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Botzwana, Namibia & Zambia late April 2010


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General itinerary

April 15, connection through Atlanta, GA to Jo'burg, over night Jo'burg.

April 17, Jo'burg to Maun, Botswana thru to Xakanaxa airstrip.

17th - 18th, Xakanaxa 2 nites

19th - 20th, Kwara 2 nites

21st - 22nd, Lebala 2 nites

23rd - 24th Impalila- Impalila Island, Namibia 2 nites

25th, 26th & 27th Stanley Safari Lodge- Zambia side of Vic. Falls

28th connection back to Jo'burg- late flight to the US


Approaching the landing strip our excitement of being back in Africa after 30 some hours of travel was peaking.

Traveling with my wife Mrs. "T" and myself are two distinguished women Mary & Mary, one of them we've had the pleasure of her presence on two other trips to Africa in 05 & 07.


Current weather: mostly sunny, 27 C (80F) & no wind.

After landing and a short introduction, Ollie from camp announced he will be our guide for the next three days.



Returning to camp we're greeted by staff, Leddy the manager and Nini Baxter-Burre; after enjoying a refreshing juice drink and wiping the travel from our faces with a cool wash cloth, we're shown to our tents. We had enough time to settle in with our bags and charge a battery or two. Heading back to the main lodge to have tea-(cocktails in my case) and head out on our first game drive (3:30) or so.



This is our second time to Botswana and first to this camp, don't know the area in detail before now but Xakanaxa is in the north eastern part of the Moremi game reserve, being in the park means no off road tracking or night drives.




It didn't take long before the first LB roller, Blacksmith plover, a ground squirrel, small numbers of impalas etc. were spotted. We were going through the woodlands now with the afternoon shadows getting longer when we spotted a pair of Kudu and further ahead we got our first glimpse of an ellie. When we were closer to the first elephant, Ollie stopped so we could watch her approach the road in front of us. There was little wind so from the sounds coming at us, we knew the rest of the herd was behind her.



Notice the injury to the ellie's trunk


Continuing to follow the elephants from the road Ollie stop abruptly, what is it? there they were, the wild dogs resting a short distance from the road. There were ten of them, two with collars, one with a collar had open sores on the side of his muzzle (mange we thought). We sat there for some 30 minutes watching the interaction of the dogs when they started to show more life with each other and were all on their feet.





After another 5 minutes of the dogs socializing they were off into the woodlands, the hunt was on. For us that meant trying to follow them using road only. For the next 30 minutes we had glimpses of a dog here, a dog there, we came upon one within 50 meters of the road perched front legs up on a mound, he was also waiting for chirps of the packs location and then another dog followed him. I got one more glimpse of the two dogs going in one direction a 100 meters in front of us. When we got to where I had them marked, now with little light remaining. We found them again, not by site but by the noise they made dismembering the last of an impala!

Here we were the dogs all to ourselves!

Wasn't much with the waning light for picture taking and we missed a "sun downer" but we couldn't have asked for a better first day!






Returning to camp after dusk were informed someone had to accompany us to our tent as there are no fences around camp. Ollie returned in a half hour for us to return to the main camp area. Being in the "Ostrich" tent we were about 70 meters from the main area. Ollie stop us and turned with a whisper as he put his flash light to the ground "it's an African Python" (not that the snake would hear him but not to scare us) as the 2 meter Python crossed the small path in front of us.


Having diner and meeting different groups/couples in camp it was apparent we would meet again at different camps in the coming days which was nice so we could catch up on everyone's encounters.


Sat. April 17th

Weather: partly cloudy/ to mostly sunny later morning, warmer 29C (85F) little wind.





Being the second day, there were still a lot of 1sts - Bushbuck, Black Crake, Fish Eagle, Helmeted Guinea fowl, Waterbuck, the Hornbills, Hammerkop. A Perl's fishing owl was a total first for us, that was special!

Then we heard the radio, the Xakanaxa pride was spotted. It was nice to see the lions even if they were doing the 20 something sleep routine. There were a total of ten including the younger males, lying on top of one another like a train wreck, with no sign of the pride males. The only action were three male impalas snorting at the lions location as if the lions cared.







