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Lagoon, Lebala, Nxai Pan and Kruger 2009


Wild Dogger

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Wild Dogger

This is my first trip report ever, so bear with me. :)

English is not my mother tongue, so please bear with me again B)

 

Part I:

Lagoon Camp, Botswana

 

In 2004 we stayed the first and last time at this camp. In this year we had our first impressive contacts with wild dogs including 2 hunts with kills.

In the following years Lagoon was always booked, but this year we had luck.

 

Day 1, Nov., 7th,

After a late arrival in Maun due to departure delay in Johannesburg, we flew to our first stop to Kwando Lagoon. In the air we could see „rain-towers“ increasing on our way north.

On landing our pilot had to start through as an Impala was running straight on the airstrip in that moment.

We were greeted by our guide Allison and tracker BD. We had to hurry up, as the cheetahs had been seen close to the airstrip, which also caused the Impala to run on it.

After a couple of minutes we found the 3 brothers close to a small pan. We watched them for a while before heavy rains started. We drove to camp. Our car was not wet, it was flooded. The ponchos tried to do a good job but they couldn´t prevent us getting wet. In camp we were shown to our tents and we could get rid of our wet clothes.

The Lagoon tents need some kind of renovation. Don´t get me wrong, I don´t need more luxury, only some kind of make up, just like working zippers for example. These tents have for sure seen better days.

 

 

Day 2, Nov., 8th.

Early wake up as usual. And no rain. After some coffee of for morning game drive. Other guests in our car left for Lebala, so we had to make our way south to Halfway Pan. That´s a nice place with lots of birds and some hippos. Great sighting of African Fish Eagle, Monitro Lizard and African Darter.. We met Charles who´s managing Lebala now. On our way back we saw the Cheetah brothers again. They where relaxing on a termite mount. We took quality time with them.

 

In the afternoon we had to share the URI with 4 other guests, which is not a good option in a 2 row car. We knew that that could happen to us, but we hoped it wouldn´t. Those belgian people came out to be very nice and they were so polite that one of them was always sitting in the front beside Allison and we had our row on our own.

Nevertheless we saw lots of plain game, the usual stuff. Said that, I must mention, we really saw a lot of plain game this year, both in Lagoon and Lebala, more than in previous visits. Especially Giraffes have been abundant.

The highlight of that day was for sure the sighting of a pangolin after dark. I don´t know how BD was able to spot that strange animal. We spent lot of time with it. At least we also saw it move and climb around a termite mount. This was our first first timer.

 

 

Day 3, Nov., 9th,

Time for the dogs.

We found these, in our eyes, most fascinating animals close to camp.

The „Northern Pack“, 11 adults and 7 puppies. The puppies were already pretty grown and running wild. They were lying closed to the road and we watched them for a while.

We decided to leave them and come back in the afternoon for some „dog action“.

Other sightings: Zebra action, a recently killed Kudu, but no cats to be found, a herd of buffalos and the usual plains game and lots of birds

 

During the midday break it started to rain, but the rain stopped right in time for the action.

 

The afternoon drive was packed with dogs running wild. After the greeting ceremony they went of hunting.

During that they brought up a Bat-eared fox, who was running for dear life. Amazing what you see, when you follow those guys. Roan Antilope in the distance was another sighting.

They came across a dazzle of zebra. The Zebras started to chase and attack the dogs, which was also amazing.

In the end the dogs managed to take down an impala fowl and a fully grown Impala.

Useless to say, that there was no sundowner stop and we returned to camp for our drinks and food.

 

At this point some words about the camp. Lagoon Camp is a rustic camp, which we like. But we think it´s time for some kind of renovation of the tents. They seem to be a bit to run down. Unfunctional zippers and such things. Keep in mind: I only talk about renovation not renewing. Maybe just new canvas would do! But that´s nothing, to keep us not going there again!

 

 

Day 4, Nov., 10th,

We got up earlier as the previous days, as our belgian friends had an early flight to Kwara.

It was about time to change it, as we now were out on the first light of the day. But it seemed to us, that somebody forgot to open the animal´s cages, no one at home.

At least we found a giraffe in the early sunlight,which made for some nice photos.

