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Lions and Dogs and Baboons, oh my: Botswana February 2013 Trip Report


SafariChick

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graceland

The interior of the tent is lovely. I remember a manager telling us that Wilderness has been wanting to do a bit of "spiffing" up to Mombo (and maybe LM, not sure) but they are so booked they haven't the time. Looked good to me! I love the outdoor space overlooking the grasses ~ I found that to be a peaceful time between safaris to just watch.

 

Looking forward to more. I love flower and tree shots as much as game. Everything out in the bush is vibrant.

 

Good job with the pic postings. I remember the agony of trying to accomplish my own, and here you just ease on through :)

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Thanks, @@graceland   The next day was our last full day at Lagoon, another beautiful sunny day as all the days had been for me at Lagoon. I am trying to remember if this was the day that we had a

The next morning it was not raining and there was a pretty sunrise through white clouds.   P1110370   P1110371   P1110372   P1110374   I learned that no new guests were arriving that da

We soon met up with my guide-to-be, Russell Crossey. He was a charming, well-spoken and very knowledgeable South African who had been guiding for many years in Bots, and seemed to consider Bots his ho

SafariChick

At tea, it was still pretty hot out and Russell had asked if we (still just me and the English couple) would be interested in hearing a talk about the history of Botswana, its geography and political/social history. We could come down to tea a bit early and have tea while we listened to the talk and start our drive a bit later. We all said “sure.” The talk was fascinating. Some things I knew, like about Seretse Khama and his white English wife and all the controversy that caused. Some things I knew a little about but he filled in gaps, like the geography of the area, the Kalahari, the floods - very interesting and well done. He has a degree in wildlife management but this went way beyond that. We all told him he could be a professor if he ever wants to give up guiding!

As we were getting ready to leave for afternoon drive, we learned that the lions who we’d seen that morning were still hanging out at camp about 30 feet from the manager's home, and she had not been able to get back into her house all day! There was a plan for while we were out for she and a couple of guides to try to shoo them away. I said maybe we should stay to watch, but that wouldn’t have been approved just in case the lions got upset - they wouldn’t want to put the guests into any danger. So off we went, not knowing what we’d find when we returned!

Our drive started out with some general game and birds. I enjoyed these Marabou Stork:

 

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and this Lilac-Breasted Roller - which I found out is the national bird of Botswana. I think they're so beautiful:

 

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As we continued on, we came across a very entertaining troop of baboons - there was one baby that was still red and partially hairless - Russell said it was only about one-day old! We watched it trying to climb up things, being very wobbly and falling but trying again. A slightly older youngster alternated trying to help the baby with pouncing on the baby in play. This one was very rambunctious and got chastised several times by what seemed to be his aunties, though at one point his Mom got mad about this and objected loudly, picking him up. We watched them for a long time and it was great fun!

 

The baby is so little, in this one you might miss him (or her?) - in this one he's on the middle vertical branch facing downwards, flanked by older baboons on either side:

 

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and here are a couple of short videos (they are a little shaky at first but get better as it goes on - and I asked youtube to stabilize them so hopefully that will help)

 

 

 

 

We then heard on the radio that a third pride of lions we’d not yet seen had been located by another guide. This was the western pride, the one which included another famous and unique resident of Mombo that I’d been hoping to see - the maned lioness! And the pride also had two 3-month-old cubs and they were eating a zebra kill. Well of course we decided to head there right away! It was already about 5:45 pm since we’d started our drive a bit late, and one must be back at camp by 7 so we’d have to hurry. As we started on our way, we noticed some big black clouds had gathered and surmised it was probably going to rain. As we drove, some big raindrops started falling. After a few minutes, we decided we ought to put on the ponchos that are always carried on the vehicles. So Russell stopped the truck, got out and went around to the back to get the ponchos that were stored back there. When he came back to the front, he was looking at his pinky finger and rubbing it. Turns out, he’d fallen into a hole on the way to the back of the truck (very quietly!) and hurt his pinky finger bracing himself from the fall. He thought it was sprained, and it was bleeding a bit, but this would not deter him from our mission!

