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Kwando Nov. 2014, a mixed safari experience


Wild Dogger

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Wild Dogger

We booked this trip with African Travel Resource as we did not get the desired travel dates with our German TO. ATR was able to produce the desired dates.

Itinerary:

 

07.11. depart from Frankfurt with KLM via Amsterdam to Johannesburg – overnight OR Tambo Garden Court

08.11. - 13.11. Kwara Camp, Okavango Delta

13.11. - 15.11. Lebala Camp, Kwando

15.11. - 18.11. Lagoon Camp, Kwando

18.11. Johannesburg – overnight OR Tambo Garden Court

19.11. - 21.11. Berg En Dal Restcamp, Kruger National Park

21.11. - 25.11. Satara Restcamp, Kruger National Park

25.11. - 03.12. Wine 6 Dine Safari Cape Winelands

 

We chose to fly KLM for 2 reasons:

1. they do have a Premium Economy class with more leg room

2. due to the ne regulations, which allow only one piece of luggage pp, we had to store our luggage at the OR Tambo hotel and repack our safari stuff into 2 softbags. The KLM was a dayflight. So we did not have to kill time in JNB.

 

08.11. day one Kwara

Flying into the Okavango Delta showed, what we had to expect: it was raining.

The delta looked already green, greener than we experienced in previous years.

With us in the plane was AT, who was supposed to be our tracker at Kwara, which we did not know at that time.

 

On the air strip we were awaited by our guide Dix.

 

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AT + Dix
Funny enough, Dix was our guide some years ago in the Mapula Lodge.
2 years ago Matt was our guide in Lagoon, who was also guiding us one day at Mapula.
We come so many years to the Kwando camps, but we never get the a guide, we had before.

 

We were told, that we would be the only guests this afternoon, the next morning we should be with another couple and the rest of our stay it would always be a full car.

 

The pack of 28 African Wild Dogs are around and we find them quickly on our afternoon drive.

The light is very low, something we should experience on almost every drive. It´s a high ISO safari. All these shots here are taken between ISO 6400 and 8000.

We stay the whole drive with the dogs. They caught an Impala and are busy feeding.

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The puppies gave us a nice show.

 

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As usual there is the battle for the impala head, something we witnessed almost on every impala kill.

 

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The alpha female is extremely pale, Dix says, that she came over from Vumbura to the Kwara area. Mapula´s just next door to Vumbura, so he knew this striking dog.

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while the alpha male has seen better times, when standing still he almost falls, he´s tumbling his way. The guides hope, that he dies quickly. That sounds strange, but it is for good reason. The sooner he dies, the sooner a new male from outside the pack will replace him, that should happen so early, that he will be able to produce new puppies for the next season.

 

Everybody of the Kwando guides seemed to know, that my Leopard pic was the runner up at 2013s competition. The Guides we had throughout our trip always asked me, if I was happy with the pictures I took, maybe a bit selfish, as the guide who´s guiding the winner also gets a price.

Nevertheless I found the guides, with one exception, not too knowledgable on the photography side. They all tried to drive you right into the action. Many times we were to close, shooting upside down. I know, that it´s a problem in a shared vehicle to get everybody happy.

On one occasion, I asked Dix not to drive to close to the animal, esp. for the perspective, and there was big laugh from our fellow car sharers, from which one was also a big-gear photographer, who laughed the loudest. He should have the same problem as me.

 

That was the day one, we found my loved dogs. The guiding team is good and Kwara is Kwara! And Kwara still had a lot to show!

 

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We booked this trip with African Travel Resource as we did not get the desired travel dates with our German TO. ATR was able to produce the desired dates. Itinerary:   07.11. depart from Frankfurt

09.11. day 2 pt. 1, better known as predator´s sunday   We wake up with the lion´s roaring east of camp. After a quick caffee and cookie by the fire we head east. Needless to say that the ponchos

A happy New Year everybody!

What an incredible introduction! I should also offer a belated congratulations on your runner up photo; based on the photos here, I am sure it was well-deserved.

 

Looks like a nice, long itinerary - looking forward to what comes next.

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Soukous

How fantastic to see wild dogs almost as soon as you got there. Such a large pack and with a kill. An auspicious start to your safari.

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Lovely pictures. I'll never tire of seeing Kwara's pale alpha female.
Love Kwando - looking forward to more. Very lucky to have seen numerous kills also!

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twaffle

Such beautiful, golden dogs.

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madaboutcheetah

AT the man!!!! Was Lebo at Kwara, Thomas? I missed her this year as she moved from Lebala.

 

So how much rain did you have during your days there? I remember this lack of light one year even in October with early rains.

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Wild Dogger

@@madaboutcheetah, don´t know Lebo, she was not at Kwara.

 

Rain, almost everyday, but we did not get that wet, rain was early in the mornings, during siesta and at night mainly. We wore ponchos very often, but it was more drizzling, no heavy, rains.

 

We´ve been to Kwara quiet often I think 6 times now, always same time of the year. But I really did not recognize the area any more due to the early rains. It was all very green already. Something we also witnessed was, that there still was a lot water from the winter´s floods. We had many water crossings, where we had to lift our stuff on the seat to prevent them getting wet. Never had that in previous visits. Tsum Tsum still not reachable.
Somehow a strange combination.

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks for the info, Thomas ...... Strange times, indeed!!!

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Seniortraveller

We left Kwara on the 16th December and the wild dog pack was down to thirteen adults and fourteen puppies. The alpha male has not been seen for some days and our guide George, told us they have observed another male dog showing signs of forming a partnership with the alpha female.

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michael-ibk

Sorry to hear you were that unlucky with the weather (is that the reason for the title of your report?), but what a start to an safari! Just wow to this dog pics, excellent stuff. The very pale dog looks fascinating.