Then we found a relaxed secretary bird on top of an acacia tree. We could approach the bird and I was able to take some shots.

On our way back to camp we drove right into a big herd of buffalos.

Battling giraffes was another first timer for us.

 

After brunch we had to say byebye to our belgian friends.

We decided to go on a boat cruise at midday. The sun was not shining so it was quite nice. Something different.

 

New guests arrived, and we were surprised to meet Pascal and Michel from France again, whom we met last year at Lebala. Both of them fabulous photographers.

 

In the afternoon we were accompanied by a nice english couple.

We saw the cheetahs again. They had managed to take down an Impala earlier and were now busy relaxing in the shadow. We met Thabo and Borman, who told us, that they would „take care“ of us in Lebala the next day

Besides that it was a quite afternoon.

At least we were able to get a nice sundowner on a pod with lots of hippos, both alive and dead.

On our way back we saw a Pel´s Fishing owl, another first timer.

Some spring hare and a genet were also spotted.

 

Day 5, Nov., 11th,

Time to leave Lagoon and go to Lebala.

We headed to Halfway Pan again for prisoner exchange.

On our way there we again enjoyed the battle of giraffes and met some buffalos.

Also the cheetahs passed by to wave bye bye.

 

Lebala action coming soon!

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madaboutcheetah

Excellent start, Wild Dogger ..... can't wait for more!

 

Can you please also summarize the weather during your trip at some stage. Much appreciated, Thanks in advance.

 

Regards

Hari

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Yes, good start Wild Dogger. I'm enjoying it.

 

 

Jan

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Alex The Lion

Great start to your trip......keep it rolling.

 

Any photos as of yet?

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Wild Dogger

@ sniktawk:

I am sorry, the report is about this year. 2004 was just a short introduction.

 

@ madaboutcheetah:

besides the first afternoon in Lagoon, where it was raining heavily and one midday rain, we had warm and sunny weather thru out our stay on the Kwando river. The wind was blowing sometimes very heavy, mainly during the midday break.

It was better than last year as we always had worn ponchos on our stay then.

@ Nxai Pan we had some thunderstorms every day, but most luckily only one drive was rainy, by the way the drive with the best sightings there.

 

Thomas

 

first few photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsfries/set...57622836529347/

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madaboutcheetah

Thomas, Thanks for the info ....... You had great weather and your photos are lovely -

 

Love the Carmine bee eaters, the sunset in page 2, Spencer and Hector in page 3 and just just about all of your pictures from Africa and India. I noticed that you've been to Rajasthan - hopefully you enjoyed that too!!! There and Kerala/Tamil Nadu are my favourite parts of our country.

 

Regards,

Hari

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Wild Dogger

This one is for pangolin

 

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Brilliant! You succeeded where I failed.

 

 

Jan

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Atravelynn

A delightful dozen! Simply outstanding shots!

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Thanks for the pangolin. Now I've seen it in two places. No wood there (at least not the mammal portion of the picture).

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Wild Dogger

Part II

 

Lebala action

 

Just forgot that a huge Black Mamba crossed our path on Nov., 9th, after the wild dog action. These snakes are really fast.

 

Thabo and Borman picked us up at Halfway Pan.

We shared the URI with ab american couple.

Thabo said, that they found a big male Leopard on their way. So we headed there looking for the cat.

Some nice bird action on our way: fighting egyptian geese.

Another Lebala vehicle was still with the leopard and we joined.

We drove into and over the mopane. Just in front of the cat we stuck. A piece of wood blocked us eye to eye to the leopard. Thabo tried hard moving back and forth, but we were definetly stuck.

Luckily the cat was disturbed by all the noise and movement and walked away. Thabo tried and tried. No way. So whe called the other car, which was following the cat in the meantime to push us.

They came and did what we were looking for. It helped a bit but Borman hstill had to make use of the machete and cut a big branch which was blocking the drive shaft. At least we were free again!

We managed to catch up the elusive cat. He was nonetheless quite relaxed but went from one shady place to another.

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We leave him alone and head to camp as the sun was already pretty high. A good start for our stay at Lebala.

At Lebala we were greeted by Hermina, BK and Nature, whom I did not recognise without his long dreadlocks. Later we also met Charles and Spencer again.