We all quickly put on the ponchos as the rain was picking up, and tried to protect our camera gear as best as possible. He started driving again and within five minutes, the skies opened up into a deluge. This was now a torrential downpour with impressive thunder and lightening. It was now about 6 pm and the wind was driving the rain sideways into the vehicles. Our bottoms, which were not adequately covered by the ponchos, were getting soaked, and the rain was pelting our faces. I don’t know how Russell was managing to continue to drive! At this point, we decided we had to just head back to camp before the roads got flooded and deteriorated. The drive back was quite an adventure (I think it took about 30-40 minutes). I was just trying to hold my backpack with cameras in it under my poncho (I’d forgotten my dry bag and this ended up being the one day I really could have used it!) and trying to keep the poncho tucked around me and my head down to avoid the stinging rain on my face.

We were quite glad when we finally made it back to camp! A helicopter pilot who was spending the night at camp ran out to help us with umbrellas. As I gathered up my stuff and got out, he pointed to the seat next to me and said “Are those your binoculars?” I said “Oh no, mine are safely in my backpack” - he said well what are these? Of course, they were my binoculars. I must have only had the case in my backpack and the binocs were soaked! Luckily, they are waterproof and they were fine. We all ran into the main lodge to regroup and learned that lightening had hit a transformer (? I don't know anything about electricity but my husband says that's what would have done it) at the main camp structure where we ate our meals, and all the electricity there was out! However, the tent/bedrooms were run on a separate solar-powered generator so lights were still working in there.

We all went back to our rooms to have a hot shower, dry off and put on dry clothes. The housekeeping staff had come in and closed the rain flaps to prevent the room from getting soaked (the tents have screened walls for airflow) but the bathroom window didn't have a rain flap and the toilet paper and floor had gotten soaked! However, that was the only problem and was easily remedied, and I was impressed that they'd already come in to close everything up. We all went back to the main area for dinner, which was had by candlelight! At dinner we learned that the lions had been chased off enough with a combination of a vehicle and a guide making noises for the manager to get back into her home. But they were still hanging around camp, this time under Russell’s house! We all went to bed tired but exhilarated from another exciting day on safari.


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You might like to read Colour Bar by Susan Williams. It is about Seretse Khama starting at age 24, student, husband of an English woman, exile in England, return to Botswana, and independence.

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SafariChick

Thanks, marg, maybe I will check that book out.

 

I forgot to mention, after we were watching the baboons and before the rainstorm, we noticed some elephants and two of the males were fighting a bit. They would come together then back off. The funny part was that a bunch of the baboons wandered over and were sitting in the tall grass watching and eating grass seeds. It looked exactly like they were at the movies watching the show while eating popcorn!

 

The next morning, we learned the lions at camp were still there near Russell's 'house' - he thought they'd slept under his house all night! They were near the road when we went out again - started getting used to them as being the camp pets! One of the first things we spotted was an African wildcat running into a bush! Much too quick for a photo, but exciting nonetheless as I'd never seen one.

 

We spotted many birds, such as Emerald spotted dove, Kingfishers, Yellow-billed storks, and also some Zebra & wildebeest, and a Kori bustard, which is said to be the heaviest bird capable of flight.

 

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Kori Bustard

 

We kept hearing hippos either fighting or mating but the sound kept fooling us, it was hard to tell where it was coming from and we drove around to various areas to check but never could find them. We passed some wattled crane, which Russell said were rare but then I kept seeing them throughout the Delta!

 

At last we got to what we were looking for, the place we'd been headed the prior afternoon when we were stopped by the downpour: Western pride, consisting of two males, two females, two cubs, and Mmamoriri, the maned lioness. They were still with their zebra kill. They had already eaten a lot and seemed full & sleepy - some were resting their heads on the carcass, and one male was playing with it or chewing its ear. The cubs were small, only about three months old and very cute. You can see Mmamohiri on your far right in the first photo

 

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and you can see her in this video as well:

 

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SafariChick

As we continued on our morning drive, we came upon a lovely leopard posing for us in a tree. The light wasn't ideal (it was a cool, cloudy morning) but I did the best I could with photos. It turns out that this was Pula (which means rain, and is also the name for the currency in Botswana - and is what is said when people toast each other) and she was famous because her mother is the renowned Legadema.

