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Just back from our Chobe and Delta trip-WOW,WOW, WOW!


Sep 13th, 2014, 02:22 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2014
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Just back from our Chobe and Delta trip-WOW,WOW, WOW!

Still jet lagged, but here we go as promised This is the trip that Bert from Fish Eagle Safaris arranged for us.
Started at Chobe Game Lodge for 3 nights-beautiful lodge w/views of the river, watching the hippos, ellies with baboons and warties cavorting in the foreground. Food was excellent and more than plentiful Wildlife seemed to be fewer in numbers than I expected, especially the ellies. They were all in Lagoon. The Chobe river cruises we did every day after our AM drive, with just our group of 6, is an absolute must do. We saw more from the water then on the drives, including a leopard w/her kill hiding under a bush on the shore. Amazed at the number of Fish eagles and the Carmine Bee eaters that had arrived early-what a treat. Highlight on game drives was the watering hole and witnessing a major baboon fight -3 females, whilst a small herd of ellies including a 5 month old, were surrounding the young one while drinking. The fight went on for around 15 minutes before the Ellies decided enough was enough and scared them off. We still wonder if the baboon survived the vicious attack. Also there was a huge herd of Sable antelope-one of my must sees, at the hole!

Off to Lagoon for 3 nights and very disappointed to hear that the dogs had moved to Lebala.
The guide and tracker there-Carlos and PK were the best of the trip and we preferred the Kwondo set up to any other. Open vehicle, tracker sits in tracking chair in front of hood.
I think they saw my desperation to see the dogs and we had planned a full day out, so drove down to Lebala during off hours so as not to disturb their guests and saw my first pack-8 adults and 13 pups of varying ages-what an absolute treat watching them play while the adults slept. . On our night drive saw our first Genet Cat, Bushbaby, Spring and Marsh Hares and Pearl Spotted Owl. Hoped to see Pangolin, but alas. Saw our first Tsessebe, water and reedbuck and red lechwe there and a lioness with 3-8 mo. old cubs were tracked on the island. Blackie and Blondie-2 beautiful, aged males that were just trying to stay out of the way of another group of 4 younger males was also a treat. Just listening to the guides stories was amazing.
We loved the camp, oversized tents, food, being situated on the water. I'd go there again in a heartbeat. Got a great send off having to drive through a huge herd of buffalo and ellies as we were leaving camp.

On to Little Kwara for 3 nights. Highlight here was the pack of 31! 16 pups (4 mo. old) from the alpha female, along with 15 adults. Followed them on the chase, watched them bring back the meals and greetings. Amazing to watch their social interactions.
Also lioness with cubs who was the daughter of the pride female who had been killed last month by a rogue male, who was then subsequently killed by the pride males.
Another leopard enjoying impala leftovers and the largest zebra herd we had seen, plus our first Slaty Egret.
On our full day out we went Cheetah hunting, to no avail, but did see another must see-the Secretary Bird and also Black Backed Jackals, along with the usual suspects.
Following morning we had planned a leisurely mokoro ride, but the guides that were already out, called in-Cheetah! So we scrambled and flew to the site. A gorgeous male-am glad we saw him-only one on the whole trip.
A must do at L/K is the heronry that used to be at Gcodwicke, but moved to the next island over due to ellie invasion. Absolutely amazing site and I have seen some heronries. Marabou and open billed storks, slaty, snowy and giant egrets, black capped night herons, African Darters, Cormorants etc. There at dusk and they just kept coming in. Great opportunity to practice your BIF shots! Only thing we didn't care for here was the heavy metal smell of the water.

Xakanaxa for 2 nights. Immediately missed our private concessions and inability to drive off road. But very nice place and wonderful, very knowledgeable guide.
They have a resident Malachite Kingfisher on the termite mound. Saw a troop of banded mongooses, more Lechwe, Kudu, waterbuck and Steenbok and Little Grebes were fun to watch on boat ride. Thoroughly enjoyed watching the yellow billed stork doing his little "dance" while fishing for dinner. Only big cat was a male lion. More water based activities which was actually very nice, since at this point in the trip we were tiring of the "African Massages"

Stanley for last 2 nights. Greeted by the resident "choir", which was actually very cool.
Beautiful place and loved the wake up service WITH coffee! Offered full sit down meals vs. buffet and had instant hot water in tents. More pretentious than other camps. I personally preferred the others. Woke up both mornings to either baboons or Ellies wandering right outside our tents.
A totally unexpected surprise was the 3rd wild dog pack!
Our last game drive entailed the chase and - almost kill and the aftermath. We saw them take off for the hunt (impala), but then the guide just kind of meandered around before going to the kill. After much thought, I believe it was intentional, so we wouldn't see the actual kill. I think they should have given us the option. It was however amazing to see what little was left after less than a 10 min. delay!

