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Kwando`s Green Season


michael-ibk

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madaboutcheetah

I'm hoping you went to see the famous Baines baobabs?

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I love animals. Always have, always will. And it was my first safari to Tanzania in 2011 (http://safaritalk.net/topic/10294-tanzania-2011-my-first-safari-ever/) which made completely sure that there´s

At the airport strip we were welcomed by our guide Vasco and tracker Voda. On the short drive to camp (about 10 minutes) I was happy. It just felt wonderful being back in Africa, and work and home alr

When we started our afternoon safari it was pretty cloudy and looked like rain could fall anytime. The good thing about being a relative safari newbie is there are a lot of firsts on every game dr

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michael-ibk

Of course, Hari, coming up in the very next chapters.

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Big_Dog

@@michael-ibk - Yes indeed, @@Atravelynn nailed it, LPV is Lappet faced Vulture. :D
I agree with you on Hoopoes too! Only seen one, in our rental garden in south eastern France, lovely bird. The parasite on the Roller is really odd though; unique photo there!

Ah, well, glad you had a good badger sighting, and hopefully future safaris will yield more! And yes, for me Kwara was the place to be for badgers, as well as the kitchen thief at Lagoon!

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SafariChick

I love the LBRs myself (Lilac-Breasted Rollers in case there is any doubt!) - gorgeous bird shots of all of them!

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michael-ibk

A few words about the park itself:

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136 km from Maun, it was first a reserve and then elevated to national park in 1992. The three pans (Nxai Pan, Kudiakam Pan to the South and Khama Khama pan to the east) are remainders of Makgadikgadi Lake, gone for about 4,000 years now. "Nxai" is a hook-shaped bar apparently used for digging out springhares from their burrows. The pan is said to have a similar shape, hence the name.

Kwando´s Nxai Pan Lodge is the only permanent lodge in the park, accomodating a maximum of 18 guests in nine thatched chalets. No tents here, like in Tau Pan rooms are masoned. And like there, they are huge and very comfortable:

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The rooms are quite far apart, and cleverly arranged, so each terrace can´t be seen from the neighbouring chalets.

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Zebras, however, are always watching. :)

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This privacy also means that ways are quite long. Which are wooden walkways here, different from all the other Kwando camps:

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Unidentified Skink

These walkways are the reason why the camp is "elephant-fenced", meaning the fence only begins at head level, so elephants can´t walk through, other animals do. Prior to the fence elephants used to wander through regularly and would always trash the walkways. I asked why these were there at all, and was told the area is popular with snakes (Black Mamba! :wacko:B) ), and the vibration would scare them away.

There´s a permanent (artificial) waterhole close to the main building:

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It´s a little bit too far away for good animal watching, but it´s quite nice having breakfast in the boma with elephants in the background.

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Camp Managers were Duff and Lizzie (probably known to most Kwando visitors), both did a very good job. As did Florence, our very friendly waitress for all three days. (Who nonetheless introduced herself every evening as our "waitress for tonight".) Nxai Pan was the only camp not fully booked while we were there, so it was quite a private experience, especially on the last day when only two other guests were there.

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Main Area

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madaboutcheetah

I visited Nxai Pan camp in March 2009(literally weeks after opening), at that time I was told by then Camp manager, Alwyn that the camp is located in a sensitive eco-system which is basically an extention of the pan (which is the entire area) and hence was the decision to build the wooden deck. There wasn't the Elephant fence then, though.....

 

Your image of those short tables around the camp fire reminds me of the time I took a tumble and went flying over it and fell flat on my face (it was dark and I didn't see it) ........ haha.

 

Lizzie at Nxai Pan ....... Hmmmmmm - She will be missed at LK that's for sure!!! Duff is super fun and is a great guy too!

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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TonyQ

@@michael-ibk

Excellent report with lots of great pictures

The lion cubs biting their mother's tail (very cute!)

