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Kwando Nov. 2014, a mixed safari experience


Wild Dogger

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madaboutcheetah

Thomas, what's with the queue system at sightings? Can you elaborate more in terms of how it functions? I have not been at kwara in a while and from the sound of the queue system unlikely to find it very appealing .......

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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!

Wild Dogger

Hari, you don´t know it?

It´s not only a Kwara thing. We had to wait to get to a sighting twice in Lebala some years ago. If there are 3 vehicles on a sighting and a 4th car arrives this one has to wait until another car pops out. It did not occur to us in Kwara this year, but others had to wait on that wild dog sighting on our first evening.

I think there is no strict rule to pop out at a given time, but you do it in courtesy for others. There is always some people who don´t want to stay long at a sighting, so it´s not really a big thing unless there are to many beds in a concession.

I don´t know if it´s a governmental law or just Kwando policy.

Last year in Hwange at Little Makololo they were running on a one car per sighting policy.

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madaboutcheetah

I think it's something in the "rules" in that case; but most guides do their sightings strategically where the guests are never inconvenienced and made obvious about it ...... As you say, even in Kwara if one makes the plan to get out to Tsum Tsum there is very little chance of there being more than 3 vehicles out there .......

 

Last year at Lebala, the Lion pride from Selinda were right next to Lebala camp itself ..... there was no way any of the vehicles were going to avoid the sighting (the Lions were super hungry the Lionesses had to hunt for the cubs) ..... I think there were maybe 5 vehicles? - there was a one Lioness chase of a giraffe and then eventually in the evening the Lionesses got 2 different wildebeest in one go.

 

I think IMHO they are mainly strict about the dog den visit (rightly so) ......

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madaboutcheetah

Oh - absolutely none of the 5 vehicles saw the double wildebeest kill ........ everyone (myself included lost patience) - it was literally minutes after i packed my cameras away and went off for a quick drink.

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Wild Dogger

10.11.
day 3 in Kwara

 

Dix decides to go West, maybe we find the Marsh Boys there in their territory.

 

First we witnes a proctologic surgery.

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Some Reed Buck are posing nicely for us in beautiful light.

 

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Do you know that also, that sometimes you don´t see some kind of animals on a whole trip, than the other year you see them always? It occurs to us so often. This year it´s the Reed Bucks.

 

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After 30 minutes we receive a call that a lioness has been seen not so far away. Only 5 minutes later, there´s the call that wild dogs have been found feeding on an Impala in the East. So, what to do? Nobody wants to decide, so I just say, that I would like to go to the dogs (could I know, that that would be our only chance seeing a lioness in the botswanan part of our trip?). Decision made.

Let´s go East!

 

On our way we step over some Zebra

 

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and a nice herd of Impala posing on a mount.

 

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Here are the dogs again. 2 cars are already on the sighting.

 

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We watch the dogs feed.

 

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After a while they are done and continue their journey.

 

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This year I tried to concentrate on photographing one particular dog,

 

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not jump from one to the other and miss everything.

 

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And it pays. In front of our Land Cruiser 2 dogs are playing. „My“ dog decides to join the party and speeds right to them and I am able to get some nice shots of him running towards me.

 

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The dogs procede to a marshy area, where we leave them to find an Ostrich family

 

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and a solitary Wildebeest.

 

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No game drive without Cheetah at Kwara, the cat´s just lying in the shadow doing the lion. Dix tells us, that he was talking to AT a day before, that they almost consider Cheetah as plains game, as they see them almost on every drive.

 

Another great drive´s done, time for brunch and a nap!

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Atravelynn

The dog activity is tremendous. You saw it all. Love the little ostriches. Cheetah as plains game, wow! I see the sleeping cheetah.

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I love the focus on the dog running to the camera, and the focus of the dogs staring in the same direction.

A very pale alpha female, stunning dog! I've seen pictures of a dog which was >50% white, I would love to see one like that one day!

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Wild Dogger

In the afternoon we decide to take a motor boat ride to the heronry on Gadikwe Island.

 

We enjoy our wine & beers on the smooth ride.

 

Luckily we get to see a Malachite Kingfisher in the reeds

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as well as a proud African Fish Eagle in a tree.

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Lots of beautiful birds on the banks and in the trees, while the water´s filled with hippos.

We see a Bushbock on the banks, at first we hoped it would be a Sitatunga, which is still missing on my tick list.

I really love to do this boat trip for a change.

 

On Gadikwe Island Pete and myself are practicing our bird in flight photography.

 

Yellowbilled Stork over the delta

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Cattle Egret in breeding plumage

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Sacred Ibis on arrival

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Yellowbilled Stork feeding his offspring

 

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We have to go back early as a storm is building up and you don´t want to be on the water in a metal case like that boat.

