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Green Season Botswana Part 1 - Return home to Kwando Lagoon; Wild dogs running wild, the magic of Muvumbi Valley and lots lots more....


madaboutcheetah

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madaboutcheetah

Hello,

 

Quick re-cap of Part 1 of the green season trip - no surprises and many Thanks to my friends and guides - Spencer and Mr.Moe.......... As always, being on safari with them is pure magic!

 

This time a short green season visit. There was a lack of rain through December........ However, in January they'd encountered some off and on T'storms and a couple of heavier showers. This meant that there was fresh grass everywhere and brought together plains game in masses - in particular massive Zebra herds and impala herds (size of the impala herds upto 60 something I've never seen before). However, this also meant the pans in the woodland now held water for lots of animals.

 

The Wild dogs of Lagoon put on a show during the first two days - Running wild and making a dent on the impala and Warthog population in the concession. One morning saw them take down 3 piglets over the course of two hours and we left them resting at close to lunch time (again a first, as I've never seen dogs that active through an entire morning). We then lost them as they went away into the Western section of the mopane. The pack numbers 12 at the moment - pack had split off recently.

Rewind to arriving at Lagoon on a rainy day (perhaps the only heavy rain during my entire trip) - landed in Maun to the welcome of severe T'storms. Having waited it out - encountered more T'storms on the flight to Lagoon. We had the best pilot ever - a Spanish gentleman (Albie?) who flew low enough and around the storms without a single bump! Even the SAA flight coming into Maun was more turbulent .......... Kudos to Albie from Moremi Air!!!

 

Whilst the rains had already arrived, the Muvumbi valley in the North was pure magic! Unfortunately, there is still only a single main track up there ............ I can only hope that Kwando put in a couple of roads up there, as there are parallel open valleys that are full of phenomenal game. We did a day trip to Muvumbi, where we saw huge masses of Zebra, Eland and Buffalo. Phenomenal buffalo viewing up there. Then, bang in the middle of the valley we encountered the Lagoon pride of Lions that had migrated there with the herds................ Matt one of the guides, had done another day trip a few days prior and saw tracks for Cheetah with cubs. Hmmmmm - all looks awesome for the months ahead???? hopefully, but not without roads .............. Our main intent was to find tracks for the "Boys of Lagoon" cheetah - no tracks at all .......... they could have been in one of the parallel valleys up in Muvumbi. Who knows ..........

 

All in all - no cheetah this time ........... Ouch! There's hope for the future with those cheetah cubs ........... Muvumbi certainly holds the best potential for cheetah in all of the greater Linyanti - they haven't been seen in Lebala/Selinda for a long time now.........

 

Other sightings of note - the Beasts from Namibia (male lions) were seen daily and they've really established a stranglehold of the territory -

 

Before all of this .......... Quick story about the Botswana visa.............. In brief, it's a Gigantic goose chase!!! I'd not pencil a visit in January or February ever again with fear of the archaic procedure adopted in Gaborone. Given, that I had a lot of help from people in high offices to push the visa through and they ensured that I got the visa (oh two hours prior to my flight out) .......... what would happen if for example I was to book a self-drive trip?. I've now gotten to the bottom of the visa procedure. Apparently the Director of immigration in Gaborone has to personally sign every application once approved (after a board meeting to approve applications) which happens only once or twice a week. Basically, the High Commission in Delhi only does liaison work with Gaborone and has no real authority. Still I live in hope ............. I love Botswana and understand that this is how things operate there - but, this would be enough to scare someone else FOR LIFE away from Botswana...... The holidays got in the way and ofcourse, all paper work gets stuck in Gaborone for several weeks ......... Merry Christmas!!!! ;)

 

PS- Thank Heavens, SA have done away with the ridiculous transit visa ..........

 

Photos to come when I get to editing them -

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Tom Kellie

Apparently the Director of immigration in Gaborone has to personally sign every application once approved (after a board meeting to approve applications) which happens only once or twice a week. ......... I love Botswana and understand that this is how things operate there - but, this would be enough to scare someone else FOR LIFE away from Botswana......

 

~ @@madaboutcheetah

 

That cumbersome procedure certainly obstructs any move toward mass tourism.

Not much delegation of authority, eh?

Thank you for taking the time to sort that out and explain it here.

Tom K.

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madaboutcheetah

First batch of photos is actually from the first evening amidst a very light drizzle - luckily, the roof of the land cruiser was up!

 

We were having a quiet drive as the animals were all hidden in the thickets from the all day off and on rains - when, I literally finished my question, "Spencer when was the last time you saw the dogs?" - we see a dog chase an impala at full speed ........ by the time we were able to locate them - this was the situation.

 

The evening ended with an amazing sunset at Tssesebe pan -

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SafariChick

And I just went from dogs in your other report to dogs here! These dogs seem lighter colored, more golden. Great shots of them all pulling on the kill - I have tried to take shots of similar scenes and for me it was hard not to have it all look like a blur of fur! And those sunsets - wow!