 

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P1100529 by marinarorysmom, on Flickr

 

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P1100535 by marinarorysmom, on Flickr

 

We watched her for a while but she wasn't going to do anything more interesting than lying there and being lovely, so we decided to move on. The rest of the morning's drive was pleasant. We found a nice place to stop for coffee and, as Russell was getting the supplies out of the vehicle, the man of the couple that was sharing the vehicle with me was looking around with his binoculars. He said "Um Russell, isn't that some lions over there?" Sure enough, it was one of the other lion prides (I unhelpfully called it the "M pride" in my notes -- both the other prides start with the letter "M") but not all of them - it was five of the lionesses with some zebra nearby. Most of the lionesses were sleeping or lazing about, but one was looking interested in the zebra, I thought. Russell said the zebra could outrun the so lions wouldn't try. We got back into the car and got a bit closer to observe them and decided we'd best find a different spot for coffee!

After our coffee, we saw another wildcat - again a quick sighting, but funny that I'd never seen one and then saw a second one in the same day!

There was a solo male elephant on the track on way back to camp and no way around him. We tried turning off our motor as he seemed unhappy. He seemed less upset once we turned it off, but he still didn't move so finally we turned the motor back on and started slowly driving and he moved off unhappily. I felt really bad when we soon ended up having to turn around and double back the same way as the road we were trying to take was flooded from the previous night's rain, but Mr. Elephant was still off the road at that point.

 

When we set out for our afternoon drive, those two lionesses were STILL at camp near Russel's house. He said that the ladies refused to clean his house that day, they were afraid to enter the house apparently.

We came across a giraffe lying down, which Russell said was unusual unless they felt very relaxed - which they shouldn't with so many lions around. Then up walked its baby and we noticed that with the mother lying down, and the baby standing up, the mother's head and the baby's head were at exactly the same level. They were very sweet together, licking each other on the face and nuzzling each other.

 

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P1100549 by marinarorysmom, on Flickr

 

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P1100545 by marinarorysmom, on Flickr

 

We carried on and saw a confrontation between two herds of elephant, Another Kori bustard and, unbelievably, yet another African wildcat - the third one of the day!

We next went back to the place we'd seen the lions when we meant to be having coffee, and found them in the same spot lolling about.

 

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P1100553 by marinarorysmom, on Flickr

 

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P1100554 by marinarorysmom, on Flickr

 

We were calmly observing them, when all of a sudden, some motion caught our eye - who came running up almost right into the lions but the lone wild dog, with a jackal in tow! It looked like she might have been hunting and just ran into the wrong place at the wrong time! Some in our party actually heard a sound from her when she saw the lions, like a gasp, and she immediately changed course and ran like crazy in a different direction. The lions saw her and one started to get up into a stalking position but she never really got up, just stayed about halfway up for a minute, then lay back down. The dog and jackal had gotten away - phew, that was a close call! We wondered how many similarly close calls this dog had survived? We tried to follow the dog, but she got out of our sight when our vehicle got stuck momentarily.

Once we got out Russell said we couldn't drive on what she ran through, it was too marshy, so we went around and drove alongside what we supposed to be her route. When we caught up with her, she was lying down resting and trying to catch her breath. We found she had six jackals nearby now.

 

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P1100557 by marinarorysmom, on Flickr

 

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P1100558 by marinarorysmom, on Flickr

 

She got up a couple of times, at one point rolling on her back which Russell thought was part of her own little greeting ritual - we thought that was so sad as she didn't have a pack to greet.

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P1100561 by marinarorysmom, on Flickr

 

We thought she probably was going to try again to hunt but we had to get back camp as it was nearly 7 p.m. - that was the one time the time limit was frustrating - so we bid her goodnight and headed back to camp.

