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roadwarriorafrica Jun 26th, 2009 05:54 AM

Duba Plains - Botswana + 12 Apostles Cape Town
 
Trip Report

NBO-JNB-NBO KENYA AIRWAYS BUSINESS CLASS
SANDTON TOWERS INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL
JNB-MUB-JNB AIR BOTSWANA ECONOMY CLASS
SEFOFANE
DUBA PLAINS CAMP
MAUN LODGE
JNB-CPT-JNB SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS BUSINESS CLASS
12 APOSTLES HOTEL, CAPE TOWN

After a trip of a lifetime to Duba Plains Camp in June 2008, we had booked 9 nights this time only at Duba Plains by June 2008 for June 2009 for the two of us, plus a friend who is a professional guide in the Masai Mara in Kenya.

I will also write about our whole trip from Nairobi, including a stay in Johannesburg, Maun, and Cape Town, including flights and restaurants. I still need to download photos, which I will add later.

This report will be a day by day report of our experiences at the camp, what we saw on the game drives, about the staff at Duba, and what we ate.

I would also like to point out highlights from the trip (in no particular order):

• 2 full kills. We saw the stalking, the hunt and the kill!!!
• The talks at morning teas and sundowners. We talked about politics, culture, religion, Russell Peters, wildlife, birds, rites of passage, life, families, travel, and everything else under the stars.
• Meeting Linda & Greg & Denise & Anne
• Making new friends
• Seeing our Duba Family again
• Learning about birds (that is something old people do, so I guess I am now officially old)
• Getting a real insight into the lion behavior and trying to figure out why it is so different to lion behavior elsewhere.
• The storm, the rain and listening to baboons going to the bathroom on the roof of our tent.
• Being woken up by very loud snoring, only to realize it is the baboon in the tree above the tent.
• The meals.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 26th, 2009 06:12 AM

Kenya Airways – Business Class
NBO-JNB 04 JUNE 2009
BOEING 737-800
J CLASS: 50% 8/16
Y CLASS: 80%
SEATS 1A 1C 1D
Flying Time: 4 hours

Check in:

Having checked in online the previous day, we arrived at JKIA at 6:00 am for a 7:40 am departure. Usually the airport is very busy in the morning. KQ flights all depart from Unit 2, but in the morning, the JNB, DAR and EBB flights depart from Unit 1. There was no queue at the business class counter, and we had our bags checked in and tagged through to JNB in less then 5 minutes. We cleared immigration and were airside in less then 10 minutes of arriving at the airport.

We did not use the lounge, as it is small and crowded, but headed up to Java Coffee House and had come strong Cappuccino’s.

Boarding:

Boarding was announced at 6:50 am. We had to walk down the stairs of the air bridge and then up the steps to board the plane. The front door was being used for rows 1 – 12 and the rear door for all other passengers. We had the first row all to ourselves.

Flight:

Once we settled down, we were offered a juice/water/sparkling wine (I had the latter. It is the Nederburg Sparkling, which is average). Newspapers were offered. There were already headphones in the seat pocket. The 737-800 has overhead screens. Seating in Business Class is comfortable seats 2-2 that recline around 55 degrees with adequate legroom. Menus were also distributed and our order for breakfast was taken.

Breakfast consisted of Yoghurt, fresh fruit, cereal, bread/croissant and a choice of either scrambled eggs with sausage or sausage with hash brown or some bean dish. I had the eggs, which were tasty, and substantial for the flight.

After take off (7:10 am – 20 minutes early), the breakfast service commenced. Tablecloths were laid out, and hot towels handed out. Then a tray of juice. Then the meal tray. The hot food was brought separately. There was a regular tea/coffee service throughout the meal.

After the breakfast trays were cleared, we were told that there was a bar service available at any time, with a choice of wines, beer, soft drinks, juices and spirits. About an hour before we landed, I felt it was right to have a couple of glasses of the Rupert’s and Rothschild red – a fantastic South African wine which would be appropriate before arriving into South Africa.

There was a duty free service. Throughout the flight, the cabin crew regularly checked on the passengers to see if they were comfortable. Service was excellent and very friendly.

Entertainment was overhead screens that showed the BBC News Service, followed by a movie and then some short comedy programmes. There was also a choice of around 10 audio channels.

We landed at 10:50 am, and after a long taxi, we were at the airbridge.

Arrival:

Johannesburg airport is now massive. There are so many immigration desks, that we waited less then 5 minutes. The staff were professional and courteous.

