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Little Kwara and Sandibe - Okavango Delta, Botswana


johnkok

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africapurohit

My time at Kwando was a while ago, but even then all the guides really loved what they did and just wanted to be out in the bush. We had a private vehicle at all three Kwando camps: Vundi at Lebala, KB at Lagoon and Doc at Little Kwara - I'm not sure if any of these guides still work for Kwando.

 

One morning, Vundi gave us a wake-up call at 4:30am because he wanted to be out by 5:00am. When we told Doc about this, he arranged a wake-up call at 4:00am so he could be out by 4:30am - not to be outdone by his colleague. Just brilliant!

 

If I remember correctly, KB only had one leg and a prosthetic limb but was still an amazing driver. Apparently he lost his leg to a crocodile when he was younger, but I'm not sure this is true?

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Little Kwara and Sandibe - Okavango Delta, Botswana March-April 2013 My Trip Report - such as it is   I write from the perspective of what I myself would have liked to have known as I was plann

I'll continue with a few words about Little Kwara's guides. Many SafariTalkers seemed to think very highly of Hobbs. So for this safari, we asked and paid an extra fee for the privilege of having H

The Kwara Welcome   Continuing this little tale, I'll start at the beginning (for a change). A note of caution - this is the long winded version, and there's not much new in it.   The long haul

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AKR1

Hobbs is the epitome of a safari guide. To say the man is a professional is,if anything,an understatement.

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AKR1

Double post.

Edited by AKR1
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madaboutcheetah

My time at Kwando was a while ago, but even then all the guides really loved what they did and just wanted to be out in the bush. We had a private vehicle at all three Kwando camps: Vundi at Lebala, KB at Lagoon and Doc at Little Kwara - I'm not sure if any of these guides still work for Kwando.

 

One morning, Vundi gave us a wake-up call at 4:30am because he wanted to be out by 5:00am. When we told Doc about this, he arranged a wake-up call at 4:00am so he could be out by 4:30am - not to be outdone by his colleague. Just brilliant!

 

If I remember correctly, KB only had one leg and a prosthetic limb but was still an amazing driver. Apparently he lost his leg to a crocodile when he was younger, but I'm not sure this is true?

Vundi is at jacks camp .... He is on facebook. KB is awesome. He might be at jao these days. Spencer and KB were tracking the boys of lagoon together when they first popped out in 2007. They just took off and ran into the mopane without giving us a glimpse.

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owenshaffer

I remember Hobbs myself when I stayed at Little Kwara. He gave a lecture on the ecology of the Okavango Delta on a boat trip from

Little Kwara. It was superb unfortunately the other guests two lawyers from Georgia , their wives, and the daughter of one of them

failed to appreciate it nor the beauty of the delta from the boat.

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pault

 

I think I'll leave it here for now.

That's like offering someone a dribble of a fantastic vintage red wine, only to hide the bottle away again...

Yes John.... We hope the "for now" bit can be taken seriously.

 

Love that green- it's practically fluorescent. Great shots of both the creatures (wild dog is a beauty) and the people and I hope you'll share a few more when "for now" is over.

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PCNW

John I'm wondering if it's possible that we were with the pack of 8 dogs at the same time late one afternoon. We were at Chitabe the first few days of April. My daughter and I (blonds) had a PV and were with our guide Phinley watching the dogs. I had him call to your guide to ask what lens (I believe) your wife was using. It was the 300 f3.2. Does that ring a bell with you?

 

If not you then it was someone that looked like you with Nikon gear on a monopod in a private andbeyond vehicle with the pack of eight dogs in early April.

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johnkok

John I'm wondering if it's possible that we were with the pack of 8 dogs at the same time late one afternoon. We were at Chitabe the first few days of April. My daughter and I (blonds) had a PV and were with our guide Phinley watching the dogs. I had him call to your guide to ask what lens (I believe) your wife was using. It was the 300 f3.2. Does that ring a bell with you?

 

If not you then it was someone that looked like you with Nikon gear on a monopod in a private andbeyond vehicle with the pack of eight dogs in early April.

