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Niyam's African Adventure (August 2013)


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So glad you are back with us after the technical issues.


Katavi is on my bucket list but I may never get there so I am getting real vicarious pleasure from your report. and the images........... well I am speechless.


It is wonderful that Niyam coped so well, and enjoyed it so much. It seems that the staff were very helpful with him

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@africapurohit Just caught up with your Trip Report and loving it.

Niyam seems to have enjoyed his safari thoroughly.

Lovely photos and narration. Very informative

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Thanks @@Sharifa. He did enjoy it and he wants to go back.


Actually, Niyam and his younger brother (who's 4 years old) love going through your household's Kruger and KTP reports - as we're likely to combine both parks for our next trip as a family.

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Foxes Katavi Wildlife Camp


Tented banda no.1 at the edge of the Katisunga flood plain

Safaritalk members have previously reported on stays at Chada Camp, Flycatchers Camp and Katuma Bush Lodge - so I'll add Foxes Katavi Wildlife Camp to this list. Arguably from a gameviewing perspective, this camp is in the best location of all the camps that use Ikuu airstrip. I did not get a chance to explore the area where Palahala Camp is located and that has its own airstrip. The magnet for the animals is Katavi Wildlife Camp's close proximity to the Katuma River.


As this is a permanent camp, the animals are habituated to its presence - elephants and buffalos wander through, bushbucks have made it their home, and lions and leopards use the guest paths at night, even hunting within the camp grounds.


During the booking process, I asked ATR to request the room closest to the main reception area at each camp and this was honoured by all the camps we stayed at. Here it was tented banda no.1. This was an extra precaution to reduce the time spent walking around in camp with a child in tow. This also made me feel more comfortable if I had to quickly pop in to the reception area when Niyam was in the room - fortunately, Niyam is a very cautious child and follows instructions well so never tried wandering or exploring on his own.


The camp has running water via its own well and uses solar power to heat the water, so afternoons and evenings are the best times for hot showers. Plug sockets are available in the rooms for charging. Flycatchers and Chada get water from the supply at the Ikuu Ranger Post.



Tented banda no.1 with a spacious private viewing deck


Very comfortable rooms with internal shower and toilet at the back


Wonderful view looking on to the Katisunga flood plain - but it's not an endless plain.....


The Katuma River cuts through the Katisunga flood plain and in this photo, the tree line represents the position of the camp. From camp we had regular sightings of zebra, giraffe, buffalo, elephant, waterbuck and topi coming to the river to drink. When the dry season really start to set in, even herds of roan antelope can be seen regularly from camp.


The main reception and dining area is very spacious with steps leading up to an upper viewing/reading area.


Dining table with a view of the flood plains


The comfortable upper deck - a great spot to relax with a good pair of binos

During our stay the camp was run by Nick Greaves who was a fantastic host with many interesting stories to tell. Nick is an author, photographer and safari guide who spent 20 years in Hwange. During the peak season, he manages and guides at Katavi Wildlife Camp and during the off-season he leads the training courses for all guides based at the various Foxes camps. He has authored a collection of books recounting the tales and myths of southern African tribes, that some ST members may be familiar with. These include "When Bat was Bird", "When Elephant was King", "When Hippo was Hairy", "When Lion could Fly" and "The Magic Fish Bones". More information about Nick and his books can be found on his website: http://www.nickgreaves.info/



Niyam got excited when we walked into the camp's office as he recognised some of the books on show. Although we already had three of the books at home, I ended up buying the whole set again which Nick signed with a message for my three boys. We also ended up buying the bat-eared foxes t-shirts and a cap :).

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Actually, Niyam and his younger brother (who's 4 years old) love going through your household's Kruger and KTP reports - as we're likely to combine both parks for our next trip as a family.


great idea, our family has done this comibation on almost yearly basis since 2006

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@@ice I'll have to find all of your trip reports :)

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I hope you told Nick to register with Safaritalk... and talking of his books, you'll have to review them all for us :)

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@@ice I'll have to find all of your trip reports :)

don't bother - they don't exist ;-) feel free to ask specific questions, though

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A few notes:

As well as vehicles from the camps you also come across self drivers in Katavi but no one has radio contact with each other, so sightings can not be reported. Guides and drivers usually stop when passing each other to provide updates. The further you drive away from the main game viewing areas, the more remote your chances are of passing another vehicle.

We saw no ostriches in Katavi which was very surprising - I'm not sure if they occur in other areas of the park?

Baboons are a very rare sight around the main flood plains and Katuma River - our first and only sighting of baboons was in the Paradise area which is a considerable distance from the main game viewing areas.

The vervet monkey population is amazing. I've never seen so many in any other park or reserve before - I'm not sure if this is directly related to the lack of baboons?

I was expecting my luck with cheetahs to come to an end - one of the resident Maasai guides knew of only one cheetah sighting in the last 5 years!

Our main agenda for the first afternoon was to visit the Ikuu hippo pool which was a 15 minute drive from camp. The Katuma pride were still slumped close to the camp so we planned to return before sunset to see if they would start becoming more active. On the way to the hippo pool, Whiteman stopped to explain some spoor and tracks to Niyam - big mistake :o. This tutorial activated a sleeping part of Niyam's brain that suddenly became interested in every spoor or track seen in the sand - this included tracks made by doves, spurfowl and francolins! Poor Whiteman had his work cut out for the next seven days. I continued my new birding hobby in Katavi and thankfully Whiteman was quite an expert when it came to birds. He also had a great understanding of photography and the positioning of the vehicle based on lighting requirements. At the hippo pool Whiteman was fantastic with Niyam, closely watching over him and having the patience and time to explain things to him. I found out later that young Whiteman had never guided a child before or was not a father himself like the other guides we had - yet he was a complete natural with Niyam and they formed a strong bond over the seven days. Niyam has already asked to visit Ruaha so he can meet Whiteman again :).


