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In Love in Botswana 2018


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NSY

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Holiday Botswana March 2018

Day 1: Fly Manchester to Johannesburg via LHR

Day 2: Fly JHB to Maun & Fly to Tau Pan Lodge central Kalahari

Day 3: Tau Pan Lodge

Day 4: Tau Pan Lodge

Day 5: Transfer to Nxabega Okavango

Day 6: Nxabega

Day 7: Nxabega

Day 8: Nxabega

Day 9: Fly to Maun > JHB > LHR

Day 10: Fly LHR > Man

 

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NSY

We had been thinking of a trip to Botswana for many years but the cost had put us off. Then our travel agent suggested how about going in the green season and that will cut the cost. He also came up with Central Kalahari being a good place to visit in March. So after some research we booked this trip.

Over the next few TR posts you will be able to see if it was a good decision or not.

 

Day 1 6/03/2018: Fly

Fly Man-LHR with BA Ba1399

Then we fly BA55 LHR to Johannesburg on A380. We love the a380 as an economy spot in window seats upstairs gives lots of room.

 

Day 2 7/03/2018: Fly & stay at Tua pan lodge

Arrive at Johannesburg at 7am; we then have 4 hours free. We find a café with good views of airport for a long coffee break.

Our next flight is a British Aerospace 146 to Maun, only 1.5 hour but food is better that any we had on the BA 11 hour flight! 

 

Once at Maun we go to the domestic departure room and 1/2hour later fly in a 12 seater plane with pilot Willum.

At Tau Pan Lodge we are met at airstrip and driven to lodge. We have an hour to settle in before tea & cakes and an afternoon game drive.

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Tau Pan Lodge 

 

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View from tent decking

 

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Waterhole as seen from lodge 

 

There is a waterhole seen from the lodge and on first drive as we drive past waterhole on way out and male Lion appears for a drink. 

 

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Only just awake? 

 

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Northern Black Korhaan

This our first game drive is in a Toyota Land Cruiser which we share with 2 Canadians from Calgary who like to see all the wildlife as we do which make things much easier.  

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Good to see another African sunset

 

When we are back at camp it’s a very quick shower and then evening meal, set for about 18 people at one long table.  I got talking to a couple on their 5th visit to Tau pan so something must be good here!

 

 

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Day 3 8/03/2018: Tau pan lodge

1ST FULL DAY AT Tau Pan

5.30am wake up call. Guide collects us a 6am, walk to breakfast then off on drive at 6.30am

We spot Kori Bustards on land and flying. Back at 1pm and after lunch free to rest. 

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At 4pm it’s back out for afternoon tea with a delicious beef wrap then out on drive again.

 

Near the airstrip I spot a puff adder, we stop and some of us get out and look at it. It plays dead while ants climb on it then eats them.

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Spotted Thicknee

 

There is a group of Lions including two big males 

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Then two Lions pair away from rest. We are also lucky enough to see a pair of mating lions.

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Day 4 9/03/2018:   Tau pan lodge

We go on a long trip to Destitution Valley today. A Black Mamba crosses track in front of us. Unfortunately it was too quick for us to get a photo.

Today’s game includes lots of Giraffe, Red Hartebeests, Oryx Bat eared foxes, and birdlife.

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The camp sent a packed lunch for us to have on the road which we have near the place where the camp of Mark & Delia Owens of “Cry of the Kalahari” was situated.  We are only 20mins from the lodge when we see vultures ahead then 4 Cheetah run out from under a bush at side of track leaving their kill. The driver only could only brake at the last second as they ran out just as we pass.

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The cheetahs settle down 100yards away and watch us. We drive into the bush 100 yards the other way and settle to watch them.  After half an hour a Jackal appears and steals part of the cheetah’s kill.  

Later the Jackal returns and takes the rest!  Such an opportunist

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Just a couple of birds to finish the day

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Crowned Lapwing 

 

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Pale Chanting Goshawk

 

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Day 5 10/03/2018:  Transfer from Tau pan lodge to Nxabega

 

Today we have a walking safari with Zibo, a San bushman. He shows us how to make rope from the bark of a tree, use broom as a brush and also shredded to make into a soap/mouthwash. He made a fire rubbing 2 sticks together (one hard wood the other softwood). Then he made a trap for birds and a pit trap for animals, it’s incredibly interesting.

 

Then we do a short game drive on way to airstrip. The highlight was seeing a family of lions lazing in shade.

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And below one missed from the Lions mating

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Our flight today is in a small 6 seater plane including pilot. The Canadians are with us and we fly first to Nazi pan with them, picking up a couple there and flying on to Maun.

The plane needs to refuel and 3 more passengers joined us and then we are off to Nxebega.

 

It was listed a 40mins but with detours took 3 hours and it was very hot as we got later into the day. 

We are met at the airstrip by Candrew a tracker who drives us to camp. After signing our lives away we are taken to a very luxurious tent! Then it is time for an excellent lunch. All the meals turn out to be excellent here but lunches particularly so. Then we have some down time in the tent looking out to animals in front of decking.

