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Kwando 22-31/5 2009


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Finally managed to get back to Africa, with a classic Kwando combination. Three nights at Kwara, Lagoon and Lebala.

 

Kwara

 

After an uneventful and quite long flight it was absolutely great to be back at Kwara. Last time we had to abandon camp and fly out due to a medical emergency, so this was sort of a completion of that trip. We had Izzy as guide and Justice as tracker. Absolutely phenomenal! I think Izzy would do very well as a racer driver :) We had great sightings of just about everything, the 7 male lions (we saw 6 of them, one was away, probably courting a female), a pack of 15 wild dogs, the three cheetah brothers at tsum-tsum, and three female lions and a cub at a kudu-kill. It was quite amazing with action all over the place, the radio did not stay quiet for many moments. Ok, we missed the leopard, but we sure tried… We switched to General and BK for the last day (to avoid being 6 in one car and 2 in the other), and they worked so hard trying to find us a leopard, we were out until 12 at night, and coming back the first thing General said was: “ tomorrow we leave early, no coffee, we have to find the leopard…”. No luck, but I´m sure we will find it next time. Great that they really tried to find it for us.

 

I think the camp was in good order, everything went smoothly and the atmosphere in camp was great. Tucso (sorry if I spelled it wrong), the manager and all the staff, did a fantastic job in keeping everybody smiling. One night sitting at the campfire we heard singing from Little Kwara, and the guides said “wow, that’s Tucso´s wedding”. Everybody went, “yeah, right”, but they kept going and since all the camp was empty we started to believe them after half an hour. Well, of course they fooled us all, but it says a lot about the atmosphere, you were always close to laughing at Kwara.

 

Lagoon

Next up was Lagoon camp, which in my opinion is so intimate and lovely. I just loved the setting, the rugged tents and the main area. It is very beautiful. And we were very impressed with Kenoue and the rest of staff here as well, really more of a family feeling. Spencer was also in camp (guiding some private guests) and he is just such a character, it is a treat just to meet him. (He said Hi to you Hari!)

 

We had Alison as guide and as tracker AT. The tempo was slower at Lagoon, and I think we were a bit unlucky at times. We had an interesting sighting of a hyena and elephant one night, the hyena really tried to stand up to the elephant, but when the elephant charged it was enough for him. We also saw two male lions that were either fighting or trying to bond with each other, the guides were not sure. Spencer said fighting and Alison said bonding. Interesting behaviour though as they ran next to each other, growled a bit, clashed a bit and then rested, whilst always keeping an eye on the other lion. We had a boat cruise the following night, it is a very relaxing and nice experience. Saw some elephants and hippos and birds, but mainly its just so nice to go along the channel.

 

The last days we really tried to track down the three cheetah brothers that are in the area. It was fascinating to see all the spores, how they read them, see which direction they were heading and so on. Even though we did not find them it was really exciting to just focus on one thing and see how much the tracker/guide with all the bush-knowledge can do. Eventually we had to quit the chase and head to halfway pan for the transfer to Lebala, and of course on the radio comes Spencer… They found the cheetahs just outside camp :mellow:

 

Lebala

The last camp this time was Lebala, and with its new tents/bungalows it is a bit different. The tents are very, very nice, but I can’t say it makes much of a difference to me. Just as at the other camps we felt very much at home at Lebala, and the place is just beautiful. Seeing the photo albums from Hari and Ken at Lebala was fantastic, you guys have captured some amazing moments!

 

We had Moses as our guide; he is a freelance guide but has worked for Kwando a few years before. We liked him a lot, he would stop every now and then just to explain about a plant, a tree or a bird. Very interesting to get a deeper knowledge about everything, and how it all connects in a wonderful way. The first night we were lucky to see 6 of the Selinda wild pack on the border to Selinda. Dog nr seven was seen limping heavily by another car, hope hes doing alright. We shared the sightings with cars from Selinda, so a bit crowded. Nice though that the guides cooperate over the border and shares sightings for the benefit of all.

 

Next day we tracked and followed two male lions in the northern region, those guys were buffalo hunters and desperately tried to find the big buffalo herd that was moving in. they were really thin and you could tell they were hungry. They kept going all day and did not rest until 12 o clock. They had a good opportunity on zebra in the day, but as the older one started to stalk, the younger one just kept walking and blew their cover. He wanted buffalo.

