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My very special Safari - in loving memories


Wild Dogger

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Bush dog

Thanks, Thomas!

I checked my past trips list.  It was in May 2003, in fact a bit less than 20 years ago, that I met Charles.  He was guiding me at Lagoon.

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Game Warden

@Wild DoggerI was very sorry to read of your loss and thank you for posting this report of what must have been an emotional return to Africa for your. 

 

My condolences, 

 

Matt

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Wild Dogger
Posted (edited)

Day 8, full day in Lagoon

First sighting is this Baboon on a termite mound.

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Something that Claudia always drew my attention to was the beautiful sunsets and sunrises.
So I had to take care of that myself.
While I saw this sunrise, I could hear her saying to me: "Mach doch mal ein Bild von dem Sonnenaufgang."
Which means: take a picture of that sunrise.
Okay, you are right.

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While we were in search of this pride of lions there are still more animals to observe:

Wattled Cranes

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Saddlebilled Stork

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Giraffes were plenty in the concession (almost like "whatelses")

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After a good portion of tracking, Matt and KB locate the lions.
It is again a pride with cubs. Strange how many small cubs I have seen on this trip.
They are lying in the open busy doing nothing.

 

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After the other cars from camp have arrived we leave the sighting for other animals.

Redbilled Hornbill

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Rufous-naped Lark
In all my trips I never realized that bird (at least, nobody had shown me). On this trip I saw plenty of them.

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Red Lechwe

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even more Giraffe

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and the one and only African Fish Eagle of this trip

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A beautiful female Red Lechwe giving me the opportunity to take a nice series of shots:

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Believe it or not, these last leaping shots are uncropped, I don´t know, how I managed to not cut off a part of the animals body.

So that was the morning.
In the afternoon I will be accompanied by Miriam also from Germany.

Edited by Wild Dogger
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BRACQUENE

Great series of pictures @Wild Dogger; the female Red Lechwe is awesome and the Wattled Crane makes me longing for my trip to the Bangweulu Wetlands in July!

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ElenaH

@Wild Dogger, I am so happy you wrote this report! We were talking about your loss and your trip before your departure (and actually before mine). Knowing your dates I was thinking about your journey, about restriction to get back home and I wondered how did you manage it all... Your trip-reports are amazing. They full of gorgeous photos and moving stories. You have also a good sense of humor even in such difficult for you time! I admire you and appreciate your effort. At the end each trip are memories and I regret I didn't write trip reports becasue memories are faded now. I am looking forward to the next days of your trip :)

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Wild Dogger

Before I start with the afternoon drive, Dolly had told me yesterday, that I forgot an important part from the öast morning:
She had decided to be a tracker.
She said, that she could distinquish the track of an Elephant to the one of a Lion!
Okay, Dolly, it seems, you are ready!
And the workplace fits perfectly!

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She knows the best lookout places.

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But she needs binoculars instead of a camera.
She says, she has all memories in her brain, she doesn´t need to take pictures (that´s exactly what Claudia always said).

Back to business.
View from my tent:

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As I already told, I was joined by Miriam from Germany who was very keen on her photography.
She was just talking light, angle and background.

 

We want to go to the lions to see what they are doing.
On the way there are some whatelses and Giraffes.

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We drive alongside the channel, an area, which I like very much.
There is a beautiful Goliath Heron walking in the water.

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Then we get to the lions.
Surprise, surprise, they are still on the same spot!
The Youngsters are fun to watch.
Miriam makes me nervous as she is shooting like hell and makes me always think that I miss a shot.
 

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Have you hugged a tree today?

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John and Mavis also arrived at the scene.

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Then, bad news.
The engine of our car does not want to start.
Right in front of a pride of lions.
So the two other cars on the scene get close and block the sight of the lions.
One of the trackers climbs on the bonnet of our car, opens it, does some quick repair work and the engine starts.
Puuh, well done!

 

After that, it is time for the sundowner.
I point out the beautiful sky for Miriam, doing the Claudia.

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On our way back to camp KB points out a Spring Hare (excuse the quality, just for the records)

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and an African Wild Cat

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So, day 8 is history.
 

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Dave Williams

The images you are posting are all superb but I particularly like and would love to see a Wattled Crane! Fabulous looking bird.

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Atravelynn

Those sunrises and sunsets you were "guided" to are gorgeous.  The spring hare springing in the dark is impressive given the challenging circumstances, and it is not just a blur.  I love the tree-hugging lion cubs.  Hope Dolly enjoyed her time with the tortoise.  It seemed you were in the water with the lechwe, great closeups.  So many great shots!

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ElenaH
On 1/4/2022 at 9:25 AM, Wild Dogger said:

The engine of our car does not want to start.
Right in front of a pride of lions.

