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Day 22 – Jul 10: Magotho Camp – North Gate Campsite (Khwai Development Trust)    29 km

 

Early morning we looked again for wild dogs, but without any luck. We decided to make a move to our next destination North Gate, from where we wanted to explore the other side of the Khwai river.

 

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After our river crossing the landscape changed into mixed mopane woodlands and relative wet marshland, beautiful! It looked ideal for wild dog and leopard and indeed not much later Dio spotted something run through the bush on the right of the car and I also just managed a glimpse, of what we eventually were very sure was a wild dog. We drove around over the fairly extensive network of small roads in that area, but did not find dogs… But we found this beautiful leopard, who was clearly on a hunt!

 

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We checked-in at North Gate and picked a camping place nearest to the river, where a couple of hippos did not seem to mind our presence. We then drove up northeast through the flood plains, into an area which is not visited much, judging from the roads.

 

Just around the corner of our camp somebody was having lunch. Actually there were three of them, but 2 flew away when we came around the corner. Tawny Eagle..? I'm no birder...

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Eagle lunch: looks like a Gennet:

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We were back in camp on time for another spectacular sunset. In the evening we had a couple of elephants walk straight through camp, passing within meters of our camp fire. A great experience.

 

North Gate bridge seen from our camping spot, with hippos to the right, just outside this photo.

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Day 12 – Jun 30: Etosha NP – Grootfontein (Roy’s Rest Camp)    299 km – 5 h   Today’s target, again: CHEETAH; please! Our last couple of hours in Etosha, so today we HAD TO find cheetah

After Dead Vlei we explored Sossusvlei and settled down under the trees for a relaxing mid-day break, lunch and a little nap, surrounded by the dunes, some bushes, birds, squirrels and mice. The first

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Day 23 – Jul 11: North Gate Campsite – South Gate Campsite (Moremi Game Reserve)    90 km

 

Today’s plan was to game drive to South Gate, via Xakanaxa and possibly Third Bridge, and to explore the Okavango by boat. And hoping to find wild dogs along the way… We had not made any advanced arrangements for a boat, but I had read that it should be possible to charter a boat direct at the Xakanaxa Boat Station; this turned out to be correct.

 

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And finally... Dogs! Probably a fews scouts rather than a whole pack. We saw 3 but they were gone into the bush in half a minute...

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We waited for half an hour and, as we had hoped, one came back and walked right passed our car. I was too busy enjoying and almost forgot to click... 

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Wild dogs: checked! A small check, but anyway...

 

We had a picnic break near Xakanaxa, at Paradise Pools, if I remember well.

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Time for some boating and finally see the Okavango from where you should see it, the water. 

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Watch this little one..! Not without danger, with crocodiles in the water...

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These three were doing synchronised drinking.

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After our Okavango boat trip we had to drive straight to South Gate, as we were running low on fuel. We therefore decided that I would drop Stan and Dio at South Gate to prepare dinner, and I’d drive to Maun to get fuel and then come back asap. It was not possible to be back before dark and the gate would close, so I informed the lady at the gate. She was very kind and told me she’d leave the gate open, just for me! And she did...!

 

South Gate was a nice camp, well-looked after and clean. Much better than North Gate and although it I located right next to the gate and the border of Moremi it is absolutely still completely in the bush and wildlife is as abundant as anywhere else and there are no human settlements within probably 30 kilometres.

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Day 24 – Jul 12: South Gate Campsite (Moremi Game Reserve)

 

Our last full day in the bush, and although we had a glimpse of wild dogs, we were not satisfied with that and decided that in the morning we would visit Black Pools and Xini Lagoon, where lions and wild dogs are often seen, and then in the afternoon go to Third Bridge and Xakanaxa, to search for wild dogs.

 

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Black Pools. What a beautiful area!3I3A7357.jpg.5fb389b09ac97e1798bb631089d19d74.jpg

 

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The buffaloes were quite alert, which was really great to see. The largest individuals were clearly taking a front row position in between us and the rest of the herd. 3I3A7399.jpg.b5ab8821a04d7a4066285a3840a23bc2.jpg

 

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We only saw 1 other car around Black Pools. Xini Lagoon was surprisingly busy with cars from Maun as well as nearby lodges. It wa very dry though and I didn't really understand why they all went to Xini Lagoon and not Black Pools...

 

We then drove to Third Bridge, enjoying some water birds and crocodiles fishing.

