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Mapula Lodge Botswana


Guest sniktawk

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Guest sniktawk

First of all we need to explain where this lodge is the concession is NG12A (inside the Buffalo fence) and NG12 B (outside the fence). Inside the fence the concession has borders with Vumburu and Duba (NG23 and NG22) and outside with Selinda (NG20).

The private concession is supposedly in excess of 350,000 hectares agriculture is practiced around the around the north western edges. The fence itself still exists but is damaged in many areas and has gates some of which no longer have a gate. It is therefore possible for most animals to leave the adjoining concessions. There has been a lodge in this concession for 6 years; it previously had another name which I unfortunately cannot remember.

 

The accommodation is in our humble opinions the finest we have ever had in Botswana, consisting of 10 chalets built similarly to a thatched cottage. Each has a double bed with mosquito net, a lounge area with settee, WC two sinks, and a tin bath and outside shower.

The front has no windows only shade netting overlooking a large lagoon.

 

To our surprise we were met by Doctor (ex Kwando/Kwara) who is the manager of Mapula, and was to be our guide whilst we were there.

We had a private vehicle for $175 per day a very cheap rate by any standards and a relative necessity considering our photographic needs. Vehicles are Land Rover Defenders each with three rows of three and removable sun shades. You also get a tracker which in our case was a very good bonus.

 

The main purpose of our visit was to see the Wild Dogs, which had unfortunately left the den two days before our arrival, 7 adults and 12 pups.

On the first night we went to look for them, and found one adult running around madly, but could not find the pack. The next morning we located in roughly in the same area our first pup, unfortunately in a tree the victim of a leopard, not a good start. This was shortly reflected by Doctor and Two (our tracker for the day) as they moved swiftly back to the vehicle followed by the adults, who proceeded to look in the trees for the Leopard. We then followed them back to where the eleven remaining pups were playing, we watched for a couple of hors and returned to camp for Brunch, we kept our sighting secret from the remaining guests as it was decided they deserved a nice surprise on the afternoon drive. We returned to the Dogs and at least two other guests were happy with the sighting, the remaining guests were more excited by finding the adults under a tree which contained a female leopard in the highest possible reaches. We left hearing the sounds of Hyena!!

The following morning we returned to find the body of the dead pup gone from the tree along with the Leopard. Much on foot tracking by Doctor and Mike (our normal tracker) ensued with me following behind driving the vehicle and we eventually found the pack, with only 9 pups. The adults looked most concerned and were constantly looking behind them, we returned in the afternoon but could find no more than 9 pups, and this was very depressing.

On our fourth and fifth day we decided against looking for the dogs and indulged in some general game viewing the area is amazing containing a vast variety of landscape ranging from dense Mopane to open wooded areas, plains and many areas that could only be described as like the Selinda Spillway. We saw all of the usual plains game most of which were a little skittish. We also went through the fence to the borders of Vumburu and Duma; there seemed no difference in the amount and types of game inside the fence.

 

We saw two small prides of lion one consisting of the most enormous female I have ever seen, her daughter around 2 years and two around 12 months one female and one male. They had killed a young Wildebeest and were subsequently busier than normal eating it for the next two days. A further pack of 4 three females and one sub-adult male was found inside the fence following a herd of buffalo.

 

Birding was splendid as you will see from my pictures.

 

On the final day we decided to go out all day to look for the dogs after much tracking they were found on the move, as they passed by we all counted 11 pups!!, a very happy moment indeed.

 

We spent the rest of the day with them until we were visited in the late afternoon by the other guests, another truly splendid day, we felt very privileged!!

 

All in all an amazing discovery, for which we thank Bill Given (Predator Biologist), profusely.

 

All of the staff are very enthusiastic, knowledgeable, friendly and so happy to find guests who wanted to stay out as long as possible.

 

Talking of which we usually left at around 06.30 and never returned for brunch before 12.00. In the afternoon we usually left around 16.00 and our earliest return was 21.00.

