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Mashatu, Kgalagadi to Caprivi overland and a Moremi mobile with Masson Safaris : 6 weeks in Southern Africa 2014


Treepol

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Game Warden

@@Treepol great stuff, reports like this really arouse interest in the Kgalagadi.

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@@michael-ibk @@MR1980 @@TonyQ and @@Marks thanks for the encouragement. Moving on to Etosha, a premier park in my view.   Namibia (cont.)   We arrive at Okaukuejo around 1 pm and in our first day

@@Tdgraves hope that memory card issue gets sorted soon   @@Marks thanks for reading along   @@Seniortraveller, I've never heard the Mashatu tree called Nyala Berry, thanks for the info   @@Towl

This year we were a party of 5 – myself, @@farin, Mum (both on second safaris) and the Cousins (safari newbies) on a soft adventure safari followed by a 6 day Moremi mobile with Masson Safaris. The h

Sounds like Kgalagadi was really productive in your time there! Excellent shots and sightings of the big cats, birds and everything in between. Especially nice ones of the not oft-seen nesting Secretary Birds and sleeping Cape Fox.

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Towlersonsafari

Thanks @@Treepol. The reason we were interested in the journey from Mashatu to KTP was that we often try to plan self-drive routes from one to t'other- and never can make it fit or find intersting places to visit during the journey-although we are sure there are such places! Greatly enjoying the trip report-we are off to the KTP next august-how did you find the cold at night?. Very interested to hear your views of how the winter cold affects the wildlife sightings, and the rythms of when the sightings happened during the day.

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TonyQ

A real variety of wildlife in this section - very enjoyable. Great lion views – and a Honey Badger! – the Bee-eater shots are lovely.

 

Parts of the report sound as if you are in Scotland -Killiekrankie, Auchterlonie, Dalkeith!

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Another great section...I enjoyed the meerkat followed by the squirrel doing its best meerkat impression.

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twaffle

I'm really impressed by the number of excellent lion sightings plus all the other animals, really interesting. Poor old lion with the porcupine quills, sad to see them like this.

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graceland

Six Weeks! How fortunate. If only.....(sigh). And the amt. of sightings you experience in Mashatu..In previous reports my interest was flickering; now there could be a burn!

 

Excellent photos @@Treepol

 

Thanks for beginning this excellent journey. Looking forward to more; can't choose a fav. One thing I haven't seen is a large group of bee-eaters - glorious; and of course I love all the cats, and along with MUM, the elies!

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Kitsafari

@@Treepol great and multiple sightings at mashatu and KTP. did that Eland have only one horn?

 

those cheetah cubs are adorable. and standing meerkat and squirrel make me want to go there as well. both places really delivered in sightings.

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Treepol

@@Game Warden @@Big_Dog and @@Marks thanks for reading along, more on KTP today.

 

@@Towlersonsafari I don't remember it being particularly cold overnight in KTP, nor in the morning at breakfast. Perhaps we struck a mild August. In July 2011 the frost at Gharaghab was so heavy that it looked like snow on the dunes. It was absolutely freezing when Ewan dropped the windscreen for the morning game drive at 6.30 am.

 

@@twaffle KTP was excellent for lion this year. We saw 7 individual mature males including the old guy. The interesting thing was the balance between males and females. We saw 3, maybe 4 lionesses when usually it is the females and sub-adult cubs that comprise most of the sightings and most of the individuals seen.

 

@@graceland The six week trip was wonderful, a great break from work and home. I do heartily recommend Mashatu Tent Camp with Richard as guide. Tasmania is so far from anywhere that its not worth flying beyond Asia for 3 weeks or less!

 

Kgalagadi (continued)

 

We will explore the western side of KTP over the next 2 days using the permit obtained at Twee Riverien and are not required to exit and re-enter Namibia each day. As it turns out, we have to show our passports one day at the Namibian immigration post and a SAPS officer asks to see passports on the second day – crossing the border twice each day was easy.

 

The daily drive to the gate was quite eventful with sightings of nesting vultures, steenbok, springbok and black-backed jackal. The first day we saw the KTP cheetah again, which had moved about 500m overnight. A slender mongoose warms up in the sun while a family of hartebeest drink at Veertiende Boorghat where the oryx in the background uses a hardy pair of back-scratchers.

 

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This waterhole was quite active with Namaqua sandgrouse fluttering around before being disturbed by black-backed jackals.

 

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A pair of Dikkops are enjoying the sun on the other side of the vehicle and a crimson breasted shrike hops around right next to the vehicle.

 

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A small herd of springbok run and pronk to join the main group and many Fork-tailed drongos perch on low branches in this part of the park. Two South African Shelducks are wading below Auchterlonie as we drive by and then Francois notices a Martial eagle with a Dikkop kill.

 

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We return to Veertiende Boorghat for lunch where oryx jostle, kicking up the dust and a male ostrich displays furiously to a group of uninterested females, dancing, dipping and flapping his wings to no avail.

 

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Exiting the park we note that the cheetah has settled on a low dune.

 

The next day’s viewing starts well with 2 male lions at Craig Lockhart. Once they had settled behind some tall grass we drove further south, stopping to investigate the dusty footsteps of a small animal in the riverbed. Not a bat-eared fox, but an obliging African Wildcat that allowed us good views while crossing the road and climbing a tree where it twisted its head searching for small birds.

 

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Further on, an old giraffe was sitting eating under a tree – we wondered if he was sick, injured or taking it easy. Later, we watched a pair of ostrich shepherd a young family down to the riverbed feeding as they walked. A pair of Spotted Eagle Owls and an indignant chick nest in a tree on the Dune Road.

 

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Oryx were the main animals seen along the Nossob River bed, jousting and chasing one another causing a lone kudu to retire to a shady tree and wait for a turn at the waterhole. Returning to Mata Mata side we stopped at the owls once more for a final look at the chick before finding this giraffe family feeding close to the intersection of Dune and Mata Mata Roads.

 

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A lazy Cape Fox snoozes the afternoon away while further on an ostrich takes a dust bath. Sadly, once we stopped for photos it stopped flapping and watched us intently. We pass a dead springbok lying on the hillside, two small holes in the carcass with minimal meat consumed point to this being a cheetah kill.

 

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A pair of bat-eared foxes were hunting in the riverbed, using their enormous ears to locate insects underground.

 

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Meanwhile, back at Craig Lockhart a small herd of wildebeest drinks at the waterhole, oblivious to the 2 male lions lying on the dune ridge. Suddenly, a lion slips down the hill, keeping to the shadows and stalks stealthily with head low towards the wildebeest. Inching forward, each footfall is painstakingly and silently placed, but ultimately he is spotted, the alarm is raised and the wildebeest withdraw. The lion then nonchalantly saunters down to the water, yawning as though he wouldn’t have dreamed of hunting wildebeest today. He returns to the dune where a twitching black tail gives away the brother.

 

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This failed hunt was our KTP grand finale, and a high note on which to depart. Back at Mata Mata we stop for fuel where these 2 children were playing in the yard.

 

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@@Treepol

Beautiful pictures and fine writing that commnicates the experience so wel.

I love the wild cat, the cape fox and the bat eared fox hunting.

And the description of the lion pretending it wasn't realy hunting fits all cats so well!

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@@Treepol

Wonderful! Lucky for me I saw your reply on TA otherwise might miss this great report. Fantastic sightings; please tell me that we have good chances to see at least half of those when in KTP next April?!

A question: would one night (before driving toward Bagatelle) at Kalahari Framstall be more comfortable as one night at Mata Mata?

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michael-ibk

Great shot of the Crimson-breasted shrike (I know they are not easy at all) and love the wildcat and the cape fox.

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Treepol

@@Kitsafari the eland looks to only have one horn in the photo, although I don't remember noticing this at the sighting.

 

@@TonyQ thanks for all your kind comments

 

@@xelas I would recommend a transit night at Kalahari Farmstall over Mata Mata, especially if you aren't planning on spending any significant amount of time in the park on that last day before heading to Bagatelle. I visited Bagatelle in 2012 and had a wonderful time. I hope you experience great sightings and the space of the Kalahari in KTP next April. I don't know what the game viewing patterns are like then, I usually rely on the trip reports on the Sanparks forum for that type of detail @@Panthera Pardus may be able to give more detail.

 

@@michael-ibk those crimson breasted shrikes are so hard to photograph because they are so active - this was a lucky shot out the window during lunch. We had a long running joke with Francois about these birds. He had been trying all trip to get a clear photo and must have had over 100 'almost' photos on his camera before he succeeded.

 

Namibia

 

After a final breakfast at the Kalahari Farmstall and farewells to Marika we set out for the 3 hour drive to the Kalahari Anib Lodge en route to Swakopmund. Along the main road a resting Martial Eagle surveys the countryside.

 

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The drive traverses dry rural landscape where cattle and sheep graze and occasional areas of bright green and poly-tunnels indicate small scale crop farming. A late afternoon walk around the lodge located a pair of Red-headed Finches against another impossibly blue sky, a Lilac Breasted Roller and a flock of White-backed Mousebirds was catching the late afternoon sun.

 

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This is my fourth visit to Namibia, I’m quite a fan of the wildlife, the scenery, the ease of travel and the uncrowded towns. I’ve found travel and accommodation to be of a high quality and reasonably priced. Etosha is a premier park which has delivered memorable sightings on each visit and this year was no exception. I was very happy to see my friend Margaret once again whom I first met in 2008 at Brigadoon and again 2012 when Mum and I had dinner with her at the Tug. Since Brigadoon, Margaret moved to the Stiltz and now manages both the Stiltz and the new Desert Breeze accommodation, spectacularly located against the dunes on the edge of town.

 

The drive from Anib Lodge to Swakopmund took around 6 hours via the magnificent scenery of the Kuiseb Canyon, which gave way to golden grasslands as we neared the coast.

 

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Wildlife seen along the way included baboons, meerkats and kudu.

 

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Both Francois and Ewan spoke of a book called The Sheltering Desert which is the story of Henno Martin and Hermann Korn who hid out in the Kuiseb Canyon, living off the land for 2 years during World War 2. I will buy a copy for my over-flowing bookshelves.

 

The Cousins and @@farin did Tommy Collard’s Living Desert tour the next day while Mum and I shopped, making several purchases at the Swakopmunder Buchhandlung. We all met at Café Anton where the others arrived with big smiles after an enjoyable morning with Tommy. Francois collected us for a short trip to Walvis Bay to see the salt works and the lagoon where flamingos, sandpipers, stilts and lapwings waded. The flamingos were the stars of the show. I think its fascinating that these birds know when there is water in Etosha Pan and make the trip north to breed. Some years they don't leave the coast at all - how do they know?

 

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We ordered in Dial-a-meal pizza that night and ate in Mum’s chalet where a fire burned cosily in the firepot, which together with the large walk-in showers are key features of Desert Breeze accommodation. The servings were huge so I went in search of the security guard who was pleased to receive a whole warm pizza for supper.

 

 

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Lots of good birding and interesting less common small carnivores...and of course those scenic Namibian landscapes. Keep it coming! :)

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Already looks like a fantastic trip! The injury on the male lion could have well been caused by another male lion. If a male tries to get away from another male and is being chased, the chaser will over slash at the chased male, usually from behind (as he's chasing) and often the chased one ends up with injuires on the inside of his hinds legs.

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Treepol

@@Marks I'm pleased that you are enjoying the TR - more scenery coming right up!

 

@@egilio thanks for the information. Yes the wound looked as though it could have been caused by another lion, now that you have explained this behaviour.

 

 

Namibia (cont.)

 

Next day we leave at 8.45 for the 5.5 hour drive to Palmwag for a 2 night stay. Along the way we see many Kalahari Ferraris, in Kamanjab Francois recognises the old Walvis Bay number plate from the days of South African government.

 

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Across the road from the petrol station there is a local tyre repair shop and take away food.

 

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The drive north is filled with spectacular images and the bluest of blue skies. This photo was taken on a conservancy where the mopane trees are thriving. The sharp stones around the base of the pole deter elephants from using it as a scratching post – a simple and functional solution to an important wildlife issue.

 

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The local people gather mopane wood and sell it to travellers at negotiable prices.

 

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The bridge over the Agab River is testament to the floods this dry land experiences and this abandoned settlers cottage bears witness to the settlers who came, stayed for a while and moved on. Cattle huddle in any available shade to escape the heat.

 

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The Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain comes into view and today it appears as a purple ridge on the skyline.

 

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These African Chestnut Trees contrast sharply with the red rocks and sky.

 

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We stop in yet another dry river bed under an Ana tree that is a favourite of at least one desert elephant. A Grey Lourie and Damara Hornbill protest at our intrusion.

 

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More of the gorgeous scenery.

 

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At Palmwag, Mum and I are swiftly transferred to tent chalets after I express dismay at the rooms we are assigned. The chalets were comfortable but an intermittent septic tank smell needs to be taken care of fast. Animals in camp included a desert elephant who grazed around camp during the day, sometimes slept next to the bar and wandered around at night.

 

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Cape Glossy Starlings and doves frequented the pool area. Next morning we are out at 7 am in search of desert species. Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra are well represented and Ruppell’s Korhaan too.

 

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The Palmwag concession is another spectacular area dominated by a sea of golden grass, red rocks and blue sky. A lone giraffe is dwarfed by the landscape.

 

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We are lucky to see a herd of 8 desert elephants with a very small baby on a mountain and we look hard for the 5 desert lions seen by others but are out of luck, and we also missed rhino.

 

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A visit to the Aub Canyon hoping for lion is interesting but doesn’t deliver.

 

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A White-backed Vulture waits in the morning sun to become airborne.

 

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We return to the Lodge for lunch and a snooze, venturing out again in the afternoon when @@farin spots a leopard on the opposite river bank. Francois is so happy, a leopard at last, he sighs – “such an elegant cat.”

 

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The cat slowly make its way into the riverbed, scent-marking as it goes only disappear between the trees. The final sightings of the day are 2 springboks – the baby is full of the joys of spring, running and pronking in the late sun before a pastel dusk descends.

 

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We depart Palmwag shortly after 8 am, once a second puncture is fixed - the sharp stones are uber hard on tyres. The panoramic scenery of the Grootberg Pass is characterised by flat-topped mountains and rounded peaks. Incredibly we saw animal trails leading to the mountain tops. Once through the pass, the land levels out and unusual clusters of dolerite columns resembling jagged sticks forced into the ground become commonplace. Hennie and Johan from Live the Journey (most of our Namibian bookings were made through this agency) flag us down. They spent the night at Grootberg Pass and have 6 lodge visits to complete today – soon they are lost in a distant dust trail. Later, Francois spots a Black-chested Snake Eagle circling overhead with a snake just before it drops from sight.

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michael-ibk

Even if you had no luck with rhinos and lions, that landscape just looks spectacular. I especially like the pic of Aub canyon.

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@@Treepol

The landscapes are beautiful - and it is amazing seeing elephant in such an environment!

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Love this trip report @@Treepol, so many great locations!! Some of them I've also visited so brings back memories... :)

Edited by MR1980
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More scenery indeed! The Aub Canyon looks quite scenic regardless of its lack of lions, and I also like the elephant creeping around at night.

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Treepol

@@michael-ibk @@MR1980 @@TonyQ and @@Marks thanks for the encouragement. Moving on to Etosha, a premier park in my view.

 

Namibia (cont.)

 

We arrive at Okaukuejo around 1 pm and in our first day see 5 lion and 3 black rhino in addition to the usual suspects – impala, springbok, kudu, wildebeest, elephant, black-backed jackals and many kori bustards.

 

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After dinner we have prime seats at the waterhole where 2 lionesses, rhino and eles come to drink. Around 8 pm a dark shape timidly approaches towards the water – oh my, a brown hyena. A jackal is keen to see it off.

 

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The morning game drive starts quietly. The Okondeka pride are not at home, but we do find the pride males closer to Leeubron.

 

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Vultures and a single jackal are scouring the site where jackal killed a springbok the previous day.

 

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We see kudu and oryx at Aus followed by red hartebeest kneeling to drink at Oliphantsblad.

 

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Masses of zebra are milling around and under the water at Gemsbokblakte.

 

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During the day the plains grazers come into Okaukuejo Waterhole, oryx, springbok, kudu, zebra and wildebeest all take a turn to drink.

 

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Pied crows croak from a tree overlooking the waterhole while a pair of crimson-breasted shrikes hop around in the trees outside my chalet.

 

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The afternoon game drive was also quiet, this journey of giraffe at Nebrownii was the major sight so we returned to Okaukuejo where an ele bull sought relief from the mid-afternoon heat.

 

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Just before dinner around 40 elephants congregated at the waterhole generating a great deal of dust, pushing and shoving to gain access to the freshest water.

 

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Francois, Mum and @@farin follow the ele show.

 

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I returned to the waterhole after dinner where the air was heavy with the dusty smell of elephant and the straw-like smell of fresh dung. The next day we set out slowly for Halali, checking each waterhole along the way. This giraffe baby barely reached its mother’s back.

 

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In 2012 we had been lucky with lion at Homod and so we were again - 2 of the 3 males that have settled around this waterhole were taking it easy.

 

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Francois has since sent me a photo of one of these guys that was taken during the green season.

 

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At Charitsaub we watched this juvenile Blacksmith Lapwing searching for food while hundreds of zebra massed warily, preparing to drink.

 

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This baby is about 2-3 months old and is beginning to change stripey coats.

 

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At Goas, a Groundscraper Thrush picked its way through elephant dung and these impala engaged in some mutual grooming.

 

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Rietfontein is full of zebra and not much else, except for this lone African Fish Eagle while a Grey Hornbill keeps an eye on traffic into the waterhole.

 

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An elephant family feeds quietly along the road to Nuamses so we stopped to watch the babies at play which delighted Mum.

 

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However, when we arrive Nuamses waterhole is empty save for a few doves. Returning to Halali a young spotted hyena lopes down the road towards us (only the third spotted hyena of this trip) and a black rhino feeds quietly.

 

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michael-ibk

You´re on a Crimson-Breasted Shrike roll! That male lion looks very grumpy, doesn´t he? Love the waterhole pics, especially the Red Hartebeest.

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@@Treepol

I would like the baby elephants as well!

I also think the waterhole shots are amazing - especially the group of elephants hurrying towards the water, and then enjoying it with a pink sky behind them (and reflected in the water).

 

The country looks so different in that green season shot of the lion (though he is very handsome in both pictures!)

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Those waterholes looked so different with so many animals around. If not for the lions, I would prefer the less busy sightings we have had. The lion in the flowers reminds me of that old Disney cartoon, Ferdinand the Bull. Lovely!

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Africalover

@@Treepol

 

What a great safari you had, enjoy it so much, nice photos.

 

Thanks.

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