We were shown our nice, big „tents“, which we like very much. It´s not necessary to have this kind of accomodation but it is nice anyway.

At brunch I asked Thabo about the dog situation and he said, that recently there are 2 packs around: the „Southern Pack“, consisting of 6 adults and 7 pups, and the „Useless Pack“ of 6 adults. They call them useless because they don´t have puppies.

 

After siesta it was time for some Rock´n´roll.

We went south (I think it was south, the way into the marshes).

We saw a big African Fish Eagle. Useless to say that it flew away and I did not manage to get the BIF.

The first portion of the afternoon drive was dedicated to birding. My wife Claudia was anxious, she could miss some dog action. But first you have to find them.

We saw a black egret on his fishing attempt and again some Egyptian Geese.

Then we came to the big Carmine Bee Eater colony, something I always wanted to see and never managed in 5 years, so another first timer.

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It was nice to see all these colorful birds. Again I failed to take a good BIF.

A family of Ostriches were running around the plains and Dad did not seem to be happy with us around.

On the flood plains Red Lechwe were grasing. As we approach they ran away, good for some action shots.

And here they are:

African Wild Dogs, the „Useless Pack“.

We followed them into the dark and again missed our sundowner, (the only good reason, to miss one;))

At dinner I had a very nice chat with Nature, who is really a nice guy and good manager.

 

Day 6, Nov., 12th,

We headed south to see what we will see.

Dung beetles, Zebras and other plains game, the morning starts quite.

Then 2 radio calls. Thabo starts laughing:

„Guys, Spencer just called that he found 2 male lions, while camp just called and told me, that the wild dogs (the Southern Pack consisting of 6 adults and 7 puppies) made a kill right in camp. What shall we do?“ We decided to go to the dogs, maybe we could pick up some action, the lions won´t move. That´s the way safari works: sometimes you shake the bottle of ketchup and nothing comes out, but then all of a sudden everything pops out.

Thabo made the Michael Schumacher and speeded back to camp. We arrived right in time to witness a lot of puppy action. They fed on a fully grown Impala and we saw kites steeling some food from them.

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We watched it for more than an hour and headed south to look for the lions.

Cruising past elephants and other game, we reached the two male lions, to watch one of the most boring sights in africa: lions doing what lions do best: sleep!

So we headed back to camp after an amazing morning drive.

At camp a mechanic came and asked if we already had seen lots of snakes as there was one in a tree closed to the dining area. So we went to see that snake in the tree: it was a beautiful little green snake with big eyes. We were just some centimeters away from this snake not knowing what it was. At least we were just centimeters away from a most poisonous snake: a female boomslang!

At brunch we saw a beautiful African Paradise Flycatcher, which is nesting in camp.

 

So time came again for the afternoon drive.

For our disappointment we were once again stuck with 6 pax in the car. I think Nature realized our disappointment.

A couple of Polish people joined us.

I took the seat beside Thabo, which was the best photographic option.

Later Thabo told us, that the Polish couple didn´t want to join another party of 3 (with an disabled guy), in the car, with whom they already had to share vehicle @ Kwara. Needless to say, that the communication with those people was close to zero. Later the man told a story of him hunting buffalo in Uganda, which disappointed everybody.

We found the dogs again resting in the shadow. Their bellies were full, full, full. They did not look, that they should do some hunting later. So we left them alone.

Another snake: Egyptian Cobra.

We looked for the lions and they were still busy sleeping.

A nice herd of female Kudu and lots of birds were other sightings.

After sundowner (yes, sometimes you may also have one @ Kwando) we met something quite familiar:

the Southern Pack

Back in camp another chat with Nature and a discussion with Thabo about the 3 in a row situation at Kwando. He said, that he hopes that there will be some kind of change with the vehicles. Maybe a third row. I don´t know if that´s a serious background or just his wish. It is not easy for the guides to deal with that as they realize that clients are not too happy with that.

 

Day 7, Nov. 13th,

Another day, another drive, This one will go into history as the „rare animal“ drive.

Another meeting with the „Southern Pack“.

The dogs are very nervous, maybe they realize that there is another pack of dogs close by.

