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The Gautrain is here!
In Johannesburg, the Gautrain rail/transport system is now operational between O.R. Tambo International Airport and the Sandton CBD [with brief stops made at Rhodesfield and Marlboro]. The train runs every 12 to 30 minutes depending time of day, taking 15 minutes to get to the airport and with space for luggage. It is a comfortable, fast, safe and reliable way of travelling and conforms to the highest international standards - highly trained personnel, CCTV and satellite monitoring technology.
The system incorporates buses which provide connectivity to suburbs from the Sandton Station and vice versa. The Sandton Station is conveniently located near shops, banks, hotels and office complexes. For additional information refer to www.gautrain.co.za
Leopard and Lion at Home at Kalahari Plains Camp
Location: Kalahari Plains Camp, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
Date: 10-14 June 2010
Observers: Russel Crossey and the Kalahari Plains Camp staff
The rainwater-fed waterhole in front of camp is really coming into its own now as the dry season progresses. Every day we see more and more game arriving on the plain in front of camp. There are still scores of springbok and oryx on the plain right throughout the day. As usual one can also often count as many as eight honey badgers scattered across the open area. Groups of red hartebeest are also beginning to appear in greater numbers.
The real action however has been with the cats. It all began on Friday 11 June when Frances and his guests witnessed four cheetah kill and eat a steenbok very close to their vehicle. Two mornings later, while Willie was doing the early morning wake-up, he came across a leopard that had just killed a springbok. The leopard dragged its prey under Room 10 and proceeded to feed. Some jackals close by began to alarm call and we were sure that the lions would show up as they did the last time there was a kill near camp. The leopard must have known this and as soon as the dawn broke, she dragged the carcass deeper under Room 10 and disappeared from view.
Sure enough, as soon as we left camp on game drive, we came across the Plains Pride. They (two adult males and three adult females) were making a beeline for the camp. The females were, however, distracted by some oryx which they began stalking but the males continued to the waterhole for a drink. They walked right by Room 10 without noticing the carcass and after drinking they returned to the females. The females had failed in the hunt and the pride then disappeared toward the south.
That evening things really got interesting. Shortly after 19h00, we saw two leopard making their way towards Room 10. The female who had made the kill was returning with her sub-adult cub. They went straight to the carcass and continued feeding.
A while later, the staff were having dinner behind the camp and the female appeared, apparently thirsty. She went to a small puddle in the shadows, passing just five metres from the table and completely ignoring everyone. A few moments later, she reappeared with her cub and they both passed within metres of us again. We collected the guests who were thrilled to see the pair so close - we all stood in a huddle enjoying the spectacle. The leopards then moved onto the deck in front of the curio shop and then onto the pool deck. It was breathtaking stuff and the guests were beside themselves with excitement. We left the cats moving off into the dark.
By 23h00, the lions had finally picked up the scent. They arrived and polished off the remains of the carcass.
Our guests left the next morning, totally blown away by the Kalahari as the lions roared all around camp as we left for the airstrip. On our return, we found the ladies raving. The camp staff were again entertained by the leopard who came into camp at about 08h00 and spent most of the morning sleeping under the deck.
Photography - Russel Crossey
Lion hunts impala at Ruckomechi
Location: Ruckomechi Camp, Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
Date: 21 June 2010
Observer: Kevin van Breda and guests
Photographer: Kevin van Breda
While out on a game drive we came across a lion pride at the Little Ruckomechi River mouth, consisting of one adult female (around nine years old) and two sub-adult lions (male and female, both about four years old). The lions were relaxed and totally unaware of some impala in the distance. Two male impala however started heading towards the lions and the young female lion eventually noticed these antelope heading her way and began stalking them.
One impala ran off in time but the second seemed none the wiser and stood its ground, not noticing that the other adult lioness had now also joined the fray and circled around, flanking the impala. The young female continued her head-on approach. Now noticing too late and hemmed in by water on two sides, the impala had no option but to 'run the gauntlet'. Cornered by three lions the impala chose the exit route right between the adult female and the young female. The young male stayed on the outside.
With a turn of speed, the impala overtook the young female, and then immediately changed direction and speed to compensate for the adult female coming in at pace. The impala then accelerated again and amazingly outran the adult female as well. Dashing around a small pan, the impala simply continued until it was well out of reach. The lioness just stood there, out of breath, and probably wondering where it all went wrong...
Lions can usually only attain a maximum speed of around 50 kph which they cannot maintain for very long and thus rely more on ambush in catching fast animals like impala. These lions were outclassed on the day by the speed and agility of this impala and were clearly left eating dust...