The landscapes - and the rollers - beautiful

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michael-ibk

The next morning we had far better weather - clouds were gone, and a nice sunrice introduced the new day.

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We had our day trip to Baines Baobab scheduled for today (as all of camp, so two cars withs nine guests drove there together later), but still had plenty of time in the morning to further explore Nxai Pan itself. We saw Giraffes and Zebras, Zebras Zebras.

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This is the second artificial waterhole in the park.

Other than Zebras, the pans were empty.

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We found one of the lionesses who soon disappeared into a small grove, probably tending to the cubs in there (which we could not see). It got a bit exciting when some zebras were passing by very close to the trees, and we were hoping for some action. The lioness didn´t cooperate with our wishes, however, and stayed put - invisible to us and the zebras who never knew how close to their demise they were.

We also saw a couple of Wildebeest, several Black-Backed Jackals and one Bat-Eared Fox, but none of them came close enough to the roads for decent pics. Then we found other members of the pride, who did the lion thing - nothing. :)

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We had a coffee break at this very nice baobab spot. I had only seen these impressive trees leafless before (in Tanzania), but at this time of the year they are green and fruits all over:

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Our coffee break was suddenly interrupted when something very exciting was radioed in - Wild Dog alarm! A mini-pack of three (if you even can call that a pack) occassionally pops in and out of the park, and now they were seen near the South Camp gate. We raced there and searched the area nearby, but unfortunately didn´t find them. Again, the disability to offoad doesn´t make these things any easier here. The other car caught a very distant, fleeting look at them.

Well, it was time anyway to get going for Baines Baobab, so we left the pan at about 10.00.

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As can be seen above, the roads in the park were very wet at times, we saw a self-driver getting stuck, and only with Vagos help did they manage to get out.

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Animal "cemetery" at the gate. Ok, safaristas, what is what?

It´s a drive of about 1 1/2 hours from the gate to Baines Baobab, first 18 kms via a very sandy road leading through thorny brushwood. Not much to see here, but I did spot our first elephants hidden in the shrubbery, almost invisible. It´s amazing how easily such huge animals can blend in.

Then there´s a turn-off to the left, and another 12 km or 14 km drive (two possible routes) to Kudiakam Pan. A very different area from Nxai Pan, grass savannah, but not in a depression, mostly rolling hills, and almost devoid of animals, at least while we were driving through.

A Steenbok now and then:

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At one point, the sky was full of Marabou Storks and Vultures:

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After a while the scenery became greener again, more and more water bodies gave the place a very different look and feel from the last hour:

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Some Springboks and Gemsbok were here. Apparently in need of fashion advice:

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And then, at noon, we were there - Baines Baobab:

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It´s a group of seven Baobab trees, also referred to as the "Sleeping Sisters" sometimes. It´s unusual for Baobabs to be clustered together like this, so the place is very unique. The Baines Baobab trees derive their name from Thomas Baines (who was a member of the Livingstone Expedition); he painted this group of Baobab trees that became therefore famously known as the ‘Baines Baobabs’. According to sources, he completed the painting between 1861 and 1862, and he was overwhelmed with the rare sighting of these fantastic baobab trees. This is what he wrote:

A lone circuit brought me, with empty pouch, to the clump of baobabs we had seen yesterday from the wagon; five full-sized tress, and two or three younger ones were standing, so that when in leaf their foliage must form one magnificent shade. One gigantic trust had fallen and lay prostrate but still, losing none of its vitality, bent forth branches and young leaves like the rest ... The general colour of the immense stems was grey and rough; but where the old bark had peeled and curled off, the new (of that peculiar metallic coppery-looking red and yellos which Dr. Livingstone was wont so strenuously to object in my pictures) shone through over large portions, giving them, according to light or shade, a red or yellos, grey or a deep purple tone.

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I asked about the age of the trees, but no one really knows. Unlike normal trees, Baobabs do not provide any growth rings therefore when calculating their age one has to make use of different and more complex calculations than counting rings. Sciencists believe that Baobabs can reach an age of about 2,000 years, however.