The afternoon brought us back to the lions, that hadn't moved since morning where we saw them earlier. We were the first vehicle there which was a plus in away, they awoke and one by one moved into a tree line out of sight until late. Returning to camp we crossed the dogs on the move but were told we had to be back, bummer!

Second evening missing "sun downers" something must being going right!



Sun. April 18th

Weather: Heavy rains over night with the look of morning rains to follow, cooler 24C (75F)


After leaving camp, shortly on the road we spot leopard tracks on the road it had moved into an area of 5 sq. km. With several vehicles with the knowledge of the tracks we surrounded the area for the next hour or so without any luck. It had started to raining again looking for the leopard so everyone was covered up (the vehicle had a roof which was some help) but things were getting damp.

Then the lions were spotted again; without knowing what was said on the radio, we headed in the direction of the lions. We could see several vehicles already there but couldn't see the lions, yet (it had stopped raining about this time). What a surprise, the pride had taken down a full grown giraffe in the night/early morning. Most likely using the rain storm to their advantage.

The people over at earth-touch mentioned the giraffe kill but being out of camp didn't have the knowledge that one of the pride males fed with the pride. With the overcast skies, the light was flat but it didn't stop us from some wonderful pictures of the wet lions feeding. There were seven lions still feeding as some of the lionesses rested and the pride male walked away and disappeared 40 meters away in the taller grass.






Back to camp as we had to eat, pack and catch our water transfer through the canal to Kwara at about 1:00.


If I was to rate the service, staff, food etc. they were all above average including our luck with most importantly the animal sightings, guide and vehicle.

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Great start to the trip, Tracker ........ look forward to the rest!

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Great start to the trip, Tracker ........ look forward to the rest!


Thanks madaboutcheetah,

It took me a few tries with the pics but with practice I'll get it to work!

I fined making a trip report, you get to live the trip all over again & again.


Work in progress,


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Pete & S. H. (Sherlock Holmes) from Kwara pick us up at the water front of Xakanaxa at 1:30.

The boat ride through the channels to Kwara, took us about 1 1/2 hours including stops for several birds etc.




This camp was also a first for us and being there in the green season was also something we hadn't experienced before. More on this in the days to come!


Afternoon weather: Mostly sunny 29C (85F)


After reaching Kwara's boat landing the six of us (Nini & Jason from Xakanaxa) jumped in to the vehicle and set off for camp. Less than a km down the road SH asked if we wanted to follow the leopard tracks that crossed the road.

We immediately left the road in pursuit of the leopard , no more than 200 meters from the road we got our first glimpse of a female leopard. Pete mentioned that she was a regular and was around 10-12 years old.




She was slowly moving through the tall grass and attempted to get herself into heavier cover to avoid us.

A troop of baboons a 1/4 km distance away were barking their alarm calls which was hard to believe. We were having a difficult time picking her out in the grass.





We finally arrived at camp, we're met by the staff etc. and shown to our tents, this was a little confusing as we were told three different tents and finally brought to #4. Janet & Thuso were the managers here.




Starting off, after afternoon tea (4:00) with our guide Disho and our tracker Thennis mentioned a hippo carcass that they believed died from an injury from another bull hippo. We checked it out and found two lionesses at the carcass. Watching one work on a leg the other resting. The hippo got to be "Let's see what's at the Hippo stop" coming and going on drives the next two days.




Later we saw a small herd of 5-6 Tsessebe but all in all it was pretty quiet. Good time for "sun downers" and watching the thunderhead clouds build, backlit by the sun.





On the way back to camp we had a glimpse of a Serval and the two lions were still at the hippo trying to keep two large flat dogs from the hippo (no pic, sorry).




Mon. April 19th

Through out the night we had a very animated thunder storm with heavy rains. The hippos in the pan in front of camp were also very loud only to be interrupted by an occasional elephant. We didn't sleep very sound, but you couldn't mistake that this was Africa.


6:00 Wake -up greeting, current weather: Threatening clouds, light wind 21C (70F)


Between Kwara and Little Kwara two Hyenas crossed in front of us on our way out.




