Kwando - Trip Report. Lot`s of dogs!

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Oct 12th, 2005, 03:51 AM
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mv
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Kwando - Trip Report. Lot`s of dogs!

Just back from 10 wonderful days at Kwando (kwara 4 night, Lebala 3 nights and Lagoon 3 nights).
After an uneventful flight on Air Botswana I met up with my private guide for the next 10 days, Steve. I had used Steve as a guide last year and had looked forward to seeing him again.
Kwara looked quite different from August last year as the water had receded fro the floodplain in front of camp, leaving a pool just deep enough to hide a male Hippo.
During the first drive we watched a female Cheetah with her 3, 3-4 week old cubs, very cute!. After dark we found the resident pack of 3 Wild Dogs. The dogs had unfortunately lost their puppies a few weeks earlier. The next evening the dogs killed an Impala and we got there just in time to watch them eating the last bits. The late arrival to the scene was due to the fact that we were following a pregnant Cheetah. With a little luck there will be a lot more Cheetahs at Kwara soon!. Other nice sightings at Kwara. two male Lions shadowing some Buffalo in the morning. Unfortunately these Lions didn`t know that they are not supposed to kill during the heat of the day so while we were having breakfast in camp, they were having a late breakfast in the bush. In the afternoon we atched them finishing most of the meat on the Buffalo. Other nice sightings at Kwara included Sable, Serval, Bat Eared Fox and lots of interesting birds.
Next stop Lebala. Most of the time was spent with the pack of 23 dogs (incl 11 puppies) as they travelled from the southern end of the concession towards the north (some 50km) spreading havoc in the Impala population. I witnessed to kills start to finish. In both cases we had the vehicle 10-15 meters away at the time the dogs got hold of the Impala. With the first kill the dogs succesfully fended away some Hyenas that tried to take over the kill.
We followed another hunt where we lost the dogs 50 m before they made the kill as the Impala ran into some heavy thicket. We had to make a small detour and hooked up with the dogs as they had just started eating. Unfortunately the Hyenas moved in and took over the kill. We also spent some time with the 2 Cheetah brothers hunting (unsuccesful).
Lebala was packed with Elephants. Other sightings included Striped Polecat, Caracal, Serval, Honey Badger and Bat Eared Fox, lots of Lion and a beautiful herd of Roan Antelope.
At Lagoon we tracked Lion for more that 2 hours through dense woodland. Visited two beatiful colonies of Carmine Bee Eaters (more than a thousand birds). A lot of Sable and Roan Antelope. In one game drive we saw more than a thousand Zebra. Night drives yielded lots of Genet and Civet, Selous Mongoose and a lot of Wild Cats.
We had a very entertaining incident with the dogs. They chased a big male Warthog, that fled to the top of a termite mound trying to back into an Ardvark hole only to discover that the hole was not big enough. Luckily for the Warthog the dogs had already given up. Next the dogs made a halfharted attempt on a Buffalo calf. The dogs continued to hunt after dark. We found a pair of Steenbok keeping a low profile in the grass. The dog ran in circles around the Steenboks without finding them. Unfortunately for the one Eteenbok a vulture took of from a nearby tree and spooked her. Immediately the dogs were onto her and killed her a few hundred meters away. The puppies were nearby and we were able to see them feed as well as begging the adults for food, causing them to regurgitate.
Gameviewing from camp was excellent in all 3 camps and the night sounds incredible. Elephants grazing next to the tents. One evening we had a huge Bull elephant walking up to the camp fire. The next morning I foundhis tracks 12 meters away. Truly and awesome sight to see this gentle giant at night
All in all the trip was extremely succesful.
The camps delivered the friendly staff and excellent food that I got to appreciate last year and my guide Steve along with the different trackers delivered the sightings and excitement that I was hoping for.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 05:07 AM
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bwanamitch
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Sounds great - as expected. 2-3 Kwando camps are definitely on my next Botswana itinerary.

Mitch
 
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Oct 12th, 2005, 05:56 AM
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Awesome sightings MV! Has me very excited for my Kwando visit in March, thanks for taking the time to report.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 06:52 AM
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Great report MV. Rocco will be so jealous : - )
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Oct 12th, 2005, 08:09 AM
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napamatt,

Even before I saw this I was already jotting down possible itineraries for next August/September. Due to the fact that I am most likely going to Argentina in March 2006, I will not have three weeks at my disposal, but I am thinking of something like this:

Westcliff Hotel (1)
Chiawa Camp, Lower Zambezi (4)
Royal Livingstone, Vic Falls (1)
Kwando Lebala (3)
Kwando Kwara Island (3)
Mombo (3)

I can't see it getting any better than that over 15 nights.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 08:30 AM
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Such excitement!

A striped Polecat Caracal are amazing sightings.

You certainly had dogs galore. Good for you and good for the dogs as a species.

Cheetah cubs are also a rarity.

Your report makes the Kwando camps very intriguing for future visitors.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 01:15 PM
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Hello Michael,

Thanks for a great trip report! Could you tell us a bit more about the guiding at Kwando? Is there a reason you decided to have a private guide rather than using the Kwando guides? How would the experience differ for people who don't have a private guide? There have been some reports of Kwando vehicles being very crowded unless you book a private vehicle.

