Photos from MalaMala

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Oct 3rd, 2004, 12:59 PM
  #1
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Photos from MalaMala

I just returned from MalaMala and it was just wonderful. Thanks to all that helped me plan this trip.

Some photos are posted at http://www.pbase.com/cjw/south_africa_2004&page=all
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 01:23 PM
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Welcome Home Sundowner!
As always, you've got lots of keepers there. Great photos!

Looks like the cheetah had some recent war wounds.

Trip report to follow soon I hope?
Looking forward to reading about your trip and your thoughts on MalaMala.
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 01:52 PM
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Thanks divewop. I'll write something up when my computer is back up. This laptop is too hard to type on!

Yes, the cheetah was a little beat up. As was the zebra. We watched the cheetah stalking a baby bushbuck - a miss but exciting all the same.
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Oct 4th, 2004, 04:09 AM
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That was some gash in the rump of that Zebra, wow! And the cheetah didn't look much better. Great pics, especially the lions. And of course, loved the ellees. Thanks for sharing these. Looking forward to you report.
 
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Oct 4th, 2004, 06:00 AM
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Woo Hoo Welcome Home!
Those are wonderful pics - such intimate portraits... especially love the leopard shots!
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Oct 4th, 2004, 06:14 AM
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Outstanding photos....some great cat shots!!

What is the stork like bird with the red and yellow beak?
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Oct 4th, 2004, 08:28 AM
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Ooh, wow, Sundowner, those are great pix!
Thanks for sharing them.
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Oct 4th, 2004, 08:55 AM
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greendrake
it's a saddle billed stork
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Oct 4th, 2004, 10:57 AM
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Beautiful bird and photo. thanks Kavey
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Oct 4th, 2004, 06:16 PM
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beautiful pictures....thanks so much for sharing them
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Oct 15th, 2004, 12:45 PM
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I've never done a "trip report" so forgive me if it's boring.

My flight was paid for by FF miles so I took what I could get. San Antonio/Cincinnati (4.5 hours layover)/JFK. I won't whine about the plane being so cramped and crowded but it was. Landed at Johannesburg too late to catch the flight to MalaMala so spent the night at Holiday Inn Airport. I didn't want to do any sightseeing so the location of this hotel was great. I went down to the bar and had a drink (or two) and visited with an interesting guy from Belgium and then had the buffet for dinner (mediocre) and then collapsed. The flight to MalaMala (11 AM) is a quick one on a smallish plane. Luggage limits not enforced for carryon. My carryon with cameras/lenses/laptop etc was about 28 lbs. Only 4 other people on the flight over.

MalaMala (MM) was full the first night so I spent that night at Notten's Bush Camp. The owner, Jilly, likes the intimate feel that "no electricity" gives so the camp is lit at night by lamps and candles. I believe Jilly said she bought the camp around 30 years ago and there were 5 or 6 other camps in the area at that time. We all know how many there are now! If I remember correctly, she can have 14 guests at a time. My chalet included a sitting room, a private deck, king size bed with nice linens and pillows, a large bathroom with big fluffy towels. There is also an outdoor shower. A day at Notten's is an early morning game drive including a stop for tea/coffee. A big breakfast upon return followed by a game walk. Then
"down time" for naps, relaxing, downloading pictures or swimming. High tea served at 3 pm before the afternoon game drive with sundowners and then dinner on the deck. Jilly joined the guests for dinner and we all sat at one long table which was fun. The conversations lasted long after dinner ended. We saw lots of game during the game drives, including a female leopard wanting to mate and the male being a little obstinate. She would walk over to where he lay in the grass and he would growl at her and she would walk away. Five or ten minutes later, she would try again. He was lying in tall grass and we couldn't see him but we could sure hear him. Finally she ignored his growls and walked on into the grass. That didn't work either because he chased her away with lots of noise coming from both of them. I have a series of photos showing her walking over to where he was, disappearing in the grass and then their "fighting" stance as they growled at each other. My last picture is not in focus but it still shows the action. All in all, my short stay at Notten?s was very nice and I wouldn't hesitate to go there again.

