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Sefofane Zimbabwe luggage allowance change
Going forward, the C206 Cessna aircraft used by Sefofane Zimbabwe will only carry four passengers plus the pilot. In doing so, the luggage allowance has been revised to 20kgs (44lbs) per person (including their camera equipment and hand luggage) - in a soft bag, no wheels or frame.
Children in the Wilderness Botswana Camp
In December 2010, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) held its annual week-long program at Jacana Camp and Wilderness Tented Camp respectively. Since its inception in 2001, CITW Botswana has been hosting 96 kids per annum over a four-week period; the same numbers were hosted in 2010 and all programmes ran smoothly and were outstanding successes. This year, the participants came from Gumare, Tubu, Seronga, Eretsa, Betsa, Gunatsoga and Gudigwa villages. A press day was also held on the 18th of December and many Botswana government senior officials made a great effort to attend.
Black Heron Tussle along the Linyanti
Location: Savuti Camp, Linyanti Concession, Botswana
Date: 04 Feb 2011
Observer: Helena Atkinson, Lets Kamogelo
Photographer: Helena Atkinson
The recent resurgence of aquatic life along the Savute Channel, and the healthy water flows in the Linyanti River, are proving to be very welcome for waterbirds of the region. Good numbers of waterbird species are expanding their ranges into theses newly-inundated areas. Fish abundance appears to be high, and both birds and fish are far better adapted to making the most of the higher water levels and new feeding and breeding opportunities that these conditions offer.
Despite this, competition between species remains high, as these adjoining images of a clash between two Black Herons along the Linyanti River attest. The two individuals pictured came into conflict at a pool alongside the river. One bird was already 'fishing' when the second one arrived, and the first bird immediately attacked the second bird. The clash went on in spectacular fashion for perhaps twenty seconds before the new arrival was chased off.
The aggression depicted between these two herons was fascinating to watch. The competition between them may be even higher during the breeding season due to constrained resources along the flowing Savute Channel as it re-establishes itself as an actual river. Either way, it certainly makes for some spectacular bird viewing opportunities in the Linyanti right now.
Linyanti Leopard and Hyaena Clash
Location: Savuti Camp, Linyanti Concession, Botswana
Date: 31 March 2011
Observers: Lets Kamogelo and Grant Atkinson
Photographers: Lets Kamogelo and Grant Atkinson
The healthy flows of water in the Linyanti River over the past few years have been good for the local hippo population. And where animals live, so too they die, and when an adult hippo succumbed just a few hundred metres from the river, its demise signalled a free-for-all amongst some of the resident carnivores. For the first day and a half, a clan of spotted hyaena dominated the carcass, tearing it open from the belly, and eating a large portion of the meat. The next day, the hyaenas, having fed to saturation point, moved a short distance away.
Some of them lay down in nearby pools of water to cool off, and others made their way to the river to drink. Some simply lay in the shade of bushes, digesting their easy meal. Their absence allowed another carnivore's access to the remnants of the hippo, in the form of a young male leopard. When we arrived at the sighting the leopard was struggling mightily to try and bite his way through the very tough skin of the hippo's leg. It looked to us as if he was trying to sever the leg and make off with it. The skin was too tough though, and the leopard continued to methodically work off small bits of meat, and gulp them down.
Later that afternoon, as the sun was setting, the first hyaena returned. The hyaena approached the carcass directly opposite the leopard, and began to eat, but the leopard was having none of it, and after threatening the hyaena for several seconds, he made a sudden, snarling rush at his bigger adversary.
When male leopards and hyaena clash, it is not always clear which animal is dominant. On many occasions an adult spotted hyaena will manage to drive a leopard off a kill, but at other times the leopards fight back and successfully defend their food. The outcome may depend on the motivation levels at that time of the particular animals in question, in other words, which one is the hungriest. Any sustained fighting carries risks for both participants as neither of them can afford to carry injuries.
In this instance, the male leopard had the most to lose. The hyaena had a bulging belly but no stomach for the fight, and this time it backed off in the face of the leopard's aggression. Darkness had already fallen when we left the leopard quietly tearing away at the carcass. The next day there was no sign of him, and the hyaena were back, finishing off what was left of the hippo.
The configuration of the main area at Little Mombo has changed slightly and the deck has been expanded quite substantially, providing more areas for outside dining and relaxing.
The rebuild of Vumbura North is starting to take shape, keeping with the general feel of the rest of camp, and we should re-open the camp totally again at the end of March.
Vumbura Plains North Update
We are pleased to advise that after the unfortunate fire we had last year, and a longer than anticipated re-build, Vumbura Plains North re-opened on 16 April 2011. The main area has been re-designed slightly with a larger sunken lounge and glass doors to provide protection from the elements when needed. The fire deck has been moved closer to the bar area and there are all new softs and furnishings.