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madaboutcheetah

@@SafariChick - Around 2013, 4 male dogs with this orange coat (unpainted) took over the Lagoon pack and the old alpha pair were kicked out (or killed) ....... subsequently, the current genetic pattern of the pack has transformed into this!

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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@madaboutcheetah

 

MAC - sorry that you didn't see cheetah this time around but it just gives you a reason to return! Man oh man what great shots of the dogs. Also, I'm happy to hear that you saw such large impala and zebra (is that ''zee-bra" or "ze-bra") herds that must have been quite a sight to behold.

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madaboutcheetah

Introducing the STUNNING MUVUMBI VALLEY ........ and I'm literally "on bended knee" wishing and hoping that Kwando put in a couple of roads up there ...... Here's a glimpse of Muvumbi from the main track

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SafariChick

@@madaboutcheetah ah, that's very interesting about the golden dogs that took over the pack and transformed its color. I was there in February 2013 so this must have been not long after - when I saw the pack, they were more typically colored.

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@@madaboutcheetah - Wow. I am amazed at the quality of the images on Safaritalk and you have added these. Brilliant. That wild dog sighting must have set the pulse racing...imagine that for timing! I especially like images of animals that show a bit of their habitat. Such variety across Africa.

 

Thank you and will be looking out for more as this looks like another place that I now want to visit.

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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madaboutcheetah

Next instalment is something that was extremely challenging, photographically ....... I spent a couple of hours just trying to get my camera settings going - and it was still a goose chase trying to get these birds in focus at their termite buffet!!!!

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Tom Kellie

~ @@madaboutcheetah

 

The images which include bee-eaters in flight are over-the-top excellent!

My cap's off to you in respect for the patience and persistence to achieve such superlative results of an exceptionally difficult subject.

Your images are so fine that I'm almost able to hear the birds.

Thank you.

Tom K.

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Must agree with Tom - your patience has paid dividends!

 

Sorry to hear about the visa hassle. If I missed this explanation already, I apologize, but is this process particularly bad in Jan and Feb for some reason? And have you ever encountered it before?

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks @@Tom Kellie and @@Marks

 

The Botswana visa - oh! I can easily write a book about my experiences from over the years ........ some very easy and straight forward experiences; some absolutely TRAUMATIC - for example., it might have been 2012 when I had to re-route via Nairobi/Gaborone as I didn't have enough time to get the passport sent for the dreadful SA transit visa. Luckily, this time around - SA scrapped that requirement just in the nick of time.

 

Why is Jan/Feb bad you ask? ....... The Director of immigration has to personally sign every application and I suppose he's off for Christmas and things get backed up when he's back!

 

If I was to go on safari in Jan/Feb - i would def look for other options in East Africa. No second thoughts!!!

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2 reports, you spoil us M.A.C! The Muvumbi valley looks green, plentiful and stocked with prey, no wonder the Lagoon pride were there!
Great flight pics, and dog pics. Looking forward to more!

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A wonderful sequence of the flying buffet - thank you in having the patience to get your settings right!

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madaboutcheetah

Today's segment features the dogs again .......... Note in a couple of images; you can see that the youngsters picked up one of those Tse Tse fly traps from the late 90s/early 2000s - these dogs sniff everything out, don't they!!! we followed them to the airstrip where they rested briefly.......

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madaboutcheetah

The beauty of the Kwando concession ........

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michael-ibk

Lovely shots, Hari! Judging by the distance you obviously took that Eland shot I take it they still are very skittish there?

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks, Michael ...., very skittish indeed!

 

At least they show themselves these days - I don't think I had an eland sighting here until maybe 2010?

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madaboutcheetah

Back to the dogs .......... Highlights of time spent with them!

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michael-ibk

Great Dog photos - but I especially like the Warthog in the burrow one, very clever shot.

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wilddog

Me too! The dog images are superb but what a wonderful surprise, mid dog pics to see that Warthog...............in the hole!

 

How close were you @@madaboutcheetah ? I assume you were in the vehicle as on foot could have been somewhat hazardous!

 

Great shot anyway.

 

Don't you just wish those damned impala would all look at you long enough to get a face shot of all of them against that lonely green background? Their stage manager needs to have a word with them :)

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Zim Girl

Really nice dog photos, love the group bonding and playing shots

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks a lot .....

 

@@wilddog - indeed from the vehicle ..... We were following the dogs. Unfortunately, we had to negotiate some mopane to get to that termite mound; would have loved to have gotten pics of the dogs trying to sniff him. By the time we got around; they probably figured he was too big! Yet - got this photo opportunity that I didn't want to miss.....

 

@@Zim Girl and Michael - thank you!!!!

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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