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Botswana & Vic Falls - Part 6 (Conclusion) -- First Timer Reporting

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Aug 8th, 2004, 09:20 AM
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Botswana & Vic Falls - Part 6 (Conclusion) -- First Timer Reporting

I described the highlights of our wildlife sightings in the previous postings; for those interested here is a full list - I think I remembered to write them all down:

Big 5 (or 6 if you include the Hippo): African Elephant (in our front yard at Xigera, at watering holes, from the air, on land, playing in the river, and nose to trunk on the elephant-back safari), Cape Buffalo (by the hundreds), Leopard (in the tree with an impala kill), White Rhino, Hippo, Lion (males, females, cubs; and stalking Cape buffalo)

Others (including antelope and primates): Chacma Baboon (mostly in camp; known as Yellow Baboon in Zambia), Vervet Monkey (mostly in camp), Lesser Bush Baby, Tsessebe (welcoming committee at Xigera airstrip, and larger herds later in the trip), Impala (at Chitabe airstrip, and everywhere we turned), Sitatunga (romping through the water at Xigera - extremely rare to see), Reedbuck, Red Lechwe, Greater Kudu, Common Waterbuck, Chobe Bushbuck, Warthog, Southern Giraffe (send off party at the Xigera airstrip, and in groups later in the trip), Mongoose, Nile Crocodile, Black-Backed Jackal, Blue Wildebeest, Cheetah, Ostrich (male and female, and doing the mating dance), Spotted Hyena (in the open, and scavenging at a wild dog kill), Plains (Burchell's) Zebra, Honey Badger, Spring Hare, African Wild Dogs (highly endangered; running in the open, and at an impala kill)

Feathered Friends: African Fish Eagle, Bee Eater, Pied Kingfisher, Black Egret, White Egret, Slaty Egret, Burchell's Glossy Starling, Gray Hornbill, Green Spotted Dove, Black Winged Stilt, Coppery Tailed Coucal, African Darter, Pels Fishing Owl (very rare to see), African Green Pigeon, Lilac Breasted Roller, Ground Hornbill (inky black and large wings folded behind them, they looked like a cartoon figure of a bent over undertaker, dressed in black, arms folded behind him), Bateleur Eagle, Hamerkop, Grey Lourie (also known as the Go-Away Bird because of the way its call sounds), Frogs & Toads (by the thousands - unseen but definitely heard), Helmeted Guinea Fowl, Francolin (known as road runner for its habit of running on the road in front of vehicles), Saddle-Billed Stork, Marabou Stork, Long-Tailed Shrike, Crowned Plover, White-Backed Vulture, Tawny Eagle, Yellow-Billed Hornbill (known as the flying banana due to the color and shape of its bill), Red-Billed Hornbill, African Wood Owl (welcoming committee on the railing of our veranda at Duma Tau), Red-Billed & Yellow-Billed Ox Peckers (usually perched on the back of a buffalo, zebra, or even on hippo and warthog), Black Smith Plover, Spur-Winged Goose, Whistling Duck, Brown Snake Eagle, African Jacana

There were some animals we did not see - namely any snakes. No regrets on that score. Although Stretch, one of the camp staff at Chitabe Trails, did have a close call when a deadly puff adder attacked him (we were in our tent at the time). Luckily he was wearing long pants and the bite did not penetrate. Needless to say, we immediately changed his name to "Lucky Stretch."

I said it at the beginning, and I will say it again: all in all, our trip was FANTASTIC. The native people of Botswana and Zambia were friendly and welcoming. Fellow-guests at each of the camps were good companions. The amazing landscape was a reminder that there are still places on earth untainted by civilization. The clear day and night skies were a real treat - seeing countless stars in the sky was quite a different experience from the norm of our lives - the gossamer-like Milky Way and the Southern Cross were especially exciting to see.

One of the nice touches at each camp was a personalized welcome and farewell note from the management and staff. So, I'll end with the sentiment on one of those cards - Tsamaya Sentle; simply put - goodbye and go well.
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Aug 8th, 2004, 10:02 AM
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I just printed out your reports, and will spend a great Sunday afternoon reading. We are hoping for two months in S.A. in May/June. Probably will have lots of questions. Thanks for posting.
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Aug 8th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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eenusa-
I figured I'd read all the reports before replying. Thanks for writing them is such descriptive detail. It really sounds as if you had a wonderful time. You could really tell in the way you wrote.
I do love the hippo story. I had never heard that one before.
And then to have an ele rest their head on your shoulder. How sweet is that?!
Now I'm off to view your pics. Be back shortly.
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Aug 8th, 2004, 10:30 AM
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eenusa,

Your photos of the wild dog kill, especially once they are sharing the kill with the imposing Hyena, are absolutely incredible!

Next time, do you suppose that you will again take advantage of low season pricing in Botswana or will you wait until later in the season when it heats up a little? With Botswana so very expensive in high season, but with the weather so very cold in June/July, that is something that I am struggling with about Botswana.

Just curious, with which operator did you book the trip, and how was your experience with that operator?

Thanks for the excellent report and photos.
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Aug 8th, 2004, 10:39 AM
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eenusa-
I have to say...great captions and storytelling accompanying great photos. It was like watching a mini documentary. You captured some really great photos.
And to see wild dogs on your first trip to Africa. What an experience it must have been!

