Gaurang's Trip Report - 28 days in Botswana

Old Dec 1st, 2006, 02:59 PM
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More, more, more!!!
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Old Dec 1st, 2006, 03:24 PM
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Not bad, indeed, for a first day. Looking forward to the tale of vengeance.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 05:49 AM
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<font color="red">Photos of Chitabe Trails Camp with some highlights from Day 1<font color="red">

http://www.kodakgallery.co.uk/Slideshow.jsp?Uc=31ailg45.9pclvby5&amp;Uy=-pdxlgf&amp;Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfro mshare&amp;Ux=0&amp;localeid=en_GB&amp;mode=fromsh are&amp;conn_speed=1</font></font>
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 10:01 AM
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Brilliant start to the trip report and wonderful photos -- I especially love the first leopard pic and the secretary bird. Camp looks outstanding as well.

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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 03:08 PM
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Looking forward to more! We loved Chitabe Trails but unfortunately, did not have Newman as our guide.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 03:44 PM
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great start Gaurang! Keep it coming!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 04:05 PM
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We're loving it! Keep it up! Pics are great too.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 04:40 PM
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You got some nice photos of the female leopard before it got too dark. A great beginning to Chitabe.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Thank you to all for your kind comments. I'm sorry it's a bit slow but please be patient and we'll get there in the end. At the end of each day's report I will post a link to the photographic highlights for that day, so it will be easier for the readers to follow and the photos will make more sense.

Many thanks

Gaurang
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Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 08:15 PM
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Hey Gaurang,

Nice trip report so far. Yes, like your style and format (different and original)....liked your pics from your first set.

Rgds,
H
 
Old Dec 6th, 2006, 08:06 AM
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DAY 2 – THE ELEPHANT MIGRATION (and not to Angola )

By 5:55am we were on the move and immediately received news that a lioness had made a zebra kill very early this morning. She was part of the Chitabe pride that consisted of 4 males and 6 females, but she was on her own and being very secretive. When we caught up with her, she had already had her fill and had done quite a good job of hiding the rest. The kill was a young zebra – not a baby but still young. Surprisingly there were no vultures in sight as the kill was so well hidden out of aerial view. But there were two hyenas in attendance but they weren’t brave enough to challenge this girl and kept a safe distance. While we were watching the lioness and hyenas, Newman was engrossed studying a herd of zebra in the far distance. He singled out a female zebra by her behaviour and calls and stated that she was the mother of the dead zebra, still hoping to find her young one. This gave us a very different perspective on the situation, where most guides usually only focus on the predators and the kill. The lioness was very relaxed and it looked as though she would be there a long time, so we continued our journey thinking that other members of her pride will join her later.

We soon had our first close-up of tsessebes (this was a first for us). We had seen hundreds of topi before in east Africa but never a tsessebe. We also encountered more zebra, wildebeest, black-backed jackals, elephants, impala and many raptors. We then went to take some photos of the pelicans that we ignored on the previous day in our haste for the leopard. Close to the pelicans there were some more wattled cranes and saddle-billed storks. Then Newman saw some WILD DOG tracks but these were old and we continued our drive. We then found some fresh buffalo tracks and Newman explained that it was quite a large herd, so off we went looking for them. By the time we caught up with them they had already crossed the “channel” and were in the Moremi Game Reserve so our pursuit came to an end but we could still see this healthy herd of about 200 members. The Chitabe concession borders the Moremi Game Reserve and the two are separated by a “channel” (only 3 meters wide in some places). When we were there, it was possible to walk across the “channel” without barely getting your feet wet – but rules are rules. Even a troop of baboons were running backwards and forwards across the channel feeding on water lilies. Newman told us that he enjoys driving along the border with Moremi because sometimes he sees members of the Stix pride of lions who reside in Moremi but like to patrol this border. But Newman’s most enjoyable border sighting was a pair of white rhinos that were very close to the border. All guests and staff at Chitabe rushed to the sighting as fast as they could. For many members of staff it was the first rhino that they had ever seen!!!!!! Those rhinos on Chief’s Island do like to move around a bit. We then made our way back to camp.

Afternoon siesta time at Chitabe Trails was always interesting as there were always animals wandering around the camp. During our stay we saw elephant, zebra, wildebeest, impala, bushbuck, reedbuck, baboons, ground hornbills, wattled cranes and lots of other bird life – most of these sightings were from our verandah!!! We even saw a rock monitor lizard which was another “first” for us and a very strange and mysterious cat that you will hear more about later.

