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Pangolin Retrospective - Part 3


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Finally, after a 5-year hiatus, the Pangolin crew got back on safari in 2001. After going overland in Zimbabwe in 1993, and doing the mobile Jacana Safari in Botswana in 1996, Namibia seemed to be a logical choice, so we gathered up some friends (8 of us total), and signed up for the WS Tok Tokkie Safari for September 2001. However, we were far too smitten by our Botswana adventure to totally ignore it, so we added on a pre-Namibia excursion of 3 days in the delta. Then we decided that three countries are better than two, so we added on a post-Namibia extension of 3 days in the Sabi Sands. Too bad we couldn't throw in Zam and Zim to complete the circuit.

 

2001A - Botswana

 

After 5 years, flying over the Delta was again a delightful experience

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We were to spend our three days at Kwetsani Camp (NG 25), which was relatively new at the time. Also new was being transferred to camp via boat, which I enjoyed immensely, especially when yielding to cross traffic when necessary.

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Yes, Kwetsani Camp has decks and raised wooden walkways. Get over it. :D

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We met the man who has become our favorite guide, Grant (left), and the fellow who at the time was the WS guide-trainer (Cliffy-right). Cliffy is the main perpetrator in one of the chapters of "That Mombo Guide's" book. We thought it was cute that the managers were Sarah and Lee (center).

 

We had been in camp less than 30 minutes when the two male lions of the area, Beaver and Barehead, walked through the open plain directly behind camp.

Barehead

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As I have said before, I find the NG 25 area to be exceptionally beautiful

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We had the opportunity to take a boat ride over to Hunda Island, where Tubu Tree Camp is now located, and do a game drive (they positioned vehicles on the Island when water levels were low) and a walk. We found it advantageous to have one of the locals guard the vehicle while we were out walking.

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Those of us riding with Cliffy found that he was up for trying to find out "just what those vultures are circling over", while those riding with Grant discovered how much fun it was to take pictures of those who should have known better than to try and reach those vultures.

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It was then time to say goodbye to Grant and Cliffy (but Grant will be back) and fly to Windhoek in two, four-seaters. Not recommended!

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2001B - Namibia

 

After a grueling 2 hour bush plane flight from Maun to Windhoek, we were ready for our Namibia adventure. Dave, our guide from 1996 in Botswana, was now head of the WS Namibian operation, so he arranged to meet us for dinner at Joe's Beerhouse, where I learned just how good a nice Gemsbok steak can be. Dave and WS kindly picked up the tab.

 

The next morning we were off for our relatively long drive to the Sossusvlei area. The scenery on the road was a bit different from that in NG25.

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We stayed at was is now called Kulala Wilderness Camp

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Not a game rich area to be sure, but stunning desert scenery, with beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and desert night skies.

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We also visited Sesriem Canyon

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After our stay at Kulala, we had a full day's drive through the Namib desert to Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, where we actually stayed in a hotel (the Hansa) for a night to rest up for our long journey up the Skeleton Coast and over to Damaraland. In Swakopmund we learned that while we were watching flamingos at Walvis Bay, a little incident occurred in New York City.

 

The adventure will continue...

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So that's where you were on that date.

 

Thanks for this next adventure.

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Another indepth picturesque report: thanks for taking the time to share it with us Pangolin.

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My pleasure to go back trough the slides and recall small details about the trips. Damaraland, Etosha, Okanjima, and Sabi Sands to come soon.

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madaboutcheetah

Pangolin,

 

Fantastic just like the earlier reports!!! Thanks so much .......... Can't wait for the rest of your report.

 

Sorry that you had to learn of the tragedy of 9/11 in the middle of your holiday.

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I was actually quite happy to be in Africa at that time. We were far removed from that first week or so of intense stress and worry in the states. While in Swakopmund we were able to determine that none of our families were directly affected, so after a night of watching the immediate aftermath on TV, we carried on. We were pretty sure that nobody would be gunning for US tourists in Namibia.

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madaboutcheetah

Yes, I'm sure it would have been awful to follow it on TV 24/7 if you were home.

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After a night in Swakopmund catching up on world affairs, we were off for our all-day journey up the coast and then inland to Damaraland. We stopped to see the Cape Cross seal colony,

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Then continued into Skeleton Coast National Park

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And finally to Damaraland Camp

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I loved Damaraland Camp. The setting is beautiful, the staff was great, and the comfort level was just right. We didn’t see any desert rhinos, but we did see other desert wildlife, more beautiful sunsets, and the pictographs at Twelfyfontein.

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On to Etosha...

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Alex The Lion

Keep it up, really enjoying these series of trip reports.