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The network of small tracks to the west of the main road between Xakanaxa and Third Bridge are often described as the most rewarding for game, and also as very beautiful. Both are true!

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We only had a few hours left, so I bet on the area that I thought had the highest chance of wild dog sightings: the area around the Xakanaxa airstrip, where the Mula pack often hangs out.

 

It was clear that we were not the only ones around and that this is probably the most visited area in Moremi, or in fact the entire area between Maun and Kasane. It soon became obvious why, when we ended up in a queue of a couple of cars, for apparently a leopard. We had 1 more car in front of us, when all of a sudden another jeep passed us with fairly high speed, whispering “dogs”. A few other cars were apparently not sure to go for the dogs or the leopard, but we didn’t have to think twice... We followed the lodge car ahead of others and that gave us instantly an excellent position when less than hundred meters further we saw the dog pack on the road.

 

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More and more dogs came suddenly from different directions, as if the meeting point was right in front of. 

 

And off they went, in a rush...!

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They were clearly on a hunt. The next half hour or so was quite crazy and tested my driving skills, with initially about 10 cars trying to follow the dogs. Half were self-drivers, half from lodges. In that area the network of roads is very extensive, so it’s not easy to decide which road to take. I had anticipated a little (actually a lot….!) for these kind of events, and read a lot of trip reports. From the reports I had memorised which of the lodges seemed to have the most senior guides, and decided to keep an eye on these lodges’ cars, and if I had no idea which way to drive myself, just follow them. That plan worked out perfectly and soon we were with only 1 other car from a lodge following the pack, leaving all other cars behind, most likely lost in the network of roads.

 

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The lodge car went off-road; I followed... The dogs stopped, and so did we. Another car from the same lodge joined and obviously the first car had radioed its position. We greeted both guides and their guests and it was clear they didn’t mind at all sharing the sighting with us, as self-drivers. I gestured if it was ok to drive there, off-road, and he only smiled.

I really appreciated these guides, and every time the dogs made a move we followed, sometimes we drove first and sometimes the cars of the lodge drove first, it was no longer a race, it was just about being polite and share the moment all together, as it should be.

 

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The lodge cars had to go, I guess for some pre-planned sundowners. We followed the pack for as long as we could, but eventually they disappeared behind the staff quarters of the Xakanaxa camp.

 

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What a thrilling and rewarding end of our last full day on safari! Now there was a big "Check" for Wild Dogs.

The photos of the dogs are not great and some are taken with 1 hand, while my other hand had to steer, but that's a good reason to come back...!

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Day 25 – Jul 13: South Gate Campsite – Ghanzi (Thakadu Bush Camp)    386 km – 5 h

 

The original plan was to do one more half-day game drive before leaving Moremi, but as we were still ecstatic about yesterday’s afternoon and our overall time in the bush we decided to take it easy and spend some time in the camp. We had not done that before yet, as every day for the last 24 days we were in the car way before sunrise..!

 

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We then drove slowly towards Maun, still enjoying the boundaries of the park. The following photos are all taken outside the park, just showing there's still plenty to see there as well.

 

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Oh hello, Steenbok!

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One more coffee in the bush and then to Ghanzi, where we stayed at beautiful Thakadu Bush Camp.

 

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Day 26 – Jul 14: Ghanzi – Windhoek    529 km – 6 h

 

Today we drove from Ghanzi back to Namibia and Windhoek, for our last night in Afrika, having plenty of time to reflect back on our trip and so many unforgettable memories that I’m not even trying to think about what I liked most; what a fantastic trip it was and how beautiful Namibia and Botswana are. We’ll be back, sooner than later.

 

--- THE END ---

 

That's all SafariTalkers, I hope you've enjoyed. Sorry for perhaps too many photos, it's always hard to select and I enjoyed re-living the trip while writing this report. If you have any questions or comments I'll be more than pleased.

 

It took a bit of time to write this report, but before asking any advice at this forum for my next trip I felt obliged!

 

I've booked flights to ZAMBIA for October this year, for about 15 days of self-driving and camping, planning Kafue, Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa. Yeahhh...! All tips will be much appreciated!

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Peter Connan

Thank you for a wonderful trip report @toine.

You had wonderful experiences and great sightings and took beautiful photos.

