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A sloppy trip report from Botswana.


Jan

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Now I know you've been waiting for this, but it's really just a note or two as I went along.

 

 

I left Heathrow on time and was sitting drinking a coffee in departures in Jo'burg when a girl came up to me

 

and said,' we've met before somewhere, haven't we?' Yes, she and her friend and I had met two years ago at

 

Mombo. Queueing to get on the bus to the plane to Maun someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was Shane and

 

Kim, managers at Jao, who I'd been with at Kwetsani, and who said, 'when are you coming to see us?'. Off the

 

plane [ new plane, slower than the old one! ] and there was Matt Copham, Who I'd also last seen at Kwetsani ,

 

waiting to lead the girls on a private safari.

 

My first stop was Seba, Where I hoped to see Kate Evans, the Elephant researcher. She was in New York to

 

run in the Marathon. But, waiting to greet me were Cyrus and Abi, who I'd been pals with several times at Jack's,

 

and were now relief managing at Seba. I was the only guest there for the three days, so we had fun and they

 

came out on acouple of game drives with me. Another Elephant researcher Graham and his wife came to have

 

to have tea and dinner with me. We'd also met before. Were there any animals around, you ask? Yes, I'm

 

coming to those!

 

I saw a lioness with four tiny cubs about two weeks old, and the next night saw their father, a handsome

 

blonde maned lion. The night I arrived we'd just finished dinner on the deck, when my guide saw a leopard walk

 

past us! We jumped up and followed him through the camp until he disappeared into the bushes! The next

 

afternoon I went out on a mokoro, and when we'd finished he played a lovely tune for me on an instrument he'd

 

made from a brandy bush twig and a strip of palm leaf, which I had never seen before. There were plenty of

 

animals around that evening, and even our sundowner spot was taken over by elephants.

 

Bed time was delayed by an elephant in the water at the bottom of the steps to my tent, and who just

 

wouldn't budge. I eventually made it to bed 1and 1/4 hours later. Better have another Amarula on the Rocks,

 

then!

 

I left Seba and flew to Jack's. Ralph Bousfield had very kindly allowed me to make a trip to Kubu Island. You

 

usually have to make up at least a group of four. As a regular guest over fifteen years he felt that I deserved a

 

little privilege. We set off, chef, waiter, general camp hand, loaded vehicle, quad bike on a trailer, my old

 

friend and guide, Super, and me!! Kubu Island is a fantastic place -- an outcrop of granite rocks, stone cairns

 

and many, many baobabs, and an air of the past and mystery.

 

We had a double camp site, well away from other campers, who were few. It was mid-week. We walked all

 

over the low hills and rocks and drove the quad bike on the pans. We only took one because I'm not a big fan of

 

driving myself, and Super drives so fast that I find it hard to keep up! I'm much happier as a passenger. We

 

tried to get out to the flamingoes, but it was too wet, so we skirted around the edge and saw wonderful sunsets.

 

On the last night I was in my bedroll, on the ground, on my own, one hundred yards away from the guys. I

 

awoke at about 2am to a fierce wind and lightning. I was contemplating creeping into a small dressing tent that I

 

had about ten yards away, in case it rained, when a huge gust of wind blew it down! I saw a light and it was

 

Super coming across to me. He said, ' I've got somewhere to get out of the storm'. We went a few hundred

 

yards to a half completed N.P.building--- just a thatched roof, breeze block walls, with no windows or doors.

 

Super settled me down in one of three loos, with no loo installed and cement dust on the floor and many spiders

 

for company! It was the smallest bedroom I've ever slept in! The dressing tent with my clean clothes and bag

 

had been blown away, but the boys had rescued it. My clean clothes for the day had been soaked in kerosene

 

from the lamp which was inside. Grubby clothes mean that you've been having a good time!!!!!!!

 

We got back to Jack's in the afternoon, it was my birthday, and at dinner that night a chocolate cake was

 

produced, and all the staff danced and sang songs. Although I can neither sing or dance----I joined them!

 

My new companions with Super were a cattle rancher from Montana and his wife. We got on famously.

 

The meerkats, [you know, my special friends] were in two new groups and were much shyer than the last ones

 

I'd been with. The brown hyenas had not been denning there all year, so some people were disappointed. I'd

 

had so many adventures at Jack's in the past, so it didn't worry me.

 

One morning we had heavy rain and we went out late, but found two lionesses and five wellgrown cubs. Next day

 

1,000 zebra returned to the pans which was lovely.

 

Next day it was off to Mapula, my 69th camp. There was not a lot of game about, the wild dog den this year

 

had failed. The alpha female did not have pups,but another female did. One morning the puppies were found

 

dead outside the den and the dogs moved on. The game was rather sparse, but we went through the buffalo

 

fence and found some magnificent sable antelope, and plenty of elephants,kudu zebra, and tsessebe. I met some l

 

lovely people and some really expert photographers.

