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Cats' life: Sabi Sand, Timbavati, Chobe, Okavango


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I am back from my 3 week trip and I am already missing Africa.


It was not a pure safari tour. I did:


4 nights at Drakensberg

3 nights at Kirkman's camp

3 nights at Ngala Tented camp

2 nights at Ilala lodge (Victoria Falls)

3 nights at Chobe under canvas

3 nights at Nxabega


I am not sure if I should show only safari part or all pictures here.



Edited by bettel
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Bettel, welcome back - I hope that you had a great time. I've looked at going with AndBeyond at Chobe and Nxbega (and have stayed at Ngala) so very much look forward to your report.

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I think we would all enjoy your whole trip report. I know I would. Bring it on!

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All please! help feed my endless longing for anything related to wildlife, africa and safari....

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Welcome and welcome back!


Definitely all pictures and the full report.

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Day 1. Drakensberg.


The whole idea of my trip started with huge wish to see Drakensberg. I love mountains and hiking and one day when I was reading “Best hikes in the world” article I saw the picture of Amphitheatre. I fell in love. I decided that I really must see this myself. Originally I was thinking to do a lot of hiking and a few days of safari, preferably walking as I could not imagine myself sitting in the car for 8 hours per day. But as time passed I decided that the more safari the better :), but I still have to see Drakensberg.

This is a view from my room, it reminded me Costa Rica a lot:




The first morning I signed for a horse riding. It was cloudy but no rain so the weather was perfect to do some exercise.










After the lunch I went hiking. There are a few marked short routes around the Cavern Resort and despite the fact that I can get lost between three trees I was going to try my luck. The first hike was to Grotto and I made it easily:








However, on my second hike everything went its usual way and I did a wrong turn somewhere, so instead of a short hike I did a pretty good walking :) but as the scenery was good I could not complain





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Do the whole trip if you feel ambitious enough, Bettel! Adorable cubs and gorgeous scenery to start it off.

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Beautiful scenery indeed! Thanks for the good start @@bettel.

Edited by PT123
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Day 2.


The day before I had signed for the half day hike to Echo Cave, but it was raining the whole night and when I came to the gathering point I was told that the hike was cancelled as stones were going to be very slippery and it would be too dangerous as the hike was too steep. But instead we were offered to do the walk under umbrellas for 7 kilometer. We decided that it's much better than to stay in rooms.


As soon as we started the sky began to clear and in 10 minutes the sun was shining brightly so our guide suggested to change plans again and to go to Echo Cave.

It was very humid and hot, it was also quite slippery and after couple kilometers two other people on the hike asked if the guide could show them the way back to the lodge. Probably the guide was hoping that I would also give up but I hate to do nothing and sit near the swimming pool so we continued.




There were a few moments when I regretted my decision :). The hike was becoming steeper and steeper and my heart was asking if I can let it out of the ribcage.

This is me; I am still smiling at least for camera




The cave itself was not too impressive; I would even say that it was not cave, but grotto. I mean it was beautiful but IMHO it was not worth 3 hours of steep climbing.




But sceneries around were beautiful and they would compensate for any single drop of sweat







Edited by bettel
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What stunning views, not often posted here. Really love seeing them.

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Lovely to see photos fo such a terrific part of the world. @@bettel Just goes to show that Africa is not just about animals.

More please.

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Day 3. Amphitheater hike.


Today is the time for the one of the best hikes in the world. It is Tugela gorge hike. The whole day before I was asking Heavens/Universe to help with the weather. “Please, please, let it be sunny!” – I was praying. I think my wish was over-executed. It was the sunniest and the hottest day of my 3 week stay in Africa :). It was great for pictures but, man, it is hard to hike when it is 35 degrees Celsius. I had to jump into each spring we came across and only being soaking wet helped me to survive.


The beginning of the hike








While we were walking the guide was showing different plants and flowers




And he even found a chameleon







If I remember it correctly, it is the Right Tower






And this is a ladder that you have to take. It is actually NOT the worst part, after this section there is an almost vertical climb with wet tree roots, stones and some pins, pretty scary.




