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Safaridude

A Kwando/Kwara Quickie

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Safaridude
Posted (edited)

In purgatory, it turns out, time crawls.  There is ample time to get organized, recall both significant and trivial moments, and dream about Africa.  Two and a half years on, I recall here my safari to Botswana.  This Botswana portion of the trip followed my visit to Hwange, Zimbabwe (https://www.safaritalk.net/topic/18668-a-hwange-quickie/) in September, 2017.  I hope it’s the case of “better late than never”.

 

Currently, two ST luminaries, @madaboutcheetah and @Bush dog have the Selinda Concession (NG16) in and the Khwai Private Reserve (NG18) in focus (and apparently there is a report due out from @SSF556 as well).  Dare I join the party here with a report from the Kwando Concession (NG14) and the Kwara Concession (NG20)?  We shall have northern Botswana surrounded.

 

Part I:  The Kwando Concession – 3 nights Lagoon Camp; 2 nights Lebala Camp

 

For the umpteenth time, I am guided by my good friend Benson Siyawareva throughout.  Phet and James would be the guide/tracker combo at Lagoon; Bait and Mr. Moe would be the combo at Lebala.

 

Not much has changed at Lagoon Camp since my last visit.  Spencer, the senior guide and possibly king of Lagoon, is still holding court at every meal… good to see.  Many fires had swept through the Kwando Concession this dry season, and tsessebes, which are ordinarily not in abundance here, are gathered in great numbers, grazing on the new shoots.  An active fire near Lagoon Camp keeps the sky hazy and elephants scarce for the most part. Two relatively young cheetah males (2 ½ years old) are currently dominant in the concession, and we find them brunching on a red lechwe at Half-way Pan (so named because it is half-way between Lagoon and Lebala).  At Kwena Lagoon, a colony of carmine bee-eaters are nesting on the ground.  In the mopane woodland away from the water, several groups of roan shyly gallop away.  Our last evening at Lagoon, Benson notices zebras and giraffes suddenly dart away from a bush.  Upon further investigation, it turns out the cause was a mother leopard and cub.  It is as if the mother leopard and I are “shining”.  She poses exactly the way I would like her to every step of the way, on a dead leadwood branch with nothing but sky in the background.  We stay with her and the cub well into the night.

 

During the road transfer to Lebala, two magnificent male lions are seen on active patrol duty. The handoff to Bait and Mr. Mo occurs at John’s Pan.  Thabo, who I first met when he guided me in 2008 (and on subsequent occasions), who introduced me to the guilty pleasures of Amarula, and who has to be the funniest man in Bots, is at the moment managing Lebala.  We catch up and reminisce.  The Lebala area is less affected by the recent fires, and elephants abound as usual. And as usual, there is a ton of hyena activity, especially by a now rancid giraffe carcass.  A long trip to the edge of the concession pays off.  On the beautiful and tranquil Selinda Spillway, a troop of baboons give us a comedy hour, and a jet-black sable bull is spotted in the nearby woodland.  Wild dogs had eluded us for all the days in the concession.  We had been chasing ghosts.  But our persistence pays off in the end:  we catch up to a pack of nine dogs just before our flight to Kwara.

 

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Tsessebes attracted by the new shoots.  Wildebeests in the background.

 

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This wildebeest seems to be enjoying his walk through the water.

 

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These two boys are slightly on the young side (2 1/2 years old) to be the dominant pair in the Kwando Concession, but they seemed to be doing quite well.

 

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Bellyful of red lechwe

 

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A giraffe performing a magic act

 

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Ground-nesting carmine bee-eaters at Kwena Lagoon, which is located north of Lagoon Camp.

 

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A group of bachelor greater kudus near Kwena Lagoon.  Male kudus hang out together during the non-breeding season.

 

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Mum hanging out on a leadwood tree

 

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Flash one way

 

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Flash - a different way

 

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Cub - spot light

 

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The two males on patrol

 

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In B&W

 

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Mr. Moe, the coolest dude in Bots

 

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Thabo, my man at Lebala

 

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Roan antelopes appear to have less tolerance for silty water than sable antelopes.  This bull only sniffed the water at this pan and then headed toward the Kwando

River to drink.

 

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Hyenas on an old giraffe carcass

 

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A marabou stork roosting near the carcass

 

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Hyenas feed into the night

 

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Night drive

 

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Zebras in motion

 

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Benson Siyawareva's steely stare

 

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Giraffes in the leadwood forest

 

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Elephants in big numbers near Lebala Camp

 

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A troop of baboons on the Selinda Spillway

 

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A majestic sable antelope bull

 

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Finally, wild dogs

Edited by Safaridude

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Kitsafari

stunning leopard shots! and luv that wild dog grin grimace

 

2017? aren't you rather tardy with your reports? you're forgiven since it's better late than never. 

 

Looking forward to more. 

 

 

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SSF556

Thanks for the reminder on my trip report....

 

Great photos and such good memories for us from Kwando....

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Bush dog

Thanks, Ken, for the luminary.  Stunning pictures as usual.  The good old days of great trip reports are back on ST.

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marg

@Safaridude...thank you for posting as unfortunately this will be the only way we get to these camps this year.