This was a good morning for a lot of general sightings, southern ground hornbills, kudu, zebras, pair of jackals, a tower of giraffes, more impalas and a single blue wildebeest.




We then ran into the two lionesses from yesterday but today they were with one of the seven male lion brothers. Disho said the brothers were seven years old; we would later in the morning see another one of the brothers by himself.




Back at camp, after everyone had eaten and the staff was finished in the kitchen. I was next door in the office (the only place with continuous power) to back up files/charge batteries etc. The monkeys and baboons were trying to get in through the office door a few feet from where I sat. This is one of the pictures I took of the innocent looking fellow.




Back out after 4:00 the leopard was at the hippo which I thought was unusual, she must have been one hungry leopard.




The afternoon brought us warthogs, a nice herd of Red Lechwe and a Reedbuck. We eventually went by a pan with a bloat of hippos, the bull hippo showed us his dominance, which made for quite a mug shot. The three lions from earlier in the day were on the move but got into heavy woodlands where it was impossible to follow.




On the way in, another pass by the hippo carcass, it was a hyena's turn!




Back at camp, after dinner we just relaxed with our favorite spirits and chatted with several couples about the day's sightings.


Tues. April 20th

Weather: Mostly sunny, breezy 26C (78F)


This morning it was just Mrs. "T" and myself as the two Mary's went out in a mokoro.

We ran into a very aggressive bull elephant which made Mrs. "T" very nerves, compounded by Disho having the URI turned off!

The most memorable thing was our first Cheetah, even though it was very skittish and was gone in no time.




Heading back to camp our thoughts were on getting things together for our bush flight to Lebala at 11:00.


My thoughts on Kwara were everything was adequate, a little unorganized, the staff had seemed to have lost their passion to serve, especially the kitchen staff. The food at times was very limited and actually during the evening meals the lighting was so poor that a staff person had to hold a flashlight and the lid to each pot so you could see what you were about to eat (not very appetizing).

To me, the food is the last thing I'm there for, but to some it is important.

Again Disho & Thennis (guide and tracker) were great and no problems with our URI



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Very lucky with that female Leopard, Tracker. She is more or less 7 years old. She was successful in raising a female cub born in 2006. Between 2006 and 2008 those 2 put on a show for all visitors.



Look forward to Lebala. Btw, do they have brunch menus now at Lebala and Kwara?

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Tracker, I am enjoying your report a lot and it appears that you had some great sightings. I love the eagle photo and the (live) hippo's head. Doesn't seem to matter what the season, the wildlife always offer something for us. ;)

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Tracker, thanks for your report! Really enjoying it and like the format with lots of photos! I think the leopard with the dead hippo is really interesting, you can really see how big those hippos are!


I´m suprised to hear that you found Kwara a little unorganized and without passion with Thuso & Janet as managers. They did an excellent job last time I visited. There seems to be quite a bit of new faces among the guides.


Looking forward to hearing and seeing from Lebala!




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Exciting report, great photos, I love the Eagle too it is one of my favorite birds. The photo of the live hippo looks a bit like a huge blown up photo of a toad!!! Maybe they are related!

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Thanks for the correct information regarding the leopard's age. No mention of the cub you speak about or the possibility of her mating again.

The knowledge I had from ST, Earth-Touch and the like, is a plus when you're in camps. You are able to keep up with the prides, the dog packs, leopards etc. beforehand so you're in the loop with the guides.

I know all camps have schedules with the kitchen staff and all but food on my list is toward the bottom. I actually missed a couple of brunches so to get done the things I needed between drives. One morning we had box lunches to stay out as long as we could and still make our bush flight.



This being the first time green season visit I had pictured a more difficult time seeing everything. I will say the quantity of game isn't the same but we were pleasantly surprise with what we did see.




It really wasn't Janet or Thuso I commented about it was the kitchen staff who seamed to have an edge.

If I thought I was going to be bitten by something, the kitchen staff comes to mind.

Actually Janet let me have the run of the office area when I needed it, so they were very cooperative.





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Great report!


Glad you had a good time in the green season. It has definitely become my favorite time to visit Botswana.

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Welcome back! I'm up to the lions on the giraffe. Quite the meal for them. Great shots of this rather unusual sighting.