 

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P1100567 by marinarorysmom, on Flickr

Towards the end of dinner, three hippos walked through the aquatic grass in front of camp, right past us as we were eating dinner. It was lovely to watch and the sloshing sound was music to our ears. It had been another magical day in the bush.

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This is really fun. It is great to read and to see and also to get those Africa juices going! Thanks!

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We'll be at Chitabe and Vumbura in about four weeks so I'm really enjoying this report. Thank you.

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Atravelynn

Interesting commentary on the singing and dancing from everyone. Part of how we interpret the songs and dances may stem from our own background, where spontaneously bursting into song and dance may not be common. Just speaking for my own cultural background.

 

I've had guides start to sing when something surprising happened or they were anticipating something postive coming up. They were just showing emotion and enthusiasm. At a family gathering in KwaZulu-Natal that I had the privilege of attending, there was a whole lot of dancing by everyone. When I spent time in a Maasai manyata, from which about a dozen members sang and danced in a nearby camp, the participants seemed to be very enthused and pumped up about performing.

 

When the choir or dancers are introduced at camps and lodges, it would be helpful to announce that the group is staff organized or something to that effect. With everything else going on in camp, managers and staff are probably not even atuned to the fact that many of the guests would appreciate knowing the background of how the entertainment was organized. I do recall at Phinda they said the songs were ones the staff members had grown up with and loved so they really didn't need to practice together.

 

My own gut reaction is that the songs and dances in the evening were enjoyed by one and all, and drew chefs from the kitchen and local managers into the festivities. The welcome songs when a vehicle arrived seemed to be more like intrustions that cut into the required tasks of the workday.

 

Enough song and dance about song and dance.

 

The mother and baby giraffe are in the perfect postion for a photo.

 

The dog, jackal and lion encounter could be something from a children's book. It is eerily similar to the cheetah and lion interaction AKR1's report. This stuff goes on all the time, harrowing escapes and encounters, but reports back from the field bring out the drama.

 

Waterproof binoculars! Don't leave home without them. Shockproof helps too if you are a butterfingers like me.

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SafariChick

Thanks for the insights into the singing and dancing, Lynn. As I said, I really enjoyed it, just thought in that case it might have gone on a tad too long as dinner starts relatively late after game drives and then we have to get up so early - it seemed like it went on about half an hour. But it seemed they were enjoying themselves for sure. I am actually a singer (professional in a "former life") and taught music at my daughters' school for several years, so I find music of other cultures very interesting. Apropos of what you're saying, Lynn, about guides bursting into song in moments of emotion, I remember reading once that in one African language (I wish I could remember which) there actually was no word for "music" because it wasn't thought of as a separate thing, it was just integrated into daily life and speech all the time. I found that fascinating. I've noticed whenever I have seen these choirs sing in Africa, there is always wonderful harmony, which I find very impressive as being able to sing harmonies is not something that seems to come naturally to everyone in my experience in the western world.

 

And re the binocs, yes, thank goodness they were waterproof! I also need shockproof - I'm the person that drops everything, loses everything and breaks everything!

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I love the picture of the baby giraffe looking at its sitting mother. Thanks for your report. I doubt I will ever get to Mombo but hey, you never know!

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When we were at Chiawa (Zambia) in 2007, dinner was announced with three songs sung by the kitchen staff choir. The kitchen is where it started. We enjoyed it. The group made a CD and we purchased one....good at home for getting back in the spirit of Africa.

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SafariChick

I took a couple of photos of the sunrise from the deck where we at breakfast at Little Mombo on my last morning there:

 

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The last drive at Little Mombo was fairly uneventful. We went back to the hyena den, but found nobody at home. We saw a mongoose family and general game.

 

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We saw three eagle owls in a tree together, that was pretty cool.

 

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We passed a hyena and warthog having an interesting interaction. The hyena was following the warthog, but not too fast or too closely. They were both walking slowly but deliberately. Every 10 paces or so, the warthog would turn around and give a warning to the hyena and the hyena would back off a little, then they'd go back to the same pattern. When the hyena saw us it came over to check us out and walked all the way around our vehicle. I'd noticed that so far, hyenas seemed to be the only animal to really do that. By the time it was done doing that, the warthog had disappeared. I told Russell I felt bad if we'd interrupted the hyena's hunting the warthog, but he said he didn't think it was seriously interested or it would have continued on and not come over to see us.