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@@Wild Dogger

 

A great start! ISO 6400 nowadays is like the old ISO 800. Very little noise to speak of.

+1, but I am still surprised at the clarity of ISO 8000, great dog action photos :D

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Wild Dogger

 

@@Wild Dogger

 

A great start! ISO 6400 nowadays is like the old ISO 800. Very little noise to speak of.

+1, but I am still surprised at the clarity of ISO 8000, great dog action photos :D

 

Looking at them at original size you would see the noise and a lack of clarity. But still good for my purposes.

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Wild Dogger

Sorry to hear you were that unlucky with the weather (is that the reason for the title of your report?), but what a start to an safari! Just wow to this dog pics, excellent stuff. The very pale dog looks fascinating.

 

Thank you Michael.

The weather´s not the only reason for the title. But bare with me, I don´t want to get ahead of my report.

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Wild Dogger

We left Kwara on the 16th December and the wild dog pack was down to thirteen adults and fourteen puppies. The alpha male has not been seen for some days and our guide George, told us they have observed another male dog showing signs of forming a partnership with the alpha female.

 

Thanks for the info.

Although they always talk about 28 dogs, we actually only counted 24, maybe 4 were spltted off during the time we were able to observe them.

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Wild Dogger

09.11.

day 2 pt. 1, better known as predator´s sunday

 

We wake up with the lion´s roaring east of camp.

After a quick caffee and cookie by the fire we head east.

Needless to say that the ponchos are already in place.

 

We find the 3 territorial males quickly.

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There´s an intruder around.
He killed another lion a few days ago, so the 3 males are highly alert.
It´s roaring all over, the bush vibrates.

 

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The 3 males know, where the intruder is. He is a big guy, none of the 3 wants to have a clash with him alone. Only in the group they are still strong enough although one is already old and slow.

 

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the old chap

 

The intruder´s heavily roaring, he does not know, where the 3 are. Suddenly they come out of the bushes. They chase him and he does well to turn his tail and run.

 

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The 3 still follow him on slow pace, to make sure he´s out of the territory.

 

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I guess, this story is to be continued.

 

First on the sighting was Dutch.

 

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He´s a fine guy and excellent guide. He was guiding us one day at Little Kwara in 2012.

The next day he came into Kwara camp just to say hello to us.
These guys are Kwando Safari!

 

After more than an hour of action, we leave the lions as they prepare themselves to do the lion thing.

 

A nice group of Zebra is posing for us.

 

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An hour later, we find the dogs again.

 

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the alpha female, easily to be recognized by her pale color and the left ear.

 

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They´ve taking down a huge male Kudu.

Vultures are already on the site as well as the occasional Yellowbilled Kite.

 

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We also can witness the alpha female resuggerating food for the puppies

 

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although the puppies are also busy feeding on the carcass.

 

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But now: Cheetah´s calling.

As if it it was not enough for that morning,

 

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we find a well fed male Cheetah.

He´s rolling his way through the savannah.

 

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Only 200 metres away: another male Cheetah, a young one. He was involved in a big battle a few days before with 2 other male Cheetahs.

 

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He has a little bloody cut on his leg.

 

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Kwara rocks!

Best would be, we call it a Safari and go home! We´ve seen so much in just one day!

 

Now we call it a morning and go back to camp for a well deserved brunch.

 

 

TBC

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Great pictures, brings back wonderful memories of Kwara. Is Hobbs still there?

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graceland

Wow, what a start to the day! Seems like Kwando pulled everything out for your visit :D

Loved all the lion shots.

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twaffle

Love the 2 lions roaring. What an exciting morning.

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madaboutcheetah

Thomas, so the cheetah with the cut in the foot had a fight with the two old remaining boys? There obviously is another single male too -

I've not been at Kwara in a while - perhaps it's about time i did.

I wonder if any of the male Lions are new Marsh Boys? I saw a documentary recently on Nat Geo (Lion Brotherhood or some title to that effect...) and the story line was of the Lions that tookover a pride ..... the end credits did have Kwando and Desertδ mentioned .....

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It's almost like meeting old friends through your TR. Fascinating

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Wild Dogger

In the afternoon we are joined buy 2 couples in „our“ vehicle. Pete and Fiona from England and Fran and Bob from the US. It turns out, that both, Pete and Bob, are enthusiastic photographers also. We are a good group with the same interests.

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We go east again, never change a winning team.

 

After seeing the usual suspects, we find the young cheetah again.

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Hobbs is showing the way.

 

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15 minutes later it´s dog time again.

 

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The pack is running wild.

 

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It´s time for the sundowner before we head back to camp in the dark.

 

At camp the termites took over.

Everything is covered with them.

Luckily it´s over as dinner starts.

We really enjoyed the food at Kwara.
Although it´s the most rustic of the 3 camps, we visited, the food here was the best.

 

We have nice conversations around the dinner table. There are also 2 more german couples and my wife makes friend with one of them.

 

Before I forget, there was one guide telling, that Kwando plans to build another camp in the Splash area. I don´t know, if it´s true.
I hope they don´t. Time at sightings might get limited with even more cars in the concession.
Even now, there was a queue at sightings as only 3 vehicle are allowed at a time.

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I've heard that story about a new camp in Splash area, too, but three years ago - seems they are a bit slow, especially since there was also talk about renewing Kwara itself

 

from what I understood, though, there is already a (run down ?!) camp in the Splash area, but currently not in use

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Alex The Lion

@@ice there two additional camps in the concession, both old hunting camps. One is Splash the other is Tsum Tsum camp.

 

@wilddogger good start, I had a mixed trip on last trip there. Since 2007/8 I think a lot they're beautiful areas in the concession have remained under water.

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@@russell

 

yeah, you're right, now I remember, too, that's what the guides were talking about

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