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michael-ibk

Every dire situation has its pros - in this case it´s the Dude is back. Hooray!

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Atravelynn
Posted (edited)

"Dare I join the party?"

You and your photos are an outstanding addition.  "Shining," one and all.

Edited by Atravelynn

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AfricIan
4 hours ago, Safaridude said:

Thabo

 

That must be "Prof." Thabo who guided us at Lebala in 2007, great to "see" him again.

 

Stunning photos

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madaboutcheetah
Posted (edited)

@Safaridude - awesome stuff ..... Thabo is at Pom Pom I'm told .... haven't seen him in a few years.

 

 

Edited by madaboutcheetah

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mtanenbaum

never too late to post amazing photos!

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BRACQUENE

@Safaridude

 

Wa are spoiled with  great TR's at the moment : late or not , those are amazing pictures  with  impressive teeth at the end !

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Safaridude

Thank you everyone for your kind words.

 

@Kitsafari - this lockdown itself feels like it's 2 1/2 years long.

 

@marg - don't give up yet.

 

@madaboutcheetah - wow, I can't imagine Thabo not being at Kwando.

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madaboutcheetah

@Safaridude - Pom Pom is now a Kwando camp .... both companies have a mutual agreement now 

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Safaridude
Posted (edited)

Part II:  The Kwara Concession – 4 nights Little Kwara

 

If I had to choose one spot in the Okavango Delta for its outstanding beauty and quality of predator viewing experience, it would be Kwara.  Especially noticeable at Kwara is the preponderance of knobthorn (Acacia nigrescens), currently giving off a pleasant scent in the air from the creamy flowers.  The presence of knobthorn equals “sweet” soil due to the tree’s nitrogen-fixing ability, which, in turn, equals a good concentration of herbivores, which, in turn, … Tom (“Big Tom”) and Matt would be the guide/tracker combo.  An elephant carcass, putrid, with literally thousands of crawling maggots, would be a foci for predators during our stay.  A lone male lion, a lone male leopard, and a clan of hyenas would have a time-share arrangement with the carcass.

 

A pack of four wild dogs from the Khwai Concession had entered Kwara, and we watch their four separate hunting attempts (for impalas and kudus), failing each time.  With only four members, this pack appears disorganized in their hunts.  In various wildlife shows, wild dogs are depicted as having precise hunting strategies, but it is not always so.  One morning, the pack of four would run into the resident Kwara pack of six.  The resident pack is caught off-guard while lazing, and at the first sight of the smaller pack, bolts toward the woodland. Later, realizing it has the numbers advantage, the pack of six begins to chase the pack of four.  The pack of four is found the next morning, still hungry, running away toward their home territory, the Khwai Concession.  These dogs have amazing stamina.  We follow them continually running for 90 minutes.

 

Kwara’s reputation for the density and diversity of predators is on display our last morning. A male leopard is up a tree near camp as we leave for the airstrip.  A male lion is on the elephant carcass, with hyena activity nearing.  One of the other guides has found the resident pack of six. Near the airstrip, a cheetah mother and cub are stalking a herd of red lechwes.  All this in a span of an hour.  Benson and I are paralyzed as to what to do.  We decide to spend some time with the cheetahs until the last possible moment.  Just before boarding the plane, we hear on the radio that the mother cheetah has successfully taken down a red lechwe.  Therein lies the downside of Kwara:  FOMO.

 

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Not a pretty sight, but there would always be predator activity near this carcass.

 

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A satisfying drink

 

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An expanding zebra

 

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Lion at first light

 

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Matt, the tracker, during a night drive

 

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"Mr. T", so named because of a mohawk-like mane

 

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The pack of four, visiting from Khwai

 

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These zebras only show a hint of shadow stripes

 

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A pale-morph Wahlberg's eagle in flight

 

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A spotted hyena on the move

 

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A tsessebe after sunset

 

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The pack of four would not be successful in four separate hunting attempts.

 

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They would flail at anything, coming up empty

 

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The pack of four in full retreat after being chased by the pack of six.  They continually ran toward their home (Khwai) for 90 minutes.

 

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These dogs had beautiful markings

 

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A fairly young male leopard up a tree near camp

 

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On our way to the airstrip our last morning, we find mum stretching

 

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Mum and her almost-grown-up cub.  They would take down a red lechwe shortly after we left them

Edited by Safaridude

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BRACQUENE

@Safaridude

 

Great pictures particularly that stretching cheetah and the intriguing eyes of that young leopard !

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xelas

Your wildlife photos are very inspirational, @Safaridude.

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AKR1

What a nice treat during these difficult times.  Thank you, K. 

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Safaridude

Thank you all.

 

I said it's a quickie, and a quickie it was!  That's that for Bots Sep, 2017.

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Kitsafari

Wonderful! Thank you 

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Zim Girl

A shame it was over so quick.  Beautiful pictures!!

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Sangeeta

I think you’re taking this ‘quickie’ thing much too literally :(  For goodness sake @Safaridudewe are on page 1 still! That simply won’t do. 
 

But...lovely photos as always - I am your biggest chiaroscuro fan, and you’ve got some beautiful ones here :) 

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