 

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We went back to the site of the Western Pride's zebra kill and found nothing but some hooded vultures hanging around and some stomach contents in the bushes. (we had heard that the pride had dragged the zebra into the bushes after we last saw them, so this did not surprise us)

 

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By the way, this raises a point I wanted to mention: it seems a lot of people are under the impression that one cannot drive off-road at Mombo. Actually, one can and we did. They had the rule in written form in the rooms and it read something like "No driving off-road is permitted unless there is a good reason." Which kind of made me giggle a bit as why would one choose to go crashing over stumps and small trees and make the ride even bumpier than usual were there not a good reason? So if you're following tracks or an animal or have a suspicion you'll find something that way, yes, you are allowed to go off-road at Mombo.

 

Other impressions of Mombo: it was a beautiful camp with great food and service, but totally unpretentious. I heard some comments in reviews I read that the clientele is well-heeled and could be snooty, but the other guests I met were not snooty at all, though the English couple did like their wine and wanted to choose what it would be - but then, I suspect there are many others who are similarly choosy about their wine. The reason to go there is for the amazing amount of wildlife - I can't imagine there's even more of it in the dry season. I did have a talk with the English couple, and as much as they loved Mombo (having been there 5 prior times) and thought it was better than any other camp, they still didn't think it was worth the extreme premium charged for it. Yet they come back. I would never have gone there were it not for the last minute discount (thanks again to StokeyGirl for making me aware of that and to my agent, Bill Given of the Wild Source, for doing a lot of work to re-structure the trip in order to add Little Mombo). I'm really glad i had the opportunity and I suggest anyone who has the chance to visit there do so.

 

A few last pictures as I got a couple more lilac-breasted rollers and I do love them so:

 

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I'll give the start of Vumbura it's own post. (Trying to pad my post-count to get closer to that pith helmet, perhaps?? ;) ) Actually now that I edited this post to add some photos, it's gotten rather long so Vumbura definitely deserves it's own!

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graceland

Safarichick, don't sell your photo skills short.( I saw your comment on Twaffles TR.)

 

Your shots are superb, and living vicariously day by day on your safari is quite fun as are your thoughts on Little Mombo- I was sorry we missed it.

 

...And I am definitely not snooty, but am very particular about my wine :rolleyes:

 

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twaffle

Honestly, I think you are telling a wonderfully colourful story about your trip, ably supported by the photos and I for one am enjoying it immensely. I don't know whether I'll ever be able to afford Botswana, but some of you are certainly doing your best to change my mind.

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Yes, I agree, some excellent photos. Really enjoying the report so far.

 

As for snooty, while I have met some at all levels of camps, in my tours at least they have been few and far between. Even than, usually after a few tuskers or bottles of wine, they come around, and join the group.

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SafariChick

Thanks for the nice comments everyone. I definitely am happier with my photos this trip than I was last trip. I started to learn how to adjust some settings and not just use IA, so it's a start! Ok back to the report - on to Vumbura!

 

How I came to be staying at Vumbura Plains, and how I ended up with the guide I had, needs a little explanation. I was originally supposed to be staying at Little Vumbura when my trip was going to be in January and before I added Little Mombo. After LM was added, I had to move the trip to February as it could not be worked out to have consecutive days at all my camps in January. There also was only room at Vumbura Plains not LIttle Vumbura once I moved the trip. It was not that much more expensive, though, and I was fine with making the switch.


