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Trip report: Vumbura Plains, Savute Elephant Camp, Royal Livingstone, June-July 2007

Trip report: Vumbura Plains, Savute Elephant Camp, Royal Livingstone, June-July 2007

Old Jul 10th, 2007, 10:06 AM
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Trip report: Vumbura Plains, Savute Elephant Camp, Royal Livingstone, June-July 2007

We’ve just got back from a fantastic trip, and many thanks to everyone on here for their help – some of the advice given on here made an enormous difference to how much we enjoyed the trip (particularly the advice about the hat, scarf and gloves….) It was a family trip, with my 60 something parents, and my 30 something sister and I.

Our itinerary:

3 Nights in Vumbura Plains (South Camp)
3 Nights in Savute Elephant Camp
2 Nights in Royal Livingstone Hotel

We left London on the 25th June, and flew down to Jo’burg, had about a two hour wait, and then flew up to Maun. At Maun airport, we were met by lots of people from Wilderness, who got us on to the right (tiny!) plane which flew us to Vumbura, where we were met on the airstrip by our guide Emang. He was excellent, and immediately put my parents at ease (both of whom had been very nervous about going on safari). On the drive back to the camp, we saw lots of eles, giraffes, impalas and some fantastic birds. (I arrived having no interest in birds, but am now absolutely hooked – maybe it’s because African birds are more interesting than London ones?)

The camp itself was lovely – a lot grander than we’d thought it would be (and certainly much more so than we needed it to be). We were greeted by the camp management, and then most of the ‘front of house’ staff who were all absolutely charming, but after about 20 hours of travel, it was a little overwhelming. The whole camp is raised maybe 3 feet in the air, so that the animals can get to the water on one side of it. (We saw hyena on the ground one night, and heard lions walk through another).
The ‘tent’ is huge – I’ve lived in smaller apartments! Three sides are made out of a sort of gauze type thing, which means that you can lie in bed and watch the sun rise. However, it also means that there’s no protection from the wind – we lay in bed and could see our breath it was so cold. (Temperature was about 3 degrees in the morning, and the wind chill factor must have dropped it several degrees lower. We took hot water bottles on the morning game drives, and were wrapped in all the layers we could find, including the above mentioned wooly hat, scarf and gloves.)

Each tent has a private deck overlooking the water, and has a plunge pool. Ours sadly didn’t get any sunshine, and it was terribly cold so we didn’t really use the deck.

The food was plentiful and delicious, as was the wine. And the hot chocolate in the morning was probably the best I’ve ever had.

Game drives started at 7, and went till about 11, when we had brunch. Tea was then at 3 and we went out again at 3.30 until about 8 most days, so we got a night drive in as well.

I stupidly didn’t write my diary every day, so I can’t remember exactly when we saw what but here goes: every game drive we saw lots of elephants, giraffe and impala (they became the magic three – as soon as we’d seen all three, the drives always got more exciting). We also saw lions on four occasions – once hunting, once eating, and twice just relaxing in the sun. Absolutely amazing – watching the way they hunted (unsuccessfully) was extraordinary – they’d all been lying down relaxing when one got the scent of a pair of zebra miles in the distance, in the opposite direction to the way they’d been facing. Slowly, they all started stalking, with one going round the side to cut the zebra off. There was even a cub attempting to hunt.
We came across a different pair of lions two days later, who were eating the remains of a buffalo, which the larger pride had apparently killed during the night. There were hyena and vultures all round, waiting for these two males to finish their dinner. Eventually, the vultures flew in and tried to take some scraps away, right in front of a sleeping lion!

We saw lots of wildebeest, red lechwe, sable, kudu, tssessebe, vervet monkeys, baboons and a few roan antelope, warthogs, and ostriches. And bizarrely, almost no zebra (only the two from the lion hunt) and no (live) buffalo. We did see a wild cat hunting, and during a night drive, a leopard hunting briefly, which was great (but the leopard sightings at the next camp were so much better!)
From our tent, looking over the water, we watched a hippo (and heard it – hadn’t realized just how noisy they were!)

