Jump to content

It's raining (a few) cats and (lots of wild) dogs - Botswana, June 2014


Recommended Posts

pault

I am stopping just before "biiiig day" (did I spell it right?) because that might distract me from getting to work. Enjoying so far and so are you- really nice dog sightings.

Link to post
Share on other sites
pault

Biiiig day was good. Seems like everything went right for you.

 

I am also skeptical about the dangers of wild dog overdose. Very rare.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I must say the very quick sightings I had of them in 2012 in Tarangire had then left me with a "meh?" feeling. However, since we had two (and a half) very close and long encounters this time, I have found it amazingly interesting to see their behaviour, both as individuals and pack.

 

The fact that the guide had been an assistant to Tico McNutt at the beginning of his work on the then very endangered wild dog in the Okavango delta in the early 90s also made for excellent side explanations and stories.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And the final gallery for the safari part of the trip (Chobe) is now online

 

HERE

Link to post
Share on other sites
Peter Connan

Beautiful photos.

Special mention: the departing vulture in the Chobe gallery!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Marks

Another great batch of photos. Excellent capture of the mongoose.

Link to post
Share on other sites

3g. 6th June, Chobe toLivingstone

 

We unmount tents for the last time, and leave around 7.35. We soon see 6 impalas and about 30 Guinea fowls, then a kudu and more impalas. Just before arriving at the northern gate of Chobe (and increasing tyre pressure as we are going to be back on asphalt), we see a waterbuck and two elephants.

 

Just after being back on the national road, at 8.50, we see a fresh buffalo corpse on the boarder of the road, apparently killed by a lion during the night. Five minutes later, we are in Kassane... and still see some wildlife, as we pass a warthog as we enter a gas station!!

 

We stop at a camping site to leave our trailer and say goodbye to our great cook around 9.45. Half an hour later, we are at the Kazungula border office, on the Botswana side. We get on the ferry at 10.40, arrive on the Zambian side at 11.10. I get my double entry visa at 11.30, and it still takes another 50 minutes for all other participants, plus the vehicle, to clear procedures, and for us to enter Zambia. We arrive in Livingstone around 14.00, change out BWP to ZMK and head for the lodge, halfway to the falls. We leave again at 15.30 after having booked the activities for the next day, and see three elephants going through the road before arriving at the Falls at 16.00 We stay till the end (18.00) and are back to the lodge 10 minutes later.

 

Sightings of the day:

  • about 120 impalas
  • about 30 Guinea fowls
  • 1 kudu
  • 3 hippos
  • 5 elephants
  • 1 waterbuck
  • 1 warthog

... and that's it for the safari part. The next day (Saturday 7th) was spent, in the morning, going back to the Falls on the Zambian side, and heading to the more impressive (and extremely wet) Zimbabwe side in the afternoon. Caught the SAA flight back to JNB mid-day on the Sunday, then spent another two days at my friend's place there before heading back to Europe, and planning the next safari.

 

Coming up, the last gallery (Vic Falls on both sides), as well as the hint & tips conclusion post.

Link to post
Share on other sites

4. Pros & cons of the trip

 

Overall, this was a great trip (both the city, safari and Vic falls parts), which I'd be happy to redo anytime.

 

Pros:

  • as already mentioned, the number of people (8) was great to ensure everyone had direct access to unobstructed view from a vehicle side. Sure, one person per row would have been even better, but you can hardly expect that on a budget safari.
  • in relationship to that, very well designed vehicle (and trailer). If we need to be finicky, maybe the electric recharge point (first row, left) could have been doubled (on third row for example, where the inverter was) so as to avoid having a huge pile of electronics all cluttered in the same space, but not much of a complaint. I'm sure however that shorter people would complain about the high step needed to get in the car, as they all bumped their head at least once while trying to climb in.
  • great team of Bushways, from the moment of the reservation, till leaving time. Special mention to the head guide, OT, who really knew his way around and animal behavior, giving us a clear edge on a number of other companies. The three members of the team were a bit shy at the beginning when on camp, tending to eat between themselves, but it got better at the end (the fact that at least two campers could not speak English sure did not help to bring everyone closer).
  • weather was great: never too hot, no rain at all, and just one cold night (last one, with lots of wind); came back without sunburns, a significant achievement in my case
  • itinerary was mostly good. "Mostly", because the Khwai stop was slightly subpar in comparison to the rest. Since it was my first time there, not sure whether it was as expected, or whether we missed some things due to the season.
  • Loved that I could pay by doing a bank transfer in Euros, thus avoiding exchange fees. Of course, that would be a con for non-European travelers, though it is possible that they also have a USD account.
  • and of course, a fantastic experience animal-wise. Aside from cheetas, not sure we could have expected much more. Chobe in particular rocked!