We follow them. On their hunt they chase an African Wild Cat. A big Civet is running for his life. We never saw this animal during daylight. Another First-timer.

The dogs kill a baby impala in the thickets which we can not witness. We only see the remainings of the poor animal. The puppies feed of it and the adults leave the food for them.

We go west as we want to see some male Kudu, who use to be there in the Mopane forest.

We get to see that imposant animal (luckily the man from Poland has no weapon B):( ).

Thabo starts laughing. At Python Pan: the „Useless Pack“ of Wild Dogs! The american lady asks Thabo:“Are you sure that this is an endangered species?“

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Driving further west we come to „Lebala Zoo“:

Giraffes, Zebra, Tsessebee, Impala, Warthog on one place, and here we are ladies and gentleman: a relaxed Roan Antilope! Another rare one!

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We are able to watch this big animal for some minutes and can get close enough for some pictures.

Thabo tells Borman, that we now only look for rare animals nothing else!

As we have to drop the Americans on the airstrip we drive back towards camp.

Another rare sighting: an Elephant without a trunk and tail, maybe lion attack maybe Namibian snare.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2719/417089...1ecb10d7e_m.jpg

On the airstrip another rare one: Wattled Crane, endangered bird.

We wave bye bye to the Americans and have a 4 pax car. I can´t resist asking Thabo, if we get some more people in the car in the afternoon, but he luckily denys.

At camp Thabo can not stop telling everybody about our rare animals drive.

 

The French group of Pascal and Michel also arrived at Lebala and I have a nice talk with Pascal.

 

The afternoon drive is a quite one. Maybe Thabo needed a break from rare animals so we visit the carmines again.

We see another nice herd of female Kudu with juveniles who look in one direction. So our Guide/Tracker system decides to see what they are alert of. It´s a hyena resting in the shadow on a termite mount

A puncture and we see Thabo sweating.

Driving around we are accompanied by a big herd of Elephants.

On a pan we see a very nice Yelowbilled Hornbill in Golden Light.

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Wow, and another sundowner :D . On a nice waterhole with more Wattled Cranes.

I can´t resist and ask Thabo for another first timer: I would like to see a Caracal. He just laughs.

We head back to camp. But you name it, you get it: a Caracal. Not good for photography but for memory!

 

That´s the end of a most remarkable safari day!

 

Day 8, Nov. 14th,

Our last half day at Lebala.

We go north to Halfway Pan for another prisoner exchange as Poland will leave us for Lagoon.

Giraffes and lots of Plains Game on our way there. It is a pity you have to go this way, when the wild dog action is south @ Lebala.

But the pan is really beautiful with all the water birds and hippos.

We meet Allison and BD again who bring a prisoner, sorry, guest, from Lagoon and we happily give them Poland.

On our way back south we see steenbuck and other stuff.

 

That was it of Northern Botswana, sad to leave.

 

After breakfast we pack our stuff, say bye bye to everybody.

 

We fly south to Nxai Pan, which is next.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Wild Dogger

Still day 8

 

After a quite long and bumpy flight during midday heat we arrive at Nxai Pan.

We were warmly greeted by our guide Theko and the tracker Kayzee (don´t know about the spelling).

The camp is in the National Park , so no offroading and night drives.

There is only one guide on duty at Nxai Pan and 6 guests. So it´s again 3 in a row. Even worse is that the vehicle here has a roof, so there is no „window seat“ for everybody.

The pilot also stays for one night.

The managers are Carlos and Gloria (I am not a 100% sure any more about her name).

Carlos takes the pilot on the afternoon game drive and we are stuck with 6. I sometimes do not understand the management in camp.

 

But nonetheless we go out and hope that it will not rain. But our hopes are not heard. The sky opens. We try to avoid the rain as good as possible and go on a different way than planned, which comes out to be a brillant idea.

Shortly after the rain takes a break, we find a Leopard with cub. The 2 were pretty relaxed and we were able to watch them for approx. 30 minutes. The cub is learning to stalk from mom. A fantastic sighting! Unfortunately the light was not very good for photography.