What was great was just how much game there was – we never drove more than a couple of minutes before seeing something (unlike the next camp, where we might drive for 30 minutes without even seeing an impala)

Birds – I can’t begin to list all those that we saw, but here are (from my point of view) some of the highlights: lilac breasted rollers (very common, but very very lovely), little egrets, rufous-bellied herons, saddle billed storks, hooded and white backed vultures, tawny, wahlbergs, martial, fish, and brown snake eagles, meyer’s parrots (glorious coloured underbelly when they fly), coppery tailed coucals, mousebirds, pied kinfishers, bee-eaters, and a jackal buzzard.

My favourite of all the sightings though, was on our way back from a boat trip, when we came across a hyena walking down the road we were driving down, at night. We stopped. It stopped. And we had a standoff. For about 5 minutes. We watched it, it watched us. And eventually, it just trotted up the road towards us, and then when it got half way round the car, went off into the bushes. What I liked most, was just how curious the hyena was – everything else had looked at us, and not been concerned about us, or possibly run away, but this hyena was as fascinated by us, as we were by it.

We’d had a fantastic three nights there, and were very sorry to leave to go to the next camp. Of which I’ll try and write an update soon!
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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 01:01 PM
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welcome back rackabelle. I am glad that you had such a great trip and I am looking forward to your next installment.
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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 01:32 PM
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Can't wait for the rest of your report - great start!

I'm absolutely with you regarding your comment about not having been into birds before (because so many London birds are LBJs - little black or brown jobs) but getting really into them in Africa. Oddly enough it has lead to an interest in them back home too... it took a couple of Africa trips to do that but we're now members of the RSPB and have put some bird feeders out in our garden!

(I'm a 30-something Londoner too).

I think Vumbura Plains is one of Wilderness' 6 paw camps - if so I know what you mean about the camp being lovely but grander than you expected or needed. We tend to opt for their 5 paw camps but have made an exception for Mombo (as there is no 5 paw camp in the area and we've had great game viewing there). The grander tents are cool but the regular kind are plenty luxurious enough for me!

Can't wait to hear about Savute Elephant and Royal Livingstone!
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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 05:18 PM
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Hi rockabelle

What a wonderful 1st gameviewing experience you have had! I am green with envy over your sable sighting - they are such magnificent creatures, as many african animals are, but when rarely seen they seem more magnificent!

I liked birds in Australia, but on quite gamedrives, I am eager for anything living, and I took information in about birds almost against my will. Now some good bird photos are an essential part of each trip, and many adorn my walls at home. And yes, for me also, I now take 100's of bird photos at home every week. I drive myself nuts, let alone the poor birds that live around me - though my dog is thrilled I have moved onto other things!

Look forward to the next part of your trip!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Old Jul 16th, 2007, 03:19 AM
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It's taken a few days to find time to write this, but here's the next installment:

Savute Elephant Camp
When we landed at the Savute landing strip, there was an ostrich on the run-way, and several elephants near by. The drive to the camp goes via a watering hole (with lots of elephants), and slightly bizarrely, a football pitch. We were greeted by several of the staff singing to us (not very enthusiastically, somewhat to my amusement – they clearly thought this was quite tacky!) The camp management then told us all about the wonderful game, in the area, and that the water feature in the camp often had lions, leopards etc coming to drink at it, throughout the day. Which we were pretty excited about (as well as a little nervous – not entirely comfortable about a pack of lions drinking at a fountain with people wandering through the camp. As it was, we didn’t see anything other than birds there, but seconds after we’d walked past, a leopard came to drink, while one of our fellow guests was standing right next to it. Fabulous but altogether terrifying, being 1m away from a leopard.)

The tents are fabulous – and heated. Our only problem with VP had been just how cold it had been at night – here, the heating was turned on in the evening, so that when you got back from dinner, there was a hot water bottle, and a warm tent. The whole camp is on the edge of the savuti channel, overlooking a watering hole, so while the camp itself isn’t raised, the tents look down on the channel. Each tent has a decking area (with hammock), looking out on to the channel. In the evening, between the end of the drives and dinner, we’d sit and watch the elephants walk up and down the channel – approximately one a minute, which was extraordinary. But more about that later.