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We then rest for an hour before more food at afternoon tea; however, we are too full to eat.  We are lucky today as we have the jeep to ourselves and can stop to look at whatever we want. 

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There are lots of birds seen but animals few and far between. The sundowner is by a lagoon with some noisy hippos in it. Then a drive back in dark looking for wildlife with the spot-light.

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Day 6 11/03/2018: Nxabega camp

It is very misty, atmospheric morning at start of our drive.  The guides see lion tracks and a male lion appears out of the mist. The guides are wary of it, it is not known to them and they are not sure how he will react, so we keep our distance.   

 

We then find a lone male lion and follow him across country for about a mile. He just ignores us, at one point he stands up on his back legs and starts scratching at a large tree, maybe scent marking or keeping his claws nice and clean and sharp.

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On the afternoon drive Wild dogs are spotted. They split up trying to find prey.  A steenbok runs towards us, then turns away only to be chased by a single dog but chasing it towards the other eight dogs! Somehow it escapes.

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 It is then getting dark so the dogs start to settle for the night. We commence our drive back to camp and forgo sundowners as no safe open spaces to park.

 

As it gets dark the spotlight is turned on and we spot a Giant Eagle owl but miss out on photo.

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Day 7 12/03/2018:  Nxabega camp

After breakfast, it’s time for the mornings drive at 6.30am as normal for the first hour not much around and then we spot wild dogs again.  We see them chase a pair of Bush buck but they get away.

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Then we follow the pack for about an hour, sometimes very exhilarating fast cross country driving trying to keep up with them.  At one stage we lose sight of them for about 15 minutes and then find them in the bush. In the time we lost them they had caught an Impala killed it & eaten 90% of it. 

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We can hear them crunching through their catch.  There are only 8 of the nine dogs at the kill. Then the missing one appears with tail between legs and whining and starts looking for food all it can find is the poor Impala’s head.

It was a fascinating and privileged view into their life. 

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We followed the dogs as they were just jogging along the roads, keeping contact with each other and then when they upped their pace it was thrilling to be alongside them as they worked as a pack to get the ultimate reward.  I think it’s something which will stay long in the memory - their teamwork and the understanding between them, it was very, very special to witness.  

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After a siesta and shower shared with visiting monkey and another delicious afternoon tea, we go out for an afternoon Mokoro canoe trip.

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We drive a roundabout way to the waterside and meet our new jeep mates 2 Mexicans & 2 South Africans. There is a variety of animals about Kudu, Tessabe, Impala etc. 

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The Mokoros are very low in the water but unfortunately we only get 10 minutes out on the water when the rain arrives so we have to turn back.

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Needless to say after another 10 minutes driving away, the rain stops!   However, even our very short trip on the canoe gave a wonderful, different perspective on the nature around us.

 

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Day 8 13/03/2018: Nxabega camp

This morning we have coffee by a large lagoon with several vociferous hippos in it. On the back of one hippo is an African Darter which clings on while the hippo moves 100yards up pool. Then the Darter catches a fish and proceeds to eat it on the hippos back.  Nature in harmony!

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The evening drive is quiet again until we go to leopard den…

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The guides know where to find it in the dense bush and we park 6ft from.  There is a mother and cub! The mother does not bat an eyelid and appears very relaxed.  The adorable cub keeps watching us and puts on a very well received show for us all!  Absolutely enchanting.

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As we are coming back into camp we come across a lone lioness and follow her along the track for half an hour before leaving her in peace and the night and going into camp.

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Day 9 14/03/2018:  start flights home

The South Africans and Mexicans decide on a lie in so we have the jeep to ourselves today for an early drive before leaving.

There are lots of animals just by camp including  Elephants, Buffalo, Impala, Zebra and Tesaba.

 

 

 

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We go back to leopard den but no one home.  At least we had the thrill of seeing them yesterday.

We fly with Willum in a 12 seater, via Stanley’s camp, picking up 4 Americans we had seen before at Nxabega and on to Maun.

Then it’s the BA146 to Johannesburg.

We have a nice snack on South Africa Air link and our plane arrives at Johannesburg 35 mins early, a record for us, however, we are too early to check in for BA flight. We are allowed through security etc. into airside for a drink and then come back out later to get boarding cards.

The food on BA is a bit better (maybe it was made in South Africa and not London).

 

Day 10 15/034/2018: Fly into Manchester airport   

Ba LHR to Manchester no food or drink on short BA flights now

Back to rain in Manchester & for 1st time we had parked in multi storey car park so did not get wet

 

This is our first green season safari and we were a bit apprehensive before the trip but it was one of the best we have been on.

The open spaces of the Kalahari are spectacular, with a surprisingly large amount of wildlife seen and Tau Pan Camp and guiding was good.

Okavango - a fantastic place to visit, with lots of lions and cubs, leopards and wild dogs.  The guiding there was excellent.

Sightings of 21 lions, leopard & cub, 5 cheetahs, and pack of 9 wild dogs 

Birds:  116 species seen.

 

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If this was in UK hundreds of people would be taking photos 

 

I did delete the elephant below from files but still showing ! 

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