Meanwhile, StokeyGirl and I were emailing because now the dates I'd be at Vumbura coincided with her dates - well, we overlapped on two days. I'd be there for two drives and one night before she arrived and she'd be there for one night and two drives after I left. SG was supposed to be at Little Vumbura, but had also requested a guide she'd had when he worked at Duma Tau, who now worked at Vumbura Plains. (Are you following all this? I know it's a bit confusing!) When she learned I'd be at VP, she decided to see if she could move over there as well and we could then ask to share the guide that she liked. That all worked out, so when I arrived, I was picked up by that guide, Ron, and told that I'd be alone with him my first two drives and then SG would be joining us the following afternoon. (Note: a funny conversation ensued at dinner with one of the managers. He told me how he'd first gotten the request for SG to have Ron over at LV, not where he usually guides, so he rearranged his guides to make that happen for her stay. Then supposedly the next day he received a request to have Ron guide me back at VP. He was very confused but finally the message got through that we wanted to be together and that SG had actually moved over to VP as well. We had specifically tried to avoid this confusion in the way in which we requested him, but with two different agents and a lot of different people communicating, it still got mixed up. However, it all worked out in the end!)


When Ron picked me up, he had another gentleman with him in a Wilderness uniform sitting in the front passenger seat. He introduced him to me as a "guide escort" or something to that effect. It was explained to me that he was there to drive around with guides and make sure they were using the tracks on which to drive properly and not doing anything negative to impact the environment. I later thought this was amusing because I was never aware of him telling Ron he was doing anything wrong (though they did speak in Setswana to each other) and it was with Ron that I did my craziest off-road driving of the trip!


It was about a 45-minute drive to camp from the airstrip, during which time I told Ron that SG and I shared an interest in seeing wild dogs. I also said I was hoping to see sable, as I'd never seen them and I knew that Vumbura had a good population. Ron told me that the sable are hard to see this time of year as they go off into the woodlands, which disappointed me to hear as I thought I had a decent chance to see them. However, before we'd even gotten in to camp, what did we come across? A whole herd of sable! Such a beautiful animal and I was so happy to have the chance to see them.

 

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One of them had a bunch of lumps of varying sizes on its side. Ron said he's seen this kind of thing before and not just on sable, on other animals, but it sometimes resolves and goes away. Not sure what it was. Any of you antelope specialists know?

 

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I also took this video of the sable ...

 


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SafariChick

When I was taken to my room, I was at first unsure I would be happy with how far it was from the main area. It was the second farthest room from the main area and the rooms had quite a distance between them. When the gate to my room was opened, I had to gasp a bit at how beautiful it was. You walk through the gate into your own outdoor courtyard sort of area, which looks out on the vast open expanse of aquatic grasses. In the outdoor area is your own couch and small plunge pool. I only used it once, but it was pretty to look at and nice to have as it was hot. I could not see or hear any of my neighbors and it felt truly peaceful and serene. I loved the contemporary, minimal decor of the room, and I loved that one could control the light switches and fans from the bed! Here are a few pictures of the room:

 

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As I was looking around the room, I heard rustling outside the room in the courtyard. I went out on deck to investigate and saw a huge monitor lizard walking out from under my chalet! It heard me walking and hustled out into the grasses & splashed off into the water!

 

I felt I could stay there forever, but of course I did want to go on a game drive. But first there was tea, and I have to say that Vumbura Plains had the best desserts and sweets at tea of any of the camps. One day they had brownies with a chocolate frosting that were seriously the best brownies I've ever had!

 

On the first drive with Ron, we looked around to see if we could find any sign of the dogs, and went off-road in this pursuit, but we were not able to find any. However we did have a lovely encounter with some a small breeding herd of elephants with babies drinking at a water hole, it was the golden hour and the light was lovely.

 

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After we left them, we came upon a pride of lions with three cubs about six months old who were lounging around, and then wanted to nurse. Their mother was very sleepy and seemed to push them away at first, but eventually she allowed it. It was getting dark (I think it was about 6:40 p.m. by the time we came across them) but I loved seeing this tender moment.

 

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After we'd been with the lions for 15 or 20 minutes, Ron started to back out. I wasn't sure I was ready to leave, and asked him if there was somewhere else he had in mind to go. He replied that he'd like to go have our sundowner drinks. At Mombo, we hadn't ended up having sundowners most nights, or maybe not at all, because we had to be back at 7 and we always seemed to be at an interesting sighting. In this case, we didn't have to be back any particular time and I wondered what was the rush to go have a sundowner, although admittedly it was getting dark but as he was driving I was thinking I'd rather stay with the lions a bit longer. So I spoke up and indicated that and he said oh, alright and turned around and went back. As we were watching them, I heard him calling and saying something on the radio to someone, and the only word I could understand was the name of one of the managers. It suddenly all became clear to me, as I was remembering the manager of Mombo telling me that at Vumbura, they liked to do surprise events in the bush.