After the reviews that we’d found, our hopes were pretty high – this was supposed to be the place with lots of lions, leopards and wild dog. However, two minutes into our first drive, our guide, Watch, stopped the car and told us that the lions had killed most of the wild dog (four had survived), then most of the lions had disappeared when 2 dominant males had arrived, and the cheetahs hadn’t been seen for a month. If we saw any cats, we’d be really lucky. We were pretty disappointed, particularly after the way the camp management had enthused about the game. And that first drive was very very disappointing – we saw a very small handful of impala, and kudu, 2 elephants, and 1 wildebeest. After the simply enormous quantities of game at VP, where we’d see something every minute, to find ourselves driving for 20 minutes between impala sightings, was quite depressing. However, right at the end of the drive, we came across 3 eagle owls in consecutive trees, hooting to each other. Very cool – we could see the feathers around their necks moving whenever they hooted, with the pink skin underneath exposed. Sundowners were by the watering hole that we’d seen on the way back from the airport, and while it was extraordinary watching 50 or so elephants and their interaction with each other, my sister and I in particular, both felt quite nervous about how close some of the elephants came to us (we were in the car, and some distance from the hole, unlike other cars, but the ele’s were appearing out of the bushes and walking straight past the car).

Dinner that evening was fine (neither the food, nor the wine was anywhere near as good as VP, but given that SEC is half the price, that’s probably to be expected).
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Old Jul 16th, 2007, 03:25 AM
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The next morning it was again, freezing cold, so we went out with hot water bottles. It was, again, a very quiet start to the drive, with few of anything to be seen. However, we were really enjoying it, as the scenery we were driving through was, for the first time, very typical of what beginners like us expect from Africa – huge open savannas, with long golden grass. Absolutely breathtaking. Hyenas were spotted, and we did a hilarious mad chase to find them (surprising just how fast you can drive down a sand road!), but missed them, when a leopard was spotted, and again, we had to drive at huge speed, back the way we came (we ended up passing one herd of wildebeest 3 times at great speed, much to our amusement, and frankly their confusion, as they did stop to watch us). We found the leopard, and briefly, were the only car there. She was just lying in the shade of the tree, gently surveying everything around her. And then all the other cars came. Whereas at VP, there was a 3 car rule (which only once had to be applied), here, there was no rule, so suddenly there were about 7 cars, all crowding in on this poor leopard, which we really didn’t like. The leopard didn’t seem that bothered though, and eventually decided to go hunting. All the other cars left, and we stayed a few minutes longer, trying to find her again in the bush. Suddenly, she jumped about 4 foot in the air (parallel to the ground), and caught what we think was a francolin. It was fantastic.

Back at the camp, after lunch we sat by the pool watching the elephants at the watering hole. (It’s very odd sitting by a pool that no-one’s using because it’s too cold, while elephants queue for their essential drink of water. I did feel quite uncomfortable about that). We spent hours over the days we were there watching these elephants – the social interaction between the bulls is fascinating. Most of the time, the elephants queue quietly, and take their place when the elephant in front moves away. Every now and then though, a bully comes in, and all the elephants move back so that this elephant can get straight to the water. In the evening, the breeding herds run down (really very fast), and for them, it’s clearly a quick drink – the bulls walk slowly down, and stay drinking for ages, the breeding herds just minutes so that they can move on, away from the bulls. Watching the elephants was probably almost my favourite part of the whole holiday, and I watched them, either from the tent or the pool, as often as possible. One night, we watched a breeding herd go past our tent after dinner, and then suddenly, there were huge screams and trumpeting. By the moonlight, we could just see 2 hyena racing away from the herd, who were chasing them (making sure that the baby elephants were well protected). When they stopped, they formed a really tight pack, again, ensuring that the babies were in the middle.