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Obweb-Spider I nearly ran into.

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Here we enjoyed our lunch, and after some self-drivers had gone, we had the place all to ourselves. Sitting in the wonderful shade of these majestic trees, in comfy chairs, with a cool drink and tasty food, looking at the sparkling water, listening to the Pied Crows in the trees, absorbing the scenery. One of our group said to me "We do lead a terrible life, don´t we?"

I agreed wholeheartedly.

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michael-ibk

I visited Nxai Pan camp in March 2009(literally weeks after opening), at that time I was told by then Camp manager, Alwyn that the camp is located in a sensitive eco-system which is basically an extention of the pan (which is the entire area) and hence was the decision to build the wooden deck. There wasn't the Elephant fence then, though.....

 

Your image of those short tables around the camp fire reminds me of the time I took a tumble and went flying over it and fell flat on my face (it was dark and I didn't see it) ........ haha.

 

 

@@madaboutcheetah

 

Hm, I know too little about such things, but would the wooden walkways really be less of a strain to the eco-system than a simple path? Why?

 

I sympathize with your short table problems, almost happened to me, too. Several times. :)

 

@@michael-ibk

Excellent report with lots of great pictures

The lion cubs biting their mother's tail (very cute!)

The landscapes - and the rollers - beautiful

 

Thanks, @@TonyQ

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madaboutcheetah

I have no idea at all, Michael ..... was just mentioning what was told to me back when the camp was built.

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michael-ibk

Birds, pt. 5 (Roadrunners)

No, no Roadrunners in Botswana, but the guides don´t care about that, and that´s what they prefer to call most Francolins. And it is a fitting name for them, when a car approaches they hardly ever flee to the sides because they avoid the high, wet grass. They rather run and run and run until they realize that they still can´t outrun a car. Only then do they clear the road.

As does a similar and even more common bird:

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The Helmeted Guineafowl. They were everywhere, mostly with chicks. Great runners, they can walk 10 km and more in a day.

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Red-Billed Spurfowl (Lagoon) according to my birdbook, Red-Billed Francolin according to the Kwando ticklist.

Even more numerous was Swainson´s Spurfowl, particularly at Kwando. So I was quite baffled when I realized back home that I had not taken one single picture of this species.

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Coqui Francolin (Kwara)

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Orange-River Francolin (Tau Pan).

We also saw Crested Francolin.

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Double-Banded Courser

 

Not related to Francolins or Spurfowl, these (much smaller) birds are classed as waders.

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madaboutcheetah

Is the orange river Francolin also found in East Africa? Reason I ask ....... I may have seen something similar to Michael's image in the Mara recently (not sure, though) ......

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michael-ibk

No Orange-River Francolins in the Mara, they are endemic to the South AFAIK. But the Red-Winged Francolin looks very similar, and does ocur in the Mara.

 

Mara Bird List:

 

http://www.maasaimara.com/media/resources/ORD_Group_Ltd_Bird_List1.pdf

 

Red-Winged Francolin:

 

http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/birds/phasianidae/scleroptila_levaillantii.htm

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michael-ibk

On the way back to Nxai Pan we saw a Leopard Tortoise, a Saddle-Billed Stork, and several Elephants:

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Back at the pan, which had been quite deserted in the the morning ...

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.... animals were everywhere all of a sudden!

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Zebras, Giraffes, Wildebeest, Elephants, Springbok, Impalas were all around us. And just a few hours before the place had seemed lifeless? How can so many animals turn invisible? Where do they hide? In Aardvark burrows? B)

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Nxai Pan NP is one of only few places (Etosha one other for example) where Springboks and Impalas are sympatric.


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We would see tons of Impalas later, especially at Kwara. But this family was our very first sighting of them.

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The Springboks, unlike us, were not too impressed with the size of this elephant.


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This giraffe looked weird, there´s definitely something wrong with its jaw.


