getting more relaxed with the vehicles now.
We had one surprise visit from the Klaserie pride of 6 Lionesses.
They killed a Buffalo close to the camp and finished the carcass in less than 24 hours! They were a little shy with the vehicles around and moved across into the Klaserie Reserve as soon as the kill was finished.
We’ve been noticing a new young male in the area that belonged to Mangajan. He is quite relaxed and good replacement material to work with!
M’bali and Kuhanya gave us some magical sightings again and the time is very close for the 2 to break the “bond”. Kuhanya is getting very defensive and aggressive with M’bali around food and that is just enough for the mother to make her decision to let the young one go.
M’bali made some good kills’ incl. baboon and it looks like she may be getting some attention from the Argyle male… maybe she is in estrus again. Only time will tell and we’ll keep you updated!
A new young female named Ixongile (Ishongile – “Pretty”) was found in a Fish eagle nest one morning!
I went through to investigate the area in the afternoon only to find that she was still in the nest eating. In the morning it appeared that she was eating the chick. White down was plucked out and that was good enough evidence. But in the afternoon I saw her plucking out the feathers of a large bird!
We imagine that the little girl went up to the nest in the early morning hours and got the chick and one adult bird while they were sleeping in the nest. This was truly one of those special moments that don’t happen very often.
Ntombi was once again very active around the camp and was seen on various kills close by. She was seen mating with a shy male a few weeks ago and hopefully we can bring you some news on her first chance to raise a litter in the near future.
Rockfig jr. was seen more than usual in the Eastern sector. She may have cubs, but it is not yet confirmed.
Elephant and Buffalo
Sightings of both species seemed endless through the month…
2 Very large herds of Cape buffalo have made our traversing home during the month. The herd to the East averaged 850 members and the Western group about 600.
The Elephant sightings were as good as everything else. 2-3 Herds moving through the area on a daily basis!
Two groups of 4 Rhino were seen frequently.
One group close to camp has a little yearling running with them and the other group is our residents on the Eastern sector.
Mtenge-tenge, the dominant bull in the East is now following a group with 2 females present. I can only imagine that one of them is in estrus judging by his will to follow them where ever they turn!
That’s all for now. Hope to see you all sooner than later!
Take care & see YOU soon!!
Morné and the Kings Camp ranger team.
Written by: Morné Hamlyn.
Photography: Morné Hamlyn.
Rocktail Bay Dive Report - July 09 Jump
to Rocktail Beach Camp
Winter conditions are still with us, with water temperature averaging around 21 degrees Celsius and viz. ranging from 10-12metres and up to 18-25metres on good days. Early mornings see divers wrapped up warmly, with beanies, jackets, socks and closed shoes being the norm. Darryl & Ondyne were even caught wearing their fluffy slippers!
Wilderness Safaris runs a program called 'Children in the Wilderness', whereby they aim to educate children about conservation. The entire lodge was booked out for five days and the children from the local community had great fun learning about conservation of the bush and beach areas that they live in. The most memorable part of the trip for many of them was when they went out to sea for an Ocean Experience and what an experience it was - they saw a whaleshark, manta ray, eagle ray, bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales!
We had a few other manta ray sightings this month. The first was at Gogo's. We were hanging above the big pinnacles on the southern end of the reef, admiring the lemon fish that were sitting facing into the current at the cleaning station when a manta glided in above us and lazily circled around Greta, Klara and Mika. The following day, Ondyne saw another manta feeding, mid water, just off the edge of the reef at Aerial.
Gogo's is a wonderful reef to visit and it did not disappoint Leo and Paula when they dived there for the first time. First they saw two grey reef sharks half way through the dive and not even a minute later a tiger shark appeared from the same direction - Ondyne excitedly pointed it out as it cruised along, before disappearing back into the blue. Once back on the boat the divers and snorkelers had stories to share, whilst the divers were down the snorkelers had spent over 40minutes in the water with two manta rays! Darryl drove back to where the mantas had been, hoping that they would still be there, and sure enough they were! Everyone got in the water and watched the mantas as they continued to feed. Eventually tired, but very, very happy, everyone decided to head back for some breakfast - not often that you get to snorkel with mantas for so long that you eventually tire out and call it a ay - usually it's a quick sighting and they're gone before you realize what you've seen!
The very next day, we saw another manta ray, this time from the boat on our way to Regal Reef, but this one wasn't hanging around! Paula had just been saying that all she needed to see now was a whale shark, when Darryl suddenly stopped the boat - his keen eyes had spotted exactly that - a huge whale shark! Everyone quickly put on their snorkelling gear and slid into the water - for a very rewarding half hour snorkel with the 9m whale shark. Just as we had all climbed on board again, Darryl called out that there was another whale shark! Our luck continued with another shark sighting - this time it was a hammerhead shark swimming along the surface. Then further out to sea we spotted six humpback whales. Darryl drove out to sea and down from the whales and told everyone to put their snorkelling kit on. They slipped quietly into the water and swam along slowly hoping to catch a quick glimpse of the whales and they did! A mother and calf swam right under them, turning on their sides to get a better look at everyone before they disappeared into the blue.
What an incredible week Leo & Paula had - mantas, whale sharks, tiger shark, hammerhead and humpback whales! Rocktail's own special version of the "Big 5"!
Mika was also incredibly lucky. Mom, Greta has been coming to dive with us for the past eight years and sister, Klara completed her open water last year, so now finally being old enough it was Mika's turn! She was here to complete her PADI Open Water Course and was spoilt with a sighting of a manta ray on one of her dives and the opportunity to snorkel with three humpback whales which were lazing around on the surface! I guess after so many years of helping Darryl on the boat while everyone else dived, you deserved a treat! Well done, nice to see you three girls diving together at last. What is the sea going to produce for the three "Maritzies" next time we wonder?
Congratulations to the following divers:
The Kunz family: Urs, Lukas, Ollie, Andreas, Andrea Manz, Alex Masson, Gabrielle Evain, for completing their PADI Discover Scuba Diving Courses.
Ariane Masson, for completing her Bubblemaker Course
Mika Bunge and Willem Barents for completing their PADI Open Water Diving Courses.
Duncan Macdonald for completing his PADI Rescue Diver Course, see you next month for your PADI Divemaster Course.
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle & Ondyne
The Rocktail Dive Team
Makalolo Plains update - July 09 Jump
to Makalolo Plains Camp
Visits to Makalolo Plains have been full of fun and adventure in July. We have been fortunate to have several families travel with us and stay here at Makalolo. From bush brunches to drumming at the campfire, it has all been happening here in Hwange.