 

I said to Ron "They're making a surprise of sundowners in the bush for me, aren't they?" and he admitted it was true. I then felt I really couldn't not go. I knew what those things are like, they would have had a few people bring all kinds of bottles and snacks out to surprise me and I would have felt terrible just not going. So I said to Ron "well, we should go then," and he said "should we?" He was a bit torn I think, but wanting to make me happy ultimately. I said yes, let's go. I felt torn myself in that I was there to see animals, not have sundowners, but then again, we'd been with the lions a while and it WAS getting dark so there wasn't much more I'd get to see at that point. So off we went, and when we arrived I saw another car driving away with two other guests - so it hadn't been just for me (which really wouldn't have made sense) and another couple had already been there. I enjoyed a drink there, and then we headed back towards camp, using a light as we drove to look for nocturnal animals. I don't recall our seeing too much in that regard, though, that night. The guests at the camp were quite congenial, and the food delicious. I decided I was going to like this place.

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One of them had a bunch of lumps of varying sizes on its side. Ron said he's seen this kind of thing before and not just on sable, on other animals, but it sometimes resolves and goes away. Not sure what it was. Any of you antelope specialists know?

 

I'm not an antelope specialist, but very curious about this. So I sent Lee Gutteridge a message about this, as well as Lorraine from ANT.

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Game Warden

Where are .... and Safaridude when you need them?

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graceland

So glad you loved Vumbura as we did. When I saw pics I said, no way; its not for me. But rooms aside, the whole area is special. Those sables were right outside of the camp on our 2nd day. Its' amazing how much game is there. And with Ron I am sure the dogs are right around the corner...or perhaps behind your "tent", er...chalet!

 

Looking forward for more! I want to go back. Now.

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SafariChick

Well I'll be very interested to see if Safaridude or the folks Jochen contacted can identify the mystery lumps.

I'm confused about my photos at this point because I had two cameras with me, one had the correct date and the other was a day ahead, even though I told it to be on Johannesburg time, I don't know what the problem was! But hopefully I can figure out what pictures go with what drive based upon my notes!

My first morning drive at Vumbura was bright and sunny. We drove around for a while seeing things like Marabou stork, Jacana, some Hippo tracks, Great white egret, some Zebra with babies. It was interesting here how much they drive through water, and all the water made it very pretty there. We saw hyena tracks, leopard and lion tracks but none of those animals yet. We saw Yellow-billed stork, Battleur eagles circling and also vultures circling but they never landed.

We began to do some serious offroading on the east side looking for the golden pack of wild dogs. They'd been seen a few days before my arrival, taking down a (baby?) buffalo if I remember correctly. There were signs they were there but we had no luck and Ron said we will try again this afternoon. Ron said maybe they were there but sleeping. We saw more zebras with babies, one nursing, a Leopard tortoise, 3 Wattled Cranes, a Banded mongoose family which - skittered away quickly, more Vultures and then ... DOG!!!!!

It was a single male in a clearing in a wooded area. Ron said it was odd to find one alone, and thought perhaps he's trying to break away from the pack - he thinks the Golden Pack. The dog had an impala Ron said he'd probably killed himself and had already eaten a lot of it - from what we could see, the head & some legs and organs were left. He lay down and started munching on a leg, got up and ate some of an organ he'd hidden in the dirt, then looked around and ran off. Ron thought he was too full to eat more. Another vehicle followed him and apparently he came back to his kill soon but only for a short time, then ran off again. I was just happy to have seen him!

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Single wild dog at Vumbura
 

 


oops, just found more pictures that should have gone with this post so I'll see if I can get them ready to post before my editing window ends!

