Trip Report - Botswana

Jun 13th, 2006, 05:59 PM
  #1  
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Trip Report - Botswana

We just arrived back last night from our latest trip to Botswana (our 3rd safari) where we stayed at Kwara, Duba Plains and Zibalianja. Awesome trip! Photos will follow once a I get a chance to organize them. But here is a summary:

Kwara (5 nights) - We had a great time at Kwara. Our guide, Moses, was extremely knowledgeable, friendly, funny, and genuine. He really knew his birds.
Hilights - lions mating, birdlife, quality guiding, interesting wildlife around camp, mokoro and powerboat rides
Accomodations - very comfortable, lovely camp, good food, friendly staff. (For those that are curious about Kwara Island, initially we were booked there, but on our arrival on May 26, it was nowhere near ready, so they had saved a tent for us at Kwara. We were told that Kwara Island would be ready by June 6, but from what we could see of the construction, we didn't think that would be in any way possible, but what do I know. Not impressed by the location chosen.)

Duba Plains (5 nights)- beautiful camp, very comfortable tent, excellent food. The place to be if you want to see lions kill buffalo. The staff were wonderful; very friendly and helpful. They arranged a special sundowner for my birthday, and a private dinner for my husband and I, and a terrific bush dinner one evening.

Hilights - We saw 2 kills - 1 each by 2 different prides, had a great leopard sighting which is very rare at Duba Plains, saw 2 aardwolf, 2 honey badgers, civet, elephants, good birds. Lots of water everywhere. Spent some time with the Duba Boys who are looking good for their very advanced years. Our guide James (aka 007) was exceptional. Unlike other camps, James has worked there since the inception (10 years). He named the Duba Boys and the various prides, and he was the guide for Dereck and Beverly Joubert while they filmed Relentless Enemies. He knows everything about these lions, and can anticipate all their moves. And he has a lot of funny stories to tell.

Zibalianja (6 nights) - located in the Selinda concession. Tiny camp (4 tents, although they usually only fill 3). Very intimate, peaceful relaxing. Less flashy than some of the other camps. Nice views. Tents were cozy. Most comfortable bed I have ever slept on! And a very productive hide at a waterhole in dry season.

Camp managers Sean and Samantha do a good job and pay attention to the little details. They are both guides (although Samantha doesn't guide anymore) so they have a huge appreciation for and understanding of the wildlife. One night during dinner, one of the male lions of the area was roaring off in the distance, and the roars got closer. We had just finished our soup, when we heard a roar just outside camp. Sean asked if we wanted to go have a look. So we jumped in the jeep and drove off to find the lion walking by camp roaring and looking for his buddy.

Hilights - lions, cheetah, several breeding heards of elephant, lots of giraffe, 2 honey badgers, lioness with 3 8-week old cubs, pangolin(!), fantastic birds including lots of raptors and owls. Our guide Motsamai, was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic and really loves his job. He was extremely patient with a couple of challenging guests.

All in all, terrific trip. The only downside is not one that we could have controlled - there was too much rain during the rainy season, so the game viewing in all areas was not as good as one would usually expect at that time of year. At Kwara and Zib, the grass was high and game was dispersed because of all the water. At Duba, some of the areas were inaccessible because of the water levels. And, I didn't get to see any wild dogs, which of course means we have to go back!!

If anyone has any specific questions, I would be more than happy to answer them.
jjmb is offline  
Jun 13th, 2006, 06:06 PM
  #2  
bat
 
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Glad you had a great time and thanks for report. How nice to have so much itme at each camp.
bat is offline  
Jun 13th, 2006, 06:41 PM
  #3  
santharamhari
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jjmb,

Sounds like a fantastic trip.....lots of questions, i'll start with some.

1.) Little Kwara....how far has it been completed? Do you think it will be ready by August 28th atleast? Not impressed about it's location, why? Isnt it very close to main camp? I think Moses you mentioned used to work at Wilderness before. I had him at Kings Pool in 2004. Very very good. Hard working and he did find the dogs for us then......

