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Meeting friends and other strange sightings

Wild Dogger

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I didn´t have a lot expectations as we started to this trip.

Organizing it was a bit chaotic.

We used frequent traveler miles to get into Johannesburg and booked early, which was a mistake.

We should have first looked into availability of camps before booking the flight. But we waited for that, expecting the Wilderness Safari Summer Special. When it came out, the camps were almost booked for the time we had already booked our flights for.

We´ve booked from JNB to Maun with Air Botswana, return flight should go to Cape Town directly with their new routing.

But again, Air Botswana cancelled this connection. So I cancelled Air Botswana and we booked South African Airlink, which came out to be a very good decision, new aircraft and on schedule.

No more Air Botswana for me as long there is this SAA connection into Maun.

Packing was another challenge as there is this new 1 bag p.p. regulation on Lufthansa.

As we always go to Cape Town for a week after Safari, we usually pack on bag each for Safari and one bag together for CT. Now we had to pack all our Safari stuff in one bag as we didn´t want to carry all our stuff into camp.

In Johannesburg we realized that the lady on the check-in counter only checked one bag thru to Maun, she forgot to do it for the second bag.

Luckily we received both bags in Maun and left one in the airline´s office as always.


The schedule:

10. - 14.11. Kwando Lagoon

14. - 15.11. Little Kwara

15. - 17.11. Kwara

17. - 19.11. Planet Baobab

then off to the Cape


I carried my new 5D MKIII, not knowing exactly how to set it up with lenses (no crop).


I didn´t really feel that I was ready for Safari.


So let´s start with the trip report.

I will do it on day by day, with mostly pictures, I am not that much the „writer“.

First and last words on food:

food was good and plenty, drinks were cold and mostly alcoholic ;))



Kwando Lagoon


We were picked up at the airstrip by our guide Matt and the tracker Aaron.




We´ve met Matt some years ago, when he was guiding us on one drive at the Mapula Lodge in the Okavango Delta. He is now new with the Kwando organization.

The new Toyota Land Cruisers arrived a week before, they look good with 3 rows à 2 guests. The guides take good care on these cars and we had the impression, that the times of excessive hunting with wild dogs are over at Kwando with these cars, which would be a shame.


Managers in Camp were Ob, Maipelo and Tussu.

It was a big hello as we knew Ob and Maipelo from our trip in 2010.

We immediately felt at home and as we saw Spencer everything was fine.


On our first drive we´ve been with 6 guests in the car, which was the only time with a full vehicle on our trip.

Of our 14 drives we had the car on 7 drives for our own, much better than in 2010.


With us were 2 couples from the UK, Steve and Pat (nice birders), the others I forgot the names.

In all 3 camps we realized, that there were NO guests from the US, mostly british, a few German, some swiss, dutch and indian.


Okay enough of that, first game drive.


Matt said, that the Lagoon Pack was around and we found them quickly.

They looked well-fed and they did the lion thing: nothing!

I know, it might sound arrogant, but that was a boring sighting of African Wild Dogs.






I took advantage of the high ISO performance of my new 5d, especially when we met a herd of Elephants at extreme low light. I pushed the ISO up to 2500 and the results were great.








The night drive was as most of the night drives quite. I don´t know, why these night drives in Botswana are mostly poor, while in the South Luangwa Valley you get to see so much at night.


So, that was it for the first day. We were tired after a long journey and looked forward to the next day

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Great start, Thomas ..... look forward to the rest!

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Yup, great start. Very excited to see the images you will post in this report,

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Before we went on that night drive, I was joking with Matt, that he had to show me an Aardvark, if I knew what would happen ......


At dinner we had a nice chat with a british tour operator. He shared my opinion about night drives in SLNP and Botswana. I thought, that the difference could also made up by the fact that in SLNP so many vehicles in the Mfuwe sector drive around at „night“ that the animals might got used to it.

On the other hand, we also had good night sightings in the southern part of SLNP with no traffic at all. I don´t know.


Steve asks me about my photography. He made a photographic course before he came here and is surprised as I tell him, that I am shooting mainly with high ISO due to my 5d MKIII. In the course they told him not to push over 400. I told him, that I rather have a noisy shot than a blurry. But every camera is different.




Matt tells us, that the morning before, he had seen a Leopard with cub feeding on a Reedbuck carcass.

We go there and don´t have success.

