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Selinda/Kwando/Zibalianja: full report 2

Day five (Zib, Kwando continued). After the morning drive and brunch, it's time for our road transfer to Kwando Lagoon. It takes about four hours, and because the track especially in the Kwando Reserve has long stretches of deep sand, it's quite tiring. Quite frankly, I don't notice any difference in comfort between the Selinda vehicle's bench seats and Kwando's individual seating, but that's probably because my whole attention is on the landscape and what is in it, and my arms are holding a heavy camera/lens combo on a monopod all the time. Who cares what I'm sitting on, I'm immersed in the environment and its possibilities. Kwando's landscape is quite different from Selinda's...a little less flat, but the main difference is the wonderful patches of open woodland with big mature trees. Plenty of wildlife, elephant and buffalo especially. Our guide seemed a little surprised when we said we still wanted to do an afternoon game drive. We were probably too tired to do it, but who ever gives up on game drives? I'm glad we did do it: it produced one of my nicest portraits of a sable antelope, and a good flash shot of an African wild cat.

Kwando Lagoon camp is rather grand. Not as scenic as they portray it; the lagoon in front of camp is a nice stretch of navigable water but not as pretty as one is led to believe. But the tents are huge and very, very comfortable. Selinda is a lovely camp, even without having fully upgraded its tents yet, and Zib is small, intimate and more rustic. Lagoon feels a remote camp at first, by comparison. It took me a full day to warm to Lagoon, but I enjoyed the stay despite one or two rather boorish fellow clients. They make identical inane entries in the guestbook of every camp they go to because they think they're funny. You get them everywhere, but thank God they're never in my vehicle.

Day six (Kwando). Morning drive fairly uneventful until we come across the two cheetah brothers! They must be near the northern extent of their range, 80 kilometres from the southern extent, Savuti. They're drinking in reeds on the edge of a lagoon, then scent-marking a tree and surveying the horizon from a termite mound. Some nice shots. There's a big buffalo herd nearby, and some wildebeest which the cheetahs show some interest in but don't follow up. Later, a good closeup of a tsessebe on a termite mound.

Our friends rejoin us from Savuti. They have a terrible afternoon game drive. It starts very late because the camp makes them wait for a late arrival. Meanwhile, Y is feeling the effects of all yesterday's driving, so we opt for a river cruise. It's a very pleasant break. The camp lagoon links to the Kwando River and we head downstream and have sundowners on the bank. Nice scenery, not much wildlife: an elephant, some fish eagles, white-fronted bee-eaters, tsessebes and so on.

Day seven (Kwando) . Our friends and us back together, one vehicle to ourselves. We find the cheetah brothers hunting again, and spend a lot of time with them. Some of those marvellous small highlights: a jacana stepping on a water lily leaf, a reedbuck in closeup, and a dwarf mongoose. We track the Kwando pride north of Lagoon, through pretty difficult bush country. The tracker, perched on the front of the vehicle, and the guide are marvels. They find the lions, but they're on river flats below us. We could photograph them, but why waste shots? We get out of the vehicle for sundowners and watch the lions, trying to pick them out of the vegetation, and they watch us.

Day eight (Kwando/Zib). Transfer time again, this time a combination morning game drive/transfer, quite eventful. We find a small nomad pride, spend time photographing them, then a big buffalo herd and get close enough for full head portraits with oxpeckers. Finally, a herd of lechwe in the water with two males sparring, then back into Selinda territory with our Zib camp manager waiting for us on the concession boundary.

Instalment three to follow....

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