The floors of the rooms at Xigera Camp have been sanded and the sides re-canvased with new windows/blinds. Both the shower and toilet now have an individual door plus a sliding door to the outside shower has been added. In the main area, the bar has been moved and now looks onto the channel. Guests now enter through the back of the main area viewing the channel – not into the dining room. There is a new buffet area and small cosy library. There are also plans to build a star deck for dinners, star talks, private dinners etc.
Jacana Family Room
The new family room opened at Jacana Camp this month. Two separate bedrooms share a bathroom and deck which makes it ideal for the younger family.
Serra Cafema Camp
Serra Cafema Camp in Namibia has been closed until 31 May 2011, unfortunately this has now been extended to 30 June 2011. This is due to the sustained high water levels on the Kunene River as a result of the excellent rains in the catchment area of Angola. Where possible, we are accommodating guests at our Skeleton Coast Camp as it offers a similar experience.
No report this month.
North Island Update - April 2011 Jump
to North Island
Kings Pool Camp update - April 2011 Jump
to Kings Pool Camp
DumaTau Camp update - April 2011 Jump
to DumaTau Camp
Savuti Camp update - April 2011 Jump
to Savuti Camp
Zarafa Camp update - April 2011 Jump
to Zarafa Camp
Selinda Camp update - April 2011 Jump
to Selinda Camp
Camps Update - April 2011
• Once again, our Delta camps – typically marketed for the Okavango Experience, delivers stunning cats!!
• During April it was virtually impossible not see lions!! A pride of ten has been seen regularly. The 2 lionesses watch carefully as their 5 cubs play in the morning sun. The pride was seen hunting on several occasions with one set of guests witnessing a baboon kill. On another afternoon, the guests saw the pride bring down a young male giraffe which provided a feeding frenzy and grounded the pride to the same place for a few days as they slept off their family meal!!
• A new but relaxed male leopard was sighted several times. He was seen relatively close to camp and we are hopeful he will settle in permanently.
• The general game has been good, with lots of zebra and wildebeest. Also giraffe, tsessebe, impala, kudu, baboon, warthog, red lechwe and plenty of elephant!!
• Large breeding herds of elephant are already moving into the area. These herds, as well as smaller groups of bulls are gorging on the ripe marula fruits.
• Several different endangered rock pythons were also spotted this month.
• A sighting of an aardwolf provided a "first" for the lucky guests.
• Serval, honey badgers and slender mongoose were also regularly seen.
• Both the side striped and blackbacked jackals were seen along with the spotted hyena.
• Birdlife was plentiful with the colourful saddle billed stork, wattled cranes and an unusual sighting of a pied avocet.
• Frogs were also seen in abundance, especially on the mokoro rides – painted reed frogs, long reed frogs, foam nest frogs and the bubbling Kassina. All of these little fellas together produce quite the din in the evenings!!!
Lagoon camp Jump
• Lagoon had a spectacular game month!!! Lions, Leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs it was all happening!! (And this is only April!!).
• During the first week of the month, lions were seen on every game drive!
• There was the lioness with 3 cubs and a sub adult male, a mating couple plus another pride of 13!
• Two new male lions have moved into the area of Lagoon/Lebala. They are at the moment not very accustomed to vehicles and people, but they are slowly getting used to being the focus of everybodys attention.
• The Large pride of 17 was also seen many times.
• Four days in a row, guests were treated to a sighting of 2 leopards on an Impala carcass, close to Zebra Pan.
• Other leopard sightings included one shy female up a bird plum tree, and another sighting of a leopard on a kill which was raided by hyena. Lucky hyaena!
• And another one got chased up a tree by 11 of the wild dogs.
• The three cheetah brothers were seen on numerous occasions and followed while they went hunting, one time successfully when they took down a male kudu.
• Wild dogs were sighted frequently. The highlight was probably the leopard feeling sorry for himself in a tree, and the dogs having a rest in the shade of the tree.
• General game has been good. Every drive has encountered elephant – usually at or near water holes, or crossing the river down from camp.
• The buffalo are also returning with large herds seen on most game drives. They are still very shy having just emerged from the mopane woodlands now that the rain filled pans are dry.
• All of the general game was also around – kudu, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, impala, waterbuck, reedbuck and steinbuck, warthog, baboons.
• A rare herd of sable was also seen as well as a number of sightings of the large eland herd.
• The snorting hippo in front of camp cannot go without a mention as they lullaby guests and staff alike to sleep.
• Hyena and jackal were on continuous patrol.
• Honey badger, porcupine, serval, genets and mongoose (4 different species) were also seen.
• Birdlife by no means took second place to the animals – storks were in abundance and the summer migrants are all still here. Just around camp there has been a family of ground hornbills, kingfishers on the boat and a hornbill nest.
Lebala camp Jump
• The camp only reopened half way through the month but the guides and trackers had no trouble finding the game!!
• A pride of 17 lions with 5 females, 2 males and nine cubs provided a regular and fabulous sightings for the guests with cameras clicking away. The pride was also seen feeding on a baby giraffe.
