Jump to content

Okavango ramblings - of Pula, Stumpy and a Boma


Kitsafari
 Share

Recommended Posts

It took me a while to write this. There have been so many excellent reports and far better photos than mine. I wasn't sure how to write one without repeating what others have said or saying things you all already know. So, i thought i would write it to reflect the things i experienced and learnt while on the trip.

 

Okavango Delta

Mar 2 - 5 : Vumbura Plains

Mar 5 -8 : Mombo

Mar 9: city lodge at Johannesburg airport

 

Vumbura Part 1:

 

I'm sitting in Maun airport. It's surreal. I'm so used to seeing a wide expanse of green plains and hordes of browsers and grazers. now i'm staring at hordes of humans in a hot stuffy room lit up by harsh white tubes.

was it just 8 days ago that i was in the other departure lounge waiting to go to Okavango Delta?

The Cessna arrives and we pile in with the thunderclouds hovering in the distance. Rudy the pilot tells us he's dropping a couple off at Mombo and then it's a short ride to Vumbura. The plane flies low to avoid the gathering dark clouds above. But that means stunning views on the ground. The different shades of emerald green, lime green, olive green, yellow and dark green gives a vibrant hue to the delta .

Geologically, Okavango delta is pretty fascinating. Many know it's the largest inland fresh water delta, and that when floods are mentioned, they are the ones that originate from the Angola rains. The area that runs from the Panhandle down to Maun is between two tectonic faults which are still moving. The huge delta tilts ever so slightly down towards Maun – less than 2m in variation. The term floods is used loosely. Rains fall in the delta from Dec to March, and by March, the higher water levels that submerge roads and form ponds are from the rains. In late April, the water from the rains in Angola trickles into the delta. Although the term floods is used, the water does not gush or rush into the delta. Because of the gradual gradient, water literally trickles into the delta, as we see it in the documentaries and these are the waters that submerge huge swathes of the delta and create the temporary waterways. Sometimes, when the rains are heavy, the floods from Angola can reach as far down to Maun. The last high floods were in 2010, according to Cilas in Vumbura. the water is eventually lost through plants and evaporation.

P1010205.JPG

 

P1010201.JPG

 

P1010200.JPG

rains ahead

 

The rains move closer as we take off the Mombo strip. After 5 mins, Rudy announces we are turning back to Mombo as the Vumbura airstrip is under sheets of water from a thunderstorm. Mombo sends out refreshments as we wait but after 20 mins we are bundled back into the plane and head to Vumbura.

 

20140302_160801.jpg

stuck at Mombo airstrip

 

It is March. Rains are supposed to be tapering. But this year, rains arrive late in the delta, and Vumbura and Mombo are encased in tall long grass, thick vegetation, dense wooded area, and did I say tall long grasses? that restricts game viewing, so unlike the rich viewing enjoyed by @@graceland, @@SafariChick and others that came in the green season last year.

water is available everywhere, the rains are hard and the animals take shelter in the thick woods. at the same time, the grass is green and sweet, and it's a good life for the grazers and browsers, and in turn for the predators. Not so good for the humans who have come to seek them out and admire them.

P1010208.JPG

P1010209.JPG

 

P1010211.JPG

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A great start @@Kitsafari

Every TR is different because everyone's experiences are different.

 

It is fascinating to see how these areas look when there is rain around.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Soukous thank you for the kind words.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We arrive in Vumbura and the roads are flooded. It rains for the next 2 days. But it is quite a pretty cool experience for the vehicle to cruise through the waters. It's drizzling heavily and it's way past 5pm as we get off the plane. Lish, in the last stage of his guide training, is taking us back to camp but I want my evening game drive. Gary, one part of the couple who arrived with me, is also keen but his girlfriend Elizabeth, a safari debutante, is longing for a rest after 38 hours of travel from the US.

Cilas drives up and he will be our guide for the rest of my stay. He has cut off tracking wild dogs to meet us and I climb into his vehicle with the US couple. Then we are whipped off to chase the dogs. There is still light left. then we see them, streaming into the trees. It is hard to say how many but my first sight of the painted dogs thrills me. Those long-legged sprightly beautiful colored dogs with the big round ears that remind me so sharply of my dogs I left at home.

