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GovernorPhil

Botswana (Okavango Delta, Savute Channel) in June 2004

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GovernorPhil


We started with 3 nights at Nxabega. This is billed as a water camp; however most of our time was actually spent on drives, although we did drive through deep water fairly regularly - no problems. Nxabega is a tented camp - tents on platforms around the water's edge. We enjoyed this camp very much. The tents are nicely furnished and well-spaced so you have a great feeling of being in the wilderness. Elephant and Hippo wandered through and splashed around in the water near the tents most nights and the elephants often blocked the path to the lodge in the day.

The highlights are the staff there - they work so hard to learn everyone's name and then remember who we all are. They were very friendly and we had lots of laughs and jokes with them, while receiving some of the best service we've ever had. Food was very good - probably the best of the three camps.

All drives were with guide and tracker and, to add to the debate a few months ago, I think this makes a huge difference. Between them the guide and tracker seem to spot so much more than if there's only a guide who also has to concentrate on driving.

Game viewing was good - regular sightings of lion, elephants, zebra and giraffe. Also saw 2 honey-badgers and 3 bush babies.

Night drives were exciting - particularly when 5 lionesses walked around the jeep - somehow they are so much more threatening in the dark. They were on the hunt and we followed them for a while but eventually left them to it. Next day we discovered them half way through a giraffe carcass - often climbing inside it to get to the best bits.

Birding was very good and always made the drives interesting, even in the patches where there wasn't much game around. I would encourage anyone going on safari to take some interest in this aspect - that way there's always something new to see and to watch out for.

I forgot to mention the real highlight of Nxabega; my favourite breakfast at 6.30am, hot porridge with cream, honey and a splash of Famous Grouse Whisky - wonderful internal central heating for the cold morning drives.

Next 3 nights was at Savute camp - this is a Desert and Delta not a CCAfrica lodge. The couple managing the lodge, Tammy and Rob, were delightful and very attentive. The rooms are very spacious and well fitted, much more like hotel rooms than the usual safari accommodation. All have large balconies and, thanks to the advice from recent visitors, we secured room 3 which overlooked the waterholes.

Drives were with 1 guide only, no tracker. My opinion - the guiding was of a poorer standard than either of the CCAfrica camps - partly I think because they didn't have the personality and perhaps not as much experience either.

Nevertheless we saw a lot of game. Definitely a lodge for elephant - they come to the waterholes in a continuous stream throughout the day. Also saw a few wildebeest, giraffe, very few zebras, flocks of 25 - 30 ostrich, many jackals, a Klipspringer - one of only 2 known to be in the region so very exciting.

The high-spot has to be the large pride of lions - a mean looking male, 5 females and 12 cubs of varying ages from 3 - 8 months. We saw them 2 days running, one day sauntering along the road in front of us - we followed them for about an hour and were the only jeep in the vicinity. One very excited cub had caught a mouse all by himself and was proudly showing it off for everyone to see. The next day the cubs had been left sleeping and playing under a bush; unfortunately this showed the difference between being at Savute, which is inside the park boundary, versus the other two camps which are on private concessions. We shared this particular viewing with 5 or 6 other vehicles so didn't stay long.

Overall we enjoyed Savute, but it was the larger of the three camps, a bit more impersonal than the others with slightly less experienced guiding and slightly busier with several vehicles being sighted each drive.

Last camp was Sandibe, our favourite of the three, but only just better than Nxabega, mainly because of the fun we had with our driver and guide.

Accommodation is in rondavels, well fitted and with a great out-door shower. The private platform in front of each rondavel was a real plus; secluded, peaceful and with wonderful views across vast expanses of reeds and water.

The staff were as lovely as the ones at Nxabega and, a great idea, your butler (the individual who is always on hand whatever you want, serves you at each meal, gets your drinks etc etc) will accompany you on at least one game drive, a great way of allowing the camp staff to mix more freely with the guests.

Food was excellent again and the evening meal is around 1 large table outside with lots of fires etc to keep us warm. Also every guest is given a “Sandibe baby” to take to bed. This worried us when first mentioned, but turned out to be a hot-water bottle with thick white quilt cover that was handed to you as you made your way to bed each evening - very welcome.

Game was very exciting. We saw a large (300+) herd of buffalo, and many lion again, including being taken by surprise by a very large and very aggressive male lion as we started our night drive. We came across him about 100yds from where we had just stopped for our sun-downers and it’s the only time I’ve seen a lion actually snarl, growl and make out to have a go at the vehicle; certainly made the heart race a lot faster than normal. We left him to it as our tracker was sat on the front of the jeep, too exposed to taken any risk. The lion sat down as we drove off and roared and roared at us. Retreat was definitely the right strategy.

Also saw a large male hippo that seemed to have been expelled by the others in his pool. Mid morning he was 100 yards away from the water and seemed to be off on a hike of his own looking for a new home. Our guide was very excited as it was the first time he had seen a hippo out of the water for so long in broad daylight - very unusual.

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A&M

Great report,glad you had a great time in Botswana,it is such a fantastic game rich country.

 

Like they say,' no photos' ,it did not happen . ;)

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Jochen

Yup, here's another call for pics, Phil.

Would love to see that mean male with all the cubs in his pride.

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GovernorPhil

Jochen - still trying to figure out how to post good sized pics that don't use too many Mb!

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Game Warden

Phil if you upload a pic that is too big for ST, the software resizes and reduces the resolution so it won't take up too much room. But as a guide, best practice is 1000 pix Max width or height, otherwise images can become soft and look a bit compressed. Do feel free to open your own albums in the galleries, I know there will be a lot of interest. And if you hit any snags, feel free to PM me for help.

 

Matt

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GovernorPhil

Thanks GW. I've posted 10 bird photos in my gallery to see how they appear. Seem OK, but I'd appreciate any technical advice from you (or others).

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Game Warden

Governor - have a read of this topic and try test posting some pics from your album into it. Matt

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This topic is quite old. Unless updating a photographic thread with new images, please consider starting a new discussion. Thank you.

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