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AfricIan
32 minutes ago, Soukous said:

I was even once quite good at it. Another skill that now lies idle.

Practice makes perfect Martin - once the pubs re-open!

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deano

I thought that I might be showing up my upbringing @AfricIan but thankfully I am happy to see that there are others who spent time in pursuit of the 'tap-room olympics'.  And then @Soukous takes it one step further and claims to have been good at it. We might need a Safaritalk virtual tap-room to sort this out.

 

Any suggestions for the darts and doms?

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deano

Day six Moremi:

 

EZ had heard about wild dogs in the area so we were up 1/2 an hour early today to go and look for them. We skipped breakfast to boost our time in the vehicle but it was not our day and no dogs. In fact we broke our wild dog streak on this trip but there is always next year and besides that - lots of other good stuff to look for including a once in a lifetime sighting for us on the last night of this trip in another part of Moremi.

 

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This was a quiet morning and after a nice drive through the open areas and then some more dense areas, we made it to Sunset Dam (last night's intended spot for sundowners). There is a raised viewing platform and I would have gladly stayed there all day watching the resident pod of hippo and in particular the bird life. A longer lens was in order (80-400 on full frame a bit short and I don't like DX crop mode too much unless I have a  tripod and time to set up) but I pointed camera and lens at a hovering pied and also got a nice sequence of a black heron with a live commentary by EZ in his deep African tone as the heron threw out it's wings to create shade and catch a meal "...night time, day-time, night-time, day time...". 

 

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We left the dam and stopped for coffee by a water way and enjoyed the hippos, lechwe, birds and the sights and sounds of Africa on a nice sunny morning.

 

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We had a slightly longer drink stop and then headed back to camp where the staff hard organized and Easter egg hunt  - my first ever - and added to that the staff had met us with popcorn and an ice cream drink of some type; a milk-shake if you like. Always amazing the lengths these companies go to in the middle of nowhere and this was enjoyed by us all....especially EZ who definitely enjoyed his milk-shake!

 

Back at camp the Easter theme continued with some table decorations and we had a nice brunch before a shower and a short nap in the dome tent. I would imagine that they can get a bit hot in summer but we managed okay in the cooler April temps.

 

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Dome tent - tent at back shows the centre bucket shower and washing area and then that slightly smaller tent housed the toilet. Staff used a zip entry in that screen area to bring hot water to your basin at wake-up. We used the foot basins often....surprisingly refreshing and then double duty to wet a cloth to get the dust off my camera gear!

 

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The afternoon drive today was a re-scheduled trip to Sunset Dam for sundowners. I mentioned earlier the lengths that these safari companies go to our here in the bush and today we  were on the receiving end of a great gesture from and Beyond. Since Andrew was a staffer as well as a guest, EZ would ask him how we were all doing, what we liked, what we needed etc. and Andrew and EZ had noticed that the supply of Jamesons had run low (not all me - I had introduced Mel and Al to it and also our Spanish friends at Savute). Personally, it doesn't really matter to me  - I will drink other brands and I don't demand or insist - but rather I simply have a preference. But these guys had contacted HQ in Maun and put another bottle of J on a small plane that was coming this way and then sent Charlie (and Beyond Moremi) to fetch it in the camp vehicle.  EZ had then arranged for us to meet in the bush and receive the bottle on our way to the sundowner. We were all genuinely touched by that. I don't ask for much of anything  on safari and will go with the flow but well done and Beyond. 

 

On our way to the dam, we had a nice encounter with some elephants in the wet area just outside of camp and then we thought we might end up getting diverted again when we found a lioness not far from the dam but she was on her own and not up to much and we made it to the drink spot.

 

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EZ set up a small table to act as a bar and then small chairs for each of us arranged to give us all a view of the dam. We were close to the water and at eye level with the hippo pod and I got a nice GoPro time-lapse of the whole set up which also allowed me time to wander about with my dslr. A great location for a sundowner if ever there was one as, in addition to the hippo action, there was plenty of bird-life and the odd croc with the prospect of almost anything coming from the bush and open area behind us. I can see why this was an often used spot for drinks and viewings.

 

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Croc was just at bottom left in that small inlet 

 

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We had a very literal sundowner today as we got to see the whole sunset and enjoy the sights and sounds as Africa went from day to night. The croc ambled back to the water and the hippo moved close to the bank as they looked to star their main feed in the night. One large male was definitely giving us the evil eye. I suspect that he wanted to catch the early bird special where senior citizens get one free between 5PM and 7PM.

 

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I don't think he is happy that I called him a senior citizen!

 

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After a long time at the dam we helped EZ to pack away the gear and we back headed to camp. We stumbled on a lone lioness - more than likely the same girl from earlier but it was almost dark and we needed to be back at the camp-site in accordance with park rules. 

 

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Back at camp and after a nice hot shower we enjoyed chicken and rice for dinner and then more lively conversation around the fire before we retired to bed where the staff gave us one more Easter treat....you can never have enough chocolate can you?

 

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The video as usual to complete the report for today with Charlie making a cameo with his special delivery. Good times in Botswana.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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AfricIan
On 6/27/2020 at 1:35 AM, deano said:

We might need a Safaritalk virtual tap-room to sort this out.