Small world. That was us, and Jill and I were with Tshabo (Guide) and Steve (Tracker) in the andBeyond PV. Jill was indeed using a Nikon D4 + 300/2.8 lens supported on a monopod. We were not sure we had understood what you had asked and Tshabo repeated the question to us so I remember it well. By that time, we no longer had our gear mounted on clamps to the rail of the vehicle (as in my avatar) as the roof of the vehicle restricted the field of view for many subjects. We remember you had a bean-bag-type rest attached to your vehicle rail and I was wondering to Jill how well that worked.
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Game Warden

Next time shout out "I'm a Safaritalk member!" that will pique anyone's interest. Especially if they too, are a Safaritalker...

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PCNW

I'm wondering how many other ST's we passed in our travels, that makes at least two for us. The other was Duma Tau, (Glen) at Vumbura.

 

John the Lenseon works great. Something similar was provided to us at Londolozi this past summer and it was so much better than hand held or monopod or beanbag. But it does require that the driver remember to park at a slight angle instead of perfectly broadside. The side poles in Botswana were right in line with the roll bars. This was less of a problem at Londolozi.

 

Patsy

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graceland

Yet another great report and pics to help me avoid the daily grind once again!

 

I am feeling I should have really booked a PV and Hobbs while at LK...He truly rescued me one afternoon and to think I missed the chance of having him guide us for 3 days still plays upon the nerves. Truly a gentleman, a gentle soul, and a terrific representative of his occupation.

 

Really enjoyed your pics. Captured the soul I've seen and felt on my own adventures.

 

 

Thanks for a great afternoon of reading and viewing.

 

I do love Safaritalk; it feeds this addiction we have. :)

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johnkok

The Kwara Welcome

 

Continuing this little tale, I'll start at the beginning (for a change). A note of caution - this is the long winded version, and there's not much new in it.

 

The long haul from HK into Jo'burg JNB arrived in the early morning, again a little late. This time, there were some 50 passengers connecting with the plane in HK so it is no surprise that Cathay waited. It was no problem for us as our flight out of JNB is some 4 hours later at 11am. I'm not sure what the airline-airport arrangements are but even though we should only just be transiting through JNB to Botswana, we knew we had to do the whole rigmarole of entering RSA and check-in for the international flight to Maun.

 

This happens without stress at JNB. At Maun, we endure the other rigmarole of entering a country through a tiny international airport baggage, immigration, Customs and security (where the Customs lady casts a leery eye over my mountain of equipment and asks which company I'm shooting for). After the usual stress of the regionals, we finally get on the short hops. These used to be my least stressful until my unpleasant experience with Wilderness Air to Zim in 2012. This time around, all goes smoothly and we finally find ourselves in the good parts of a safari. Excitement, and a little trepidation, as I do not really know how Little Kwara and Hobbs will work out for us. There is always the possibility that expectations have been built up too high.

 

This is us lining up for the approach to the Kwara airstrip.

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We were picked up for the short 10 minute drive from the airstrip to the lodge. Of course, we got through the formalities as quickly as we could and wasted no time getting ready or our first game drive.

 

First thing out of the gate we stop for our first kingfisher. We're always excited by kingfishers, and we were doubly excited as this was our first Woodland Kingfisher. Turns out this is just about our most often sighted kingfisher in Kwara, this and the Pied Kingfisher. There seems to be Pied Kingfishers at every one of the bridges between the Lodge and the airstrip and beyond.

 

Woodland Kingfisher

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Pied Kingfisher

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The third kingfisher that would show up now and then and confuse me over ID's was the Striped Kingfisher. It is a small bird but it was always flitting around (very quickly) and when it was in the shade of the forest canopy I would struggle.

 

post-17725-0-75430900-1367869872_thumb.jpg

 

There were numerous flooded parts, and fording these ponds (they're too big to be called mere puddles) were made even more interesting for us when there were birds in them.

 

Here, a Little Egret was doing a little fishing in one of these ponds.

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There was other action up in the trees too of course.

 

This Hammerkop coming in for a landing, and meeting up for some fun and games with its mate.

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A juvenile Bateleur Eagle, which hung around for us for a while.

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And of course, no African safari is properly started off until the requisite Lilac-breasted Roller is captured.