 

On to Duba Plains. They gave me the Honeymoon Tent! But alas no-one to share it with me! James 007

 

was myguide for part of my stay. I told him that I had my own 007, my grandson, James, whose surname is

 

Foord, and he always has to spell the 00, not one 0 in his surname. I met some great guests there, and once

 

more a group of pro photographers. Once again the game was not good. The lioness's are killing their cubs,

 

and the male spends his time between them and another lioness on Paradise Island who's a much better mother.

 

The vehicles can't get there because of too much water and swamps.

 

The manager Moalosi came back after leave. It's Moalosi, who I first met at Kaporota seven years ago, so

 

we had a lot of catching up to do.

 

Then it was back to Maun to be picked up by Super and we drove to Meno a Kwena, a lovely, friendly, quirky

 

camp on a bend of the Boteti River, two hours from Maun. I was there last year with my friend Mary. There was

 

just a pumped pool then beneath the cliffs, but this year the river is flowing and about fifty male elephants come

 

to drink and play in the water. You really don't have to go anywhere, all the entertainment is there. We did drive

 

to the National Park, but what a difference to last year! Very green, and hardly any animals. Last year it was

 

dry, and many elephants, zebras and kudus, and even crocodiles living in dry holes.

 

After two nights we drove back to Maun for me to catch the Air Bots plane to Jo'burg then B.A. home.

 

Heathrow at 5am in the pouring rain. Home after a fascinating safari------- no two are the same, always

 

different. It all just keeps me going back.

 

 

Jan

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Nyama, I was reading you, while you were reading me!

 

 

Jan

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Safaridude

Jan, I am very intrigued by Mapula. I have heard mixed things. Could you elaborate on "not a lot of game"?

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Atravelynn

Everybody knows you and you were serenaded with a home made instrument. I think that means you're famous. That was an exciting night at Jack's. Good thing about your philosophy of getting your clothes soaked in kerosene.

 

Duba is a little troubling with the cub killing continuing. How do they keep explaining that? James 007 is quite the gem!

 

Did the Mapula folks feel the sparse game was typical for that time of year? I'd like to know more too.

 

Thanks for the report, not sloppy at all, except for some dirty clothes.

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madaboutcheetah

Hi Jan,

 

Lovely report! Not sloppy at all........

 

No surprises that you were bumping into friends everywhere........ You know everyone!!!

 

Very sad to hear about the Mapula puppies. Any idea what happened, was the den attacked by another predator?

 

Duba sounds like a flood zone at the moment, with limited access ...........

 

Glad you had a great trip! and I enjoyed reading your adventures out on Kubu Island.

 

I remember reading an article somewhere (ngami times?) about Kate Evans going out to run the NYC marathon. Also, was a description of how she trained in the delta for all the months prior to the race. Am very jealous of all her training runs in the Okavango.

 

Regards,

Hari

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twaffle

Lovely report Jan, thanks for posting so quickly. Kubu Island sounded great fun … our Jan, down and dirty! :o

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Thanks, everyone. Mapula has had such good reports about wild dogs, and I felt sorry that the den didn't come

 

up to expectations this year. I know from experience that game moves around, and that a certain amount of luck

 

is involved. The guides do their very best, but can't produce what isn't there. I do enjoy watching birds, and

 

they are always there. I didn't add any new ones to my list, but at Duba Plains I had several very good

 

encounters with the pinkthroated longclaw. I also watched a tawny eagle devour a francolin on low bare branch.

 

Hari, Kate Evans completed the New York Marathon with her fiance in und five hours. They did their training on

 

the Abu airstrip! At Mapula they were rather reluctant to talk about the dogs. I wonder if the pups were killed by

 

the alpha female, because she didn't produce them, and another female did.

 

I'm working on my photos at the moment. I haven't the equipment or the skill that most of you have. My

 

photos are just a reminder for me of my travels.

 

I did also meet up with some great guests, and we had lots of laughs.

 

 

Jan

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Jan-

 

Thanks for the report. Hopefully Duba Plains will improve a bit by early March.

 

I do believe Super was my guide at San Camp in 2006.

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Alex The Lion

Sounds like you had a great trip.

 

Thank you for your candid trip report, it may be short, but certainly not sloppy. It gives a unbiased opinion on the high water levels and its impact on game viewing.

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madaboutcheetah

Hi again Jan,

 

So she just ran up and down the airstrip? I'd hate to do that - I assumed that she braved Lions and elephants and hippos in the Okavango amidst all her hard training.

 

Sorry about Mapula - I hate it that they are not forthcoming with the information. Thanks for the info. As you say, who knows..........

 

Glad you had a great trip overall ........ and I'm sure you look forward to 2010 now.

 

Regards,

Hari

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Thanks for the report! It sounds like a lovely trip despite all the killing of cubs.

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