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I'm still frantically going through my field guides and some how I can't find a Toadapotamus!




Pangolion & Atravelynn,,

Thank you for your comments, hopefully I'm able to put our experience into words and pictures that everyone will enjoy!

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Tues. April 20th afternoon


Our flight from Kwara to Lebala left pretty much on time and was about a 30 minute flight. This is the one camp we've been to in 07 in Sept. Sense than there have been several changes and the landing strip is one of them being new. On our final approach our landing had to be aborted as there were two kudu running across the strip, Oh well try it again!




Tahbo & Julius were there to gather are things and head to camp which I think took us about 20-30 minutes.

We did stop and watch a large family of elephants on the way as there were some very young calf's (3 months old) amongst them.


Once at camp there were a lot of thing that were the same (lounge/bar area, covered dining area) and some changes ( fire pit/ seating area was raised now ). I can't remember if the small pool was there or not, I'll probably have a difficult time remembering the next time too because I haven't used it either time.

We were shown to our tents, we were in #5. I say tents because in 07 thy were tents, now I'm not sure I can call them tents (hopefully I can find a before pic. to show everyone the difference that don't know)!

We had the better of 4 hours before we were to go out on the first drive. So I took care of the important stuff with the cameras, backing things up and the batteries etc.


Checking out the hide that has a roof over it, appears to be a great place for a nap or maybe a cocktail than a nap, not much else going on out there.



2007 tents


2010 safari chalets (?)


Nicki and Charles are the managers there and Nicki was there when we arrived. Charles went to Lagoon to pick up the couple we originally met at Xakanaxa (Nini & Jason) to bring them back to Lebala. We found out with Nicki managing, Charles was going to be our guide, this was good news as Charles guided us back in 07 and Julius to be our tracker.


3:30 Current Weather: Warm, 33C (91F) with threatening clouds approaching, little wind.


Talking with Charles at tea he said the three cheetah brothers were up near Lagoon and had killed in the last day, so they should be easy to find. He said that it was a good hour drive so we would have to pretty much go straight there to have any sun left.


On the way we had to stop and get rain gear on as the storm had caught up to us (these vehicles don't have tops). It rained on us for 15-20 minutes but stopped again before we got up to where the cheetahs were.




It appeared Charles drove right to them, the three of them were under a small bush looking pretty full (these were some FAT cats). One by one they were on their feet headed to a small water hole.







We were losing our light as they move to a dead fall tree, all three of them sent marked the standing tree and made one final poss.





We stopped for "sundowners" and continued the lengthy drive back to camp now under Julius's ( the tracker's)







Trip reporting is slowing down but wanted to post my progress.

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Good to know that Nicki and Charles are still the managers at Lebala. They really do make a difference - and how lucky that you had Charles guide you! That's the kind of guiding standards that Kwando is reputed to set for themselves. Anything less, is not Kwando class!!!

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Fat cats is right! Lovely cheetah shots, drinking water, etc. The leopard on the hippo is even more unusual than the giraffe the lions were feeding upon.

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Love the "mirrored" head-to-head cheetah pic!

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Thanks, everyone again for the comments and input!



Even though I've only been with Charles a couple of times, he is one of those people you can ask about family, and what's going on in his life as if he was a distant brother. Than add in his great knowledge of the land and bingo you have a very special guide.



I asked Disho about how unusual the leopard was, feeding on the carcass of the hippo and he created a word for it "scarvation"!



I must get back to trip reporting,


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Last day and 1/2 at Lebala........


Wed. April 21st


Weather: Mostly clear, no wind, 24C (75F).


A good spotting of a fish eagle started the day off and then our first ostriches. The antics of a jackal, a grazing herd of wildebeests with a few giraffes and a large flock of little cattle egrets.






Passing by the airstrip there were a couple of hyenas lying on the runway. We then ran into a male leopard doing very little at this time of day so we left him alone.

I posted this next pic. of the birds which I believe to be White-browed Sparrow Weavers; if anybody could verify that, it would be appreciated.