Even though our bags were tagged priority they took over 20 minutes to come. There was no one at customs, and we were out in a breeze.

Verdict

KQ offer an excellent J class product. What makes them better then other airlines is good service.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 26th, 2009 06:17 AM

AIRPORT TRANSFER SERVICES
JOHANNESBURG

Before leaving home, I had emailed several airport transfer operators in Johannesburg, and got a very professional and positive response from Airport Express. So I went ahead and booked a return airport transfer from Johannesburg Airport to Sandton.

As there were three of us with 4 bags, I had advised them, and they booked a Quantam van.

When we arrived in Johannesburg, we saw a board with our name on it. We went to the driver, who told us that he will call our driver, and he will be with us shortly. We waited around 15 minutes (there are a lot of road works at the airport, so we did not mind waiting). When the car came it was a Toyota Corolla (the Quantam Van was still very far away). We managed to fit everything in, and had a pleasant ride to the hotel. We were then charged the same rate as the van, but did not argue.

I re-confirmed with the driver that we will be collected the next day at 6:00 am with the van for our return journey.

The next day, we were checked out and ready to leave the hotel by 6:00 am. By 6:10 am, there was no van, so I called Airport Express. We were assured the driver would be with us in 5 minutes. By 6:20 am – no driver, and the hotel staff were worried we might get to the airport late. They organised a Mercedes Benz (hotel car) for US$10 less then Airport Express and we left by 6:25 am – still no van.

I sent an SMS to Airport Express saying we had left and were disappointed with their services. No response. Even the hotel driver told us that some other clients have had issues with Airport Express. It was a very disappointing experience.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 26th, 2009 06:20 AM

InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers
June 2009
Corner Deluxe Room

Check In

This was a slow process. As we were checking in at 11:30 am, only one of our rooms were ready which was no problem. We were offered the password for free WiFi, but as we were on holiday, no lap tops, so no Internet needed☺

Room

We had booked a King Deluxe Corner room. It was on the 24th Floor of the hotel technically 14th, as the floor numbers commence at 10). It was slightly larger then the normal King Deluxe.

The room is one of the newer refurbished ones, but the furniture still looks like what was in the older rooms.

There was a walk in wardrobe on the right with a safe (not working), hanging space, and some shelves. On the left was a large bathroom with bathtub, separate shower, and separate toilet. The shower had excellent pressure. Amenities were a mixture of Elemis and Molton Brown. There were plenty of towels, and also bathrobes.

The bedroom was well portioned. At one side was a large King Bed that was very comfortable, with LED reading lights as well as normal reading light. At the other end was a huge plasma screen, L shaped desk with a work area, a Nespresso Machine, Kettle and mini bar. The tea tray included hot chocolate, different teas, biscotti, and biscuits. There was also a recliner chair.

The room was comfortable and the Nespresso Machine and Plasma Screen really set it off. There was an evening turn down service that included chocolates and bottled water.

Overall small things had been overlooked in the room, including no paper in the note pad holder, and a dirty cup.

The hotel is connected to Sandton Mall, so there is an excellent choice of restaurants, and shops to go to.

Check Out

As we were there for one night, we did not try room service, the restaurants, etc. Check out was also a slow process.

Verdict

An excellent hotel which is good value for money. I would definitely go again.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 26th, 2009 06:22 AM

Air Botswana – Economy Class
JNB-MUB 05 JUNE 2009
ATR 42
Y CLASS: 90%
SEATS 4A 4C 4D
Flying Time: 2 hours

Check in:

We had arrived at the airport early, as we wanted to sort out our VAT refund. The BP check in counter was open, so when we went there at 7:30 am to check in for our 10:00 am flight, the check in agent told us that if we check in early, he cannot assure us that our luggage will be safe as the BP staff had not reported to work. He told us to come back after 8:00 am. I liked his honesty.

We came back at 8:15 am and waited around 10 minutes before we could be checked in. It was straightforward. We then cleared security and immigration, before heading to get the VAT refund. This was quick, as we had pre-registered at the Sandton Shopping Mall.

Boarding:

Boarding is via buses, and was announced at 9:45 am. We boarded the ATR through the rear door (I was excited that we had a forward row, so we would be able to disembark quickly). The plane is very new and configured all economy 2-2. The seat has adequate legroom and pitch. It was a fairly full flight.