P1010230.JPG

 

P1010231.JPG

 

 

A few of them trot on the road and we follow fast. The dogs and us round the corner and run straight into a herd of elephants. The eles trumpet, agitated by the dogs around them. A dog appears between us and the eles, and a female ele takes offence and charges the dog. The dog runs into the trees and Cilas quickly reverses. That encounter disperses the dogs and they vanish into the thicket and we lose them. That will be my first and last sight of painted dogs.

 

P1010233.JPG

 

 

P1010234.JPG

 

 

P1010236.JPG

 

(This is part of a big pack of 17 dogs I think. They all looked adults. There are 2 packs in Vumbura and this is the larger pack)

 

 

P1010239.JPG

 

 

P1010240.JPG

not a great shot, but you can just about see the hind quarters of the dog at bottom right

 

P1010242.JPGa reason for the ele charge - babies

 

P1010257.JPG

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We drive around. We hear roars, and that means only one thing - lions. Cilas is amazing. He says, let's go round that corner, and sure enough there are 2 male lions are on the road, looking puzzled and perturbed by the vehicle that is blocking their path. They walk into the bushes to round our vehicle. I fumble with the camera, and miss all those important shots. so the pictures i have are fuzzy.

 

P1010275.JPG

 

P1010280.JPG

 

Lions giving me the bum treatment

 

These are 2 of 3 brothers who hang around the concession, belonging to no particular pride. There are 2 prides in Vumbura, if I recall correctly. The 3rd male lion has not been seen recently.


Other animals in the dusk hours

 

P1010268.JPG

 

P1010271.JPG

 

P1010270.JPG

 

ahhh how i miss those glorious African sunsets

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wonderful start to your TR and Dogs already! Great stuff! It is interesting how the bright green makes such a difference to the images, the dogs and elephants really stand out against the back ground beautifully. I hope my trip to Bots on Friday will give me similar chances. Looking forward to hearing more when you have time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

and now lions........................ :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A late but great start to your safari. Seeing the wild dogs immediately upon arrival, the ellies and lion! I would only expect that at VP!

 

The excitement quickly clears away any doubt that this will be anything but a fantastic journey.

 

I love how green everything is but realize to how difficult it is to really "see" every detail. I felt the rain energized the game as on those rainy days we saw much more interactions.

 

Great start, looking forward to more!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a lovely start to your safari, seeing wild dogs on the first drive must have been fantastic! Please keep it coming, I want to read more about your experience!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! Seeing wild dogs as soon as you arrive - what a treat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like they were waiting for you, Kit! These are really good looking dogs. I like the green - and the splashing around and the puddles can be fun and really add to the sense of adventure!

 

Lions, eles, dogs, buffalo, and giraffe on your first (short?) sunset drive? That's pretty amazing!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks all for reading the report! @@wilddog, indeed, you must have six sense!!

 

just to continue:

 

In Vumbura concession, there are only 3 camps - vumbura south, V north and Little V. You are limited to 3 vehicles at a sighting, but because they all belong to Wilderness, all the vehicles cooperate with each other. There are two drives each time. The wake up call is 5.30am and you are hopefully out by 6.30am. The tea is at 4pm and we are out again at 4.30pm. Unlike Mombo which is in the Moremi game reserve, you are allowed to drive till 7.30-8pm. i ask about full day drives, but Cilas explains full day drives are not ideal because of the heavy rains.

 

My vehicle mates are the American couple made up of retired eye surgeon Gary (who is young by the way and is a photo buff) his GF Elizabeth who is a leisure and entertainment writer, and a really nice and friendly Australian John who is on his 2nd three-week safari. Elizabeth is a hoot, loves selfies and tests Cilas’ patience with endless requests of getting off the vehicle to take photos with the wildlife, including the hyaenas and lions, and throwing sticks into the hippo to get the hippo out. We do counter that by suggesting throwing her into the pond to get the hippo out. John is so impressed with my knowledge (limited by a mile compared with the veteran ST-ers) of what’s happening in Africa that I’ve convinced him that ST is the forum to go to learn more things. So John takes down the URL link and John, I hope you are reading this, welcome to the forum!!

The first morning, Cilas is hurrying us out. We finally get going at 6.40am and it becomes clear why he's hurrying us out. 3 lionesses had killed a wildebeest just outside our V North camp. they had gorged on the kill and by the looks of it, had done the kill just minutes before we came out.