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This elephant didn´t like us too much, and told us to (excuse my language ;) ) piss off by doing exactly that.

Fortunately, others were more relaxed about our presence:




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The very rare Black-Socked-Elephant

On our way back we found two of the lionesses again - or rather they found us when they came out of the bush.

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This one passed us by extremely close, none of us dared to move, and she gave me a look I will not forget. "She loves you", one of my jeep buddies jokingly told me. Well, I love her too, of course. B)

The two sisters were walking with a purpose, and so we were following them.

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Indeed, they were trying to hunt, and approached the waterhole, to snatch themselves a little zebra snack. It was very exciting watching them, as they stalked and crouched, until they were very close to the water.

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As it dawned, more and more zebras were coming out to the open plains to the waterhole and passed the two lions by only 100 m away. Every time one of them would get closer, not only the lioness went stiff of tension, but so did we. Would we see an actual hunt, maybe even a kill now?

I was a bit conflicted about it. On the one hand, of course it would be super exciting to see nature in the raw. On the other hand, it was hard not to feel with the happy-go-lucky zebras who had no idea that they were in mortal danger and just had fun:

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But I needn´t have worried, none of them got close enough, and all of a sudden the lionesses gave up and just stood up, showing herself to the zebras, which stampeded off.

And so the day ended bloodless again.

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Atravelynn

Your visit to the baobabs was not with "empty pouch" as it appears you will have some lunch. Those Swainson's Spurfowl are really magnificent birds. Great spider in the web!

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Atravelynn

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I found the gemsbock a date for prom or better yet the Salzburg festival. It would be a pity to be all dressed up and no place to go.

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Edited by Atravelynn
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Kitsafari

Wonderful to come back to the report after so many days, and find more stunning pictures and delightful stories. The deception valley looks awfully quiet. Is it always like that or is it because it's the rainy season which allows the animals to scatter and hide?

 

Why was the lone wildebeest collared?

 

Adorable pix of the cubs playing with the mum's tail! And amazing to see so many vultures. I can only remember seeing 4 vultures in Vumbura when the lion-hyena battle was going on. Rather odd not see more vultures there.

 

Oh and that Blaine's baobab place looks like the perfect place to chill out.....

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Wow, Michael what a fantastic trip you had and what a wonderful report! Your pictures are really wonderful!

Great to see Dennis and Timber at Tau Pan as well, we had Timber when visiting in Feb, really nice character who gave us some precious leopard moments.

 

I love your description of the camps and the parks, that is a fantastic read and so much information for somebody interested. Well, done! I think both parks really complement the delta camps, giving a different experience. It is amazing how different the environment is just 40 minutes away... From what I hear you do really have good predator viewing in the Kalahari in dry season as well, but general game is dispersed and you will not see big herds. In Nxai the zebras move to Makgadikgadi leaving the park quite empty, but I belive the pride of lions and the cheetahs still hang around.

 

Can´t wait for your wild dog morning...

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Big_Dog

That look the lioness gave you certainly was one of lust and longing...
Great pics as ever! :)
As for the animal cemetery...I think...Elephant skull, elephant mandible, giraffe, kudu, hartebeest, springbok? Can an antelope buff correct or confirm me?

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Great report and photos. Each time we go to Africa there are a number of birds that have new names.

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michael-ibk

We went on our next game drive at 06:20 the next morning again. At the waterhole in front of camp we found this Black-Backed Jackal which seemed to be somewhat apprehensive about the water. He approached it several times at different spots but never dared to get down to drink.

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The local Blacksmith Lapwings didn´t approve of his presence at all and attacked him a few times until he had enough of pecking beaks and was off.

After a few nice bird sightings we found this glorious lion king specimen, gleaming golden in the morning sun:

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After completely ignoring us for some time he finally at least acknowledged our presence with a nice yawning performance.



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He then retreated from the sun and disappeared into a copse behind him, limping noticeably. Apparently he had been into a fight with his brother.