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After another relatively long drive we arrived at Etosha. We actually stayed at Ongava Tented Camp, in a private reserve just outside Etosha. Ongava Tented Camp is the least upscale of the accommodations in the reserve (pool, but no wooden walkways; standard canvas tents).

 

We were able to enjoy sundowners at Ongava with a couple of friends

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Game drives were split between the reserve and Etosha, then on our final day we drove across Etosha and exited via the eastern gate. We had the usual multiple-species sightings at the water holes

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One case of a little road rage

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A nice sighting of a very young hyena observing us (it saw us well before we saw it)

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And multiple viewings of lions at the edge of the pan

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Being from the Pacific Northwest region of the US, we managed to bring rain to Etosha in September, which was pretty unusual. We also managed to reach the east gate about 5 minutes late, and had to convince the staff to let us out.

 

The next day we were on our way to our final Namibia stop - Okanjima, home of Africat, a big cat rescue operation somewhat similar to the Cheetah Conservation Fund, but a little lower in stature and more geared for tourist visits.

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Okanjima was nice, but I’m not sure I would recommend it highly. A little touristy in some ways. I think it has also changed quite a bit since we were there. The grounds are very nice, and serve as a little oasis in the desert. The trees were literally dripping with birds, including many brilliant sun birds.

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We did of course see some of the work they were doing with cheetahs

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This guy may be captive, and imprinted on some humans, but he was quite photogenic

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Mrs. Pangolin stayed in camp one day instead of joining the rest of us on an activity, and was rewarded with a caracal sighting (collar and all).

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We enjoyed sitting in a blind after dinner to see who would come and clean up the mess

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After Okanjima, it was back to Windhoek for a night before getting up at 0 dark-30 for an Air Namibia flight to Joburg, and then on to Sabi Sands. We found it humorous that our accommodation in Windhoek proudly advertised their “Oregon pine deck”, being from Oregon and all.

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We are now on the home stretch for Safari #3.

 

At Sabi Sands, we stayed at what is now Arathusa

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This turned out to be a great find relative to other lodges in Sabi Sands. The location was good, the accommodations were about right, the guiding was great, and it was CHEAP (<$150US per night).

 

The camp often received visitors

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Including one special visitor that passed through

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No one had seen wild dogs in the area for a number of weeks, so when the call came in the middle of breakfast, we dropped our forks and hit the road

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And of course, what would Sabi Sands be without some cats.

One for Hari:

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Leopards were everywhere

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Including an excellent sighting of a male leopard lounging on a cliff ledge below us

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Well, that about wraps up our 2001 extravaganza. Just who are these weird people and what is with that newspaper that we’ve seen once before?

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There will be no 5-year hiatus again, I can assure you. Next up is a New Year’s 2003-04 fly-in safari to four camps in northern Botswana.

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madaboutcheetah

Dogs and Cheetah in the Sabi Sands ...... Very lucky!!!

 

Can't wait for your next series!!! Thanks so much for this report!

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Thanks all for the postive comments. Part 4 coming soon.

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Wonderful! So what was with the newspaper?

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Wonderful! So what was with the newspaper?

The Sunday Travel section of our local newspaper often publishes photos of travelers holding up said Travel section while at far away places. For some idiotic reason we decided to give it a go. We never managed to display the paper prominently enough while still getting the wildlife in the photo, so we never submitted our efforts. Seems silly now, and we don't do such things any more, even though the paper still does.

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madaboutcheetah
Thanks all for the postive comments. Part 4 coming soon.

 

Take your time, Pangolin - what camps are included in Part 4? I do hope very much for one of the Linyanti camps?

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Hari-

 

Your hope is answered.

 

Camps in Episode 4 are Vumbura (before it was was remodeled into the current 427-paw palace), Tubu Tree, Kings Pool (we somehow let ourselves be talked into a 427-paw palace), and Chitabe.

 

Without giving too much away, I'll say that we saw leopard at all four camps, cheetah at 3, and wild dog at 2.

 

I'll get the report out sometime shortly before Christmas, leaving me just Episode 5 to get out in January before my 6th adventure begins in February.

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I love all the photos, Pangolin. It takes me back to my only trip to Namibia in 1993, which I loved and enjoyed.

 

We were booked to go back in 2000, but due to my husband's illness had to cancel. I haven't wanted to go back

 

on my own, but the dunes, the Skeleton Coast and the far north up at the Kunene River hold many wonderful

 

memories for me.

 

Jan

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks, Pangolin. If that's the case, I think my stay at KP was approximately around a similar time frame so would look forward to your report ....... and I'm guessing your retrospective will have the famous "Blood Brothers" cheetah coalition - so, we'll all be patient and wait ............

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Thanks Pangolin,

 

Love the photos.

 

Keep it up.

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Thanks to all for letting me know the reports are appreciated :D

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