As we were leaving the camp for the afternoon game drive, we saw a lioness making her way to the channel for a drink. She was only 250m from the camp and then Newman explained that she was the same female that we saw this morning and that the kill was made very close to the camp!!!! We didn’t realize how close because our different route to the sighting in the morning made us lose our bearings. The kill had now been hidden in a different spot and she was still on her own. No vultures or hyenas in sight – this girl was good at keeping a secret. The zebra carcass had hardly been touched since we last saw it. There were some giraffes near by but they seemed to be aware of her. Other animals encountered included yellow mongoose, warthogs, female greater kudus and an interesting group of ground hornbills. One in particular, was carrying a mouse and frog in its mouth as though it was saving them for later (see photos). When it came across a tasty looking insect, it would put down the frog and mouse, gobble up the insect and then move on again carrying the frog and mouse. We also encountered another big herd of buffalo (about 300). Apart from the buffalo in Duba Plains, all of the herds we encountered during this trip were quite skittish. It only took one buffalo to start running and this would be followed by a stampede in clouds of dust. This herd did not disappoint and it was great to capture this thunderous stampede on video. We noticed a small breeding herd of elephants, so we left the buffalo to follow them. The elephants headed through some bushes, so we followed them. When we came out on the other side of the bushes, the enormous scale of the situation started to unfold. There were elephants all around us (Newman estimated about 250). Then we drove a bit further ahead and there were another few hundred elephants. In the space of one square kilometer, Newman estimated a total of 600-700 elephants. It was an extraordinary sight and something that the still and video cameras were really struggling to capture (even at their widest angles) – you really needed to capture this scene from the air. They were everywhere and concentrated along the tree lines of the small islands. But where were they all coming from and what were they all doing in Chitabe??? Newman explained that the elephants were migrating south from Chobe but taking a different route by cutting out Linyanti. The last time I witnessed an elephant migration on a similar scale, I was in Amboseli during April when 300-400 elephants were heading towards Mount Kilimanjaro – and this was in open plains, so probably more spectacular. But the Chitabe migration was awe-inspiring and after passing another herd of buffalo (about 50), we stopped for sundowners. We stopped in a safe spot but could still see elephants moving and feeding in all directions around us – this was great!!! Under spotlight we passed many more elephants and went to check on our lioness but she was still on her own. That night after dinner, we were walking back to our room, escorted by Andrea, when we heard a male lion calling. Then Andrea shone his torch on to the channel right outside our room and there were many eyes looking back at us. The large herd of 300 buffalo had decided to spend the night outside Chitabe Trails camp but they were very well behaved and quiet during the night.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 08:15 AM
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<font color="red">Photographic highlights from Day 2:<font color="red">

http://www.kodakgallery.co.uk/Slideshow.jsp?Uc=31ailg45.9e5wor6l&amp;Uy=l5mlcl&a mp;Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&a mp;Ux=0&amp;localeid=en_GB&amp;mode=fromshare&amp; conn_speed=1</font></font>
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 08:34 AM
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&quot;Afternoon siesta time at Chitabe Trails was always interesting as there were always animals wandering around the camp.&quot;

Game viewing from camp is always high on my camp evaluation check sheet. This sounds great!!!

That hornbill shot with the 2 course meal is a classic. A true gormet! You also have some outstanding buffalo and leapard shots!!
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 09:25 AM
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Gaurang: we have lots to look forward to with each day of your trip getting unique coverage, thanks!

The hornbill shot is a classic. I would guess he has a female who has sealed herself inside the nesting cavity of a tree and he is saving the big groceries for her.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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That first zebra photo was jolting. The ground hornbill and scorpion is exceptional. I think that's the sort of thing Predator is looking for in his request (posted today) for interesting animal behavior pics. I felt like I was walking into the buffalo herd!

The mother zebra, spotted by Newman, is a reminder of the whole circle of life thing.


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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 05:08 PM
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Gaurang,

The elephant migration from Chobe....were they passing thru Chitabe to go someplace else? Until now, i assumed they all go into the mopane around the chobe/linyanti and hide there until the dry season. But, some fantastic sights....

Hair
 
Old Dec 6th, 2006, 11:42 PM
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Thanks GreenDrake, PB, Lynn and Hari. Many of the guides told me that once the first rains start to fall, thousands of elephants will start to head south towards the central Kalahari. It was late October when we saw this but earlier that month they saw a group of over 1000 elephants!!! (I think they mention it in the Chitabe newsletter) Again, they were just passing through and heading south. That is just one of the migration routes from Chobe/Linyanti, but there are others too. I was told that if all the elephants remained in northern Botswana, the damage and lack of food would be devastating for them. Many head south, giving the north some relief and time to recover.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 11:49 PM
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Absolutely amazing. Reminds me of some pictures taken from the Chobe river that I must share.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 11:59 PM
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Gaurang,

Thanks....once again, another strong reason to take a long mobile safari trip deep into the Kalahari during the greeen season months. Besides the cheetah there

Hari

 
Old Dec 7th, 2006, 12:00 AM
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wrong smiley.......i just cant use that feature well!!!

 

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