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We call Carlos and the pilot and they tell us that they´d found a cheetah with a cub and another 2 cheetahs. We find the 2 cheetahs far in the distance. Shortly before it is dark we also find the cheetah plus cub. . From the distance it looked as if the mom was busy hunting. But it was already pretty dark so we could not see properly.

By the way: no sundowner again (for another good reason! :P )

 

So we head back to camp enjoying fantastic african lightnings on our way.

The camp is really nice. There are no tents. You have your own small but spacious house overlooking a waterhole.

It is a real fantastic place, which deserves more guests. Especially when the sightings are as good as what we saw.

 

 

Day 9, Nov. 15th,

 

We get up earlier, as the plan is to go to Baines Baobab outside the National Park. The Australian couple wants to see them, but they are leaving early to Kwara.

So we have to hurry to get there. I don´t know, why they did not go with them the day before, as they´ve already been at Nxai Pan since 1 full day.

On our way there we see lots of Springbok, a nice Jackal, many Kori Bustards and Black Korhan.

A family of Ostriches block the road.

We have our coffee break at the baobab trees and enjoy the scenery.

On our way to camp we again see the Ostriches, but now they are cooperative and leave the road for us.

The afternoon looks again like it will be raining, but we are lucky.

First we see a nice Scrub Hare, who is really relaxed. An unspectacular but good sighting.

Again lots of Springbok, Kori Bustards, Black Korhan and some Oryx.

What we found out is that Nxai Pan is an excellent place for Bat-eared Foxes. We saw lots of small familys. Ok, they´ve all been too far away for good photography but through the binocs you got to see them.

We see an Elephant bull walking along the road.

So it´s time for sundowner :D .

We stop at a very unusual place for sundowner. No good place to mark territory :rolleyes: . The scenery is just flat.

But then we realize why Theko choose that particular place:

the Elephant we met before just crosses in front of us, making it an excellent possibility for sundowner photo. Theko knew exactly the path of this animal to the waterhole.

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Claudia asks Theko about the chance to see Python as she knows I always want to take a photo of snakes (she is absolutely afraid of snakes, but she is brave).

But you name it you get it:

on our way back to camp a big Python crawls over the road.

Unfortunately the lady of the other couple was absolutely phoebic about snakes. Unbelievable, they normally go on mobile safari every year and they have never seen a snake.

 

 

Day 10, Nov. 16th,

 

our last day in Botswana.

It´s a very quite drive. No Ketchup today!

But it´s again snakes:

Kayzee spotts a Black Mamba on the ground. The snake crawls up a tree in fantastic speed! Needless to say that the lady´s afraid again, but she is brave and just doesn´t look at the reptile.

We see a juvenile Saddlebilled Stork. They are really not that good looking when they´re young.

At midday we fly to Maun on another bumpy one.

At the airport we meet Pascal again. Africa´s so small!

We go to Jo-burg to civilization with Kruger National Park next!

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Wild Dogger

Day 11, Nov. 17th,

We leave Johannesburg at time and head East to Kruger National Park.

We take a nice scenic drive through Mpumalanga and go shopping in Hoedspruit.

We buy all essential needs to „survive“.

Our first camp is Satara Camp in the Central part of KNP.

Behind the National Park gate we already see some general game. Again lots of Giraffes.

As we arrive pretty late we decide not to go out for a drive and just relax at our hut. We buy some beer and enjoy our braai. Suns already down by 18.30h.

 

Day 12, Nov. 18th

Satara Camp, Kruger National Park

As it is further East as in Botswana sun gets up at 4.30h, so do we.

The weather is good so we take a nice loop and see lots of plains game. We really do not expect to see spectacular things as we don´t have a guide (Claudia´s being my driver/guide, I am sitting in the back, shooting like crazy and giving commands) and we have to stick to the road.

Many Antilopes like Bushbuck and Impala. Nothing special but big numbers.

The Satara area is known as the game-richest area of KNP and it seems to be true.

We take a nice coffee break at a picnic spot and are visited by a bushbuck plus foal.

We drive back to camp slowly and see a big Elephant bull. This one we should see often on our trip.

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Waterbucks are plenty and so are baboons.

 

Back in Camp, Claudia´s now my chef. I am having a good time :) !