• Magician, a male leopard know well to the Kwando trackers and guides, appeared a few times.
• And the cats continued as another group of guests were lucky to pick up the spoor of the three cheetah brothers close to camp. They tracked the cheetah and caught up with them just before they hunted and killed a sub adult lechwe.!!
• And just to add to the excitement, the wild dog pack (12 dogs in total) were around camp for a few days. Many guests spent time with them.
• The Elephants were also in abundance all over the area, especially in and around camp!!!
• Even some buffalo bulls were seen.
• Birding was also great with all of the usual local species in abundance.
• The snakes have also started to be seen more regularly- not to everyone's delight!!
• General game was also great with all of the plains game species and most notable, the large eland herd.
• Both jackal species and the scavenging spotted hyena were also seen in the two weeks. Porcupine, honey badgers and mongoose were also reported.
• The frogs provided the background dinner music (well not so background!!), with the common platana frog added to the list of species above at Kwara.
Kwara & Little Kwara camps Jump
& Little Kwara camps
• No report this month.
• Nxai Pan had plenty of sightings if their resident pride which now comprises 2 males, 4 females and 2 cubs (8 months old). They were mostly sleeping, but at times became more active with 6 of the adults hunting zebra.
• In addition 2 male intruders were seen at the end of the month.
• Mid month a female leopard was soon hunting springbok.
• Cheetah were seen regularly – 2 relaxed males and then a solitary female who was seen hunting springbok.
• The statuesque white elephants continue to dwarf the landscape and there are nearly always some at the waterhole at camp.
• On the bird side there were good raptors sightings, including goshawks, Bustards, wattled cranes, Korhaans, eagles, harriers etc.
• General game was abundant – Nxai Pan at its best, with a lot of elephant bulls, giraffes, zebras, oryx, springboks, kudus, jackals, honey badgers and bat eared fox .
• The good news is that the 3 cubs are still well. The even better news is that guests were able to follow the lioness and her 3 little cubs to a bush where we were introduced to the lioness sister and her 2 cubs – estimated at only a week old!!!
• Guests, guides and trackers alike feasted on the sighting of the sisters and cousins. The cubs are still too small to even see.
• Two lionesses killed an Oryx early morning on Tau Pan, and the 2 males are seen regularly.
• Tau Pan is more than living up to its name!!!
• A leopard was sighted on the road towards Passarge waterhole. Leopard tracks were found one morning all over camp!!
• The cheetahs have offspring too. There is one female with two cubs, and she wasn't seen for a while so we were all worried. But this month she appeared again with the cubs. One group observed a kill of a springbok, which is always something special. To be able to see the incredible speed they are able to reach, cutting around corners like formula 1 cars, and all ending up in a bowl of dust.
• The wild dogs were also seen this month on Tau Pan and followed until they passed a cheetah with a kill and chased her off it. Cheetahs are fragile animals, and rather avoid any fights then take a risk of getting injured, which would almost certainly result in death.
• Elephant spoor was seen near Passarge Pan, but still no elephant sighting for Tau Pan!!
• A Black mamba was seen down on the pan.
• Birdlife was also exciting with eagles, lappet and white-faced vultures, bustards and secretary birds dotted along the horizon.
• Jackals are there in great numbers, and it is a pleasure to listen to them at night before you go to sleep.
• Loads of oryx, springboks, steenboks, red hartebeests, wildebeests, warthogs, giraffes, and the occasional bat eared fox.
• All in all, sightings have been excellent at all of the camps!!!
Mombo Camp update
- April 2011 Jump
to Mombo Camp
April is the month of transformation at Mombo - straddling the cusp between the wet and the dry seasons, the rains and the inundation from upriver in Angola. The rainfall starts to slacken off, albeit in a dramatic fashion, with clear sunny days interspersed with some spectacular thunderstorms. As the rainwater pans begin to dry up, the floodplains begin to fill, once again playing out the ageless rhythm of the Okavango's annual cycle. In the outlying woodland away from the floodplains, the grasses start to shrivel and turn brown; summer's rampant vegetation begins to die back, the baobabs start to lose their leaves. Temperatures are slowly becoming milder, with cool, fresh evenings and chillly mornings giving way to warm, sunny days.
The floodplain in front of Mombo Camp is full of water to a level we haven't seen since the camp was built - a truly amazing sight: a vast shimmering expanse of water, dotted with grazing buffalo, each with a Cattle Egret, like a white sentinel flag on its back. At night we sit at the dinner table under the stars and often hear the hippos chomping in the water below the deck.
The rising waters in the floodplains have pushed the game further into the drier woodland areas to the north and east of the concession, the numbers of which remain as abundant as ever, as our resident predators follow them closely.