Flight:

We were pushed back at 10:00 am, and after a short taxi, were air borne by 10:15 am.

The crew began with a light meal service that consisted of a focaccio sandwich with beef and cheese, nuts, and a selection of juices or water. After one hour they did a bar service that included nuts and a choice of soft drinks and jucies. This was excellent for such a short flight.

BP produces a very good magazine. The flight was very uneventful, and smooth. Service was very good.

Arrival:

We landed close to 12:00 pm. We were explicitly told several times to remain seated until we were instructed to disembark. We waited a full 5 minutes after the doors were open.

Immigration had 4 counters operating, so the whole plane was processed very quickly. The luggage “belt” is a desk. We waited around 10 minutes for the bags to come, and were out very quickly.

Verdict

With the new ATR’s Air Botswana offers a good service. The cabin crew were attentive and polite. It is a very efficient service.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 26th, 2009 06:25 AM

Duba Plains Camp
Wilderness Safari’s Classic Camp
5th – 14th June 2009

Friday 5th June 2009

At the Duba airstrip, we were met by Rueben, who was going to be our guide for the next 10 days. Rueben had guided us in 2008, and it was great to see him again. In less then 5 minutes we were at camp, being warmly welcomed by Tebby and Maolosi both camp managers (Maolosi in the General Manager). As we were returning guests, we were taken straight to our tents, being advised we would be briefed at afternoon tea.

We had the two tents at the far end – 5 & 6. Number 6 is their “deluxe” tent, where the difference between that and the others is that it has a King bed as opposed to twin beds. It also has a huge lagoon that the outdoor shower overlooks. Otherwise, they are all very similar.

Each tent sleeps two, has a deck with two plantation chairs with a view over the delta, a large bed head with shelves, writing desk with chair and multi socket adaptors, twin vanity basins with cupboard space underneath, two cupboards with shelves and hanging space, a safe, 6 clothes pegs, and indoor shower and toilet, as well as an outdoor shower. They are extremely comfortable tents, and very adequate for safari. There is also tea and coffee making facilities.

So we unpacked very quickly, and headed up to the common area.

The common area consists of a star gazing deck with a fire pit, a raised common dining area, a lounge area with a bar, one guest toilet, a small swimming pool and an outdoor deck where brunch is served.

We were given the briefing over afternoon tea (mini ham/olive and mushroom pizza’s, orange cake, fresh fruit and iced tea/coffee plus an open bar). This year we were all given our own sippy water bottles that we could fill up at the water dispenser. It is a great idea, as it saves on wastage of plastic water bottles. We used ours religiously for the ten days, as did most other guests. We also met James who is another guide, and Bonang, another manager.

By 3:30 pm we were off on our first game drive. We were joined by Tshidi, who is the Community Welfare Officer (there are 5 villages that have populations of 500-1500 people between 50-60 km away, and they all benefit from Duba Plains Camp). She came out on a number of drives with us. We were told that the Tsaro pride had not successfully hunted for 4 days. That was exciting news. We headed out to where the lions had been last seen. The water levels were much higher then in 2008.

About 45 minutes into the drive, we approached the other vehicle (being driven by Mr. Rasta himself – Carlton), that was heading back to camp after a full day out with the buffalo. Lo and behold, guests from 2008 whom we befriended at Duba Plains – Linda, Greg, Anne and Denise were in the vehicle. We were all gob smacked that it was such a coincidence that we were at the same camp again, and this time we got to spend 4 fantastic nights with them. All 4 are such a good laugh, and we all had wonderful evenings and brunches talking (a lot of crap).

We soon fund the mega herd of buffalo. Estimates are when the herd is all together, there are between 1200 and 1500 bovines. There were a lot of calves this year. As the herd has become so strong, they now calve all year round, as the mortality rate per hundred is extremely low. The herd was well spread and relaxed, which meant that the cats were not near by.

We found part of the Tsaro pride. We were given a lot of information of what happened in the last year, which I will try and report as accurately as possible. The Tsaro pride is now being led by the Skimmer Male. He is the male for both Tsaro and Skimmer prides. The Tsaro pride is a bit disjointed. There are 9 females, who have all had their cubs killed by each other over the last year. 6 females tend to stick together. As they have been fighting with the other 3. The sub-pride of 3 females consists of Silver Eye (who looks very thin and scruffy. She has been in a few fights, and has a limp), and two other younger females). The 6 females seem to be a lot stronger, and include Machine Gun. Machine Gun had some very deep gore marks on the inside of her right leg, which looked like she had been in a fight with a buffalo. This bled for 3 days.