 

In the evening we found them again still resting, we stayed with them as the other cars left, after a while we heard on the radio that the other car found wild dogs just 2-300 meters away. We rushed over and found the Lagoon pack (12 dogs, really looking in good condition) by a waterhole, they had already eaten for the night and were just coming together and relaxing. After a few minutes all of them jumped to their feet, they saw three dagga boys coming in for a drink. And of course they had to have a go at them. The buffaloes really did not care about the dogs, and we had a quite entertaining 10-15 minutes with the dogs circling around, and the buffaloes just knowing the dogs were to small to intimidate them.

 

Suddenly the dogs all just ran away as quickly as they could, and it was easy to see why. The lions had heard that something was happening and moved in. They started following the buffaloes that went away and at the same time the sun went down and everything became dark. We followed the lions for 30 minutes and finally we could see the buffaloes eating their way through a little open area. We went ahead and turned off the engine and light. The buffaloes came right at us, and we saw the silhouettes of the lions ten meters behind. This continued for ten minutes before the lions suddenly exploded and attacked one buffalo. But those Dagga boys were experienced they turned around and charged the lions, hit one of them that just flew away and then chased them of. All of this in just a few seconds five meters away from us out in the black African night. Just amazing and something that I will always remember. The other cars went back to camp, but we decided to stick with the lions a few more minutes just to avoid the dust behind the other cars. They went in to thick mopane bush and it was hard to follow them. After a while we heard something behind us, and all of a sudden an elephant trumpeted and came crashing towards us through the mopane. It’s not easy to drive in those thick bushes, dead trees and with holes in the ground, so there was real tension in the car. We saw the elephant closing in but fortunately we were able to get out and find a road after a while. Probably the elephant scented the lions and saw our car lights, and decided this was too much! Almost to exciting but what a night it was.

 

The last day we did a short walking safari with Moses in an open area close to the airstrip. It’s really a different experience. We saw giraffe close up, and ended up piled up behind some dead trees watching a herd of elephants slowly passing by on their way down to the river for their daily drink and bath. An amazing way to finish a really enjoyable trip. I hope to be back as soon as possible, perhaps visiting Tau Pan as well and maybe do a bit self-drive in Namibia before the safari part. We’ll see what happens and when.

 

A big thanks for all the help on this forum, that really made a big difference in our experience. I will try to post photos as soon as I have the time to go through them. Nothing spectacular anyway, I find it hard to match the quality on the photos of Safaritalk.

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Geoff

Thanks Basto,

 

An excellent summary of your trip. Plenty of excitement.

 

I look forward to seeing your images.

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Hi Ken!

 

Yes, we were very happy with our sightings but on the other hand as rookies we are easy to please B)

 

No problems with water level, you could see it at Lebala at some places but really not a problem.

 

12 days in june sounds fantastic!

 

/Tom

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madaboutcheetah

Hi Tom,

 

First of all Thank You for your fantastic report!!!

 

Thanks a lot for the greetings from the big guy, and glad you bumped into him at Lagoon.

 

You saw a lot of great sightings - I'll have to return to see those 7 male Lions that everybody talks about.

 

Oh! and I think you mixed up both the packs of dog - the pack of 12 is the Lagoon pack. The other one is part of the Selinda pack that split up after the old alpha female died.

 

Agree, Moses is a terrific guide too - I had him guide many many years ago while he was at WS. We did see the old cheetah boys (Blood Brothers) in the Savuti channel. I bumped into him at Kwara this recent trip and it was a pleasant surprise.

 

Glad you had a good time at Kwara. Did you bump into any of the folks from LK - either the managers or the guides Steve M and Hobbs?

 

Lovely report and very glad you had a great time!!!

 

Regards,

Hari

 

PS: Welcome to SafariTalk - and I'm glad to see yet another Kwando fan on board here..........

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madaboutcheetah

PS: Believe it or not - I was stuck in a very BORING seminar about an hour ago - and the only thing that helped me stay alive was your report that I read on my mobile phone (sorry, I know that was unprofessional - but, I had to stay alive)

 

Also glad you caught up with the new cheetah coalition from Lagoon/Lebala before you left!!! Hopefully, one day they will be able to fill the big boots of the old Blood Brothers!!!!