The impala-rutting season is in full swing, with testosterone-charged rams chasing and battling each other constantly, to the disregard of everything around them. To this end, we have found several dead males, killed in the conflict for access to females. Predators also take advantage of them when they are in this state, as they pay no heed to any other danger.
Legadema, our famous leopard, has made a few appearances this month. Mid-afternoon one day, a ruckus chattering from the vervet monkeys in camp alerted us to her presence, and soon we saw her walking past Tent 5, headed for the dining area. She disappeared under the decking and wasn't seen again that day, although we all kept a sharp eye out for her while we walked around camp. For the next two weeks we had no sighting of her, and the guides all conjectured as to her whereabouts - we had seen Lebadi and Pula a few times, but where was Legadema?
Early one morning before dawn, she decided to make an appearance again. The 'wraith of Mombo' appeared, draped calmly across the walkway outside Tent 1 as Katie walked up to wake the sleeping guests. She slipped away into the darkness toward the bridge, and in the early light of sunrise, Cisco found her posing in the 2000-year-old Broken Baobab outside camp. A few hundred metres further down the road, we found the Mporota breakaway pride of lion, ten of them, lazing in the shade of a shepherd's tree - it was a great morning for big cats!
On an overcast day between drives, we went to see the leopard Pula, Legadema's daughter, who had stashed a kill in the fork of an acacia tree on Ostrich Feather Road. When we got there, we found the three male lion outcasts from the Mathatha Pride below the tree.
While Pula watched from high up in the branches, one of the lions was attempting to climb into the tree to steal the remains of the days-old kill. The lower branches were covered in dense woolly caper bush and would have been a challenge for Pula herself to climb past, let alone an almost fully-grown male lion.
Leopards have an advantage over lions in tree climbing - they have a locking wrist or anklebone. When lions climb, their ankles slide sideways under their body weight, making even turning around difficult - resulting in some rather awkward manoeuvres from these big cats.
While his two brothers dozed disinterestedly, one of the males persisted in trying to get to the carcass, some four metres off the ground. He wandered around the base of the tree, trying to find a way up, and even attempted to climb the jackalberry tree alongside, with comical results as he tumbled out after a metre or so. All the while, Pula watched with interest from high above, confident in her hiding place and the lion's inability to reach her.
Eventually he lost interest, and flopped down alongside his mates. As the day was cool and overcast, the temperature was low enough for them to continue hunting, which they shortly did, moving off into the woodlands in search of a meal.
Two hours later, while Brooks and his guests watched, Pula came down the tree, bathed in magnificent light, and regally made her way off into the bush, abandoning the remains of the impala in the tree.
The carcass of an old giraffe that had died provided a feast for a myriad predators and scavengers; as a multitude of vultures watched patiently from the trees, hyaenas arrived at the carcass first, and up to a dozen of them at times fed at once. Thereafter, the activity attracted a group of jackals, which are part of the lone wild dog's "pack" - the dog eventually also arrived to feed on the bounty of meat. After a day or so, the coalition of three young male lions from the Mporota Pride found the carcass and took it over, scattering the hyaenas but not deterring the fearless little jackals. The wild dog had a bit of a frustrating time of it, however, as the jackals had sated themselves on giraffe meat and weren't too keen to accompany her on her usual hunting forays.
The Mporota Pride still dominates the western areas of the concession, but due to the floodplains being inundated, they have moved further into the woodlands near the Vultures' Baobab area. Often the pride is split, as the four females guarding the three growing cubs lag behind the main pride. To see them when they all meet up again is a wonderful sight: twenty-five lions engaged in their greeting of low growls and head rubbing as they reinforce their social bonds.
A few rhino sightings have been recorded this month - for guests willing to make the long haul into the rhino area, with the risk of not finding them, their persistence has been rewarded, sometimes with sightings of up to four of these magnificent prehistoric animals. An unusual sighting was of Mmabontsho, a female black rhino, in the company of three white rhino.
The upcoming season promises to be an interesting one as only the Okavango can produce; where everything changes, yet always remains the same. The waters inundating the region will create some interesting dynamics - where will the Western Pride be able to eke out a living in their much-reduced territory remains to be seen, as well as the three lioness 'Swamp Cats,' then there are the two prides which haven't been seen this month... all questions we hope to answer in the coming weeks.
Guides in camp for April were Cisco, Moss, Francis, Doc Malinga and Sefo. A special congratulation to Tshepo, who has recently returned from his wedding!
Managers in camp for April were Graham at Little Mombo, Vasco, Claire, Katie, Kirsty and Ryan at Main Camp, with Marko overseeing the kitchens, Kessy at the curio shop, and Bingi as our roving masseuse.
Pictures by Ryan Green
Xigera Camp update
- April 2011 Jump
to Xigera Camp
Chitabe Camp update
- April 2011 Jump
to Chitabe Camp
Weather and Landscape
After the first week in April, it seemed like Mother Nature took a deep breath in taking away the summer warmth and exhaled the crisp, clean air of the oncoming winter. Mornings are getting a bit cooler and so all guests and staff have traded in their shorts and short sleeved shirts in the early mornings for some long pants and jackets. It won't be too much longer before we are clad in beanies, gloves and scarves for the early mornings.
