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19 Days of Bliss on Self-drive Safari


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Peter Connan
6 hours ago, xelas said:



What is the name of the character that gets face-red and very loud in critical situations :rolleyes:?!


No red faces or loudness required. Just a good old-fashioned AAS (Attitude Adjustment Slap)...



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A sincere and big thank you to everybody reading the TR and showing your interest.    From Lekhubu/Kubu Island we followed the track across the pans in a north-westerly directions as indicat

The next booked stop was in Nxai Pan National Park. We decided to visit Lekhubu Island en-route en then approach Nxai Pan NP via the track crossing the Makgadigadi  Pans southeast of the park. We

The afternoon drive through Khama Rhino Sanctuary was very productive and we counted 12 white rhinos - the only rhino sightings for the entire trip.    These were also spotted - the wa

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Hi to all,

We had a hectic week and weekend, but I hope to post another day tonight. :)


Thank you for the ID, @Peter Connan. I do not have good photos of those raptors unfortunately, but I found this one that I think very much confirms the Bataleur juvenile.



Those tires are very expensive and a short while after we got home after the trip, we had another right-off without driving off-road..A small puncture on the 3-ply side wall. Ir-repairable. :o We can only guess that it was damaged some or other time during the trip as well. Eish!!! (sure you will understand the meaning ;))


@xelas, yes, what a coincidence to meet your fellow countrymen in the middle of Africa! We so wished we could do more to help them! They were in our thoughts many days after. Were they stranded for long and how many days did they missed out on? That was an very unfortunate thing that happened to them and I can only hope that they will come back to Africa again. We really felt very sorry for them.


As @Peter Connan said, it is a tricky crossing and we knew it beforehand. That is the reason we turned around a few times and first watched the locals in the area crossing, before we followed with confidence. It could easily have been us if we were not cautious.


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Peter Connan

Eish indeed!


Jip, Bataleur it is.

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Day 13

We were on our way to Savuti - 1st time for us, with high hopes and expectations.


Early morning on the road.



Marsh Road



Tawny Eagle...I think ???IMG_6234.thumb.JPG.cb1e46195c42e4ade5bce8f08f8e7a9c.JPG


Arrived safely in Paradise :D



The campsites and tracks have very deep sand and I was very happy that I had boots to wear from the ablution block back to camp after having a shower. There is a notice up outside the ablution block not to walk in the dark to the ablution block due to dangerous animals. 


Overlooking the dry Savuti channel 



Neighbours setting up camp



We spent a quiet night with no night time visitors.


Day 14

We rose with first light to investigate the waterholes north of camp, as we heard lion roaring in that direction. We meticulously drove every possible track looking for them, but without any success. 


We passed Harvey's Pan to Quarry Hill and took the track up to the viewpoint. At sunrise we had coffee and rusks while enjoying the beautiful vista.








The track up the hill is not for the fainthearted, as some sections are very rocky and steep. Going down a steep section, we came to a big rock step and had to fill it up with smaller rocks.



Back down on the plain, we often experienced deep sand tracks.





Though wildlife was scarce, we enjoyed the very interesting tracks and surroundings.




Driving in the Savuti channel



Leftover bones from elephant carcasses are plentiful.



And a buffalo skeleton covered with skin



At noon, heading south towards Rhinovlei, it was time to prepare a bite under a large tree overlooking the plains.



French toast a la Savuti



The Savuti area was bone dry but the waterholes were productive.




Senegal Coucal.




Lilac-breasted Roller


Before going back to camp we found this beauty at Gobatsaa Hill (Leopard Rock). Unfortunately the leopard was quite high up and I could not get a good photo.



It was time to return to camp.IMG_6530.thumb.JPG.aa4fd394f7f58236bfc44852cee26fc6.JPG


Last sightings of the day



Middle of the road - Juvenile Bateleur



The very colorful tuck-shop inside Savuti camp



Earlier during the day we came across the friendly young couple from Switzerland who got our campsite at Xakanaxa and joined us on the sunset boat cruise on the Okavango Delta. We invited them for dinner and to share our campsite for the rest of the night, as it was too dangerous to walk back to theirs in the dark. They accepted and we had a feast - enjoying wine, beef fillet steak braaied over the coals and vegetables. Amongst others, we served gem squash with cinnamon and sugar, which was completely new to them. IMG_6543.thumb.JPG.19d2b5546fb782beb11d372f01230341.JPG


After two weeks on our own, it was good having company for a change.

