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how wonderful to see those carmines flying around the car, although I always worry they don't out of the way in time as the car rolls forward. flashes of pink and red and turquoise trailing alongside the car - thanks Andreas for the fabulous video of the carmines!


I wish I was there too experiencing the joys!

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Hurrah! what a splendid experience and thanks very much for sharing it. I can imagine the kori bustard grumbling quietly to itself in a slightly resigned manner as the bee eaters use it as a portable perch .

There are reports of peregrine falcons hunting in the lake district by using lorries as cover and to put birds to flight

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@Kitsafari and @gatoratlarge thank you for your kind words. I was unable to catch the birds in flight and so I decided to try to take a video. In spite of the shaking car the video works well and made me very happy.



Thank you all for reading and enjoying this TR





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I am under orders to wrap up the Savuti part, so wrap-up time it is with more photos from our second day:




We almost spent an hour at this lovely waterhole.




Two very handsome and relaxed Greater Kudu bulls gave us a good show.




Seeing them drink was not very surprising but they also seemed to like their mud. Which is not as weird as it may appear in the video, they are doing that for the minerals.









This one found other use for the mud, he just liked to splash around in it. :)




Red-Billed Teal




It also was very entertaining to see this Spoonbill do its spooning thing.





Three-Banded Plover







Edited by michael-ibk
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A Rufous-Naped Lark singing its heart out. Another iconic "This is Africa" sound to me, so I´m a bit cross with Andreas he did not take a video of that. ;)








Things promised to get a bit more testosterone-driven between these guys for a while but peace prevailed.



Our lunch was delayed more and more, and then this journey of Giraffe had the indecency to keep us hungy even longer:




They avoided the waterhole but seemed to fancy a drink at one of the puddles the rain from the last days had left.




This is when they are at their most vulnerable so they were quite nervous and normally at least one would keep its head up.




But finally thirst prevailed and they were all down, head by head.







Snippets from the afternoon:














Senegal Coucal




Abdim´s Storks roosting for the night.

Edited by michael-ibk
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Enjoyed the brief ride in the midst of the the carmine bee eaters!  So many drinking giraffes.  Must be happy hour!

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We had a long travel day ahead of us next morning - while the distance between Savuti Plains and the Mababe Gate in the South of Chobe National Park cannot be much more than 60 or 70 km it is a long journey - especially in the Green Season when the roads are very difficult or even unpassable. We saw very few self-drivers, I only remember two, and pitied them all. Stop before every water puddle, test how deep it is (too deep!), then try to find a way away from the road through the bushes - really tricky stuff. Would have been a nightmare for me but Matambo just laughed and shrugged it off.




Abdim´s Stork not just silhouetted in a tree. Intra-African migrants which the locals quite like - when they arrive rain cannot be far behind.




An interesting little situation in the morning - this Jackal seemed to take an interest in a Steenbok. Would he try to attack it? Stranger things have happened in Africa as Doug likes to say.








We´ve often had pictures of Giraffes with some kind of skin infections on Safaritalk, this one looked particularly unpleasant.




A Bateleur, one of the coolest-looking birds of prey in Africa.






A Southern Reedbuck, not the most common antelope. As I remember we only had a few distant glimpses last time in Botswana but during this trip we´d encounter quite a few, and all pretty relaxed. Very different from Hwange where they have even gone nocturnal.






A nice herd of Tsessebes with young ones.






Meet Matambo, our great guide and driver. I loved to chat with him at dinner, his childhood stories were just outrageous. At one point he told me that they used to roll in elephant dung as kids and then crept up to the Grey Giants and pulled their tail. Not sure if he was pulling MY tailleg but I´m inclined to believe him - he´s that kind of guy.








Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill. As you can see not a timid fellow - he was after our bisquit crumbs.






The long stretch between Savuti Marsh and the Pans in the South. A boring, hot and lifeless stretch through the bush. And did I mention it´s long? I think we drove here for more than two hours, very slowly because it´s not in a good state (not really visible here), and saw practically nothing.




"I´m not nothing bastard!" Ok, Mr. Red-Crested Bustard. (Korhaan actually)




Burchell´s Sandgrouse




Things got livelier again closer to the gate around the Gardenia and Ngunungu pans. This area had received quite a lot of rain. Made driving for Matambo even more difficult but there was much more to see. But we needed to move on so rarely stopped.






















It was almost 4pm when finally passed the gate and left Chobe. On to Khwai now - and back to @Alexander33!




Edited by michael-ibk
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@michael-ibk and  @Alexander33 thanks for the feedback on the mobile Safari for families - The lack of things to do whilst in camp could be an issue as you mentioned.

Awesome report and amazing photo's of the Carmines.