The crisp cool air also transforms the shallow water-filled floodplains in the early mornings, draping them in a low cloud of mist, which is quickly burned off by the sun within an hour or so. We've moved our wake-up time 30 minutes later as the days are beginning to become shorter and nights are holding onto a few more hours. We've also moved high tea 30 minutes earlier so that the game drives can maximise the daylight hours on drive.
Wildlife sightings have been amazing as always! Large breeding herds of elephant have moved back into our area along with large numbers of giraffe, both with some young additions to their families.
We suspect that the Chitabe wild dog are spending their last few days with us, as we expect them to find a den soon, following the seven-month gestation of the females. We are keeping fingers crossed that they find a suitable den site away from any potential dangers and have a healthy abundant litter of pups. We'll keep you posted on their activity.
The lion activity around Chitabe Camp has been great, with the pride youngster doing well and picking up learned behaviour quickly holding them in good stead for the future. Two young male lions have moved into the area but have managed to avoid a direct confrontation with the dominant male... for now.
As a direct result of the increased lion activity, the leopard have become more elusive so as to avoid any confrontations with their larger cousins. We have noticed two new additions to the Chitabe leopard population and are trying to document their pixel counts (the small spots above the whiskers), which are used in identifying individual animals.
Birds and Birding
In between the encounters with large animals and game, we have been treated to some solid birding activity. The Meyer's Parrots have returned once again adding to the ever expansive bird life we so enjoy here.
Along with this there have been sightings of up to 20 Wattled Crane in a single location. This really is an outstanding sighting as Wattled Cranes are endangered and are the most wetland-dependent of Africa's cranes. An aerial survey over the entire Okavango Delta was carried out in 2002 and it was estimated that there were only approximately 1 200 Wattled Cranes in the area.
"Too many highlights to mention! Great job guys." Mike (USA)
"Staff A +, what defines a safari camp more than aesthetics, cuisine or even wildlife are the people who share it with you and Chitabe's staff are exceptional." Van Biljon (South Africa)
Staff in Camp
Chitabe Managers: Trevor, Lieana, Gwendolyn.
Chitabe Lediba managers: Tumi and Jack.
Guides: Anthony, BB, Gordon, Luke, and Thuso
Vumbura Plains Camp update
- April 2011 Jump
to Vumbura Plains Camp
Weather and Landscape
The rainy season has finally come to an end. We had another big downpour of about 25mm in the last week of April, but not a single drop since. The past month has brought an average amount of rain, close to 200mm over four weeks. That, coupled with the annual inundation, has brought the water level up by about 20cm (7.8 inches). This by itself doesn't sound like much, but looking at the size of the area that is affected by this natural phenomenon, roughly 75000 square km, one can only imagine the amounts of water that is needed to do that. Considering the fact that within a 300km north/south line straight through the Delta, there is about 100m of elevation, the effect on the environment is obvious. What used to be shallow lagoons are now deep lakes, what used to be sandy roads are now flowing rivers.
In short, where we have been driving on dry land, we now boat or mokoro, adding another dimension to the Vumbura Plains experience.
With the water in front of camp rising visibly every day, Vumbura Plains gets more interesting by the hour. The red lechwe graze in the water just in front of camp, the resident male hippo shows his face in the afternoon light, and the African Jacana, also called the "Jesus bird", steps from one lily pad to the other, looking like he actually walks on the water.
Through offering game drives, mekoro, and boat cruises, we make sure that our guests get to experience as much of the diversity that Vumbura Plains has to offer. On the mokoro you go out looking for the small, yet interesting wonders. Angolan reed frogs, water lilies and papyrus keep you busy, while learning about the traditional ways of the local people. The power boat takes you deeper into the heart of the Okavango Delta - deep channels full of crystal-clear water teeming with tigerfish, crocodiles and hippo as well as a plethora of other animals adapting to an aquatic lifestyle are encountered.
The Vumbura lion pride hasn't disappointed, showing off its cubs on a regular basis. It is always amazing to watch the social interactions and dynamics of a pride as well as to get some insight to the instinctive behaviour of the cubs. The female leopard that lives close to camp has allowed us the privilege to see her three-month-old cubs a number of times, and even the two elusive cheetah brothers have made an appearance on occasion.
Although the felids have a strong presence, we have been able to follow our pack of wild dogs quite often, mostly encountering them when they go hunting in the late afternoon. Our guests got to experience the pack stalking impala under the cover of darkness on a number of occasions.
The general game has been amazing this month. With the increased flow of water, it has been interesting to watch the animals adapt to a more aquatic lifestyle demonstrating the great resilience of African wildlife.
Journeys of giraffe, elephant herds nursing their young, and the rare sable antelope are highlights in anyone's stay at Vumbura Plains.