Duelling Impala at Ruckomechi Camp
Location: Ruckomechi Camp, Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
Date: 20 June 2010
Observer: Kevin van Breda and guests
Photographer: Kevin van Breda
In the dry season (usually starting around May in southern Africa) adult male impala enter what is called the rutting season. In this period of a few months, the males struggle for territorial supremacy over harems of females with much horn clashing, rebuffing and the most peculiar vocalisations. Their deep bark-like calls continue day and night and sound very intimidating to anyone who has not heard it before, almost like some ferocious predator....
Out on an early morning drive recently we came across a large male impala and younger male challenger sizing each other up, initially with slow stiff movements and then suddenly clashing horns in a short duel for supremacy.
It was over in seconds but this brief dispute was decisive. A sharp horn from the older impala, possibly more experienced, briefly entered the skin of the younger male and then exited again. The horn punctured about 5-10 inches of skin but fortunately not in the area of any vital organs of the younger impala. The inexperienced male did not seem perturbed and stood his ground, showing his willingness to continue fighting.
Shortly after this both contestants stood alongside each other again and protested with their loud alarm calls but without either being a clear victor or running away. They eventually just walked off in different directions seemingly very indignant and unimpressed with each other.
Competing males often lose condition during this period, with mating even influenced by the phases of the moon. As the males are so busy defending their territories during this time they are often easier targets for opportunistic predators.
Leopard eats Fox at Kings Pool Camp
Location: Kings Pool Camp, Linyanti, Botswana.
Date: 7 May 2010
Observers: Victor Horatius, Dana Allen
Photographer: Dana Allen
On a recent three-night stay in the Linyanti Concession we enjoyed some amazing wildlife sightings and endless photographic opportunities that included the likes of mating lion, many elephant and other general game in various habitat types.
Among the predator sightings there were many highlights too, but the most memorable had to be our encounter with two cheetah brothers that we located in mopane woodland. We followed them for a while and eventually they simply climbed up onto a fallen log affording us wonderful views of these special cats.
Just when we thought things could not get any better we were radioed by another game viewing vehicle about a sighting of a female leopard. We made our way there and then followed her through the mopane for at least 20 minutes, as she was clearly on the hunt. As we followed her, the leopard would occasionally stop to get a vantage point on a termite mound, scanning the area around her. At one point she suddenly stopped in her tracks, seeing something we could not.
Stopping a distance away so as not to interrupt the hunt we then saw a bat-eared fox (a species seldom seen in the daylight hours here) run for its life with the leopard in pursuit. A few seconds later we saw a lot of dust, probably the moment of impact as the leopard caught the fox. We drove a little closer and saw the leopard inflict the last decisive bite... The leopard then dragged the fox for at least 20 metres before she started to methodically pluck the fur and feed on the carcass. After two feeding attempts she regurgitated the meat and then simply abandoned the partially-eaten small canine.
Due to their small size this fox species is particularly vulnerable to other predators and has been known to be killed by cheetah. Inter-specific killing amongst mammalian carnivores occurs fairly frequently and the killer species often involves the larger predators such as lion and leopard. Leopard are well-known predators of smaller carnivores, even domestic dogs, and are generally presumed or seen to feed on these carcasses. In some cases though the carcasses are partially plucked of their hair but not extensively fed on and the carcass abandoned either on the ground, or left hoisted in a tree.
I have seen similar behaviour on two other occasions: once near the Savute Channel and once at Chitabe Camp in the Okavango Delta. On both occasions a leopard also killed a bat-eared fox, took great care to remove the hair, and then after only a few bites left it alone.
It is possible that bat-eared fox diet (termites, a variety of insects and even scorpions) might render its meat unpalatable to other carnivores. It is also possible that such predation represents some attempt by a larger predator to remove perceived competition.
Two Cheetah released on Kulala Wilderness Reserve
Location: Kulala Desert Lodge, Kulala Wilderness Reserve, Namibia
Date: 27 June 2010
Observer: Jennifer Dickinson and Kulala staff
Photographer: Jennifer Dickinson
The excitement was tangible on Kulala Wilderness Reserve when two male cheetah arrived at Kulala Desert Lodge on the afternoon of the 27th of June 2010. The two were translocated from the commercial farmland area of Witvlei and had been kept at N/a'an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary for three weeks. They are both estimated about four years old, in the prime of their lives, weighing around 50kg each.
A film crew from Carte Blanche (South African current affairs investigative series) also spent the night at Kulala Desert Lodge to film the release. In the early hours of the following morning the Carte Blanche Team together with Rudie and Marlice van Vuuren, the owners of N/a'an ku sê, visited the famous red dunes of Sossusvlei, which served as a backdrop to part of the release documentary as well as putting the nearby location of Kulala Wildernes Reserve into context. Each of the three camps on the reserve were allowed to have one vehicle present at the release site, so as not to overwhelm the cheetah, but allowing for heightened awareness and education to all camp staff ranging from housekeepers to waiters, guides and camp managers.