Edited by Ritsgaai
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10 hours ago, Ritsgaai said:

Back down on the plain, we often experienced deep sand tracks.


After "mud baths" and deep water crossings, those deep sand tracks almost looks lik easy part of the driving ... but I know better then to underestimate its perils!


@Ritsgaai I might have overlooked this info: which GPS map have you used to navigate? 

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6 hours ago, xelas said:


After "mud baths" and deep water crossings, those deep sand tracks almost looks lik easy part of the driving ... but I know better then to underestimate its perils!


@Ritsgaai I might have overlooked this info: which GPS map have you used to navigate? 


We totally agree. With sand it is normally quite easy when the tyre pressure is low and one keeps momentum. Mud is a total different story, especially the cotton mud! We had some fun and games in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve during the rainy season. The one lesson we learnt was to stick to the track - even if it looks like a never ending river and the veld next to the track seems drier. Don't leave the track. :o


We used Tracks4Africa. 

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Day 15

Our last day in Savuti dawned beautifully.

Again we had no activity in camp during the night. Our new friends left for Kasane soon after daybreak. Hopefully we will meet again soon.


Our first aim for the day was to try finding the leopard we saw the previous day at Leopard Rock, but the leopard did not share our sentiment.:wacko:


After circling the hill twice, we headed to Bushman Hill in search of Bushman rock paintings. We enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the vehicle and followed the small path going up the hill to the cave.



It was lovely spending time outside and we just sat quietly for a long time, absorbing the peaceful surroundings.

We noticed this little Steenbok with one horn close-by.



We did a slow circular route via Rhinovlei and back to Leopard Rock, but again there was no sign of Mr or Mrs Leopard.


Sightings of the morning



Red-crested Korhaan



Common Buzzard (I think :unsure:)




Helmeted Guinea-fowl with Mopani leaf background



Lilac-breasted Roller



Blacksmith Lapwing



During a time span of approximately 2 hours we saw a tower of giraffe coming and going at Harvey's Pan. In total we counted between 30 to 40 of them.




The giants of the Savuti



Playing around with textures, shapes and colors (just for fun) ;)



Last sunset at Paradise, Savuti. Just checking all were well under the engine hood and cleaning the air filters before leaving for the last stretch to Chobe.



Reflections on Savuti. 

There is a network of roads to investigate the beautiful surroundings, with interesting landscapes and hills. 

Being very dry, the waterholes never disappointed, but we had to do a lot of driving to see a variety of wildlife.

We did not see the famous Savuti pride of lions, but we did hear roaring every night.

The elephants are huge with big tusks. Though the Savuti camp is well-known for elephants frequently coming into the camp, we never saw or heard them close-by.

We only saw one breeding herd of elephant from a distance. 

I am sure it is a place to visit again in future, but maybe in a different season.

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Peter Connan

Savuti treated you well, with a magnificent leopard sighting.


But definately it does seem to be more alive when the river is flowing. We were very lucky in 2012, with both elephant and wild dog right in camp. In fact, one night the elephant fed right above my brother in his little hiking tent!

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More excellent exploration done! The Common Buzzard is certainly not a buzzard, but an eagle. Without a book my first guess would be Wahlberg's Eagle.

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10 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

. In fact, one night the elephant fed right above my brother in his little hiking tent!

@Peter Connan, What an experience for your brother. One has a certain (false) sense of security in a RTT :rolleyes:


Thank you, @xelas

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Day 16


At sunrise we were already on our way to Chobe National Park where we were booked for 3 nights at Ihaha camp on the Chobe river front.


Double carriage-way to Chobe :)



High speed traffic overtaking from behind. :wacko:



Type of road that makes me very happy. B)




Busy, busy, busy... take care :blink:



After 11 days of dirt tracks only, this was the last few meters. :(


Back on the tarred road in the village of Kachikau, the tyre pressure had to be adjusted. We discovered a business opportunity there, as our compressor was quite in demand. ;)



First sight of the Chobe River floodplains. :D



After a short drive we were back in paradise again... Chobe National Park, on the way to our camp at Ihaha. Two very happy travelers indeed. :D:D



Shortly after arriving at our campsite we discovered one of the locals in the tree. 



More locals right in front of our campsite... African Fish-Eagles. 






Edited by Ritsgaai
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Day 16 - Afternoon


After a bite and a nap it was time to take an afternoon drive.


We where totally thrilled with the abundance awaiting us.



Red-billed Oxpecker 



We encountered water crossing after water crossing...well, the Ellies did the crossings.