Birds and Birding
With the increase of the water level comes an increase of bird life in the area, which keeps things in balance as the summer migrants have started to head for warmer conditions. Vumbura Plains has become inundated with water birds and offers some great birding activity.
Vumbura Plains North Camp has undergone a small make-over for the past six months and reopened in mid-April. The camp has a new look, but we have managed to keep the atmosphere of the wide open floodplains into the main area, as well as the rooms. Our guests can now enjoy the spaciousness and privacy in their individual tents, though the culturally styled and relaxing main area tempts one to lounge around right here and watch nature unfold all around.
Little Vumbura Camp update
- April 2011 Jump
to Little Vumbura Camp
Duba Plains Camp update
- April 2011 Jump
to Duba Plains Camp
Banoka Bush Camp update
- April 2011
Jacana Camp update
- April 2011 Jump
to Jacana Camp
The subtle changes in the daily temperatures signal the start of autumn in the Delta with average temperatures ranging in the mid-20s (degrees Celsius). The nights were clear except for a few at the end of the month, where we had some thunder showers and possibly the last rain for the season.
At night in the southern skies, Orion the hunter is disappearing under the horizon to make place for the winter constellation Scorpio to fill the evening sky. Castor and Pollux, the twins shine bright in their part of the zodiac.
The annual Okavango inundation is here and in all the magnanimity imaginable. With the level still rising it will be interesting to see just how high it will go this year.
The changes in temperature and the level of the water bring about their own compliment of behavioural changes in the animals of the Delta, none more obvious than that of the elephant and lion in the area. Elephant start their annual return journey to the Delta to their rich feeding grounds on the untouched islands in the swamps and lions brave the water in search of their prey: A behaviour that is as unique as the ecosystem where they fight for survival.
The past month has seen the arrival of six little lion cubs into the Jao lion pride; it is not yet known how many males or females there are. This has been the focus of late and the young ones have entertained guests for hours with their antics.
Hippo abound and make for good sightings on the water coupled with the regular sightings of swimming elephant at sunset, which provide many happy stories around the camp fire. Three good leopard sightings at Hunda Island shed some light on the beauty of these elusive animals and also created some great photographic opportunities for our guests.
Fishing has become much of a traditional outing at Jacana Camp with the fast-flowing main channels providing some of the best tiger-fishing in the Delta. Also on offer are the nembwe, large-mouth thin face and of course catfish. Cat-fishing is also a great pre-dinner activity here with many great fish taken right off the camp deck.
Birding and Mokoro
It has been a month of epic birding at Jacana! All the bird books have been taken out and dusted off as some of our visitors had come to further their count with the specials of the Delta. Sightings of note this month were Western Banded Snake Eagle, African Marsh Harrier, Pel's Fishing-Owl, Wattled Crane, Pygmy Goose, Brown and Red-billed Firefinch, Rosy-throated Longclaw and Swamp Boubou.
An afternoon mokoro trip will unlock splendours that are so often passed by, like the swaying lilies in the slow flow of water and the magnificent doubled world of reflections as a cold sundowner is enjoyed under the branches of an ancient baobab tree.
"Absolutely stunned by beautiful camp, perfect service and brilliant guides. Everything just perfect. Thank you." Gianni and Ursula (Italy).
"Wonderful, different spot! Great game viewing. Wonderful staff and hosts! Joseph was a great guide." Jerry and Sylvia (USA)
"This place is beyond all expectations!" James (USA)
"Amazing - thrilling - excellent food & great sunrises!" Yvonne and Ronald (Switzerland)
"Superb camp with outstanding service. Danielle, Pieter, Joseph, Ottis, Sox, Nicky, Gladys are all top notch hosts with great personal attention. Thanks." Alex and Jan (UK)
Managers: Pieter Ras and Danielle van den Berg
Guides: Joseph Basenyeng and Bafana Nyame
Abu Camp update
- April 2011 Jump
to Abu Camp
Our first safari after our reopening launch was a huge success with a full camp of guests loving the rebuild and even more importantly fully embracing the life-changing elephant experience for which Abu Camp is renowned.
Opulent new Abu Camp Launched
The stunning new Abu Camp accommodation is the epitome of seclusion and indulgence. Made up of six beautiful decked Bedouin-style structures, each private villa is fitted with distinctive furnishings, exuding an air of opulence. Outdoor living space has also been extended with private decks overlooking the lagoon. During the day guests can enjoy an insightful elephant experience with the Abu elephant herd, many of whom have been rescued from captivity, abandonment or injury, with the definitive aim to rehabilitate and where possible re-release into the wild. An extensive new camp library is the perfect place to relax and guests can also sleep in a one-of-a-kind 'star bed' in the elephant boma listening to the rumblings of the elephant herd below.