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Game Warden

Basto, thanks for taking the time to write this detailed report which has satisfied the Safaritalk Kwando fanatics... Post pics when ready. Off topic, sorry MAC - how does Safaritalk look on your mobile? Does it read all right?

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madaboutcheetah

Yes, it reads well Game Warden, Thanks - One thing though ....... I am signed in to the MAC account on the mobile also. The one problem is, when I get to my regular computer - I can't access the "View New Posts" anymore ......... or it doesn't register again.

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Hi Hari!

 

I´m so glad I could help you get through that seminar. Don´t know how many times your reports have made my workdays a bit easier, so I´m very happy if I can atleast pay back a little bit! B)

 

Actually we did not get to see the Lagoon/Lebala coalition, just heard on the radio that Spencer finally found them very close to camp. And we did not have the chance to go back and see them. Oh, well next time! And yes you are right I mixed up the packs at Lebala.

 

I actually met both Hobbs and BK at Kwara, really nice guys.

 

/Tom

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Game Warden

It's because you'll have already accessed the new posts under the mobile account. When you later login on the PC it will only show the new posts since your last login, which was on the phone. But great to see it works well on the phone, thanks for the feedback. Sorry Basto, over to you again...

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madaboutcheetah

Oops! sorry - I assumed you went to see those cheetah after Spencer's radio call. But, glad you saw those Tsum Tsum boys - they really are a much better coalition - more photogenic and true specimen!!!

 

You know, atleast two different Moremi Air pilots mentioned to me that they had spotted those cheetah very near the new Lebala airstrip. So, they are venturing a long way down ........ yet - I doubt they'll make the next step soon to cross over deep into the Selinda as those males there are really big boys and they do come to Twin Pools too.

 

If you met BK - then, my guess is the manager Keya may have well gone on his leave.

 

PS: That reminds me - I am back logged atleast 3 safaris worth of updated photos for the Lebala lounge. Will ensure I do it soon.

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twaffle

These places just seem to deliver the goods all the time which re-enforces my decision to make them the centre piece of my first Botswana safari, as long as I can afford it.

 

Thanks for the report, look forward to the photos.

 

Ken and Hari, do you leave photo albums/books at all the camps you stay at or is it just the favourites?

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Atravelynn

Exciting times Basto! Some interesting pairings of ele and hyena and buffalo and dogs. Thanks for sharing your safari experience and hope some photos will follow.

 

Here are 2 questions. Sorry if they are not too bright. Is Alison the tracker a female? Are the dates of your report for the month of May? That would be in the future. But April does not have 31 days.

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madaboutcheetah

Twaffle - Just at Lebala. There's many people who leave albums there as it's really been a big time Game Viewing camp...... the album that's always a stand out in camp is by Johan from Belgium (I'm sure you've seen his pictures from his many safaris). In one of his albums, there is a pic of a wild dog just about to pounce on an impala (that's always a stand out pic) ........

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madaboutcheetah

Tom,

 

Quick question - who were the current managers at Lagoon and Lebala during your visit? Did you bump into Lebo this time or was she on leave? I didn't go to these camps this recent trip -hence the question.

 

 

Ken,

 

They do take good care of the albums, though. I think Spencer mentioned that the paper was coming off one of my pages and they glued it back together.

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Hi everybody,

 

And thanks for your kind words about the report. I did manage to get quite a few things messed up though...

 

Atravelynn: First the dates, should be April 22- May 1st. Alison the guide is a man. I´m sorry if I have spelled his name wrong. He has been in the trade for long, started as a disher on mobiles in 1978.

 

Ken: We did actually see three different wild dog packs - Selinda, Lagoon and the big one at Kwara. I´m extremely happy to have seen them all as I find them extremly fascinating animals. It´s one of the greatest moments to just sit around and watch their greeting rituals, smelling, playing and so on.

 

Twaffle: I can´t see you going wrong if you choose any of the Kwando camps, but at the moment the one that stands out for me is Kwara. Absolutely fantastic. But remember though I´m a rookie, once to Tanzania and this the second time in Bots. I have not been to any other camps in Bots and therefore can´t compare.

