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The Magic of the Kalahari; The 3 Amigos; Oryx everywhere; Electric thunderstorms and lots lots more


madaboutcheetah

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madaboutcheetah

Dear All,

 

Greetings from JNB where I have a longish wait for my flights due to delays.....

 

First of all thanks to Ewan and Sallie Masson for organizing a super trip through the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana. A totally adventurous trip that was completely different and a true once in a lifetime experience. I travelled along with Johan from Belgium and another friend (who doesn't read or write on forums so shall remain anonymous). Good times!!!

 

Many thanks to Johan for inviting me to join this mobile safari. If not, I doubt if I would have got this opportunity to experience the magic of this great thirstland......

 

Some highlights:

1.) Brown Hyena in crisp morning light

2.) 5 Aardwolfs together on sunday pan in the morning

3.) Leopard at the waterhole on sunday pan (sure, you see Leopards in many places - but, here is special i guess)

4.) The 3 amigos - truly wild lions that want to jump into the vehicles...... probably want to sniff out water and food too????

5.) Being caught in a truely magical thunderstorm (the magnitude of which was never experienced before by our guide Ewan who has over 20 years of experience). Morning after the storm, saw a black mamba fight a mongoose (yes, far away from the vehicle)

6.) The magical Kalahari black maned lions

7.) Just the magic of the small things - skies and stars, sunsets and sunrises, the great oryx and springbok herds of the thirstland etc etc.,

8.) Meerkats

9.) Lions around our tents at night as many as 3 different ocassions.

10.) Great company, great hosts, great food and service and truly wonderful adventures all around........

 

 

Regards

Hari

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Safaridude

Hari, can't wait to hear... as I am planning a visit to CKGR.

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madaboutcheetah

First off ........ I would like to mention the difference between a "lodge/tented camp" safari to a Mobile safari. They are both as different as apples and oranges. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect......... so, here are my thoughts on the subject.

 

In the mobile camp, the choice of the right operator is imperative as there are lots of logistical requirements, infrastructural requirements, a great guide/host who can provide you that once in a lifetime adventure....... By logistics, I refer to the transport of all food, drinks, equipment, fuel, emergency equipment etc etc., I think we found the right operator in the Massons who had planned everything immaculately. Supplies like food and water were replenished in the middle of our safari and all menus and catering were to our induvidual choices and thoroughly planned. The 3 camp staff were efficient, energetic, enthusiastic and just damn fantastic!!! In terms of food and wine, certainly very very good and varied compared to any of the permanent camps in Southern Africa (including the opulent ones in South Africa)

 

The biggest difference between a lodge and mobile safari to me came down to 2 things ........ The main difference was the "bathroom" infrastruture where we had an en-suite with chemical flush loos (port a john) and a wash stand. The bucket showers were also provided as and when needed. The bathroom was fine, although a bit difficult for me personally, given the length of the safari. The tents and mess tent were all good enough for me and you don't really need any opulence. Bucket showers were provided as and when requested and ample water supply for the duration of the safari was ensured. This was perfectly fine too......

 

The other difference is the animals at night around your tent - true adventure. You know that there is only a piece of canvas between you and the Lions. One night, I waited two hours before going to use the loo as there were lions in camp. Part of the adventure, for sure.

 

As I say, there is a difference and you'll need to determine for yourself if you are upto the adventure. One evening was a massive thunderstorm that we got caught in ....... lightning bolts, thunder everwhere, drenching rain over the bonnet etc etc., the tents were dry as was our camera equipment ........ we survived and so, we'll only have memories of this magical experience. Amidst driving through that rain, I made Ewan to slow down for a moment as we saw a Wet/miserable cheetah on the pan. We didn't stop ofcourse ........... but, we'll never forget that cheetah.

 

Good thing about a mobile - no indemnity forms to sign, walking to your tent on your own and most refreshingly, no song and dance after dinner.

 

Some packing tips for a mobile safari: No, this isn't about fashion and malarial pills as discussed over and over again on other forums.......... but, a couple of things that could come handy on a mobile.

1.) A pair of slippers or sandals will come in handy, even if you only wear shoes most of the time (I really missed this)

2.) A small mirror will come in handy at times.

3.) some extra clothes

4.) Try to overnight either in Maun or JNB before flying home (just to use a real shower and freshen up - if you are proceeding to a lodge/tented camp after the mobile - ignore this hint). Alternatively, you can always use airport lounges to shower etc etc., so no real need to spend an extra day if you have enough time in transit at JNB.

