Alison's Trip Report - Seba Camp

Old Nov 20th, 2006, 10:38 PM
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 113
Alison's Trip Report - Seba Camp


8th October 2006

This is our first trip to Botswana and so it was with some anticipation that we arrived at Cape Town Airport to check in with Air Botswana for our flight to Maun. The airport was quiet and check in was speedy but when I noticed the baggage tags were marked “Aeroflot” I began to have some doubts about this airline!

These fears increased when we boarded the new BAC 111 aircraft and an American guy, who I noticed was scrutinizing every passenger in the departure lounge, came on board and then announced he could not fly on this plane and he wanted to get off because he had a “strange feeling about the flight”! The crew politely told him it was too late but he made a fuss, the captain became involved and he was finally escorted off the aircraft and we were delayed whilst they found his bags. This did not auger well with me and I was nervous for the first hour of the flight before I decided there was nothing I could do in the event of an act of sabotage anyway, so I may as well enjoy it!

We stayed at Riley’s hotel for the night – the staff were very pleasant, the dinner was tasty – I had ostrich for the first time - and we enjoyed sitting in the garden having a sundowner beforehand.

9th October 2006

We checked in at Maun airport for our flight to Seba camp and found we were on a Caravan Cessna, which was a 16 seater flown by Ingrid and Brenda and very comfortable. After 30 minutes we landed at Abu airstrip and were met by our guide, Max in the open safari vehicle. Within the first five minutes of driving we came across two giraffe calmly grazing near the airstrip – I was beside myself with excitement whilst the animals merely looked at us in a disinterested fashion and continued with their munching! A little further on we came across the carcass of a giraffe which Max told us had been brought down by a lion days earlier. She and her cubs fed on it, then the hyenas had their turn and finally the vultures and all that was left was skin and a few bones.

We arrived at Seba and were met by the Managers – Graham and Bernadette – as well as the staff who sang a welcome song for us and made us feel very special. The main area of the camp overlooks a lagoon with shady trees and beautiful water lilies scattered along the edge. Little bush monkeys played in the trees, there were tiny squirrels and a variety of birds that all call this place “home” and seem unconcerned about humans being around.

There are five tents and ours was just beautiful with a verandah overlooking water and the bush beyond. The camp has been open since May and a lot of thought has gone into the placement of the tents, the facilities and the décor. There is a ceiling fan but no power points so bang goes any idea of hair dryers – however there are power points in the main tent for recharging batteries and cameras etc.

Our first game drive was at 4pm and we saw kudu, impala, giraffe, baboons, warthogs, an eagle owl, and several elephants. Our sundowner drinks – what a wonderful idea – were in the middle of an open area of bush with elephants passing quietly by and a brilliant sunset to complete the picture.

Dinner was sensational – an exceptional menu and delightfully presented and served with aplomb by the lovely smiling staff. We are all on first name terms and already we feel we have made so many friends. There is only one other couple here – from the UK – so the camp is intimate. After dinner we had a long chat with Julia, the elephant research officer who is conducting a study of the Abu elephants which have been released into the wild. There are five of them and they wear radio collars so Julia can monitor their behaviour and keep track of them, watching how they are accepted by other elephants and whether they are thriving on their own. This is a fascinating project and Julia’s tales of individual elephants and their traits are amusing.

10th October 2006

Well, our first night was restless to say the least! I guess all first timers go through this fear when it is dark and there are strange sounds all around. My husband slept soundly until I woke him at 3am as I had been listening to a rustling sound for some time. At first I thought it was a breeze in the trees around the tent but then it got closer and I realised something was outside. To pacify me he opened the door to prove there was nothing there, only there was – a huge elephant with his trunk swaying from side to side just meters from our door! Imagining the canvas walls being shredded by those huge tusks, it took me some time to relax and by then the culprit wandered off. Then I heard the hippo just outside but we were forewarned that it is his nightly ritual, so I listened and peeked and waited for the dawn!

We had a light breakfast – love the Botswana porridge – and we set off with Max just before 7am for our morning drive. It was very cool and quiet and we came across a mob of impala very close to the camp – what beautiful creatures! They just stood and looked at us without fear. Then we came across kudu, giraffe, duiker and steenboks before we met with Julia who was out tracking. She explained how the radio collars work and pointed out the means by which she identifies the individual elephants – by their ears and various markings on the head, trunk and tusks. Her elephant munched on and moved off, and then she showed us how she estimates their age by the footprints in the sand. She calculates the height measurement by photographing the elephant next to a tree and then measuring the height according to the photo alongside.

