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Linyanti Bush Camp & Linyanti Mobile Camp


Geoff

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This is the first of three reports on different camps in Botswana & Zambia during September 2008.

 

John has kindly agreed to host some images on his website and they will be available for viewing in the not to distant future.

 

 

Linyanti Bush Camp - 2 nights 10th & 11th of September

Linyanti Mobile Camp - 5 nights 12th to 16th of September

 

 

General Information / Overall Impression.

 

. From Maun we flew just about all the way around the delta transferring guests to/from other camps before finally arriving dehydrated at Saille airstrip. 1.5 hours in a Cessna in 48+ degree heat.

 

. Flew over Savuti camp on approach and was amazed at all the water in the channel. I was later told it is flowing 17 k’s past Savuti camp.

 

. Upon arrival there had been a large fire around the airstrip which was burning itself out. Many large logs were still smouldering.

 

. Saille airstrip is 1 hour from camp on a very bumpy track taking the direct (inland) route to camp. The scenic route (via the river) only a bit smoother is 1.5 hours

 

. The camp itself is comfortable and more than adequate for all but the fussiest of guests (and there is a lot of them about these days). Spacious tents on concrete slabs, gas hot water, flush toilet, comfortable bed.

 

. The view across the inundated flood plain is lovely and serene. There is usually at least one species of mammal in sight from the main boma even during the hotter hours of the day.

 

. Current camp staff are amongst the friendliest and hardest working I’ve met.

 

. No raised walkways and you are escorted to your tent after dark which always irritates me.

 

. The camp is sited on (I’ll call it) the river bank with nice views overlooking the flood plain which is now inundated with water and very tall and lush reeds. Water levels ARE STILL RISING.

 

. With all the water lots of mosquitos

 

. Most of the old game viewing road network is underwater with the flood plains inaccessable.

 

. Gameviewing tends to be along the river/flood plain banks which is picturesque or inland which is thick (elephant damaged) mopane scrub.

 

. The one downside is the lack of open game viewing areas. Inland it is all mopane scrub and even if you do see something getting an unobstructed view is nigh on impossible.

 

. Since the flooding there are only 2 open areas left – One is known as Buffalo island which has potential but we saw little there and is a long drive from camp.

 

. The other open area is past the airstrip more than 18 k’s from camp but I’m told it usually has very high grass. The recent fire had burnt it all so new green shoots were showing through. It also has 5 heavily treed islands (African Mangosteens) bordering it.

 

. The small numbers of game during the height of the dry season was surprising and disappointing.

 

. Many of the game drives were very quiet and I began to concentrate on birdlife

 

. Birding is excellent (many , different species)

 

. It would be difficult for me to recommend this camp to the avid photographer, though I think first time safari goers and non photography nuts would enjoy it and it is reasonably priced compared with other offerings.

 

. Game viewing is often the luck of the draw. If the buffalo herd had stayed in the area (it did return on our second last day) the resident lion pride would have stayed too and I expect my report would have a different bias.

 

. An all day gamedrive to Savuti can be arranged if the other guests are keen.

 

. A fee must be paid each time you enter Chobe N.P and the terrain and vegetation is the same although there is an area 8 k’s from the gate along the river where we watched a large elephant aggregation.

 

. New tracks will be created when time permits – ie; at the end of the season.

 

. Usual deal with game drives. Wake up at 5:30, light breakfast at 6:00, game drive at 6:30, brunch, afternoon tea 3:45, game drive at 4:15, sundowners and yes, yawn, a night drive.

 

Game viewing (for the first 2 days)

 

. Our guides were either;

Tati - a nice knowledgable guy

Moruti - very quiet and for me hard to understand, just starting on his first day. He got lost and needed directions back to camp. I'd allow sometime for him to settle in.

 

. General game viewing extremely poor and I hardly took a photo.

 

. Even when you do get a sighting vegetation is so thick that getting an unobstructed view is almost impossible

 

. It got to the stage where I was concentrating on birdlife which I must admit is prolific.

 

. Elephant breeding herds present with occasionally a bull in attendance – mainly in the mopane scrub in the morning and heading out into the reeds in the late afternoon for a drink and mud bath.

 

. Nice herds of kudu and other antelope but very skittish and amongst the mopane scrub

 

. Surprisingly a lot of giraffe.

 

. There is a resident lion pride with 2 pride males and up to 5 adult females. Though I did here numbers between 7 and 11. Also a few interlopers (big nomadic males). All had disappeared with the buffalo herd a few days before our arrival.

 

. The only chance to see cheetah is at Buffalo island where they occasionally see a 2 male coalition. – We did not see them.

 

Linyanti Mobile Camp - 5 nights 12th to 16th of September

 

We were originally scheduled to stay for only 2 nights and then return to the bush camp but certain events saw us request staying there for 5 nights. (PM me if you would like to know what these were).

 

By doing this we kept the best guide and had the camp and vehicle to ourselves for 5 days. Basically a private safari. This decision allowed us to travel to Savuti on 2 different days and definitely saved the Linyanti part of the trip from being somewhat disappointing.

 

 

General Information

 

. The name mobile camp is a misnomer, actually it is a fly camp sited on the riverbank about 1 k’s upstream (south west) of the main camp.

 

. They are in the process of getting permission to locate the camp inside Chobe N.P. They now have approval but need the paper work completed. Don’t hold your breath.

 

. I was shown the new campsite (also sited overlooking the river) which looks nice but the main track to Linyanti Tented camp is right in front so I would not like the passing traffic.

 

. Tents are walk in style with attached ensuite bucket shower and ‘thunderbox’ long drop toilet. I love that type of camping.

 

. We had 4 camp staff and they were fantastic.

 

. Clara makes the best cup of tea in Botswana (I’d venture to say all of Africa but there are many places still to visit).