The release cage with its precious cargo was brought to the designated spot on the back of a Land Rover and set down about 30m from the side of the road. Marlice warned that everyone should be ready with their cameras because once the cage door is lifted the cats usually rush out one after the other as quickly as possible. The two cheetah seemed comfortable in their cage however and had no plans of leaving it! After much prompting and trying different ideas the males eventually left the cage and sauntered off towards the cover of the dry Tsauchab riverbed. Radio collars were also fitted to help monitor their movements.
This is not the first time that cheetah have been released on Kulala Wilderness Reserve - another two (male and female) were released in May 2009. Spotted hyaena unfortunately killed the female in June of the same year. It is hoped that this latest release attempt will add further to the carnivore diversity of the Reserve and the greater Namib Naukluft area. Once an area of subsistence goat farming, it is a privilege to be able to provide safe refuge in the rehabilitated arid ecosystem of Kulala for such rare and beautiful creatures.
Wildlife on Deck at Little Ongava
Location: Little Ongava, Ongava Game Reserve, Namibia
Date: June 2010
Observers: Ilana Stein and Mary-Anne van der Byl
Going on safari usually involves game drives and walks away from the camp, generally returning to camp for delicious food and comfortable beds. However, spend a day at camp, and sometimes the wildlife comes to you!
On a trip to Namibia, we spent a whole day in our luxurious, spacious unit at Little Ongava. This camp is built on a rocky hilltop with panoramic views across the mopane woodland, but even without the help of binoculars, one can sit on one's deck and some of the local inhabitants are sure to drop by.
The infinity pool is a major drawcard for birds who seem to see it as their personal - if somewhat large - birdbath. Red-eyed bulbuls (a southern African endemic) were the most common, in both senses of the word; they were the loudest and took up the best spot - centre stage really - every time. Masked weavers, glossy starlings and the occasional Monteiro's hornbill managed to find place too, splashing about with verve and vigour.
Unexpectedly, a very different sort of bird arrived: a little banded goshawk landed on the pool's edge, sending the avian crowd scattering. He proceeded to give himself a thorough washing for a good few minutes; it was a tremendous privilege to be able to watch this from only a few feet away.
Other inhabitants of the area however, prefer to stay dry. The Kaokoveld dassie, a near endemic rock hyrax, is to be found all over this area, and it seems their favourite spot for a morning snooze is on the boardwalk between the unit and the sala. In the afternoon however, they seek the shade of the sala itself and were most unimpressed when we attempted to join them. The striped squirrels (another Namibian endemic, confined to the north-western regions) joined in the fun, leaping between the branches of nearby trees and the wooden deck, loudly chittering their approval of the accommodation it seemed.
A grand finale before we left the comfort of the deckchairs for a game drive was the sinuous snakelike movements of a slender mongoose which wound its way through and over the rocks near us, his golden tail the last thing to disappear into a cleft in the rocks.
Abu Camp Refurbishment Complete
Abu Camp has just reopened after extensive refurbishments of the camp's main areas, allowing in more light and adding modern, fresher styles. Inspiration was taken from the Abu elephant herd itself with decor, furnishing and fabric colors including pastels of light grey and ivory.
Canoeing as an activity at Savuti Camp
Taking advantage of the beautifully flooded Savute Channel, we have added a canoeing activity at Savuti Camp. Up to 8 guests (two per canoe) are accompanied by a lead and back-up guide as they gently meander down the channel. The canoe excursion is offered as a morning or afternoon activity depending on the ability of the guests and leaves directly from camp. It is however dependent on the level of the water and concentration of elephants in the area. Most of the excursions to date have been in the afternoon, with a sundowner stop and night drive back to camp.
Okavango Delta Scenic Helicopter Flights
Scenic helicopter flights are a wonderful option to complement the traditional game drives and add excellent value to the overall Okavango Delta safari experience. These flights are generally at a height of 150 meters (500 feet), which offers an aerial perspective of the Delta and incredible photographic opportunities. The helicopter is a Bell 206L4 based at Vumbura Plains Camp, which takes maximum four passengers with 20kg luggage on a transfer or six passengers with no luggage on a scenic flight.
