Back home from Kwando (Hari)

Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:30 AM
  #21  
 
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Hi Hari,

Glad to hear that you had a good time, and that the sightings at Kwando have improved since July. It sounds like the pans in the mopane have finally dried up, bringing the game down to the rivers. Too bad about the dogs at Lagoon, but it sounds like you had a very nice sighting at Lebala.

I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree on the Uris, but I agree that Spencer is a terrific guide. He really does have a fine instinct for what the animals will do and when.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:34 AM
  #22  
santharamhari
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Hey Lynn,

Will try to answer your questions. Thanks for your comments.

My sister is an Africa nut herself, and uses it as an excuse to take time off from her husband and kids. None of them are as nuts as we are about Africa. However, still leaving at 1PM to sit with sleeping dogs is a bit much for her.

Boston Marathon, yep twice....amongst 7 total marathons (all of them in the US)

Roan....usually on the drying pans in the mornings from solitary bulls to smallish breeding herds. The bulls were very relaxed. One big sable bull and a small skittish herd of 3. Usually around Lagoon. You would be very lucky to see them around Lebala. Last time, i have had good Sable sightings at Kwara also, but that's extremely good luck.

The dogs....i hope there are more mystery dogs around in the area.

Why Lebala, my favourite?.....Great camp management in Harry and Monique, great guides (Spencer, Charles, Steve, Thabo), very friengly staff and wide open flood plains in the immediate vicinity. Ofcourse, my game sightings speak for themselves. Every day is so different from the next.
Game viewing is a huge priority for me-a good guide/tracker system works for me and is a huge draw to the Kwando product. All guides/tracker trained suitably, even if they migrate from other camps of other companies.

Hope this helps.

Hari
 
Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:37 AM
  #23  
santharamhari
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Thanks Deb and Julian,

Trying to get the report in as i am going to be swamped when i get bk to the office first thing Monday morning.

Julian, yes the pans hv dryed up...but, during the last week there was another surge of flood waters from Angola. Clearly visable in front of the lounge area at Lebala. They may hv had late rains in Angola.

Hari
 
Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:45 AM
  #24  
 
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Hari, great report -- sable, roan and dogs, plus lots of cheetah and lions...some real exciting episodes. Welcome back and thanks for sharing.

Michael
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:45 AM
  #25  
 
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Hi Hari,

It sounds like you saw the same sable herd I did -- three females and a very skittish bull.

I wonder if the BK you met was the same one who was my guide in July -- Kavey has mentioned a BK who used to work at Mombo, but it's hard to believe it's the same person as Kavey said he was a superb guide (which as you know was definitely not my experience). Any chance there are two BKs at Lagoon?

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:57 AM
  #26  
santharamhari
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August/30 (LK Contd)

Morning started with our very good guide, Doc...who, the moment we drove out of camp picked up alarm calls and signals and sounds from the bush and soon we were off tracking leopard. There had been very good sightings of a very relaxed female leopard and her cubs past two weeks. Soon, she was found in the tall grass. We radioed the sighting and couple other trucks joined us. Doc urged me to stay patient. The grass is really tall to work with at Kwara due to the rains.

She was clearly hunting and with patience she was on a termite mound in great morning light. Hopefully i got some good shots. Some impatient trucks had left the sighting by that point to look for other things....After more than an hour, she fully disappeared in very tall grass. I still had a very good sighting.

Doc got a radio call saying a cheetah with 3 small cubs were seen in the far western side of the concession, and off we went. DOc and John were relentless in their tracking, but were unsuccessful. She was obviously spooked by somethng and i'm glad she does a good job of hiding her cubs. We headed bk to camp for breakfast. Doc, suggested we pack up lunch and head out at 2:30 Pm to continue our tracking. Ofcourse, my sister stayed back once again.

Before i forget, on the way bk to camp this morning, John literally jumped out of his tracker seat when we found a Mozambique spitting cobra crossing the road. We all had a good chuckle and tagged along....met Mel at the airstrip to bid our goodbyes.

In the afternoon, Doc and John packed an elaborate picnic lunch and off we went. It was really far. The western circuit was very dry and even general game pretty much absent. However, we went with a specific mission on our minds. Cheetahs were obviously successful hiding. We had a nice lunch in front of a nice lagoon and started to head home slowly.

Suddenly on the radio, one of the trucks called in the Shinde pride hunting buffalo again. We were really, a long long ways away and had to race bk to the scene of buffalo murder.

My sister, chose to do the boat trip to the heronery that afternoon with Steve's guests. She said that, the moment they got off the boat they heard the shreek of the buffalo on the radio and Steve raced them to the lions. She was very impressed by his guiding skills as well.