Matt points out Aardvark tracks, but tracks don´t count!




Coppery-tailed Coucal


We get to see lots of plains game and a big herd of Wildebeests.




Later we see some Kudu.




All cars are out trying to find the resident pride of lions.

At least we find a subadult male and female, who were seperated from the pride.




We can follow them on their effort to find the pride.












After a while, Matt receives a call from Carlos, who found the rest of the pride.

They had taken down a buffalo at night and were busy feeding on them.




Buffalo-headed Lion


Steve is looking forward to see some vultures on the carcass. But as long as the lions are around they keep clear.

It´s not so bad, to travel with a birder. At times, where there´s not much to see, there´s always a bird to point out (Sandgrouse ;))). And Steve and Pat are nice, they don´t insist in seeing only birds. Just stop and identify. At the end Steve has more than 120 species, he never saw before. And he still continued to Lebala.


That was it for the morning.


We rest in the very nice and spacious „tents“. The new Lagoon camp is a major upgrade from the old, rustic and dark camp, we love it.

As I want to overlook my photos, I realize, that the Raw App on my tab does not work.

I am p***ed. I can´t review my pics properly.


At high tea a big elephant is in camp. We get escorted to the dining area.

Steve would like to go and check, if the vultures are taking over the carcass, but we can talk him out of that, we want to find the dogs again. The compromise is, to find the dogs and then go to the carcass later.

Klaudia is always keen in hunting with hunting dogs. She likes to race through the bush!




It´s us and Spencer´s car who are looking for the dogs. The other 2 cars go to the lions.

We find a herd of Buffalos and the Wild Dogs are close by. They are specialists in taking down buffalo calves. We WANT to see that.

But the dogs are lazy again, they seem to hunt mainly in the morning.





We watch the dogs for some time and decide not to go to the carcass. The vultures will for sure take over the carcass not before the next morning, we tell Steve a bit selfish.



We still hope to see them hunt buffalo.

All of a sudden they get up.





The first highlight of our trip:

Wild Dogs chase a herd of Sable Antelope! Action in the bush!



They have no chance against these huge herbivore, but the Sable are in a big fuss.

They build a wagon burg, something that we already saw some years ago, when wild dogs were after wildebeests. There is no way for the dogs and the antelopes stampede away.


By following the Sable the dogs step over the buffalos, but there is no real attempt to attack them.


That was a good sighting!


On our way back to camp, we visit an active hyena den. Cute puppies, but besides that just a springhare, still no sight of Aardvark!

I struggle a bit with my fash lights. I don´t get really into my photography by now.






At the camp bar there is a lot to talk about!

Those who went to the carcass also had a good time, as lots of hyena tried to take over the carcass. A lot action in the bush that night.


It´s time to rest again. The next morning we plan to go on a walk for a change. You´ll never know, what you see.

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A very good start to a trip for which there were no expectations. Sable and dogs is amazing, but we already saw that in the photography forum. But the rest isn't too bad either!


And you are clearly going to be Game Warden's favorite - so quick to get the report up after getting back. I am very impressed. I am also very impressed with your camera at high ISO (and rather jealous). Steve must have been on a course for people with "old" cameras like mine! :)

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Wonderful sighting with the sable and dogs. Great start.

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Very nice! I am looking forward to your Little Kwara report as were there shortly after you! The days of chasing wildly through the bush were NOT over there...it was gran prix on steroids.

As soon as Twaffle very kindly walks me through the pic. sharing I am ready to begin my own TR; however, your pics are so darn good maybe I can just write and refer to your set!



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Wonderful sighting with the sable and dogs. Great start.


My thoughts exactly!

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Sorry, now I am back ;))




Yesterday evening we decided to go on a game walk.

I always have my concerns on walking safaris. I am afraid to miss something special while on a PPP (prints, poo & plants) mission. But it´s also nice to have a little exercise after all that sitting, eating & drinking.

But first, we see a giraffe in golden light




We never been lucky on walks so far, but this time it should change.

We walked for about 20 minutes as we realized movement in the distance:





a huge herd of Eland antelope came walking towards us, we were able to watch them for quiet a while. A good experience.

One Eland had some kind of a tube on one horn, strange, where might he have picked it up.

And our record on elusive antelopes was excellent so far: Sable and Eland so far, not bad, not bad.


Back after the walk we had our well deserved coffee and biscuits.