 

Night drives have been quite so far. Now we see a Serval but I struggle taking a picture of this nocturnal cat :angry:

 

On the dinner table termites are back again. There´s nothing like a nice protein shot :)

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Soukous

more great dog sightings, even with the other cars, and some super birds in flight. more please.

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Sticking with one dog for photography is a great idea - worked excellently! Great photos.

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Bush dog

Excellent pictures of lions, wild dogs and cheetahs. You succeed in catching the essence itself of the animals and even also of Hobbs?

One can see, through their eyes, that the lions, not the old chap, but the 2 others are determined and concentrated, nothing will make them deviate from their mission.

I also like very much the second reedbuck's pictures, its look facing the wind.

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Wild Dogger

11.11.

day 4 at Kwara

it´s the last full day with our new friends.

 

In the morning we again decide to go West to find the Marsh boys.

 

We search the whole morning but can´t find them.

But it´s still not a waste of time, although it´s the first drive without a predator sighting.

The marsh area is very nice and, yes, there are other animals than predators.

 

Open-billed Stork with „prey“

 

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Hippo

 

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Hyena (oops this is a predator)

 

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Zebras

 

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Yellowbilled Stork in a waterlily pod

 

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(I just love that shot!)

 

We also see Spurwinged Geese and Wattled Cranes.

 

Red Lechwe posing

 

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Kudu

 

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sitting Giraffe

 

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Impala quartett

 

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I meet Charles on siesta time. He´s now managing Little Kwara and asks me about my experience on the western side.

A big elephant bull visits the camp.

 

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The afternoon drive takes us to the east again, that´s where the action was!

 

We meet that old Elephant again.

 

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Reed Buck´s landscape

 

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At least Hobbs is also there.

 

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And where Hobbs is, there are the Cheetahs.

The intruder is still trying to make trouble, but nobody listens to him.

 

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This was the quitest day at Kwara so far. But that happens on Safari, it´s not a zoo.

 

Tomorrow´s the last drive with our friends from the UK and US. We are supposed to get two german couples in our vehicle in the afternoon.
I do not have a good feeling with that.

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Atravelynn

In addition to your animals and landscapes, those Hobb shots are great.

 

You've given the cattle egret its due. Such a pretty face. Ibis landing, Stork feeding young. Really great perspectives.

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madaboutcheetah

If you are going to call a cheetah day, quiet .... then I will have to make a plan to get to Kwara soon!

 

Infact, I just heard from Spencer who came back from a private guiding assignment there - apparently, several cheetah at the moment including Mother with two sub-adults.

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Wild Dogger

12.11.

our last full in Kwara

Kwara has been extremely good to us so far.

Dogs & lion action & Cheetahs aside of all the plains game and birds.

The light was not really always on our side and also today it looks like poncho weather.

We head out East again as the the West was not good to us.

 

It´s Cheetah morning again.

 

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I was winding the others always up that I would dislike Cheetah, which is not really the truth, but I must confess that it´s not my favorite animal (sorry Hari) for that reason:
on our first trip to Africa in the Masai Mara, a cheetah was jumping on the trunk of our car and the guide was stroking his tail, since then I always feel like Cheetah being a pet cat, never get that out of my brain.

Well, and now we see that young Cheetah again strolling through the Okavango Delta

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and marking "his" territory

 

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and you know what else he does?

 

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He mews like a house cat. All my prejudices are back <_<:blink::huh:;) .

 

The cat tries to impress the 2 resident brothers

 

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and is walking straight in their direction. We expect action in the bush.

 

Just a mere 100m before them the youngster turns south and avoids them. The 2 brothers knew he came but did not look impressed at all.

 

The youngster relaxes on a termite mount.

 

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Just 15 minutes later we have our next highlight of the trip:

an Aardwolf den with puppies!

We drive close and are dead still. After a little while the puppies get curios and come up to the edge of the den.

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What a sighting!

 

We take our coffee brake after we´ve seen

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a Bateleur Eagle.

 

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We´ve been a good team! (I copied myself inside that picture)

 

On our way back to camp we steo over some more nice Reed Bucks.

 

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We have to say goodbye to our friends, we will meet Pete and Fiona in 2 days at Lebala, they´re heading to Nxai Pan, while Fran and Bob are going to Lagoon. We should miss them there only by minutes in some days.

 

After the nap, we are supposed to be joined by 2 german couples. Their flight is late, so we go on our drive with George. We will meet them later on the drive and change vehicle.