Ruckomechi Cam - New rainfall brings more wildlife
Good catchment area rainfall has temporarily transformed the lower Zambezi River into a water wilderness, with wildlife numbers increasing daily around Ruckomechi Camp as inland water sources now dry up. Regular wildlife visitors to camp and surrounds have included elephant, lion, hippo, waterbuck, impala and baboons together with the usual host of smaller animals and birds. Recent special sightings include pangolin, wild dog, leopard, cheetah, an eland herd of 35 and two male lion previously unrecorded on the concession.
North Island Update - June 2010 Jump
to North Island
Kings Pool Camp update - June 2010 Jump
to Kings Pool Camp
DumaTau Camp update - June 2010 Jump
to DumaTau Camp
Savuti Camp update - June 2010 Jump
to Savuti Camp
Zarafa Camp update - June 2010 Jump
to Zarafa Camp
June saw Zarafa celebrate two years since its opening. It has been a fantastic birthday month with excellent game sightings from a wide range of wildlife and a definite seasonal shift into winter. There was a change in conversation at dinner from discussing our game to a game involving a round ball... June has seen a huge interest in the World Cup with quite a number of our guests taking in a game or two during their trips.
The World Cup has also increased the level of radio usage in the staff village by an order of magnitude during Bafana Bafana and other African nations' games!
In the Bright Midwinter
Winter is now well and truly upon us in the Selinda Reserve with temperatures dropping to -3 Celsius on some mornings, creating a fine frost in front of camp and quite a Christmas postcard scene. "Be prepared" goes the saying and the Zarafa guests have loved their "bushbaby" hot water bottles which they clutch for warmth on their way out on drive each morning. We've placed gas fires in the tents which makes for easy early morning rising. In the main area, we create a toasty environment with hot fires and copper flumes.
The cold weather brings clear skies and some incredible star-gazing. The bush dinners, which we have around a roaring fire out of camp, are the best places to view the sky at night. With the aid of our telescope and some star charts, we've seen some stunning constellations, not seen with the naked eye. One exceptional night on the HMS Zibidianja, a honeymoon couple watched the sunset and the new moon appear as they enjoyed a glass of champagne overlooking the lagoon. Just after that, a meteor broke the atmosphere and shattered into hundreds of pieces, showering the sky in shooting stars.
Zarafa wildlife has continued to be varied with diverse sightings of cats, antelope and birds. The roan antelope are becoming less timid although we were saddened to find their numbers diminished by one after a pack of wild dog made a successful kill. The pack of 11 has been seen frequently and one female appears to be pregnant. We hope that they will den on this side of the channel.
Hyaena must be respected for their bravery. One morning, we witnessed them tread the fine line between brave and stupid. A hippo bull was grazing in front of camp, which was unusual for 07h00. Two hyaenas who were wandering up the side of the lagoon tried to attack him. The hippo was not in the slightest bit bothered as they nipped at his ankles. After a while he grew impatient with the scavengers and turned, mouth fully open, to chase them away.
We've had almost daily leopard sightings including a mother and cub. Our best viewing of these two was on an impala kill which they consumed over the course of a few days. One evening Steve walked his guests back to their tents. On his return he found leopard tracks on top of his own footprints. The leopard had almost certainly watched them as they walked by....
HMS Zibidianja, our new boat, has proven a very popular addition to the concession. We've had some great lunches and sundowners accompanied by the resident hippos and their orchestral additions to the experience. Bream fishing has become a fun addition although fly-casting has proven to be hard to master when fishing from the boat.
For any camp, one of the most important ingredients is good food (pardon the pun). At Zarafa we are very proud of our executive chef, Comfort, and his Zarafa team who have been liberally praised in the guest book. We were exceedingly pleased to present Zarafa's cuisine to one particular guest that arrived earlier in the month. He is a Michelin star restaurant assessor. We learned so much from his time at Zarafa from tips on wines and food to the best humidity in which to keep our cigars!
He has travelled widely in Africa and visited many camps and said that Zarafa has the finest food of any camp he has visited. This is a compliment Comfort and his team hear often but to hear it from someone with such specialist skills was a real honour.
Selinda Camp update - June 2010 Jump
to Selinda Camp
The weather is now cold with some mornings reaching as low as -3 degrees Celsius. Brrrrrr! Guests are making good use of the camp's ponchos and hot water bottles. Thankfully by midday everything has heated up with guests enjoying brunch outside in the sun.
June has been a month of fantastic sightings at Selinda, from lion killing giraffe on two separate occasions near Makoba, to the two-week-old leopard that was spotted at the beginning of the month. Also the buffalo have started to make their way onto the concession. All these, however, pale into insignificance when compared with the most extraordinary sighting of the month.
