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Mashatu Madness/Tuli-tastic: our first trip to Botswana, August-Sept 2014


Tdgraves

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Tdgraves

Afternoon drive, 31/8/14

 

The new guests had all arrived. A group from Australia, including a man in a wheelchair with their pilot/guide and a group of 12 South African friends who come to Mashatu every other year. We were supposed to be on the vehicle with the Australians, as there were fewer of them, but this is when I learnt the utility of having your own private guide - she negotiated us out of their vehicle! So we were with the South Africans, which was great fun. As they weren't really into photography (apart from the man who sat in the front next to the driver) they allowed us the front seat for the entire time!

 

Before the drive, we went into the camp hide, but the waterhole was a little far for my lens to cope with. However, we manged to get a flock of red-billed quelea roosting

 

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Now for the drive itself. First sighting was a Kori Bustard

 

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Who then flew off

 

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There are quite a lot of eland in Tuli, but as in everywhere, they are nervous

 

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A largish group of kudu

 

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with this one hiding somewhat unsuccessfully

 

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When we got over onto the next hill, we found a herd of impala. No sooner had I said "why are they all looking that way?" than the spotter had spotted a spotted cat - a skittish male leopard. We followed cross country and got a couple of glimpses, before he slipped off. Sadly no photos (well, one out of focus of its' back). The vehicle with the rest of the South African group were behind us and missed the action, claiming that we had made it up!!

 

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Then we found the hyaena family again

 

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Then for the best part, a juvenile female leopard, whose mother had just given her a steenbok for afternoon tea. The light was against us a bit to start off with. I "apologise" for the number of photos to follow.....

 

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When the other vehicle left, we were able to manoeuvre closer and without being blinded by the sun

 

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When she was full, she moved into a different branch for a bath

 

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And then settled into classic leopard pose

 

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Our vehicle mates declared us good luck charms and we were invited on safari again with them any time!!

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Afternoon drive, 31/8/14   The new guests had all arrived. A group from Australia, including a man in a wheelchair with their pilot/guide and a group of 12 South African friends who come to Mashatu

Morning 2/9/14 - Mashatu Elephant Hide   One of the novel things about Mashatu is its' elephant hide. A man-made structure dug into the ground so that you are looking and shooting practically at th

Morning drive: part two   Had to separate the posts as I was worried that I'd lose what I had done and there are rather a lot more photos to come.   A mother cheetah and cubs, less than 24 hours a

Atravelynn

Those cheetah cubs are adorable. I saw some of them sneaking a drink. The hyena knows how to smile!

 

Thanks for extending the copyright so I can also use your intro.

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Mashatu Tented Camp is my absolute favourite! Always amazes me how immaculately clean they keep the tents when there's so much sand all around. And yes it was way too cold to shower outside in the mornings in June.

 

That cheetah cub trying to climb onto Mom's back from atop brother or sister's shoulder is priceless and the large family herds of eles at Mashatu really are a sight to see.

 

In June 2013 the cable car was still sitting at the bottom of the river from recent flooding so I was disappointed in not being able to use it.

 

The president of Botswana flew himself into camp during my stay but was at the Main Camp. Was told he goes there several times a year.

 

Looking forward to the next installment and with 8800 photos I see lots of them in our future! :)

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graceland

Loving this report. Cheetahs and leopards....be still my heart.

And I love Kudu Ears!

 

 

8800 photos...LOL I thought you were giving me a price for safari :rolleyes: with Soukous to Zim (must have been into the wine!)

I cannot imagine me taking so many, but glad you did! Worth it.

 

@@Soukous would absolutely be worth it. I'm sure. I'd get kicked out as I am a non-photog. Actually last night at NYE party someone asked me what we did on safari.... take photos? all the time?? NO, I said. But you can.

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More awesome pics - the feeding leopard and hyaena family are excellent. (Looks like the mother lost a canine somehow though - ouch!)

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Tdgraves

Great stuff - hugely appreciative of the awesome hyaena cub photos! :D

Mashatu also looks like a great place!

Certainly is @@Big_Dog very reasonable rates too....

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Thanks for the shoutout. :) Love the hyenas, and also the squat-looking young giraffe at the outset of the TR. You get a good view of a hyena's dental equipment in post #26. I also like the unsuccessfully hiding kudu!

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Tdgraves

Morning game drive, 1/9/14

 

After yesterdays success as a good luck charm, the pressure was on. The day did not disappoint.

 

Just to show that it wasn't all predators, the first sighting of the day was birds

 

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But then of course, we found the beautiful female juvenile leopard, resting in "her" mashatu tree

 

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Unfortunately, she was quite high up and looked to have settled in for the duration.

 

A little way down the road, we had a short glimpse of an African Wild Cat. Again, the following vehicle didn't believe us - one of them loves them and was very jealous :(

 

We had got quite a long way away, looking for the lions, when Richard had a call on the radio, that she had come down the tree and was more visible - would we like to return? Ask a stupid question....