There is one thing I want to ask you: In future when interacting with the locals, please be sparing with things like sweets and biscuits. Keep in mind that they do not have access to dentists and probably don't have the means to practice dental hygiene. Please rather give them things like old clothes or educational materials?

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Tom Kellie

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~ @toine

 

Consider me 100% dazzled by the strong finish to your trip report.

 

I've enjoyed it all the way, due to your engaging writing style and to your absolutely masterful safari photography.

 

Whoever it is (Dio?) wearing a grey knit cap, leaning against a tree knows how to enjoy a day in the bush.

 

I smiled when I saw that image. I tend to go barefoot as often as possible.

 

Not only a hunting leopard, but wild dogs. The yawning image is especially pleasing.

 

Your finish with the night sky is wonderful. Such a sharp, clear image.

 

Many thanks for these and for all of your other posts.

 

Who would be so bold as to presume to offer you any tips? You've done so well already.

 

May your October safari in Zambia be as productive as Namibia and Botswana were.

 

With Respect,

 

Tom K.

Edited by Tom Kellie
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2 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

Thank you for a wonderful trip report @toine.

You had wonderful experiences and great sightings and took beautiful photos.

There is one thing I want to ask you: In future when interacting with the locals, please be sparing with things like sweets and biscuits. Keep in mind that they do not have access to dentists and probably don't have the means to practice dental hygiene. Please rather give them things like old clothes or educational materials?

 

Thanks @Peter Connan. I absolutely hear what you're saying. I'd thought about bringing some old cloths or other stuff before going on this trip, but I didn't think we would have an opportunity as the one we eventually had. But to be honest, even if we would have had some cloths to give I believe we would still have shared some cookies with them as well. Their reaction and delight to share some cookies with us and each other was incredibly precious, for them and us. Teeth are certainly priceless, but so are these most genuine smiles :).

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2 hours ago, Tom Kellie said:

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~ @toine

 

Consider me 100% dazzled by the strong finish to your trip report.

 

I've enjoyed it all the way, due to your engaging writing style and to your absolutely masterful safari photography.

 

Whoever it is (Dio?) wearing a grey knit cap, leaning against a tree knows how to enjoy a day in the bush.

 

I smiled when I saw that image. I tend to go barefoot as often as possible.

 

Not only a hunting leopard, but wild dogs. The yawning image is especially pleasing.

 

Your finish with the night sky is wonderful. Such a sharp, clear image.

 

Many thanks for these and for all of your other posts.

 

Who would be so bold as to presume to offer you any tips? You've done so well already.

 

May your October safari in Zambia be as productive as Namibia and Botswana were.

 

With Respect,

 

Tom K.

 

Thanks so much for your kind words @Tom Kellie. It's such a pleasure to share on this forum!

That is indeed Dio and he indeed knows how to enjoy. But it was one of the very few times he actually had his eyes closed during the day, as he absolutely loves wildlife as much as I do and siestas are usually not for us...! This particular location's invitation was hard to turn down though...!

 

Nothing beats barefoot; I used to work in the rainforests of Sumatra and was often going around barefoot, although you have to be a bit more alert where you walk, compared with in the African bush.

 

Thanks again!

   

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Just in case anyone likes to see some more of my photos, for instance of my trip to Tanzania, check-out my website www.duniart.com or go direct to www.duniart.com/tanzania

 

Tarangire - Ngorongoro - Olduvai - Serengeti - Mara River (Great Migration!)

 

Unfortunately no trip report here, maybe I'll do that one day :) 

 

 

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@toine, I just read this whole report cover to cover.  What an adventure!  Thanks for sharing your epic roadtrip with us.  Your photos are fantastic!

 

Alan

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9 minutes ago, Atdahl said:

@toine, I just read this whole report cover to cover.  What an adventure!  Thanks for sharing your epic roadtrip with us.  Your photos are fantastic!

 

Alan

 

Thanks so much Alan / @Atdahl. It's as much of a pleasure to share here as it is to read others' trip reports :). 

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@toine  This is a wonderful report...both in words and photographs.

Thank you,  I enyoyed it so much.

Ginny

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A most enjoyable trip report @toine already looking forward to reading about your Zambian adventure!

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On 2/6/2019 at 1:25 AM, vikramghanekar said:

Fantastic report and superb photographs! Thoroughly enjoying this. Waiting for more!

 

 

Hi @vikramghanekar , thanks so much! The "more" is added now :).