Goliath Heron



White-backed Vultures



Grande Finale! 



Observers on the Namibian side of the river watching the over-a-1000-strong Buffalo herd.



A perfect ending for our 1st day in Chobe National Park.



Edited by Ritsgaai
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@Ritsgaai   Although I have never typically perused the self-drive types of reports (just not anything I, as a solo female traveler from the US, would ever do), I have been mesmerized by this report. Lovely pictures and I absolutely love the butt-shot of the giraffe drinking. Now that is just not the typical safari picture!!!  These pictures from Chobe are amazing too and clearly shows the beauty of having a good solid water source (our planets gift of life). Seriously, this trip had to have been just so much fun. There is something to be said for being able to meander at your own pace/desire/wish. I think I'm a little jealous :)  

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14 hours ago, lmonmm said:

I have been mesmerized by this report. 

Thank you for your very kind words and taking the time to reply. It is greatly appreciated!


And on this point, I want to thank every body who takes the time to read the TR. It is a great joy to know that I can share our wonderful experiences with people with a passion for nature and wildlife.

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Instead of reporting on the next day, I decided to pause for a while with a different kind of post.


The stretch next to the Chobe River is a birdwatcher's haven. One could easily spend all day long just focusing on birds.


I would like to share the variety we managed to photograph during the time there.


Goliath Heron



Great White Pelican




African Open-billed Stork




Little Egret



Grey Heron




White-faced Duck



Great Egret



Little Egret, Yellow-billed Stork and Great Egret



Pied Kingfisher



Great Blue-eared Starling



Red-billed Oxpecker



African Spoonbill



African Jacana



African Fish Eagle



(Taken after sunset)



Kori Bustard



African White-backed Vulture



Red-billed Francolin



Yellow-billed stork and Grey Heron



Black-winged Stilt



Glossy Ibis



African Sacred Ibis



Squacco Heron



Marabou Stork



Collared Palm-Thrush



Willow Warbler



Southern Brown-throated Weaver



White-browed Robin Chat



Saddle-billed Stork








Of cause my collection is limited, but I am sure you get the idea that the Chobe river area is a birdwatchers' paradise!

Edited by Ritsgaai
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Fantastic collection of birds.

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I once again take my hat off to you @Ritsgaai a great trip, great report and great photo's-I love the  sun drenched dust filled buffalo shots

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Impressive collection of (big) birds! Indeed an area that attracts any birder.

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@Ritsgaai  Before I forget...what are the ingredients for French toast a la Savuti? It looked scrumptious :)

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Thank you @Geoff, @Towlersonsafari and @xelas.


On 11/24/2017 at 5:00 PM, lmonmm said:

@Ritsgaai  Before I forget...what are the ingredients for French toast a la Savuti? It looked scrumptious :)


It was normal French toast with cheese and a topping of Bulgarian Yogurt and a little raw honey. 

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Day 17


We had the whole day to explore the area up- and downstream and making a quick visit to Kasane by midday, as many animals take a rest in the heat of the day.


We had numerous beautiful bird sightings, but most of these birds were featured in the previous post.


We were very excited to find the same huge herd of Buffalo of the previous day moving in the direction of our camp at Ihaha. 




After the early morning game drive we returned to camp for a light breakfast.



We noticed this little critter enjoying the leftovers on the braai grid hanging against the tree.



Herd of Impala in front of our campsite whilst having breakfast.



Travelling further in an easterly direction, we saw a few herds of elephant heading to the water. IMG_7474.thumb.JPG.165e5e8d7622c543a2b0cc6365704572.JPG


We made our way slowly towards the exit gate at Sedudu and enjoyed the lovely area and tracks.




A couple of Sable antelope quickly disappeared into the thick forest.



As it was 11 days since the time we filled up with diesel in Maun, it was time to head to Kasane.


It seemed like nobody took any notice of this strange visitor in the middle of town. :lol:



We were in a hurry to get back inside the Park for the afternoon and made only 2 stops. Diesel and the supermarket for fresh bread and veggies. We could not resist the  smell of the fresh, warm bread and enjoyed some on the way back in. :rolleyes:



It was past mid afternoon and time for action again.




Late afternoon this herd of Zebra was very nervous at a small water crossing.



Once through, they calmed down considerably... phew, we made it alright!



We were back in camp to enjoy our sun-downers while soaking in the tranquil end of the day.