The pan was still in sleepy mode, the Wildebeest hadn´t even bothered to get up yet.

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That´s pretty much my facial expresssion after having to get up in the morning. :)

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After a while we found the three lionesses again.

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She really appeared to have developed a soft spot for me since she passed me by less than a metre again, and her eyes, finding mine like the day before and firmly fixating me, seemed to say "Oh, it´s you. Nice to meet you again, next time you will be my snack."

The rest of the game drive was comparably quiet. Unfortunately the Wild Dogs had left the park again, elephants had gone into hiding again. Giraffes, Zebras and Springbok were plenty, however, and we also saw Ostriches and lots of smaller birds.

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Though we had pretty much decided to stop taking pics of Zebras we often could not resist.

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We spent our coffee break at the public camp site (which was empty). Surprisingly clean restrooms there. And creative and efficient protection against elephants.

 

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On our way back to camp we were stopped by a huge Springbock herd. They always are fun to watch, and I especially like their curiosity. After you have stopped many of them can´t resist and move very close to the car, every bit as interested in watching you as vice versa.



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And sorry, @@Atravelynn , Jane, my snappy dresser from my last post says thankful very politely for your offer to set him up with wildebeest George, but prefers to go with shy but butch Springbok James. He just put the most effort in dressing up. B)

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We had to go to the airport strip then where our French jeep buddies would move on to Tau Pan. Wasn´t too thrilled about that because there´s practically nothing to see on the way there and back again and Vago could easily have dropped us off at camp (which we passed by closely) or at least asked about it. But we decided not to get worked up about this minor nuisance and spent a relaxed afternoon at camp afterwards, often watching the elephants at the waterhole. Invisible all morning, but here they were again.

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michael-ibk

Your visit to the baobabs was not with "empty pouch" as it appears you will have some lunch. Those Swainson's Spurfowl are really magnificent birds. Great spider in the web!

 

Thank you, Lynn. Lots of these spiders around, I was told they are harmless.

 

Wonderful to come back to the report after so many days, and find more stunning pictures and delightful stories. The deception valley looks awfully quiet. Is it always like that or is it because it's the rainy season which allows the animals to scatter and hide?

 

Why was the lone wildebeest collared?

 

Adorable pix of the cubs playing with the mum's tail! And amazing to see so many vultures. I can only remember seeing 4 vultures in Vumbura when the lion-hyena battle was going on. Rather odd not see more vultures there.

 

Oh and that Blaine's baobab place looks like the perfect place to chill out.....

 

 

Thanks, @@Kitsafari . Deception Valley was not all that quiet, lots of Gemsbok, Springbok and Wildebeest around, also Ostriches and Steenboks at the fringes. I think for the Kalahari it´s a pretty busy place. The valley is a good place for predators as well, but we were there between 11:00 and 15:00, and that´s the time where they are not active.

 

About the collared Wildebeest: I did ask, but Vasco didn´t know, he just assumed it would be some scientific project to find out more about their migration routes.

 

I didn´t see too many Vultures in the Delta myself, much more of them in the Kalahari, Nxai Pan and also Linyanti.

 

And yes, concerning chillout-quality I haven´t found many places which can rival Baines Baobab. :)

 

Wow, Michael what a fantastic trip you had and what a wonderful report! Your pictures are really wonderful!

Great to see Dennis and Timber at Tau Pan as well, we had Timber when visiting in Feb, really nice character who gave us some precious leopard moments.

 

I love your description of the camps and the parks, that is a fantastic read and so much information for somebody interested. Well, done! I think both parks really complement the delta camps, giving a different experience. It is amazing how different the environment is just 40 minutes away... From what I hear you do really have good predator viewing in the Kalahari in dry season as well, but general game is dispersed and you will not see big herds. In Nxai the zebras move to Makgadikgadi leaving the park quite empty, but I belive the pride of lions and the cheetahs still hang around.

 

Can´t wait for your wild dog morning...