I also really have enjoyed some of your reports and absolutely brilliant photography! In fact, your report of South Luangwa has helped me decide to go there this October, first time Zambia for me.

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Thanks for a wonderful report @toine and amazing photography- Self driving the parks of Botswana looks very rewarding. It looks like you did alot of research as well.

 

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On 2/10/2019 at 10:19 PM, Hads said:

Thanks for a wonderful report @toine and amazing photography- Self driving the parks of Botswana looks very rewarding. It looks like you did alot of research as well.

 

 

Thanks @Hads, appreciated! It was absolutely very rewarding indeed, would love to spend more time there. I indeed did a lot of research, haha... But that did pay off as well.

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ForWildlife
On 2/9/2019 at 7:44 AM, toine said:

Without exaggeration, I estimated the black mamba to be at least 5 meters long, and as thick as my wrist (and I’m a fairly big guy).

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:D Without exaggeration? Well...black mambas don't grow bigger than about 3m, certainly not anywhere close to 5. But snakes often look longer than they actually are. And black mambas are usually not very defensive, rather trying to get away. But it really is a snake you don't want to get bitten by. The safest way to deal with snakes is to move away from them and give them space and not deal with them. But very cool to see two such dangerous species near the same bush!

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4 minutes ago, ForWildlife said:

 

:D Without exaggeration? Well...black mambas don't grow bigger than about 3m, certainly not anywhere close to 5. But snakes often look longer than they actually are. And black mambas are usually not very defensive, rather trying to get away. But it really is a snake you don't want to get bitten by. The safest way to deal with snakes is to move away from them and give them space and not deal with them. But very cool to see two such dangerous species near the same bush!

 

@ForWildlife I know... Make it "about", rather than "at least". The longest scientifically measured wild black mamba was 4.5 m. I'm not claiming a new record. But I've worked a lot with snakes in the wild, particularly large pythons, and I know the difference between a 3 meter snake and a 5 meter snake. This one was closer to 5 than 3. I asked two rangers later in the park about mambas, and particularly size, as I initially also didn't believe the size of this individual... They mentioned some are over 4 meters... In any case, it was indeed cool :). 

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Ritsgaai

Magnificent!!! Your storytelling and photography kept me spellbound for a few hours. Your enthusiasm for Africa and it's magical landscapes and wildlife are infectious. Thank you very much.

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On 2/14/2019 at 3:13 AM, Ritsgaai said:

Magnificent!!! Your storytelling and photography kept me spellbound for a few hours. Your enthusiasm for Africa and it's magical landscapes and wildlife are infectious. Thank you very much.

Thank you, @Ritsgaai ! You're very welcome.

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@toine what an epic journey, and similaly great trip report for us to share the adventures with you! The Botswana part I have read with particular interest; my only visit there embedded some fear into my self-driving bones. Both storytelling, and photography are on top level, and I will be looking forward to read the one from your upcoming trip to Zambia.

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18 hours ago, xelas said:

@toine what an epic journey, and similaly great trip report for us to share the adventures with you! The Botswana part I have read with particular interest; my only visit there embedded some fear into my self-driving bones. Both storytelling, and photography are on top level, and I will be looking forward to read the one from your upcoming trip to Zambia.

Thanks @xelas ! It was a pleasure and certainly some of your past reports have been instrumental in my planning. I loved driving through Botswana's wilderness..! And it's amazing what a 4x4 can do. During wet season I'm sure driving may get pretty challenging, but "only sand" should not be anyone's concern, as long as you know the basics and have some experience. My prior experience was just a half day course in Holland a few months before the trip, but in terrain that was amazingly similar as Botswana and this really made it "easy", and most of all also great fun :).

  

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Some excellent photos in here and a wonderful atmosphere from your journey! 

Thanx alot! 

 

Jealous about the Black mamba. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
The_Norwegian

What an absolutely joy to read and look through this journey :-) I had a cold beer while looking through this one, and that is not very often you see me do ;-) 

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toine
18 hours ago, The_Norwegian said:

What an absolutely joy to read and look through this journey :-) I had a cold beer while looking through this one, and that is not very often you see me do ;-) 

@The_Norwegian thanks so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've certainly also enjoyed your reports during my planning, and more recently some of your spectacular leopard photos from your SA trip. I'm also quite obsessed with leopards and they're one of the reasons of my next trip coming October to Zambia. Cheers!

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