We watched the lion for a while and then headed off for sundowners. Ahh bliss. A beautiful sunset, lots of stories, a few red and white wines and spinach rolls with carrot sticks and a dip. What more can anyone ever ask for in life?

We were back in camp by 7:30 pm. This year we noted that the weather was a lot milder. We had brought huge Timberland jackets to combat the cold we had experienced in 2008, but found that this year it was much milder.

A few stories around the camp fire with some more red, and catching up with the Boston 4, and we were all asked to dinner. What I love about Duba is the communal dining. One big table for one big family. Every meal there would always be one manager and one guide who would join us. Sometimes the family would have a family member who may not be too nice/pleasant/friendly and it would create tension at the table, but the boab boab tree would come to the rescue (those who were there will know).

Dinner consisted of Pumpkin Soup (this rocked) with fresh bread rolls, then rump steak with an onion and potato bake, carrots and beans and a salad, pepper sauce and then a malva pudding. All meals are served buffet style and ladies and usually invited to help themselves first (more time for the guys to drink).

We were in bed by a civilized 9:30 pm. That night we heard a huge hippo fight, which actually sounded like a hippo being mauled (maybe the red wine), and at around 5:00 am lions calling out aloud.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 26th, 2009 06:26 AM

Saturday 6th June

5:30 am wake up. Ahhh……oh yes, we are off on safari. Quickly out of bed, and into all the layers of clothes (it was freezing last year), quick coffee, and we waited on the deck for the guide on duty to come and get us at 6:00 am. He came at 6:00 am and off we went to the common area, picking up tent 5, 3, 2 and 1. Breakfast was wheat porridge, lemon muffins, cereals, toast, fresh fruit and hot beverages. The bar is always open. We had requested a more substantial breakfast, which we were promised would be served from the next day.

By 6:30 am we were on the road, driving, semi floating, and off in search of the mega herd. We had heard the lions a few hours earlier, so knew they were around. The morning was not too cold, not too much mist, actually 11 degrees Celsius.

We found the buffalos less then 800 meters from where we had left them the night before. The lions had been around, which means at night the buffalo did not move much. Instead they formed a very tight ring, with the young and females on the centre. We had seen the lions approaching the buffalo, so positioned ourselves, where we thought would have been strategic. After a 45 minute wait, we had not seen then, so drove back to where they were last seen, and tracked them, only to find out they had moved in front of us through the bush and were now behind the buffalo, cutting them off from heading towards the camp.

The buffalo crossed onto the other island, which is inaccessible by vehicle. We watched a fantastic crossing. The lions went across after an hour or so. Initially it was just 4 females, who through the shallow crossing were in single file, evenly spread out. The male came by later, and spooked a monitor lizard, who bolted so fast in front of the male that he spooked the male back.

When the females decided to cross the deep channel, they were very close together, and started to cross. Around 30 meters into the crossing, the lead female must have touched something on the river bed with her paw that really alarmed her and she did a fast u-turn that prompted all the females to turn back quickly. They thought it might have been a crocodile, but more then likely a log.

Eventually the lions crossed, which was disappointing, as we were not sure when they would come back to the area which we could access. Also if they killed on the other side, then they may not come back for 3-4 days. Alternatively, they could push the buffalo even further away, into Skimmer territory.

On the drive back to camp, we saw a side stripped jackal and a fish eagle.

Brunch consisted of pork, olive bread, coleslaw, pasta, cucumber salad, snow pea salad and cheese and fruit. Good food. All this was washed down with a few Saint Louis (local beer that is light but tasty).

We had afternoon tea at 3:30 pm. Today there was Bruschetta, Beef samosas ad Lemon Slice.

The afternoon game drive was much quieter. We found 3 female lionesses, just being themselves. We saw lots of birds, including a little bee eater. This year the swarms of quelias were not there.

We had sundowners (papadums and olives, with the usual wines), while talking, and watched the sun go down. As soon as the sun starts to set, the weather does become chilly.

The drive home had a mini astronomy lesson where we were shown the big dipper, and Southern Cross (we saw the milky way later that night). When we got back to camp, our fried – Dardley was back, and Maoloisy had left for his month long leave. We had a few drinks with Dardley and the other guests around the fire.