Neither of us got to the sighting in time to see the buffalo go down, but, pretty much 15 minutes after. Interestingly, it was just round the corner from where the lions brought down buffalo 4 days prior. It was still good fun to watch the pride of 6 work hard to work it's way into the carcass. One of the big males was missing. The hide was really thick and tough to work into. Each lion had it's own induvidual space to work with and didnt allow the other to get into his/her space of tearing the hide. They got to the internal organs first. One piercing the eye and another going in through the rear and pulling out the stomach contents and intestines. I did notice some of the people in other vehicles find it a bit much.......soon all the lions were feasting. Wow!!!

During all this, Doc suggested that i focus on viewing the action and leave the photography for the morning. I agreed. We stayed there until 8:30 Pm and left. The lionesses looked exhausted from both the hunt and the tough part of getting thru the hide.

Always, have had phenomenal lion viewing at Kwara.

Lebu from Lagoon was there and was fun to be around. We missed her at Lagoon, so it was nice seeing her again. She is sweet and genuine.
 
Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:59 AM
  #27  
santharamhari
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Julian,

Just the one BK- same one. He has guided the president of Botswana on request. Amongst other very famous personalities....what did you not like about his guiding? However, i havent experienced him as a guide. He is the relief manager at Lagoon for Jonah and Lebu. Was he the relief manager then? or was he a fill in guide due to shortages?

Hari
 
Sep 3rd, 2006, 07:07 AM
  #28  
 
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Hello Hari,

There were only two vehicles going out when I was at Lagoon (only three tents were occupied, two of them by solo travellers) so if BK is a manager I'm not sure why he was taking us out -- perhaps the other guides were on holiday?

Take a look at the Lagoon section of my trip report for my experiences with BK. In brief, he was not at all responsive to guest concerns about safety during what was IMO a rather dangerous encounter with a pregnant female elephant, or sensitive to the need to give the sable a little space to let them relax a bit. Perhaps it's been some time since he has done any guiding and he is no longer used to being out in the field, but in that case a refresher course is probably in order.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 07:15 AM
  #29  
cw
 
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Welcome back Hari! Sounds as though you had a very special trip. It is wonderful to find places that mean so much that you want to return again and again.

CW

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Sep 3rd, 2006, 07:16 AM
  #30  
 
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Welcome back, Hari - haven't read your report yet - wow you guys are impressive in getting your reports done! Glad to hear you had such a fabulous trip. I am going through withdrawals right with you!

Sharon
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 07:30 AM
  #31  
santharamhari
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Thanks, Michael.

August,31:

The cold reality that this would be my final full day at Kwado set in. Like i said, the draw is not just the game viewing but, the whole crew of people at all their camps. Every guest is made to feel part of the Kwando family and hence my desire to stick to the "Best total experience" IMO.

Anyways, off we went to chk on the lions- Doc mentioned, "Golden light". We were the first car to arrive for the morning. Doc pulled in and just stayed in one spot. Despite, the tall grass i may hv managed a couple of decent shots. The entire pride was still feeding, including both big males and the two cubs. Lots of feeding action, interaction between the pride members- including the mating pair. We just sat in one spot until 11Am when the lions were starting to look for shade to nap.

I noticed many of the other trucks changing positions for their vehicles, but, Doc mentioned that we just stay in one spot and be patient and work with action that will eventually happen.

I did mention, the lionesses were looking to rest. One of the lionesses was inching closer and closer to the truck to look for shade and at one point we made eye contact- inches away from each other. That was awesome!!! I think Doc may hv got a picture of it from my spare camera. I did not panic, but, yes my heart did skip a beat. Doc, started the engine and she fled away. He didnt want her to make this a habit. Exhillarating stuff!!!

There were vultures all over the immediate horizon looking to break in.

At breakast, Moses one of the younger guides at Kwara paid a visit to say his hellos. I had met him many years ago during my visit to Kings Pool, where he was my guide. He is a very nice guy and we reminisced our trip up the savuti channel watching the then 3 cheetah bros. He's another positive addition for Kwando.

The whole Africa experience has a lot to do with the warmth of her people and their genuine hospitality. He thanked me for the photographs that i had mailed him after that trip....how could anyone remember all minute details such a long time ago.....Wow!!!

Between Kwara and Little Kwara, they have an all-star cast of guides Joe/Mothusi/Doctor/Steve/Moses and Custard. If i'm missing anyone, it's just that i hadnt met anyone else....my excuses....Custard, i did mention is a funny, funny guy.

