Trip Report Botswana and Mozambique May 2007

Old May 30th, 2008, 07:31 PM
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What a wonderful trip. You had such great sightings, and what a wonderful variety. I always love to hear of people who've just taken their first trip and then end up hooked like the rest of us. Glad to hear youíre already talking about the next holiday.

I went on the helicopter ride over the falls a few years ago and loved it also. You get a wonderful birdís eye view. How lucky to have the vehicle to yourselves at Chobe, where you saw quite a bit. This was a nice start to the safari portion of your trip, especially the next morning, when you describe the game viewing as going into ďoverdriveĒ which says it all.

I havenít read too much about Selinda Walking Trails, and appreciate the details youíve provided. It sounds like an amazing adventure. Too bad the wild dog chase didnít result in a kill, but I bet the chase itself was exciting.

You had great luck at Zib as well. What a wonderful way to spend your anniversary. I would love to see a Roan antelope. I have never seen one in person, but they look like such majestic creatures in the photos Iíve seen.

It sounds like you enjoyed Baines despite the guests who would not listen to the guide. The elephant walking experience sounded quite interesting until I heard what happened to the others. Iím not sure Iíd be able to remain calm if surrounded by lionesses.

Kanana sounds like a great camp for water activities. Itís nice to hear of camps not often mentioned on this forum. I like the idea of not having to consult other guests when so many activities are offered, so that you can do what you like. What an experience with the bull elephant. You certainly had some adrenaline pumping moments on this trip.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 03:12 PM
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Caracal, Serval, Wild Cat, Genet... Very cool...
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Old May 31st, 2008, 08:11 PM
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This next section is quite long but we did stay there 3 nights and had some great game drives

10th June - Chiefs Camp

We were airborne for Chiefs at 1230. The flight took 15 minutes and then we had a 10 minute drive to camp. We had some lunch and then checked into our room. It was superbly furnished and very luxurious. Relaxed and came back to the main dining area for high tea and off on our first game drive at Chiefs.

Would you believe yet again we were the only ones in the 4x4. Saw an amazing amount of game with the two most interesting sightings being a slender mongoose (had seen banded mongoose before but not slender) and two male lions lying next to a zebra carcass. I could not believe how they had gorged themselves. Their stomachs must have been about to explode. One of the lions stood up walked about 10 metres and then just fell over sideways as he just couldnít walk. One of the lions had a really droopy bottom lip which we told was probably the legacy of a fight.

It was a great game drive and we were enjoying sundowners when our guide ran to the radio and yelled quick wild dogs are in camp. We jumped in the 4x4 and he asked us if we wanted him to go quickly. We of course said yes so we were off screaming back to camp. We were the first of the 4x4 to arrive but it was all over by the time we got there. A pack of wild dogs had taken down an impala 20 metres in front of the main lodge. They had then dragged it off the entry area into the bush. There was evidence, blood, small bits of impala etc lying around but no dogs. We went looking and were joined by the other 4x4ís plus the managerís 4x4. An hour later we gave up. It was still exciting though and as we had seen wild dogs at Selinda we didnít feel to hard done by. We had a great dinner and went to bed.

11th June Chiefs Camp
This morning we had a photographer join us. His name was Trevor Carnaby and we found out latter he was a guide and author of ĎBeat about the Bushí. Trevor was hoping to get the last few photos he needed for his bird book which I think is being published later this year. Trevor particularly needed some pictures of the Pearl Spotted Owlet. We found it, well actually Trevor found it and we spent ages photographing this tiny owlet that was so cute. We saw the 2 male lions again which still looked fat but not explosive. They were with a female lioness that looked genetically different. She actually had the normal size head of a lioness but it sat upon a body that was every bit as big as the male lions. She actually looked quite odd. Her head was way too small for her body. We also saw dozens of vultures, jackals, bat ear foxes and another two African wildcats.

I became chief tracker and found a leopard. Awesome. He was a great big male and on the move so our sightings werenít great. All in all one would say a terrific morning at the office. We found a copy of Trevor Carnabyís book in the curio shop and he graciously signed it for us.

Yet again another superb lunch. Even though there is siesta time before you go out again on another game drive the time goes really quickly by the time you write up the journal, check out the pictures and video etc, charge batteries and shower.

Back out again. This time there were 6 guests in the 4x4 but it was not a problem at all. We tracked the leopard again and found him. I have to say they would have to be my favourite predator, they just look so majestic and their coats are absolutely superb. We then headed off to the area where we saw the 2 male lions and we came across an African civet which allowed us to get quite close. Didnít find the lions but saw heaps of other animals. Heading back towards camp and we saw an albino impala in a herd. She was almost completely white. I wonder if she is looked after by the others as she stood out in the crowd and would be easy for predators to see.