Dinner was an avocado fan, then chicken, a rice stuffed pumpkin, gem squash, beans and salad, and then the desert of the trip, an Amarula Panacotta. As usual fantastic meal. A few more drinks and it was bed by 10:30 pm, albeit a shouting match from tent 3, which was quelled by Tebby and Carlton.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 26th, 2009 06:47 AM

Sunday 7th June

After an unusual wake up of hearing baboon droppings and watering on the tent roof, we were dressed and off to the breakfast area by 6:00 am. There was eggs, and bacon and sausages. Yes, now were talking real breakfast, not that stuff you feed to horses and cows☺ so we tucked into that and were off by 6:30 am.

We found that the buffalo herd had split during the night. There were some closer to the camp. Silver Eye and her sister had tried to kill a warthog, but failed (another vehicle had seen this). We had a great drive, sighting an aardwolf, the buffalo and loads of birds (Marshal Eagle, Harrier Hawk, African Gymongene and also another Harrier Hawk at a Woodpeckers nest, eating the chicks). Does that count as a kill???

We were back for brunch and beers. Beef Bourganian, vegetable skewers, potato wedges, beetroot salad, and the usual fresh fruit (papaya to die for. We used to fight at the table as to who would get it;) and cheese. Then it was off for a nap.

Afternoon tea was ham and onion muffins, chicken in filo pastry and a prune slice.

We headed back to where the buffalo herd was seen in the morning. They were still on the other side, and we hoped they might cross during the night. We saw Wattled cranes, White Faced Ducks, Pygmy Geese. Egyptian Geese and many other birds.

We had an early sundowner, as it was Greg x 4 ‘s last evening, so we had to put a serious dent into the Duba bar. Sundowners tonight were Cabbanosi and Billtong. We had a wonderful time, laughing and chatting and planning the Return to Duba Part III in 2010.

We were back in camp by 7:30 pm, and after a few drinks around the fire, off to eat once again. Dinner was Bruschetta, then roasted legs of lamb, studded with garlic, cous cous with dates, ratatouille, green beans, and salad, then a pancake with apple. During dinner, we heard the lions roaring. At 9:00 pm we heard the buffalo moving through the water (cool, we will be with them tomorrow).

As it was Linda and family’s last night, we had to stay up, and had to drink with them (with an emphasis on “had”). It was a great evening, and the lions gave us good roars at around 10:00 pm. So we were now scared to head back to the tents so stayed for a few more drinks (any excuse). I think we were in bed by 11:30 pm.

cw Jun 26th, 2009 08:40 PM

Loving your report--especially all the details. Like the comment about birds! I guess I can relate . . .

roadwarriorafrica Jun 26th, 2009 10:55 PM

I am now in Kisumu on Lake Victoria writing this.

Monday 8th June

We were up before sunrise and having breakfast at 6:30 am. Our 4 Bostonian friends were leaving this morning, so we said initial goodbyes around the fire after breakfast. Jungle Oats and a hot breakfast later, we were off in search of the buffalo that we had heard crossing water the night before.

Just after the bridge, we came across the buffalo. They had crossed the channel and were heading towards the camp. We then found the three lionesses (Silver Eye’s trio), who were shadowing the buffalo. They looked like they had a kill (very small) the night before. They still looked hungry.

During our break for morning tea, we could see that there were clouds gathering, which for this time of the year is very unusual.

Back for brunch at 11:30 am and there was chicken pie, cous cous, and the usual plethora of salads.

Afternoon tea was something delicious, but I forgot to write down what it was. We were off by 3:30 pm to see if there was a hunt, stalking, kill, anything exciting. At around 4:30 pm the wind really picked up, and clouds got even darker and more ominous. The heavens opened up and it bucketed down. We headed back to camp, and we were surprised at how Rueben could drive, as the wind was pelting the rain into his face. But excellent skills, and wet clothes later, we were back at camp, where we proceeded to have our sundowners as we did not wish to ever miss out on an opportunity to use the sunset as an excuse to have a drink. By now it was very cold, and our jackets were really coming in handing.

Tonight was African night, which would have meant dinner and a fire in the Boma (this was an addition since 2008), but due to the weather, the fire was on the star deck and dinner in the dining room. For dinner we had rump steak, pap, pumpkin and salad. During dinner there was a lot of thunder and lightning.