Back to the game drives – again, I stopped writing my diary, (I’m an idiot), so here are the few things I did jot down. We saw an extraordinary fight between a martial eagle and a tawny eagle – the tawny eagle ended up flying upside down claw to claw with the martial eagle, twice (only briefly obviously, but extraordinary to watch). The birds again were astonishing, and mostly very different from what we’d seen at VP (though naturally, still those annoying suicidal cape turtle doves, and lots of lilac breasted rollers). Now it was bustards (Kori and Black-bellied), crowned plover instead of blacksmith, owls (the eagle owl and also the pearl-spotted owlet, which is so tiny I have no idea how our guide found it), wood-hoopoes, and sunbirds. Lovely.

We also saw several black backed jackals over the three days, and a lion attempting to get to a watering hole while there were lots of elephants there. (He didn’t succeed, and had to wait until they left).

However, the best sighting at all was another leopard, found on one of the ugly sisters (big rock hill things, in the middle of a plain). We watched this leopard for over half an hour, hunting (and again, catching a francolin – like that was going to feed her for very long!). She walked right past the car, just inches away, and was totally unconcerned by us. We were close enough to see her eyelashes, it was just fantastic.
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Old Jul 16th, 2007, 03:29 AM
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The two camps were totally different in sizes, styles and game, and I probably couldn’t pick a favourite between them. (Though the rest of the family would give it to Vumbura, I’m not so certain, simply because of the two magnificent leopard sightings, and the elephants at the watering hole). The things I thought I’d love or that would annoy me, didn’t (I wasn’t overly keen on the water activities at Vumbura, and was pleased not to be staying at Little V (I’d forgotten how much I don’t like little boats), and wasn’t really bothered by the lack of night drives and off road driving at Savute.)

Vumbura was better for overall game – there was loads of it, everywhere we turned. SEC was better for the sheer interaction between the animals (particularly the elephants, but also with the lion and the hyena, the impala and kudu and wildebeest etc). Not sure why that’s the case, and maybe it was because we noticed more of the animals behaviour as they were less of a novelty (at VP, everything was new to us).
The staff at VP were infinitely nicer and friendlier than at SEC, which was much more hotel like, and less personal. The food and wine was better at VP. There was one other family at VP while we were there, and at dinner in particular, we all sat around the same table, very much mixed up, so got to talk to them (and some of the camp staff, who take turns to have dinner with guests). I really enjoyed that, (partly because the other family were terribly nice), and missed it at SEC, where you eat with your party only, and there wasn’t much interaction between all the groups. We also had a fascinating lecture at VP one night, on how the delta was formed etc.

I preferred the cars at Vumbura – they were open topped, so it was easier to see the birds. However, even through factor 50 sun cream, (and wearing a hat scarf and gloves), I still got sunburned. Was pleased at Savute, where it got very hot through the day, to have a roof, to keep the sun out, but it was a shame for the birds (and makes photos a lot harder). Also, the car at Savute has open doors, so you have to hold onto all your bags when you drive quickly, so that they can’t fall out. In both camps it was just the four of us to our car (we didn’t book a private vehicle, and both camps said that they wouldn’t put a party of 4 with others). Both cars broke down - at VP in some water at night, and the rescue vehicle also got stuck in the water, until a tractor came to get us, and at SEC when we got to the airstrip to go on to Vic Falls.

Ultimately, I’d be very happy going back to both camps, though I’d probably only do two nights at Savute (I’d go for the ele’s, and be grateful if I saw anything else – there was others there who didn’t see any of the cats we saw, and had been there just as long).

Things that I couldn’t have done without, were : my sports bra, lipsalve, warm hat, scraf and gloves (never used my sun hat). Would have happily changed my sunglasses for wraparound sunglasses, to keep more of the dust out. I never used my binoculars – they were 10x25, and weren’t strong enough, so I either used my camera lens, or I shared binocs with the rest of the family, who had stronger ones.