There is another older guy from Germany new in this car. He´s never been on Safari before. He´s totally lost. Sometimes I don´t understand those travel agents, why they sell such specialized places like the Kwando camps to first timers. This guy would have been perfectly suited with a camp somewhere in the Xakanaka area, where there´s no offroad and not that hardcore like Kwando.

 

However, now we go West as the Marsh boys have been seen there in the morning.

 

On the way there we see lots of plains game.

 

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Elephant

 

I am very pleased that we see a flock of pinkbacked pelicans. I am lucky to capture a few nice shots.

 

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At the end we get to the lions.

 

There´s a solitary Wildebeest and one of the brothers chases him.

 

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Dix also arrives shortly after us.

 

After we are finished with the lions

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we change over to Dix´s Land Cruiser.

And that´s when the desaster starts.
Pt. 1 of the mixed safari experience.

 

Obviously we want to shake hands and say hello to our new fellow passengers.

It works good with one couple, while the other guy deliberately looks away as he gives me the hand and the lady is absolutely snobby.

 

Dix tells us, that they wanted to leave the lions as they were boring and find something else. At 6.30, the only other thing you look for, is a place for sundowner drinks.

They assumed also to be alone in the vehicle as that would be the Kwando policy. They almost insisted in that.

 

Oh, oh, that can be fun on our last morning tomorrow at Kwara. :wacko: :wacko: :wacko: :wacko:

Edited by Wild Dogger
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michael-ibk

Your new "friends" sound like no fun at all. I hope they didn't kick you out of "their" car next morning. ;)

 

Kwara was really great to you ... Aardwolf pups, what a sighting!

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kittykat23uk

Lucky! Lucky! lucky! Would love to see aardwolf pups! :)

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Tdgraves

Lions are sooooooo boring ....at least your friends missed the aardwolves!!

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Bush dog

Concerning the assumption of being alone in a vehicle, I think that it's a deliberate strategy of people that does't want to pay the extra for a private vehicle. As soon as they arrive, they adopt an unbearable behavior to force the camp's manager to finally, if there are available vehicles, to give them one. I've seen that before.

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madaboutcheetah

Back to the Mara driver .... He stroked the cheetahs tail? OMG .... You are right - he dare not try that with a lion!

 

How interesting that the two old male cheetahs tolerate this young male almost right next to them!

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Soukous

@@Wild Dogger, you may not like them but your cheetah photos are lovely.

I'm not sure about the severed head on the game vehicle though :P

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What fantastic photographs of the cheetahs, and to see aardwolf pups. It wouldn't suprise me if you saw a pangolin at Lagoon.

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Wild Dogger

13.11.

our last morning in Kwara

after a quick breakfast we head to the vehicle.

We are first there.

Yesterday evening we´ve been in the last row and according to our rotation system, which worked well the whole trip, we now would be able to sit in the first row, which is our preferred row. Better photographic angle, less bumpy, better conversation with guide.

To our surprise we already find stuff ot our fellow passengers in the first row. Before going to the fire place in the morning this outrageous „lady“ first went to the car to reserve the first row for herself! It´s actually a detour from the „chalet“ to the fire place.

AT was surprised. Me, I was totally upset about this behaviour (I am still upset while writing this). Like reserving sunbeds on the beach. Not with me.

AT agreed with me, that it was our turn to use this row.

As she came I braised her. „Don´t you rotate seats on your safaris?“ I just asked her.

She told me, that they´d always only been 4 on this trip, so they did not know, cheap excuse, as they were also frequent safari goers. For me, it´s common sense to rotate or ask if I can occupy that place. If someone has back problems or other health issues, I would be the last to ignore, but at least: ask!

So, they grudgingly took the second row, also because Dix and AT assisted me.

Later, my wife told me, that this „lady“ talked to her friend: „I get stomach problems, when I sit in the back. But that´s okay, I will puke into the front row.“ Luckily, I did not hear that.

 

The story of the game drive is quickly told.

Lots of plains game

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and the aardwolf den again.

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Mom Aardwolf, she´s not as brave as her pups and speeds away.

 

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The others were only complaining, that there are no leopards and next time they go earlier in the year, because that´s better. They even didn´t enjoy the aardwolves. It´s no wonder, I always have these splitted feelings, when we have fellow countrymen in "our" vehicle.

 

I really felt pity with Dix as he had to stand 2 more days with this folks. They should get another irish couple into the vegicle, with whom I also felt pity. But as @@Bush dog said, I am not sure that they got any more people in their vehicle, might just have been the plan.

If I had to stay more time at Kwara, I would have spoken to the manager to put me in another car.

 

Besides that episode, Kwara was really good this time. Absolutely nothing to complain about.
Okay, the weather made photography challenging but you grow with it.

 

Up to Lebala we go.

 

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Edited by Wild Dogger
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