Next I went to MM for six nights. MM is a bigger camp with 25 chalets and a staff of 150 (with 20-30 being on leave at any given time). Upon arrival you were introduced to the Ranger who would be your host. You contact your ranger for anything you need and they are very knowledgeable about everything. To be a ranger at MM you must have a degree in the natural sciences and have knowledge of the flora and fauna of the area, plus go thru an approximate 3-month training program. The camp is very nice with a huge lounge area; most meals were taken on the deck and in the boma, a very safari-themed bar with photos from the 30's-50's when it was a hunting camp. The lodge/deck overlooks the Sand River (dry when I was there) and several times we saw elephants and other game in the riverbed and across the river. The rooms were very nice and had a sitting area, desk, king size bed, two bathrooms, refrigerator, tea/coffee, converters for appliances, a safe, a private patio. 24-hour room service is available (no extra charge) if you want a private meal.
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Oct 15th, 2004, 12:51 PM
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A day at MM is
5:30 wake-up call from your ranger
6:00 meet at the lounge for a quick coffee/tea/snack. Then off for your first game drive of the day. Game drive lasts until 8:30 or 9:00, depending on what you are seeing. (One day we were out until almost 10:00 and the rangers were worried that the cooks would be angry because we were so late!)
9:00 Breakfast with a selection of juices, fruits, yogurts, cheeses and breads on the buffet. At your table your ranger takes your order for the cooked breakfast (choice of bacon, sausage, ham, eggs, tomato, mushrooms, potatoes, toast).
10:45 you can go on a walk. There are two rangers with guns, one leading the group one following, you walk for an hour or so and the trackers follow with the vehicle and refreshments so you just walk one way.
1:00 Lunch is a buffet of hot and cold foods. Then R&R. Your ranger tells you what time to meet back at the lounge for the afternoon game drive.
3:30 or 4:00. Tea/coffee/snack and then the game drive. The game drives last until 8 or 8:30, determined by what you are seeing.
8:30 Drinks at the lounge
9:00 Dinner in the boma. Dinner was a soup, appetizer, main course, and dessert and cheese selection. Every couple of nights the staff would sing songs which I thought would be kind of hokey but it was really beautiful and they seemed to really enjoy themselves.

Game drives were great. That was the most important part of the trip for me and I was not disappointed. Of course, I completely lost track of what day it was or how long I had been there. One other couple and I were trying to decide how many days we had left. We flew in on the same flight and we knew they had 5 nights and I had 6. They thought they had 2 more nights so that meant I had 3. The ranger informed them they were a day behind, that they were leaving the next morning which meant I only had two nights left. Bummer. Then I remembered I spent the first night at Notten's so I still had 3. Great!


I started writing down everything we saw on games drives so I could remember. But half way through I wasn?t doing a very good job. It was too late after dinner to write it all down and by the next afternoon there were 2 game drives to write up. It all ran together so I quit. I will guess that we saw leopard on 75% of the drives and lions about the same. We saw the leopards and lions during daylight and at night. We saw a cheetah only once and it was during the day. On one game drive we saw 3 different stalks. A pride of lions stalking 3 cape buffalo, a cheetah stalking a young bushbuck and a leopard stalking an impala. They all gave chase and all missed. But what an adventure! The leopard and cheetah were just simple little attempts to catch their targets. The lions were a little more sophisticated.

We also saw a 1-day-old elephant. We never saw it walk but discovered it on other days in different places so it had to be walking. We watched it one day and it looked like he(she) wanted to lie down. He could get his front legs down but never the back. He sure looked wobbly. One day the mom, baby and another mature female were down in the sandy riverbed. The mom would leave the baby and go clear across to the other side of the riverbed to eat. Finally the other female went over and literally pushed her back across to where the baby was. About half way across the mother stopped and watched us, leaving the grandmother/aunt to go check on the baby. Finally the mother went over to the baby. It looked like the baby may have nursed 1 minute and then the mom left the baby to go eat. We were worried about the baby because there were lions a couple of hundred yards away and the mom wasn?t the least bit protective of that brand new baby! We didn?t see the baby for a day or two but someone else did before I left so at least it survived a few more days.


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Oct 15th, 2004, 12:57 PM
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There was also a dead baby hippo while we were there. The rangers didn't know what killed the hippo but we watched the female lions eating. The male was sleeping a short distance from the carcass and his stomach was FULL. I have a photo of him (his belly full), the lionesses eating and the vultures waiting their turn. There was also a small herd of eles near the site and they seemed rather upset. They weren't eating. They were just all bunched up together and their ears were flared out and holding their trunks against their heads. They were throwing sand on their backs.

Other sightings - I saw a zebra that had been attacked and had an open wound down its backside. The ranger said that zebra have thin skin, which allows them to escape an attack like this. A cape buffalo has a thicker skin and the lion claws (or whatever attacked it) would have kept the grip. We watched the zebras for a while and I watched the injured one. His tail never stopped moving. It was like a ceiling fan, constantly in motion. I watched another zebra for comparison and he was like a cow - just a swish now and then. I guess the injured zebra knew to keep the flies away from the injury.

I also saw a civet cat at night. He stayed still for just a minute and then ran away. We had told the ranger we wanted to see a porcupine but never did.

One of the couples in our group had a leopard outside their room one night. The rangers scared it away by shooting at it. The camp did have another leopard they couldn?t keep away from camp so he was captured and relocated. There were other animals in the camp area while I was there, mainly at night.

Also saw a herd of cape buffalo a couple of times. The ranger estimated 300 in the herd. Very cool to see that many together.

Time - was 6 nights too many in one place? I saw so much game on this trip but I think the last 2 or 3 days were a little slower. MM gives you a certificate if you see the "big 5" and the couple that was there the last 2 nights I was there did receive their certificate but I probably would have been disappointed if I had only stayed those 2 nights. The first 4 were over-the-top-unbelievable sight after sight after sight. I'm glad I stayed 6 nights. 4 or 5 would have probably been satisfactory if I had been going somewhere else next.


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