It was common to see up to 20-30 Bohor reedbuck when driving just a few kilometres along the edge of the Katisunga flood plains


Blacksmith Lapwing


Male Hildebrandt's Francolin

During the peak of the dry season (end of September onwards), the Ikuu hippo pool accommodates hundreds of hippos. These extreme conditions were still some way off, aided by very good rainfall in Tanzania during 2013. The huge congregation of hippos begins with individual pods moving into the area - as more gather the space between them starts to decrease until they are packed like one great mega pod. We saw evidence of the small pods gathering and it was still very impressive. Niyam loved spending time out of the vehicle watching the hippos, including many walking around and grazing during the heat of the day (but they have plenty sunblock!). It was fascinating watching the yellow-billed and red-billed oxpeckers and I planned to return another day just to focus on photographing these birds. The other advantage was that the odours were still bearable :).



The space between two individual pods being filled by another forming pod




Where's my reserved seat?


Yellow-billed Oxpeckers


One of the dominant bulls gave us a 180 degree territorial performance











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Fantastic hippo sequence- 360 degrees as you said. I have never seen a hippo out of the water do that for so long. Great photography skills to keep your finger down on the shutter anticipating he was going to keep going.

Your report keeps getting better and better and Niyam's seemingly increasing interest in all this is incredible for a six year old.

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 I did see reedbuck near Paradise and just assumed they were Bohor. I can't even tell the difference between Bohor and Southern - I'll have to look it up :rolleyes:. I did get some photos of the Defassa Waterbuck in Katavi - but they were very skittish.


Thanks @@AKR1, by now (after 9 days of practice!), I was getting the hang of the back-button focussing combined with AI Servo and I always had the cameras on high shutter speed. I actually shot 23 images in that sequence but only posted 10 of them - you'll all get bored otherwise!

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then it's likely that I only saw Bohor. I didn't go to Lake Katavi and although I visited the springs a few times, I don't recall seeing reedbuck there.

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Thanks @@TonyQ - just remember to practice before you get there, unlike me!

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LOL glad to see Niyam develop an interest in spoor. You are right, I too am sure that it is something latent deep in little boys' consciousness that triggers an interest in spoor! On Mast ZaminOz' first safari he was obsessed with identifying spoor and poo!

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Thanks @@AKR1, by now (after 9 days of practice!), I was getting the hang of the back-button focussing combined with AI Servo and I always had the cameras on high shutter speed. I actually shot 23 images in that sequence but only posted 10 of them - you'll all get bored otherwise!

We would - the number posted is just right. Great sequence.


Glad to see you keeping the standard up, and I am really happy that we still have a good number of days to go.

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@@ZaminOz I think the open vehicle also contributed to triggering the spoor obsession, as he could see so much more and we were closer to the ground using the Maruti Gypsy. During the previous 8 days in the land cruiser, he confined himself to viewing from the open windows. He refused to stand up on the seats to use the roof hatches - but this was down to his "health and safety" obsession!


@@pault thanks for the reminder on the number of remaining days (and RAW files that still require processing)! It's starting to feel like a thesis :D. I started writing the report again and Liverpool are back to 2nd in the table! @@Game Warden our next game is Crystal Palace at Anfield on Saturday - I'll be going!

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@@Game Warden I will do, considering it could be years before Palace play at Anfield again :D. I also have the seat next to me going spare as my friend can't make it.

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@@Game Warden I will do, considering it could be years before Palace play at Anfield again :D. I also have the seat next to me going spare as my friend can't make it.


wish i could fill that spare seat then, but too far and too late to fly over! Liverpool's gotta keep that spot or do better for the rest of the season.


Love the hippo shots and those with Niyam.

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@@africapurohit re. Birds vol.5 - are they really called superb starlings? If so, this is the most apt bird name i have come across (second only to knob billed duck i guess)

Edited by Tdgraves
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@@Tdgraves yes they are called "superb starlings" - they pull the combination of colours superbly! There's also another one known as the "splendid starling", more common in countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia but rare to find in Kenya or Tanzania.


They must have been the first English words used to describe them when seen by Western eyes :D

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After leaving the hippo pool we had a short drive along the banks of the Katuma River before heading back to the Katisunga plains for sunset. The plains were bathed in an amazing golden light followed by a red, almost spotlight, glow. That evening we still had light up to 7:15pm - western Tanzania has later sunrises and sunsets.



A lone male topi walking through the long golden grass


Impala ram


Leaning Helmeted Guineafowl


A small bachelor herd of buffalos with a golden misty backdrop


The Katuma Pride were still in deep slumber, so we waited patiently


This was the first lioness to wake with a yawn - it was like a silent message to wake the other members of the pride


Soon more heads and bodies started appearing from the long grass, with a bachelor herd of buffalos in the background


​Although frustrating at first, the long made the photos interesting


This lioness did not look in the best of condition and had some wounds on her right flank and top of her back. There were five lionesses in total


Then the young male appeared and came out into the open


The young male was focussing on the buffalo


He was intent on initiating a hunt



Although one of the younger females decided to follow his lead.........


...the rest decided to climb a tree and go back into slumber mode - three lionesses can be seen in this photo


With a lack of experienced backup, the hunt amounted to nothing!


It was past 7pm the the red spotlight was still visible


On the private path leading to our camp, a family of Ground Hornbills were perching for the night


That night we fell asleep to the orchestral ensemble of elephant, hippo, lion, hyena, buffalo and bushbuck - it was unlike anything I've heard during the night in all of my previous trips to Africa! Niyam never heard a squeak and slept right through it :).

Edited by africapurohit
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