Tugela waterfall, based on what the guide told, it is the second highest waterfall in the world after Angel falls.






On our way back




And this is probably the most famous view of Amphitheater. Ironically, you should not do the hike to make a picture. You can make it right at the starting point :)



Edited by bettel
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the weather certainly brightened up for you @@bettel. Lovely photos of some spectacular scenery

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More more more please

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Truly stunning landscapes, Bette. Thanks for sharing your days in such a beautiful area with us.


I love hiking as well....sure wish I had known about this when I was in South Africa. I was just focused on wildlife and safari (and went to Ngala Tented - so awaiting your report there as well!) Of course this was waaay back on my very first "once in a lifetime" safari.

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What stunning photographs! The scenery is spectacular.

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beautiful scenery and landscapes. thanks for sharing!

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I'm gasping for air reading this. I really think you should have kept your prayers to yourself, but Ampitheater seems such a beautiful place it might just have been worth it! I bet there are better spots for a picture than the classic one, but finding them while carrying in full gear and being there at the right time of day might be challenging. It's certainly a lovely scene.


Really good and invigorating start to your report. Definitely our gain to ask for the full version!

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Really enjoying your report as we don't see too many walking or Drakensburg reports here. The scenery is so dramatic, especially the drop of Tugela Falls.


Looking forwad to moe when you have time...

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I am very glad that you like it!!! I love mountains and Drakensberg is a breathtaking place but I was not sure if it would be appropriate to post these pictures on the safari forum :)



But now it is going to be about animals :)




Day 4 and Day 5 (morning)


On day 4 I was travelling from Drakenberg resort to Sabi Sand. And it was a long trip: 3 hours by car, then a flight, then again couple hours by car. I started at 8 in the morning and got to Kirkman’s Kamp at approximately 5:30. I was warned in advance by my travel agent that I would not have a game drive that night. Surprisingly, as soon as I arrived the camp manager asked me if I want to go on safari. Sure, I wanted. I could not imagine that somebody would refuse :). So she found a car and I was quickly delivered to my safari guide and my safari group for the next day (I had a private vehicle booked for other two days).


We did not see much, as it was raining heavily whole day, but as it was a bonus trip for me and I just love to be outside do I was extremely happy. No photos from that day as it was quite dark and misty.


The next morning it was raining again, but it is warm (comparing to Canada :) ) so there was nothing to complain (except that the condition is not too good for pictures :) ). There were hundreds of impalas with babies around. Sometimes there was a feeling that there were much more foals(?) than adult animals.


We also saw some zebras and giraffes.






But we all were trying to find a leopard (some people were leaving and they had not seen it yet) as there were a lot of fresh tracks around. When I said “we” I mean trackers and guides were trying to find a leopard and everybody else was just enjoying their time. For me it was almost a combination of a detective story and movie about Indians (“The last of the Mohicans” or “The Pathfinder”). Guys were discussing tracks on the radio and were checking different parts of the bush. At some point we temporary gave up and decided to make a break for coffee. Murphy ’s Law, as soon as we stopped and started to takes staff out we received a call that a leopard was found so we threw everything back to car and drove there. She was so beautiful! And she was absolutely relaxed and did not care about cars at all. There were a few breathtaking moments when she was just under my seat, maximum 20 centimeters away from the car and I fell in love.


My presumption was that as leopards are not social animals it is probably pretty boring to watch them. But she was so gracious and so powerful that I added leopards to my “best animals ever” list :)










And some other pictures from the drive. Sorry for the quality it was pretty dark and it was rainy :(













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What a first day on safari - you saw a lot and to spend that much quality time with a leopard is great. These are absolutely beautiful shots of the leopard and the leopard turtle. Also, I really like the facial picture of the kudu. If you think of it can you also post a picture or two of the camp where you stayed?

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. If you think of it can you also post a picture or two of the camp where you stayed?


Unfortunately I did not make any pictures at Kirkman. It looked pretty standard to me. But I made pictures at Ngala.




