African Safari Update #37

FISH EAGLE SAFARIS UPDATE

Fish Eagle Safaris is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year!  Thanks to all our loyal clients for the many years of support and for referring us to friends and family.  Fish Eagle Safaris has grown in size and in years, but it is still very much the same small family-run concern.  When he’s not in Africa looking at new properties or checking on old ones, our founder Bert still answers the phone himself.  He still gets involved in every trip being planned, takes a personal interest in the well-being of every client and has a hand in the design of every itinerary.  Personal attention and a high degree of customizing has been the hallmark of Fish Eagle Safaris and it is not going to change. There are no boiler-plate or standard trips around here!

Something that is new is our newly re-designed website at www.fisheaglesafaris.com  Have a look and browse our trip reports – several new ones have been added recently.

A beautiful landscape at Tubu Tree Camp

A beautiful landscape at Tubu Tree Camp

Bert and Kathy just got back in late December last year from a long trip to Southern Africa.  Here are a few of their impressions.  A couple of trip reports are already up, others to follow.

Trip Reports

OKAVANGO DELTA, BOTSWANA
Xigera surprised us with a great lion sighting  – and I got my first ever decent pic of a Sitatunga to boot.  Of course Xigera is all about the Okavango Delta, the water, the mokoros and the boating (limited due to very low water) and the birding.  Whatever one sees in the way of big game is a bonus.  We love the island setting – although the tranquility was disrupted somewhat by a couple of ‘camp followers’ – elephants which apparently regularly walk into camp in search of special trees and fruits.

Seba (Okavango Delta) was the most pleasant surprise – a simply stunning setting, wonderful hosts and some of the best game-viewing of the entire trip.  The ‘child-friendliness’ aspect of the camp is not an issue at all and it can and should be considered on its merits as a superb mixed-activity Okavango Delta property.

Kathy Duplessis helping to feet Naledi at Abu

Kathy Duplessis helping to feet Naledi at Abu

Abu was brilliant – Kathy and I had rarely enjoyed a 2-day stay anywhere quite as much.  Of course it is all about the elephants and we immersed ourselves in the elephant experience:  riding them (do it if you haven’t yet!), walking with them (fascinating too), watching them take a mud-bath (highly entertaining), having breakfast with them, feeding them treats, and above all interacting with young 1-year old orphan Naledi, who pretty much rules the elephant roost. In short, Abu exceeded our highest expectations. Although you don’t ‘have’ to ride one of the elephants, I would recommend it; truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Worth the trip alone just to meet Naledi. What a little character she is!

Bert at Abu

Bert at Abu

Tubu lived up to its reputation as a reliably good choice for an Okavango Delta camp – the game-viewing was first-class with the best leopard sighting of the entire trip, amongst others.  For my money the scenery in the Jao Concession is the most breathtakingly beautiful of any in the Delta.  Simply stunning.  Tubu and Little Tubu just feel ‘right’ in every way: the scale of the camps, the boardwalk, view, hospitality – it all gels into a satisfying and fun experience.  We made a half-day excursion – quite an experience in the GoDevil/Mudbuddy – to Jao and Kwetsani as well.  Jao is going from strength to strength and it is looking better now than ever before.  What a fabulous place!  We are looking forward to seeing Kwetsani in its new iteration when it reopens some time later this year.  Still a great location and a good choice for a classic category Jao concession camp with ready access to water.

Abu, Seba and Tubu are part of Wilderness Safaris’ 6 Countries Green Season Special which is still available through the end of March 2015.  So call us now at 800 513-5222 for a last-minute ‘trip of a life-time’!

SAVUTI, LINYANTI & CHOBE REGION
At Savute Safari Lodge the game-viewing was the best we had ever seen with simply hundreds of elephants all over the place, plenty of predators and fantastic birding.  I bumped into Richard du Toit (photographer) and we agreed that the game-viewing on the edges of the marsh was simply phenomenal.  This area is going to remain good for at least another year or two no matter what happens with the Savute Channel and we will be telling anybody and everybody to drop whatever they’re doing and to visit the Savute Marsh ASAP.

A typical Zebra viewing at Savuti

A typical Zebra viewing at Savuti

There is not going to be a better time to visit the Savute area and specifically Savute Safari Lodge than right now, through the end of June 2015.  Desert & Delta’s shoulder season prices are the best in Botswana so call or e-mail bert@fisheaglesafaris.com  for more information – space is limited but still available.

The ‘new’ Dumatau has a lot going for it:  beautiful and striking main lounge/dining room area and very private rooms with great views over the Linyanti River & Osprey Lagoon.  The game-viewing was on the quiet side with most of the elephants already dispersed after the onset of the rains.  Of course  we know that the area is superb once it starts to dry out a little bit from about May onwards.

Chobe Game Lodge was initially a bit slow but on the second day there, everything was out and about: great big herds of elephant, lions, buffalo – the works.   I have always been a fan of Chobe Game Lodge but what I saw in terms of game-viewing, guiding, food & hospitality and a serious commitment to the environment (first lodge to operate an electric game drive vehicle and pontoon boat in Botswana, amongst others) just reinforced my positive feelings about this deservedly popular lodge.

Lions grooming each other at Chobe Game Lodge

Lions grooming each other at Chobe Game Lodge

It may be different in the high season but we never had any issues with too many other vehicles.  CGL start their morning game drives v-e-r-y early in summer and they explore the area to the west of the lodge, in the process getting a jump on any other operators coming in from the Sedudu (east) gate.  One morning when we found a pride of lions, we were the only car there for nearly 20 minutes before even one other vehicle – also from CGL – showed up.  By the time a vehicle from another camp showed up we had experienced the lions at their best and were ready to go.

Ditto for Chobe Chilwero which arguably has the nicest rooms of any I saw on this trip. Plus the cooking there was fantastic. Excellent guiding too.

VICTORIA FALLS AREA
Gorges Lodge is literally right on the edge of the Batoka Gorge, about half an hour or so by road from Vic Falls town. Great location, quiet and friendly people. Beautiful gardens. Nothing fancy in terms of rooms or food, but worth considering for the view alone.  The new tented camp to be constructed there later this year – Batoka Lodge – ought to be spectacular.

Main deck at Zambezi Sands

Main deck at Zambezi Sands

Imvelo’s new Zambezi Sands property, located a few miles upstream from the falls on the Zimbabwe side, was a revelation.  Fabulous rooms with nice views over the Zambezi, a splendid main lounge/bar & dining room area with a deck right on the water and a good range of activities including game drives, walking, boating, fishing & Vic Falls visits.

Two of Imvelo Safaris’ flagship properties – Zambezi Sands and Camelthorn – are running a –stay 3 nights, pay for 2’ special through the end of August 2015 so get in touch with us ASAP to put together a spectacular Zimbabwe trip for you, including these two fantastic lodges. 

HWANGE GAME RESERVE

The Hwange properties which I visited (Bomani, Camelthorn, The Hide and Somalisa) were all terrific and I took some of the best photographs of the entire trip in Hwange, including some really nice elephant and cheetah pics.  The game-viewing can be a bit challenging there in the wet season in the heavily wooded areas due to dense vegetation but if you spend several days in the area you are bound to experience some great sightings.  Once the open areas such as the Ngamo Flats green up after the first rains – which usually come by mid-December – masses of plains animals congregate there and the predators are never far behind.  Big bonus?  Very few other vehicles around – you pretty much have the place for yourself in the green season.

A cheetah seen on the final drive from Somalisa

A cheetah seen on the final drive from Somalisa

 


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