We nearly beat our record length of drive set at Lebala with Charles of 15 hours 30 minutes, we are sure that on our next visit we will try for a new record.

 

This is real wilderness and probably of the widest areas we have ever visited, given the size of the concession and the limited beds and vehicles (3 at most), then it is also probably the most under utilised area in Botswana.

 

Rates are cheap (by Botswanan standards)

 

Ranging from $350 to$600 ppn

 

See

 

http://www.mapulalodge.com/

 

 

MAKE SURE YOU GET A PRIVATE VEHICLE!

 

My photos can be found at the following:

 

WILD DOG

http://sniktawkwild.zenfolio.com/p784410065

 

BIRDS

http://sniktawkwild.zenfolio.com/p962610307

 

OTHERS

http://sniktawkwild.zenfolio.com/p714358589

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Game Warden

Oh - great images of the pups Snik! Great to see their juvenile behaviour. Looks like an outstanding visit!

 

And just seen the lion shots: the two night images are really fine: especially the one looking directly at you from the kill. When you use the dim light facility it really stands out. A few technical details please.

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Here's a map of NG/12. Sorry, no boundary drawn. NG/12 covers the wetland area from Selinda Gate in the north-east down to Seronga in the south-west (near Mbiroba Camp).

 

gallery_3403_93_140993.jpg

 

sniktawk, can you tell me more about the location of the fence that divides NG/12A and NG/12B? This can't be the fence commonly known as the Northern Buffalo Fence which forms the boundary of NG/16 (Selinda), NG/22 and NG/23.

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Atravelynn

Will look at your photos later. How wonderful you got to see the dog pack after leaving the den. Your dog sightings included the whole range of life for these animals, including the loss of pups. The pup in the tree must have been sad to see even when you understand that's how things work.

 

You even included a little drama in the report. Where are the 2 missing pups???? Then the happy ending of 11 running by.

 

Mapula seems to be a wonderful option from your report. A private vehicle is $175 more per day for the vehicle? That's reasonable.

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The bufallo fence does not apparently form the boundary with Vumbura as we went through the fence there and at least 2 to 3 km further south we had not reached the edge of the concession....
Thanks, sniktawk. This fence is certainly the one which I marked as yellow line on my map.
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Predator Biologist

Awesome report Ken, and outstanding photos! I'm so happy to see a nice litter of pups hanging in there since I have a special affinity for this particular pack and would like to see it grow this year. The night time lion is one of the best night photos I have seen, the moment springs out at the viewer.

 

Nyama: I agree with everything Ken says regarding the fence. I believe the fence was simply built in the wrong place, so most maps show the fence as running along the borders of the concessions but in reality your yellow line looks to be about where the fence really is. As Ken says it is in various states of disrepair and not much of a barrier for most species. I explored along the border with Vumbura and Duba Plains and there are no fences at those locations but of course you cross over along the way. You are probably one of the only people who would know how to find this point but I went to the former site of Old Vumbura hunting camp (which is part of Mapula's concession) right across a channel from Duba Plains, that was an incredibly scenic area and quite a long drive from Mapula and happened to have two Pel's fishing owls! I did see a herd of buffalo, around 75 to 100 individuals north of the buffalo fence somewhat close to the lodge. As Ken was told I also heard there are plans to move the fence to the north but no telling when that will happen.

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It wasn't (and still isn't) my intention to start a discussion here how far this fence influences wildlife sightings, or if it influences sightings at all (probably not, as we've read here). My interest is more that of a cartographer (and researcher) who's looking for accurate information, not only on concession boundaries but also on buffalo fences in northern Botswana.

 

Ken, I was puzzled by your statements that sounded like Mapula is inside the buffalo fence, and that was the reason I began to ask.

 

Pred, I've seen the fence between NG/12 and NG/22 (Kwedi East, or Vumbura) with my own eyes. This fence is also well documented on Tracks4Africa, and you can clearly see it on Google Earth. In this regard your statement that there is no fence along the Vumbura boundary is misleading.

