BOTSWANA MIGRATION SAFARI TRIP REPORT – MAY 2009

Fish Eagle Safaris’ Lyndon and Jason Duplessis recently left  home for an adventure trip in Botswana,  the Migration Routes Safari.  They did get an adventure trip, but it wasn’t quite what they expected!

Two short slide shows were made with the photos taken, Slideshow 1Slideshow 2.

Here is their trip report:
Near the beginning of our trip we were informed that the locations we would be staying had been upgraded. We were expecting adventurer camps. 9×9 tents with two cots, and very few amenities. We got something a bit more extravagant.

The trip had everything: big game, riding elephants, mokoros, boat cruises, amazing food, sunrises and sundowners. We’ve always been suckers for predators, and we saw plenty at Linyanti. Lions Wild Dogs, Leopards, and Hyena. Every day there was something new and exciting to see there. We’re not sure how different the trip would have been without the upgrades. Obviously we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to ride elephants, but the game viewing would not have changed. All in all it was one of our best trips to date. It would have been nice not to deal with the bugs at Xigera, but what can you expect from an island in the middle of the Okavango Delta? And while mokoro rides and nature walks are nice, we think one fewer day at Xigera would have worked out better.

Here is a short diary of a few of our early days on safari, but our trip can be summarized quite easily by the photographs taken.

4-28

After a long and completely relaxing flight from Houston through Washington to Joburg we finally get to our hotel, The Mondior Concorde. Fighting the urge to collapse and sleep for about two days straight we unpack and settle in. After just relaxing for a couple hours we have a small debate whether to get up and grab a bite to eat at the nearby Casino, or just crash for the night. Jason wins the argument and we make our way out of the hotel. It is a short walk, and before we know it we’re inside scouring the different restaurants. Quickly we spot an Ocean Basket and dart over, having been to a few on our previous trips. After dinner we head back and collapse knowing that our adventure would begin early the next morning.

4-29

After an early breakfast we head to OR Tambo to catch our flight to Livingstone. This flight seems like ten minutes after our recent trans-Atlantic flight. We land and meet our Wilderness rep who helps us pack and takes us immediately to see Victoria Falls. It is our first time to view it from the Zambian side. Unfortunately it is difficult to see much of the falls because the excessive rains from this year have flooded the Zambezi:

Zambezi Flood

 Which then pours such an enormous amount of water down the falls that all you see is a fine white mist. After getting nice and wet while crossing a small bridge (sorry, no photos, couldn’t risk the camera) we are on our way to the first camp, Toka Leya. It is located outside of Livingstone, on the Zambezi about 12 km from Vic Falls.

Toka Leya Room

Toka Leya Room

Toka Leya Room

Zambezi Cruise
For an evening activity we took a boat cruise down the river

Croc Floating
This croc floated alongside our boat for almost 30 seconds.

First Sunset
The first sunset of our safari.

4-30

The next morning we set off for Botswana. After a short drive we found ourselves on the water again taking a scenic boat transfer to get to our waiting Land Rovers.  

African Darter drying it's wings
African Darter drying it’s wings.

African Fish Eagle
This guy looks strangely familiar.

Croc sun bathing
I am still jetlagged and envy this guy a little bit.

Our Vehicle
After about an hour we disembark and toss our luggage in our spacious Land Rover in preparation for a lengthy drive to reach our camp at Linyanti.

Warthog up close
We are immediately greeted by some warthog.
Linyanti Tented Camp room
Quite the upgrade from a 9×9 adventure tent!

5-1

The next morning we awake for our first game drive. Our guide, Richard, had heard some lions calling early in the morning and he found their tracks on the road shortly after leaving camp. After about fifteen minutes we found two females with a younger male.

Young male lion

After taking this in for a while, the lions shoved off and we went to have tea by the marsh. As we were unpacking some snacks a small herd of elephant went for a swim nearby.
Elephant playing in the water
This one is having almost as much fun as we are.
Female lion 1

Female lion 2
On our evening drive we found two female lions who had just gorged themselves and were resting in some shade.

 

5-2

The next morning the plan was to have a full day drive in order to reach the Savuti Channel.  On the way we came across a pair of enormous male lions, nicknamed “The Border Brothers”.  At one point they both started roaring, which was probably the highlight of the trip for me.

Male Lion Roar 1

Male Lion Roar 2

Male Lions Tussling manes
Shortly after this we made our way to the airstrip near Duma Tau and were able to see a pack of 12 wild dog!

Wild Dog chewing on branch

Wild Dog up close
You can even see the blood on their faces from a recent kill.

Lunch in the bush
It had been a long day, here was the lunch we had in a small cabin overlooking the Savuti Channel, which had just recently flooded.

Lunch in the bush
Our travel companions enjoying the view from the shade.
Lunch in the bush
The Savuti Channel, which had been dry for almost 30 years.

5-3 
On our final day at Linyanti Tented Camp, we were able to do a short game drive on the way to the airstrip.

Wild Dog up close
We saw this hyena grab a bit of leftover impala.

We later discovered who had originally killed the impala, the same male lions we had seen the previous day:

Male Lion resting 1

Male Lion resting 1

Plane's view of the Okavango

Plane's view of the Okavango 2

Some views of the Okavango from our plane.

Our next stop, Abu Camp, was very special. Not only were the accommodations first rate but the elephant back safaris were something we will both remember forever.

 

5-4

Abu camp beds

Abu camp sink and shower

As you can see, we were really roughing it at Abu.

Leaving the island on elephant back

The elephants live on an island with the mahouts, or handlers. Here we are leaving the island, heading towards the bush.

5-5

Okavango flood, from a vehicle

There was lots of flooding around Abu Camp. Everyday roads were completely under water. This picture was taken from our vehicle, already a few feet deep.

Sand 1, Toyota 0

The vehicle carrying our afternoon picnic was not quite as well equipped as our Land Rovers and got stuck in some soft sand. A few extra vehicles had to be called in to assist.

Walking through the flood plains with ease

Luckily for us, these guys don’t have any problem making their way through the extra water, in fact they quite enjoy it.

Hippo from elephant back

Up close and personal with a hippo while safely on our elephants.

Lunch at Abu

Our picnic setup, day 2 at Abu Camp.

5-6 through 5-8

Mahouts and our travel group

Our amazing adventure at Abu Camp was coming to an end. Luckily, we were all allowed to have a group picture taken with the Matriarch of the elephants, Cathy.

Our next stop was Xigera Mokoro Trails Camp. After a short flight and a lengthy boat transfer, we were on our own little island in the middle of the delta.
Our poler at Xigera

This was our poler during our stay at Xigera.

Elephant skull near our snack spot

An elephant skull, tusks still intact, near the location we stopped to have a quick snack.

African Fish Eagle takeoff

An African Fish Eagle taking off from the top of an old tree. Even in nearly silent mokoros he heard us coming.

Malachite Kingfisher

A Malachite Kingfisher perched on a reed.

Elephant crosswalk

We happened across a young bull that wanted to cross the water in front of us.


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