We had new friends to make – 4 Canadians (Beth & Gary, Rick & Anne), and two Germans. At 10:00 pm it started raining very heavily. We headed back to our tents for a wet and windy night with thunder that was frightening, and we could see the lightning through the tent walls. We heard no animals the whole night, and this time I could not use the baboons as an excuse for the snoring noises.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 27th, 2009 03:22 AM

Monday 8th June

We were up before sunrise and having breakfast at 6:30 am. Our 4 Bostonian friends were leaving this morning, so we said initial goodbyes around the fire after breakfast. Jungle Oats and a hot breakfast later, we were off in search of the buffalo that we had heard crossing water the night before.

Just after the bridge, we came across the buffalo. They had crossed the channel and were heading towards the camp. We then found the three lionesses (Silver Eye’s trio), who were shadowing the buffalo. They looked like they had a kill (very small) the night before. They still looked hungry.

During our break for morning tea, we could see that there were clouds gathering, which for this time of the year is very unusual.

Back for brunch at 11:30 am and there was chicken pie, cous cous, and the usual plethora of salads.

Afternoon tea was something delicious, but I forgot to write down what it was. We were off by 3:30 pm to see if there was a hunt, stalking, kill, anything exciting. At around 4:30 pm the wind really picked up, and clouds got even darker and more ominous. The heavens opened up and it bucketed down. We headed back to camp, and we were surprised at how Rueben could drive, as the wind was pelting the rain into his face. But excellent skills, and wet clothes later, we were back at camp, where we proceeded to have our sundowners as we did not wish to ever miss out on an opportunity to use the sunset as an excuse to have a drink. By now it was very cold, and our jackets were really coming in handing.

Tonight was African night, which would have meant dinner and a fire in the Boma (this was an addition since 2008), but due to the weather, the fire was on the star deck and dinner in the dining room. For dinner we had rump steak, pap, pumpkin and salad. During dinner there was a lot of thunder and lightning.

We had new friends to make – 4 Canadians (Beth & Gary, Rick & Anne), and two Germans. At 10:00 pm it started raining very heavily. We headed back to our tents for a wet and windy night with thunder that was frightening, and we could see the lightning through the tent walls. We heard no animals the whole night, and this time I could not use the baboons as an excuse for the snoring noises.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 27th, 2009 03:34 AM

Sorry for the double post, Internet here is not fantastic.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 28th, 2009 01:11 AM

Tuesday 9th June

So after a heavy night of rain and storms, we braved the 5:30 am wake up saying to ourselves it will clear up, and we will have a great day ahead. But it kept raining. We kept looking to the North, where the clouds cleared up, and then they came from the West. This weather was very unusual. We waited till 7:30 am. None of the other guests had emerged. So it was the three of us, and some staff who waited in the cold. After chatting to Rueben (who would never say no), we decided it looked clear enough to head off for a drive. We did not even make it to the bridge (about a 15 minute drive), when the rain became too much, and we were all brave enough to admit that it had defeated us. So we headed back to camp.

We waited in the lounge for around 30 minutes, but it was too cold, and miserable, so we headed back to the tents, and slept (ahhh a lie in was bliss) until brunch time.

Brunch was a heart warming lamb stew with cous cous, carrots, pumpkin and salad, Due to the weather, this was served in the dining area. All the other guests, except Beth headed out earlier, and we stayed behind, after our morning experience, to wait and see if the sun came out before we went. So we started on the sundowners/sun uppers early and had some of the good South African Red (we convinced ourselves that it would keep us warm).

At 3:00 pm we headed off, with Beth joining us. We met the other vehicle, and Gary joined us as well. They had seen the Male lion, so we went off to find him. What a magnificent sight he was when we found him. His mane was blowing in the wind, and he would have his head facing the wind. He was sight to see. We also saw two of the females, and the buffalo.

Later on, we saw Side Stripped Jackals, eating fruit from the Jackleberry tree off the ground (must have blown off the tree in the storm). We had a quick sundowner as the clouds had started gathering again. It started drizzling when we were close to camp, so we got back reasonably dry☺

Tonight there was a fire in the Boma, as the star deck was inoperable (those who were there know). We sat with Dardley, Bonang, Tebby, and Farahi (camp mechanic). They had some mopani worms which they shared (taste nutty and were crunchy. Good with beer). When dinner was ready, the usual courteous “Dinner is ready, when you are” announcement was made. So we took this literally and went for dinner when we were ready (encouraged by the managers we said as an excuse), but which time the Bruschetta had been served. We were in time for the real food – Roast Chicken, Risotto, gravy and mixed vegetables. OT the chef was serving tonight. Every evening the chef in charge will come and announce the menu (OT was very cheeky, and would always say that he is serving wildlife), and then decided whether ladies, or the gents would help themselves first. I had mentioned to Tebby the day before how much I had enjoyed the Amarula Panacotta. So desert tonight was a chocolate brownie, but Sola, another chef had made only for me the Amarula Panacotta. I was stuffed, but would not, and could not say no. Beth who was sitting next to me as eyeing the Panacotta, which I offered to share, but Sola brought the last one for her. It was sublime.