Morning coffee break was by a hippo pool where there were 5 hippos whose little ears poking out of the water belied their size – when they surfaced I wondered how safe we were right on the bank next to them! It was exciting and certainly not something I ever imagined I would be doing!

However, our excitement was certainly in top gear when about half an hour later Max found the lioness and her cubs! The babies, three of them, were under a bush playing and mother was lying nearby fast asleep. The cubs watched us curiously and then continued to play, mother raised her head, looked at us lazily and went back to sleep realising that we were no threat. We spent quite some time just watching the antics of the little ones and taking a lot of photos.

That afternoon we set out again - did some fishing and had sundowners on the boat and after dark found the lioness again. This time the cubs were bold and probably found the scent of the fish in the rear of the vehicle, so they chased the car and tried to play with the wheels.

Earlier a big bull elephant approached the car and when quite close made a mock charge – leaping to the other side of the vehicle, my heart thumping wildly, I looked up and the elephant had stopped just short of the vehicle. He backed off as Max made a noise to deter him.
My thoughts at this point were that this was like a zoo only we were the caged animals and the wild ones were observing our reactions and us.

Other animals we found were mongoose, hammerkop birds, a yellow billed stork, kingfishers, black egrets, wildebeest and buffalo.

An amazing day.

11th October 2006

Our morning safari with Max started with a sighting of a hyena. We thought the lion had made a kill that night and expected to find something pulled down – however, nothing. Following the spoor, an hour later we found the lioness and her cubs. The babes were playing whilst mother dozed nearby. This is the third sighting for us and we feel very privileged.

We found lots more impala and tsessebe, which were on a hilly outcrop looking out for predators. Warthogs were in the area as well as the tiny steenboks. A giraffe and her baby were nearby and then we saw two huge herds of buffalo – what magnificent creatures and what large numbers!

In the afternoon we saw lots of hippos in the pool, this time a female and her baby emerged and another hippo yawned several times enabling us to take some great photos. We then went on to meet the Abu elephants which were feeding nearby with their mahouts in attendance. Little Abu – born in May – has such character and wanted to play all the time, almost knocking over two in our party. He looks small but weighs over 120kg. Cathy, the matriarch is 49 and very gentle so I was thrilled to be able to meet her, touch her and feel her immense charisma. The other elephants did a few party tricks for us and we met the mahouts and learned more about elephant behaviour.

On the way back to camp we found the lion cubs again but this time the lioness was nowhere to be seen.

12th October 2006

Our last morning drive with Max – we saw giraffe and hyena again and at this point the hyena came right up to the car, walked around it and wandered off.

There were lots of birds, a striped kudu and wildebeest. Of course the morning would not be complete with elephant sightings and one of Julia’s came right into the camp as we were having an early lunch. Apparently he likes to come back to where he spent so much time and feels comfortable around humans, however it is discouraged and the staff always attempt to send him back into the bush. I feel sad about that but realise that it is for the best for him.

We had brunch and then got into a tiny Cessna, piloted by Fiona to fly to Duma Tau via the Chobe airstrip.

Duma Tau story follows……………

Tropical_gal is offline  
Old Nov 21st, 2006, 09:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Thanks for the report on Seba, looking forward to Duma Tau.
napamatt is offline  
Old Nov 21st, 2006, 10:27 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,448
Thanks for the report so far.

But rule #1, NEVER EVE fly Aeroflot airlines.
waynehazle is offline  
Old Nov 21st, 2006, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
You had an unsettling start to your trip. I'm glad it ended with ostrich at Riley's.

Seba's sounds wonderful. I was going to mentiond the other Seba thread, then I realized you started it. You'll have to link the two threads so people can see your report. Glad you had such a great time there.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Nov 21st, 2006, 11:44 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 421
Great start to your trip report. We also stayed at Riley's in June and enjoyed a great dinner. It will be interesting to hear about Duma Tau in October, as we found the animal sightings in June were wonderful.
raelond is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 10:25 PM
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Join Date: May 2004
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Thought you may enjoy some photos which relate to this first part trip report.

Go to

and enjoy!
Tropical_gal is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 10:45 PM
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Great report Tropical Gal! Very cool sightings and adventures! Thanks!
matnikstym is offline  
Old Nov 27th, 2006, 03:23 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Hello Alison. I saw your nice photos on the website. please let me know the Camera and lenses you used. Many thanks. Kindly reply to [email protected].
ulinda7 is offline  
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