Guest Experience and Wildlife News
We were thrilled that guests used the elephant boma star bed for the first time to great acclaim. Our pioneering honeymoon couple insisted that it was 'the best way to start married life' when they slept out on their second night. In fact their rave reviews almost had us making up bed rolls to fit all the other guests up there the following night.
Another highlight of the safari was the bush dinner that guests are treated to the night before they leave. The camp staff had set up the most immaculate table and served a sumptuous fillet steak. It was all so fantastic that nothing more could have been asked for - although with Abu being Abu more was on offer and while we sat around the fire we were serenaded by hippo grunting in the nearby lagoon and lions roaring in the distance. A short night drive back to camp revealed Africa at her finest with nocturnal sightings of genets, African wild cat and our resident leopard who revealed himself after being heard for the two previous nights.
New Camp Staff
A strong new management team has been brought into the fold. Both the General Manager, Sarah Humble, and the Front of House Manager, Emma Knott, bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. Assistant Manager Takesure Masuka has been an invaluable contributor as well.
The multi-talented Sarah is a registered nurse and cordon bleu chef and has been living and working in the Okavango since 1999 when she became general manager of a horse-back safari operation. There's nothing that Sarah won't put her hand to or deal with.
Sarah recruited Front of House Manager Emma from the UK at the beginning of 2011 where she had previously been working in marketing for the safari industry. Having worked with exclusive clients her insight into guest expectations is second to none. Working front of house, she will ensure that guests receive everything that they need or want, and she strongly believes that there is nothing that can't be arranged.
It is also safe to say that the opening of Abu Camp could not have run so smoothly without the help of Assistant Manager, Takesure Masuka, who has been with Abu Camp for four years following five years at Jack's Camp in the Makgadikgadi Pans. His wealth of experience, attention to detail and easy smile guarantee that behind the scenes no stone is left unturned.
Here's to Abu Camp and her future successes!
update - April 2011 Jump
to Kwetsani Camp
Weather and Water Levels
The seasonal transition has begun with the winds blowing in change from summer to winter. Day length is shorter, and temperatures are a little cooler, forcing out the light jackets on drives. Daytime temperatures are still wonderful and warm however.
April has also seen the annual Okavango Delta inundation begin. This is described as a gradual inundation rather than a flood in the true sense and critical in the annual Okavango Delta cycle. It is a wonderful time to visit!
On the 1st April a large porcupine scuttled under the deck towards the swimming pool, rattling his quills - this was really great to see, and a first for all our guests. Then later on in the month, we watched a hyaena sneak up on the porcupine, but as soon as the porcupine got wind of the hyaena, he displayed a magnificent array of quills and sent the hyaena scurrying off.
On the 2nd, we were pleasantly surprised by a lion pride enjoying the afternoon sun at the boat station. The male reappeared in camp two days later without the females, roaring very loudly to make his presence known. Two days later, the females were back at Kwetsani Camp. The guests were in for a real treat, as the lions launched a failed attempt to catch a lechwe right in front of camp. However, two days after this attempt vultures and Marabou Storks were seen flying north-west of Kwetsani Camp, so we believe they were then successful.
A trip to Hunda Island provided the guests with some incredible leopard sightings and interactions. MT, a guide at Kwetsani Camp, went out of his way to give the Botswana wildlife experience to a lone traveller who had just finished the South African Iron Man competition and had not had much game sightings at his previous camp. The day landed up being the best African experience he had ever had, and his desire to see leopard completely fulfilled, with the opportunity to watch two leopards for the best part of the day.
Elephant walking along the edge of the camp was an exciting experience for all the guests, getting their adrenalin going. What can be better than sitting down for breakfast or brunch and watching elephant sauntering past on the Kwetsani floodplains - it was surreal!
A hyaena arrived in camp one night and had many a failed hunt that night. Come morning, four elephant bulls had enough of this disturbance and chased the hyaena off the island. This hyaena proved to be persistent though and returned to the island a couple of days later with a partner.
On the smaller side of the scale, a highlight for us at Kwetsani Camp was a sighting of two water (marsh) mongoose - this was the first time that they have been seen on the island, probably due to their shy nature and preferred swamp habitat.
A huge pink blindworm also surfaced, but because it did so, we realised that there must have been something wrong with it. As we suspected, it did die a few days later. But seeing such a large blindworm was an unusual sighting - and of interest to all the worm enthusiasts.
Visiting honeymooners opened the month of April at Kwetsani Camp - two couples having got married on the same day, just at different locations! We are expecting more honeymoon couples this season - love really seems to be in the air at Kwetsani.
The cry of the African Fish-Eagle remains one of the best sounds in Africa - a common species here. Other bird life around include the African Green Pigeon building its nest, and the Woodland Kingfisher often seen with a large insect in its beak. The Barn Owl has been monotonously calling for a mate every evening. The screech of Meyer's Parrot often overwhelms the other bird sounds. Babblers 'babble', the Go-away Birds tell us to 'go away', and the francolins' raucous vocalisations all makes for the most awesome natural orchestra.