 

Any suggestions for the darts and doms

 

I fear that like @Soukous, my lack of practice over may years wouldn't make for riveting viewing @deano :( and as for darts, lets just say that the surrounding wall would be in more danger than the dart board!

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deano

Looks like and easy gold medal for me then @AfricIan; I'll let you pick another tap-room game to suit your skills......

 

 

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deano

Day seven by air to Maun then by road to Nxai Pan:

 

A good cooked breakfast again today before the short drive to a nearby airstrip for a short flight to Maun where we were to collect another vehicle and then drive the couple of hours  to Nxai Pan. Moremi was looking good and we were hoping for last minute wild dogs but had to settle for a misty landscape and then a southern ground hornbill as we approached the airstrip.

 

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iPhone version is nicer I think

 

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Leaving behind our trusty pop-top expedition vehicle that had been our second home for 6 nights

 

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Full expedition crew - Al, Mrs. deano, deano, Charlie (in place of honour for delivering the Whiskey), EZ, Mel and Andrew - Botswana April 2019

 

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Al got right seat...he is a pilot back home in his spare time.

 

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He showed me after a flight map app on his phone that he paid for. He didn't realize that it included Africa and he was able to follow along the whole flight path.

 

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The flight over the Delta was short but sweet with nice views of the landscape. We landed in Maun and simply walked across the road to a side street where our Nxai Pan pop-top vehicle was waiting. Almost identical to the first one and we loaded up and set off for the journey East. I have to say that I enjoyed the journey today - the short drive in the park and then a drive through Khwai Village, a nice flight and then a drive that had an interesting stop at the cattle fence where we got out and disinfected our shoes while EZ drove the vehicle through a disinfectant for the tires. Nice to see the nearby market and the sights and sounds of a busy village between Maun and Nxai Pan.

 

After that, we reached the park entrance and spread out for lunch with Andrew, Mel and Mrs. deano taking 30 minutes to open one of those metal tins that they use on these trips - an airport porter had dropped our stuff and this one tin had a ding in it that made it hard to open. Was it worth the wait? It was packed full with.....apples! They got eaten so yes it was worth it.

 

When we booked this trip we had several choices in terms of areas and camps with and Beyond but the Nxai Pan option jumped out as we wanted to see a different type of landscape. That and the prospect of a zebra migration and perhaps predators in the area made it an easy choice. Sadly, no zebra migration - it had been too dry for any good grass to grow and so no zebras although we did spot a few of the residents that stay all year.

 

These bull elephants were the first thing we stopped to photograph.

 

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The and Beyond camp site was under a nice grouping of trees and pretty much identical to the previous three and we quickly set up and then had a rest before afternoon tea. EZ then drove us out to the main water hole where we enjoyed a nice sighting of big birds. EZ liked this spot because he had seen cheetahs hunt and kill by the water from under those bushes in back recently. No such luck for us but I did point the binoculars in that direction each time we passed this way.

 

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The open areas suited springbok.

 

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And a nice PCG.

 

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We caught these two sparring. Should have videoed the action instead of stills as it was quite the thing to see and hear.

 

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After a drive around the pan EZ brought us back to the waterhole for a sundowner. Nxai Pan is not the place for abundant sightings but I did enjoy the change of pace and the chance to photograph animals in a different environment.

 

Like these wildebeest probably not thrilled at drinking between bobbing elephant turds!

 

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He didn't seem to mind though.

 

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We waited ages for the sun to set so that we could get a backlit elephant but he was not quite in the right spot but it was good to try and I took a lot of pictures that were over or under exposed. These are about the best two processed to boost color a bit but not much else. I could try that layer mask thing but I haven't really got into that stuff yet.

 

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iPhone panorama to give you a sense of the place. Wide open pans with big skies.

 

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It was a nice sundowner spot for sure and I think I had more than one. I made a note that the meal tonight was bream and it was excellent and washed it down with another 'more than one' and hit the sack at 10PM which felt like midnight after quite a bit of travel today. 

 

Video as usual to complete the installment.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day eight Nxai Pan:

 

Just coffee for breakfast so that we could get out early and look for cheetah in this prime habitat for them. No luck with them or cats at all but as I said earlier, it was nice to photograph the landscape and the characters that call it home.

 

Such as this oryx who was a way off from us but with a red sun behind him. This was about the best I could do.

 

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Lovely pink glow in the morning.

 

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After a drive around the pan - stopping to look at anything and everything that might have been a cheetah - we inevitably ended up back at the water hole where we watched these zebra go about their business. Not quite the Nxai Pan annual zebra migration we wanted but still worth a picture or two.

 

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Three different animals but they all know where the water is.

 

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It was getting on in the morning when EZ took us for a drive on the Baobab Loop. I spotted a vehicle parked up and was just about to remark that it looked like and Beyond when we saw that it was in fact the Nxai Pan team setting up a bush breakfast for us. It was a very nice surprise and we were there for a good while having a cooked breakfast washed down with whiskey - yes I know it was early but I was on holiday so there.

 

Needless to say none of us needed any lunch after all that and after a brief spell watching ostrich on the open area we were back at camp for a nap and bit of packing before tomorrow's move (packing  = just screw everything up and put it in your bag to make sure you don't leave anything behind).