We stopped by a pan with a large bloat of hippos, with the large bull again showing us his dominant dentures. There also was a Malachite Kingfisher that lit in front us long enough for a couple of snaps. Here is where a little luck was involved; we couldn't see it with the naked eye, but the camera caught it perfectly. The Malachite was after the frog on the limb in front of him.





Heading back to camp we passed the elephants again and a cooperative hornbill.




The afternoon brought us a couple of reedbucks, three kudu that ran through the area to a termite mound for a better vantage point. Charles thought there could be a predator around or something that had their attention.




We continued watching a small family herd of elephants with two younger calves, which appeared to be very nervous of our presence and protective of the calves. They appeared to move on behind larger bushes out of sight for a moment then both of the cows came charging through the bush with their mock charges, both trumpeting. If it wasn't a mock charge we would have been lunch, it was that close!





Watching the Lechwe from one side of a pan there was a single wild dog coming at us on the run. Charles sped up to meet the dog but by then the dog had cut back into the woodlands and was gone. We circled around with no sight of the dog then we went back around and stopped for a while, waiting. Another single dog appeared which was heading somewhat in the direction of the first and then stopped on a mound. We ran into another vehicle from Selinda who said they had just seen a single dog, too. At the same time we were losing light, we got a third glimpse of a dog from a different direction and lost sight of him.

Our luck, and the light was running out, good time for "sun downers"!




On the way in, not far from camp, we had leopard tracks on the road. After 10 minutes following the tracks, there still in the road, stood the leopard.




It was the male we saw earlier in the day, we followed him until we came to a couple of trees we thought were perfect leopard trees but he just scent marked the first and continued by the second; this is when everyone agreed to give up chase.



The perfect leopard tree was for not!


Back at camp gathering for dinner there was a larger group of people (I believe there were six of them) now in camp as we sat for dinner. As everyone ate and finished eating, we gathered around the fire pit. With coffee/ drinks in hand we continued introducing each other to one another. The names I remember were John Mynhardt, his brother Louis and Sue Smart, Sue being the closest to us, this was all the top brass of Kwando!

From the discussion with Sue, it was apparent they were going from one Kwando camp to another with the intent later in the year of upgrading Kwara and Lagoon camps. Sue said they wanted to keep each camp distinctively different, John (the owner) would like to keep them more rustic but it is pressure from the government to make them more up-scale (see how this develops in the months to come).



Thursday April 22nd

Morning weather: Partly cloudy, breezy, 20C (68F)


This morning was to be a full drive as our flight was to be 2:00 in the afternoon.

We had some good general sighting this morning with Ostriches, nice herd of Lechwe and mating pair of Kudu.





Some of the other things we ran into were a Monitor lizard and a Leopard, tortoise that is, Tawny eagle, wildebeest herd and a Yellow-billed stork.





Pic> Lizard, tortoise, Tawny eagle and stork.


It was about 9:30am when Charles mentioned a plane landing at the strip and thought we should see who it was for. Reaching the strip and the plane the pilot was there to pick us up! With the mix up, the pilot came with us back to camp, where we had to grab our bags and a bag lunch so to leave on the bush plane to Kasane.


Lebala, even though being the green season (more bugs, less numbers of game and no lions this time), will be one camp I would return to again. I think it is more the people here (Charles in particular) as the up-grades to camp are nice but much more than needed to be comfortable. The rest of the staff and food would fall above average; the hide not so much for me.

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The hits just keep coming, one great photo after another! You got a great deal with green season rates!

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Hi Tracker,


Thanks for the updates. lagoon is closing in November for the re-furb from what I hear and is not going to open until end Feb. LONG over-due for sure.......

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Nice report.


I just love the comical hippo photo. I could hang that on my wall.

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Wonderful photos, congratulations, heaven help me and others like me with our little Canon Power Shots! Still Nil Desperandum :D

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I posted this next pic. of the birds which I believe to be White-browed Sparrow Weavers; if anybody could verify that, it would be appreciated.




My iPhone eSasol agrees they are White-browed Sparrow-Weavers.


Great report and photos, by the way.

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Thank you, again for all your wonderful comments and JohnR for verifying the sparrow-weaver pic!


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We're only through the 20th so far. I am very interested in Impalila so I'll stay tuned.

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