Camera – I borrowed a digital SLR, with a normal lens (think it went out to 125), and a huge zoom which went out to 400. Having been taught at length how to use the camera, I didn’t really understand the whole white balance and exposure concept, so I set it to auto, and took great photos anyway. I did find changing lenses in the middle of the drive surprisingly easy, and got pretty quick at it.
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Old Jul 16th, 2007, 04:20 AM
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Royal Livingstone
We flew from SEC to Kasane (where you have to get stamped as leaving Botswana), and then on to Livingstone. Our pilot very kindly flew over the falls, which saved me the effort of booking another flight to do just that!
We were met at the airport by Wilderness staff, who for the first time, didn’t have everything organized, and didn’t have some receipt to give to our driver. (The driver was there, expecting us, and knew where he was going, but couldn’t go without the document, which took about an hour to get. Somewhat frustrating) He then drove absurdly slowly, not looking at the road, but back at my parents, as he pointed out the sights of Livingstone (like there are any, and I prefer people to look at the road when they’re driving). But we arrived at the Royal Livingstone safely.

We’d picked the Royal Livingstone because my parents weren’t happy about staying on the Zimbabwean side, and I’d stayed at the Zambezi Sun before and known that they really wouldn’t like it (food was dreadful when I was there, and it looks like pink upside-down egg cartons). They also wanted to stay near the falls (our travel agent suggested the lodges near by, but after 6 nights on safari, the whole point of going to Vic Falls, was to enjoy them, so we didn’t want to have to drive to them every time we wanted to see them). Royal Livingstone therefore was simply picked by elimination.

And the first day was not good. After we’d got there and checked in, we mentioned to the man that had greeted us that we were going to go and freshen up, have some food, and then look at booking the African Queen for that night. It was, at this point, 3pm, and the boat sails at 3.30 (which we didn’t know). The concierge didn’t point out that we might need to do everything quickly so that we could make the boat, so we missed it. Which didn’t really bother us as we had another evening there, it was just mildly irritating. So we booked a dinghy trip for the next day, and went down to see the Falls (which were very full, and utterly lovely). In the evening, at dinner, I decided that I didn’t want to go on the dinghy (really don’t like little boats), and that I’d rather do the day trip to Chobe. So I went to book it (about 8pm) and when the concierge wasn’t there, someone else told me that it would be no problem, and to come back after dinner. Hmmmm. Dinner. My sister ordered a glass of white wine, while the rest of us were thinking about what to drink. A glass of red arrived, and was taken to my father instead of her, and then spilt all over him. The whole glass. All over his shirt, jumper and trousers. And not one word of apology. Not one. Nor any effort to help mop up the mess. Absolutely shocking. After the very slow service of getting drinks in the bar earlier, and waiting 20 minutes to be seated in an empty restaurant that we’d booked a table in anyway, we weren’t overwhelmingly impressed. The food itself was fine (the beef carpaccio starter was fabulous), and we then went to have a drink at the bar. While the others were ordering drinks (again, very slow), I went to book the day trip to Chobe, and was informed that a) it was too late, and b) no-one else had signed up for the dinghy trip and it needed 6 people to go ahead, so they might have to cancel it. When we’d booked it, we hadn’t been told that 6 people were required, so I was really unamused by this, but there was nothing the concierge lady could do, except tell me to phone the desk at 7am and see if there was space for me on the Chobe trip (which leaves at 7.30), and get my parents to check on the dinghy at breakfast time.