It was time to prepare supper and staring into the fire. Hyenas were circling on the perimeter of light, but only came closer after we went to bed. We heard them sniffling around in camp and then it became quiet, as there was nothing to be found.. 



We fell asleep under the lullaby of crickets and other insects, content and very, very privileged.



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Day 18


Shortly after sunrise our sound sleep was interrupted by bellowing - lots of it!

We scampered down and investigate the flood plains. Buffalo were moving in the direction of our camp and a huge dust cloud was spreading towards us. This was the huge herd we saw on both previous days. We estimated the herd to be between 1200 to 1400. 




With the approaching cloud of dust we quickly pulled down the rooftop tent. The buffalo were grazing on the green river banks and at first it seemed obvious that they will pass in front of the campsites. But then the leader of the herd decided to go up the river bank and passed through the low scrub bushes between the campsites and the office at the entrance and the rest of the herd followed the same path. We figured that they knew the camp area well and felt safer amongst the bushes, instead of the open river flood plain in front of the campsites. We watched them passing behind our camp at an approximate distance of between 200 to 300 meters for over an hour. They just walked at a constant pace without grazing. It felt like a never ending stream. It was simply an incredible close-up experience.




After more than an hour this was the rear end of the herd, still on the flood plain.



This was not the last time that we saw this huge herd. Shortly after we left camp after breakfast, we saw the herd of buffalo about 500 meters further on, lying down to rest. A sure sign that we should see them again when we return late afternoon.



After we cleaned the thick layer of dust from the table and chairs, it was time for a treat. 


Pancakes (crumpets) for breakfast on the Chobe. :P



...while watching the mischievous ground squirrels.


It was our last full day in Chobe National Park and we were ready to seize the day. Well, we had a great start already. :D


Hippos enjoying a lazy day.




Mother and baby giraffeIMG_7791.thumb.JPG.30982ec265887f05037014d9d0bc0b48.JPGIMG_7793.thumb.JPG.b22a345b94de0e2b231787ec9ccb1754.JPG


Zebra crossing



Monitor on his way to the river




Another big herd - this time Impala



Three warthogs crossed a stretch of water without hesitation




It was time for a cold drink and stretching of legs at the picnic site



While enjoying the beautiful surroundings, we spotted giraffe and elephant in the distance.IMG_7907.thumb.JPG.32d71f50a6bd38050af4315a4fd629d8.JPGIMG_7914.thumb.JPG.d682185b0640a4e8702a2435ae1ef1db.JPGIMG_7916.thumb.JPG.2f2c273ab681de92007df7eac1c6a9a0.JPG


We had a very enjoyable morning, but the best was yet to come!








Edited by Ritsgaai
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  • 3 weeks later...

What struck me on page was the vast emptiness vs the giant baobabs.  The waterhole was very Etosha-like.  Love the ele and the jackal for size comparison.  The ostriches in motion are great.  Self drive was a success for you.  Great report that will inspire others.

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Nice job on the pied kingfisher.  The eles occupying your camp are understandable, but it should not happen with other people, and such opposites!  Keeping your cool and integrity, even in the more difficult situation perhaps earned you the wild dogs in the court of bush justice.


The ostrich show continued, I see.


Do you feel like your photo skills improved as the trip continued? I think it looks like it! 

The Bushmen paintings added a cultural touch to your wildife-centered trip.  Nice job with the sable.  I am still in sable hunting mode, even though I've been home for 2 about months.  Eles crossing, way to go.  What did you say to the zebra to make it smile?  I think those bee eaters were perched on the end of your finger--very close.  You documented the stuck vehicle in the water with the jack well.  The giraffe put on a show.  You got abundance and variety of nature to go along with your adventure, and all on your own!  That's an accomplishment.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Hi to everybody. 


It has been a few weeks of silence. We were blessed with the birth of a grandchild 2 weeks ago - a beautiful little girl! So my mind was somewhere else, but I definitely want to complete the TR.


Thank you for the kind comments @Atravelynn. I sincerely hope that my skills improved a little bit as the trip progressed. Being in nature surrounded with such abundance and variety does contribute a lot to ending up with a few nice photos. In the end I delete the majority. If I look at the work of the excellent photographers, including yourself, on Safaritalk, I can only stand in awe.


But in the end it is the experience as a whole that counts. Everyone's trip is unique and leave special memories to those involved. Sharing a TR gives me great pleasure as I can re-visit every place and the atmosphere attached to it, re-live every experience and the special moments we shared. 


Thank you again to everyone taking the time to read it.

Edited by Ritsgaai
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