2.) Any cheetah at Kwara? i know you mentioned cheetah at Zib. Was it the brothers that cover the entire area or something else?

Thnaks for your report.

Hari
 
Jun 13th, 2006, 10:17 PM
  #4  
johan_belgium
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Jimb,

Thanks for your report.
It sounds that you had a great time.

If you want to see the dogs ,maybe do a combination of the following camps: Selinda - Lebala - Lagoon.

I'll have some questions for you?

Did you take a picture of the pangolin? I've never seen one before so ...

Who was managing Duba Plains? Paul and Ashleigh or was Moalosi still around?

I don't know what's wrong with Little Kwara but the opening is postponed all the time. When I was there in May they told me it should be opening the 29th of May.


Greetings,

Johan
 
Jun 14th, 2006, 05:35 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
jjimb,

Thanks so much for the report! Since I'll be headed to Duba Plains and Zibalianja in August, I was especially interested in those reports.

Here are my questions:

Can you elaborate on the pangolin viewing?

Can you give more details on the Pantry, Tsaro, and Skimmer prides? Size, range, etc.

What was the cheetah doing at Zibalianja?

What did you see at the Zib waterhole?

Anything else you'd like to throw in about Duba and Zib would be good. If you'd prefer to email me directly, that's fine too.

Even without dogs, this was an outstanding trip!

Welcome home.

atravelynn is offline  
Jun 14th, 2006, 07:12 AM
  #6  
 
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Thanks for sharing and welcome back! Glad you had a great trip! Can't wait to see pics!
Kavey is offline  
Jun 14th, 2006, 07:23 AM
  #7  
 
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Thanks jjmb, I'm staying at Kwara and Duba in November so it's nice to hear productive recent reports.
Africa is offline  
Jun 14th, 2006, 08:55 AM
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Many thanks for sharing your informative report jjmb. It sounds like you had a wonderful time with amazing sightings - pangolin, aadvark, civet,honey badger as well as the kills - very lucky.
I look forward to seeing your pictures and am hoping you'll indulge with a few pictures of the camps, particularly Zibalianja.

Sherry
cybor is offline  
Jun 14th, 2006, 09:19 AM
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jimb: thanks for the great trip report.!

Did James say anything about the book on the Lions of Duba that he was working on? How fortunate that you had him as a guide. For those who don't know James was the manager of Duba Plains at one point and he had an ongoing research project tracking the prides. As far as I know he had left the camp about 2 years ago and was in Joburg working on his book and was only available as a very expensive specialist guide.

If James is back guiding full-time I would encourage those of you that are going to Duba Plains to try and request him ahead of time.

PredatorBiologist is offline  
Jun 14th, 2006, 06:26 PM
  #10  
santharamhari
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Pred,

Hi! Didnt they already start work on Little Kwara during your Feb visit? I'm surprised the opening dates are constantly pushed back.

Hari
 
Jun 14th, 2006, 08:52 PM
  #11  
 
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Hi Hari: Yes, construction was ongoing at Little Kwara when I was there in early March. I think Kwando was pretty surprised when they were not able to build the original site location (due to proximity to Moremi G.R.). However, it must be getting frustrating to travelers when the date keeps getting pushed out and they are relocated to Kwara -- of course the new location is virtually the old location so game viewing and activities are the same anyway but I'm sure people look forward to the new tents. Perhaps you will be one of the first to stay in the new camp.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Jun 14th, 2006, 10:22 PM
  #12  
santharamhari
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Pred,

I only hope they dont face any further construction delays. Jjmb mentioned in the report that they had lot of work left. Fortunately, Kwara area is my last stop.......and i dont get there until August 28th or 29th or somewhere in that time frame. We should hear from other visitors to Kwara before then.