Most of the guests in camp were enjoying a sundowner when a single wild dog chased a young kudu into the water. The dog plunged into the channel, caught the drowning antelope, killed it and eventually dragged it out of the water and onto the bank. He fed for a while but a crocodile rudely interrupted him and proceeded to play tug-of-war with the dead kudu. The crocodile swallowed the hind legs whole. A short while later, a hyaena, with the smell of fresh blood in his nose, came over for a look. He chased the wild dog away and shared the spoils with the much bigger reptile. Quite a soap opera of predators!
We purchased a new boat for Selinda Camp this month. The boat can seat eight guests and has a canopy to shade us from the hot, sunny days. The boat will be used for airport transfers as well as guest activities along the Selinda Spillway.
Josh and Bailey have done a fantastic job of managing Selinda for the month of June and we look forward to David and Alice taking over on a permanent basis from the beginning of July.
Camps Update - June 2010
Lagoon camp Jump
• It is officially 'denning' time again at Lagoon and not only wild dogs! A hyena den was also discovered this month about 15 minutes drive from camp which has allowed guests excellent and regular sightings of the hyena and their young.
• Also very close to camp, the guides had regularly spotted a pack of 17 wild dogs. The alpha female became notable by her absence around the middle of the month, leading guides to believe she had entered the den in order to give birth. The den site was later discovered within three kilometres of the camp and we are waiting in eager anticipation for the arrival of new puppies!
• Fortunately for the dogs, while leopard have been spotted on a baboon kill and cheetah hunting on the flood plains, lion have been few and far between this month. While the dogs are expecting puppies we are all grateful for their absence!
• The increasingly abundant buffalo herds are likely to change this in the next few weeks though.
Lebala camp Jump
• While the consistently high flood waters have cause the Savute channel to flow for the first time in over twenty years, the Kwando concession has not seen the massive floods breaking the banks of the Kwando River this year. Strangely the floods have all but passed the region by this time. This relatively 'low' water levels in the concession and flooding of surrounding areas will mean abundant game sightings for the rest of the season as the general game and predators will move into the drier areas adjacent to water.
• Wild dog were the main focus of excitement at Lebala as well as Lagoon this month. The guides were fortunate to have discovered the den site of a pack of four dogs, and later identified nine puppies. The three adults were seen regularly on kudu kills as they constantly hunted to feed the alpha female and her young.
• Guests have been lucky to have been able to visit and observe the interaction between dogs and puppies throughout the month.
• Lion were also extremely active in the region, and among individual sightings, a pride of 5 lions and 2 cubs killed warthog, zebra and a giraffe all within the space of three days!
• The first buffalo herds have also begun to arrive from the wetlands to the north as the rainwater filled pans begin to dry out.
Kwara & Little Kwara camps Jump
& Little Kwara camps
• The high water levels in the Okavango Delta continue to affect the movement and distribution of many species especially elephant, and buffalo.
• The predators are regularly sighted but remain widespread throughout the area, especially the dominant coalition of seven males. The abundance of food and water allows them to remain further a field and as their territory covers an increasing numbers of different females, they are in turn forced to cover more territory to maintain their pride boundaries.
• Four of the original seven male lions are still predominantly resident in the area and still seen often with various females and sub adults, feeding on various prey including warthog, giraffe and hippo.
• Other predators become bold with the relative distribution of the lions. Cheetah have been seen more often of late including two females feeding on a reedbuck, some shy single individuals and a band of three brothers killing a tsessebe after a short swim across a river!
• Elsewhere leopard have been spotted moving brazenly about the concession and seen killing impala, and feeding on kills of baboon and tsessebe.
• The focus of activity at Nxai Pan in the middle of the very dry winter season is the two main waterholes in the park, one of which is located in front of the camp.
• Our guests enjoy the multitude of animals clamouring for water from the comfort of the main area or their own private viewing decks. At any time there are up to 20 bull elephants are seen around the camp waterhole, drinking, bathing or simply enjoying a cooling mud bath.
• These are joined by a succession of springbok, giraffe, gemsbok, impala and wildebeest, and creates an incredible display of activity and species interaction.
• Inevitably the lions are never far away this type of prey concentration and as made famous in the Imax movie 'Roar' by Tim and June Liversedge, they have become prolific ambush hunters especially of springbok.
• Cheetah and leopard are both spotted regularly as well as the prolific black backed jackal, and even a flock of 37 ostrich!
• One of the most notable events in the desert this month was a severe frost which hit the entire region. Temperatures plummeted in the Kalahari to several degrees below freezing! Staff woke to find not only was water in the pipes frozen but even the water in the toilets was solid ice!
• The animals no doubt faired a little better from the cold but are beginning to feel the affect of the dry season. Even with significant late rains the grass has taken on its famous Kalahari yellow colouring as it dries out. Game is now moving further a field in search of good grazing and the herds to break up into smaller numbers.