Early mornings have been crisp and fresh as winter ensues. As the sun rises and stretches its long golden yellow and bronze rays, the open plains slowly awake with life as animals start to move around a bit more: Helmeted Guineafowl head down to the waterhole in single file and scratch around in the ground for early morning breakfast; a hyaena calls in the distance as they head back to the den and baboons gather on the termite mounds to soak up the sun before they set off foraging. Temperatures have been low in the evenings and early mornings and have been as low as 0º Celsius. The days have been warm and temperatures have been comfortable reaching a high of 32º Celsius.
Vegetation and Surroundings
The terrain and bush in the area has turned to browns that this time of the year brings. Even though many herds of elephant and buffalo are frequenting the open areas and grassy plains there is still a lot of grazing for these large herbivores. In some areas it can be seen that grass is starting to thin out but in most places the grazing is still pretty lush. Water in the natural pans is still looking good; there are still numerous pans that are carrying water from the rainy season, and the pumped waterholes also have healthy water levels.
Lion and spotted hyaena are long known as "eternal enemies" with no love lost between these two apex predators of the African savannahs. July has been very exciting with lion and hyaena action (or should that be interaction) right in front of Makalolo Plains Camp. The first 'event' was at about 5:30 in the morning when a lioness killed a blue wildebeest, metres from the small pan (waterhole) in front of the camp. The ensuing struggle for life and death attracted scavenging hyaenas, who were on the scene almost immediately. It was not long before the battle started. Guests staying in camp were staring in amazement from the front decks of their rooms watching the fight for food. As the lioness had cubs that were safely tucked in taller grass on the edge of the tree line, the risk of losing these cubs to the mounting numbers of hyaena was rising. It was not long before the lion decided to abandon her hard-earned kill and rather lead the cubs to safety.
Other wildlife sightings are getting better by the day as herds of Cape buffalo and elephant move across the open areas to/from the waterholes. A huge variety of plains animals have been seen regularly and among these animals included the special roan antelope.
Wildlife regularly seen from camp at the waterhole have been elephant, giraffe, waterbuck, warthog, eland, sable, kudu, impala, buffalo, zebra, baboons and black-backed jackal. Elephants are also coming to drink from the camp pool in the early evenings, which is fascinating to seeing given the close proximity with these mighty beasts. To gaze into their small eyes and hear their low-frequency communication sounds that can only be likened to 'tummy rumbles' is simply fascinating.
Birds and Birding
Birding has been equally good this month, and Makalolo Plains is a good place to be for avid birders. Birds regularly seen in and around camp have been Black-headed orioles, Giant Eagle owl, Fork-tailed Drongo, Kurrichane Thrush and the resident Red-billed Francolins.
This month our most exciting sighting has certainly been whilst we were sitting around the campfire with guests one evening exchanging stories when a Giant eagle-owl terrorised a flock of Helmeted Guineafowl in one of the teak trees where they decided to roost that particular night. It was chaos. Our total number of birds seen this month was 146 different species.
"The warm family atmosphere, wonderful service and the chance to see wildlife in action". Jay and Charlie - USA.
"Song and dance around the evening campfire, interacting with guides and staff. Themba is awesome. Early morning lion and hyaena kill!" Harris family - USA.
"Absolutely amazing to be out here with very dedicated staff and great guides." The lions so close was the best." Nicole.
"Really appreciated the set up of the family room." Asbury family - USA.
Management - Willem and Trish Botha
Environmentalist - Jaelle Claypole
Host and hostess - David Stephens , Nelly Chinyere and Ashley Rimmer
Chefs - Jerry Ngwenya, Jordan Sibanda and Nathan Sibanda
Housekeeping - Casper Ngwenya and Charles Sibanda
Waitering - Emanuel Shoko
Maintenance - Christopher Dube
Little Makalolo update - July 09 Jump
to Little Makalolo
July has rather cool and windy with sporadic bursts of sunshine. No rainfall was received this month, and we have recorded some pretty low temperatures: a minimum of -2º Celsius and a maximum of 36º Celsius. The sunsets are something to behold apparently at Little Makalolo: "As the sun waves a final goodbye, she hypnotises us by spreading her many vivid colours like an Indian peacock across the sky."
Vegetation and Landscape
The trees in the teak woodlands are starting to shed their leaves. This is a beautiful sight, as the thicker part of the forest is displaying beautiful autumn colours in orange and yellows. The grass cover is now dry and elephants are impacting the vegetation along the vlei more heavily, looking for any fresh twigs.
The baboons are enjoying the bright red fruits from the false mopane trees at the moment. Common duikers and impala are following the baboons under the tree and picking the 'leftovers' from the ground. On the 30th of July, spotted hyaenas were seen eating a young lion at their den. A resident hyaena continues to visit us every night and we hear him calling on most nights. Common sightings around the Little Makalolo Pan, much to the delight of the guests, are big herds of buffalo, kudu, zebra, and impala.
Probability sightings for the month were as follows:
Baboons - 100%; Cape buffalo - 63%; cheetah - 7%; common duiker - 50%; eland - 37%; elephant -9 7%; giraffe - 77%; scrub hare - 10%; hippo - 70%; hyaena - 53%; lion - 50%; leopard - 3 %; and banded mongoose - 10%.
The highlights for this month include a cheetah kill on the 17 of July seen by Lewis. He had killed a female kudu at Ngweshla. Another highlight was seeing two male lions casually walking around the pan during breakfast - they were spotted by Godfrey on the 31st of July.
Helmeted Guineafowl and Cape Turtle Doves are around in large flocks at Little Makalolo Pan every morning. The open area in front of camp is now also the hunting ground of a Martial Eagle (pictured) and Dickinson's Kestrel - both are often seeing flying from one tree to another. The Martial Eagle tried to hunt guineafowl and we watched in awe one morning with guests trying to get some pictures. After a long wait this formidable raptor finally gave us a very good view of himself while perching on the log pile at the pan.
The Grey Hornbills and Arrow-marked Babblers have formed a choral group in the mornings, with a Lizard Buzzard coming in with her 'soprano'. A total of 88 different bird species were seen this month.
Little Makalolo has been placing more emphasis on hosting families. The guides and staff have been going all out to keep the younger safari-goers entertained, be it introducing to them to the finer art of catch-and-release fishing or baking a cake with the resident chef.
- 'We enjoyed the whole experience - the staff were excellent. They made our stay very enjoyable and fun. Highlights were the game drives, fishing, the boys cooking with the chef, lunch in the wild, warm ponchos on the game drive.' Kuo Family - Australia
- 'Getting a chance to see the 'Big Five' in only two drives was amazing! The knowledge of the guides was most impressive.' Brook and Craig, USA
Ruckomechi Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Ruckomechi Camp
July has been a lot cooler than previous years; our coldest morning was a low of 9º Celsius. Daytime temperatures are very pleasant though.