 

The Kalahari itself, truly magical .......... not for people who want "predators on a plate" ........ but, certainly magical if you appreciate it for all the right reasons... i.e., desert animals, the magic of water, the skies and stars, landscapes and just the magic of the deception valley.

 

Too bad that I missed Safaritalker Pangolin - but, I sent a message through the WS guide to say our hellos.

 

We bumped into Hector-the Kwando guide and was nice to catch up- when we drove around Tau Pan.

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Pangolin

Sorry we missed you Hari. I got the message. I'll get around to the CKGR portion of my trip report one of these days.

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madaboutcheetah

Hi Pangolin,

 

Thanks for your note. Yes, we bumped into William guiding those Indian gentlemen.

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madaboutcheetah

Having spent two weeks in the Kalahari, we were able to observe the differences on a day to day basis. When we first got there, we had a carpet of green all over the deception valley with thousands of oryx and springbok all over. Isolated thunderstorms were the order of the day. Soon, the great thirstland saw the harshness of the land - with blue skies, howling winds and just straw and dust....... soon, the oryx and springbok started to disappear into the acacia islands. A couple of days ago, the great storm brought instant life to the Kalahari and hopefully some water to survive as I doubt there will be too much rain in the coming days. Pockets of wildebeest herds here and there in the Deception valley. Owens camp area always seemed to have a nice herd of Oryx.

 

Other sightings of note:

 

1.) two cheetah brothers at Passarge valley twice - skittish

2.) a male cheetah and another female cheetah in deception valley

3.) Many Lions, including incredible black maned Kalahari Lions, cubs too.......

4.) Martial Eagle with a Korhaan carcass

5.) Kudus on Tau Pan and once somewhere else (maybe Letiahau?)

6.) Journey of 28 giraffe at Letiahau

7.) A collared male Lion at Passarge. He was in camp and noisy all night long - then was skittish when we got to see him on game drive. Unless, the visitor was someone else???? who knows.......

8.) Several sightings of bat eared foxes; Honey Badgers with the accompanying Pale chanting goshawks

9.) A skittish Cape Fox

10.) The music of the Jackals singing every evening.

 

Besides all of this, learning from/and chatting with Ewan Masson who was a wealth of information and knowledge was easily everything and more that we could ask for. A super trip all around........

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Pangolin

Hari-

 

You saw some of the same giraffe we did. We first saw a herd of 11 then a herd of 24. On the way back, the herd of 24 had grown to a herd of ......(that's a secret until I get to my report). Let's just say it was a lot for now.

 

Sounds like you had a great trip. I definitely want to go back to the CKGR.

 

(Evidently those Indian gentlemen (actually Canadians) were a bit of a pain).

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madaboutcheetah

Pangolin,

 

Sorry to hear that - Johan and I had a great time chatting with them ........ I think both of us will hear from them soon.

 

Not sure about the same giraffe. We saw them only a couple of days ago - so long after your sighting for sure. They could very well be the same ....... who knows!!!

 

Btw, our campsite at deception valley was only a couple of minutes from the Owens campsite. So, right in the thick of things..........

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madaboutcheetah

 

 

The Massons mobiles also runs with a back-up vehicle with the staff that carries the tents and provisions/water etc etc., as you say - the tents are set up when you are out on game drive.

 

I think we had Leopard in camp too one night - but, only found the tracks the next morning.

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Going Africa Safaris

Having visited CKGR for some years after each other and sometimes 2 times a year our longest stay was 7 nights from Khutse to the North in some weeks I will be visiting CKGR again for a shorter stay.

 

We will camp at Sunday Pan nr 4 and hearing the great spots there makes me longing even more. I realize animals will not wait for me.

 

Thanks for sharing your info and I only could wish to see the Aardwolf again. :D

 

But with a lot of lions, a big pack of Wild dogs, cheetahs and leopards and lions in camp, CKGR did give us so much already. :)

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Atravelynn

I thought the 3 Amigos might have included you and a couple of friends. I'm not surprised you'd convince the mobile to slow down for a moment for the wet cheetah. Hope that two hour wait for the loo was not too uncomfortable. Welcome back from your exciting adventure!

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egilio

Can´t wait for pictures!

And just compare giraffe pictures to see if you both have seen the same group.

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pault

I'm looking forward to hearing more about your trip. Sounds wonderful. I suggest you refer to the anonymous person as "Bob" to make it easy to write - unless his/her name was Bob, of course. Your first post had me very concerned that you hadn't seen cheetahs, but not the case.