When we went back to our rooms, my sister and mine had lots of mosquitos in it (even with some thing plugged in that was supposed to repel them). I seem to attract mossies, so we then spent a hilarious 10 minutes trying to kill them (which was fine in the bedroom, but involved standing on baths and basins in the bathroom). When we thought we’d got them all, we covered ourselves in Deet just in case, and went to bed. (And still got bitten about 20 times).
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Old Jul 16th, 2007, 04:23 AM
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At 7 the next morning, I phoned, and was eventually told that there was space for me on the trip so I went and did that. I enjoyed it, but there are caveats: it took 2.5 hours to get to the boat for the boat safari, and you have to go through Zambian immigration (didn’t bother me, but it wouldn’t suit everyone). The boat safari was good, but the food at the lodge that we went to was dreadful (menu was chicken nuggets, burgers, Greek salad etc) and we spent a long time waiting there. This meant that we had about 2 hours on the boat, and maybe the same again in Chobe, which, for an 11 hour trip, seemed pretty little. However, saw huge pods of hippos (about 40 in each pod), wallowing in the mud, lots of crocodiles, two extraordinary rock monitor lizards, some fabulous birds, whose names I mostly didn’t catch, and have yet to identify in my photos (pied kingfishers, beeeaters and African darters were some of them). And finally, after 6 days of safari, I saw live buffalo! We also saw a pair of ele’s drinking.
The game drive in Chobe resulted in lots of warthog (which we’d seen, but not that many of), giraffe, impala, kudu, sable, red lechwe, waterbuck, and elephants. Elephants galore. We found ourselves on a beach, surrounded by probably 200 elephants who were either coming down to drink, or had already been drinking. (It included some babies rolling in the sand, and a baby crossing the river, holding onto one elephants tail, and having his tail held by the elephant behind. Just glorious)

My parents and sister eventually did the African Queen (which suited them better than the dinghy), and had a lovely time – they saw lots of hippos, elephants, crocodiles and had a generally lovely cruise.

Dinner that evening was nice, with no spillages, but again, very slow, as were the drinks in the bar both before and after. (I don’t mind things being slow, but when there are hundreds of staff around the place, I don’t see that 4 G&T’s should take 15 minutes to be ordered, and then another 20 minutes to arrive).

Breakfast however, is fantastic, and I was sorry to have missed it the previous day. We sat outside, watching hippos, and it was just magical.

Ultimately, the location for the Royal Livingstone is great, but the service was dreadful, and did spoil it a little. We still had a lovely time (and finally saw lots of zebra, right outside our bedroom), and the falls are incredible, and my parents still preferred it to the Sun, but if I had the choice, I’d probably go to the Zimbabwean side rather than stay at the Livingstone again.


We had however, probably the best holiday any of us have ever had, and my parents are starting to plan their next safari (after my sister and I had to slightly bully them into going in the first place!) We even managed to not (really) have any family arguments, we were enjoying it so much! Thank you for all the advice either directly given, or indirectly through information provided via trip reports etc. It really did make a difference (especially about the weather, the sportsbra, and the binocular strength), particularly as none of that kind of information was supplied by our travel agent.
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Old Jul 16th, 2007, 05:06 AM
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I have enjoyed reading your report, especially valuable are your comparisons of the different camps. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Your comments on the Royal Livingstone made me smile, but I'm sure it didn't seem funny to you at the time.

Will you be posting photos? I'd love to see them.

Thanks,
CW
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Old Jul 16th, 2007, 05:25 AM
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I'm slowly loading photos on to flickr as it appears to be the only sight that wants to let me load them more than 1 at a time. When I've got most of the good ones up, I'll post the link (unless anyone has any better suggestions as to where to upload them?) Also, on flickr, is there anyway of zooming in on the photos, or do I have to work out how to do that on my computer?
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Old Jul 16th, 2007, 08:37 AM
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Have enjoyed reading your report; looking forward to the photos.

SmugMug (and Pbase too, I think) allows multiple pictures to be uploaded (accounts are not free, but you can open a two-week trial account to test). Yahoo (free) also allows multiple uploads, but I don't care for the white background.
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Old Jul 17th, 2007, 02:43 AM
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Here's a small selection of some of the photos we took:
http://uk.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/roc...aP0EHB1lk_.S9A
I haven't labelled some of the birds, so if anyone knows what any of them are, please let me know!
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Old Jul 17th, 2007, 06:02 PM
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Vumbura was a great start for you. Glad to know the lion action continues there. Your hyena encounter was fascinating. They are bold and curious creatures.