We were back at the fire, and a few reds later we were off to bed by 10:00 pm. The skies opened up by midnight, and it rained most of the night with huge claps of thunder, and lightning to match. We saw the next day that the water level in the Delta had risen by 120 – 150 mm. This was the highest rainfall on record in June.

Femi Jun 28th, 2009 11:22 AM

Love your style of writing!

Femi Jun 28th, 2009 11:29 AM

Meant to add my questions:
Did I miss the part where you describe how you got from Maun to Duba Plains?

You may be getting to it, but how did you feel about the length of time spent at Duba Plains? I found myself needing a rest after only four nights on safari.

Femi Jun 28th, 2009 11:34 AM

Oh, were you warm enough in the tent at night? How did they heat it?

moremiles Jun 28th, 2009 12:46 PM

Great report with lots of detail!

roadwarriorafrica Jun 29th, 2009 12:36 AM

Femi - you are so right. Gremlins with the Internet in Kisumu. Will add that post next. The tents were heated using blankets, body heat, and hot water bottles ;) It was actually qite warm once in bed.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 29th, 2009 12:37 AM

Sefofane Air Safari’s
Maun – Duba Plains Camp (Okavango Delta)
5th June 2009
Cesena 208

As everyone on Sefofane arrived on the Air Botswana flight from JNB, there was a considerable queue to check in. It took around 20 minutes to check in. We then waited a further 20 minutes, before we were told we were leaving.

There is one security line at Maun airport, where all our luggage plus passengers go through, so this took a further 20 minutes. But hey, who cares – I am on my holidays and I love it. If it took an hour, I would have asked for a beer, but then we were airside.

We hoped on board the Sefofane golf buggy and were taken to our chariot – a Cesena 208. Our pilot gave us a safety briefing outside the plane (that was rudely interrupted by passing planes – how cool), and we were on board. 8 of the 12 seats were occupied.

Ours was the second stop, and it took around 1 hour to get to Duba. We were met by Rueben – our guide from 2008.

roadwarriorafrica Jun 29th, 2009 12:38 AM

Wednesday 10th June

This morning, we woke to more rains. We learnt our lesson yesterday and did not get out of bed. Just slept in the warmth until around 7:30 am. The clouds from both the North and the West looked like they were clearing, so as experts in climate, we made the executive decision that it was time to go and have breakfast and possibly head out.

So breakfast was served, and while eating fat juicy sausages with scrambled eggs, bacon and toast, the clouds were clearing, and we were happy. And then the clouds came in from nowhere, the heavens opened up heavily and the cold set in. So what to do with a full belly and cold wet weather? Surf the web – no Internet. Watch a movie – no TV. Listen to music – no radio. So we went back to sleep☺ At 11:00 am we were woken up by Rueben, asking if we would be coming for brunch. Of course, I told him, like I was hungry again.

So brunch today was in the dining room, and we had beef steaks, potato salad, pasta with cheese, horseradish sauce, mixed vegetables, Chinese cabbage salad, and other salads. Food was excellent, but all the guests were in very edgy moods, having been cooped up for a few days. Come on, did the camp staff not know we had all paid zillions to come on safari and now we had bad weather? We laughed so much at remarks we were told that had been made by past guests – Can the Delta not be diverted to the desert so there is less water at Duba? What was the Impala doing in the tree when the leopard killed it? And many other silly (quirky/naive) comments.

At 12:30 pm we made the brave decision to head out for a drive. What a drive it was going to be. We headed out west, and came across 5 Bat Eared Fox’s. It seemed like all the animals were out after the rain. Then 2 Side Stripped Jackals. Today there were lots of Red Lechwe in the water. It was great to see them run and then jump as they moved away from us through the water. There were also large numbers of Tsesebe.