 

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We had all skipped lunch and allowed the crew to have a well deserved rest but they did put on a nice afternoon tea for us with a Lamb Chocolate Cake! Okay there was no lamb in it they had just decorated it in an Easter theme and lamb cake it was. I had two slices thank you very much.

 

After another quiet game drive - quiet in terms of sightings but definitely not quiet for conversation in our group - we were back at the water hole for a sundowner. 

 

This carcass is a reminder of how hard life is for these animals.

 

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Our elephant friend made an appearance again.

 

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And then for the rest of the sundowner we spent time watching these giraffe approach the area and then start to drink. I had a wish list image of a giraffe drinking and these almost ticked that box but they were a bit far off and in fading light but it was nice to watch them anyway. Very elegant creatures I think.

 

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This image reminds me of Charlie's Angels.

 

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And so our time at Nxai Pan was drawing to a close but we had one more camp fire to sit around and enjoy each other's company. The conversation had always been easy amongst us and camp fires are one of my favourite things about these trips we are fortunate to be able to go on. Tonight's conversation was particularly lively. Last night together and all.

 

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Nxai Pan and Beyond Expedition Camp.

 

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Our last meal of lamb was excellent. We were all pretty tired in this shot and I know I was in bed by 10PM. Probably as result of drinking whiskey all day!

 

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A night time image of the dome tent. Comfy beds, just enough space to put your stuff, a separate flushing toilet and shower area and an up close and personal bush experience. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?

 

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Video to complete the day as usual. Please don't be offended by my constant references to alcohol - I rarely, if ever,  drink to excess and I have an alcoholic mother (recovering + 7 years now) so I know that alcohol can lead to serious illness. But I do enjoy a drink and do seem to enjoy it more when on Safari! Pula as they say in Botswana.

 

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day nine Nxai Pan final morning:

 

We had requested left over lamb cake for breakfast and the staff obliged. I enjoyed mine as it went particularly well with coffee (and toast and fruit and then bacon and egg that they cooked for us) - lovely. After saying our goodbyes to the staff and enjoying their final singing send-off we headed out for one last look for cheetah. Sadly it was not to be although we did get  a last minute lioness. One of the park rangers actually flagged us down to tell us where they were and we got to spend about 5 minutes with them before our drive back to Maun.

 

Just found this image from yesterday that I should have posted  - baobab fruits for anyone that has never seen them....I hadn't seen them up close until yesterday.

 

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Early morning elephant. Probably the same guy we had seen each time we passed by this way.

 

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Slightly wobbly panorama.

 

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Last minute lioness.

 

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One of seven in the area but we only saw the one.

 

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We had all enjoyed the change of pace and scenery that was Nxai Pan. Definitely not a game dense area but it could have been very different with a zebra migration and with lions in the area now then who knows what sightings might be enjoyed there. I would definitely go back.

 

Shortly before Maun, EZ took us down to a local river where we had a chance for one last coffee and since there were pied kingfishers everywhere I got my camera out and took a few pictures.

 

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This colorful brolly caught my eye as well.

 

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Before long we were at Maun airport saying our goodbyes with Andrew flying back to SA and Mel and Al on to Cape Town. We were slightly jealous as we really like Cape Town but we had four nights with Wilderness Safaris in Qorokwe to look forward to and I'll start that final part of the trip report tomorrow.

 

We had exchanged e-mails and numbers already and since Mel and Al were already coming to the Cayman Islands (Little Cayman last October ) we of course suggested a get together. We got to see them again in Grand Cayman last year and it was great to catch up even if it was for just one day and a night but we spent a good day with them and then introduced them to our best friends over dinner - more Africa addicts - and they all got along really well . Fantastic people and along with Andrew, EZ and everyone we encountered at and Beyond they were a big part of making the first part of this trip so enjoyable. Thank you to you all.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day nine Qorokwe Wilderness Safaris:

 

We had travelled with Wilderness Safaris last year and toyed with the side of staying again at one of their places and noticed a newer offering in the form of Qorokwe "the place where the buffalo broke through fence into the water......on a Tuesday, not quite lunch yet but past brunch-time so technically you could call it lunch" (okay - I added a few words there). Four nights here to finish off the 2019 trip and since I would be celebrating my 50th birthday the day after we leave then why not enjoy a bit of luxury.

 

This was a supposed mid-range offering (we thought it was more than that) and at the South end of Moremi and the Delta on Chief's Island. The flight-in gave us a view of the surrounds and we can tell that, when compared this time the previous year, it was much drier but still Delta and we were looking forward to some luxury and water activities. 

 

Airstrip

 

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View from our chalet; Qorokwe was very well appointed and had a great location next to a water hole. Our chalet #8 was right at the end of a winding walkway through the bush and we frequently saw game right there - starting within 15 minutes of arrival where we almost walked into three large buffalo who were hidden in the thick bush. Fortunately, we saw them in time and backed away and staff called in some help to usher them away. How is that for a bush welcome!

 

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We had time to freshen up and familiarize ourselves with the room we had (quite amazing as it happens - lots of pics and video to come) and then we met on the deck for afternoon tea. 

 

Can you tell that I am happy?

 

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We met our guide - Alan - and were partnered with a  nice young couple from the US (Andrew and Courtney) and off we went for our first afternoon drive in this our last camp for the trip. 

 

These impala caught our eye.

 

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and I think we caught his!