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Looking forward to your trip report Hari!

I'm off to CKGR in about a week - my third visit to the area. I experienced a huge thunderstorm there last January and I've never seen anything like it before, not only the strength of the storm itself but the amount of water that fell in such a short time. I've done both mobile and lodge and enjoy both although we made a mistake with our first mobile in not having enough time to cover the distances between camps which did cut down our game drives and options to stop.

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks for all the kind comments.

 

LynneB,

 

It's quite dry at the moment - I don't think you'll experience too much rain by the time you get there. Any specific questions? Are you in one of the lodges or on a mobile?

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Hari,

 

Thanks a lot for this report, really exciting to hear about CKGR and also get a picture of what a mobile really means. I was actually watching a nature-documentary from CKGR last night, and the landscape was absolutely breathtaking (in green season), so after seeing that and reading your report it is on my shortlist for next safari. Whenever that happy day comes ;-)

 

They stayed at Grassland lodge and also had a discussion about lion and the human-lion conflict, really interesting even though it´s sad seeing the magnificient kalahari lions in enclosed areas.

 

The choice of guides must be really important on a mobile, you really need someone with lots of experience and knowledge since they don´t go the same places everyday. Did you game-drive all day, or is it about the same schedule as in the camps?

 

Well, thanks Hari, looking forward to your pictures and report from Kwara.

 

best regards,

Tom

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madaboutcheetah

Hi Tom,

 

Ewan Masson has been guiding in the Central Kalahari and the rest of Botswana for that matter, for a long long time ........ I could not hope for anything more. Ofcourse, Johan has been on safari with him twice before this already.

 

In the Kalahari, because of the extreme temperatures the animals go to rest in the shade and in the middle of the acacia islands very soon. Some days as early as 8 30AM when they predict it to be a really hot one. We'd normally return back to camp around 11ish. Since we took it nice and slow, there really was no need to rush around. Some days, there really wasn't any point in going out too early in the afternoon as the animals are still resting in the shade. We'd head out at 3Pm on some days. Some days as late as 5PM if we didn't want to drive too far.

 

If you are picking a mobile operator, do your research thoroughly. Some operators(for example., BushWays) offer participatory mobiles (where you need to help pitch your own tents, cook etc etc.,), Ofcourse, there are several operators that offer full service mobile safaris like the Massons. Various operators offer various levels of luxury, from what I hear.

 

Another good thing about a reputed mobile operator - you can easily book direct. No need to fuss about with travel agents.

 

Sorry, I know nothing about Grassland lodge. Won't be keen on visiting it at any point.

It's not even inside the CKGR. If you wish to visit one of the lodges, best that you stick to either Tau Pan or Kalahari Plains camp. Either one of the two.

 

CKGR is best visited in the green season.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Regards,

Hari

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Nick Wright

Sounds like the trip went well - looking forward to the photos.

 

All the best

 

Nick

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Game Warden

Indeed, welcome back: I guess you have a few full memory cards of images to sort through?

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks, Nick. Lovely to have met the both of you at the airports. Shall PM email details to you ASAP.

 

GW. Thanks ....... You won't believe this! I still can't figure out why I'm not able to upload pics from my laptop to the ST gallery. What am I doing wrong? Shall sort out pics when I settle in........

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Hi Hari,

Great report and very descriptive. I'm amazed that there were 1000's of gemsbok and springbok at Deception Valley, great timing. My trips to Deception Valley have been in winter when the numbers are substantially less. I have always worried about the muddy conditions during March (which is noted for being best time to visit), but after reading your report I think I must reconsider in the future. Once you have experienced lions in the camp at night roaring, it's an experience never to be forgotten.

Cheers,

Gene

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madaboutcheetah

Hi Gene,

 

After the massive storm on sunday evening, certain sections like Letiahou was really boggy as you describe it as it was hardest hit by the storm. I think we were lucky with our timing in that, a couple weeks prior may have been boggy road conditions. That area around Deception pan could not be gotten to on Monday - yet, we had several drives on some prior days, including a sighting of sleeping lionesses there.

 

Regards

Hari

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twaffle

Hari, sounds like a great trip again for but agree with Russell, I'm ready for photos as well! :D

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madaboutcheetah

I'll sort some of them in the next few days. Can any of you please tell me what I'm doing wrong? I can't seem to upload them onto the trip report?

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