Vegetation, Landscape and the Zambezi River
The landscape is becoming more open as the trees lose their leaves and the undergrowth dies out as winter ensues. The constant movements of big herds of elephant and buffalo that are now moving to the river because the natural pans higher up in the escarpment are drying out is also helping to thin the undergrowth. With the albida trees dropping their pods, the elephants are all over Ruckomechi Camp. The trees have not produced as many pods this year whereas the torchwood trees have surprisingly fruited more.
The Zambezi River is still very high due to the amount of rain that was received in the Upper Zambezi. This has caused some of the channels to widen and the islands have become smaller.
The wildlife in and out of Ruckomechi Camp has been excellent. Elephant are common and one has to often negotiate around them while walking through camp. Guests have to be escorted to their rooms throughout the day and it is always a treat to watch the elephants lumber past the front of the units. The elephant are also starting to utilise the islands in front of the camp - including wonderful experiences of witnessing herds of elephant swimming across the river to feed.
Our lion sightings have been really good this month and they have not been as shy. These sightings are mostly thanks to Guide Tendayi. One particular morning around five, a male lion walked through the camp and a few hours later, two prides of lion were spotted behind camp actively stalking buffalo. The buffalo were well aware of the lions and had grouped together for protection. The first pride consisted of two males (which are new in the area) and the second was a female and two sub-adults. Both prides were unsuccessful in their hunting attempts and soon gave up.
This month, some guests were fortunate enough to enjoy four different lion sightings on one day: Our local pride consisting of a lioness and her two sub-adults were seen at Parachute Pan. The young lioness posed beautifully in a tree for some incredible images. The second pride spotted was a mating pair that was seen close to the Nyakasanga River. Another two males were seen lazing around in the late afternoon. Just before dusk our last lion was spotted trying to hunt an impala. A very exciting day!
The nature walks have also been very fruitful. During one of the walks Kevin spotted three African wild dogs chasing two impala. The animals then ran passed everyone giving the group an unbelievable view.
Sightings as a probability percentage for the month were: lion 45%, bushbuck 26%, hippo 100%, hyaena 23%, eland 81%, wild dog 13%, honey badger 10%, zebra 100%, baboon 100%, leopard 3% and elephant 100%.
Ruckomechi birding is always a pleasure and this month we have seen a total of 137 species. African Skimmers have also returned to our part of the Zambezi to breed. This season they are going to have a tough time though as the higher water level has still flooded their breeding islands. We have recently seen the first Southern Carmine Bee-eaters of the season. They have not settled as yet but hope to see them nesting soon.
- "Outside shower is a winner. Fishing great. Close elephant encounter." Wal and Kerry
- "I thoroughly enjoyed the days of game viewing, bird watching and the tranquillity and beauty of the Lower Zambezi. It certainly was a wonderful experience." Mr Morita
Room 10 has now been completed thanks to all the dedicated efforts of the staff. Continued staff training was also high on the agenda this month ensuring the continued high standards which Ruckomechi Camp is proud of.
Toka Leya Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Toka Leya Camp
Weather and Water Levels
It's hard to believe that we are more than halfway through the year here on the Zambezi, and still the water refuses to retreat. We are still enjoying high water levels, which make for spectacular viewings of the Victoria Falls, and with water falling some 110m, one cannot help but be amazed by the extreme power this wonder exudes. The last month has been a lot warmer, and the temperatures are certainly on the rise, with the worst of the winter behind us.
It seems that this time of the year also attracts much wildlife into Toka Leya Camp, and herds of elephant have made many visits into our wetland behind camp, as well as to the water's edge of the river, providing spectacular viewing of these great animals from the safety of the elevated walkways and private guest decks each tent is afforded.
Buffalo and hippo still make their cameo appearances, with white rhino spotted from the decks and walkways close to Room 12 early one morning. These animals have settled very well into the national park, and sightings of them are far more frequent. Guests on game drives have been fortunate enough to view white rhino on numerous occasions this month; a total of 15 times! Elephant have been seen often in between the islands on the boat cruises too, and with the sand banks more exposed with the drop in the water levels, basking crocodiles and hippo pods are in full view from our lower deck, where lunch is served.
On one game drive during a misty and chilly morning, the brave adventurers were rewarded with a sighting of an African wild dog. Although a few more were seen as a pack in April and May, there seems to be one left in this area, and rumour has it that more may join once the water levels on the river drop significantly enough for them to cross from Zimbabwe.
Our resident bushbuck seem to have defined their own territories and make less in roads into each other's space. As docile as they seem, these ungulates are still to be respected as dangerous animals, particularly the rams with their sharp horns.
Birding at Toka Leya Camp has been terrific, with African Finfoots taking a break from their usually shy dispositions, being carefree as they expose themselves from the dense cover of tree roots and submerged brush to show off. A pair of these birds is spotted almost daily swimming close to the beach edge, finding any excuse to waddle in between exposed rocks and tall reed grass where insects are usually on the menu. Senegal Coucals fight for the entomological 'buffet' on offer, as the sun bakes the banks and insect life is abundant.
One late morning, an African Fish-Eagle was spotted latching its talons around a snake from a tree top, and flying to an adjacent island to perch and feed. Rock Pranticoles and African Skimmers are making the upper Zambezi home now, and flocks of skimmers are frequenting along the main channel in front of Toka Leya. The Grey Go-Away-birds are often around the giant baobab tree near Rooms 6 and 7, where they search for open fruit and usually come off second best to the persistent vervet monkeys.
We have continued to work hard on our greenhouse and nursery project, and the facility to recycle our greywater through a waste treatment plant has allowed us to minimise our impact on the area even further. The worm farm continues to produce organic 'fertiliser' to nourish our new seedlings, which are then planted around the camp.
This month we have had guests catch an array of fish on their boating trips from Toka Leya, with catfish being caught ranging in sizes up to 5kg in weight. Tigerfish have been biting (and fighting) more vigorously than any other time of the year so far, and bream seem to be taking an interest too. And of course we release them once we have taken a picture to prove what great fishermen we are!
Until next time from the Upper Zambezi, "Tuyabonana".
- "This is a beautiful spot in the world! We had a wonderful stay and hope to come back. Thanks for making it special!" N and A V, Bogota, Columbia.
- "We will never forget your kindness and the great landscapes of Zambia. We will recommend Toka Leya to all our friends. Thank you!" S and M R, France.
- "A lifetime of experiences and memories; excellent service, amazing service. Will return!" D and T B, California.