 

P1010286.JPG

 

Resting in between meals

 

P1010288.JPG

 

 

P1010292.JPG

Lazing lionesses looking on

 

P1010299.JPGtrying to cover up evidence

 

P1010300.JPG

still too close to the road for her comfort

 

P1010308.JPG

all that hard work makes her thirsty

 

P1010311.JPG

 

P1010318.JPG

 

P1010320.JPGa bit graphic but the lungs and stomach contents left untouched.

 

 

P1010321.JPG

 

 

we spend the next hour watching them pull the kill into the bushes, leaving the lungs and some offals across the road. 3 hyaenas appear and the battle to steal the kill plays out a few times. i fumble with my new camera and miss all the important moments, and i am still annoyed with myself for being such an idiot. I feel even more foolish when Cilas says he's only seen such a lion-hyaena battle 6 times in his 12 years of guiding.

 

 

P1010328.JPGtoo late to hide the smells

 

P1010354.JPG

 

 

P1010359.JPG

 

 

P1010386.JPG

 

(the 3 lionesses are part of a pride of 8 lionesses. i think they are from the western pride. two look younger with spots still seen on their legs. Cilas mentions that the lionesses have not had cubs for a few years, an interesting fact but I forget to ask why. because of that, the two male lions flit from one pride to the other without attaching to any particular pride. rather unusual behaviour.)

it is fascinating to watch the interaction of lions and hyaenas. the adult lioness moves to the scene of the kill and tries to bury the lungs and offals. she gives up and soon the hyaenas appear and make do with the discarded meat first. one of the hyaenas put its face to the ground and starts calling for reinforcements, knowing that they wouldn't be able to challenge the 3 adult lionesses with just a few of them. the sound resonates on the floor, giving its call better and wider range,and making it sound louder.

strangely, other than its two clan members, none of its other members turn up. instead, two outsiders appear and the threesome tries to chase them out without success.

 

The hyaenas make three to four attempts in the morning to steal the kill but they have little chance against 3 adult lionesses. they have vanished when we return from the morning drive, returning in the evening again when 2 more hyaenas appear to join forces to steal whatever was left of the kill. when i set off for bed, i can hear the hyaenas calling and the lions roaring still. but it is all over by morning when we leave for the morning drive. no sign is left of the carcass or hyaenas or lions.


P1010365.JPG

 

 

P1010398.JPG

 

P1010408.JPG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It just keeps getting better

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great start to your report Kit! I actually did have the problem of the very tall grasses at Little Kwara when I was in Bots last year, and it made it hard for us to see a lot there - I was just luckier with the other spots I visited. But from what you've posted so far you've had some really great sightings - the whole lion-hyena interraction sounds amazing and even though you chide yourself for not getting good shots of it, I think the ones you've posted combined with your writing paint an excellent picture of what was going on - exciting! Looking forward to more!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great sightings. Do we get to see you later in a Mombo pith helmet with Graham?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a great start of the safari!! Keep posting :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is great! Wild dogs and the lion hyaena interaction. What a start.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Despite some trying conditions for you it seems like great viewing and I am really enjoying the photos and the accompanying text. It is so verdant green and although you may not have had much time with the dogs, I like the photos of the pack in the grass which is quite different to the look I'm used to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When Cilas hurries, it pays to respond!

 

Those wild dogs' heads all facing the same way are precious. Two packs in Vumbura, very encouraging. Wild dogs seem to be really taking off.

 

Just tell us you meant to do that with the lion photo. It's titled Rainbow Panthera Leo. Confidently stick a watermark on it for copyright purposes.

 

Green, green, green from the air.

 

If this if from March of this year, you are not late at all. Probably one of the more prompt. Great start and more to come.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Kitsafari

Great start

Although the grass may have made viewing more difficult, the animals really stand out against the green in the photos

They look so different - beautiful pictures of the dogs and hyenas, and of course the lions!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great sightings. Do we get to see you later in a Mombo pith helmet with Graham?

 

did he have a pith? darn it, should have asked him for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Kitsafari Really a very good start - was a bit concerned for you having seen the first "road" picture. :D

 

Things I noted so far

 

- Yes, you are doing it right! Maybe it's only because I am not a Botswana regular, but this is all really interesting.