Another fabulous dinner with great South African wine and off to bed. Through out the trip there was so much delicious food that we had to start turning down entrees and desserts or we would be turning up for game drives in pyjamas as out clothes would not have fitted.

12th June Chiefs Camp
Up again at 5.50am and this was winter. Donít they go out earlier in the summer? We were off the Western side of Chiefs. The guides discuss their routes between them and rotate the game drives so every guest experiences the different areas of surrounding Chiefs. If there is a great sighting the other 4x4ís are called to come and join but there will only be 2 vehicles at the sighting. The third vehicle has to wait until one of the others move on.

Very quiet for the first hour. We saw the usual along the way but there were less of them this morning. We encountered a herd of elephants and there was a brand new baby whom the guide thought was about 2 days old as he knows the herd and he last saw them 3 days ago and the little elephant wasnít there then. He was so cute with pink ears and white toenails. He was quite playful and was tossing his trunk around but wasnít sure what he was meant to do with it. We ended up being surrounded by this herd and I was quite nervous but there were no problems except that one female just stayed on the track and wouldnít let us pass. There was no aggression but it was like she knew we wanted to move on and she decided that she was bigger than us and she would let us through when she felt like it.

We came to a swamp/lagoon area and saw hundreds of buffalo moving from the dry land to wallowing and walking through the water which was full of tall green grass of some sort. It was a beautiful sight. Saw crocodiles and many types of birds including the marabou stork and the saddleback stork

Our guide noticed some vultures circling in the distance and asked us if we would like to go and see if there was anything happening over there. Off we went. When we got closer the vultures were sitting in a tree about 300 metres off the track, so off road we went. It was extremely rugged terrain and had to turn back on ourselves several time when we encountered large fallen trees or sharp drops. All of a sudden there before us was a pride of lions, two females and two males. About 100 metres further on there was a huge male lion resting in the open. We could not see him but the guide could and we went over to him and got some great shots. We called in the other vehicles and left when they arrived as we had been there 45 minutes or so. Back for a late lunch.

Out again. We had some new guests in the 4x4 so we were asked if we were happy to go back to the lions again. We were of course. It actually took ages to get there and once we had been there 20 minutes the call came out that another vehicle had found the illusive Rhino. Rhino hadnít been seen for about 4 weeks at Chiefs and the female manager said she had not seen one in the wild at Chiefs. So the race was on. It took about 40 minutes to get there at a fast pace. Not sure what the new guests thought. Anyway it was worth it. We had to wait our turn. There was a female Rhino with her offspring which was 2/3rd the size of an adult. We watched them for about 10 minutes and then they took off into thick scrub and they were gone almost instantly. How can something so huge blend in so well? Back to camp passing impalas, zebras, bat eared foxes and jackals.

Our last night on safari so it was a little sad.

13th June Chiefs

Last game drive for this holiday. Pretty quiet to start with and we were getting worried that this was going to be a disappointing drive and end to our safari portion of our holiday. Tried to find the Rhino from yesterday but couldnít. As we were driving along the track our guide stopped and heard a hyena calling. Calls like that usually mean grouping of hyena to take on lions he said. Anyway about 5 minutes later we saw a hyena with a fresh kudu leg in his mouth and a few other hyenas on the move towards us. Now all we had to do was find the lions. No vultures around so it was thought it must be a relatively fresh kill. It took us about another 10 minutes driving off road to find it. Bingo, what a great guide. He found them. There were two large male lions, one young male lion and two young lionesses. The large males were feasting on a huge Kudu bull which had not long been killed. The young lions all lay in a row close together and kept creeping in towards the kill but were not allowed to eat. We were about 5 metres from the kill and then all of a sudden one male stood up near the 4x4 and roared like I have never heard a roar before and chased the young male lion and gave him a hiding. We jumped out of our skin, luckily not out of the 4x4. That was absolutely amazing. We spent 45 minutes watching the interaction and feeding. When we first arrived there was only one hyena but by the time we left there were three on the periphery. We were flying out just after lunch so we had to leave. On the way back to the track there was another male lion heading towards the kill. We wished we could have stayed and seen that interaction as we think he was an intruder. Watching the intruder and/or the hyena take on the pride would have been unbelievable. Anyway it was not to be.

Back to camp with a tear in my eyes. Packed, ate our lunch, it felt like the last supper and off to the airstrip to catch our flight to Maun.