The reason we stayed at Stanley was so that we could go to the Elephant Encounter (Grey Matters) with Doug and Sandy Groves. What an absolutely humbling experience. Jabu, Marula and Thembi are semi habituated to people since being rescued from a Kruger cull years ago and living with the Groves since then. They can come and go as they please and interact w/the wild Ellies, but choose to usually stay w/the Groves. Very, very informative and just to be able to touch and feel a full grown African Elephant bull is something I will never, never forget. We would do it again in a heartbeat and in fact, there was a couple there for their 2nd time.

Friends have asked us which we preferred; here or the Serengeti 6 yrs. ago. You just can't answer that-they are so completely different. We've been to both now in the dry season so next I think we may go back to the Serengeti in the green season and then back here for the green. I just loved the private concessions.

Of course our next trips are prefaced on winning the lottery But both trips were worth every penny!!!
LKW1958 is offline  
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Sep 13th, 2014, 08:21 AM
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Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I'm in the process of researching for a possible trip to the area in April, and this is helpful.
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Sep 13th, 2014, 08:21 AM
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Looks like you had a fabulous time. Could you state your itinerary? Is this a set departure, arranged through Fish Eagle? I am asking because you mention going on the river cruise with your group of 6. Wondering how that was incorporated each day into your outing and also at what time you did the river cruise.

Interesting conclusion on the kill. I guess that points to the merits of letting your guide know early on the sorts of things you are interested in or not and including or excluding kills in that list.

Tell us more about the Stanley ele encounter, please. How many people joined you and is there a max #? Is it offered once per day? What else did you do or see while at Stanley Camp.

You chose some of the most special places on earth to visit and you went at a really good time. And you were well rewarded.
atravelynn is offline  
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Sep 13th, 2014, 08:42 AM
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Atravelynn, we started w/3 nights Chobe Game Lodge, then 3 nights Lagoon, 3 nights Little Kwara, 2 nights Xakanaxa and ended w/2 nights at Stanley
As far as the 10:30 boat cruise every morning at Chobe, we didn't even know it was scheduled, so very nice surprise and as I said-we loved it. Bert must have scheduled it knowing that we were also birders-a must for the Delta!

As far as the Ellie encounter, there were 10 in our group-don't think they go any larger than that. It's once/day at around 9 to around 1PM; so jittery w/excitement I didn't look at my watch, but think that was correct. The cost also included a very nice lunch set under a giant sausage tree and you ate with the 3 of them-too cool.
Only went on 2 game drives there and of course I mentioned the dogs, but the other highlight was a pair of honey badgers at night as we were coming into camp. Area is known for leopard and we caught a beauty sprawled out on a large branch for about 15 min. before he got tired of posing.
LKW1958 is offline  
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Sep 13th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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Welcome back and thanks so much for reporting back to us thru your jet lag. Really sounds like you had an amazing time!!

Looking forward to some photos tho!

Hadn't heard of the Elephant Encounter so am off to locate their website.
KathBC is offline  
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Sep 13th, 2014, 08:51 PM
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Thanks for the report! Sounds perfect. Someday we will get back to Botswana and hopefully be greeted by large packs of dogs. We have had very bad luck, like pangolin, but it's ok .

I prefer mid to lower range camps too. High end is just not my style. No need to win lotto for your next trip - our last two week, almost all safari to Kruger and KZN was less than USD5000 for both of us, including international airfare using miles (it's never free). We prefer to go more often and stay in affordable camps and parks. Our trip to Botswana in 2016 will be difficult to arrange in our price range, but it will be wonderful. It's Botswana's 50th year of independence in 2016!

Cheetahs are such a treat!! And honey badgers - they can be so fun to watch. Very surprising the guide didn't race after the pack to see the kill. They depend on tips, so do try to give the "best" experience they can. We saw secretary birds, kori bustard and ground hornbills last time around - amazing birds. It's fun to try to figure out what we are looking at (we are not twitchers!!). Sable are gorgeous - very nice.

Be careful with those ellie encounters. Most of them allow their ellies to hang out during the day with the local herds, but chain them up at night. It is very sad.

Thanks for the report!! Love Botswana.
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Sep 14th, 2014, 03:54 AM
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Christabir, thanks for your response. I'm a huge activist and
can't bring myself to go to Kruger due to the trophy hunting issue in SA. Reason we went to Bots.

And I know what you're talking about as far as the Ellie Encounters. Jabu even disappeared for around 5 weeks last year, but finally came back home to their huge relief.
I looked very hard for any kind of marks around their feet and saw none. I really do think that they make the choice to hang w/their human herd. There's another outfit in another concession that does elephant back rides that we would never do and even tried to explain why, to one of the guides that thought it was cool. I don't think he understood
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Sep 14th, 2014, 02:58 PM
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Thanks for the additional clarification!

Great looking itinerary!
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