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To round off what were to be opening acts was of course a tsessebe, posing but not demonstrating its renown turn of speed

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and a Zebra which looked like it was giving us a welcoming wink

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Then, we get to the star attractions of the drive, the male lion coalitions of Kwara. We first came upon the sleeping (of course) two-young-male coalition. They looked like they had eaten recently. No point hanging around well-fed sleeping lions. It's only around 5pm so we let them be. We drove around shooting this and that until we came to the coalition of 7 males about an hour later.

 

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There were 3 of them in close proximity to each other. We positioned ourselves close to the pair on the left and with the lone one off to the right. In about 5 minutes or so, they started to stir. And then we were treated to a lion symphony amongst the most powerful that nature has to offer. To me, sitting next to roaring lions is by itself an event worth the price of admission.

 

We had only ever had this some six years and many safaris ago. That was on a moonless night. We sat there in the open vehicle with all the lights switched off and just let the waves of sound roll through us. This time, we were in daylight. I thought our shutters would overheat we were firing with such abandon in our excitement. I noticed that Hobbs too was firing away.

 

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They were going at it for so long I managed to calm down and realise I should capture their calling on video (not that the video would do the sound justice). When this happened, Hobbs actually looked back at me, wondering why my shutter had gone silent. I wanted to upload the video of the roaring lions but it was apparently too big.

 

Needless to say, we were all grinning from ear to ear that is when our mouths were not just hanging open.

 

Then another one of the coalition sauntered into view. It's going bald. Hobbs said this one had done so much rubbing while marking territory it had lost a lot of its mane.

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Then it was evening walkies.

 

The procession starts here

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There were six of them together. The seventh had gone off on a lone foray. Unfortunately, they never grouped together for me to take a family portrait.

 

Hobbs reckoned they knew the two-young-male coalition were close by and probably not too far from a kill, and a raiding party hustled off ahead. One of the seven had been sneezing when we were sitting with them as they roared. Chester said it had been unwell for a while and was only just recovering. It was struggling to keep up, and was always lagging behind. Two of its brothers would hang back. They stayed with it all the time we were with them.

post-17725-0-90992100-1367870371_thumb.jpg

 

We followed them for a bit and then we veered off. But wouldn't you know it, not half an hour after we left them, we were back with the lions. The coalition had indeed found the kudu kill that the two-young-male coalition had been feeding on. The carcass was inside some thick brush and this was after sunset. What we were treated to were spotlit glimpses and lots of growls. One of the youngsters had apparently seen off the first of the seven who arrived but when the rest arrived, the two retreated to a safe distance. There was a bit of territorial roaring again as they tucked in to the remains of the kudu.

 

We soon left them to it and headed back to the lodge for our own dinner. What a welcome to Little Kwara.

 

Thanks for reading.

John

 

ps: I must be doing something wrong with my photo processing and upload. The pictures here are no longer as sharp as the JPG files on my computer; in fact they look rather poor in comparison. Or is this something to do with my browser settings I wonder as they are being viewed through that on ST.

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AKR1

Just great stuff @@johnkok and coupled with your usual superb photography made me feel I was with you in the vehicle. The exact locations you were at, based on the picture vistas and angles look awfully familiar. I need to get back to the delta soon. Thanks for the details.

PS: the pictures look fine

Edited by AKR1
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madaboutcheetah

Oh Wow - 6 of the 7 is still very good!!! They do look like they are getting older, but, glad you still got to see them.

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Alex The Lion

@@johnkok

 

Great TR and images - Kwara is looking a lot drier than the last few years.

 

Thought you may find this image interesting. Prior to the recent high water levels, all those delta areas you were driving through we wide open flood plains.

 

This was taken less than 5 minutes to the south west of camp, an area now filled with water and reeds, and where you probably did a fair share of water crossing on the way to Tsum Tsum/Four rivers.

 

gallery_5095_634_287833.jpg
PS This was under where am I, though probably be a bit geeky for most.
Edited by russell
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Panthera Pardus

Just caught up with this report. Beautiful images - thank you for sharing

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johnkok

Just caught up with this report. Beautiful images - thank you for sharing

Thanks, but nowhere near what you've put into yours

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Wild Dogger

John, did you get to meet Cassie at Little Kwara, she´s the girl friend of Dutch and seemed to be something like assistant manager?

