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Kwando Nov. 2014, a mixed safari experience


Wild Dogger

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Hopefully you didn't miss too much by being in the bushes. The photos that you did get are incredibly clear and well-framed. What good-looking dogs!

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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!

Kingfisher Safaris

@@Wild Dogger So far the trip looks stunning and the photographs are just fantastic, still one of the best places in Botswana.

 

I did want to disappoint you though and inform all that there will definitely be a new camp in Tsum Tsum and believe they will call is Splash Camp. I also thought they would have built a camp some years ago but it seems due to the renewal of the concession they did not and this is also the reason for the 'rustic' state of Kwara. As some have guessed the reason for a lack of action is the concession issue. According to Linda at Kwando a rival bid was received from another company which they claimed involved a bribe. Kwando have taken the issue to court as the sitting tenants have first right of refusal and they are confident the court will rule in their favour.

Once this is in writing, signed and sealed they will upgrade Kwara and build the new Splash Camp at Tsum Tsum and both of the old hunting camps will be disposed of. At present they have no plans to build another camp in Linyanti, even thoguh they have extra capacity in the concession.

 

I hope I haven't ruined your trip report.

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madaboutcheetah

Always great to see mr.moe ..... You were probably one of the last people see that baobob, Thomas ..... It fell down subsequently I read a post from Bate on Facebook.

 

No comment on the Kwara situation, Martin ..... But, it's a shame that they aren't planning something north of lagoon camp. That place has incredible potential having gone ll the way to Muvumbi several times. Not many current guides know that area.

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RIP Kwara

RIP Baobab

 

Great report, Thomas!!!!!

 

Youe photos are so attractive. I can see the effect of the weather in some, but most are just beautiful, clear captures of animal and bird behviour. Excellent work. A lot of people shots as well.

 

Aardvaark young last time, Aardwolf young this..... pffffffffffffT!!!!

 

First come, first-served for seating? Hahaha. Those people were very naughty and a bit rude. I'm glad you put them in their place. You or companion must have a good "stern look" to move them back and make them want to vomit on your head!

 

I find it really worrying that this year at least three of us regulars who are very used to sharing vehicles have had unpleasant experiences with this. I really hope it is just coincidence.

 

 

Edit: Sorry, I mean last year!!

 

@@Wild Dogger

Edited by pault
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KaingU Lodge

Brilliant trip report, absolutely stunning images @@Wild Dogger

 

Kwando is one of the few other operators I have actually spent my hard earned cash and been to. I loved it (but we did actually also have a nightmare neighbour weirdly!)

 

To pull off a good dog sighting for sundowners though to me is just wrong. Last time I was in a situation like that I just dispensed with the table and all that and passed the drinks around while we were all in the vehicle watching the dogs and taking pictures. In fact we even had a second round... !

 

Again - wonderful photographs. The standard of trip reports on here has amazed me in the short time I have been active on here.

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Wild Dogger

@@KaingU Lodge

 

 

 

Brilliant trip report, absolutely stunning images @@Wild Dogger

 

Thank you

 

 


1) The guide should be ensuring that there is seat rotation and no bullying or disention. A quiet word in the managers and guides ear needs to be said. It is his or her responsibility to make sure everyone is treated equally

 

Dix, our guide, did not get into the situation to clear it, as I cleared it before he could. He did not even have a chance to clear it, I was too fast :P

As the situation accured it was our last drive with him, so I don´t know what actually happened later. He told me on coffee break, that he was going to talk to the manager to clear the situation with these guests.

 

 

 

 


2) 6 people on a vehicle... well, if the camp is full then this is fair enough in my opinion (Wilderness Premier Camps for example have a mx 6 pax policy), but the only excuse if there is only 6 guests in camp and enough guides and vehicles to go around is penny pinching, which to me is not an excuse.... If we have 6 pax in camp and two guides and vehicles then we will go with two. Always.

 

At Kwando they also have this max. 6 pax policy. But we almost always made the experience that they will fill up the vehicle to max. before running with "half loaded" vehicles. That´s one big issue I have with Kwando. We made that experience in 2010 in Kwara and I was unhappy with that situation and so I subsequently booked a private vehicle for the remaining time at Lebala that year. I was about to not go to Kwando again for that reason. Then as we decided to give them another chance in 2012, we were lucky to almost always have a vehicle on our own. Somehow I had the impression that they gave it to us as we were returning guests (and I had complained in 2010 about the problem, I guess). Also I had the very strong impression that the management at Lagoon was much, much better than it was this year.

Edited by Wild Dogger
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Atravelynn

Regardless of where I was sitting, I would have puked after hearing the leopard complaint the lack of appreciation for the aardwolves. Those little guys are a once in a lifetime! Wow!