Ok, some more dog photos of this one guy:

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Some water with duckweed on it - I thought it looked cool:

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a couple of the zebra from earlier in the drive:

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Some birds on trees partly submerged in water:

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Mama and baby giraffe seen after we saw the dog:

 

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This seems to be letting me keep editing and I keep thinking of things that I didn't include. We also came across a pride of 8 lions resting - they were called the Kubu pride and consisted of 2 lionesses, one who has 4 children in pride and the other has two that are younger, about 2 years old. The pride from the day before had 7 members and is called the Eastern pride.

 

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Here is a Painted Reed Frog that was hanging on the side of my plunge pool at the siesta time.

 

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Edited by SafariChick
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SafariChick

For the afternoon drive, StokeyGirl had arrived, and it was nice to meet her in person. It was just the two of us in the vehicle with Ron. Ron worked very hard trying to track the dogs as he knew we really wanted to see them, and we did lots of off-roading, but it was not to be, we did not find them. In fact it was a very quiet drive, because all I wrote down that we saw was an impala with a broken leg.

 

The next morning was cool, cloudy and misty. For some reason, at the side of Vumbura on which we were staying, breakfast, and consequently the drive start time, were a half hour later than on the other side, and a half hour later than at Little Mombo. StokeyGirl had asked Ron if it would be alright for us to go out the half hour earlier, and he said that was fine, so we got the earlier start. (That is, i think we woke up at 5, breakfast at 5:30, and out on the vehicle at 6 or earlier if we were ready) and we did that the following day as well.

 

After seeing a pair of saddle bill storks, a purple roller and a Battleur Eagle, we ran into the Eastern Pride, the pride of 7 with the three 6-month old cubs. Lying down when we first encountered them, they then got up and started walking. One came very close to vehicle and walked around it - others came close and looked at us too. It was a nice sighting and I was glad to get to see those cubs again that I'd left nursing the first night.

 

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Next, we went back to where Ron and I had seen the wild dog eating the impala. There was no sign of the dog, but we did find a male hyena eating a leftover impala hoof from the dog yesterday

 

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After this, other sightings included

 

3 Ostrich

Family with 7 baby ostrich

2 male ostrich

Goliath heron

Wattled cranes -

 

The other pride we'd seen the day before, resting after eating - very full and panting with flies on them (and now I'm wondering if one or more of the photos I posted above as being from the day before were from today? Oh well, no matter, same lions!)

 

We then found a Huge herd of buffalo (at least huge to me as I'd not seen more than a few together before) with some little babies a in wooded area very near the lions but the lions seemed too tired & full to worry the buffs. Most of my photos of the buffalo didn't come out that well, but here are a few of the better ones.

 

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We appreciated that Ron had been nice enough to go out half an hour earlier than usual with us. We also stayed out later than average, so the whole drive was from 6-11:30. All in all, it had been quite a good morning.

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graceland

That is what I liked about Ron -- early out, late in. One day we did not come back until 1pm! We were on the "other side" from you and thank goodness everyone was up early; but neither one of us wanted food, so Ron just put us in the rover and we blasted out of there. Hope you find the dogs ..there were abut 25 we saw at VP.but so enjoyed seeing the lone one ~~ of course the lion cubs.

 

I can't believe how much higher the grass was and way more water than in November. Those guides have to work so much harder in high, green grass!

 

Nice you and Stokeygirl could get together to hunt for the dogs.

 

Like the videos too; wish I were back! This is giving me incentive to play the lotto even more!

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SafariChick

Graceland, wait, you saw the lone one too? I didn't get the impression from Ron that he'd seen a dog alone there before! That is interesting. I somehow got the impression that this was the first time seeing one alone.

 

Yes, the grass was super high in places - wait til I get to the Kwara description, there it was out of control! I do think it'd be easier to see and photograph the animals earlier in the green season, although I really had a fabulous trip and saw so much. Gotta actually do some work today but more later ...

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SafariChick

Oh dear, I just found a whole bunch of pictures of the morning game drive, some of which are better than the ones I already posted. Well, I guess you'll just have to suffer through some more of those before I get to the afternoon drive!

 

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