 

All official documents and maps claim that the fence continues on the boundary of NG/12 and NG/23 (Kwedi West, or Duba Plains). I havn't seen this with my own eyes and need confirmation by people who've visited the area (accurate information, please!). Especially I want to know if the buffalo fence forks in that area. We already know about the fence inside NG/12 which starts at Vumbura Gate going straight west. Now, on Google Earth you can clearly see a straight wide track on the NG/12-23 boundary, starting at Vumbura Gate and going southwest for several kilometres. You can't miss this track when exploring this area. My question: is this an additional fence or just some kind of fire break?

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You have better eyes than me hence my need for AF!
I didn't talk about me in that post... :)

 

As far as I can see on Google Earth there appear to be two fences meeting at 18 55 37 71S and 22 48 19 82 E, perhaps this is the source of the confusion, and perhaps the more southerly is the actual border to Vumbura.
Look on my map. The green lines are the concession boundaries. These boundaries are based on co-ordinates published in Botswana's Wildlife Act. Vumbura (NG/22) is located east of Vumbura Gate (your co-ordinates) and there are really no secrets about its boundary. I've got the impression that each time you (and Pred) are talking about Vumbura you actually mean the eastern part of Duba Plains (NG/23) which starts directly west of Vumbura Gate.

 

What I need to know is if the buffalo fence, coming from north, just makes a turn west at Vumbura Gate and continues along the yellow line (which would mean that all published maps and even the Wildlife Act are wrong), or if the fence forks at Vumbura Gate and continues along the NG/12-23 boundary. I guess only someone who has been at Vumbura Gate can answer this question...

 

 

PS: just to increase the confusion: on the map Controlled Hunting Areas of the Okavango Delta RAMSAR Site Land Use and Land Management Plan (2005-2029) by the Tawana Land Board the area south of the NG/12 fence (below the yellow line) is titled NG/23A and designated as "Community photographic area". The rest of NG/12 (above the yellow line) is designated as "Community managed wildlife utilisation in livestock area". If this is a look into the near future then the area south of the fence becomes part of Kwando WMA and is protected against any uncontrolled development very soon.

 

What I also find interesting on this map is that NG/23 (Duba Plains) is designated as "Community photographic area" whereas NG/22 (Vumbura) is designated as "Community wildlife utilisation (leasehold) WMA" (which means photographic and hunting, though the current sub-concessionaire doesn't use the hunting quota). I always thought that NG/22 and NG/23 had the same designation - maybe I've read the marketing statements on certain websites too often...

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Predator Biologist

Nyama: I certainly cannot guarantee that every meter of the boundary between NG12 and NG22 is unfenced but I can with complete certainty tell you that we crossed a fence by a gate and drove on for a distance of a couple kilometers until we reached a point where the guide, Dicks, who knows the area very well said we had now reached the border with Vumbura. Coincidentally we saw two Vumbura vehicles at a distance inside their concession near the boundary lending creedence that it was indeed NG22. Prior to this we had the distinct displeasure to see the helicopter flying around with Vumbura guests on the edge of their boundary while we were sitting with a cheetah and Dicks indicated that it was close to their airstrip, this was also fairly close to the gate area in the fence so based on your map it could possibly be Vumbura Gate but I don't really know.

 

So unless Dicks was completely incorrect and the Vumbura vehicles were doing their drive in the Duba NG23 concession I was right at the boundary without a fence in sight as I peered into NG22. When we crossed this fence the first time I asked if we were crossing into Vumbura and was told "no, the fence is in the wrong location and we have rights to drive on this side" and that is why Dicks made it a point to show me where Vumbura really begins. As mentioned before we also went right up to the border with Duba at the Old Vumbura location, here there may have been a fence that was in disrepair due to the water channel but I don't recall for sure but distinctions were made when we were by Vumbura and by Duba.