 

. The views are similar to that from the Bush camp

 

. Animal traffic is better though and we had lion visit whilst we were safely tucked up in bed and elephant visiting during dinner.

 

. Unfortunately the same game viewing areas are used.

 

Our Guide

 

. Pilot Manga. He is in the elite when it comes to guides and worked his backside off for Peter & myself. He was first employed by WS back in the 1980’s when they were basically an overland safari company. Colin Bell & Dereck Joubert wanted him to guide at the Selinda but negotiations fell through. Beks at African Bush Camp then picked him up.

 

. I remembered Pilot’s face from an incident 6 years ago and he will bend the rules if he knows his clients well.

 

Game Viewing

 

. Immediately we changed our game viewing hours. – wake up 4:30, breakfast 5:00 game drive 5:30 and stayed out all day on most days.

 

. We spent 2 full days at Savuti. Driving into the N.P at 6:00 A.M and arriving at Savuti about 7:30 A.M. Then leaving Savuti in time to make it out of the park by 6:00 P.M.

 

Highlights - Savuti Day 1.

 

. Immediately upon arrival we find wilddogs. A nice sized pack with pups but they are resting in the shade. We checked on them when leaving but all they have done is move with the shade. A poor wilddog sighting compared with what I’m used to but at least it kept my 11 year record of seeing wilddog on every trip since 1998.

 

. Pilot chats with every guide in other vehicles getting updates on sightings and after speaking to one guide turns to Peter & I and remarks that he has a surprise for us.

 

. We are told that lions have killed an elephant at Savuti Elephant camp’s waterhole on their (so called) private road and there is no admittance.

 

. We head out to Marabou Pan to watch elephant bulls drink and socialize and there is 1 other vehicle at the pan. Pilot says that ‘Your surprise is dead ahead’. We idle up to the other vehicle and a stunned Mompati Aaron turns to see Peter & I smiling at him. Much laughter & catching up ensues before we move the vehicle so the sun is behind us.

 

. Best bull elephant pics in a long time.

 

. Plenty of other game in the area (wilderbeest, impala, zebra etc)

 

. We spend the heat of the day looking for cheetah lying up in the shade of thickets on the open plain. Find a kill but the cheetah gives us the slip.

 

. Head back to the Linyanti for sundowners with a herd of +/- 70 elephants near the river.

 

. Slow drive straight back to camp. Neither Peter nor I are keen on night drives.

 

Highlights - Savuti Day 2.

 

. Immediately upon arrival we find leopard spoor and follow up. You’ve already seen the post re; the time it takes 4 vehicles to view a leopard.

 

. Inquire about the lions – still there on the elephant carcass. So bugger it, private road or no private road we go take a look.

 

. Find 8 lions (3 big males, 3 adult females & 2 older cubs at the kill). A very aggressive male is guarding a female in heat. AND NOT ANOTHER VEHICLE INSIGHT. Amazing.

 

. Back to the elephant bulls and have lunch with them.

 

. Afternoon drive along the dry watercourse looking for leopard (no luck).

 

. Sundowners in the same spot as the other day and plenty of elephant again.

 

Other Highlights.

 

. Unfortunately not much to tell here.

 

. We did find a big male leopard on the open area near the airstrip. We were checking the heavily treed islands when I spotted him sneaking away across the plain. He had a zebra foal stashed in one of the trees. Unfortunately he was very skittish and although we tried to let him settle down he hurried off into the reed beds.

 

. Big buffalo herd near the airstrip and out on the plain near Buffalo island. Due to the recent fire the dust storm created by the buffalo was of Sahara like proportions. No wonder they suffer from TB.

 

. Me grabbing a large rock python by the tail and trying to drag it out of a hole in the termite mound with Pilot just about having kittens as he hates snakes.

 

. A fledgling Giant Eagle Owl on the ground which I walked up to and tried to put it back on a tree branch without success. Both parents were in a nearby tree and after a taking a few images I let it be. I doubt it would last the night if it did not get back into a tree.

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Guest John Milbank

Excellent report, Geoff. We've spoken but I'm still looking forward to the rest.

 

Re the fledgling giant eagle owl. It reminded me that one of our repeat sightings in the space of a few days at Mwamba/Kaingo was a juvenile fish eagle on the ground. I guess I'll have to wait for part 3 of your trip report to find out if you saw it or heard about it (unlikely, as your visit was some weeks later) :)

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madaboutcheetah

A well written report, Geoff - Thank You!!!

 

and sounds great to be in the hands of a guide like Pilot.

 

Regards

Hari

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Guest John Milbank
It appears that everything is totally dependant on which side of the mountains the rain falls.

 

I suspect, but have no expert knowledge, that it's as much to do with tectonic movement as it is where the rain might fall. Some 20 years passed before water started re-entering the Selinda spillway from both ends, and a little more than 20 years for substantial movement along the Savuti channel. I believe Geoff and I both wonder if we're seeing significant change which will return the Linyanti area to the 1980s as far as inundation is concerned...and in a decade or three, the situation may be reversed again by tectonic change.

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madaboutcheetah

My guess would be the techtonic shift, also. There is still water flowing into the greater Linyanti areas.

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madaboutcheetah

Ken,

 

Remember it's this water that has flooded the Eastern side of the concession - in the vicinity of the ex-Lebala airstrip. Some areas that you may be familiar with can't be driven to - Letchwe corner etc etc.,

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Atravelynn

You really had a hands on trip with the python and the eagle rescue! Nice going with the wild dogs. Looking forward to those images (bull elephant, etc) in the not too distant future and your other reports.

 

Does the mobile camp take individuals along with couples or groups of friends? Or do you book out the whole thing for just you? Is there a schedule of "departures" which is also a misnomer based on your comments?

 

Thanks!

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