I experienced it once in Kwara (Little Kwara). But in this case it was not an engine as I remember but we badly stucked in front of the lions. We climbed to the other car and drove away. Some hours later we saw the lions running full speed in the midday sun. As it turned out the staff had no other option as to get out of the vehicle to be able to get the other one out of the mad.

The other time our engine died in front of the lion-mom and three tiny cubs. It was in Chiefs Island, in the national park. We must have left the sighting at 18:00 but now we were waiting for the other vehicle to come and could spend more than half an hour with a lion family. God, I was sooooo happy!! 

 

I love the giraffes in the line and lion cub hugging the tree! I think, I must do it more often! Hugging a tree!

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I wouldn't worry about Miriam taking her photos...I can't imagine they would be any better than the ones you are sharing here....

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madaboutcheetah

Lovely images from Lagoon @Wild Dogger..... Can't wait to get there one day!! Nice to see Mr T also ..... Thanks again for this report!!! 

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Wild Dogger

Day 9
Lagoon camp

Close to camp we find some Waterbuck.

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a quick look over my shoulder, I realize that tree in beautiful light.

 

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Later there´s a beautiful male Rufous-naped Lark displaying.

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He takes off

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displays

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30 minutes later:
Bat-eared Fox (in german this animal is called "Löffelhund" which means Spoon Dog. I find this name strange as the animal feeds on insects and not on soup)

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Matt knows that there is an active Hyena den.
We are going that way but have to wait until the other cars who are visiting the den are gone.
It´s not the worse place to wait:

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Meyer´s Parrots

Now it´s time to go to the den.

On our way, we first have another stop:
Swainson´s Spurfowl

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At least it´s our time at the den.
An adult Hyena is lying under a bush.
There are two tiny hyena puppies.

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This was fun.

Then we find a beautiful Roan Antelope.
Unfortunately the animal is a bit photo shy.

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After that sighting a heavy storm breaks out.
We get wet!
During this storm we get to see a nice herd of Sable Antelpes.
Due to the rain: no pictures.
After that short but heavy rain, Matt tells us that two lions have been found feeding on a whatelse.
We get there quickly.

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Now I feel a bit hungry and it´s time to get to camp for brunch.

After brunch we are told, that there is a Scops Owl in Camp.
Here it is:

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shots from the balcony:

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Golden Weaver

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So Siesta time goes over quickly and it´s time for the afternoon game drive.

Yellowbilled Hornbill

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"Unfortunately" Matt points out a Little Egret with reflection.
It is way to far for a good picture but Miriam shoots like hell.
Something Claudia often asked me, when I was overdoing photographing one subject: "Don´t you think it´s good now? I think you have enough pictures of that."
This came to my mind in that situation and in my mind I thought: Yes, you are right.
Well, after looking at the exifs I found out that the scene took place in just a 5 minutes time span, I took about 200 pictures of that and I don´t know why.
But I know where the delete button is.

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As Miriam had only a 500mm lens (her other lens broke down), I decided to put my 1.4 converter on my 300mm lens, so we were almost on one focal length, which made it easier for Matt to position the car for both of us.

It´s time for another Wattled Crane:

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Red Lechwe are always present.

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Shortly before the sun was down we find another pride of lions.
For the first time Miriam seems to be happy as the light is great!

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Last sighting of the day:
beautiful Tawney Eagle

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That was day 9, full of great sightings!

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Biko

@Wild DoggerGreat sightings indeed, and great pictures too. I can imagine you got hungry after watching the guts of the whatelse……

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AKR1

@Wild Dogger

your photography is nothing short of spectacular. Thanks again 

 

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MMMim

Thank-you for posting these wonderful pictures on your poignant trip @Wild DoggerYour photography is splendid and makes even the hyena cubs look photogenic!  I love hyena and baboon babies, they are so "ugly-cute".  Thank-you.

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Wild Dogger

Day 10
the last morning in the fabulous Lagoon Camp

Sunrise, sunrise

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After a while Matt finds htese 2 Giraffe bulls battling.

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I almost took 400 pictures of that.
It was a pain to sort pics out. Most of them were almost the same.
While editing these pictures, I was thinking:
"Is this still photography what I am doing or am I just a picture editor?"
Or, like Claudia used to say, when she saw me editing: "Are you cheating again?"
It is nowadays so easy to change the mood (even only on parts) of pictures or change the depth of field.
 

Okay, back to sightings.
Driving along the channel we see a Black Heron fishing.
Miriam never saw that before so we are again shooting 100s of pictures of the fishing technique.

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Red Lechwe are present over the place

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Most of the time they just jump away, but sometimes you are lucky.