"Elephant outside our room, as well as the baboons, monkeys, impala and bushbuck. The Mokoro trip was so special! Seeing leopard every day. We don't want to leave! Florence is an incredible guide and inspiration. Our romantic dinner and room décor was amazing. More highlights - all staff was helpful, gracious and great company. Love the water, the hippo, giraffe and birds. Thank you! We can't wait to come back!" Jan and Carol - USA
"Wonderful service, hospitality and rooms. Beautiful view and excellent guide - MT. MT did very well to show us the wilderness and to educate us. He is always cheerful and enjoys his job. Thank you MT! "Mark and Kirsty - South Africa
"Hospitality was wonderful. We appreciate Dan's pointers on photography - I think it's already made a difference. Basket weaving demonstration by the ladies was a special treat, thank you. We enjoyed our game drives, especially just sitting and watching the animals. Highlight was watching the young male elephants challenging each other." Linda, Sam and Lauren
Relief Managers: Dan and Charmaine Myburg
Guides: MT Malebogo, Florance Kagiso, Ronald Gaopalelwe
update - April 2011 Jump
to Jao Camp
Weather and Landscape
Winter is rolling in at a rapid rate throughout the Delta, a weather change that brings beautiful developments on our island paradise. There is a definite chill in the air making the morning coffee at early breakfast all the more enjoyable. The days are however still warm and a relaxing lounge by the pool or in a hammock is a great way to spend the afternoon. Amazing thunder showers are experienced some afternoons; this spectacular display of nature's tremendous power is a definite treat. Now that the annual inundation of water is unquestionably here the wildlife activity is most certainly on the increase.
A new season is upon us and with this, many new additions to our Jao family.
This past month the Jao family has extended with a bouncy bundle of adorable lion cubs. Our guests have had the honour of viewing these charming, energetic and quick-witted little cats who, as juveniles do, just want to play as mother lioness tries her best to keep a watchful eye over them. Our very own lion pride has regularly been spotted, hanging around at the airstrip, playing in the shallow pools of water. Quite a sighting to see the whole family out for a walk along the airstrip wall!
This month saw the birth of a whole batch of baby banded mongoose! They are seen all over camp learning the tricks of the trade, squirrelling around after their mothers and being taught how to look for food. There are quite a number of them that have joined the family and their presence is very entertaining. Watching the little ones exploring their new environment is great: sticking close to their mother for protection yet venturing into their surroundings from time to time in a burst of bravery. The babies have developed quite rapidly in a matter of days, going from suckling to stealing little morsels of food found on the ground. Watch this space to see how our babies develop and adapt to their new home right here at Jao Camp.
The impala have definitely been put to the test, as a spotted hyaena which has made our spa its second home has been seen with impala kills on numerous occasions. A number of opportunistic hyaena have become regulars at Monday's Boma night. As night falls one can hear them chatting and laughing away and their presence is definitely felt through the day and night, one particular female has found her resting place right between the rooms and can often be seen taking a nap during the day in the shade of the surrounding trees.
It's been overwhelming to wake up in the company of such majestic creatures as the elephant. Breakfasts have been delayed numerous times as elephant have been seen snoozing outside guest rooms. These graceful animals are so entertaining to watch. The intricate skill of harvesting kilogrammes of leaves from the highest branches, basking in the Okavango sun and splish-slashing in clear Okavango Delta water or just fooling around with their young, the Jao elephant have been seen at their best in true paradise.
There is never a dull birding moment at Jao! As the water rises around the camp we have had Pel's Fishing Owl in and around camp more regularly, pairs of Egyptian Geese, White-faced Duck, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Black Coucal - the list is endless. Any birder could get lost wondering around the balustrades of Jao Camp. A Fish Eagle was seen flying off with a monitor lizard in its beak.
With the new season and the rising water levels, there are many, many new additions to the bird life in the area, all around camp one can see little goslings keeping close to their mother whilst swimming around between the water lilies.
The mighty Martial Eagle is swooping and lurking around the rooms this month; it seems to have taken a liking to one of the trees in the area.
"The best lodge in Southern Africa! Many thanks for an amazing visit." Lucy and Jo (Kenya)
"Great Viewing, Great Place, Great People - Yeah Botswana!" Sally and John (USA)
"Third time here and never disappointed! Thanks to all here, we appreciate everything." Herbert (USA)
Management: Andrew Gaylord, Lauren Griffiths, Ipeleng Pheto, Minette Wallis, Billy Mckechnie, Ollie Olepeng
Guides: Maipaa Tekanyetso, Marks Kehaletshe, Cedric Samotanzi
update - April 2011 Jump
to Seba Camp
Tubu Tree Camp
update - April 2011 Jump
to Tubu Tree Camp
Kalahari Plains Camp
update - April 2011 Jump
to Kalahari Plains Camp
to Page 2