 

Cons:

  • tents slightly on the small size in my case (but I'm a bit out of normal range, height-wise)
  • a drawback of the season was that vegetation was a bit dense in some areas (especially Khwai, see above), hence probably some sightings lost.
  • I'll definitely have to buy a rain sleeve for my camera next time I head to Vic Falls, especially the Zim side.
  • Food cooked while camping, while often great, sometimes lacked a bit variety and "health factor" (lots of pasta, rice & potatoes). I fully understand however that logistics made it hard to bring certain fresh food, but some changes could have been made (for example, the only fruit that was brought were apples, oranges and pears; I'm sure there could have been a bit more choice considering the season and location).
  • last but not least (and certainly not the safari company's fault), some participants obviously had vastly different expectations from what was labelled as a "participation camping safari". It put us late a number of times, and also meant that these were always the same people who were helping the safari team, but hey, we were on vacation having a great time, so let's not focus on the boring stuff :)

 

I am now open to suggestions regarding to where I should head for the next safari (probably Summer / Fall 2016) :D Thinking Madagascar at the moment...

Link to post
Share on other sites
Marks

I have enjoyed this very much. You have given me a number of ideas on how to better record my sightings to be remembered in the future, and the suggestion of a rain sleeve is also a good one - not only for the falls, but also for any safari (walking or otherwise) on which one might be caught in the rain. I have used hotel shower caps for this purpose in the past. :P

 

I am perhaps not well-traveled enough to offer specific recommendations for your next trip, but I can safely say that I will read your next TR eagerly.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Peter Connan

I have used a clear plastic bag placedover the camera from the rear and held around the front edge of the lens with a rubber bag.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Marks: in fact, I'm thinking of getting something even more efficient next time, with pre-printed sheets with a large double-entry table (5-minute slots on the vertical axis, and a code on animals on the horizontal axis); then one would only need writing the number of animals seen in the corresponding cell (possibly with an extra code letter for the action; for example "5D" in the "08:05" x "E" cell would mean "5 elephants drinking spotted between 08:05 and 08:10"), thus dedicating even less time to this recording. Of course, this would not work for dedicated birders (among others) who would want to record more precise species names.

 

@Peter: indeed, this can probably be home made; just wondering whether it is then easy to also efficiently cover the back, and especially viewfinder (which is where the water entered in my case). Not sure there are commercial solutions for these, though.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Marks

@@Toubab That's a good idea; seems like it would allow you to record the information that much more quickly. For more detailed notes on especially interesting events, I do use the Notes section in the back of my "Safari Companion" guide. It's fun to flip through occasionally and reminisce.

Edited by Marks
Link to post
Share on other sites
Peter Connan

@Peter: indeed, this can probably be home made; just wondering whether it is then easy to also efficiently cover the back, and especially viewfinder (which is where the water entered in my case). Not sure there are commercial solutions for these, though.

@@Toubab, the the whole camera and almost the whole of the lens (excluding only the front element)is inside the bag. It is a little bit difficult to see through the viewfinder, but one can see well enough for general photography.

Link to post
Share on other sites
xelas

Very informative and detailed report, @@Toubab. Here are a couple of questions related to photography part:

1. what is your PP workflow ?

2. did you use filters, and if yes, which ?

3. did you fine tune 70-200 to D800 ?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Atravelynn

You had luck with the dogs and also the Saddle Billed Storks in the air, in the water, etc. Were there any thoughts on what might be ailing the lioness who was in "remission"? Your recording ideas are very clever. It's nice to find another note taker for sightings. We'll have to develop a universal code for animal names and their activities. Ha ha.

 

You probably had more fun "participating" in the camping chores than some of the folks who did nothing.

 

I know you mentioned thick/high grass at one point in the report. Perhaps a little later in the season would mean less vegetation. But it might mean more cost. I just dealt with a similar tradeoff. Overall, the grass did not get in the way of a great trip. Mobiles are a good way to see Botswana and yours was very successful.

 

Thanks for all the info.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Xelas:

  1. all is done under Lightroom, with a couple of plugins (previous Nik Software, now owned by Google), mainly Color Efex and Silver Efex
  2. just UV filters from B&W: pricey but much, much better than the usual stuff like Hoya
  3. don't have it here so can't remember, but I think it had a small front focus which was corrected with a 2 or 3 correction
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Atravelynn. Regarding the lionness, our guide had told us that when he had seen her at her worse, she basically had only skins on her bones, but no sign of physical trauma otherwise, so hard to guess. Maybe some kind of parasite?

 

I'll think about the cheat sheet format and post something in a new thread in the upcoming days. I just love reading the notes back and remembering what actually happened from just a couple of letters :)

 

Indeed, I travelled during the next to last time slot before high season, where the fees would have been increased by 20%, and the car would have been fuller. Aside from Khwai, it really was not much an issue.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Marks

I'll think about the cheat sheet format and post something in a new thread in the upcoming days. I just love reading the notes back and remembering what actually happened from just a couple of letters :)

 

I'd also like this. It might also be fun to read others' notes in their "raw" form, as opposed to the polished trip reports that we get here (not that I'd trade those).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • 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