 

Thank you, @@basto . I chatted quite a lot with Dennis at Tau Pan, he´s a very nice guy. Where did you see Leopard at Tau Pan? (Can you tell I´m jealous? ;) ) And what was your itinerary?

 

I agree about the diversity. It was very nice to see so different habitats in the four camps, completely different experiences. While I would go to Tau Pan in the dry season in a heartbeat (and will definitely do it sometime) I would be more hesitant about Nxai Pan. It´s just not as interesting scenery-wise, and without Zebras and Giraffes could seem a bit lifeless. Elephants stay around as I was told, in fact you see even more of them since they all stay very close to the two artificial waterholes.

 

 

That look the lioness gave you certainly was one of lust and longing...

Great pics as ever! :)

As for the animal cemetery...I think...Elephant skull, elephant mandible, giraffe, kudu, hartebeest, springbok? Can an antelope buff correct or confirm me?

 

Thanks, @@Big_Dog , though your "lust and longing" remark is a bit unsettling. B)

 

I´m ashamed to admit I don´t exactly remember about the skulls myself, think it was Elephant skull, Elephant mandible, Gemsbok, Giraffe, Kudu, ?, Wildebeest, Springbok, Gemsbok (horns only) and Elephant hip bone. Very unsure about the horns in front of the Kudu. Don´t think those are Hartebeest, they don´t even ocur at Nxai Pan. Impala which are around seem to be missing but look very different.

 

Great report and photos. Each time we go to Africa there are a number of birds that have new names.

 

Thanks, @@marg . :)

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Atravelynn

It must have been the season to wear vegetation. That last springbok is hilarious.

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michael-ibk

Birds, pt. 6 (aka "God help me I´m turning into a twitcher")

India awakened my interest in birds, the Pantanal solidified it, and now it´s gotten to the point where I even take pictures of LBJs (Little Brown Jobs.) When you start photographing Larks you know you have passed the point of no return. :o

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Fawn-Coloured Lark, Tau Pan

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Sabota Lark, Nxai Pan

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Rufous-Naped Lark, Tau Pan, singing its wonderfully deep, two-tone song.

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Ant-Eating Chat, probably the most numerous bird at Tau Pan


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Zitting Cisticola, Tau Pan

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Scaly-Feathered Finch, Nxai Pan. In German they have the delightful name "Schnurrbärtchen", which translates to "moustachy"

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Cape Turtle Dove, Lagoon. I really don´t like Doves and Pigeons since they are such a city plague. (We call them "Flying Rats".) But this one was posing too nicely. We also saw African Mourning and Namaqua Dove very often.

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Pied Crow, Baines Baobab. They certainly have good taste in choosing their homes. Only saw them here. Hard to spot in the foliage, and at first we wondered what that sound was. Their calls are uncannily similar to cows mooing.

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Red-Backed Shrike, Nxai Pan. One of few familiar birds for me, they ocur back home in Europe.

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Lesser Grey Shrike, Tau Pan

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Magpie Shrike, Lagoon. The largest of the family. We also saw the little colour-wonder Crimson-Breasted Shrike, but this little red beauty always refused to allow its picture taken.

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Coppery-Tailed Coucal, Lagoon. A huge, very impressive Coucal. (At least I hope it is one, could also be a Senegal Coucal, but the black crown goes back down quite far with this one which is one of the distinguishing features.)

 

Other "unspectacular" birds seen:

 

Hartlaub´s and Southern Pied Babbler, African-Red-Eyed and Dark-Capped Bulbul, Yellow-Fronted Canary, African Stone Chat, Familiar Chat, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Fork-Tailed Drongo, Marico Flycatcher, Nightjar, Chestnur-Backed Sparrowlark, Green Woodhoopoe.

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michael-ibk

In the afternoon it started to rain a bit, and it was very dark and gloomy when we started our game drive in the afternoon. All animals seemed to have gone into hiding because of the weather, for quite some time we only saw birds and these Impalas.

