King's Pool, Jao, Singita Ebony Trip Report

Sep 24th, 2005, 05:37 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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King's Pool, Jao, Singita Ebony Trip Report

Special thanks to the members of this forum for helping us plan this very special, once in a lifetime trip!




We were lucky enough to fly Singapore Business Class from JFK to Frankfurt and then Lufthansa First Class to Johannesburg. Both provided lay-flat seating and excellent service, but the highlight had to be the First Class terminal in Frankfurt. Lufthansa is the first to provide this unique service to its passengers – a small, discreet, fully functional terminal with security, passport control, and free services including a wonderful sit-down restaurant, unlimited French Champagne, a personal concierge, driver and valet. At boarding time, the driver brought us to the belly of the 747 in a Mercedes S Class to ensure a more private and efficient boarding process.

Once in Africa, our flights were somewhat less luxurious, particularly in Botswana. Most of our transfers between camps were done by light aircraft (4-6 seats) and the thermals made the trips very uncomfortable and nauseating. When we were lucky enough to board a 12-seater Cessna, the trips were much better. Federal Air, which operates in South Africa, seemed to be the only charter company that had larger (18+ seat) planes, which were better all-around.


All of our accommodations were luxurious, but in different ways. The one common element between them was the exceptional service. Since the properties were consistently small and the staff to guest ratio was consistently high, anything was possible. All we had to do was ask. The important thing to note is that we are confident we had just the right mix of lodging types and geographic areas when it came to the overall safari experience. There were also an abundance of animals that came very close to our rooms and often onto our decks for both water and mischief. These included elephants, hyena, vervet monkeys, baboons, and ngalas.

**Grace in Rosebank: Johannesburg, SA**
This is the sister property of the famous Cape Grace in Capetown. It is located in a Joburg suburb and has a very intimate feel. It is a smaller property by Joburg standards and we relished the quiet. We especially liked the traditional décor – painted wood, dark stained wood, lovely shades of green, and Ubatuba granite.

**King’s Pool: Linyanti Reserve, Botswana**
This is a luxury tented camp in a very dry (we were there in the dry season) area of Botswana. Free-standing suites are on raised platforms and have large decks, private plunge pools and salas. Hippos and elephants snored under our suite each night.

**Jao Camp: Okavango Delta, Botswana**
This is a luxury tented camp in a tropical, very wet part of Botswana. It was recently featured in Architectural Digest for its phenomenal layout and Balinese influences. Free-standing suites are on raised platforms with private salas. The walkways leading to the suites are raised as well. We especially enjoyed the songs of the birds and bell frogs each morning – they were so loud, they must have been fighting to be heard! Jao is best known as a water camp and offers a unique mokoro (canoe) experience.

**Singita Ebony: Sabi Sands Reserve, SA**
Singita is an award-winning lodge in South Africa. What set the Singita Ebony property apart from the others were the amenities available in each free-standing suite – air conditioning, full power, hair dryers, etc. The suites here also had plunge pools. We loved the British colonial décor, the claw-footed bathtubs and the slate floors.

GAME VIEWING (please forgive spelling)

**King’s Pool: Linyanti Reserve, Botswana**
Red lechwe
Lots of elephant and babies
Giraffe and youngsters
Red hornbill
Pregnant leopard
Red billed francolin
Tree squirrels
Vervet monkeys
Go-away bird
Grey headed sparrow
Cape turtle dove
Lilac breasted roller
Fork tailed drungle
Crested barbet
Fruit bat
Scrub hare
Lesser bushbaby
Hyena outside our front door
Warthog and piglets
Blacksmith plover
2 male lion – cuddle sleeping
Lesser bee eater
Crested francolin
Hunting spider wasp
Jacana bird
Pied kingfisher
700 cape buffalo – breeding heard w/babies
Bataleur eagle
Brown snake eagle
Monitor lizard
Tropical gecko
Green spotted wood dove
Carmine bee-eater colony
Greater blue-eared glossy starling
Guinea fowl
White-tailed mongoose
Waddled crane
Giant eagle owl
Bell frog
Hawk eagle w/ a francolin kill
Female leopard in a tree
White backed vulture
Swallow tailed bee eater
Violet eared waxbill
Blue waxbill
Tetse fly
Ground hornbill