 

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Before long Alan found us an active hyena den although the only activity we saw was this lady lounging about looking like she didn't have a care in the world.

 

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It was still light and the hyena noticed some vultures circling and dropping down far behind us so Alan took us off in that direction. Sadly, the thick bush made it impossible to get in with the vehicle which was a shame since many vultures had now landed somewhere in there. Who knows what was going on?

 

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After a few minutes of trying to find a way in, Alan took us off for a sundowner. I can't recall the name of this place but I am sure it was sunset dam or sunset pan (one of many in Southern Africa I am sure).

 

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The sky looked like it was on fire.

 

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Obligatory iPhone panorama.

 

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We enjoyed chatting with our new guide and new friends and then headed back to camp for dinner where the sun had just set over the water hole.

 

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Qorokwe sunset

 

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Dinner was great - served buffet style and we enjoyed the different vibe to what we had just come from - equally good - just different. We were then escorted back to our room by Alan (no surprises this time) and spent an hour on the deck watching the Qorokwe night sky. The Milky Way was easily seen (although a could did hide it for a bit) and that glow on the horizon is Maun. Truly awesome (a word I rarely use).

 

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Video to complete the day - a change of song artist to go with the change of pace.

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day ten Qorokwe morning drive:

 

Early start at 5.00AM for breakfast at 5.30AM and I enjoyed pancakes and fruit cooked to order. These places really know how to do it if you ask me with a grill/kitchen set up on the deck to supplement the main kitchen in back. That and plenty of hot coffee and of course a nice bathroom before a few hours bouncing about in the back of a vehicle.....you know what I mean.

 

We set off into the cool misty morning to see what Africa had in store for us today.

 

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Lots of giraffes and I think Qorokwe missed a trick here and should bill itself as "the place with so many giraffe that you almost get tired of seeing them but then again they are lovely creatures so why not stop to watch and photograph each one that you see" ....or something like that. Honestly, we saw saw dozens, if not a hundred giraffe, each day. No lie.

 

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We could hear lions roaring in the distance but never saw then or any signs but we did stumble into the jackal enjoying his breakfast.

 

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A rare sighting to see a jackal with such a large part of a kill - presumably another predator and we watched for a while before leaving for a morning coffee in the bush. 

 

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Back to camp now for brunch and getting hot but still lots to see and it was nice to stop and watch these dwarf mongoose.

 

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And more giraffe. 

 

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This one was young and Alan explained that the horns are bent flat to ease with giving birth and they take about three months to stand upright so that puts this one at less than three months. 

 

Yes we're talking about you.

 

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Elephants also around of course. It is the Delta.

 

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Back to camp for an un-rushed meal on the deck with my camera pointed at the water hole. Spoonbills and open billed storks were the main activity today but we frequently saw buffalo, elephants and waterbuck.

 

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A distant croc just at the end of my 80-400mm lens (with a  crop to boot).

 

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We retired to the chalet for a shower and nap but there is still stuff to see and it is one of those places where you could just sit on the deck (main deck or your private one) with a good book and pair of binoculars and spend hours just reading, watching and listening. A nice cold drink would be icing on the cake of course.

 

These guys wandered through just before I nodded off for an hour.

 

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Afternoon installment to follow.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day ten Qorokwe afternoon mokoro trip:

 

We had enjoyed our mokoro trip at Vumbura Plains last year and so we were happy when Alan told us that the water levels were just high enough in this more Southern part of the Delta for us to have one this evening. After a nice afternoon tea and a short presentation on the geology of the Delta by Alan (which was very informative - if you have time just google it and it is very interesting to see that the Delta is in fact created by massive fault lines) we made the short drive to the mokoro launch.

 

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There is a lot that can be said about time spent in the Delta, special place if you ask me, and particularly time spent in the Delta on a mokoro but since I enjoy the peace and tranquility of the experience then I will stop waffling and just post the pictures taken - a mixture of my Nikon D750, iPhone 8 and iPhone 6. We did see elephants at the turn-around point and we had a good time watching them do their thing and that made this extra special. The light was sometimes a bit harsh but elephants from a mokoro is Moremi magic and I don't know if I have mentioned this but I do love Africa!

 

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Yes - they gave us permission to stand up in a mokoro......hand held 400mm zoom images from an unstable platform taken by someone with the balance of a tree that has been attacked by a chain saw! Actually, not too bad as they 'beached' the front end. Fantastic experience and I was happy that Mrs. deano had the good sense to take some panorama images of the whole scene.

 

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It was relatively early when we wrapped up the mokoro trip and Alan took us back to camp for drinks - I snapped a pic of the last of the sunset over the Qorokwe water hole - and then Alan asked if we wanted to go out and do a bit of stargazing. I would stay out all night if it was within the rules  - just bring me a sandwich and a drink....you pick what drink  - so off we went.

 

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Alan found us a nice open area by a waterhole and proceeded to scout the reasonably distant bush for danger and then told us that we could get out but, obviously, stay very close to the vehicle and keep a light on and keep checking the surrounds. Alan told us we would not be here long but Andrew had wanted to do some astro-photography but the poor chap only had a gorilla pod and he had to mount that to the vehicle. I offered him use of my tripod but he was intent on making his set up work and this is him sat in the vehicle setting up. Again, that glow in the centre is Maun. Andrew - if you ever read this I would love to see how you did that night.

