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Pangolin Retrospective - Part 2


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Well, as previously threatened, here is the second installment of the Pangolin Retrospective: my second safari, a mobile trip in northern Botswana in 1996, finishing with some fun at Victoria Falls. Again, please forgive what my scanner does to some of the photos. Four friends joined Mrs. Pangolin and me on this trip, and we were also joined by a British couple living in Georgia (USA). It might have been a bit crowded, but we all got along and had a great time.

 

Due to various scheduling differences, our arrival in Maun was spread out over a few of days, giving the Pangolins some time to re-energize and acclimate to the time difference. Our friend Kate arrived early and spent a couple of days doing elephant-back activities. Her advice: DO NOT wear nylon pants when riding an elephant! She slipped and fell off from the top of an elephant. Total damage from a fall of that height: one chipped nail.

 

We finally gathered and were off. I always enjoy flying over the delta, but the first time was special.

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Our first camp was Mombo Trails (since replaced by Little Mombo). Nothing pretentious about the accommodations back then:

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And no raised wooden walkways:

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Three days at Mombo in 1996 was three days of safari heaven. We had a pride of lions near camp the entire time. Maybe some folks remember one with a short tail named Stumpy. The pride killed and ate an impala in the middle of camp one night.

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We had numerous cheetah sightings….

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Spent quite a bit of time with a leopard and her cub:

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(The location and light here were perfect but mom insisted on facing the other way)

 

And we saw two packs of wild dogs, one of which numbered over 30.

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We got to join the larger pack on an afternoon hunt in which they pulled down and quickly dispatched and ate an impala while keeping a hyena at bay.

 

We had many other great sightings as well, including serval, caracal, the biggest warthog I’ve ever seen, and my first and only witnessing of the incredible massing of red billed quelea – millions of them filled the sky and moved like ocean swells. It was amazing.

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After three nights at Mombo Trails, we had a very short flight to a water-based camp called Khunaxaraga. I've never been able to locate it precisely on a map, but it was not far from the Boro River, and I believe a bit west of the southern part of Chief's Island.

 

Accommodations were similar to those at Mombo Trails, except that the facilities were not ensuite:

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Viewing was pretty good here as well, except that it could not match Mombo. I had my first mokoro adventure, during which I saw my first Pel's fishing owl, and our polers swore that they saw a sitatunga and became a bit exasperated when the stupid tourists could not spot it (it would be another 10 years before I actually saw one). We saw a leopard here during a night drive as well.

 

We enjoyed some beautiful sunsets:

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And our first "bush" dinner, set up on the airstrip.

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We then flew to Savuti Camp, which was pretty new at the time. Our tent and the gathering area overlooked the dry Savuti Channel, and the never ending parade of elephants visiting the water hole.

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Elephants often walked through camp, and one night destroyed a bit of plumbing to enjoy some fresh water.

 

One day we drove up the channel all the way to the lagoon, which was full of hippos. We saw numerous honey badgers along the way in broad daylight. During night drives it seemed like we saw African wild cats every 100 meters. We also enjoyed seeing a baby giraffe with umbilical chord still attached.

 

Our final camp was set up on the banks of the Chobe River near Serondela. It was an all day drive to get there (no flight for this one), during which we passed some nice scenery

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and had some good wildlife viewing

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Camp was pretty simple

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And had a great view over the floodplain into Namibia

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Highlights included seeing over a thousand elephants in one morning (we were counting because our guide guessed that we would see over 300), driving into deserted parts of the park and seeing eland, and catching a brief glimpse of some wild dogs. I wouldn't call it a highlight, but a rare sighting was seeing a leopard as it breathed its last:

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The cause was unknown.

 

On our way to Victoria Falls we stopped for the obligatory afternoon cruise on the Chobe River, which we all enjoyed from our private boat.

 

We then had a couple of days in Victoria Falls, and four of us did a full-day white water rafting trip. I still have the video that I reluctantly paid $70 for, and I'm very glad I do. We took some spills and flipped once, all of which are highlights on the video.

 

Our hotel was overbooked so they upgraded us to the Elephant Hills, which had a golf course. Our flight wasn't until late in the afternoon, so I couldn't resist my final morning being spent productively

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Wildlife viewing on the course wasn't bad.

 

So ends my second of five safaris, which definitely ranks near the top when considering wildlife seen. Thanks for indulging me.

 

The next adventure will be my 2001 (what was I thinking - 5 years between safaris?) adventure to (1) the Okavango Delta, (2) a lot of Namibia, and (3) Sabi Sands. Stay tuned.

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Thanks, Pangolin. Lovely reading this!!!

 

Can't wait for the next instalment -

 

Rgds

Hari

 

PS: Loved the markings on that Dog!

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Less than 6 months after we returned home, we saw Stumpy on a TV documentary.

Edited by wilddog
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Thanks for these wonderful images and memories. The changes to camps made since these times - for the better or worse? I'd have very much liked to experience them as you did...

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Pangolin, what an absolute pleasure to read these old safari tales. This one gave you some amazing sightings. Sad to see the leopard die, I suppose he had some ailment ... what timing for you.

 

Look forward to safari #3.

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Theories on the leopard were (1) just its time, (2) snake bite, (3) mortal blow from some intended prey. It looks pretty thin, so maybe it was reason (1), brought on by illness.

 

One highlight I forgot to include at Chobe was a night drive when we ended up smack in the middle of a heard of buffalo (they surrounded us after we had been parked for a while), while they were being stalked by a pride of lions. Very cool to be right in the middle of that, even though no actual chase ever occurred.