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 12th, 2005, 11:48 PM
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mv
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Hello Julian

The guide I was using, Steve, is a regular guide at Kwando but can also be hired as a private guide.
My main reason for using a private vehicle/guide is that I can do whatever I want whenever I want.
One morning we spent 2 hours tracking Lions on foot/by vehicle in difficult terrain only to leave the Lions shortly after we had found them as they were not doing much and the lighting was poor. To me the tracking is very fascinating. The side benefit for the other guests in camp was that we found the Lions that would otherwise not have been found. We also spent a considerable amount of time searching/tracking the Dogs and Cheetahs.
I also like to do a bit of birdwatching which can be difficult when you are sharing a vehicle.
Another reason for the private guide is that I will always be positioned at the right side of the vehicle for the sighting.
During my 2 visits to Kwando I have spoken to most of the guides there, and I find that they all know what they are doing. On top of that they are paired with extremely qualified trackers in order to maximise the gameviewing. Gameviewing is key at Kwando and mealtimes will be adjusted to accommodate interesting sightings.
In terms of the vehicles, the Kwando philosophy is that with only 2 rows of seats everybody can hear what the guide is saying.
During my recent visit I only saw full vehicles (6 people) a few times and mainly do to groups. I also saw vehicles with only 2 or 3 guests.
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Oct 13th, 2005, 01:30 PM
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Thanks for vehicle info. Do you think your 4-3-3 combo was good or would you recommend any adjustments?
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Oct 13th, 2005, 11:48 PM
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mv
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Lynn

I think the mix of camps was ok.
Based on the sightings I would probably have liked to spend a little more time at Lebala.
Last year in August I had 3 days Kwara, 2 days Lebala and 4 days Lagoon which was perfect at that time.

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Oct 16th, 2005, 01:17 PM
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hi what a trip....sounds like exactly what i'm looking for!.....just curious im going to be in botswana jan 2006....if i'm there in january (rainy season??)...will it still be exciting with all the game and things going on or does what you saw onlyhappen in october????

thx i
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Oct 16th, 2005, 09:19 PM
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Hi MV,
Great report...sounds like you had a wonderful trip. I am curious about the two Cheetah Brothers you saw at Lebala.
Are they the same brothers that traverse the nearby Savuti area? If so, do you have any idea what happened to the third brother.
When we were at Savuti in May the three Cheetah Brothers were one of the highlights of our stay.
The dogs sightings sound amazing..sigh. I was not fortunate enough to see them so I am very envious.
Will you be posting pictures???

I am so torn...go back to Botswana or go see Zambia. Rocco's posts make the decision even harder...

Brenda
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Oct 17th, 2005, 02:55 AM
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mv
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Brenda

The two Cheetah Brothers are the same as you saw at Savuti.
Apparantly the third brother died a couple of months ago in the Selinda concession, most likely from a snake bite. The brothers have a very large territory.

Bushboy, it will still be very exciting in the rainy season ( I asked my guide, as I would like to go in the rainy season). Some of the animals like sable and roan will be difficult to find but all of the predators will be around.
Apart from what I already mentioned in my report, we also had a number of small "kills", Pied Kingfisher getting a fish, A Wahlbergs Eagle catching a Carmine Bee Eater and a huge Water Monitor catching a frog. The dogs chasing Zebra just for the fun of it and much more.
I will be posting pictures in 1-2 weeks.
Michael

I will be posting pictures in about a week.
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Oct 17th, 2005, 03:24 AM
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Welcome back Mike, sounds like the trip was everything you had hoped and that you experienced some wonderful sightings!

Any photos to share?

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Oct 17th, 2005, 03:43 AM
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Brenda,

It's true about the death of one of the cheetah 'brothers'. They were last sighted together in Selinda territory on or about June 26 when one was seen to be very ill. He hasn't been seen since and is believed to have died from snakebite. The remaining two still range some 80 kilometres from Savuti to Kwando Lagoon. The trio apparently were not all brothers. One of the original three died apparently of old age in 1999, and was replaced in the coalition by another male. Guides and camp managers in the area wonder whether another male will turn up and restore the coalition to three.
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Oct 17th, 2005, 04:34 AM
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hi mv and all fodorites! sounds just brilliant. weŽre off on our 2nd trip to botswana to lagoon, lebala and kwara for the 1st 2 weeks of november. just have to hope that we have even half your luck and weŽll be ecstatic! anyone know if there has been any rain yet this season?? would be grateful for any trip reports in previous (very ) late dry or early wet seasons.

also planning trip to south/north luangwe in 2006. sept/oct preferably. read quite a lot of comments re game reserve area. we hate the sound/sight of hunting (had some horrendously harrowing experiences in europe a few years ago trying to monitor (protected!!!) migratory birds in a hail of gunfire. we had shot in our hair!! try just to stay away in the meantime -sickens me, i canŽt take it any more. bush camp company sounds v. good. but keen photographer so game drives are high on my list too. kafunta looks quite ok and affordable, but is this like ly to put me in amongst "the sportsmen"??? kafunta offer mobile south + north lungwe which looks at least on paper good. tafika looks excellent, but might have to watch budget a bit having just bought new home.......also like to get in two trips a year sooooo we have to be a bit careful of costs. looking for any good combination between some walking and some game drives.

thanx in advance....jl123
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