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No wonder everything was seeking shelter:

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We drove and drove and drove around, but wouldn´t seem much of interest, though we had a nice sighting of a Hoopoe (from a few posts avobe). The most exciting thing was when Shoes screamed "Mamba" and raised his feet and I saw the tip of its tail disappear in a bush.

Later in the evening at least some Giraffes, Wildebeest and Zebras came out.

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We ditched sundowners, the sky became darker and darker every minute, and we were quite sure we wouldn´t get home dry tonight. But still, we of course had to stop for Bat-Eared Foxes.

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Again, quite far away, and the light was not doing us any favours.

We drove back pretty fast now, as heaven seemed ready to open its floodgates, and had to stop very abruptly when the male lion from this morning was resting on the road behind a bend. He wasn´t happy to see us, and roared.



(Nothing to see here, too dark, just the roaring.)

We would hear him all evening and in the night, as this was just a few 100 metres from camp.

The next morning the pan was pretty empty again.

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We left Nxai Pan, and drove to Khama Khama pan, a much smaller depression to the North East, about 10 km from the most Eastern point of Nxai Pan. The way there lead through dense shrubbery, and we didn´t see any mammals except a few glimpes of a few elephants, and not even many birds.

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Khama Khama pan itself is not as open as Nxai Pan, most of it is overgrown with coppice.

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Very few people ever get here, Vago told us we were the first Kwando car this year, and it´s not more often than twice or three times a year they bother to drive up here at all. So more than once, they had to look very carefully where to drive, the road was pretty much invisible at times.

Animals here were extremely skittish, definitely not used to cars, so even zebras or giraffes would take flight at first sight of us. We saw plenty of Elephant "signs", the pachyderms themselves stayed hidden as well.

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We had a mission here, find a very special antelope. Vago himself was very keen, to my surprise he told me he never had seen one of them before. But it all seemed to be for naught, Khama Khama just looked like this:

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Until, nearly at the end of the 14 km loop, we found what we had been looking for:

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A big herd of Elands! At first it looked like they would run off, but since we kept our distance they stared back at us, probably making up their mind what strange creatures we were.

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The herd was sizable, Vago counted 42 of them. When we tried to get just a little bit closer, they finally behaved true to Eland form and stampeded off.



Immediately afterwards we saw a Steenbok. Just felt right seeing both the largest and the smallest antelope within five minutes. Happy having acommplished our goal we left Khama Khama. Not much on the way back but a Leopard Tortoise.

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The boy holding it was a son of staff accompanying us for this game drive. He didn´t seem to enjoy it all that much, was more in typical teenager "I hate the world and the world hates me" mode.

 

Vago then shocked us a bit when he refilled his water bottle in one of the puddles in the middle of the road and took a mouthful, but he just told us his system was used to it.

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Shortly before returning to Nxai Pan we found a male lion again, staring at us out from the shrubbery. The boy asked if he could get out of the car to get a better look. :rolleyes:

We returned to car at about 12:30 and had ample time to finish our packing before we were taken to the airpot strip for our flight at 15:00. Here we said good bye to Vago and Shoes.

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Guide Vago and Tracker "Shoes"

My final verdict on Nxai Pan: Not as exciting a place as the Kalahari, but I absolutely enjoyed our three days there. It´s certainly much more than just zebras (which are fun to watch as well), we were delighted about the plentiful giraffes and springbok. No cheetah or leopard (none of them for weeks prior to our arrival), but our lion sightings had been great, especially the one with the cubs. We very narrowly missed the dogs, so that chance is always there. Baines Baobab is wonderful as well, this daytrip was one of my highlights of the whole holiday. And Khama Khama made for a very nice Eland sighting, a first not just for me but for the guide as well. I had been told that three nights at Nxai Pan would be excessive, but with the different areas we visited there I thought it was worth it. And the camp itself is very nice, so no complaints there. But I think it´s a place good to visit once, contrary to all other Kwando camps I don´t feel an urge to return to it.

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