- "What a beautiful location, so many things to see, smell, hear and taste! Enjoyed it all, Thank you!". Y and D M, USA
Lufupa Tented Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Lufupa Tented Camp
July, some would think, can be the month where warmth is in short supply. There is no denying that the sun was weak, but guests were at their peak. The African grasslands have started to dry, encouraging the beasts to move in search of sustenance and water, hoping soon it will get hotter. Baby warthog grunting about with their brand new little antennae, tiny impala the perfect imprints of their sleek parents, little puku bouncing around like little fluffballs - July has been a wonderful month with Mother Nature blessing us again with her mysteries and beauties. This African slice of paradise has proven its worth again this month, worming its way even deeper into our hearts and souls.
Temperamental and unpredictable. That is however how we would describe the weather this month! We braced ourselves for a long, cold, windy month and that it was. Guests were torn between the continual toss-up of an exciting, exhilarating early morning game drive, watching the magical red ball rise on the horizon and being a part of the bush as it comes to life in the early morning, or spending an extra hour under the warm, toasty covers of their beds! The call of the African savannah did win most times and guests had no regrets.
Come the end of an exciting day of safari, as the camp lies quiet at night, all lanterns extinguished, the hum of the generator switched off, guests safely returned to their rooms with their appetites satisfied after an exotic boma dinner, or romantic dinner for two around the pool decorated with floating candles, the night sounds start to take over. Hippo snorting and cavorting in the river, our resident nightjar begins his painful lament for a mate, the crickets chirping incessantly, and then - the deep rumble!
The lions have been very vocal this month and have kept us up many nights calling to each other, making all too clear whose voice rules in the African bush. We've had a pride of lion through camp at night, leaving spoor that have yet again reminded us of their incredible size. Guests have been inundated with sightings of up to three separate prides in a day. That combined with numerous sightings of cheetah, leopard and wild dog again, have made for many successful game drives.
Although the regal sable remains elusive, we have had regular sightings of roan and their wonderfully floppy ears, hartebeest galloping in their amusing, almost clumsy manner, and we had our first wildebeest sighting this month. Oribi and grysbok have also been spotted several times, and porcupine have been regulars on a night drive. The challenge remains to get a good photo of one!
The Kafue remains a river treated with respect and caution. There has been an increased awareness of crocodiles this month, with some enormous examples of these prehistoric reptiles being sighted. Guests and staff alike have once again been awed by these silent drifters which seem to grow longer and fatter by the day! An interesting sighting was a huge croc circling a large pod of hippos with young ones in the sulphur pools, and despite its obvious hunger and interest, keeping a respectful distance from its adversaries in the water!
On the same note, the river also remains an area of continued fantastic birdwatching. The rarely seen African Finfoots and Pel's Fishing-owls have again been sighted regularly, with the Half-collared Kingfisher also posing co-operatively on a branch for guests. In fact, we've set the challenge for ourselves as far as photos are concerned - now that we have digital proof of our predator sightings, we're going to focus on getting some shots of our feathered friends next month!
So, stay tuned. We look forward to being back with more exciting news from Lufupa next month!
Lufupa Guest comments:
- "Thanks for a fabulous stay that was beyond our expectations. Your management and staff are without equal - wonderful hospitality" (S, Altamonte Springs, FL, USA)
- "So beautiful, words can't do it justice. The peace and quiet was wonderful and such friendly, helpful staff - thank you and hope to be back soon!" (M, Mkushi, Zambia)
- "Your guides are very knowledgeable and helpful. All of the staff were very hospitable! I learnt a lot about Zambian animals and the Zambian people. Thank you." (S, USA)
The Lufupa Team
Bas, Nathalie, Lisa, Musaki, Kawanga
Kalamu Lagoon Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Kalamu Lagoon Camp
The weather is pleasant with mild evenings and mornings and the afternoons also getting warmer as we move closer to the month of August. The signs of winter are still visible - this change has had a positive effect on the movement of game towards permanent water sources and making walking safaris an activity not to miss.
July has definitely come up with some more exciting and unusual sightings. Some of these sightings included the likes of lions preying on a hapless elephant calf but not without the breeding herd putting up a fight. This was followed by another sighting of a formidable clan of hyaenas on a young elephant carcass which evidently they had been feasting on for some time. As the morning progressed, vultures started to arrive and one by one, engorged after a feed, the hyenas started leaving, and in the end it was a sole young hyaena that had to keep the scavenging birds at bay. The vultures kept on landing, and the young hyaena eventually gave up and shared the meal with them. It was an exciting moment as various species of vulture, including Lappet-faced, Hooded, and White-headed, together with large Marabou Storks all jostled to get a share of the meat.
Following the barking calls of baboons one morning, an adult lioness was found walking nearby the camp. She settled near a termite mound where another lioness was already waiting. On closer investigation, we realized the newly born baby giraffe who had been running around just outside our camp had been killed by these lions during the night.
African wild dogs have settled in the area and have been making themselves seen quite regularly. They even chased an impala right into Kalamu Lagoon Camp and passed the rooms.
The young female leopard which we have been seeing in the Chinengwe area is becoming quite a regular sighting and on several occasions was seen stalking impala and using the gulley for cover. There also have been several sightings of leopard hunting or coming to drink at the lagoon near camp.
A different pride of lions were also seen in action one morning although this was not a successful hunt. We sat and watched the two Lionesses working together in incredible cooperation and coordination as they tried to catch warthog. With just short of pouncing, the warthog must have got a scent and bolted away - in the usual tail-up style.
As usual, with the drying bush and waterholes, the Kalamu Lagoon is one of the major sources of water besides the Luangwa River itself. Great herds of buffalo have been seen at the dambo regularly with one of the herds being a strong 400 animals. There are also a great number of young ones in the herds which obviously indicates a successful calving season.
The deck at the main area overlooking the lagoon has been one of the best spots to enjoy wildlife including waterbuck, elephant, large pods of hippo out of the water and a number of water birds.
'Amazing experience. Thank you so much.'
'Wonderful walking opportunities, excellent staff and food. The area is very beautiful. Thanks to all of you for making this holiday. We will remember it forever.'
Petros and Gogo - Camp Managers
Frank Tobolo - Junior Manager
Petros ,Luxon and Sandy (Guides)
Shumba Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Shumba Camp
For some of the guests the cold July weather came as a surprise. Temperatures here dropped to 4º Celsius at night. But with hot water bottles, warm camp fires, hot chocolate and warm beanies and blankets all guests were comfortable! The colder temperatures even added to the atmosphere here at Shumba Camp with guests gathering around the camp fire and enjoying their night cap before retiring.
At the end of the month we noticed that the temperatures were rising, so spring is on the way. At the end of the month of July we had daytime temperatures of about 28.9º Celsius and the nights were not that cold anymore.