 

The good far, far outweighed the bad in your mixed bag of safari.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Wild Dogger

16.11.2014

 

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We are all keen in seeing leopards. Derrik and Heather have never seen one and that´s not their first safari.

You can image how excited we´ve been as Paul points out fresh leopard tracks just outside the camp. Leopard tracking´s on the menu, we guess. But we failed. Instead of following the tracks we head into the opposite direction. Okay, I think, maybe he has a plan, maybe he has an idea where the cat went and he knows where to find it, without following the track straight. He does not tell. There is no more talking about the track.
Claudia and I, we look at each other. Bewildered. Why didn´t we follow this obviously fresh spoor? This is the big secret of Paul. We are speechless.

One issue I had with Paul, he did not communicate. He was talking on the radio with the other guides always very silent, so that we were not able to hear about what they were talking. He did not tell us, what the others were seeing or tracking, even it was nothing, he just could have told.

We never ever had that problem with other Kwando guides. They were always communicative and telling what the others tell on the radio. Usually, when we went out on a drive, the guide told us which direction he was planning to go. Not Paul.

 

Nonetheless, we had some nice sightings of

hyena

 

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elephant

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Tsessebee

 

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and birds.

 

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Open-billed Stork,

 

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Wattled Crane,

 

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Ground Hornbill

 

as well as the ever present

 

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Lilac-breasted Roller

 

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We hear a lion roar somewhere close to the water and try to find the cat, but effortless.

 

A little frustrated we get back to camp.

 

In the afternoon we will be joined by a nice young couple from the States, John and Anna.

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michael-ibk

Sorry to hear that your Lagoon experience (at least so far) was partly frustrating. I was guided by Paul as well, and very much liked him, he always asked us what we wanted to do, if we wanted to try following tracks (which we did successfully twice) or just move on - he even went to great lenghts to find the dogs for us (which all were in Lebala territory then) and we only returned at 13:30 from that particular morning drive.

 

But no question, I would have been more than grumpy leaving the dogs for drinks - bizarre! And I hate it when a guide does not explain what he´s doing as well. Maybe he just had a bad week, who knows - no excuse of course.

 

Anyway, even if you didn´t enjoy it quite as much as you would have deserved to on safari, I´m very much enjoying your report - and all the excellent pictures!

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Wild Dogger

During Siesta I spend my time trying to get some shots of Little Bee-Eaters right in front of our „tent“.

 

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Again we are now with 6 in the vehicle although there´s still one more guide (Matt) free in camp. We go out with just 2 vehicles, from which one is a „birder vehicle“. Not really the best base to find animals under these lush green conditions.

 

But we are a good group and there´s nothing to complain about our fellow travellers.

 

Derrik´s still loking forward to see the elusive Leopard, I convince him, that we will see one. It would the first time, we would not see a Leopard in daytime in all our travels to Botswana. He´s not convinced.

 

Again we see Ellies and LBRs. We also see a Grey Hornbill in the distance, I think I never seen one before.

 

At least we see a nice pair of Steenbuck in good light.

 

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As the light is fading, we find the dogs again. They are already on the move.

 

We follow them for a while. They are only running, I can´t get a clear shot.

At least, I am able to get this jump shot, unfortunately not sharp enough.

 

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That was a nice situation. Some puppies were standing on the edge of the water thinking about what to do, while others just leaped over the water. And again others walked gently thru it. Different characters.

 

Again the Golden Dog is in charge of the puppies.

 

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After a while it´s again time for sundowner. I don´t complain, we had our share in dog sightings.

 

After sundowner we head back in the dark and see an African Wild Cat.

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With regard to not using all available vehicles, is it not unreasonable that the guides are given the ocassional day off, as to have to work 90/91 days solid, getting up at 4am to get the vehicle ready and then wake people up, have to stay up until the last guest in their vehicle decides to go to bed. Also it may be that the manager, in allocating people to guides is, over a period of time trying to ensure that each guide has a similar number of guest days to even out gratuities? I do acknowledge that we all are paying a hefty price for our safari, but I doubt that Kwando pay the guides/ trackers substantial wages, and they probably rely on the gratuities.

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Wild Dogger

17.11.2014

 

Our last full day in Lagoon.

 

We head out in the morning in the same direction as all the other days.

Paul´s whispering on the radio, don´t know, what´s going on there.

First we see some giraffe.

 

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After a while we come to a bat-eared foxes den.

 

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To my surprise we then return the same way we came. Paul´s keeping the secret well until we reach a spot. Then he says, that the other car had left the wild dogs here. But now, they are gone. He doesn´t make any effort to try and find them.

 

Same way back, airstrip with Kudu,

 

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then borderpost again,

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wildebeests,
we then see a family of mongoose on a termite mount

 

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before we reach a hippo pool.

