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Pangolin Retrospective - Part 4


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A mere 2 years and 3 months after our 2001 journey through Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, we were ready for our first "green" season safari to Botswana (after 5 years between the previous two safaris). In addition to going in the low season, this was the first safari undertaken by just the Pangolin's, with no family or friends along. This would also be our first safari without a major overland component; we flew into four camps in northern Botswana, staying 4 nights at each one. The camps included Vumbura, Tubu Tree, Kings Pool, and Chitabe. On to Safari No. 4.




We landed at Vumbura International the afternoon of December 31, 2003, where we saw this sign for the first time.


It was still there in September 2006, but that's another retrospective.


We arrived at camp just in time for our afternoon game drive. Vumbura had not yet been upgraded to its current splendor, and was quite nice. There was a mix of wooden walkways and dirt paths, and it seems to me that the walkways were raised just enough to keep us out of swampy areas when water levels were high.



This one leads to the mokoro area, but water levels were too low for such things.



Accommodations were comfortable but not over-the-top. I remember the dirt paths because we had to wait for a mamba crossing on one.


The highlight of our first game drive was a female leopard that we first spotted sitting quite awkwardly in a tree



The real highlight though was being the only vehicle interested in staying with her for almost 90 minutes while she got down and stalked some baby wildebeest. There were times when we knew exactly where she was, yet could not see her. After being very patient for a long time, she made her move too soon, and everyone escaped to be dinner another day.


Being New Year's Eve, I remember little else that day, except that I had a great time.


We also saw some cheetahs a couple of times during our stay



And enjoyed watching the small resident lion pride play a little soccer with a terrapin


The terrapin eventually crawled away none the worse for wear.



A good reason to get on the water every now and then:



The rainy season does make for some nice sunsets:



Next stop: Tubu Tree.

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Tubu Tree


Tubu Tree is located on Hunda Island in NG 25. It was very new in January 2004. In 2001, before the camp was built, we had boated over to the island from Kwetsani for a game drive and walk. We met up again with our guide Grant for our stay at Tubu Tree.


There are some decks and raised wooden walkways.




I greatly enjoyed driving over the areas that we boated across when water levels were higher. Again, NG 25 displayed its beauty.



Camp #2, leopard #2




This is definitely one of my all time favorite lion shots



We had plenty of good sightings while at Tubu Tree, including honey badger, a lone hippo a long way from water (that looked like he had recently lost a battle), a mongoose that wanted to get from one bush to another but had to cross about 30 meters of open plain that just happened to be full of lions, a large herd of buffalo that we saw immediately upon taking off, etc., but it is time to move on to Kings Pool. We said good-bye again to Grant, but we'd see him again in 2006.

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Kings Pool


Yes, Kings Pool is one of those fancy schmancy WS camps, but I didn’t know just how fancy back then. The accommodations are a bit much



But the setting is nice



This is another camp where the walkways are raised just a little. I definitely didn’t mind that one morning when I stumbled into a hippo in the dark on my way to breakfast. I patiently waited until a guide came along, and then we all patiently waited until the hippo moved to one side of a small tree and we made our break to the common area via the other side of the tree. Neither the tree nor the walkway would have offered much resistance if the hippo got grumpy.


Not quite like the song “Dog and Butterfly”, but almost



We had a good cheetah sighting


(I think it’s a boy)




The 3rd and 4th days at KP were amazing. First, the dogs came, followed by hyenas



The dogs took off for a hunt



During which we lost them in the bush. When we found them, the hunt was over and the hyenas were gone. Time to relax



Not quite so relaxed was an interested observer




We also were fortunate enough to witness a lone dog get separated from the pack



And the joyous reunion that followed



After two days of almost non-stop dog action, it was time to move to Chitabe.

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Not as luxurious as Kings Pool, but that was just fine with me. There is wood involved, however.





Just to keep the one leopard per camp streak alive, we spotted this on the drive from the airstrip to camp


This particular leopard wanted no part of close company, so we kept our distance. We saw it again up in a tree during a night drive.


A highlight of our stay at Chitabe was a pre-arranged visit to Tiko Mcnutt’s research camp. Dr. McNutt was not in camp, but he did fly over that day to give his staff a general idea of where some dogs were. We were able to accompany one of the students on a radio-tracking mission to locate a pack, which we eventually did, and then we observed the pack for a couple of hours until every individual was identified by its coat pattern.




The final highlight of our trip was on our last morning game drive when we spotted a family of cheetahs



Mom decided it was only fitting to leave us with a lasting memory



So ends the 2003-04 green season fly in safari. Next up (and the final retrospective) will be the Great Wilderness Journey of August-September 2006.


After that, it will be time to get PRO-spective.

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Exciting times at Vumbura, Tubu Tree, Kings Pool, and Chitabe! Such a large pack of dogs.

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That cheetah really looks as if he is staring right at you!

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Thanks for another interesting peek into the past. I love your favourite lion photo, it's a beauty. Great dog action, I'm quite envious.

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Thanks all. The past is getting closer to the present.


The cheetah moment was pretty jaw-dropping. Especially as a farewell gesture.


I love that lion photo because of the cub in the middle. Moments afterwards, one of the cubs crawled under our vehicle, which provided a few anxious moments.


Another special, without photos, was the drive to and from the dog research camp. It was about 2 hours each way, during which we got charged by 3 elephants, saw our first ever bat eared foxes, and were told to move along by a herd of about 200 buffalo.

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I love the report and photos, Pangolin. Get your pencil sharpened, and your camera always at the ready for


your next trip in Feb/March.




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Thanks all. The past is getting closer to the present.

That sounds like time machine talk or wisdom just beyond my comprehension.


The cheetah moment was pretty jaw-dropping. Especially as a farewell gesture.

But in your case, a see you next time gesture!

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The raised (slightly) wooden walkways of Kings Pool are now available in relatively high definition on Google.....


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