I really enjoyed both your trip reports and your photos. Thanks for sharing.

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Aug 8th, 2004, 02:43 PM
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eenusa,

Wonderful trip report. You write with such feeling that I'm guessing you are now hooked on Africa like so many of us. I don't think you'll be a first-timer for too long.
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Aug 9th, 2004, 03:50 AM
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Roccco - The real deciding factor for me would be making sure we weren't there when the days were really, really hot as I have little tolerance for heat. Of course, we would still want to make sure we see as much wildlife as possible. Our timeframe this time seemed to work out perfectly. We managed to work around the cold: we layered against the cold in the early morning and at night, had perfect weather with comfortable temps (from about morning tea to sundowner time), and changed our grooming schedule to shower after brunch when the temperatures were warmer. Perhaps next time we might go back a little later in July, but I don't think we would extend much past that time frame.
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Aug 9th, 2004, 04:27 AM
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eenusa - what a great report. Love your writing style, which definitely shows how much you enjoyed this trip. And it's obvious there will be more.

Went thru the pictures which are outstanding in their storytelling format. Unfortanely, I still have to get to the last 30-40 as for some unknown reason, they simply froze - will get back to them later.

So when do you plan to return to Botswana or any other area in Africa?
 
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Aug 9th, 2004, 07:29 AM
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O.K. now you have done it!!! Any chance I will be productive at work today will go down the drain!!! The vivid images and flowing words describing your trip will cause a constant day dream for me today!!

The dynamic of the wild dogs and hyena sharing a kill I found truly fascinating. Did the guides offer any insight as to how rare an event this was?

Thanks for taking time to share all this with us.
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Aug 9th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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Wow, thanks for the great trip report. I visited Chitabe in August 2001 and your report brings back good memories.

I'm having opening your photos, but I will keep trying.
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Aug 9th, 2004, 08:06 AM
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Fantastic report... I love the fact that you focus on the sightings (and bring them alive) but also throw in a little feedback on the camps and so on.

WONDERFUL REPORT! THANK YOU!
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Aug 9th, 2004, 02:33 PM
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So glad everyone is enjoying the reports.

Sandi - wish I could say we're going back soon. We have family overseas, so we have to alternate trips to visit them with our various adventures. For that reason alone, we can't wait to retire - more time to travel

GreenDrake - frankly, we were so entranced with watching what was going on that we did not even think to ask Cilas about the interaction between the hyena and the dogs. Perhaps one of the frequent safari-goers can shed some light on this.

Thit-Cho - hopefully you were able to get to the last of the photos. I believe Yahoo photos was having problems today as I had trouble accessing my albums on and off as well.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 10:33 AM
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Yes, I was able to access your terrific photos. That's an amazing wild dog sequence.

Michael
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Aug 12th, 2004, 01:14 PM
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I want to have another look at the photos as I rushed last time but I can't remember where the link is?
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Aug 12th, 2004, 01:32 PM
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Kavey - the original link is in Part I, but here it is again.

http://photos.yahoo.com/eerkun
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Aug 12th, 2004, 02:02 PM
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Weird, I can't view the albums this time. Last time was OK.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 02:40 PM
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eenusa - I really enjoyed reading your trip report and viewing your wonderful photos. I'm glad you had such a good trip and shared it with such detail and visuals.
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Aug 13th, 2004, 03:14 PM
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eenusa: thanks for the great trip report and photos. Cilas also guided us on a wild dog hunt where he negotiated the Mopane woodlands and ended up right at the fresh kill -- pack of 21 dogs on an impala. I think I shot about 6 rolls of film. Were there only 3 dogs at the kill, and do you know if that's all of the pack? I think there used to be 6 dogs in the smaller pack.

As for hyenas and wild dogs it is usually a numbers game. Wild dogs work exceptionally well together and will often rout small groups of hyenas by targeting one at a time and all mauling him before moving onto the next in unison. Hyenas are very loosely organized and thus are usually on the losing end. However, the hyena is usually 2 to 3 times heavier and much stronger. I would suspect that with the kill largely devoured and only 3 dogs it wasn't worth risking an injury as they were mostly done. A larger pack probably would have routed the hyena as they would need every bit of the food and if there had been 3 or 4 hyenas the dogs would have likely fled the scene. These factors of numbers and hunger lead to some fascinating interactions between predator species. Awesome to catch it with the photos.
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Aug 13th, 2004, 06:56 PM
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eenusa - your report is fabulous! I am going to Xigera in December. From what you said, it sounds like it's going to be an amazing camp!! One question for you - do you know why the puff ader attacked your guide at Chitabe Trails? Did the guide provoke the snake? Did this happen right near the camp? Exactly what happened?
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Aug 14th, 2004, 09:17 AM
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Anissrob - don't know why the puff adder attacked Stretch. We were not in the lounge/bar area when it happened. Those who were there said that Stretch was just walking down the path towards the lounge when it happened. It did not sound like he had provoked it. In any event, we were happy that he escaped without injury. They did apparently kill the snake right after that incident, but needless to say, we were a lot more careful after that, and those who had been wandering around with shorts started wearing long pants from that point forward.

PredatorBiologist - thanks for the input; what you say definitely makes sense.
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