 

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I really would have liked to spend some time here but we had heard a lion roaring as we set up - not far away but far enough - but when he next roared it was definitely closer. Alan asked us to pack-up and so we cut short our star gazing to try and find the lion. No luck but we did have a great porcupine sighting and then a first for us - a magnificent African wildcat. It was pitch black but I managed to get some pictures.

 

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I like this one the best.

 

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And then a pair of bat eared foxes playing in the blackness. This safari thing  is like waiting for a bus......

 

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Satisfied with our day (very satisfied in fact), it was time to head back for dinner. I had my wide angle Rokinom 14mm still with me so why not try some night stuff around camp.

 

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Taking images of the menu board is good because I always marvel at the food on offer and often forget to note what I actually had! This is idiot proof.....

 

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Video to complete the day.

 

 

Until next time. Sleep well and dream of Africa.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day eleven Qorokwe "plains":

 

My notes from today are few and far between, as are the images. Yes it was a quiet day by safari standards but just as enjoyable as all the rest as we got to see a large part of the traverse when Alan pointed us East to spot known as the plains. Alan warned that it was a long drive to get there but since this was rumored to be the location for their next proposed camp then why not take a look?

 

Qorokwe animals along the way starting with a warthog.

 

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A small dazzle of zebra

 

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Almost synchronized.

 

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Kudu duo with nice horns but only youngsters.

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Now that's more like it. Impressive bull kudu.

 

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LBR  have to be photographed. I am guessing that the 1/4000 faster shutter speed on my Nikon D750 meant that the next image did not include the bird at all!

 

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We made it to the plains area and it was stunning. Very open and with a water way running right through it and not like other areas of the Delta at all. We watched hippo for a while and then these buffalo as they waded across the water for a mud bath before joining a large herd.

 

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After a drive around the edge of the plains Alan suddenly noticed four blobs in the distance - cheetah! They must have been half a mile a way but it would be rude not to try and get a picture and I snapped this just before they disappeared into thick bush.

 

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We drove over to where we last saw them and despite a good effort from Alan with the Land Cruiser we called it quits and started back to camp and a drink stop.

 

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We had plans to return to the plains tonight to see of we could catch up with the cheetah (we didn't) and also the prospect of wild dogs that had been viewed by some of the other vehicles in camp (we didn't either). We had been fortunate to see lions and leopards already on this trip and Alan gave us the chance for a long drive to see flat lions around lunch time. We declined but Angelene - a young lady traveling solo that has joined our vehicle for the last couple of drives - went off with Alan after lunch and she did get to see lions.

 

Back at camp we enjoyed a nice lunch offering and spent some time on the deck watching the goings on of the rapidly drying water hole; well at least the edge was receding on a daily basis but these water birds still had food to catch. Longer lens needed for anyone that is interested.

 

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Elephants wandering by.

 

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Elephant watching and a fizzy alcoholic drink for Mrs. deano.

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I always like to include images of the facilities and save them for a 'quieter' safari day so here are a few of room #8 at Qorokwe. Situated right at the end of the property and with a distant view of the water hole but this place was always busy with animals at all times of day and night and we loved it for that......and the fantastic bathroom, drinks area, sleeping area and anything else you can think of. It was still relatively new but for us it is just well thought out room and very private and with great views. 

 

Bath with a  view.

 

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Room pano with court jester....I got a telling off for photo bombing (pano bombing actually).

 

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After a shower and a nap and leaving my GoPro on time-lapse for the full afternoon we met for afternoon tea before our game drive where we headed back out East to the plains to see if we could catch up with those cheetah. We had other vehicles with us and spent a long time bush whacking as we were the vehicle that had seen them earlier in the day but no luck and the only decent thing to do in the circumstances was have a sundowner. I must say that the location for this one ranks very highly for us - 360 panoramic views from an 'island' of trees in the middle of the place. It doesn't get much better than that.

 

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Hard to think you are in the Delta (actually somewhere East towards the center of Chief's Island I would think).

 

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We hadn't forgot to look for animals - we always saw mongoose and those hard to photograph spring hares (not one decent picture of those guys).

 

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Eventually back to camp and after a good feed it was off to bed but only after Alan had shown us a bush buck, bush babies and then moved off a reluctant buffalo on the walk from the deck back to our room - I tell you that Qorokwe felt truly wild whenever it got dark and often through the day as well. Head on a swivel while walking and eyes peeled!

 

We took drinks back tonight and I stayed up to do a Milky Way time lapse which is included at the end of the video along with moon rise. This was my view as I set up before eventually going to bed.

 

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Video for today. I sing this song a lot now. Very catchy although I have no clue what I am singing............

 

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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mtanenbaum

love your photos and videos! thanks for sharing...

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deano

Thank you @mtanenbaum (and thank you to anyone that has liked or read). 

 

Day twelve Qorokwe Wilderness Safaris:

 

If yesterday was quiet then today was anything but with excitement from the minute we walked up to the deck for breakfast with Alan. He showed us fresh tracks from a lioness and a cub almost outside our door and then told us that he and other guests had actually seen the lions as they each went about their business that morning. The lions had walked the entire length of camp on the walkway that we guests use. Great start to the day and have I mentioned that I love Africa? 