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Old May 31st, 2008, 08:38 PM
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And Civet, too...! Is there any African "cat" that you did not see...?
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Old May 31st, 2008, 09:00 PM
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rickmck,
It truly was a great trip and Botswana certainly delivered a wide variety of animals for us to see. We saw a wide range of cats, from large to small. I didn't think the civet was actually from the cat family but what would I know. People call our Koala a Koala Bear but it is just a straight out Koala.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 09:10 PM
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The Civet is not a "true" cat, taxonomicaly, but because it exhibits cat-like features, it is often refered to as a "civet cat," and that was the context of my comment... In any event, you had an amazing safari experience with a huge range of animals, both cat-like and not!
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Old May 31st, 2008, 09:42 PM
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Thanks for clearing that up. This time last year we were in Africa and how I wish I was there now. Oh well we are in the planning stages of organising our next trip to Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar in July 2009 so that cheers me up. We have chosen to go to East Afria to see a different side of Africa. If we see half as many animals we will be happy.
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Old Jun 1st, 2008, 03:32 PM
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Well the safari portion of our trip is coming to an end but we have an island adventure that awaited us.

13th June Chiefs Camp to Johannesburg

We flew from Chiefs Camp to Maun in an Airvan plane which was built in Gippsland Aeronautical, Australia. A good friend of ours builds many parts for these Airvans and would you believe we sat in the seats he built. We didnít know until we got home but after we gave him the plane identification he was able to work it out. Such a small small world we live in. Fabulous 25 minute flight over the Delta, searching for our last look at elephants and hippos on the way.

Caught the Botswana flight to Johannesburg which left and landed on time. Both our cables ties on our bags were gone but after looking through there was nothing missing. We were pros now so we just walked around to the shuttle bus area and waited five minutes for the Emperorís Palace shuttle and before we knew it we were back at the Metcourt. This time I made sure I had my travel shoulder bag with me. We collected our suitcase we had left in storage and checked in. Walked through the complex again had dinner and went back to hotel room to change over the safari clothes to the beach clothes. We each had a duffle bag and took one hard suitcase that we left each time at the Metcourt. This worked very well and gave us some extra room to pack our purchases. Had an early night as we were exhausted.

Just wanted to mention that we had to spend two nights in Johannesburg to connect with our flight to Pemba, Mozambique. When the holiday was booked there were not daily flights. Maybe there is now. Having these two nights actually allowed us to enjoy some of Johannesburg and surrounds.

14th June

Had breakfast and Titus picked us up to take us to see SOWETO and the apartheid museum. We drove through Johannesburg city and looked at the city which likes most CBDís wasnít very thrilling. Titus was born into apartheid and it sounded awful. The museum was amazing and full of interesting, horrifying and wonderful history. We spent a good three hours there and could have stayed longer but had other places to visit. We drove around SOWETO and what a humbling experience that was. We had lunch in a Shebeen called Nabitha which was yummy. We then visited Mandelaís house which has been turned into a museum. We then stopped at the Hector Pierson memorial. We were told that Hector was the first and youngest student (13 years) killed by the police when the SOWETO students rioted against the governments decision to make the students learn in Afrikaans.

On the way back to the Metcourt we drove past Nelson Mandelaís current home.

Some interesting things I learnt that I thought I would share. The taxi system is very clever. Taxis and minibuses drive around all day tooting their horn. If someone on the street wants a taxi he will make a particular signal to the taxi driver telling him where he/she is wanting to go. If the taxi is heading that way he/she will be picked up. If not the taxi will just keep on going and toot at the next person walking down the road or footpath. Taxis will pick up passengers until they are full. The areas seem to be divided into hubs so a passenger will transit to the general area they wish to go. The other interesting thing I learnt was the African Handshake which everyone seems to do. The normal handshake, followed by a thumb shake, followed by another handshake. Apparently it means, hello, how are you, I am fine thank you.

Arrived back at Metcourt about 5.00pm, walked around the complex again and had an early night.

15th June Johannesburg to Quilalea Island Mozambique.

Off early to the airport on the shuttle bus to catch our LAM flight to Pemba. We had assigned seats (some LAM flights donít). We arrived three hours later in Pemba.

Next up Quilalea Island.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2008, 09:24 AM
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Who was your guide at Chiefs?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2008, 10:43 AM
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Very glad to hear of your good sightings at Chief's as we will be there in December. Thanks for the report.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2008, 01:39 PM
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wonderful trip report which offers really some exitements!
i have learned that one must always be alert - on game drives, game walks and obviously also on taxi flights!
very good sightings!

expecially extremly appreciated as we are going to stay at all santuary camps in late nov.

thanks a lot for that mouth watering report; can't almost wait till we finally take off....
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Old Jun 2nd, 2008, 01:40 PM
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one question:
"We were told to plastic wrap our luggage so we did and it arrived intact a...."

why was that? is there a specific reason to wrap the luggage?????