A SEC guest was one meter away from a leopard with no barrier between them? They were standing side by side? A meter away in a vehicle might be exciting but on foot, you are right, it is terrifying. What the heck is that all about?

A trio of Eagle Owls is a special sighting. Seeing the leopard catch the francolin is fantastic indeed. Dueling eagles—wow! With the elephant viewing on your drives and at your pool and a second leopard sighting, maybe the SEC management had it right when they bragged about the wildlife in the area.

Glad the Chobe thing worked out and that you saw lots of animals. Slow service and a less than helpful concierge at Royal Livingstone is one thing. Dousing a customer in red wine and then ignoring it is unacceptable.

If your parents want to return and consider it the best holiday ever, then all is well that ends well. You Savuti Elephant Camp details and comparison with Vumbura will be helpful to future travelers.

I'll be checking out the photos soon.
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Old Aug 17th, 2007, 05:07 AM
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Hi
it looks like you were at the Elephant Camp around the same time that we were. Its good to see you also had a great time there. Our full trip report can be found at http://wilddogsandenglishmen.wordpress.com
plus the downloadable PDF version, I hope you enjoy.
Best wishes
WD
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Old Aug 17th, 2007, 12:15 PM
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Lovely report, thank you so much.
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Old Aug 17th, 2007, 04:15 PM
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Thanks Rockabelle. Sounds like you had a great trip. The comparison of the camps is a great idea, and will be useful to others. I may steal your idea to include such a comparison at the end of my trip report on Namibia and Botswana, when I finally get it done.

It appears that for game viewing you had two totally different experiences, which is great. I love that you saw massive amount of game at Vumbura, but that in the end SEC came through with the quality if not the quantity. And I know exactly what you mean about birds. My first safari, I hardly noticed them. My second, I was very interested, but not that knowledgeable. By my third trip I'd not only bought a bird book, but actually read/looked at alot of the photos before I went on my trip. I love the leopard-francolin description. You're right, it certainly would only whet a leopard's appetite, not fulfill it.

I'm glad that despite the horrible service at Royal Livingtsone you had a great time and that your parents want to go on another safari. You've gotten the bug!
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Old Aug 26th, 2007, 05:40 PM
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You had sable sightings and pictures and Vumbura and Chobe!? Now that's luck. Your photo makes the warthog look regal.
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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 01:19 AM
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It's funny isn't it - we saw quite a lot of sable at VP, and there were a fair number at Chobe too. I'd read on here that they were rare, but (much like my boyfriend with wild dogs), we saw them so often that they didn't seem any more special than everything else was.

As regards the leopard in camp, staff there think it's very normal having the 'smaller' animals come into the camp and have a drink from the fountain. (By smaller, they mean anything except elephants as far as I'm aware, which are blocked out of the camp by an electric fence. We only saw impala in the camp, but I'm not sure what else could get in). The fountain's just at the entrance to the camp, next to where the fire is at night, between the dining area and most of the tents. Apparently animals come most nights, but normally after everyone's gone to bed, though they did say that they'd had both lions and cheetahs there in the middle of the day. While there's part of me that wanted to see the animals come and drink, there's a much bigger part that thought the idea of a pack of lions drinking right in front of me in the camp is terrifying. (Our guides advice if it should happen, was to stare straight into the lions eyes as apparently they're less likely to attack if you have eye contact. He's had to try this theory out, but I'm very pleased not to have to!)
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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 03:09 AM
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Hi rockabelle,

Just read your guide's theory on coming face to face with a lion. I have heard quite different, with someone that has had some experience with coming face to face with both leopard and lion. His advice was to NOT look them in the eye but keep sweeping your eyes from side to side, I am sure much easier to say than to do, and slowly move on. The reason was once the lion has been seen to be spotted, then it may well feel the need to defend himself, if he feels as if he hasn't been seen, then he may not feel the need to go on the attack! In theory, it makes sense. Certainly happens with birds when I am taking photos - if I keep walking then they remain still, generally speaking, it is when I stop and look at them that they fly off.

Kind regards

Kaye
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