 

Qorokwe pre-dawn light. Lights turn off around 11PM and then turn back on just before we guests receive our way up call at 5AM. The near full moon provides it's own illumination.

 

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So today would be a tracking exercise for Alan and the other guides who had an idea where these lions would be headed. How they do that in thick bush in a large property like this always amazes me but we headed off to a flood plain sort of North and East of camp.

 

Some wildebeest in the distance on the way in early morning light.

 

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And a young male kudu who was alert to something.

 

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After about an hour we arrived at the flood plain and were told by another Qorokwe vehicle that they had seen the lions and that the lioness had ventured into a palm thicket and they had seen a small group of kudus in there feeding. The excitement ramped up a level as we sat and waited. Hearing the odd branch crack and seeing the vaguest bit of movement in the thick bush had my heart racing.

 

We repositioned to the opposite side of the island and a kudu appeared and looked at us.

 

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The kudu disappeared and as we sat and waited we heard something breaking out of the bush and I wondered what we might see. First it was a kudu (this is all I managed to get).

 

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And then closely following was the lioness - right next to the vehicle and I missed either focus or shutter speed in the excitement.

 

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Realizing that the game was up, the lioness stopped her chase to catch her breath and figure out her next move. 

 

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The kudu were having none of it and moved off. 

 

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She headed back to the island to collect her cub.

 

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We followed them for a bit - sometimes close  - but the flooded ground made it tricky to stay with them.

 

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We wondered for a  minute if they would take on this guy but he was surely way too big and way too dangerous.

 

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Besides, he looked plain old mean!

 

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Pleased with our morning so far we let them go about their business. I do like to see lions and more often than not they are laid flat so any action or interaction is always a bonus for me.

 

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After a stop for drinks, Alan gave us a clue where we were headed next and that it was confirmed sighting but of what? We were each allowed to guess and I guessed correct at cheetah since we had spent some time around these semi-open areas on previous drives looking for them. Today, a vehicle had seen their tracks and followed up.

 

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It turned out to be a mother and two sub-adults. Mum approached a termite mound and proceeded to scent mark. One of the cubs is doing a great impression of a log and/or termite mound in the background.

 

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Before long, the youngsters followed and sniffed about the same termite mound - clearly a cheetah messaging post.

 

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They sprayed and sniffed (and dropped...work it out!) and then slinked off across the semi-open bush. We followed them for a while and had a nice sighting as all three jumped up onto a fallen tree to survey the area with mum no doubt teaching the cubs a lot of the skills they would need to make it in the bush life ahead of them.

 

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I hoped all three would at least look in the same direction but this was the best I got. Sun was overhead and harsh now and I was not going to get the amber glow that their eyes make when the sun hits them. But you can't have everything can you?

 

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You at the back again...alway have to be different don't you.

 

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We knew that we had to be back at camp for brunch soon and Alan was happy when the cheetah finally rested under another fallen tree and in area known as Porcupine City and not far from camp. That meant that we knew what the afternoon drive would be about and where to start looking.

 

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Back to camp for brunch and then a catch up of my notes and a clean of the camera equipment on the deck all while watching the comings and goings at the far end of the waterhole as viewed from the deck at room #8 Qorokwe. Yellow billed stork among the open billed storks today.

 

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Kind regards

 

deano.

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michael-ibk

Great Cheetah sighting. Your report really makes me miss Botswana - big time! We were in Nxai Pan in 2013 and were lucky enough to still get a good chunk of the Zebra migration. We enjoyed top Lion sightings there, and it was an interesting place to be. But to be honest it´s probably the area in Bots which calls out the least for me to return.

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deano

Thank you @michael-ibk; After two trips I miss it also. I hear you on Nxai Pan; A bit more luck and and better timing and that place would be epic. I think there and/or Central Kalahari for me as I enjoy the landscape and am starting to enjoy nightscapes as well. 

 

Uploading the last of my images to the gallery now so that I can wrap up this one. If you enjoyed the cheetah sighting then please sty-tuned. We caught up with the same three later that day - here is a preview....

 

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kind regards

 

deano.

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AKR1

@deano

 

What an excellent report- loved the video “summary” to each day that allowed us to experience some of your day. Very funny as well. Thanks for sharing this. 

 

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deano

Thank you @AKR1; two more installments then I can start counting down the days to my next Africa trip (it is a heck of a lot of days away though.....).

 

Day twelve continued, afternoon drive:

 

We had two new vehicle mates tonight - Corina and Urst (spellings might be way off...sorry) from Switzerland and we hit it off straight away. Alan told us the plan was to find the cheetah and stay with them until they hunted or the sunset. That was a brave call as we had always wanted to see cheetah at full speed let alone see cheetah catch something so off we went to Porcupine City.

 

It didn't take us long to get there and Alan immediately saw the cheetah before we had even driven in. Great stuff and now the next part of the plan could be put into action. Cheetah hunt or sunset.

 

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All three cheetah were still there and immediately went on the move with mum occasionally popping onto termite mounds to have a look around and also to catch some shade as it was still hot in the late afternoon sun. The cubs followed her every move.

 

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They eventually made it out into an open area and posed nicely for us and the other vehicles.

 

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Mother is the sensible one under the small bit of shade.