The Shumba staff has gone the extra mile to make every guests stay memorable! On your visit there will be many special surprises. Slide shows on the Kafue National Park and the Children in the Wilderness programme have been enjoyed too.
With the Busanga Plains drying up quickly the game drives could reach more areas of this remote wilderness. Every week the guides were able to explore different areas in the plains on game drives. Our boat, the Go Devil, is parked at Hippo Pools and with this boat guests can explore the channels that are still filled with water. This is a beautiful opportunity to see hippo up close as well as spotting the variety of waterbirds on the plains.
A third activity offered is the 'Tree Line trip'. A big adventure and a full day activity where the guests would experience various modes of transport in one day! The day starts with a game drive to the area where the mokoros are based. From here the guests mokoro at leisure across to the tree line where the Busanga Plains end. Another vehicle is waiting here to take guests on a game drive in this area. After a picnic lunch and rest the guests would slowly return to the camp in the opposite direction. These full day trips have been very successful and for most guests one of the highlights of their stay at Shumba.
With the helicopter used for the airstrip transfers based in the plains, many guests booked a scenic helicopter flight. Maybe the best way to experience the endless wilderness of the Busanga Plains is seeing it from the air!
July was the month of the Shumba cats. Not only did we have the Busanga Pride often close or even in camp, but one of the females killed three red lechwe in one week close to camp and dragged her prey under our board walks to feed her cubs! Although they move around and we sometimes don't see them for a couple of days we know that they will be back! Our chef Kingsford even mentioned that the lioness and her cubs should be counted as part of the staff. The rest of the pride visited Shumba Camp as well and the good news is that the two males of the Busanga pride have excepted the cubs!
It was not just the lions that were around Shumba in July. We had beautiful sightings of serval, tree-climbing cheetahs and mating leopard.
Of course there were many more exciting moments around Shumba. With the area starting to dry out, different antelopes and other mammals return to the Busanga Plains. Buffalo, roan antelope, blue wildebeest and side-striped jackal are all back onto the floodplains.
Trips to the tree line have been very successful and sightings have been numerous and special. During these trips we had sightings of cheetah, serval, wild dog, leopard and lions. On the 14th of July our guide Isaac saw leopard, lions and three cheetahs in one morning! Our other guide Sam went on a trip the following week and found a beautiful serval during the day, not shy at all and posing for the guests. That same day he found the three Cheetahs as well. Surprisingly enough Sam and his guests saw these cheetahs climbing into a dead tree.
On the last two days of the month we witnessed another special event. Whilst we were having brunch with the guests we answered questions about leopard sightings in the plains. Guide Leckson explained that it is very rare to see leopards in the open plains, as they prefer wooded areas. Later that afternoon the guests went out on a drive with Leckson and guess what they found? Close to some bushes but definitely in the plains they saw a beautiful male leopard. But he wasn't alone as Leckson spotted a female leopard close by. The leopards then started mating. They were seen two days in a row.
This month the managers of Shumba, Rob and Ingrid, had a two weeks leave and Brent and Gina took over management for this period. The assistant managers Mwami and Phineas were present the first two weeks of July. The guides were Isaac, Leckson and Sam.
"Great people, great food, great friends, awesome place. Thanks to all - Rob, Ingrid, Brent, Gina, Phineas, Mwami and Lex!" - Kufal, RSA.
"Thank you to the entire Shumba team for making our stay so special. We had a truly memorable experience." - Amato, CANADA,
"A 'room with a view', a 'loo with a view' and 'people with a view'! Thank you very much. - Michiels/Jespers, BELGIUM.
"Give our love to the tree-climbing cheetahs when next you see them and keep some ginger cake for when we come back!" - Jollie, UK.
Kapinga Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Kapinga Camp
The Busanga Plains in July - an extraordinarily special place to be. Enjoying the sunset from the pool deck whilst listening to a symphony of birdsong, watching the first stars appear in the crystal clear skies and falling asleep to the delicate chant of a Barred Owl enticing a mate - this all in our first day as the relief managers at Kapinga! We felt truly blessed to be a part of these remote and vast plains.
The sunrise from Tents 3 and 4 is outstanding and resplendent, stopping us in our tracks for a moment of reflection. Early mornings still call for warm wool socks and hearty layers, only to be peeled off late morning for the warmth of the winter sun. Tents 1 and 2 remain the best for sunset views, and we are all enamoured by the vista - vast open plains paired with the warmth of the Kapinga Island woodland. The evenings are still chilly, making the campfire a delightful after dinner spot for storytelling and philosophical reflection.
We were finally able to drive off Kapinga Island towards the last half of the month once the plains had dried, and could not wait to find the Busanga Pride again - and have our first glimpse of the newly-arrived cubs. And what a great way to spend and afternoon game drive: watching the delightful antics of the three little cubs playing with each other and biting mom's tail and ears.
But even more exciting news was the discovery of a new male leopard here on our island. It seems that the old resident male we had seen a season or two ago had disappeared and so this young male cat has set up home here. We found his tracks all over camp and the staff village in the mornings but it was only some time later that we spotted him whilst on a game drive one afternoon. And what a splendid specimen he is! He was quite relaxed and did not mind us at all - in fact, he lay down and had a short nap whilst we were admiring how handsome he was. We hope that over time he will settle in and we'll be able to sniff him out for our guests' viewing pleasure on a regular basis.
We have begun to run our first walking safaris of the season. What better way to really get up close and personal with the bush, one's senses on high alert. Our guests have also enjoyed getting out of a bouncy Land Rover for a change and walking off some of the delightful sweets and desserts they have been tucking into!
The plains are rapidly drying now, leaving visible heat waves in the air around mid-afternoon. Our resident bushbuck have been leaving the confines of the island perimeter to join the puku out on the floodplain in front of camp. At times a small warthog family joins in looking for roots and tubers. We've even spotted a honey badger galloping nonchalantly across the plain. Back in camp we've also seen a four-toed elephant shrew scurry along the wooded paths in search of food.
The warming weather has brought with it the stirring of reptiles of all sizes: from tiny tree frogs and skinks to snakes. The merry song of the Boubous and Shrikes provide a delight for the ears. A pair of Brown-hooded Kingfishers has also made an appearance and the melancholy cries of the Trumpeter Hornbills can be heard lingering in the warm afternoon air. Other exciting viewing has included Wattle-eyed Flycatcher and the acrobatics of the Bohm's Bee-eaters as they dart into the air to snap up insects on the wing. The evenings bestow vast periods of silence, interspersed with the call of a Fiery-necked Nightjar.