 

Hari: Me and names are not a good combination... At Lagoon Kenoue (I have the name at home, will check) and also had the privilige to meet Lebo again, at Lebala this wonderful woman called... Doreen?.

 

By the way, the guides at the camps talked a lot about hunting beeing banned from next year, and I also heard that there were discussion that you would have to have a certified guide with you to enter the nationalparks? Have you heard any of this?

 

/Tom

 

EDIT: Hari is right, manager at Lebala was Keone.

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madaboutcheetah

Tom,

 

The big pack you refer to from Kwara - the 15 are the nasty, Killer dogs .......... they chased down a pack of 6 and took one of them out!

 

Sorry, only know Lebo from the names you mention.

Thanks

Hari

 

EDIT: Tom, maybe you meant Keone?

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twaffle
..... the album that's always a stand out in camp is by Johan from Belgium (I'm sure you've seen his pictures from his many safaris). ......

 

Yes, I remember his last thread on F with some sadness as I feel he was treated unfairly. If the worst criticisms people can make is that you chose to protect your photos with copyright watermarks and don't have your screen adjusted properly, I don't know … petty I call it. I don't like anyone having their writing in trip reports or their posted photos ridiculed (especially his, they were excellent) because it takes a lot of courage to put your work up for others to see.

 

I have one album in Lebala and one in Mapula, if I get time I may do a Wild Dog Album to take to Lagoon.

Given the abuse that Johann's album has had at Lebala, then I might just test it a little longer.

Last year I took some A3 prints for the camp. Within seconds they were spread out and being used as drink mats. No prizes for guessing the nationality of the guests!

 

So the book is a safer bet by the sounds of things, for longevity. I would have thought the A3 size would have been nice to hang on the walls somewhere. Perhaps if they had been mounted, although that is expensive. These days you can produce placemats and coasters quite cheaply (at least here you can) and maybe that would be an idea, although I like the book idea better as other safari goers can see what someone else has captured in their safari. Although, that could make them expect more and be dissatisfied if they didn't get the same action. :(

 

Tom,

 

The big pack you refer to from Kwara - the 15 are the nasty, Killer dogs .......... they chased down a pack of 6 and took one of them out!

 

Sorry, only know Lebo from the names you mention.

Thanks

Hari

 

Hari, you are too funny. The nasty, killer dogs are just doing what comes naturally. I hate to think what will happen if you ever come across a cheetah killing another cheetah. :lol: Never mind, we here at Safaritalk will endeavour to provide you with counselling. :D

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madaboutcheetah

Twaffle - in one of the Mad Mike and Mark episodes, there is a clip of two cheetah coalitions fighting each other. You are right, hard to watch!

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Ken,

 

I shall look out for your photo album when I am at Mapula in early November.

 

Jan

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Atravelynn

Basto,

 

I thought maybe we had a woman entering the field of tracking. Thanks for the clarification. Regardless of the date, the account is highly impressive.

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madaboutcheetah

Lynn,

 

The Current Hostess at Nxai Pan camp, Dineo mentioned to me that she started as a tracker at WS in the Linyanti Tented Camp back in the day ....... so, there has been lady trackers, indeed!

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Atravelynn

Good to know, Hari.

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  • 1 month later...

Hello,

 

Can not get the pictures in to my albums so I´ll try this way instead. Sorry for taking so long...

 

post-5714-1247158816_thumb.jpg

The cheetah brothers at Tsum-tsum, fantastic creatures

 

post-5714-1247158838_thumb.jpg

One of the seven lion coalition at kwara

 

post-5714-1247158869_thumb.jpg

Wild dog from Lagoon pack that was visiting Lebala

 

post-5714-1247159050_thumb.jpg

Unhappy elephant at Lebala, only a mock charge though. Don´t you just love the radio antenna ;)

 

post-5714-1247159441_thumb.jpg

Landscape at Tsum-Tsum

 

And finally male lion from Lagoon

post-5714-1247159297_thumb.jpg

 

cheers,

Tom

post-5714-1247158857_thumb.jpg

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twaffle

Thanks for posting the photos. The cheetahs look magnificent and I really like the landscape photos, especially the clouds at Tsum Tsum.

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks, Tom. Can't wait to see more.

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