• The guides are, after a year of travelling the Kalahari, beginning to see recognisable groups of animals especially predators, including a group of five mature cheetah (one female and four males – probably her grown young) and mating lions at many of the pans.
• The Tau Pan pride have been spotted regularly and one of the two dominant males has been seen mating with several different females. We hope to see the pride grow in size with new arrivals in the coming months.
Mombo Camp update
- June 2010 Jump
to Mombo Camp
Winter is now definitely upon us here - chilly mornings herald the most beautiful sunrises in the crisp, clear skies of northern Botswana. Guests wrapped up in ponchos, clutching hot water bottles, head out on morning drives hoping to catch a special sighting of one of the magnificent African animals warming themselves in the rising sun.
The floodwaters from this year's spectacular flood are slowly receding. We all wait in anticipation for the floodplains to dry allowing the grazers to feed on the nutritious grass that the water leaves behind. Already, we have animals grazing on the water's edge in camp. Visitors include a pair of warthog, who have taken up residence underneath one of the management houses.
The game this month has been quite amazing with an incredible number of leopard sightings. Most of these sightings starred Legadima and her two cubs. A large male has also visited her territory this month. He is new to the area and is not the father of her cubs. Worryingly, she was last seen a few days ago with only one cub, and then the following day unaccompanied, apparently searching for the cubs. She has not been seen since. We are still not sure whether the cubs are alive or not. We are waiting anxiously to find out.
Pula and Maru, Legadima's offspring from a previous affair, were seen in the same tree fighting over a kill. A real highlight for the month was watching Pula stalk and kill an adult impala ram - no mean feat for a young leopard! Another leopard, the Ngonyama female, was also found with a kill in a tree. She too has a cub.
Our lions have been active in June, with the three prides, the Western, Matata and the Maparota prides all providing excellent viewing. They are still squashed into an area much diminished by the floodwaters. Along with these three main prides, there are a number of nomadic and splinter groups on the concession at the moment. This plethora of lion activity means that hardly a night goes by without loud territorial roaring.
In camp, there is an African civet with pups. We've seen her foraging around the camp at night on a few occasions.
Of course I could not end this report without talking about the Soccer World Cup being played in South Africa. It has been a huge event for us in Botswana. We set up one of the lounges (now nicknamed The Mombo Sports Bar) with a big screen TV and many of our guests spent time rooting for their home countries.
Staff in Camp
The Managers this month were: Gordon, Tanya, Phenyo, Kago and Max at Main Camp, and Martha at Little Mombo.
The guides this month were: Doctor, Tshepo, Simon and Tsile at Main Camp and Cisco at Little Mombo.
Xigera Camp update
- June 2010 Jump
to Xigera Camp
Chitabe Camp update
- June 2010 Jump
to Chitabe Camp
Vumbura Plains Camp update
- June 2010 Jump
to Vumbura Plains Camp
Little Vumbura Camp update
- June 2010 Jump
to Little Vumbura Camp
Duba Plains Camp update
- June 2010 Jump
to Duba Plains Camp
In addition to the well-known lion and buffalo interaction here at Duba, we have had some spectacular sightings this month. Elephants are plentiful and this must be one of the best places to view these splendid animals in the open.
The jackalberry trees at Duba Plains Camp do not simply provide shade for us. They are also a favoured roosting spot for baboons. In the early hours of one June morning, a baboon started alarm calling from his vantage. It was not long before the whole troop was barking at some perceived danger. All the guests were woken by the irate primates.
A few minutes later, a lioness called from inside the camp. At round the same time we heard some buffalo splashing through the shallow water in front of the camp. The splashing soon became a deafening rush as the buffalo began to run. When the dawn broke we heard a buffalo's distress call and we knew that the lions were killing. A little while later our guests were treated to the sighting of three lionesses and a big male on their buffalo prize.
We are very excited to have taken over the management of Duba Plains Camp. This is such a special camp situated in a part of the Okavango Delta made famous by Dereck and Beverly Joubert's Relentless Enemies.
We welcome Ishmael, formerly of Selinda Camp, as the new camp manager here at Duba.
Jacana Camp update
- June 2010 Jump
to Jacana Camp
Weather and Astronomy
Winter is here. The flood has seen its peak and the water is slowly receding. The average daily temperatures are mild with maximums hovering around 24 degrees Celsius.
We expect the easterly winds to start soon, and they will keep the sky clear and crisp.
Scorpio has reached its zenith and Mars is now close to Regulus in Leo.