Thomas

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Safaridude

Thanks for an excellent TR. Love the image of the hamerkop!

Edited by Safaridude
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johnkok

I'm following on that post-script I had in my TR above. This may interest photo nerds only as I'm just checking my photo uploads :-)

 

This is the same JPG file (same photo) uploaded into ST and flickr. The original image was captured in low early morning light (6:35am) at Sandibe using a Nikon D4 + Nikkor 300/2.8 VR2 lens. It is by no means a top quality image as the ISO was sky high due to the high shutter speed for the playful cub.

 

The settings were 1/1600s ... f4.5 ... ISO 0.3EV over 12,800

 

The RAW file was processed in Nikon's CaptureNX2, purposely over sharpened, slightly cropped from the original 4928x3280 and resized with re-sampling to 1600x1200 and saved as a JPG file (balanced quality).

 

 

This one was added as an Attached File and Added to Post

post-17725-0-28577300-1368617572_thumb.jpg

 

 

This one is linked to the JPG file uploaded to flickr and linked using the BBCode

8740148385_256becfd0f_c.jpg

The little tyke by John Kok, on Flickr

 

 

It looks like the Attach File upload and post method on ST really softens the image.

The flickr version also looks worse (over-emphasises the sharpening) when compared to the JPG file viewed via Nikon's ViewNX2 on my monitor, but is still better than the softened ST upload version.

 

I'm now wondering how others have managed to maintain sharpness in their ST images - beyond their better skill of course :-)

 

btw - we came to this pride of lions very early in the morning. There were cubs of various ages and they were playing with each other and with the adults. The adults also played. And called to their sister who was off somewhere. We also heard a male calling. This was beside a largish pond, with lots of water fowl action. We spent hours watching and shooting. Many times we didn't know where to point our cameras as there was so much going on. It was a wonderful morning out on safari.

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johnkok

John, did you get to meet Cassie at Little Kwara, she´s the girl friend of Dutch and seemed to be something like assistant manager?

Thomas

I don't remember clearly. I think we did but cannot be sure we met Cassie. We sure met Dutch :-)
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johnkok

I had previously uploaded JPG re-sized to 800 wide and they were just as soft but I'll get something done up in 800

btw - the BBCode from flickr was set at 800 wide. Go figure :-)

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Rainbirder

Superb trip report John!!!

 

I'm not sure I can solve your image sharpness puzzle.

Can I suggest that instead of using the Flickr BBCode you open up the Flickr image so that you are viewing the image in original then right-hand mouseclick on the original image and click properties -the properties panel will open up with the URL for your original image (->http://farm9.staticflickr.com/...............) copy and paste this URL to link to the image. Hopefully linking directly to the uploaded Flickr image will improve sharpness.

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johnkok

Superb trip report John!!!

 

I'm not sure I can solve your image sharpness puzzle.

Can I suggest that instead of using the Flickr BBCode you open up the Flickr image so that you are viewing the image in original then right-hand mouseclick on the original image and click properties -the properties panel will open up with the URL for your original image (->http://farm9.staticflickr.com/...............) copy and paste this URL to link to the image. Hopefully linking directly to the uploaded Flickr image will improve sharpness.

Thanks Steve @@Rainbirder

Actually the flickr BBCode method already looks over-sharpened compared to viewing the JPG on my PC. I think I read somewhere that flickr automatically adds sharpening to uploaded images. It's the Attach File and Post method on ST which seems to reduce it (at least for my JPGs) as shown above.

Edited by johnkok
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Alex The Lion

@@johnkok

 

Flickr is applying sharpening where the original image is not being displayed, for example, your 1600px original being re-sized to 800px.

 

I would also suggest changing the way you sharpen your images too, as it will inpact on the final output. Rather than oversharpening the original, the general consensus for web output is to follow the below:

 

1) Sharpen for the file at its native size

 

2) Re-size the image (1024 is a good size for ST)

 

3) Sharpen the image

 

4) Post at the size that you resharpened for - For example 1024px

Edited by russell
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