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Wow!

 

I'm pretty sure I'd remember her if I saw her, but I'll check the old slides anyway.

 

With the help of Mrs. Pangolin, I just figured out why she was named Martina (I am pretty slow sometimes). I didn't see any tennis equipment nearby..........

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With the help of Mrs. Pangolin, I just figured out why she was named Martina (I am pretty slow sometimes). I didn't see any tennis equipment nearby..........
I didn't know that... :lol:
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After three nights at Mombo Trails, we had a very short flight to a water-based camp called Khunaxaraga. I’ve never been able to locate it precisely on a map, but it was not far from the Boro River, and I believe a bit west of the southern part of Chief’s Island.
Maybe wrong spelling? Here is Khurunxaraga Lediba. Do you recognise the area?

 

 

[edit] No, I was wrong. I just checked the area. Khurunxaraga Lediba is deep inside NG/30 and this has never been WS area.

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Nyama-

 

Thanks for looking. It was only a 10 minute or so flight from Mombo, and I distinctly remember our guide, Dave, pointing out the Boro River near camp. There was a hand-pulled ferry nearby as well.

 

Dave now works in the JoBurg office, so maybe I'll pester him for some information.

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Great trip report & photos...........

 

I wish I were visiting in those days.

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[[edit] No, I was wrong. I just checked the area. Khurunxaraga Lediba is deep inside NG/30 and this has never been WS area.

I just checked my 1996 itinerary, and it just calls it "Mokoro Trails Bush Camp".

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I've always thought that was a possibility, but the airstrip was definitely the "K" name. I just looked through all my old WS brochures...in the early 90's the camp seemed to be up near Jedibe. By the mid and late 90's it is hard to tell where it is, but it was always called Mokoro Trails Bush Camp, wherever it was. This was part of the Jacana Safari, by the way.

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You took me on the Jacana trip again, but in reverse direction with a change or two. That was the mobile to end all mobiles! The dieing leopard shot is haunting, but a normal part of nature. Perhaps some of its genes were present in the leopards I saw in 97 and 98. You had some great sightings. Thanks for the trip down Mombo memory lane.

 

Sorry if I missed it in your report, but do you recall who your guide was? I had Heidi Dednam, who the last I heard was managing a camp in Palmwag with her husband. She was great, the mobile was great, Mombo was great.

 

Have you gone on a mobile since?

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Sorry if I missed it in your report, but do you recall who your guide was? I had Heidi Dednam, who the last I heard was managing a camp in Palmwag with her husband. She was great, the mobile was great, Mombo was great.

 

Have you gone on a mobile since?

Our guide was Dave van Smeerdijk, and we also had a "hostess", Jennifer Lalley. Dave was outstanding, and great to be with for two weeks. Dave moved on to head up the Namibia office, and we joined him and Jennifer (they were married by then) for dinner at Joe's Beer House in Windhoek in 2001. This was just before we did our next mobile, the Tok Tokkie Safari.

 

Dave now works in the WS Joburg office, I believe as head of marketing. Jennifer got her PhD studying lichen in Namibia, did a lot of research funded by WS, and is now a professor in JoBurg.

 

Dave is the guy standing up at the far left in the bush dinner picture.

 

When you did the Jacana, where was your Mokoro Trails Bush Camp?

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As I scrolled throught to look for Dave I enjoyed your photos again. Nice dog shots, lion, Mombo has them all. I also noticed your mention of Dave.

 

Our delta camp was Xepa on the Jacana mobile.

 

I know the Tok Tokkie Safari, in the desert I believe.

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Lynn-

 

The Tok Tokkie covered about 2/3 of Namibia, which I will summarize in the next thrilling episode. Safari number 5 (2006) was also a mobile, The Great Wilderness Journey. I'll get to that one sometime in December, I would think.

 

I'll have to investigate and see where Xepa is.

 

Glad you enjoyed the trip down Mombo memory lane.

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You've had some great trips, Pangolin! Xepa not permanent.

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I think Zepa and Xepa are the same.

 

I am certain they are the same after doing further research.

 

"Although there are two camps here, Zepa is a tiny, almost temporary camp that is usually visited only as part of a set itinerary. For most visitors, Xigera is the only option here. Both camps are run by Wilderness Safaris.

 

Zepa is seldom mentioned in any literature as it's a tiny, simple 'trails camp' used on the guided safari marketed by Wilderness as the Mopane Itinerary. It's never usually sold as a stand-alone camp; I include it here only for the sake of completeness. Zepa has been erected (GPS: ZEPA) on a small island about 3km northwest of Xigera. It's hidden within a dense stand of wild date palm, overlooking the open, salty clearing at the heart of the island.

 

At Zepa you'll find a basic canvas roof, supported by iron struts, used as a mess tent – though the tables will often be laid out under the open skies instead. Zepa's five small tents are 3m x 3m dome tents, which are roomy enough for a few mattresses, though you can't stand up comfortably.

 

Each has a flap to shade the door, and a large window on each of its four sides that can be opened to reveal mosquito-netting and allow a good flow-through of air whilst you sleep. Outside each is a canvas basin on a stand, while long-drop toilets are shared between the visitors.

 

Zepa's really only designed as a base for mokoro trips, with the possibility of short walks on the islands. Look around this small island and you'll see reeds and papyrus all around."

 

~~Bradt online

 

When I clicked on Pangolin to locate this thread, I read your statement. "May the pangolins be with you." Ha ha.

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