- You wanted to drive on and someone else wanted to go straight to camp. Next thing we know there are pictures of lions in total darkness. What happened in between is a mystery.

- You provide us with an abstract view of the lion-hyena and wild dog-elephant interactions. Very artistic. (Seriously, that long grass is a killer for photographing action - was that the trouble - getting focus to lock?). Both interactions are definitely very special - exciting stuff.

 

Love that first aerial pic of the delta and the dogs look super nice in all that green,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Kitsafari Really a very good start - was a bit concerned for you having seen the first "road" picture. :D

 

Things I noted so far

 

- Yes, you are doing it right! Maybe it's only because I am not a Botswana regular, but this is all really interesting.

- You wanted to drive on and someone else wanted to go straight to camp. Next thing we know there are pictures of lions in total darkness. What happened in between is a mystery.

- You provide us with an abstract view of the lion-hyena and wild dog-elephant interactions. Very artistic. (Seriously, that long grass is a killer for photographing action - was that the trouble - getting focus to lock?). Both interactions are definitely very special - exciting stuff.

 

Love that first aerial pic of the delta and the dogs look super nice in all that green,

 

am i glad that i pushed for that evening drive, else i would have missed the wild dogs and that was one thing i wanted to see in botswana!

 

it rained the entire afternoon on the second day, and i kept saying let's wear the ponchos and go, but the guide wasn't keen as he didn't want the others to get drenched and be miserable. luckily the heavy rains lightened and we left - an hour after we were supposed to go. ah well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After that spectacular start to my safari, it was really hard to top the wild dogs and the lion-hyaena interaction. but it is all the little things or the jumbo size ones that are just as stunning and enthralling.

 

Vumbura Part 2

 

the first 2 days are spent in the north region of the concession. I try to wrap my mind around the thought that we are in the Kalahari desert, even though we drive through flooded roads. Because of the annual rains and floods from Angola, this is an amazing oasis that gives birth to a fantastic myriad of vegetation.

 

The Vumbura land is sandy, so chances of being stuck in muddy places are very low. Swathes of roads are under waters, and cross junctions look like a huge pond, and despite my skeptical looks, Cilas cuts through the waters pretty easily. Cilas has been guiding for more than 10 years and is now a leading guide trainer for Wilderness Safaris. So I’m lucky and got one of the best guides.

 

P1010602.JPGLish and Cilas (on the right) during a tea break.

 

He’s spent time at various camps including Mombo, and I bring up Peter Alison’s book “Whatever you do, Don’t Run”. Peter mentions in the book of a hilarious incident (not for the guests at that time obviously!) of how he tried to cross a crocodile-infested lake. The Mombo guides use it regularly but Peter, being new and errr clumsy, drove the vehicle into a pothole and got stuck. He had to swim across the lake to get help while the guests clambered into the last 2 rows with the vehicle half submerged in water. “He always get stuck,” Cilas laughs it off.

 

But we don’t get stuck in Vumbura. We take tea breaks and sundowners at scenic ponds frequented by ducks and geese, and sometimes, the elephants rumble through in the distance followed by the zebras. There’s plenty of buffaloes, looking benign and curious, nothing like the tough intidimating cape buffalo in the Tanzania area. It makes a huge difference when you can get food readily.

 

P1010566.JPG

 

P1010576.JPGsniffing for a mate

 

P1010426.JPGPretty Lady is its name

 

P1010432.JPG

 

 

P1010471.JPG

 

 

P1010506.JPGcattle egrets

 

P1010522.JPG

 

 

P1010542.JPG

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also just as plentiful are impalas, zebras and giraffes. And birds as well. The greenery means flowers were blooming. The smells of wild sage are refreshing, though they are stronger in Mombo. Pretty lady plants sprout everywhere, while Devil’s thorn, used for medicinal purposes in the west, grow wildly on the ground.

 

P1010558.JPGa Hammerkop nest. it was enormous!

 

P1010562.JPGduckies and a goose preparing for the night

 

P1010580.JPGa blacksmith plover or now it's to be re-named as lapwing in a standardisation of names across the country

 

P1010584.JPGEuropean bee eater - i think. a migratory bird

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy