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Chobe - Sept 2014


Soukous

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Soukous

I'm finally home again after a looong safari in Botswana and Zimbabwe.

The Botswana section only consisted of a couple of days in Chobe but I'll still put that part of the TR in the Botswana section and the rest in Zimbabwe.

 

Lots of photos to process and words to write so it could take weeks to complete but here is a photo to get the thread started.

I'll fill you in on the where and when once I've got myself organised.

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Edited by Soukous
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twaffle

Love your starter image, stunning.

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Kitsafari

welcome back! Lovely image of the beautiful sables running!

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Soukous

15 September 2014.

I'm not a fan of airports, but Kasane is the kind of airport I love. Small enough that you can walk down the steps from the plane and across 50 metres of tarmac into the immigration building.

The woman who directs you to the correct door then hurries behind the desk to stamp your passport with the entry visa. No frills, no fuss, but it works with an effortless simplicity that immediately makes you feel at ease.

 

Once we had officially entered Botswana we all stood around in the 'Arrivals Hall' waiting for our bags to be brought from the plane. This was done with a handcart, from which the bags were unloaded and brought one by one into the hall. No trolleys, no pushing and shoving to get bags off a conveyor belt. It was all very civilised.

 

Once outside we were met by Dennis, who was to be our guide for the Chobe section of our safari.

(This was the first leg of a safari that would take us from Chobe across the border into Zimbabwe where we'd be visiting Victoria Falls, Hwange, Matusadona and Mana Pools before flying down to South Africa's Western Cape.)

 

He drove us to The Old House in Kasane. A quaint B&B where we would be staying until the rest of the group arrived.

 

Our safari was supposed to start on 16th September but the flights into Kasane were fully booked for that day so we'd chosen to arrive a day early whilst the others had chosen to fly into Victoria Falls instead and transfer to Kasane by road. I much preferred our option as it gave us time to relax after our flight and explore the bustling metropolis of Kasane.

 

A little bit about The Old House...

When the Chobe National Park was established in 1968, the saw milling settlement at Serondella gradually re-located to the village of Kasane. The original foundation of The Old House was built from the used bricks that were collected from the ruins of the old saw mill buildings.

 

I can highly recommend The Old House to anyone who needs to overnight in Kasane and does not need the luxury of Chobe Marina Lodge or Chobe Safari Lodge. The rooms were more than adequate, with air conditioning and the bar and restaurant were simple but comfortable. The food we had there was great and the beers were cold.

What we liked in particular was that The Old House seemed to attract an interesting bunch of travellers and safari guides who preferred to eat and drink there than the more expensive Safari Lodge or Marina Lodge.

 

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Our first sight of the Chobe river

 

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Lesser Striped Swallow (Hirundo abyssinica) siting on one of the moored boats

 

16 September 2014

With a whole morning to kill until the Australian members of the group arrived, Rena (Mrs Soukous) & I took a stroll down the main (only) street in Kasane.

 

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Local entrepreneurs, Kasane, washing cars and sofas.

 

We visited both the big lodges where I took a professional interest in their facilities etc and Rena took an enthusiast's interest in their gift shops. Fortunately no money changed hands and we were were both happy with our decision to choose simpler accommodation.

 

Around 3pm Dennis joined us to wait for the others. Once they had arrived, loaded their bags and used the facilities we set off for the gate into Chobe NP.

 

I had known all 4 of the Aussies for some time and 3 of them had travelled with me previously, so there was no ice to be broken.

 

Shortly after we entered the park I spotted a dark shape amongst the trees to our left. It was a lone sable antelope. I hadn't seen sable for quite a few years so I hoped that this might be the first of many.

 

It wasn't long before we found ourselves travelling beside the Chobe river and there seemed to be Open Billed Storks everywhere. (Roberts Bird Guide now calls them simply African Openbill.)

 

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and some fine looking kudus

 

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and lots of Red Billed Hornbills (Tockus erythrorhynchus)

 

We encountered small groups of elephant making their way to the water and others having great fun in mud wallows.

 

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At one point a family group emerged from the bushes behind us. Finding us between them and the water they stopped to sniff the air for a while before giving us a wide berth.

 

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Another vehicle had stopped because there was a leopard in the bushes. It was pretty well hidden and selfishly didn't offer any photo opportunities, but we watched for a while hoping it might move into the open. In vain.

Nevertheless, it was an encouraging sign that we had already seen one.

 

The river bank was teeming with small groups of buffalo and elephant but the light was pretty poor so I didn't feel tempted to take many photos.

 

Then we saw something that did tempt me. Ahead of us, moving away from the water and into the trees was a group of sable antelope. Dennis switched off the engine and we just sat there hoping like hell that they would keep coming in our direction.

 

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Thankfully they did for a while before bolting for the trees. It was a very special moment.

 

I tell all my groups that every game drive should have a special moment. It doesn't need to be a lion sighting or anything to do with the so called Big 5, but just something that is out of the ordinary, something that you won't see every day, something that will stick in the mind when you think back to that day's game drive.

This sable sighting certainly qualified.

 

Driving into the setting sun we saw a huge herd of buffalo spread out on one of the islands in the river. We estimated that it was probably around 600+ animals.

 

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It was dark when we reached our camp. A private mobile camp in one of the designated wilderness sites. Fortunately our site was located well within the park so that our game drives would begin pretty much as soon as we got into the vehicle. This gave us a bit of an advantage over those who had to come in from (and return to) Kasane each day as we had the park to ourselves for a while in the morning and evening.

 

After introductions from the camp crew we dumped our bags and re-assembled in the dining tent. We were thirsty and hungry. The drinks were cold and the food was super. A perfect match.

After dinner we sat around listening to the sounds of the bush and wondering what come to visit us during the night.

 

 

Edited by Soukous
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graceland

What a beautiful start...Chobe was our very first park in Africa and it was remembering those special days that brought us back the second time two years later (but to Kenya instead)

 

Even though we hear it is over crowded these days, we were smitten. The water, the wildlife....it was a great introduction to Africa..

 

And you have captured it perfectly!

 

Cant wait for more. Love love the SABLE; that 'd be worth a trip back! Awesome photography. Thanks for sharing.

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@@Soukous

I like the main street!

Great to see elephant enjoying the mud - and excellent sighting and photos of the herd of sable - beautiful animals.

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Bush dog

Excellent pictures of the sable and of the sunset. More please!!!

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What handsome kudu. Kasane airport sounds like a pleasant, non-hectic place to arrive.

Looking forward to more.

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madaboutcheetah

seriously ....... I've never seen kudu bulls just lay down like that without being bothered by one's presence. WOW

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Kitsafari

how wonderful to see that group of Sables, and Male Kudus to boot! two of the most elegant antelopes I feel. Look forward to more on Chobe!

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Soukous

Thanks y'all. There is more to come but I've thousands of photos to wade through and words to write so you'll need to bear with me.

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Treepol

Beautiful sable photos in such a golden light, just wonderful.

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twaffle

Wonderful start, I too like the look of the Kasane streetscape, and as for those kudu, brilliant!

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Soukous

17 September 2014

The night turned out to be pretty quiet. I heard lions in the distance and some hyaena noises, but nothing that sounded close to camp. Shame really as I love it when animals come through camp in the night and it is great to hear people's reactions after their first night in the bush.

 

We woke just after 5 and gathered around a flickering hurricane lamp for cups of tea and coffee.

It was no longer dark when we left camp, but still half an hour away from sunrise.

The late appearance of the sun was largely due to the amount of dust and smoke in the air which meant that the sun didn't appear until it had risen above the haze. In the evenings we'd noticed that it didn't sink slowly below the horizon accompanied by a pretty sunset, it just kind of disappeared into the murk. Instead of the usual rich evening light which lends itself so well to photography the light just became dull.

On the plus side the hazy light did reduce the contrast and meant that there were less severe shadows to contend with.

 

Ahead of us we could see clouds of dust rising up from the trees. This, combined with the smell, told us that there was a large herd of buffalo nearby. Almost certainly the ones we had seen around dusk yesterday.

We soon found them all around us and it didn't take long to make a rough calculation that our guess at a herd of around 600 head was a long way short. There had to be at least 1000 animals in this herd.

 

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We eventually made our way through the buffalo. Dennis kept assuring us that with this many buffalo there were bound to be lions nearby and – sure enough – we saw a couple of lions sleeping under bushes some distance from the road.

Like the leopard sighting the previous afternoon, although we could see them they didn't present much of an opportunity for photographs.

 

Our safari in Chobe was a bit like that on many occasions. We had some terrific sightings that didn't lend themselves to photography.

I always find this extremely frustrating. I see no point in taking photos just to prove I've seen a particular animal when I know that I'll never be able to turn those photos into anything worth looking at.

 

Viewing so many of my sightings though a camera lens is one of the curses of carrying a camera. It's a kind of tunnel vision that undoubtedly prevents me from seeing the full landscape, because I am so focussed on a particular part of it.

A friend who travels with me regularly never brings camera; he just enjoys the sightings without the hassles of trying to capture a decent image. If other vehicles partially block his view he can live with it whereas it really irritates me.

If we're looking for game he'll almost always spot something first, simply because he is looking for game whilst I'm looking for a photographic opportunity. You'd think after all these years I'd have learned.

 

From that perspective although this safari provided a lot of frustrating moments but there were also several occasions when I knew trying to get a decent photo would be a waste of time so I just sat back and enjoyed the spectacle. It was actually much more relaxing.

I have to admit as well that although I was frustrated, my travelling companions were really excited just to see the animals.

 

Our morning drive provided a wide variety of sightings.

As well as the ubiquitous elephants and buffalo we saw a terrific variety of bird life: Fish Eagles,

 

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Carmine Bee Eaters,

 

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Blue Waxbills,

 

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Open billed Storks

 

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as well as various plovers and/or lapwings and beautiful young Tawny Eagle

 

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In fact I've never seen so many Fish Eagles. On one occasion we'd just settled in to watch a pair of them in a tree overhead when a flurry of wings signalled the start of a mating session. Something I'd never witnessed before with Fish Eagles.

 

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I'm not a huge fan of baboons, but every once in a while even I have to admit they can look cute

 

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not as cute as this baby zebra though

 

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With so much of the animal activity in Chobe centred along the river it was inevitable that we would be seeing other game vehicles and when there was a significant sighting the cars appeared from all directions. Despite that, there was only one when it felt a little crowded and overall I was impressed with the way that all the licenced guides/vehicles stuck to the roads and followed the rules; resisting the temptation to drive off road to get closer to the animals.

 

Unfortunately the same could not be said for a number of self-drivers from South Africa. Where we would sit on the track and wait for lions to move out from their cover, these guys had no hesitation driving off road and nosing their vehicles into the bushes in an effort to make the lions move.

 

Back in camp, brunch was a real feast.

 

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A couple of hours in the shade gave everyone time to catch up on their diaries.

I took the chance to take a few pictures of our little camp.

 

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We had a private mobile camp, organised for us by Safari & Guide Services in Kasane and were camped at Bogo site No.3.

 

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The tents were not luxurious but did have comfortable beds and private ablution facilities.

The only additional thing we would have appreciated was perhaps a larger shaded area to lounge around in. As it was we had to sit around the dining table or use our own tents – which were a bit hot and airless during the day.

Small quibbles though – overall the service was excellent; attentive but not obtrusive.

 

While we ate lunch the elephants were constantly moving through the trees behind us, making they way towards the river for their evening bath and drink.

 

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On one occasion a loud trumpeting caused us to look up and there was a large male giraffe standing just behind the tents, watching us. By the time I'd got my camera he had disappeared. Not just moved away, but literally vanished.

 

How does a 4.5 metre tall animal weighing about 950kg do that?

 

Everyone was ready and eager to head out on our afternoon game drive at least fifteen minutes before the time we'd agreed, so off we went.

 

As we left camp, there seemed to be elephants whichever way we looked, walking unhurriedly through the trees to the river.

Once we got close enough to see the river there were animals spread out as far as the eye could see; from left to right.

 

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A profusion of scrubby little trees and the general haze prevented the view from being perfect but it was still quite a spectacle.

 

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After an hour or so of driving around without seeing anything new we decided to head eastwards towards where we'd seen the lions earlier in the day. It was about time that they started moving.

 

We hadn't gone too far when we saw an elephant lying on its side.

 

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Dennis assured us that it was just resting but we were certain that it was dead. After studying it carefully for a few minutes he had to agree with us that it was indeed dead. It must have happened very recently too. We hadn't seen it when we'd passed the same spot earlier in the day and the hide had not been breached by any scavengers and there were no vultures anywhere nearby.

 

Sad.

 

Right where we had seen the lions earlier, we could see that a vehicle was stopped. When we got closer we saw that it was indeed the same lionesses and cubs. They were still resting in the shade.

We drove on for a few hundred metres in search of the male lion we know would be nearby. We just caught sight of him slinking off into the bushes.

 

It was a unanimous decision that we would not get out of the car for our sundowners so we mixed up the gin and tonics then turned around to return to the lionesses and cubs.

 

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One of the cubs was already up and about and looking for mischief.

 

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Suddenly one of the lionesses stood up and stared intently at something behind us. She was quite magnificent, a very powerful looking lioness.

 

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We guessed it must the 2 zebras we'd just passed that had attracted her attention. We thought that they would be too far away to be the target of a hunt but she was clearly interested and began moving purposefully towards them. She walked along the road, intending to go past them and then get behind them.

 

A few moments later the second lioness got up and also started moving stealthily forward.

 

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Using a low ridge to keep herself hidden from the zebras, she crept forward into a position where she would be able to intercept the zebras when the lead lioness chased them.

Anxious not to disturb the hunt we switched off the engine and watched, hoping our position would enable us to see whatever transpired.

 

Once again it was incredible to see how these big cats worked together. Without any apparent signs of communication they all knew exactly where they needed to be.

 

After a few moments with the cubs, as if she was telling them to stay put, the rearmost lioness also joined the hunt.

 

The second one was level with us now. Each time the zebras stopped grazing to look around she froze, mid stride. As soon as they dropped their heads again she crept forward.

We guessed that the moment must be getting close as the second lioness was now right down on her belly, literally crawling forward.

 

Of course it was too much to expect that the hunt would go perfectly. The cubs either got bored or decided that Mum needed their help and began trotting forward.

 

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Hey mum, need some help?

 

They reached the rearmost lioness and started to try and play with her.

 

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Suddenly the zebras whinnied and bolted. Seconds later we saw the lead lioness in pursuit. Either by luck or good judgement the zebras didn't run towards the hidden hunters, they ran through a shallow stream and kept going. The lead lioness charged into the stream after them but whereas the zebras has just run straight through the water, it slowed her down and she gave up the chase a few moments later.

We saw her flop down on the ground, wet and muddy from her hunt. The other two lionesses had not even stood up to join the chase. With the zebras already running and moving away from them they would have stood no chance.

 

Then something happened that I've never seen before. The lead lioness began rolling around in the mud until she was practically black all over before flopping down to rest.

 

We sat and watched the lioness with the cubs for a while and then, as the light was fading we decided to leave them alone.

 

We hadn't seen a kill, but the whole group was excited that they'd had a chance to witness the hunt and see for themselves the incredible coordination of the lionesses.

 

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Edited by Soukous
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wilddog

Lovely report so far @@Soukous. Those sable are magnificent! and the bird shots too.

 

I particularly like the image of the second lioness moving forward. It shows the rolling movement of the paws, as lions (cats) move, which helps minimise noise I believe.

Thanks for sharing to date.

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@@Soukous

Not bad for a day when you couldn't take many good photos :)

Beautiful carmine bee-eater, great sequence of the fish eagles. Good to see so much wildlife in those huge herds.

The lion hunt sequence is great - I love the shot of the three cubs innocently trotting towards the adult - spoiling the hunt but totally unaware of it!

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Great stuff. The early shot of the Sable is rare, excellently captured moment and I never tire of TR's from the Chobe. Love the lion sequences too.

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Simply excellent photos and account. Interesting mud-rolling behavior from the lioness, too!

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michael-ibk

If this is you on a bad photo day I'm really looking forward to your good ones. Looks very, very good to me, the Carmine pics alone are absolute stunners.

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FlyTraveler

Very nice writing and great photos (love the ones of the sable antelopes)! I and my wife stayed in the Old House in Kasane four months ago and liked the place very much. Definitely will follow this TR closely, looking forward to seeing the next installment.

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Soukous

Can't believe how time consuming this is.

I'm finding that writing this TR and getting the photos ready is taking me almost as long as the game drives themselves.

Work and family keep intruding on my reminiscing :angry:

 

18 September 2014

 

For our last morning in Chobe we'd arranged to take a boat trip on the Chobe river. Needing to be in Kasane by 8 o'clock we had an early breakfast and set off before sunrise.

 

A morning without photos!!!!!!!!!!!

 

We'd been driving for less than 10 minutes when I saw something moving on the right hand side of the road. At first it looked like a piece of black bin bag that had got snagged on something and was flapping in the breeze. Then it lifted its head.

“Look! Look!” I shouted, too excited to say the words that mattered. It was a honey badger, digging what appeared to be a new entrance to its burrow. It watched us for a few moments and then trotted across the ground and disappeared down into its den/set/burrow.

 

It was barely light and I hadn't bothered to get a camera out. I consoled myself by telling myself it would have been a waste of time trying to photograph a black animal in the dark.

 

You'd think I would have learned though. I still hadn't bothered to get my camera out of the bag when just a couple of hundred metres further on Pat called out from the back seat. “Whoa, Whoa. Back up.”

Dennis slammed on the brakes and slowly reversed until we could see what had caught Pat's attention. There was a lion cub under one of the bushes just a couple of metres from the road. He was chewing on what looked like an impala leg. As our eyes became accustomed to the dark under the bush we could see that all 3 lion cubs were there, together with one of the lionesses.

We moved forward a bit and saw that another of the lionesses was lying just behind the bush and about 50 metres further back we saw the third lioness and the male lion.

Amazing.

 

We'd barely gone 200 metres from the lions when we found ourselves surrounded by buffalo. It was our 100 head herd again.

 

This was turning out to be one hell of a morning and we'd only been driving for 15 minutes.

 

Leaving the buffalo behind we turned towards the river.

 

We noticed people on foot close to the dead elephant we'd seen the previous afternoon. Dennis confirmed that they were BDF (Botswana Defence Force). The BDF are the main anti-poaching force in Botswana and it was encouraging to see that they had 3 armed soldiers guarding the dead elephant.

 

Ahead of us we saw a vehicle stopped and then noticed a hyaena loping towards the track. We hadn't seen any hyaenas yet so we sped up to see if we could get close.

Before we got anywhere near it though it had crossed the track and disappeared in the bushes.

 

To our left we saw 2 black/silver backed jackals, then we heard them alarm calling.

 

When we pulled alongside the parked vehicle – which we had assumed was stopped for the hyaena – the guide told us there was a leopard in the tree above us.

Dennis reversed until we could just about see it. There was a young male leopard asleep in the crook of a branch. Even with the jackals calling I doubt that we'd have seen it if the other vehicle had not been there.

 

The sun still wasn't up and we'd seen more game than on any previous drive. And I still hadn't got my camera out.

 

The vehicle that was stopped belonged to Chobe Explorations, a safari company based at Chobe Game Lodge. Clearly the guide had radioed in the sighting because we could see two more of their game vehicles approaching.

 

As they passed us Dennis stopped to tell the guides what we'd seen.

It became a bit of a farce as more and more vehicles appeared, homing in on the leopard sighting. Dennis would stop and tell each guide what we'd seen.

 

Of course he was doing this in their local language, not English, and I watched the face of one driver as he took in the news that there was a leopard in a tree 300 metres behind us, then up on the main road there was a herd of around 1000 buffalo and a couple of hundred metres after that there was a pride of lions beside the road. He barely waited for Dennis to finish speaking before he accelerated away, eager to impress his clients.

 

I couldn't resist the opportunity to poke a bit of fun at Dennis. Chobe Explorations is a bit different from the other companies in Chobe in that they only employ female guides and I asked him why he spent twice as long telling the female guides about our sightings than he did telling the male ones.

 

We were spending so much time stopping and passing on the news that I began to think we'd never get out of first gear.

Dennis, bless him, agreed and when the next vehicle pulled up alongside he just shouted, “Follow them!” and pointed to the one that had just passed us. We all cracked up laughing.

 

It did occur to me that if our luck was this good we should forget the boat ride and just carry on with the game drive.

 

To avoid any further delays we left the riverside road and drove the rest of the way along the more central road.

Close to the gate we passed truck going the other way. Dennis told us that this was the park rangers going to get the tusks from the dead elephant. We were impressed with how well they seemed to be organised.

 

We saw another lone sable on our way to the gate.

We'd set out almost 2 hours earlier expecting an uneventful drive to the gate. Instead we'd had some absolutely awesome game viewing. We were all still marvelling at our good fortune when we pulled up outside the office for our boat trip.

 

Our river guide was waiting “I was expecting you at 8 o'clock” he said, looking at his watch. “You're 2 minutes late.”

 

It was intended as a joke but he couldn't carry it off. As we learned in the course of our boat safari, this was one person who should not try for a career in entertainment.

 

The Chobe river - a bird watcher's paradise

Seeing Chobe from the river was an entirely different experience. Apart from anything else the clear river air felt really good after the dusty conditions in the park.

 

(This next bit is mostly bird sightings so if birds are not your thing I won't be offended if you skip on through.)

 

The bird life along the river was wonderful. The only thing that spoiled it was the fact that our guide was a bit of a dick.

He was so intent on giving us his rehearsed spiel that he took up (ie; wasted) a lot of our time talking when we could have been game viewing.

 

The other thing that he could not get through his head was that we really were not interested in crocodiles. OK if there was a huge one we'd take a look but he wanted to stop for all of them. Then when we spotted a herd of elephant at the water's edge he would have motored straight past them if we hadn't asked hi to stop.

It would have been so much better if he had just driven the boat and let Dennis do the guiding.

 

It wasn't long before we all just tuned him out and enjoyed the spectacle.

 

The brilliant thing about being in a boat is that you can glide in very close to wildlife on the river bank and islands without disturbing it.

 

African Jacana

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White Breasted Cormorant

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African Darter (anhinga)

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I'd thought that being on a boat would give me a nice stable platform for photography. I guess a larger boat might have done but this little tinny rocked every time someone wriggled in their seat or changed position. It took me a while to get the hang of it.

 

I had been hoping for some good opportunities to photograph elephants close up from the water, but in fact we only got really close to one small group and I probably didn't make the best of it.

 

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Yellow Billed Stork

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OK, I know I said I wasn't interested in crocodiles, but it was right beside me :rolleyes:

 

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Because our camp was deep in the National Park and we had to come out of the park to Kasane to do the boat trip we'd left it for our last morning to avoid wasting time on long journeys out of and back into the park.

The downside of this was that we were doing the boat trip in the morning, when we knew that the afternoons were the best time to catch elephant and buffalo by the water.

 

The plus side was that it meant we could concentrate on the bird life and that we could enjoy the cool of the morning.

 

Pied Kingfisher

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Almost from the moment we set out we found that we had a hitch hiker – a pair of wire tailed swallows used our boat as a mobile perch.

 

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We encountered a hippo that seemed intent on eating the whole island

 

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and others which seemed content to offer themselves as a dry platform for the herons

 

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Grey Heronpost-43899-0-74561600-1413449839_thumb.jpg

 

I don't now if it is common but we watched a Sacred Ibis and an African Spoonbill that were engaged in some kind of dispute - they clearly did not like sharing the same patch of grass.

 

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Black Heron

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Squacco Heron

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Long Toed Lapwing

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Open Billed Stork (African Openbill)

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Whilst we were sitting watching the herons, something unusual caught our eye in the grass beside the boat.

A monitor lizard had found a dead catfish and was trying to drag it up into the grass. The catfish would have weighed more than the lizard and it was having to work hard.

 

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Once it had dragged its booty high enough the lizard tried to start eating it - it looked as though that would also be hard work.

 

a Marabou Stork standing guard over an old buffalo carcass.

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a face only a mother could love

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The buffalo were in heaven with lots of mud and lush grass to feed on.

 

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A typical riverside scene

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Grey Headed Gulls

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We had a brief sighting of a pair of African Skimmers. I couldn't get over how short their legs are.

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Having taken up so much time at the start of our boat ride, our river guide was suddenly in a hurry to get back to Kasane and we found ourselves with over an hour to spare before our transfer to the border with Zimbabwe.

 

We killed the time with more food.

 

When we reached the Kazungula border crossing we found the Zimbabwe immigration office deserted. After hanging around for about 15 minutes officers started drifting in.

“Sorry to keep you waiting” one of them said “ We were enjoying our lunch”

 

As we were at the front of what was now a substantial queue we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and didn't ask why they all had to have lunch at the same time. It is Africa after all.

 

Once the Zimbabwe officials had resumed work things moved pretty quickly and we were soon on our way to Victoria Falls.

 

After stopping by the Wild Horizons office to pay for our helicopter flights we drove out to our accommodation where I had a little surprise up my sleeve.

 

I'd told everyone that we'd be staying at Ursula Camp, just a few kilometres outside the town.

After our tented camp in Chobe they all assumed that Ursula would meana few more nights under canvas. Little did they know.

 

Ursula Camp is a small satellite camp in the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve, next to the very (very) swish Stanley and Livingstone safari Lodge. It's 10 minutes outside the town of Victoria Falls on the Hwange road.

 

Of course Ursula Camp is not tents at all, but 4 small chalets set in picturesque surroundings.

 

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There is even a small swimming pool.

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By the time we arrived it was mid afternoon and everyone was more than happy just to chill out for the rest of the day.

 

Ursula's only has 4 chalets, and so can accommodate a maximum of 8 people. It is ideal for small groups and one of my favourite places to stay mid-safari. We had the place to ourselves so it was a bit like having our own private villa in the bush.

 

Immediately in front of us were some huge Acacia Albida trees and the constantly falling seed pods were irresistible to the reserve's greater kudu.

 

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Whilst enjoying gin & tonics by the pool we had a visit from the chef who took our orders for dinner. Civilised or what?!

And dinner was fab!

 

We only had one gripe about Ursula Camp and that was the price of the drinks. They were pretty steep. This caught us a bit by surprise on the first night but noticing that we were likely to run up a bar bill we wouldn't be able to afford, Olivia told us it would be no problem if we bought our own supplies in town and brought them back. Problem solved.

 

Over dinner we met Olivia's husband, Mike, who was also the head ranger guide at Stanley & Livingstone. He wanted to know which game activity we wanted for the following morning.

 

Part of the deal at Ursula Camp is that in addition to full board accommodation one game activity is included in the private reserve; either a drive or a walk. (and it still costs less than the Vic Falls Hotel on B&B!)

 

The majority vote was for a game drive.

Edited by Soukous
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