 

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The hippos were for me the highlight of the Lagoon part of the trip, which says a lot. Some nice photo opps.

 

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After siesta I am still convinced to see Leopard or some kind of cat. Derrik still does not believe me.

 

The afternoon proved he still is right.

 

No signs of cats.

 

Another very quiet drive at Lagoon.

Some ellies, vultures, a solitary hyena and a flying banana.

 

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On our way back to camp a storm is building up, it´s dark all around us. And we have another flat tire. But we make it home dry.

 

Tomorrow´s our last morning drive at Lagoon.

 

I am afraid to say, it´s the first time there, that I am not unhappy to leave.

Edited by Wild Dogger
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Great job with the bee eaters, they are crystal clear mid-flight. That first bat-eared fox photo is also irresistible.

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madaboutcheetah

Thomas, your last post was crystal clear in terms of why I disapprove very strongly of radio controlled game drives. Quite upsetting - this isn't Kwando class by any stretch!

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Love your hippo shots - looks almost as if you were on a level with them @@Wild Dogger. But surely must be an optical illusion?

 

It seems.from reading what you say that you are already at a the point of only partly enjoying yourself and you are losing spirit.

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twaffle

Love those hippos, really beautiful.

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Wild Dogger

Love your hippo shots - looks almost as if you were on a level with them @@Wild Dogger. But surely must be an optical illusion?

 

It seems.from reading what you say that you are already at a the point of only partly enjoying yourself and you are losing spirit.

Hippos: we were having our coffee break at that pool, so I went out close to the waters edge and sat flat on the bottom using the tripod on lowest possible level, so it´s almost eye level.

 

@@pault Actually I am on a point, that I think that I might better not have written this part of the TR as in the moment it only brings back the "not so nice" memories. But I am also on a point, that I blame myself not to have discussed with Paul and the management about what I thought went wrong. Sometimes I am a guy who takes to much as given and not changeable. Esp. on vacation I want to go mostly out of the way of confrontation, which might be wrong.

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Love your hippo shots - looks almost as if you were on a level with them @@Wild Dogger. But surely must be an optical illusion?

It seems.from reading what you say that you are already at a the point of only partly enjoying yourself and you are losing spirit.

 

Hippos: we were having our coffee break at that pool, so I went out close to the waters edge and sat flat on the bottom using the tripod on lowest possible level, so it´s almost eye level.

 

@@pault Actually I am on a point, that I think that I might better not have written this part of the TR as in the moment it only brings back the "not so nice" memories. But I am also on a point, that I blame myself not to have discussed with Paul and the management about what I thought went wrong. Sometimes I am a guy who takes to much as given and not changeable. Esp. on vacation I want to go mostly out of the way of confrontation, which might be wrong.

So no illusion with the hippos! Great result.

 

I really understand. I don't think you were wrong, but who knows? Maybe you should talk with them about it now?

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Superb pics, and agree with @@Marks, the bee eaters are something that will take some beating. You obviously have a lot of patience to sit there and wait for the perfect pic. Far better than having a siesta.

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Alex The Lion

@@Wild Dogger

 

It is unfortunate the Lagoon segment did not life up to billing for a variety of reasons, looks like you got some good shots none the less. I remember in November 2011, we could drive for 1 hour without seeing anything.

 

It is unfortunate you did not click with Paul (I have not met him). The truth is, you could not pay me to be guided by Spencer, and my experience with him for 2/3 days in 2007 was something I never want to relive. But that is the nature of guiding/hospitality, horses for courses!

 

You can also get guides at the wrong time, for example, the dead week before their leave starts!

 

I would also agree that it is a little mean not to utilise more vehicles. If I were managing, treating repeat guests to a private vehicle is something I would consider. (They can't use the price of fuel as an excuse for too much longer)

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Wild Dogger

Superb pics, and agree with @@Marks, the bee eaters are something that will take some beating. You obviously have a lot of patience to sit there and wait for the perfect pic. Far better than having a siesta.

The bee-eater shots are pure luck.

I was shooting the sitting birds and only realized later when I checked the pics that there were other birds arriving or leaving.

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Wild Dogger

I would also agree that it is a little mean not to utilise more vehicles. If I were managing, treating repeat guests to a private vehicle is something I would consider. (They can't use the price of fuel as an excuse for too much longer)

@@russell

in 2012, when Obi and Maipelo were managing Lagoon, they gave us a private vehicle on one drive as courtesy as we were frequent guests. We really were happy that year and it was one main reason to go back there. They really treated us nicely, also gave us a present when leaving.

Might also be because Spencer was in the house. He was very helpful that year to his guests, making it possible that they could share a vehicle in Kwara also, despite the fact one couple was in LK and the other in Kwara.

This year none of the above was in Lagoon. Management was different but I won´t complain about that.

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