Quick biscuit rating: the Lagoon biscuits were the best by far, no chance for Little Kwara, Kwara and Lebala (met Thabo from Lebala and exchanged biscuits ;)))


We didn´t miss something as we checked on the radio.


Slowly heading back, we found some elephants.

Elephants were plenty.







Other guests, who came from Lebala, told us that the big herds of elephants and buffalos were still around there.

They also told us, that they had seen an Aardvark there at night. How lucky can someone be!


We proceded to the buffalo carcass to check if there was something left and to see vultures feeding.

But sadly the carcass was done and only some vultures were resting on a tree. I felt pitty for Steve and also a little bit guilty :(((






Suddenly we hear a call like from an owl: 5 wild dogs were seperated from the pack and were calling them. They had a full belly, so may they got lost during hunting.


Matt, how can I embed a video: here´s the link to the wild dogs calling http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsfries/8266154661/in/photostream



In the afternoon we are alone in the vehicle as Steve and Pat go on a boat cruise.


Time for serious dog tracking!

Although we had that amazing dog/sable action, I am not happy with my wild dog catches so far. I always like to see wild dog interaction and luckily get some good shots.


First catch is a prideful bateleur eagle.




and a warthog hiding




Elephants are all over, but no dogs.


We find the tracks, but they are running wild.

Carlos is also looking for dogs, so we (more or less the guides and trackers) scan the area.

From time to time we hear the lost dogs calling but no visual sighting.

Aaron climbs on a termite mount to get better view. He imitates the wild dog call.




Carlos is the one who replies, saying: "I heard them call from your side.“ which causes a good laugh, well done, Aaron!!!


Then, in the end, Carlos finds the dogs and leads us to them.

It´s already pretty dark.



Luckily my camera performs well at high ISO, so I get some nice interaction shots.




Stalking dog










We stay there, until it´s almost completely dark and have our sundowner somewhere.

The night drive is unproductive, no aardvarks, no pangolin.


Back in camp, we´re happy to have seen the dogs again.


Tomorrow, we will first go to Halfway Pan, as Steve and Pat will leave for Lebala on a road transfer.

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Great TR so far, and love the story of Aaron and Carlos calling to each other! Terrific photos! I am in love with the one of the wild dog and the sable - for those of us who have seen neither in person, it really shows the size of those sable - wow! Making me even more excited for my trip to Lagoon and other places in Feb.

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Very nice report. The dogs going after Sable is something else. Also very impressed with the 5D IIIs high ISO performance. What lens did you have on for the low light shots?

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Very nice report. The dogs going after Sable is something else. Also very impressed with the 5D IIIs high ISO performance. What lens did you have on for the low light shots?


Yes, I am very pleased with the performance. I used the ef 300 LIS 2.8 most times, also for those low light shots.

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Love the bateleur eagle, really shows the colours. Wonderful photos.

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Stunning wilddog photos, thanks for sharing! Looking forward to Lebala!

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Your camera both performs well at high ISO and focuses well too. I love the last shot but all those evening dog shots are great ... and with a nice story (with photo!) to go with it. Perfect!

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Today we will road transfer Steve and Pat to „Halfway Pan“, as the name says it´s located halfway between Lagoon Camp and Lebala Camp.


I love Halfway because of its scenery. Really lovely.


We drive along numerous pans and wetlands.


Steve sees a Goldenbreasted Bunting and he´s happy again with his birding.


Radio says, that Spencer and Carlos found Leopard spoor and were busy tracking them.

Way out from where we´re driving. That´s the problem in that road transfer when you´re sharing vehicle. You have to be at the exchange point at time.


While we visit a hyena den,






and have a good sighting of Ground Hornbills (Claudia loves them)






Carlos (once again Carlos!) finds the Leopard.

It seems to be a young female leopard.


We are right in time at Halfway Pan, quickly say hello to Thabo, refuse to exchange biscuits and say bye bye to our british friends.


It´s time to speed back, no coffee break for us:

time for a leopard.


Matt´s driving like hell. My wife Claudia really likes that, we already missed the bumpy URI rides following wild dogs. As we live on a race circuit we are very much used to fast driving and we know from our recent visits, that that´s the way Kwando conducts it´s game drives: when there´s something special to see, nothing can stop them. They do their most to get you to see that sighting.


Unfortunatly „Bush Schumi“-Matt is relatively new to the area and does not know the roads that good like Spencer f.e.. So he suddenly has to break hard because of a steep hill.