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4 hours ago, Hads said:

@michael-ibk and  @Alexander33 thanks for the feedback on the mobile Safari for families - The lack of things to do whilst in camp could be an issue as you mentioned.

Awesome report and amazing photo's of the Carmines.

Could budding birding skills be developed with binoculars for each youngster?  Budding young photographers could review their photos in camp.


The clouds add so much to the photos.  Very disturbing skin problems on the giraffes.  I am glad none of you tried the ele dung rolling or tail pulling.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Thanks @michael-ibk and @Alexander33 for composing a great trip report! I had to do a lot of catching up and admiring all the photos. You've both done an excellent job on what looks like an excellent safari as well!


You got to see a lot of different birds on this trip. The carmine bee-eaters look very beautiful! And funny to see them hitchhiking on the back of a kori bastard. If I could fly, I wouldn't think I would be hitchhiking on someone else's back. But I guess you can get tired of flying if you're doing it all the time.


Some great close-up photos you put in there. Especially the one of the leopard tortoise. Such great detail of their shell. Well done! Nice to see the making of as well. Never thought of getting out of the car for a better shot before. Worked out great for the tortoise and for the dung beetle as well. I now regret of not getting out the car at my dung beetle sighting, also in Bots if I remember correctly.


Great composition on the two headed yellow billed hornbill in your opening post, made me look twice.

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Finally had time to sit down and fully catch up on this report, thanks @michael-ibk, @AndMic And @Alexander33 for such a compelling start. Lots of highlights, including the falls, the leopard and of course the Carmines.  We did a (landscape) photo tour last year, and the lead photographer was trying to convince us that a mobile safari in Botswana was hard to beat. I can see from this report what he means!  Like others though, probably  would need to wait for the kids to get old enough to appreciate it.  Looking forward to more.

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Peter Connan

Magnificent photography and wonderful sightings! You both did amazing work with the Carmines, and I especially love the tree-full of Abdim's Storks in the evening.

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“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” —  Adaptation from Robert Burns


First, thanks to everyone for your generous comments and for following along.  I was all set to post the next installment, our arrival into the Khwai Community Area (a very different landscape from Savuti, by the way). However, we have had a freakish windstorm this afternoon, with intermittent electricity outages, and we currently have no Internet service — a bit reminiscent of our mobile camps.


For now, my charged up i-Pad is my lifeline. As as soon as service is restored, I’ll pick up the pace. @michael-ibk, you won’t hurt my feelings a bit if you want to proceed on without me. 



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Ah, service is restored!  Apologies for the brief post here, but it’s a start, and now I can get back on track.





As Michael said, the drive from Savuti to the Khwai Community Area was long and often monotonous, but as we approached Khwai, the landscape turned notably more lush and green.


We chanced upon a small flock of Meyer's parrots beside the road. I’m not sure what they were feeding on, but they stayed just long enough to give us a few nice poses. 










But the focus of that late afternoon was on elephants. As we made our way toward the river, we crossed a landscape that obviously had been well-loved by the elephants.














Tough guy.








The elephants were joined by other general game.


















Along the way, we passed (and smelled) an elephant carcass that had attracted its share of scavengers.





We’d encounter a lot more the next day.


And along the river, where we stopped for sundowners, this elephant offered us a classic scene of Botswana.












The next morning began in much the same way as the previous day had ended, with more elephants.











And that would set the stage for our next two days in Khwai: water. It would offer an interesting contrast to our more arid experience in Savuti.




Edited by Alexander33
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@Alexander33 your wonderful photos of the meyer’s parrots put mine to shame. 😳

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It's rained heavily all day, it's so cold I had to switch on the heating (10th June :wacko:) so what better way to spend a gloomy afternoon than reading your wonderful TR with all its sunshine and brilliant colours. Carmine Kori is great, as are so many other photos. Looking forward to the next installments.

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2 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

@Alexander33 your wonderful photos of the meyer’s parrots put mine to shame. 😳




I’m betting not, but, regardless, you may wish to consider my approach when I’m not satisfied: back to Africa to try again!

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Excellent Meyer's Parrot photos @Alexander33.   I have never been able to get such good ones.  


@michael-ibk - stunning photos of the Carmine Bee-eaters.   I know how hard they are to track / photograph so kudos on your shots.    And too many other good photos to name.  


Congrats on the HONEY BADGER gentlemen.


And thanks for sharing the photos and video of the Kudu drinking encounter.

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Mind glowingly wonderful report (too prosaic word to use in this instance) and stunning photos.  Our ST GTG was a highlight and I'm sorry that I never thought to take a photo of us all.  I'm reminded that I have my own Botswana TR to complete so this will spur me on.