**Jao Camp: Okavango Delta, Botswana**
Squacco heron
Lilac breasted roller
Red lechwe
Arrow-marked babbler
2 male lion
Yellow-billed egret
Breeding heard of elephants – watched a baby nurse
Blacksmith plover
March owl
4 male lions fighting over territory
Hyena in camp
Lioness in camp
Pied kingfisher
Night and day lilies
Fish eagle
Malachite kingfisher
African jacana, nest and eggs
Young crocodile
Emerald spotted dove
Red billed buffalo weaver
Cape buffalo
Kudu and baby
Ostrich and babies
Zebras and babies
Spur-winged geese
Brown parrot
Go-away bird
Black coucal
Open billed stork
Saddle billed stork
Pygmy geese
White faced whistling duck
Sacred ibis
Waddled crane
Water skater
Reed cormorant
Green pigeon
Vervet monkeys
Purple heron
Red billed buffalo weaver
Reed frog

**Singita Ebony: Sabi Sands Reserve, SA**
Ngala mother and baby drinking from plunge pool
White rhino
Grey duiker
Barn owl
White tailed mongoose
Scrub hare
Greater kudu
Bull elephants
Brown snake eagle
Yellow billed hornbill
Leopard with kill in tree, cubs stashed somewhere
Magpie shrike
Red billed oxpeckers
Vervet monkeys
Baby crocodile
Wahlberg eagle
Go away bird
Gabar goshawk
Crested barbet
Dwarf mongoose
Striped kingfisher
Blacksmith lapwing
Guttural toads
Hyena mothers and cubs at den (they laugh!)
Lions on wildebeest kill
Arrow-marked babbler
Carnivorous ants
Yellow-throated longclaw
Scrub hare
Spotted genet
Lion steals kill from leopard/tree
Troop of hyenas steal kill from lion
Found dead hyena mother (killed by lion)
Ericka is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 06:10 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Welcome home!

When you list your sightings as you have done, just seeing the length gives a good impression of the abundance of wildlife Africa has to offer.

You had a a great variety of both mammal and bird sightings. Hyenas at their den with little ones is such a treat. The dead mother hyena is sad, but that's nature. How nice you saw a nursing elephant.

How did the lion stealing the leopard kill in the tree work?

atravelynn is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 09:27 AM
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Wow, sounds like great trip -- you really saw everything. And a dead hyena -- I have only seen one dead large predator, a lion kicked by a buffalo in South Luangwa and all but its head had been eaten -- when we arrived it was being picked clean by vultures.
thit_cho is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 10:34 AM
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ditto on the wow--for both the accommodations and the sightings. thanks for posting.
bat is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 04:21 PM
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thit cho,

That's exactly the same scenario of the only dead predator I've ever seen.

But it was a juvenile lion in Moremi and we had seen him the day before.
atravelynn is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 04:39 PM
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We came upon the lion just as it was dragging the kill away from the tree and into the dry riverbed. The leopard had it the night before but was no longer present. Our ranger said that it is not unusual for a lion (especially one like this, who was older and no longer part of a pride) to climb a smaller tree. They are actually good climbers, it is the getting down part that is difficult for them! Watching the hyena come upon her was magical. It was very early morning. One hyena called out for reinforcements - it echoed beautifully across the valley of the dried riverbed. Pretty soon, a dozen of them were there and what made it special was the fact that the lion and the kill were hidden by the riverbed reeds. So, it was more an audio show than visual - and boy was there audio!

As for the dead hyena, it was terrible to see. Only the night before we experienced what wonderful mothers hyenas make and how much joy the cubs experience when the mothers come home. It appeared that the hyena's death was quick, but we dare not think about the fate of her cubs...
Ericka is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 07:09 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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thanks for sharing your trip report! Sounds like it was a great trip! Pictures coming soon?
matnikstym is offline  
Sep 25th, 2005, 04:13 PM
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Here are a few pictures. I also posted these on a separate thread.
Ericka is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 04:19 AM
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Welcome back and thanks for the reports, will view the pics tonight...

Sounds like a marvellous trip both accommodation and safari-wise.

Any additional anecdotes about individual sightings or experiences would be very welcome!
Kavey is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 02:50 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 54
Thanks for the wonderful report!
beept is offline  

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