Aaron almost falls of and I hit both of my camera lenses into the rollbars. My fault, I knew, we´d drive fast. I should have packed them away.

My wife´s laughing because I made some strange noise as the camera´s hit my stomach. But it´s all fine, Kwando Safari´s nothing for Sissies.

My only concern was, that I broke my lenses. That would have been a multi thousand dollar ride. And I had no good control possibilities, if there was something wrong with the lenses. So I hoped everything was fine (and it was ;)).

Aaron decides to leave the rocket seat in front and jumps beside Matt. The race is on again.

Then we see the vehicle staying with the leopard. That´s another good thing at Kwando, if there´s something special, they not only call the others. At least one car stays with the sighting unless every vehicle was there, just to make it easier to locate the sighting also for guests who might been a bit further away.


It´s such a beautiful cat!




We are now the only vehicle with the leopard and follow her




until she rests on a tree.






I love leopards!!!!






We leave the beauty alone and have our well-deserved coffee and biscuits! Claudia can´t stop laughing about that noise I made and I hope my lenses are fine.


After the break we check the leopard again and she´s still hanging there.





On our way back to camp we see a majestic Kudu,



I also love Kudus!

I just love Africa!


Back in camp we found a gift in our tent. A nice book out of paper made out of elephant dung, I guess. That was a nice surprise. I think, they gave it to us because we were frequent visitors. We really felt very, very welcomed by Ob and her team.


At brunch Carlos tells us how he located the leopard.

They were tracking him as one of the guests said that he must mark his territory. So Carlos was looking for a nice pee place and found a termite mount. Before stopping there, they saw a giraffe and his tracker said: „There´s something wrong with this giraffe, she did not look at us.“ So, driving around the termit mount, the leopard was walking with a freshly killed impala. So the stop had to be remitted ;))


One word about Lagoon:

everybody´s talking African Wild Dogs and Cheetah when it comes to Lagoon Camp.

But it seems to be also an excellent place to see Leopards.

As I already said, Matt found that Leopard with cub the other day and Carlos sighted 5 different leopards on one drive, I think, a few days before.

And with the resident pride of lions there, it´s predators heaven!


In the afternoon we are introduced to a new couple (forgot the names), who will only be joining us for that drive.

We get another present from Lagoon: a private vehicle for the next morning!


In the afternoon we plan to track wild dogs.

Spencer´s out on a boat trip, so we are all alone tracking, which does not make it easy.


But first we see the usual suspects:








On a pan we see a beautiful herd of elephants.










Did I already tell you, that I love Africa :lol:?




The Carlos-radio comes in:

lions on a wildebeest kill.

We are heavily discussing, if we want to see it as our mission was wild dogs. If we´d been alone, we´d gone for the dogs, but the others, who would also have loved to see them, wanted to go for the certain sighting. So we agreed as we knew tomorrow´s our time, we can do whatever we want.


We see some more plains game:




Blue Wildebeest




Speedy Giraffe


Spencer from the boat also answers to the radio and is a bit „unhappy“. He´s turning around and also wants to come to the lions.


We almost drive 40 minutes to get to the sighting. This is a really big concession.


The lions are busy feeding and digesting.








Now it´s our turn to wait for the last vehicle to direct to the sighting.


Spencer arrives with the last light and we back off for our sundowners in the dark.


In the spot light we see




African Wild Cat


and a Aard




Hey Matt, we asked for Aardvark ;) ! No, no, it´s an excellent sighting, I am just joking.


OMG, what a day, Lagoon delivered and we are happy people.


We enjoy our last evening at the fabulous Lagoon Camp with its lovely people.

We´ll see what the last game drive brings tomorrow.

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Lovely, Thomas ......

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Wonderful images and storytelling old chap.

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Wow, I am so intrigued by your report...and I was in the area!

Wish I had followed you and Carlos..amazing images; makes me even want to go back...I do love Africa!


Just great; thanks!

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Love your report and photographs. I bet Spencer hated it on that boat, when we asked him about it he said "You want to go on the boat????? No we didn't it was so funny. Pen

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Love your report and photographs. I bet Spencer hated it on that boat, when we asked him about it he said "You want to go on the boat????? No we didn't it was so funny. Pen


Yes, that´s Spencer!

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Can't match lebala's kitchen, Thomas ....... ;)

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