 

I also was told by a couple of people that prior to Mapula becoming popular it was common for guides from Vumbura to make their drives up to the fence and sometimes even cross over if things were slow for them so it wouldn't surprise me if some Vumbura guides said that the fence is the boundary.

 

Sorry I can't provide more definitive help but I was definitely there for game viewing and not map making, but with a general interest in the surrounding concessions I did ask questions and the above is my experience.

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Hi Pred, thanks for your detailed response.

 

Caution with what local guides are telling about boundaries, often this is influenced by tribal customs or by "how it should be" beliefs - I already made several experiences whereas I got faulty boundary descriptions from local guides. In our case the traditional name for the NG/22 and NG/23 concession areas is Kwedi - the concession names Vumbura and Duba Plains are just an invention of the safari industry, and there might be the possibility that local guides are mixing up these names or use them synonymously.

 

Whatsoever, there are not many boundaries that are described as precisely as that of NG/12 with NG/22. The Botswana Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act says "Commencing at a point marked NG/12/22/23 (app. co-ord. 34E690173N7906584), being Trig. Station BPS264, the boundary follows the northern buffalo fence in a northeasterly direction to a point marked NG/12/16/22 (app. co-ord. 34E710900N7925400), being the corner of the fence line at Sandoroka Lagoon, where the fence turns northwards". BPS264 is located at Vumbura Gate.

 

Thus either you and Dicks were in NG/22 and Dicks gave you faulty information, or, more likely, you were still in NG/12 west of Vumbura Gate and Dicks called this area west of the airstrip Vumbura though formally it's already part of NG/23. WS are crossing the boundary to NG/23 during game drives with Vumbura clients - I know this because I remember game drives west of the airstrip when I visited NG/22. So maybe local people distinguish Vumbura from Duba Plains by looking at the game drive area used for Vumbura clients.

 

Okay, I guess this is more than enough about this issue. It would be nice if visitors of Mapula could provide GPS points of their game drives.

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You are probably one of the only people who would know how to find this point but I went to the former site of Old Vumbura hunting camp (which is part of Mapula's concession) right across a channel from Duba Plains, that was an incredibly scenic area and quite a long drive from Mapula and happened to have two Pel's fishing owls!

This statement included some kind of prophecy... here's an updated map which shows the location of Old Vumbura...

 

gallery_3403_93_139953.jpg

 

 

I've read that the Mapula people plan to build a small camp at the Old Vumbura site. Does anyone knows more about this?

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Atravelynn

I checked out the dog link. Those are outstanding photos that capture what we all love about that species. I especially liked 6 and 13. Your bird photos are just amazing. My connection is slowing down for some reason so I'll leave the others for another time.

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Atravelynn

Other pictures--Gorgeous lions and you captured the on-the-move feeling of the elephant.

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Predator Biologist

Nyama: you could well be right that we were peering into NG23 if Vumbura guides drive there.

 

Thanks for placing Old Vumbura on the map, I love that spot. I know I mentioned that the Mapula owner had thoughts of putting another camp at that location in my trip report last November so perhaps I am the source that you read, I have not seen it written anywhere else. The talk was a small vintage camp of 3 to 5 tents. However, I think that was just dreams and nothing in motion and I have heard nothing of it since. I can tell you that if they were to build there I would be there as soon as possible.

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I know I mentioned that the Mapula owner had thoughts of putting another camp at that location in my trip report last November so perhaps I am the source that you read, I have not seen it written anywhere else.
It was mentioned on "The Wild Source" website, and I hadn't a closer look at the author.

 

Well, a second look now revealed his identity..... :)

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Predator Biologist

So I was the 'Source' just not from the medium that I expected.

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  • 2 weeks later...
madaboutcheetah

Hi Ken,

 

Some very nice pictures you have out here ...........

 

Looks like you enjoyed Mapula and why not - your sightings sound amazing.

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