 

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And then she really performed.....quite tricky to shoot with the back-lighting

 

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To prove that there are other animals there

 

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And all we could find of the lions was this...

 

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And the last sighting before breakfast was a new bird, a bearded woodpecker

 

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The 1st leopard shot in this series is stunning!

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Tdgraves

The 1st leopard shot in this series is stunning!

Thanks - it is the cover of my photo book for this trip!

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Jochen

Those cheetah cubs are just TOO CUTE!

Very nice leopard shots too.

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TonyQ

@@Tdgraves

Beautiful photos of the hyenas, the cheetahs (cubs are so cute) and of course the leopard.

It was worth the wait :)

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Tdgraves

Evening drive, 1/9/14

 

The first few sightings were of birds:

 

Dark chanting goshawk

 

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Red-billed hornbill

 

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Whitebrowed sparrow-weaver

 

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Lark-like bunting

 

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LBR in flight, unfortunately focussed on the tail

 

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Hoopoe

 

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Saddle-billed stork

 

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And then some general game

 

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All of the vehicles were looking for the lions, but luckily, we found them first

 

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We had a lovely sighting and moved aside to let the next vehicle in. Soon after, we found the leopard mother on the prowl for dinner.

 

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Next up - cheetah and cubs! Mum looked like she needed a rest, but they wouldn't leave here alone...

 

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Off to sundowners with big smiles!!

 

And then a better African wildcat sighting - and the South African who missed the first one, missed this too!!

 

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We are still good luck charms :D

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Tdgraves

@@Tdgraves

Beautiful photos of the hyenas, the cheetahs (cubs are so cute) and of course the leopard.

It was worth the wait :)

 

What wait?

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Treepol

@@Tdgraves lions, cheetah and leopard + AWC, what spectacular sightings - is that a cat quadrella?

 

The photos of the playful cheetah cubs are gorgeous.

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The 1st leopard shot in this series is stunning!

Thanks - it is the cover of my photo book for this trip!

 

 

I can see why!

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Tdgraves

@@Tdgraves lions, cheetah and leopard + AWC, what spectacular sightings - is that a cat quadrella?

 

The photos of the playful cheetah cubs are gorgeous.

If such a thing exists. It was certainly cat-tastic!

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Soukous

what a geat safari - from the wealth of lovely photos my favourites are the cheetah cubs. Just toooo cute for words.

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Tdgraves

Thanks @ Soukous I've never seen them before, so I was a bit snap happy, but probably would have taken just as many if it was my 100th time. They are so full of energy.

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Tdgraves

Memory card issues

 

Having recently purchased a 5D mark III between us, what we would usually do is alternate cameras on a daily basis. If there was a bird or something quite far on the side of the vehicle of the person with the 5D, they could then grab the 7D for a bit of extra reach. For those who don't use Canon (why not?), the 7D only takes compact flash cards, whereas the 5D has slots for CF and SD cards. As all of our previous cameras had SD slots, we have lots of these cards, but only a few compact flash cards as they are much more expensive. Given the amazing drives we had on 1/9/14, the first day when I was let loose with the 7D, this was a problem. I had taken approximately 800 shots and we were only on day 2 of our trip. This problem was compounded by the fact that someone (not me) had forgotten to bring the USB camera cable, so we weren't even able to copy any on to the iPad to make space. I was therefore "banned" from using it again until we got to the Kruger. In January, we had seen that the SANParks shops sold memory cards, but hadn't looked any closer as we did not need any. As we would be traversing half of the park and stopping at every rest camp we passed, there had to be a chance to buy another one, didn't there? In a word, no. Numerous different bands and sizes of SD card, but no CFs at all. Every shop was the same. So I "had" to use the 5D for the entire rest of the trip ;) Needless to say, my OH bought me a 64GB CF card for Christmas, so that he can use the 5D next time.....and I bought him a portable hard drive with an SD slot!!

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@@Tdgraves...I do not bring a USB cable, but a little adaptor that plugs into the IPad and you plug your memory card into that. It's great as you can upload your photos daily and get rid of the ones that are not perfect.

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Tdgraves

@@Tdgraves...I do not bring a USB cable, but a little adaptor that plugs into the IPad and you plug your memory card into that. It's great as you can upload your photos daily and get rid of the ones that are not perfect.

We have one of those, but it only reads SD cards. The other type needs the USB cable....

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The Cheetah cubs are wonderfully captured...the one rearing up on mum takes the cake.
Whilst the australians have an unrelated saying of a 'three dog night' - seems you had a four cat day!

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egilio

I delete a lot of images on the camera, before downloading. How many do you really end up looking over again? Or using in books, presentations and trip reports on Safaritalk? If often take 10-20 images of a single event (say two wild dogs playing), then quickly go through them and delete anything not sharp, and then anything 'double', and only keep the ones with the best compositions, ending up with 2-3 images. Similarly, I find a leopard in a tree and take a bunch of pictures, then move the vehicle to and have a much better viewpoint and take some new images and delete all the ones from the initial view point. This saves a lot of space.

Fantastic report and photos!

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