thanks for your advise in advance!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2008, 02:57 PM
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napamatt,
Our guide at Chiefs was Anthony. He was great. Quiet, listened to our requests and found the animals.

divine54,
You will have a great trip I am sure. Hope the wild dogs make another kill in camp and you get to see it.
Apparently like many airports around the world there is theft at Johannesburg airport. We had soft sided duffle bags which were locked with cable ties. When we arrived at Johannesburg airport to catch our flight to Victoria Falls we were talking to some some south african business men who always plastic wrap their luggage as they had had their soft sided luggage cut open and things stolen from it on another trip. There is a plastic wrap station in the airport so we just did it. Can't remember the cost but not expensive and it was the only time we did it.
If you have any questions on Sanctuary camps I wwould be happy to answer them if I can. You can email me at [email protected]
Georgie
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Old Jun 2nd, 2008, 06:06 PM
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15th to 24th June Quilalea Island

We flew LAM and arrived in Pemba at 1.30pm. Quilalea Pemba ground staff were on hand to help us through immigration and customs. We paid for our Mozambique visas on the spot which cost $28USD each. It was interesting to note that a Japanese couple who flew business class only paid $3USD for their visas. It must be something to do with which country you come from. Collected our bags walked straight through customs and out to our awaiting helicopter. There was another couple going to Quilalea so there were 4 of us plus the pilot. The pilot took off and turned steeply and we were away and 25 minutes later we landed on the helipad at Quilalea Island.

Quilalea has nine chalets and it was heavily booked during our stay. This was due to the cyclone in the Bazaruto Archipelago which wiped out and closed many of the resorts down south. The nine chalets are well spaced and very private. They are rustic in nature and not over the top with opulence. There are no phones or TVís thank goodness, except for one in the dive centre where we had to watch the test rugby and the Wallabies lost to the Springboks. The guests were mainly honeymooners whilst we were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.

Breakfast and lunch were served in the main dining chalet whilst dinner could be served in the dining chalet, on the beach or at the private dining area for two called ĎPo de Solí. Each couple would dine at Por de Sol once during their stay and it was a surprise as to when that would go unless you requested it for a special occasion. The food was fabulous even though the head chef was choppered off the island the day after we got there as he slipped a disc and could not even get out of bed. Tables were set up for two but a couple of times we asked if we could join with another couple for dinner and that was no problem. The staff also arranged private picnics which were great. One thing to mention is that all drinks were extra. Not sure if that is the case now.

Every evening all guests would meet in the bar for drinks and the staff would come around and see what we wanted to do the next day.

Walking around the island (3 and Ĺ kilometres) with guide, dhow sunset cruise and snorkelling is free. Diving, fishing, sailing, trip to Ibo and massages were extra. We went diving, fishing and did the sunset dhow cruise.

Diving
We took the diving package and there was an initial problem as Quilalea said we had not paid for this. It was eventually sorted out. Quilaleaís dive centre is a Padi centre and very well run. On some dives there were 4 guests and an instructor and sometimes just Peter and me. In hindsight I would probably pay for the dives as you go. That way you can just do what you want when you want. We felt like we had paid for two dives a day so we had to dive. I just couldnít manage two dives every day but Peter did most days. The diving was great. There was vibrant coral, fish and turtles everywhere but no sharks. The house reef was spectacular and it was straight off the main beach and there were plenty of other dive sites that we went to. The whole time we were there it was very windy so some dives were cancelled. It may have been the norm for that time of year, I canít remember. One dive the visibility was down to 10 metres but most dives were around 25 metres visibility.

Fishing
We were looking forward to some fishing. Immediately surrounding the island is a marine park. You were able to fly fish from the beach $25USD per day. Peter did this once but didnít catch anything. Prior to our arrival we emailed Quilalea to discuss game fishing. They have a variety of different boats and we discussed going game fishing for a few days. When we arrived we found out the game boat was out of action and the next boat down in size was also broken. The day we arrived we spoke to the new fishing captain who had been at Quilalea for a week. The next morning we went down to organise fishing and he had just up and left. We were not very impressed. We did go fishing in one of the smaller boats and caught a grouper about 13 kgs, a yellow fin tuna about 12 kgs and some king fish (we call them giant trevally). We didnít catch a marlin but a local fishing dhow did and sold it to Quilalea. It was only about 12kgs.

We enjoyed Quilalea immensely and would love to go back when the wind was not blowing and the game boat was in action.

24th June
Flew back to Pemba by helicopter at 1300. Our LAM direct flight to Johannesburg had been changed to a stop in Maputo. We had boarding passes but no seats assigned which was a first for me. We arrived back in Johannesburg at 6.30pm and back at the Metcourt Laurel by 7.15pm. We retrieved our stored luggage and did the big pack for home the next night.

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