As a result of being able to access more of the plains during July, we have seen much more wildlife peeking their heads out before moving back onto the plains again. And it is a blessing, really, to watch this transformation take hold. Roan, wildebeest, puku and lechwe are spotted daily. We have even had a few sightings of the ever-elusive and much sought-after sitatunga during July. As the plains to the west are now more accessible, we are able to reach and area of papyrus where these beautiful creatures spend their days and only occasionally come out onto the open plains to graze. Servals have now moved back onto the plains - their preferred habitat for hunting lizards, rodents and small birds and regular sightings on night drives back to camp has been the norm. The plains' resident herd of buffalo seems to appear out of nowhere and then return whence they came again. Civet, genet and side-stripped jackal are also common sightings these days. And for free moments on the deck, just a pair of binoculars and a cool drink is enough to entertain while relaxing in the shade of the African Wild Fig as it begins dropping tiny samples of summer's early harvest.
Many international guests have arrived at Kapinga for their very first African safari, while others have returned to uncover the greater subtleties of the Busanga Plains. Here are some of their reflections:
- "Our introduction to Africa was absolutely amazing! Thanks to all of you! We will be back!" - JK
- "Totally fantastic - especially the staff who made us feel at home and like family. Amazing guiding! Beautiful design! Great environment and wildlife!" - CC
- "Thank you very much for your excellent and warm hospitality! Greetings to our leopard - you found us!" - EB
Until next month,
The Kapinga Team
Staff in camp during July
Manager: Sjani, Gina and Brent (Relief managers)
Assistant manager: Essie
Guides: Idos and Sam
Busanga Bush Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Busanga Bush Camp
Temperatures have warmed up steadily throughout this winter month on the Busanga Plains. The mercury has risen as high as 30ºCelsius by early afternoon. Early mornings have seen temperatures drop as low as 5ºCelsius creating a stunning layer of mist that covers the plains during these chilly months. No rainfall has been recorded during July and the area is drying out surprisingly quickly.
July has been a month of incredible sunsets and vast tracts of luscious grazing. The burnt areas slowly give way to blankets of fresh green shoots. This new rich grazing has proven far too tempting for many a herbivore and July has seen the appearance of large herds of roan, wildebeest and of course, buffalo. The giant herd of bovines rolls noisily through the wetland and appear like ghosts in the early morning mist in front of Busanga Bush Camp. As the water on the plains has receded quite rapidly, various antelope species have made the crossing from the distant tree-lines onto the open grassland. Smaller antelope, including oribi, have been seen on the plains for the first time this season grazing contentedly on the fresh green shoots. Zebra, Lichtenstein's hartebeest and sable have preferred to remain in the tree-line but have not been able to escape the attention of the eagle-eyed guides. The Busanga pride seems to have adapted perfectly to this watery environment and often swim through the channels to reach prey rich area's on the opposite banks. Early one morning the pride killed a lechwe very close to camp; guests awoke to a cacophony of sound as the big cats enjoyed their breakfast.
July has also brought with it the first cheetah sightings of the season. A lone male was found hunting wildebeest in the area - an incredibly ambitious venture for this lightly built predator. Guests on the plains on the last day of the month were treated to an incredible leopard sighting. Two leopards were found mating in the open grassland barely 10 minutes from camp, an unusual spectacle as these elusive big cats tend to prefer the seclusion of the dense bush that make up the islands in the area. Night drives have produced many good sightings of serval, side-striped jackal and civets.
The birdlife in and around the wetlands during July has been as spectacular as predicted. The enormous flocks of Open-billed Storks can still be seen regularly and often fly directly overhead whilst out on drives or boat trips. Large flocks of egrets, Squacco Herons, Sacred Ibis and Marabou Storks crowd the disappearing channels snapping up anything unlucky enough to be stranded in the murky mud. Black Herons have arrived in force and can be seen umbrella feeding in the shallow water. It's a truly bizarre sight as dozens of small grey dome structures suddenly form above the water only to morph back into the shape of a bird. African Spoonbills and Yellow-billed Storks have become just as abundant, not willing to miss out on this annual feast. Some of the rarer species seen this month include African Skimmers, Whiskered Terns and African Snipes. A Black-chested Snake-eagle was found one morning, minutes after it had caught a young black mamba. The deadly snake was no match for this hungry eagle and was subdued in seconds.
'Hearing the lions at night, the staff, fantastic food! Laura and JD were amazing hosts and the entire staff made us feel welcome; star gazing left a big impression.' ANON
'Impressed by the lack of generators in the bush camps, keep it that way, the gifts were delightful.' JB
Desert Rhino Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Desert Rhino Camp
The beginning of the month was very cold - temperatures ranging from 6 to 13º Celsius during the day. We also experienced the warmer east wind when temperatures ranged from 10 to 30. No rain this month. The tricky wind conditions gave our pilots a chance to show off their expertise.
Wildlife and Landscapes
The Exploration guides had spotted the Schakelton's Pride of lions twice on different occasions as they were entering Desert Rhino Camp with guests. It doesn't usually happen for guests to catch sight of lions as they enter camp so this was a wonderful experience. Schakelton himself was darted again on the 14th July to change the radio collar on him. This was conducted by Dr Flip Stander. Some of the camp staff were present and this was a fascinating experience for them. The guides have also seen cheetahs on several occasions this month. Camp managers also had unexpected visitors at their doorstep in the form of five prowling hyaenas.
Our 'long-time-no-see-friend' Don't Worry, the black rhino bull, was also encountered numerous times this month and we are excited to have him back. Other black rhino individuals seen included Tensie, Teabag, Desery and several other un-named rhino. Nothing is as splendid as watching desert-adapted elephants roaming around the Palmwag Concession - a landscape very rich, unspoiled and beautiful. Other wildlife also seen on the drives included springbok, oryx, zebra, giraffe and black-backed jackal.
Managers: Igna & Daphne
Asst mngrs: Kapoi & Helen
Guides: Harry, Ali, Gotlod
Doro Nawas Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Doro Nawas Camp
The weather throughout July was very unusual - we actually haven't had winter so far for this year. Some days were quite cold with the fog right at our doorstep, but most days have been extremely hot throughout the day with a nice cool breeze picking up in the evenings. This made it possible for the guests to sleep outside on the deck underneath the stars - and one has to remind oneself that this is July - Namibia's winter time! It is unbelievable, but yes - at Doro Nawas in winter you can still enjoy the swimming pool and an adventurous night outside underneath the stars. The temperatures have varied between 15 -18º C at night and 30 - 36º C during the day.
Wildlife and Landscape
Elephant viewing during July has been 95% successful on all drives - the elephants even came to visit us right here at the camp. Wow! What an amazing sighting that was. We could sit on the deck with a cup of coffee or drink in hand, put our feet up and enjoy them right in front of us. They visited Doro Nawas Camp for six days back to back allowing for stunning photo opportunities! Pictured is guide Arthur serving coffee with elephants in the background.