Suddenly she says: „Hey, what´s these 2 colorful birds in the tree?“ It´s a pair of Hoopoes, I never was able to take photographs of before.

I jump up and run in the hut, crab my cam and shoot with 600m freehand, afraid the bird´s flying away soon, which they do. But I got my pics!

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I decide to keep my camera outside with me, which is a good idea. I can take some close up shots of a Yellow-billed Hornbill in front of our house

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and a nice Woodland Kingfisher´s in the trees.

 

At 15.30 we go out again.

There are lots of cars just outside the camp behind the bridge. They say there´s a Leopard somewhere in the trees. We can not see it and decide to come back later.

We see some Buffalos and our friend the Elephant Bull destroying a Palm Tree.

Lots of plains game again, a real good place!

On our way back we find a family of Baboons.

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Then there he is: the Leopard in the tree. He has killed an Impala and we can see the carcass hanging there in the fork of a tree, the leopard sitting a little bit higher. It is already very dark. But we can see the cat.

It´s time to get back to camp for braai and beer!

 

Day 13, Nov. 19th,

 

The beginning of a rainy Safari!

It´s raining, so we stay a little longer in bed. But that does not help, it still rains.

We get out to see what we will see. We go south.

It seems that a rainy Safari is not a bad Safari.

First animal we see is a White Rhino, the only one on our trip.

Next our friend the Elephant Bull.

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While it is still raining we go west on a loop.

The rain´s gone and we find 4 Hyaenas on a waterhole or dam. They are jumping around and play mating. Very nice interaction.

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Further north, a Tawney Eagle drys his feathers on top a tree.

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We take our coffee break and meet some people telling us that there were 4 male lions on a buffalo kill further east on S126, the way we wanted to go.

We get there. First we see one male walking along (no, sorry, first we see tons of cars) and then we see it:

The buffalo lies there just on side of the road and the other lions are busy feeding on him, one after the other. My driver/guide Claudia gets me in a good position for photographs. Good job, my dear.

It is already past 11.00, but due to the bad weather the lions are still active. Rain´s sometimes a good thing.

We watch the action for more than an hour. Watching the lions eat, makes us also hungry, so we go back to camp.

Close to camp we see an Bateleur Eagle, who is busy resting on a tree.

We take lunch in the Restaurant and are happy about our morning.

In the afternoon it starts raining again.

We decide just to go to the lions and see if they are still busy with the buffalo, what they are.

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Some vultures hang around waiting for their share.

We stay for about an hour and get back to Satara.

Unfortunately it is still raining, so no braai today, Spaghetti´s the chef´s choice of the day. And some more beers.

 

Day 14, Nov. 20th

 

Day 2 of a rainy Safari.

It´s is heavily raining. We stay once again longer in bed, and once again it does not help.

We check the lions and they are still there. Vultures also hang around. The carcass wandered from the left side to the right side of the road.

We watch for some time and decide to go north directly to Letaba Camp, which is our next stop.

We drive some loops. And then happens what has to happen. Just 1 km away from Olifants Camp we get stuck! Our Hyundai „whatever“ doesn´t manage to get up a hill. We change drivers and I back up and give full throttle. Yeah, we´re lucky and manage it to reach the top.

As we are booked in Olifants tomorrow we decide to ask if they have place for us this night already, but they don´t.

 

Coming next: more rainy Safari at KNP!

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Good stuff! I'm really enjoying this report!

 

 

Jan

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  • 5 years later...
Tom Kellie

post-49296-0-56595300-1432728003_thumb.jpg post-49296-0-81411000-1432728015_thumb.jpg post-49296-0-23277000-1432728027_thumb.jpg post-49296-0-63836000-1432728039_thumb.jpg

~ @@Wild Dogger

 

Your photographs during the 2009 safari are stunning!

Reading the trip report was enhanced by such intense hue, sharply focused images.

Your camera technique is far beyond anything that I've ever achieved.

Truly beautiful photos with much visual energy.

Many Thanks!

Tom K.

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Marks

Glad this got bumped, if for no other reason than to see that spectacular pangolin photo!

 

Great experiences with the wild dogs, as well. And the trunkless elephant is fascinating and heartbreaking.

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