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On the radio, we are told, that one of the other cars had found "inkwe motala".
I ask Matt: where did they see the tracks of the Leopard?
Matt and KB look at me like I´m an alien.
Nobody mentioned Leopard or tracks.
I tell them that I know some Setswana words and so they test my knowledge.
We have some fun and they are a bit impressed of my poor knowledge.
Okay, but back to business.
We join the others tracking Inkwe.
After almost 2 hours of fruitless tracking, we decide to give up and have our coffee break.
It is almost 10:00 h, and I ask, if we can go back to camp via the channel.
Maybe we can shoot some Lechwe leaping or some nice birds.
Miriam agrees.
But before we get to the river, we find some Kudus.

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First animals on the water are Wildebeests.

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Grey Heron 

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The sky is dramatic.

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A big herd of Lechwe making for nice butt shots ;)

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I ask Matt if we can get to Camp quickly as I want to say farewell to Mavis and John before I am leaving for Nxai Pan.

But a beautiful LBR delays the plan a bit.

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Luckily Mavis and John are still waiting for me.
They have been in the other vehicle looking for Leopard.
John complains about the long time tracking the cat. I do understand him.
His favorite animals are Elephant and Hippo and he would have liked to see more of them.
But the bush is not a zoo.
You (sorry, the guides) have to work hard for the sightings.
After brunch I quickly pack my things and Dolly and Brian are ready to go.

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The flight to Nxai Pan is interesting.
The closer we get the darker the sky gets.
It is raining heavily when we reach Nxai Pan.
My guide Mr. G greets me: "Welcome to the dry part of Botswana."
Good joke!
The tracker is DRC, I call him Democratic Republic of Congo.
I like the Nxai Pan Camp.
We´ve been here maybe 10 years ago.
Normally there are always Elephants in front of the camp on the waterhole.
They are now gone, they find water everywhere.
After I settled in I am ready to go on a wet Safari.

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Mr G prides himself, being the best driver in the world.
The weather makes it very challenging to get decent shots.
Good high ISO ability helps.

I see Blackbacked Jackals on every drive.

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Mr. G points out a Bluecheeked Bee-Eater

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Marico Flycatcher

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Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk

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and again:
Rufous Naped Lark

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To manoeuver on the wet roads is really challenging.


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Where is the road??
 

A Secretary Bird high on an Acacia tree.
I must again think of Claudia, she loved this bird as it is a snake eater!

 

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I had to shoot on very high iso with +2 EAV and just 1/800sec, so the in flight shots could be better. Looks a bit comical.

Blackbacked Jackal again

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Last sighting of the day:
Kori Bustard

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I am the only guest in camp, which is a bit boring in the evening, but my day was nice.
Let´s see, what the next day brings.
Ahh, the very last sighting:
lizard in my room

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eye to eye with the beast.

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madaboutcheetah

Wow - that's really really wet .......... Lovely job on the Meyer's parrot @Wild Dogger- those are really hard to capture as brilliantly as you did! 

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marg

@Wild DoggerI am finally trying to get caught up.  I am very sorry to hear about your Claudia.  For many of us it is difficult to imagine what it must be like.  At least you did go on your trip to celebrate her, to celebrate your lives together, and to reminisce about the wonderful times you had together in Africa.  Your photos are beautiful.  Thank you for sharing with us.  Question..Dolly looks to be very well attired and with various equipment.  Hope her duffle bag did not go over the weight allowance?

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Atravelynn

I am enjoying your commentary along with your photos.  Loved the spoon dogs, black baby hyenas, and wet jackal.  Productive balcony.  The Secretary Bird may have been comical but the Lilac-breasted Roller looks very annoyed.  You have "cheated" exceptionally well.

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Wonderful photos. Well done with the sunset/sunrises.

I love the baby hyena and the Bat eared Fox.

Red Lechwe are beautiful antelope, and so well photographed.

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Wild Dogger

Day 11, full day in the Nxai Pan NP

Early wake up as usual.
I can enjoy a beautiful desert sunrise before leaving the camp.

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The rain has stopped and it started drying up.
Dolly suggested yesterday, that if it is still raining, she would love to do a Mokoro in the morning :D:D
No need for that.
Nonetheless, she enjoys the morning sun.

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 like yesterday we get to see

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Secretary Bird scanning for food

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and Kori Bustard

 

If you don´t see a Bat-eared Fox in the pan, there must be something wrong.

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The sky is still dramatic, but it does not rain.

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We always stop under a Baobab tree for our coffee or sundowner stops.
The tree is blooming and Mr. G explains the tree.
I think this is the fruit (not sure if I am right)
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beautiful flower of the blooming tree:
before

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and after

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Dolly explores everything:
Millipede (no, she´s not trying to eat it ;) )

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trap of a baboon spider:

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After the well deserved coffee break we proceed in our excursion:

Ostrich family

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How perfectly these chicks blend with the environment.