The giraffe with the bad leg reminds me of a thread some years ago where this was discussed although I can't remember what the cause was.


Doug is a great guide and this reminds how much I want to travel with him again.

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Many thanks @Hads, @Atravelynn, @Treepol, @LarsS, @offshorebirder, @Peter Connan, @Kitsafari, @Galago, @marg and @twaffle


9 hours ago, twaffle said:

 I'm reminded that I have my own Botswana TR to complete so this will spur me on.


And we are all looking forward to that continuation very much!

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Khwai is well renowned as a predator hotspot, and it certainly did deliver for us as well.




What do we have here you ask? A beautiful young Leopardess. :wub:




I would like to say that we (our guides) were carefully watching the environment and noticed Leopard-indicating behaviour on these Impala and then deduced from their line of sight where the Spotted Cat would be. Masterful tracking!






But that would be a blatant lie. Heck, those two Impala were not even close, just threw them in in honour of my "More Impala in reports" spirit. And we were told by other cars where to find this gorgeous animal. ;-)


Not much of a poser though, our Leopardess really did not do much except dosing, just opened her eyes now and then, and it was quite tricky to get an angle at all so all my photos are pretty much the same.




Which is the situation when you try to be "creative".B)






We actually got into the best position when we were already driving away and just stopping for "one last look".




I´ve had my good share of Leopard sightings over the last few years but it´s not too many places where you see them in a totally relaxed state like this. You just don´t get Leopard sightings like this in Zimbabwe for example, as even Doug had to admit.


And the good thing was - this was only the beginning of a proper Leopardpalooza waiting for us!

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But I´m getting ahead of myself.




Khwai has to be one of the prettiest places I´ve ever been to. We were fortunate that the weather was very nice on both of our mornings out. The combination of incredible lush greens of all variations, small waterways meandering unhurriedly through the  landscape, lagoons, open plains, loose woodland - very soothing and classic Green Season Botswana as you want it to be. Vibrant, beautiful, full of animals and - best of all - few other people. Khwai was probably the "busiest" place during this trip but that´s only in relation to the others. We´d see a car now and then but had most sightings (even the sleeping Leopard) to ourselves, and the "worst" was about four or five other cars at a high profile sighting (which @Alexander33 will cover). Doug and Matambo told us it´s quite different in summer when it can be extremely crowded.










The Khwai Concession is a 1800km area which is situated in the northeastern Okavango next to (and not part of) the Moremi Game Reserve. It was formed by the local Khwai villagers and is managed by the Khwai Development Trust. The area used to be a hunting concession but is now actively managed as a conservation area. The villagers took over the area when they moved out of the Moremi region when the Moremi Game Reserve was formed.






A terrific place to have a sundowner, and that´s just what we did when we arrived.




Cheers, guys!


Peter was a bit reluctant to show the Elephant carcass the Vultures were gathering around but I have no such qualms - it was a incredibly smelly and gory mess.








It was actually a relief to see so many Vultures. It´s a well-known fact all of them are declining rapidly, and I was commenting several times in Savuti about their total abscence. A good bunch of them was obviously here, hundreds of them gathered around the cadaver.




Not the prettiest birds but they have an important function in the ecosystem. Mr. Marabu as well.








Khwai is Hippo central, we saw several of them out grazing.




And of course there were some nice birds for me. Familiar ones ...




Grey Heron




Southern Red-Billed Hornbill


And also some specials like this Rufous-bellied Heron:




A specialist only found in habitats like this, and not a bird very often seen, so I was delighted about this sighting.






An unusual position for a Helmeted Guineafowl during the day. But a whole bunch of birds was very nervous and excited, repeatedly giving warning calls to each other, quite a loud hue and cry. We thought Leopard, and Doug and Matambo tried to find it but nothing ever came of that, and it could just as well have been a Snake or Mongoose.







Edited by michael-ibk
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Elephants were a constant presence, and we spent a lot of time taking photos of them.




My favourite sightings occurred on the first morning. Elephants in water is just such a beautiful thing to look at, and couple that with the early light and the beautiful surroundings - doesn´t get much better.













Impala respect, remember?






This one was obviously going "Hi, how do you do mate" here. Not to us though:




And this one was just happy being in the water:






Once I´m through with animals I will start on my ID skills with plants. Don´t wait for that to happen though.
















Goliath Heron. A bird I normally see once or twice on safari, this time they were all over the Delta.










No idea what spooked all these guys.




Certainly not this Spotted Hyena, it was not much into wasting energy, the rotten Elephant seemed to be good enough for them - it´s often said how advanced their sense of smell is. I really doubt that, nothing with even a barely working olfactory organ could stand to get close to that decaying stink bomb.





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