 

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We had heard impala starting to rut on most of the game drives on this trip and the mother cheetah heard two sparring males nearby and set off using the bush and sage for cover. I was not expecting a hunt though as this just looked like bad terrain for a full on sprint with lots of bush to trip and get injured on.

 

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See what I mean? Mother is in the middle of this lot.

 

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But what do I know? Picture above 5:54:22PM. Picture below 5:59:28PM.

 

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We saw nearly the whole hunt and it was amazing. After hiding in the bush for a couple more minutes she set off after a male impala and closed the ground and got to within tripping distance and then just as she reached out to trip him.......they both disappeared behind some bush! We were all willing the cheetah to catch the impala (well there are a lot of impala to go around aren't there) and opinion in the vehicle was divided as to her success with me guessing that she just missed and that the impala got away thanks to the bushy terrain.

 

Alan and the other guides started their engines in unison and we all headed off at speed - well speed in a clunky Land Cruiser versus proper cheetah speed - and we were first on scene. I had my iPhone capturing video and it was  bit bumpy on the way in but we got there just in time to see that I was was in fact wrong. A successful hunt and we got to see the cheetah put a strangle hold on the poor impala.

 

It was all over in a matter of minutes and we were in prime position to watch the scene unfold - successful cheetah hunt and now they start to feed. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?

 

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This is mother looking out for her second cub who had not yet homed in on the kill. Other cub not standing on ceremony and already starting to access the meat via the soft groin area.

 

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Well done. You have showed your cubs how to survive and fed all three of you.

 

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She sat up and called in the other youngster and I managed to get some of the audio on video - not the sound you expect and more bird like than anything - before she moved off to cool down and allow both of her youngsters to feed.

 

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Here comes the other youngster.

 

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Lots of images to follow; not too graphic but there is obviously blood and gore.

 

Here, one of the youngsters was probably practicing a choke hold. Impala looks alive but it was most definitely already expired.

 

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Getting stuck-in now.

 

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Hardly a mark on the neck of this unfortunate male impala. I am sure that  a lot of them are taken out while pre-occupied with the rut. This fellow was strutting his stuff one minute and the subject of part of my trip report the next.

 

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Light was fading so upped the ISO.

 

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You can see where they opened up the carcass.

 

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More dominant cub took a bit of a breather.

 

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A brief bit of sunlight brightened up the scene as they both fed again.

 

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The kill had been quiet (no sounds) but I am sure these cheetah knew to be vigilant and check for other predators. Fortunately, none came, at least while we were on the scene.

 

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As you can see by the final image, the sun had set by now and Alan had fulfilled a promise....and in a good way although I would have been happy to just see cheetah and then watch a sunset. But we got to see something amazing.

 

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We had decided against sundowners (obviously!) and Alan got us back to camp a bit early and we enjoyed the last of the light over the Qorokwe water hole from the deck. Besides, they had a bar there and Corina and Urst took no persuading to join us for pre-dinner drinks.

 

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I wandered off to get a shot of the fire pit just as a keepsake.

 

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And this was the four of us on the deck just before dinner.

 

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It was our last night so we wanted to enjoy every minute and after a great meal made more enjoyable by good company and a few drinks (Urst and Corina were  baptized with Jamesons) we headed to the fire pit to continue the night. Conversation was great as one of the other guides and his guests joined us and told us all about his wedding and the Botswana traditions including payments to the brides family in cattle and cash. As you can imagine,  all of us guys were totting up how many cows we would each get if we traded in our spouses..............mine would be at least enough for a budget trip to Africa........(smack to head in 3....2....1....)

 

Good times.

 

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We took drinks back to the room to enjoy the night on the deck and I set up one last Qorokwe Milky Way time-lapse. I do these now with my Nikon D750 and put it in video mode and it creates the time-lapse in camera for you. Not a lot of room for edits but then I don't make a lot of time to do edits so this is a fair trade off as far as I am concerned.

 

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A fantastic last night on safari and here is the video of the whole day as usual.

 

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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madaboutcheetah

@deano - Thanks for writing up this report ...... So, is their concession close to Chitabe etc? That's the general geography, correct??

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Caracal
2 hours ago, deano said:

not the sound you expect and more bird like than anything

 

Great cheetah sightings and interesting to hear the calling which as you say @deano is bird like.

So much more to enjoy in your report - I remember my excitement at my first sighting of an African Wildcat which happened to be in Botswana years back - and I always find blackbacked jackals appealing. Also those bateared foxes and ................

Interesting comment about the giraffe's horns before and after birth.

Instead of being here at my computer you have me wanting to be at that decking overlooking that waterhole!

Thanks for posting.

 

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BRACQUENE

@deano

 

Splendid report , photos  and videos and never to late to start following it especially with those cheetah pictures which reminded me of the early morning kill I witnessed in the Kafue last september and even more of the mother and four cubs on the termite hill in Ruaha NP a few years ago 

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Biko

@deano Very entertaining trip report, that’s just what I need in these days without travel to Africa. You convinced me that it is very rewarding to make video during game drives. Now we know how a cheetah calls her cub. Thanks a lot.

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Towlersonsafari

What a lovely report @deano and a very nice way to spend a rainy day in england! The mobile tents look very nice indeed

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deano

Before I finish this report my OCD half needs to say thank you to those that commented so...thank you all.