The resident lion pride has moved off the big islands as the water has dropped. The first night they left the big island they killed two impala close to Kwetsani Camp, and have since been moving around a lot. They are frequently heard early in the mornings around the breakfast fire or around the dinner table.
The local elephant bulls are spending their days around the island shaking trees and causing great excitement. June gave us an elephant a day in camp, sharing brunch with us or moving around at night.
The receding water is great for seeing hippo and the waters around Jacana are perfect for aquatic encounters by boat. The tranquillity and quietness of the area allow for excellent hippo viewing in camp as the great beasts come out to feed on the island.
The fishing has been spectacular this month - as it often is in the cooler season. The fast flowing channels that support the Delta system have been especially productive. As the waters recede, the concentrations of catfish, bream and tiger-fish (that great freshwater fighter) increase dramatically, both for fly-fishing and spinning. The largest tiger-fish this month was a staggering 73cm and 4.5kg.
As Jacana is a water-based camp, mokoro rides are always popular. Exploring the islands and smaller waterways by mokoro could not be more idyllic. Mekoro are the best platform from which to view rare water animals like sitatunga and spotted-necked otter. Unusual birds like the Pel's fishing owl are also very relaxed when viewed from the silence of a mokoro.
Guests and staff
A great thanks to everyone who visited us this month. We hope you had a great stay and will return soon.
Tudo incredible! Everything wonderful and fantastic. - Caroline and Francisco, Chile
Great. Love you guys! Paradise. - Thomas and Holly, USA
Unmatched scenery and setting! Magically true Delta experience. - Ashley and Ian, SA
Thank you for a much needed rest with elephants in my shower and hippos by my bed! Hope to be back one day! - Mary and Frederic, Canada
Wonderful place and so lucky to be on our own! Thanks for excellent service, great food and an exciting fishing trip! Keep in touch, Thank you! - Raimon and Stephanie
Managers: Pieter Ras and Danielle van den Berg
Guides: Joseph, Tim and Florance
update - June 2010 Jump
to Kwetsani Camp
Winter arrived at Kwetsani in the beginning of June with an icy wind blowing and the temperatures dropping. The days are generally mild (around 20 degrees Celsius) unless the wind is blowing. Our minimum dropped down to 5 degrees in the middle of the month. The skies have been clear and crisp.
The water levels have dropped as quickly as they rose in May and we are slowly reclaiming our island. The staff village is returning to normal, but there is still a stream flowing through the middle of it. The floodplain in front of camp is drying out and one can now walk on Kwetsani beach without getting wet feet.
The water is still flowing past Kwetsani boat jetty, but once the levels drop enough and it stops flowing into the vlei area to the south of the island, the vlei will start drying out too and more of the island will be accessible.
The Jao Pride has taken up residence on the island, and we've had regular sightings of lionesses and cubs with a male. The pride managed to kill two impala and a warthog in one week. The first kill was stolen by the male, but the warthog was shared by the lionesses and cubs. The last impala was killed right in the staff village, which made arriving at work on time a little difficult....
The lioness with cubs seems to be spending most of her time on the southern part of the island, near the baobab.
Also on the cat front, one morning there were two leopard sightings in camp. There has been great leopard viewing on Hunda Island. This island also delivered our first sighting of the lone lioness 'Broken Nose' for a long while.
We have also seen a small spotted genet in the camp in the evenings and he seems very relaxed.
There is a breeding pair of blacksmith plovers with three eggs on their nest on the island in front of camp. The family of wattled cranes is still around and there is a pair of fish eagles building a nest close to camp.
The events were amazing from seeing lions and cubs eating, giraffes to elephants around the camp. We were treated like royalty but in a warm and friendly manner by all staff, very "family like" environment. - Deb and Anne, Canada.
Seeing the lions walk through the camp, spotting the elephants just outside of the camp before sundowners and watching the leopard on our last day. The food was also spectacular and the staff is great - Alexander and Madalein, USA
Seeing the lion crossing the flood plain with her 4 cubs / Also seeing the leopard sunning itself in the morning sun / Watching the male lion guarding his kill / We were very touched by the champagne and message and candles etc. when we came back to our room on the last night. It was very thoughtful, thank you! - Guy and Polly, UK
The close encounters with the elephants. The mokoro rides in the evening was beautiful. OB tracked a leopard and so we saw one! - Karen, USA
Day long safaris / Mokoro / Meals / Staff singing / Animals in Camp / Night spot-lighting / Fishing / Coffee and Tea / Naughty Monkeys / Loo with a View / Brooks and OB - Thank you for an amazing 3 days - perfect African experience!
Ian and Michélle Burger
OB Morafhe and OP Kaluluka
update - June 2010 Jump
to Jao Camp
Weather and Water Levels
The remarkable flood has dropped slightly but the water levels are still high and the weather is steady.