A young donkey was caught in the early morning hours by a spotted hyaena close to camp. Being a community conservancy, livestock often frequent the area. Solitary hyaena move through the area and are only occasionally seen. After this incident, Danize, while looking out through the main area's front door one morning saw a spotted hyaena close to Room 17. We could not believe our eyes. He was sniffing around, possibly for something to eat. This was truly a rare sighting seeing them during the daytime.
A herd of red hartebeest were introduced on the border of the Doro !Nawas and Twyfelfontein Conservancies about a year ago. They have not been spotted frequently in the time since their release, but it seems that they are adapting to the area very well and have been seen a few times in the last month.
On the morning of the 25th July 2009, three cheetah were spotted about 400m from camp. With a pair of binoculars, we could see them very clearly strolling through the grass on their way towards the mountains.
Birding has been equally exciting - from the large Ludwig's Bustard to our pretty Namaqua Doves.
- 'The elephant tracking with Arthur was superb and he showed great respect to the breeding herd. He is a quietly confident and pleasant guide for all excursions including the Rock Art. The Nature Walk with Lister was also great fun. I felt that both guides made every effort to show what Damaraland and the surrounding areas can offer. Management were always friendly and there was a great atmosphere at Doro Nawas Camp.' Rudi, London, UK
- 'The guides are wonderful, knowledgeable and patient. The kitchen staff is outstanding. We particularly loved the evening singing - we want to buy a CD of this music.' Anna, US
- 'The food was delicious. Arthur efficiently found the elephants and his explanations about birds and animals were very interesting. Congratulations to the staff for the show after dinner with singing and dancing. Sleeping outside under the stars is a very good idea. All the staff were gentle and kind. Thank you so much for these two days!' Piat, France
- 'Thank you for a tremendous stay! We also stayed at Kulala and the level of service and professionalism (and approachability combined with it) was truly impressive! We took the elephant drive and the Twyfelfontein visit with Ignatius and both were super! All management were very professional and open to conversation!' Mike, Surrey, UK
On longer stays it is possible to visit the Bergsig School and Himba Village for a different cultural and community experience - all very much enjoyed by our guests.
Staff in camp for the month of July:
Coenie van Niekerk (Camp Manager), Danize van Niekerk (Camp Manager), Elfrieda Hebach (Assistant Manager), Agnes Bezuidenhout (Assistant Manager), Lena Florry (Area Manager), Ignatius (Guide), Lister (Guide), Arthur (Guide) and Johann (Guide).
- Arthur Bezuidenhout and Danize van Niekerk-
Images courtesy of Rudi Tscherming and Nura Makki
Damaraland Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Damaraland Camp
Temperatures ranged from 7º Celsius (minimum) and 32º Celsius (maximum). Some wind was experienced during the day.
Wildlife and Landscape
It has been another exciting month here in arid Damaraland. The highlight this month had to be the cheetah sighting - found 40 minutes' drive from Damaraland Camp (Cheetah picture courtesy of Carol Kirshon). Our desert elephants were also seen frequently, together with various other wildlife.
Picured are Alberto and Stefania, a recent honeymoon couple, enjoying a surprise champagne breakfast at a remote and romantic locale in the Damaraland landscape!
'Desert elephants, the cheetah sighting and seeing wild animals were all unique.'
'Damaraland is extraordinary; here people are happy and friendly.'
'Good wildlife sightings, good company, good food and the opportunity to experience environmental values in a unique area.'
The Torra Conservancy and Wilderness Safaris recently signed the new Shareholders Agreement, strengthening the already healthy joint venture and successful relationship.
Managers: Duane and Karen Rudman
Assistant Managers: Efrieda Hebach and Desire Coetzee
Guides: Everest Adams, Albert Goaseb, Raymond Roman and Elaine Hatton
Skeleton Coast Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Skeleton Coast Camp
Weather this month has been quite variable: from a strong easterly wind to eerie foggy mornings. The east wind lasted for seven days with a lot of sand being blown around. Strangely enough this all adds to the charm of Skeleton Coast. We loved it!
Wildlife and Landscape
Our resident brown hyaena, known affectionately as Bruno, decided to break into the kitchen at the neighbouring research camp, much to the staff's chagrin. The first night it was rather funny, but on the second one, the sounds of his hungry rummaging were less amusing. Working in such a remote area does come with its challenges at times!
Giraffe have been seen frequently this month - even spotted on the way to Angra Fria. What a magnificent animal, roaming the desert and walking ever so elegantly over the dunes.
The Hoarusib lions have been spotted a few times too, mostly close to Purros. Another interesting sighting was seeing a wasp halfway up a dune. It was more than likely a hunting wasp of the family Pompilidae looking for the dancing white lady spider or the wheeling spiders which bury themselves in the sand. These spiders have evolved a defence mechanism of cartwheeling down the dunes at high speed to escape the wasps. Pretty impressive stuff!
The most incredible sighting though had to be the hyaena-seal encounter at Cape Fria. While enjoying coffee close to the seal colony at Cape Fria, we saw a lone brown hyaena making its way towards the seals. After following the hyaena for close on 30 minutes, patience finally paid off. Read more about this encounter in the wildlife updates here.
The landscape in the Skeleton Coast is truly breathtaking. One certainly struggles to capture its magnificence through a camera lens and therefore should experience it for oneself!
A group of students from Rugby School in the UK also visited this month, with open minds and a willingness to learn about conservation and the local people. One of their days was spent cleaning up the beach and fixing roads. The next day they visited the Himba Village and learned about their culture and history, before moving on to the local school doing some repair and paintwork. It was not all hard work though - there was a bit of time for a friendly soccer game with the Purros Community.
"Thank you for a wonderfully interesting and enjoyable stay at Skeleton Coast." TJ
"The personality and hosting of our guide Gert - his insight into nature and knowledge was outstanding. JC
"Do not change the formula, it's awesome." Alex
Managers: Willie and Monica
Guides: Jonathan, Kallie and Gert
Serra Cafema Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Serra Cafema Camp
Weather and Water Levels
Being winter the mornings are quite chilly. The midday desert sun though is rather warm - very pleasant to sit on your deck and languish in the cooling breeze of the Kunene River. The water level of the Kunene River is very low at the moment and visibility is poor.
Wildlife and Landscape
We are still blessed with a slight green tinge in the grass cover throughout the Hartmann's Valley. This is largely due to fog moving in from the coast also giving Serra Cafema an eerie feel to the chilly mornings. To add a bit of ambiance to this eeriness, we were treated to a rare sighting so far west along the Kunene. This pictured straw-coloured fruit bat appeared one day in broad daylight.
