Saturday, January 14, 2012

Botswana Trip Report Part 2


October 14th to 26th 2011

Brief Daily Account

Tour Leader: Peter Jones
Tour Guide: Kurt McKenzie
Author: Peter Jones

A bird species list wll appear as an appendix to the main tour trip reports, please see Trip Report Part 3.
The tour trip report is posted in three parts this, the second, deals with our excursions to Khwai, Savuti, Chobi and Victoria Falls. It really was a fun packed tour and we used a mobile camp, which travelled ahead of us when we moved sites.

Impala posing for the camera!

Day six to Seven –October 19th ,20th – Khwai, Moremi Game Reserve. (25min Flight & 40km Drive)
Yellow-billed Stork
After an Early morning Start we met everyone at Xakanaxa Airstrip in Moremi Game Reserve (MGR). We did a short transfer down to the boat station where we saw at the elusive Sitatunga Antelope. We did a 3 hour boat cruise looking for birds. The heronry was a little disappointing with only a few Yellow-billed Stork, Marabou Stork, Great Egret, Reed Cormorants and Grey Lourie. We also saw from the boat some Pygmy Geese, Black Tern and fish eagles. After lunch on Lechwe Island we headed back to the vehicle for our 3 hour game drive to camp. Along the way we saw Impala, Elephant, Kudu, Steenbok, Lion, Black-Backed Jackal and a lovely Leopard on the way back to Camp. Birds we saw included Broad-billed Roller, Gabar Goshawk, Arnots Chat, Long Crested Eagle and many other target species. On Day seven we saw plenty of game some of which were Red Lechwe, Impala, Elephant, Warthog, Tsessebe and many great birds including Pale Flycatcher, Spur-winged Goose, Wattled Crane, African Jacana, Swamp Boubou, African Hawk Eagle, African Spoonbill, African Palm Swift, Common Swift, White-rumped Swift, Purple Roller, several woodpecker species, Little Rush Warbler and a host of others.

Day 8 to 9 – October 21st, 22nd – Khwai (MGR) to Savuti (CNP-Chobe National Park) (120km Drive)
African Elephant
After another early start we headed north to Chobe National Park to the Savuti Region. It was a very long hot and tiring day, we saw many Elephants, Impala, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest (Gnu), Giraffe, Lions and Jackals. We also saw Spur winged Geese, White backed Pelicans, Yellow billed storks, Golden Breasted Bunting, Secretarybird, Black and Yellow-billed Kite, African Fish Eagle, Hooded, White-backed and Cape Vulture, Black-chested and Western-banded Snake Eagle, African Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Common Buzzard, Steppe Eagle, African Hawk Eagle and other raptors, what a day! On Day 9 we saw Elephant, Kudu, Impala, Waterbuck, Giraffe, Tsessebe, and Blue Wildebeest. We also had good sightings of Yellow-billed storks, White-backed Pelicans, Red billed Teal, Hottentot Teal, Wattled Crane, Common Buttonquail, Long-toed Lapwing, Crowned Lapwing, Black-winged and Collared Pratincole, Whiskered and White-winged Tern, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Southern Ground Hornbill, Southern Black Tit, Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark, Sand Martin, Willow Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, several species of Cisticola, Arnot’s Chat, Red-headed Quelea, Red-headed Finch and the list just grew and grew......

Day 10 to 11 – October 23rd, 24th – Savuti to Chobe River Front. (130km Drive)
Tawny does battle with an adult Bateleur
We had a very early start and departure to try and beat the heat to get to our next camp. It was a long drive on mostly sandy roads with the short 30km tarred section before getting heavy sand again to our camp. Once at the new camp the trees were only starting to get their new leaves so there wasn’t much shade if any at all. We had our picnic lunch in the shade of the vehicle while we waited for the backup crew to arrive. We headed out in the late afternoon for a short game drive. We saw a big heard of Buffalo and Elephants in the distance, Impala, Lechwe and Kudu. On our way back to camp we had good view of a pride of Lion feeding on a recent baby Elephant kill, good to see the lions, but sad too, adding to the drama the pride were being harried by Spotted Hyena. 
Great White Pelican
We had good birds too with African Hawk Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Carmine Bee-Eater 00’s, Helmeted Guinefowl cheekily mobbing a Black-backed Jackal, Yellow-throated Canary, Scarlet-chested Sunbird and another host of new species included an unexpected Lesser-spotted Eagle. Day 11 saw us up bright and early. The area was such a great place for both game and birds, we couldn’t wait to get out and see how the lions had managed against the Spotted Hyena. It wasn’t long before we saw the pride had made a fresh kill, yet again a young Elephant. The old remains of yesterday’s kill was being pecked over by vultures and eagles. We had great views of a confrontation between a Tawny Eagle and an adult Bateleur, the later deciding to head butt the Tawny Eagle at which point the Tawny fell from his perch, superb! We had some good views of Impala, Warthog, Waterbuck, Chacma Baboons, Elephants, Giraffe, Roan Antelope and a good ending to the day with about 2000 Buffalo and large herds of Elephant, all providing a wonderful backdrop as we enjoyed chilled wine, beer and a magnificent sunset. We saw African Spoonbill, large flocks of White-backed Pelican and Open-billed Stork, Grey Herons, Grey Go-away Bird, Reed Cormorant, African Fish Eagle, Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Common Cuckoo, White-fronted Bee eater, Greater Honeyguide, Long-billed Crombec, White-bellied Sunbird, African and Plain-backed Pipit plus a flock of Black-throated Canary, so together with other species it had been another super day!

Yellow-billed Kite

Day 11 – October 25th – Chobe River Front to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (75km to Border & 80km onto Victoria Falls)
Martial Eagle
Well today was a goodbye day to Botswana and all our friends at the camp, sad but we had to pack our bags and head off to Zimbabwe. We headed up to road to the tar transit road through the park into Kasane, along the way we saw many elephants, Warthogs and some Sable Antelope. We saw a few Ground Hornbills, Bateleur and Kites. Once we arrived at the Border we went through the Botswana Immigration pretty quickly and then took an hour to get our visa’s sorted at the Zimbabwe Border. Once all was done we said our farewells and everyone was transferred to their hotel in Victoria Falls for one night before heading home the following day, of course not before we managed a few more bird species!

Part 3 to follow. For full tour details see HERE

Photographs: Jimmy (Drongo) Turner and Spanish Nature

The boys have a laugh before setting off into the bush!
Our next tour to Botswana is now finalized an will commence 29th October 2012 see HERE for details.


Mary Howell Cromer said...

Love it all! I of course enjoy always the raptors and you got some splendid images, but that Impala image, it is shows such depth and even though they are standing still, you can just imagine in a stroke of a second, off they would be~

Peter Jones said...

Thank you Mary. The Impala image shows the girls with one young male! They can be very skittish, so it was good they stayed around long enough to allow the pose. Not long afterwards they ran at the speed of light and a minute or two later a Leopard appeared! Good early warning system... Peter