02 Dec – Kasane – BTTE Opening Ceremony and business sessions
The opening ceremony was held at Sebona Nature and Recreational Park, and attended by the Botswana Minister for Tourism, who happens to be the Botswana
Presidents brother. He gave an excellent speech, explaining the Botswana Governments position on Zero tolerance to poaching (shoot to kill!) and the
complete ban on hunting. (This ban includes the Bushmen, who have all been re-settled into villages, and get government assistance for living costs).
The business sessions for the rest of the day consisted of four 1 hour seminars on different areas of the country: The Okavango Delta; Chobe National Park, Linyanti & Savuiti; Central Kgalagadi & Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park; Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pans and the Tuli Block. Each session had speakers on the area, followed by questions and answers. Sessions ended at 3:30pm. I signed up for the Chobe River boat cruise, which was pleasant, with my fellow Africa Adventure colleague Frank to share the traditional sundowner.
03 Dec – Kasane – BTTE Business sessions
The sessions consisted of ‘round robin’ meetings with various suppliers, lodge operators and ground handlers. Sessions ended at 3:30pm, and I joined the Desert & Delta groups on their sundowner cruise – second time lucky – it stayed dry. Dinner and overnight at Chobe Game Lodge. The new rooms at Chobe Game Lodge are looking very good.
Kwando Camps Safari
04 Dec Kwando Lagoon
This morning I bid farewell to Kasane, and joined my travelling companions on a four night post BTTE safari with Kwando, led by our Reservations Consultant, Mox Dintwa, who is a delightful 31 year old, with a Business degree from Botswana University. All Kwando Camps operate game activities with a guide and a tracker. Camps are managed by Botswana staff. Six guests per vehicle, with the middle seat empty.
Kwando Safaris charter all of their flights with Moremi Air. They have a new fleet of two Cessna 206 and three 8 seater Airvans, and operate them usually with the back 2 seats out. They have great safety features, including crumple-zones, so no luggage can be stored under the seats. There is plenty of space at the back for hand-luggage.
We flew from Kasane to Kwando Lagoon Camp, which is very close to the Namibian border, north of the Selinda Reserve. The flight took approx 50 minutes,
and took just 15 minutes to get to camp, where I shared the family tent with one of the group.
As the name suggests, the Camp is located on a lagoon, with a big hippo poulation!
Our afternoon game drive was not hugely productive from an animal perspective, as the morning rain storm had scattered the larger herds. We did however start our birding education.
We did see some great wildebeest, and giraffe with young, along with many, many hippos!
05 Dec Kwando Kwara
Up at 5am for coffee and a light breakfast (porridge, corn flakes, muffins, tea and coffee) before heading off on a game drive, ending at the airstrip. Our guides (Hobbs and PJ) worked hard to find us an impressive sighting to remember the area by, and found us a beautiful leopard!
Our journey continued with a 30 minute flight to the Kwara Concession, and Little Kwara Camp. This was by far my favorite location and camp. There was a lovely vibe in the camp, the staff were all terrific and the location is fabulous. Boating is offered from both Kwara and Little Kwara. Kwara Camp is going to be completely renovated in 2016.
Our afternoon activity included a boat trip (possibly the last boat trip until the water levels start to rise) to the heronry, where huge amounts of birds managed to perch and nest on the thinnest of branches!
On the way back to Camp, we had a close encounter with giraffe, elephant, and a mating pair of lion, watched over by the brother…. Ready to step in if required!
06 Dec Kwando Nxai Pan
The early morning at Kwara brought a strange front passing through, with a very dramatic sky.
On the game drive to the airstrip, we saw some very interesting birds:
And also some babies:
We had the inevitable flat tire en route to the airstrip, just as we were following a cheetah, stalking prey:
Our plane was waiting to whisk us off to Nxai Pan, within the greater Makgadikgadi National Park. It was
still very dry, with just a few sprinkles of rain so far, and the Pan was arid. It is hard to believe life can be sustained in such conditions, but
large herds of springbok were seen. Seven zebra stayed behind at the end of the prvious years rains, and are eagerly awaiting the return of the herds,
as soon as the rains begin and the pans fill up again.
A film crew is busy making a documentary of the lion pride and how they adapt to the conditions. We saw their vehicle and large camera lens focused on the lioness and her two cubs, as we set off in the early morning to visit Baines Baobabs, a good two hour drive from camp. The film crew were in exactly the same spot, six hours later, on our return!
Baines Baobabs sit overlooking Kudiakam Pan
We saw a small pack of wild dog on the main road, just after leaving the Nxai Pan Gate. Desperate for shade, they squabbled over the coolest spot, scratching at the sandy surface to find cooler earth beneath.
Some elephant found their way to the waterhole outside camp, to share the late afternoon sundowners.
All too soon, it was time to head back to Maun, and the reality of home. Until the next time!