Day 5. PM drive


For the PM drive I had a new guide as I switched to a private vehicle. He asked me what I wanted to see and I really wanted to reply either “Tigers, jaguars and pumas” or “Pangolin and caracal”. But then I decided that I did not want to scare him too much right at the beginning. So I told the truth that I liked to see everything but especially cats and dogs. We also discussed some of my previous vacations (which were mountain trekking) and William suggested that as I loved to hike we could do some rhino trekking. I loved the idea!


It was a great trip that night. Guys were showing me different tracks and explaining how to read them. They also showed me some interesting plants e.g. I washed my hands with soap plant (I don’t remember the name for it).


We saw a big family of baboons:




Some antelopes:





Elephant bull



And rhinos



Although the last two were on another river bank, so it was pretty far.


And then we received the call about a leopard, so we went there to check:


It was Rollercoaster. She has hunting/patrolling her territory. We had quite a funny situation there. At some point William decided to do a half circle to the right so that I can make a picture of Rollercoaster from the front. The half circle was pretty large and because of the bush we lost a leopard sighting for a while. And then suddenly I was taking a look to the right and I can see a leopard lying very comfortably under the deep bush. I was surprised as, first, the location was pretty strange: Rollercoaster would have to run fast to be here, but, second, the leopard seemed as if she was here for quite a long time. But what are chanced to see two leopards at the same time? So still doubting I asked William if it was the same leopard and at the beginning he answered “Yes! It is the same!” and then “Wait a minute! No, it is not!”. And then we saw Rollercoaster, she appeared exactly where we expected here to appear.


The unknown leopard was watching her. And she did all her best to make sure that Rollercoaster was not going to notice her.






Unknown leopard is watching



When Rollercoaster continued to move, the unknown leopard stood up and followed her, but very quietly and staying pretty far behind. We tried to follow her but she did not feel comfortable, so after couple minutes or so we left her alone.


This is the beauty of Kruger: Kirkman’s Kamp has a lot of resident and semi resident leopards. But nobody could recognize this one even despite the fact that she has a quite easy feature for identification: she did not have a white end of the tail.

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Great report - beautiful pictures - especialy the leopards and the tortoise!

The hiking looks really good - thanks for puting that in as well

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Day 6. Morning.


It was again cloudy and misty. But it was still far better than Canadian winter weather. My friends sent me a message that it was -30 in Ottawa that day.


Everybody wanted lions. For the last couple days they were illusive. Actually, based on the tracks, they crossed the river. One of the guides told that it was the longest period without lions (3 drives in a row) for his whole Kirkman’s experience.


So we went to the crossing point and checked if lions were back and they actually were. All cars started to look for them. But while we were looking for lions we came across very fresh wild dogs tracks so we decided that it would be much more interesting to see dogs and we continued with their tracks. Unfortunately not too long. Dogs crossed the border with Kruger so we had to stop.


We went back to lions tracking while enjoying other animals on our way:






It started to rain and, based on Murphy’s Law, we immediately found lions. The process of making pictures was quite complicated: after each photo it was necessary to clean lens and to remove all water drops.


Lions were moving. It seemed like they were thinking to hunt.






Here they were all watching giraffes. To hunt or not to hunt that is the question.




Couple portraits





At the end lions decided that it was too wet and they just lay on the road.






After staying with them for some time, William suggested to go to another reserve and to take a look at lions there, as there was an adult male lion and I had not seen any yet.


When we arrived lions were sleeping. They barely opened their eyes to take a look at approaching vehicle




It is a very interesting couple. She is very old (approximately 15-16 years) lioness that lost her pride, and he is not dominant male. He lives in this area but he never marks and never roars so that he does not get attention of the male coalition. He is very very quiet. These two started to hunt together.


After lions I found out that William decided to make a surprise. He knew that I was ready to spend as much time in the bush as possible so instead of going back to the lodge for breakfast he asked to pack breakfast for us and he also arranged with another lodge for us to use its hide. We had a beautiful meal watching birds and a hippo.


On our way back we met some zebras



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Did William tell you what gave the lioness her injury?

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