We eventually found the buffalo (look for the flying Cattle Egret, and Ox Peckers), and very nearby were three lioness (Silver Eye and crew). The lionesses were spread out around to sides of the buffalo. The lionesses were very disjointed and looked like they were not working together at all. One would decide to move, and the others would continue sleeping/resting. Then another one would see an opportunity and move, and the others did nothing. This lead to a Warthog coming into view of one of the lionesses, and she attempted to stalk it, but with no help from the other two, she was seen by the Warthog, which meant her cover was blown. By now this lioness had moved closer to the buffalo, of whom quite a number were grazing in the water. She saw this as an opportunity, and kept looking back for where the other two lionesses were. They joined her around 5 minutes later. Now they were working together. They identified one female who was on the edge of the swamp, and they started to stalk her. Some of the other buffalos saw the cats and alerted the whole herd. There was a stampede of bovines, as they tried to clear the water. The really interesting trait that the Duba Buffalo have developed is that they know they can fight or attack the lions. As long as the majority of the herd has moved, and are protecting the young, there are always a few bulls and older cows who will turn around and attack the lions. This is what happened, around 4 bulls and cows turned on the lions, pushing them back. They would charge, and then retreat, at which stage the lions would turn and try and attack. It was quick, and the cats retreated.

Meanwhile. We had earlier seen a female buffalo head back on her own to where the whole herd had moved from in the morning. We had suspected that some of the other 6 females had killed her calf, and she was looking for it. From where we were, initially the buffalo were heading to the left side of a swamp, but instead turned around, and then tried to head up on the right side. They had made considerable progress, but with the lion attack, they had turned around. The lone buffalo was not aware of what had happened, and headed straight to where the lions were. We were in luck. The lionesses picked up her scent as the wind was favorable to them. They were down low, waiting for the cow, and as soon as she was within 7 meters, the attack was on. Silver Eye was on the cows back, but was being shaken off. Remember she has a permanent limp, so was much weaker then in her prime days. She was holding onto the side of the buffalo, claws in, working her teeth, when another female jumped on the back of the buffalo, which allowed Silver Eye to come off, but as she slipped off, the buffalo turned around and tried to gore her, which Silver Eye saw and avoided. The buffalo lost her rear grip and with the weight of the cat, she fell. This allowed the third female to rush her neck, and grab her throat. Now it was a melee, with the lionesses working simultaneously looking for weaknesses in the buffalo and taking advantage of doing serious damage to the soft areas, including the inside of the rear legs, suffocating the throat, biting down on where the tail meets the spine, and on the snout. Out of nowhere we saw a large bull run by (actually with a bit of a limp), and we thought he might try and help the female buffalo, but as he looked injured, he might have been weak, so all he wanted to do was save himself.

From the time Silver Eye attacked to the time the buffalo was on the ground, it was 30 seconds. It took a further 20 minutes for the buffalo to stop making any noise and move. All the noise during the struggle would have traveled far. We were so elated with what we had seen – a classic Duba Kill.

We watched for around 10 minutes, and with our adrenaline levels so pumped, decided we would head off to find a sundowner spot, and celebrate what we had seen. We crossed one of the channels, when we saw a fourth female heading towards the kill. This would be cool, if the 6 females and male would head to the three and with all their personal tensions, and a fresh kill, there might be some interesting action. Then we saw a three more females heading as well. They all looked like they had been running through water. So we headed back to the kill. The sun had already set, and it was dusk. There was a lot of hierarchical nonsense going on. The females that had not been involved in the kill had dominated the kill, and were around the soft points of the buffalo, while Silver Eye’s trio were either at the hard bits, or chased away from the kill all together. Now it was dark, and the spot light came on. First time in my life, I felt like I was on a National Geographic Stage where you see ferocious lions fighting under spotlight over a kill, with all the gory sounds. Only difference was that I felt cold, and could smell the buffalo’s stomach. This was a million times better.

Now we had to head back, as dinner would be waiting for us. Four other guests watched the kill – Rick/Anne (Beth and Gary had gone), and a French couple who had been at Duba for less then 3 hours (now they could say to their friends – Duba, you only need to go for one night and you will see a kill).

Back at camp, it was drinks all around and stories to tell around the camp fire. Dinner was fresh buffalo steaks………hey hand on, I am not OT the chef, t was pork chops and vegetables and salad (see I cannot remember detail, as there were better things to remember that day), and some chocolate thing. Then off to the fire for a few more tales, and drinks. We went to bed that night on top of the world.


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