Boat and mokoro rides to watch the sunset over the mirror-like Delta are surreal experiences. The chance to stop, listen and soak up the Okavango as the light ebbs fills one with a sense of absorption in the surrounding wild.
The big game sightings at Jao are wildly varying.
This month we've had some really good lion viewing. The Kwetsani Pride, which moved in as the floodwaters rose, have delighted with regular sightings. They have four male cubs and the two adults must hunt regularly to sustain the youngsters' needs. The male of the area is not helping matters and we watched him steal an entire impala from them without sharing a morsel.
There has also been excellent viewing of the rare sitatunga antelope this month. Jao Island is home to a majestic bull, a cow and their calf. Sometimes we see all three together but often they forage alone, quite relaxed as we watch them.
In the camp, the vervet monkey and baboon interactions are endlessly entertaining. The young baboons taunt the monkeys but are not quite sure enough of themselves yet. They also 'play' with the resident banded mongoose troop but their curiosity does incur an aggressive response every so often.
The mongoose spend the early mornings huddled in small patches of sunshine, waiting for the warmth to permeate the land before heading out to forage. We've observed some mating of late so there could soon be some little pups.
The most intriguing sightings of the month belong to the hyaena who visit our camp. She or they (we're not sure if it's one or many) have been enjoying roaming around the pools, the spa and along the walkways.
Visits to the western side of the concession have also been productive with excellent leopard viewing and abundant elephant, zebra and wildebeest herds.
Highlight of the month has been an African harrier hawk which has spent a lot of time near the camp. One morning it raided a green wood-hoopoe nest. Despite being mobbed by the irate parents, it devoured the contents of their nest.
If our guests are not out in the field or dining on our delicious food, they're visiting our relaxing spa where they can experience moonlight rituals, couples' massages and facials. The spa is the perfect way to relax into the tranquil Delta atmosphere.
Children's activities like candle making, jewellery design and baking keep us all entertained... oh, and the kids too.
Loved the fishing and great time had by us all! Perfect!Many Thanks. - Packer family
What an amazing piece of paradise! Just beautiful with a beautiful and friendly staff. -Wessinger family
A true gem we were blessed enough to get to know.
Unbelievable staff which gave us a once in a lifetime experience. -Levy family
Tried for 3 years to get into Jao loved it - leopard and lions, oh my. Thank you! - Elaine
It doesn't get better than this! Thank you so much. -Ed
Better than coming "home"... Karen and Paul
Wonderful experience here! Beautiful and excellent service. Thanks! - Maury and Gerry
Staff in camp
Joanne Davies and Marina (spa therapists)
Neuman Vasco (management orientation)
Tubu Tree Camp
update - June 2010 Jump
to Tubu Tree Camp
It is cold! The morning air drops to 4 degrees Celsius which means hot porridge, hot water bottles and warm blankets are much appreciated as the dawn breaks.
By noon, it heats up to around 25 degrees during the day with a crystal clear sky.
The water is receding. By the second week of the month we were able to eat out in the boma - right on the floodplain again.
Tubu has been wild! We've seen leopards walking around camp in broad daylight, elephants shaking palm trees and monkeys pilfering in the kitchen.
We've had good leopard viewing almost every day this month. The highlight was an incredible sighting of a juvenile catching a young wildebeest. The youngster couldn't quite finish the job and his mother had to deliver the killing bite. The leopards fed on the carcass for a few days before it dropped from the tree they had stashed it in. The hyaenas then made short work of the remainder.
The lions have also provided great excitement. One of the females is in oestrus and we've seen her mating on several occasions. The males are especially vocal at the moment and the keep us awake at night with their booming calls.
Incredible sightings - lots of leopard including two cubs at night and hyaena all around. Great hospitality, many thanks for arranging a private dinner. Roberto and Claire - UK
Just Everything! The trip was amazing, the guides know the best spots in the delta. Sundown in the delta was amongst the favourite activities. Keep up the good work,
your energy and motivation. Hannes and Andy - Switzerland
The wonderful warm professionalism is of an excellent standard and maintained the whole time. Well done. We had a superb game viewing and bird watching time. Michelle and Craig - RSA
The wonderful welcome on our arrival - unmatched. The dinner performance and the dance around the table were such fun and made us emotional. Food was excellent.
Thank you each one for making this experience one we will always remember! Stephen and Pat - USA
Staff in Camp
Managers: Julian Muender and Nina Reichling
Guides: Izzy and Johnny
Kalahari Plains Camp
update - June 2010 Jump
to Kalahari Plains Camp
to Page 2