Hari
 
Jun 18th, 2006, 05:01 AM
  #13  
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Hi Everyone, Sorry I have been absent from posting for a few days - catching up on work emails instead. So now I'll try to answer all questions starting from the oldest:

Hari: When I last saw little Kwara on May 31, the main building was just frame, and only 2 of the 4 tents had canvas, but the interiors were completely bare (no plumbing, furnishing etc.) Will it be ready for Aug 28 - I expect so. It is extremely close to the main camp (too close in my mind), not the original location chosen, which is the cause of some of the delay. While main camp has a wonderful view of the lagoon, Little K is off to the side of it, and can only see a drying up portion of the lagoon, and some tents seem to be facing nowhere. The tents are quite spacious-looking. I think, though, that little K will get a lot of hippo foot traffic based on their spot. Moses did formerly work with WS at Kings Pool. And he is terrific - still the same joy for the job. No cheetah this time at Kwara, but decent lion sightings. And at Zib, it was the cheetah brothers, and one of them appeared to have a mild sprain on his hind leg, but didn't look too serious.

Johan - yes, we got pictures of the pangolin - it was actually fairly cooperative. Will post them and others when I get organized. Paul is still managing Duba and loving it. Moalosi left on leave the day after we arrived. 2 newer managers there as well. Very well run camp.

Atravelynn - we were very fortunate with the pangolin. We were merrily driving along when all of a sudden a truck came zooming up behind us. It was friend of our guide, Motsamai, and he and his buddy had spotted 2 pangolin, so one guy stayed with them while the other chased us down so that we would see it. We raced back. By then one had gone down a hole, but the other was still walking around. Very interesting creature - tiny face, incredible scales, actually walks hunched over on 2 legs, not using its front legs for walking. He certainly drew a crowd as soon as the word was out that he had been found. All the jeeps from Selinda came over. We probably spent about 20 minutes with him. As it was almost sunset, the light in the photos wasn't great, but it was still awesome to see.

No sign of the Pantry pride. Tsaro was 9 including 1 surviving cub, plus the 2 Duba boys. Skimmer was 13. All lions are looking very healthy. Skimmer encroached on Tsaro territory which caused some skirmishes. In fact we knew Skimmer was in the area because they showed up in camp one morning, lying in the parking area by the jeeps!

The Cheetahs at Zib were not too active as one was mildly injured. However, it was funny because they had been absent from the area for a week or so, and then they show up right at camp. Right before we made it to the campfire in the morning before the drive, 2 reedbuck came to the waterhole to drink, then out of knowhere, but from somewhere close to the bar, the 2 cheetahs shot out after them (the limping one lagging behind). They missed, but that's how we knew they were back! We found them 15 minutes later lying in the road just outside camp.

Not much action at the waterhole, as there is so much water everywhere - one warthog taking a mud bath at mid day, and a grey ghost coming for a drink in the evening while we were at the campfire.

I would recommend Zib to anyone who loves quiet camps, no crowds and a feeling of exclusivity. And fantastic game viewing in the dry. So peaceful!

I have sorted through most of my photos now, so I hope to get a chance next weekend to post them.

jjmb is offline  
Jun 18th, 2006, 06:03 AM
  #14  
santharamhari
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jjmb,

Thanks for answering those questions......i truly hope the limping cheetah gets together and mend it's injuries quickly!!! Especially, after the end of the steroid boys at Mombo, i would be completely devastated if this dominant co-alition is to end.

Hari
 
Jun 18th, 2006, 06:09 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Thanks for the responses jjimb.

Wow, 2 pangolins for a short time. How thrilling you got to see one of them.

Here's another get well wish for the limping cheetah in Selinda.
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Jun 18th, 2006, 10:23 AM
  #16  
johan_belgium
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Thanks Jimb for your answers.

I hope that the cheetah recover from his injury. I was very fortunate to see those two brothers catching a warthog at Lebala.

Still very curious to see the pictures of the pangolin.

Greetings,

Johan
 
Jun 25th, 2006, 08:20 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Thanks for the extra info, loved the album, especially the pangolin shots! Actually, really liked many of your pics - lions, birds and all kinds of other critters. Fantastic!
Kavey is offline  
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