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There is a Blackbacked Jackals den close to the road, one of the cubs is peeking out:

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We head back into camp for brunch.
To my surprise Big Tom Nkwazi has arrived. He used to be guide at Little Kwara and then at Splash and is now training to be a camp manager.
We met him several times when we were at Kwara, but he never was guiding us. His brother Mayezi guided us at Lebala in 2019.
Tom is good company and I enjoy the time with him in camp.
I am still the only guest in camp.
Dolly enjoys the high tea before we head out for the afternoon drive.

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Mr G is keen in educating us in all kinds of birds:
Redeyed Bulbul:

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Swallowtailed Bee-Eater:

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Fawn-collared Lark

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Chat Flycatcher

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Yellow Canary

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G is very unhappy, that we did not get to see any Elephants or cats so far.
For me it´s okay, I did not expect to see cats at all here.
It would just have been a bonus.
What I was surprised, that there were no Oryes aroun.

Vultures on an Acacia tree in Golden light.

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We are always a little late coming back to camp as the sightings are very dispersed.
But there´s still time for beautiful skys and sunsets.

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After the rains the termites start flying and we have to eat in almost dark as they are covering the whole place.
Back in my "tent", I realize, that someone left the light on (might have been me 🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️).
The place is covered with termites, bugs and termite feathers, the lizard (my new friend) has a feast and I have a crawly night.
The next day, the plan is to go to Baines Baobab, unless it is not raining.

Edited by Wild Dogger
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Kitsafari

Like Dolly, I'm so enjoying your spectacular sunrises and sunsets. 

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Wild Dogger

Day 12, last full day on Safari
The weather looks good and so we go to Baines Baobabs.
But before we leave, Mr. G tells me that he has reached my old friend Matt Mogata and that he would be happy to meet me at Maun the next day.
And once again, Dolly and me, we are enjoying a beautiful sunrise.

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We take it slowly to Baines Baobab, making it a normal game drive in the early morning.
G is still looking for predators.
But we find the usual suspects.

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Then we find a beautiful relaxed Yellowbilled Hornbill

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In the same moment as I say, that I am good to go a second one joins and my plan´s delayed.

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It looks as if one is feeding the other. But he is not.
In the moment when the one bird wanted to get the insect, the other one pulled it away.
It seemed to me as if he wanted to annoy him.
The reason might be different (not sure if I am right).
Those birds breed in tree cavities. For this purpose, the female is walled up in such a cave and the male provides her with food.
The male probably wants to tell his partner: "Hey, look, I can take care for you. Let´s go for it!"
 

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Pregnant Springbok

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Wildebeest:

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Actually I blew this shot, but somehow, I still like it.

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We have the coffee break at one of the campsites, where we can observe a Bluecheeked Bee-Eater.

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Then we are on our way to Baines Baobab.
Baines Baobabs was the main reason, why I wanted to go to Nxai Pan,  I still had an open account with them.
I think, last time, I did not give them the credit, they deserved.
It´s a bit of a drive to get there.
On our way:
Spotted Thick-Knee:

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and our first Elephant in the desert:

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we also see Giraffes, but I blew the shots completely.

And then:
lion

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he was really crumpy and unhappy.
A female was lying in the distance, maybe they were in mating mood and therefor he was angry, who knows 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

At least, we reach Baines Baobabs. It is impressive, when you see them from a distance, reaching for the sky, like out of nothing.

Dolly´s busy exploring the Baobabs.

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It´s time to find a place for lunch, we are starving.
But first, we stop on the saltpan, so I can take some pictures of the Baobabs.

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I experiment a bit with evaluation.

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the flying island

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Lunch is ready:

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Beautiful Baobab tree:

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my model Dolly in the salt pan

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lonely Springbok:

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It´s a long drive back to camp and we reach it by 15:30.
And:
the elephants are back!

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I have a very short rest before we go out for the afternoon drive.
I was not sure if I should go, but I decided to.
I am now joined by Charlie, an american tour operator, who was self driving into camp.
There is also now a polish family in camp.
Charlie is very keen in raptors.
And we are lucky:

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and the Pale Chanting Goshawk takes off:

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Gabar Goshawk (a bit far away):

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We go to the Jackal´s den.
The light is beautiful, but the puppies are uncoooperative.

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Once again we are late, but there´s still a bird:
Steppe Buzzard:

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We have our dinner in almost dark, but there are less termites around this night.
After dinner we go to the fire.
It is a clear sky.
Thousands of stars are out there.
While one of the guides explains Orions belt to the others, I just sit on the steps and look upside.
Big Tom and Mr. G come by and ask: "Is everything alright?"
"All good.", I lie to them.

 

Edited by Wild Dogger
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AKR1

@Wild Dogger

The hornbird(s) sequence is excellent. 

The melancholy in your words as you end your safari looking into the Sky over the Makgadikgadi pans is stirring. Thanks again for sharing this report and be well be well. 

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Athene

I enjoyed your emotional trip report and your beautiful photos @Wild Dogger thank you very much for sharing it and all the best for you. 

Ute

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