Typically found in tropical forest, this bat species has been recorded to venture into the Namib along wooded water courses after fruit and this is probably what happened with this individual. The riverine vegetation around Serra Cafema is far from suitable, lacking sufficient fruiting trees and this specific bat appeared dehydrated and hungry. It grabbed a piece of fruit out of Manager Bronkie's hand. Stretching its wings, the shear size (up to 75cm) of it was rather impressive clearly showing why it is the largest bat in the sub-region.
A borehole was drilled at Orumwe and water found for Himba settlements at the foot of the Hartmann Mountains. Providing a borehole for Himba communities is part of the Wilderness Safaris lease agreement with the Marienfluss Conservancy and Orumwe has abundant grazing for livestock.
Ongava Tented Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Ongava Tented Camp
Although it has been very cold in the mornings the wintry days on Ongava Game Reserve have been very comfortable.
We recently installed camera 'traps' overlooking the Ongava Tented Camp waterhole. This is part of a Ongava Game Reserve Research Centre study to try and document 'who and what' are visiting while we are sleeping.
To our amazement we soon discovered that our waterhole is just as busy at night as during the day. Guests were even treated every morning with photos of our nocturnal visitors. To date we have recorded spotted and brown hyaena, lion, cheetah, black-backed jackal aven owls having a drink late at night or in the early morning hours. We also caught shy black rhino on candid camera and discovered that more rhino individuals are making use of this waterhole than we previously thought.
Managers: Paul & Gerda.
Guides: Alfonso, Gregory and Inge.
Little Ongava update - July 09 Jump
to Little Ongava Camp
The mild winter weather has been conducive to game viewing as guests are able to stay out later. On the few cold nights we did experience a hot water bottle, poncho and Wilderness Trust neckwarmers were all that was needed as guests chose to take the chance of spotting anything exciting at night time, knowing that upon their return to camp a cosy fire was waiting for them in the fireplaces in the main area as well as in their suites.
Winter being prime game viewing season, the Ongava Game Reserve has been bustling with excitement, as animals are more visible in the bushveld and at the waterholes. Neighbouring Etosha National Park has also delivered some amazing sightings and guests always return to camp with smiles on their faces!
Two black rhinoceros cows and their calves have been visiting the Ongava waterhole regularly which makes for exciting viewing from dusk onwards, with guests often jumping up from dinner to view the goings on at the waterhole.
Some guests found a cheetah with her three cubs on the Ongava Reserve - we are all very much aware of how special such a sighting is. Resident Ongava researcher Ken Stratford was so excited by the news that he immediately joined them at the sighting. We would like to thank Jane for sending us copies of her pictures for research purposes and proof that the sighting was real!
Guide Michael and his guests were stunned when three gemsbok (oryx) ran straight past their vehicle whilst they were at a waterhole. Looking around to see whether an enormous lion was chasing the antelope, they were surprised to see a brown hyaena speeding past after the gemsbok. The hyaena gave up the chase soon after, rather choosing to go lie down in the middle of the waterhole!
Because of the large number of impressive lion, rhino and antelope it would be easy to overlook the smaller species that inhabit Ongava Reserve, but it is impossible to ignore the amazing birdlife right outside your bedroom. Large flocks of Red-billed Quelea are seen flying in mesmerising formations, making trees come alive in movement and sound when a whole flock descends into its branches. We are also very excited to see that the Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters with their spectacular blue, green and golden plumage have returned to the Ongava Reserve.
The hide at the Ongava waterhole has been an excellent viewing spot. Guests choosing to sit in the hide with sundowners have been lucky enough to spot rhino, lion, giraffe and several different species of antelope. Sometimes all of them in one evening!
The resident pride of lion has been very active around Ongava and sightings have been frequent: the seven cubs growing up within the pride always entertaining guests with their playful antics. What makes these sightings even more extraordinary is how we can see the way that their hunting instincts are developing through their playfulness, reminding guides and guests alike that even though they are adorable at the moment they will grow up to be incredibly powerful predators.
There is nothing that truly captures the spirit of Africa like the roar of a lion echoing through the bush and here at Little Ongava that thunderous calling of the majestic rulers of the animal kingdom weaves into your dreams and envelopes you in your slumber, leaving your senses heightened and so much more aware of your environment when you awaken for another safari.
Little Ongava Manager, Anthony, took a well-deserved holiday this month and Relief Manager, Trix, looked after Little Ongava in his absence. Anthony returns to camp at the start of August when Trix leaves for Skeleton Coast Camp.
Guides Gabes and Michael have both been looking after the guests at Little Ongava, sharing their knowledge and passion for nature and Africa with our guests, even learning a thing or two from the guests themselves! Guest Alex proved to be an excellent "spotter" when he notified Michael of a small spotted genet sighting on two consecutive nights!
Ongava Lodge update - July 09 Jump
to Ongava Lodge
The mornings and evenings continue to be cool while the afternoons much warmer, with temperatures averaging 14 -20° Celsius.
As the natural waterholes continue to dry out around Ongava Game Reserve, wildlife regularly visits the artificial waterholes, making it easier to enjoy the animals on game drive activities.
The sub-adult members of the Sonop Lion Pride are pushing more to the eastern part of the reserve, while the sub-adult members of Stompie's Pride are moving more to the western side of the reserve. There are new members to Stompie's Pride - three cubs about a month or two old have been spotted with one of the females, adding to the ever-growing lion population on Ongava.
As the lion population continues to thrive, and the cubs grow older, we are hoping the different prides will make contact, have a territorial dispute and the losers driven out of the reserve into Etosha National Park. This will help to control the number of lions on the reserve. We are very fortunate at the moment, as guests are almost guaranteed to see rhino and/or lion on an afternoon game drive activity.
Sightings of cheetah are improving as the area gets drier and more open. The cheetah always appear uneasy - probably due to the large population of lion on the reserve.
White rhino are still seen mostly in the far western part of the reserve (Sonop). This area is most suitable for them as it is has large open plains, lots of grass and abundant water. On rhino tracking activities here we are almost guaranteed of finding them. One of the females has been observed with a tiny calf, barely two months old.
Black rhino are regular visitors to the Ongava Lodge waterhole and the hide here is perfect for seeing animals up close. Our nature walks continue to be another pleasurable activity.
The morning drives into Etosha continue to be productive as the animals now concentrate around the waterholes. As the temperatures rise in the late mornings, we see lots of animals. The elephants have started coming to drink earlier; large herds of up to 50 animals have been seen at some waterholes during the late mornings and early afternoons. This is always exciting to see the young ones play in water or take a sand bath, and how they interact with each other and the adults.
Governors' Camp update - July 09 Jump
to Governors' Camp
No update this month - July & August update will appear in the August updates.
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