 

@madaboutcheetah yes that is the spot; more dry than wet at the Southern end but still Delta and everything that comes with that location. I think Qorokwe is one to watch and in a couple of years and with a couple more roads and tracks to get about the huge traverse it will be a top location if you ask me. Not many places at that price point have full baths either and Mrs. deano loved it for that. I am keen to see if they develop a second camp on that big open area we went to.

 

and @Caracal - I was glad to get the cheetah calling on video - I am sure a few folks will be surprised by the sound they make. I would love to join you on that deck overlooking the waterhole; memories such as these make the time between safaris more bearable don't they?

 

@BRACQUENE - you are welcome; I would love to see a cheetah family on a termite mound with a nice clean background and golden light..............

 

And @Biko I am happy that you got the point of this report - a lot going on in the world and we all have different stuff to deal with and I am happy to have provided an Africa fix. I enjoy making the videos and toyed with the idea of a camcorder for my next trip  (they are compact, great zoom, great wide angle, decent audio and half decent controls) but I will buy a second DSLR and carry on with my iPhone and GoPro with the odd bit of DSLR thrown in. One more video to come for this trip to wrap it up.

 

And last but by no means least @Towlersonsafari - those tents are more than adequate and sleeping at night with just a  piece of mesh between you and the wilds is amazing. One night in Moremi I woke up and watched a dark shape outside the tent not 10 feet from where I was and tried to make out what it was. It moved like a hyena and just before it moved off into the bush across a fallen tree I swear it turned to watch me....and sure enough when I went to check the next day there were hyena tracks everywhere. Have I mentioned that I....... haven't forgotten how rainy it can get in England! Hope you find some nice weather soon to get out in the great outdoors  - unless you fancy a socially distanced visit to the pub of course.

 

Thanks again.

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Final drive Qorokwe:

 

The obvious destination for the first part of the drive today was the cheetah kill from yesterday and we were a bit surprised to find all three cheetah still there - no hassle from other predators which would have been expected given that we knew there were hyena and lions in the area. Unfortunately, too dark for pictures at that hour. It was still very dark when we left the cheetah kill and Alan did not use the light at all while we were there so not only no pictures but I couldn't even rescue the grainy and dark iPhone footage I took but sometimes it is best to just remember the sighting and leave the animals to do their thing.

 

Alan speculated that the hyena were busy at what was to be our next sighting and we set off to  a spot not far from this one. Some early morning twisted tree photography to set the mood.

 

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Told you it was dark and this is after we left the cheetah that morning.

 

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Another spooky looking tree and this one had some vultures in it. Alan primed us that we would be on the scene of a macabre sighting and given the number of vultures it had to be a kill.

 

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These elephants wandered through so maybe not a lion kill?

 

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More vultures so likely a big animal.

 

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Some kudu checking us out before we drove in to the sighting.

 

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It turned out to be dead giraffe. It had died naturally although sadly while giving birth and the fetus was about 200 yards away from the mother. This explained not only the vultures but also the hyena who had decided that this was an easy meal for them and it had kept them occupied for a few days already and given the cheetah a chance to feast on their dead impala at Porcupine City.

 

At first glance it is hard to see the spotted hyena as the coat pattern is somewhat similar to this light colored giraffe carcass. Also, how do I put it politely, the hyena is stuck up the rear end of the giraffe making it difficult to see where the hyena ends and the giraffe starts? Is that an adequate description? David Attenborough eat your heart out!

 

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There were a few hyena and a few jackal and hardly a skirmish between the two species although, clearly, the hyena ranked highest. Both species took turns to feed and were both on the look-out for presumably lions.

 

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See that depression under the giraffe? The hyena dug that out to get better access to the carcass. Amazingly clever animals.

 

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We figured her to be the dominant female as all the other scattered when she bowled in. The jackals didn't seem to mind though.

 

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As more jackals arrived though they did start to tangle with each other. A lot of food here and they all wanted some for sure.

 

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Yes - that lump in the carcass is the hyena inside the body cavity.

 

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Jackal and spotted hyena feeding together although to be fair the hyena probably has no clue the jackal is there (this image from my Flickr account to test for any future trip reports I do - definitely better image quality than the resized images via my Mac).

 

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iPhone image as we left the scene. A very unexpected ending to our time at Qorokwe!

 

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Fittingly we got to see a nice alive giraffe or two before we left.

 

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And one of my favourite birds...

 

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Yes okay I like zebras as well but why weren't you at Nxai Pan with your mates?

 

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I've said it before and I'll say it again - you have to photograph every LBR that you see.

 

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Our last drink stop and Alan had brought some bubbly which I had a sip of to be sociable and then washed it down with JD. 

 

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My battered and dusty gear.

 

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Back at camp we had time to clean up and grab an early brunch and a last coffee on the deck before heading off to the airstrip.

 

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As we flew out over the Delta we knew that we had had a great time in Botswana and that this trip had just reinforced what we already knew - we love Africa and can't wait to be back!

 

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Video to complete the trip report. Mrs. deano has a habit of zooming in on her iPhone and the hyena footage is a bit blocky as a result but since it is the only footage I have then that also makes it the best footage that I have!

 

 

That's a wrap for this report. Thanks again for all the reads, likes and comments and please remember to sleep well and dream of Africa. Until next time.

 

Pula.

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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