Longer siesta time today and a very sweet aussie lady guest at camp (mother of one of the pilots for Moremi Air) wanted to go chk out Kwara main camp. Lebu, being her sweet self walked us over. Going to Kwara main, brought on a flash of nostalgia from my previous visit. I visited their nice shop and chatted briefly with current managers Peter and Bonanag. Bonang immediately recognized me from last trip. She was helping out Mel and Grant. Very sweet also.

Gloria (the guest) had a look of sadness on her face, as her time to return home that very day. I felt the same and realized that the shock of reality awaits me.

Afternoon drive, my sister Beena and I invited Lebu on the drive. We went straight to the lions- more feeding on the one side and more mating from the mating pair round the corner. Hopefully, got more pictures. Was fun hanging out with Lebu and was joking with her that the lions at Kwara were more superior to the radio collared lioness at Lagoon (where she is based). One final sundowner, and we went back to watch the lions still eating....it got more stressful for them with limited space and little meat. Lots of growling. Suggested to Doc, that we leave for the day....at around 8 PM. Genet on the way bk to camp.

I could bearly sleep that night- knowing that i am to leave Botswana the following day.

Sept 1:

I was to learn that my flight to Joburg was the 1:45 PM and not the 3PM one. So, we had to leave Kwara at noon.

Doc, John and I went bk to the lions, got more pictures of the feeding, the cubs, the mating. My head was not into it at all- knowing i had to leave in a few hours. Doc, tried to keep it alive and going. Lots of quality time as we just sat watching the lions and not talking much. No other trucks as they all went out on Mekoros/walks/boats.

I soon suggested that we head bk to camp. Got showered, packed and ate some lite breakfast. Custard-the guide, along with his guests joined us for breakfast. Good to see him again since the prior day---lots more funny stories from him. He showed me a picture of Spencer and me stuck in the mud pit during the wild dog hunt. Apparently, he took a quick photo when Spencer was busy trying to pull the truck out the swamps. All Kwando guides have their own induvidual personalites and flavour and are all great to associate with.

Doc, suggested we head out at 11Am and get some pictures of general game. I accepted and off we went with our bags. Had to bid a sad good bye to everyone at LK. Pictures of Red Letchwe, Hippos, Carmine bee eaters and tstsebe.

Eventually, had to bid good bye to Doc and John. They must all think, i'm completely nuts!!!

THE END
 
Sep 3rd, 2006, 07:33 AM
  #32  
santharamhari
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Thanks Sherry and CW.

Julian, will read your Lagoon section

Hari
 
Sep 3rd, 2006, 07:49 AM
  #33  
mv
 
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Hari welcome back, glad to hear you had a good time (no surprise, you were in good hands)
Glad you saw dogs at Lebala. I checked my pictures from last year of the Kwara pack. One male is almost black and the other very dark.
Michael
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 07:56 AM
  #34  
santharamhari
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Michael,

Hi! When i get a chance, will post my pictures of the dogs and we'll compare notes. On that day, Tracker Justice/custard-the guide, Richard and Charles guides that criss-cross camps as Prvt guides....were all present and feel strongly that they are the same dogs.

Lebala is truly truly rocking at the moment. I nearly cancelled LK and just stayed on at Lebala. With a full-house it would hv been a logistical nightmare for both Harry and Monique and so, didnt want to bother them with the changes. LK was very good, anyways.

I now know, that i must spend more time at Lebala.

Hari
 
Sep 3rd, 2006, 08:28 AM
  #35  
santharamhari
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But, yes very very dark dogs....very unique color and markings.

Hari
 
Sep 3rd, 2006, 08:34 AM
  #36  
 
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Welcome home Hari!
I am so impressed - home in a day and finished the trip report! I haven't read it yet, but have printed it out - I have a feeling Kwando (Lebala) will make it to the top of my list in Botswana from what I see by just glancing through!
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 08:37 AM
  #37  
 
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Welcome back Hari! Great report, sounds like you had an amazing trip. Can't wait for the pictures.
Thanks! Dennis
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 08:58 AM
  #38  
santharamhari
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Lynda and Dennis, thanks for your kind comments. Lynda, you will be in good hands at Lebala. Awesome place!!!

Dennis, the pictures arent going to be as quick as the trip report. I will try and put up a few at a time later in the week. I quickly got the report in, as i am going to be swamped with work on Monday.

Hari
 
Sep 3rd, 2006, 09:05 AM
  #39  
 
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Awesome stay at Kwando and very well reported in short order Hari -- thanks!

Can't wait to see the pictures, I am dying right now to return after all that excitement!!
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 09:15 AM
  #40  
mv
 
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Hari

I have put some pics of the Kwara pack in a seperate folder. Do you think they are the same?
Michael
PS glad to hear that there are no major changes at Kwando

http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLan...fromshare&Ux=0
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