Blog

Read our news and reports and keep updated with the latest in African safari travel experiences...

You are here: Blog // Office Trip Reports

Alison is back from the We Are Africa conference in Cape Town


“What an amazing event! Where leaders in the conservation field are recognized as individuals whose tireless passion and dedication to changing perceptions of the continent are shaping Africa’s future for the better”.

 

I was personally able to spend time with Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers, conservationists and National Geographic Explorers-In-Residence, who have been filming, researching andexploring Africa for over 30 years. They have created over 25 films for National Geographic, focusing on Africa’s wildlife with strong conservation messages at their core. One of their most valued accolades was receiving the Presidential Order of Meritorious Service from the President of Botswana in 2011. In recent years they have expanded their conservation outreach through Great Plains Conservation. Dereck is CEO and together with their business partners, under the banner of “Conservation Tourism”, strives to secure African landscapes of a scale large enough to protect its resident and seasonal wildlife. Through Great Plains Conservation and the Great Plains Foundation, they travel around the world speaking to worldwide audiences on conservation and are actively involved in a host of innovative initiatives to save Africa’s wildlife and uplift, educate and care for the surrounding communities, including • The Big Cats Initiative with National Geographic • Big Cats Caring for Communities • Predator Work and Compensation project – Kenya • Land for Lions – Botswana • Ride for Lions – Kenya • Maasai Olympics – Kenya • Rhinos Without Borders – Botswana.

 

I also spent one-on-one time with Beks Ndlovu of African Bush Camps hiking in the lower slopes of the Table Mountain National Reserve discussing the conservation initiatives he has set up in Zimbabwe and Botswana.

 




Alison’s Safari Notebook: Mombo, Vumbura Plains, Chitabe Lediba


Here is part #2 of Alison's epic journey to Botswana at Wilderness Safaris Mombo, Vumbura, Chitabe Lediba, and Abu camps, led by one of AAC’s favorite guides, Brooks.  


My adventure started as soon as I landed, when I was met by Brooks who would be my specialist guide to the four different camps in Botswana's Okavango Delta: Mombo, on Chiefs Island in the Moremi Reserve, Chitabe Lediba, which borders Moremi, and Vumbura Plains, and Abu Camp.

 

As soon as I get in the vehicle, Brooks starts tracking – listening to the calls of baboons he knows where predators are lurking, and he takes off in their direction. He’s an amazing tracker, one of the best in the bush. At Chitabe we find usually elusive wild dogs. At Vumbura Plains, we track a cheetah and found where it had taken down an impala, a rutting male oblivious to the danger of the hungry cat headed towards him. Another time he hears a kudu’s alarm calls and arrives in time to see a leopard slinking into the dusk. 

 

 

 

While Brooks and I were out in Botswana, we saw 4 leopard and 3 cheetah (including at Mombo). All fantastic sightings! Also at Chitabe, we saw a young leopard hunting. He was trying to catch a mongoose that fled up a smallish tree. We watched as the leopard growled and rattled the tree – but the mongoose got away and ran up the dead tree next door! Again the leopard flew up the tree in chase and in haste the mongoose fled with a desperate jump down from the end of the branch - and swiftly made off.

 


 

One of the highlights of my Botswana safari, and a completely new experience for me, was a helicopter flip across the Gomoti River. The small helicopter seats just 4 passengers including the pilot, and flies low over the water which gave me outstanding views of hippos both feeding out of the water and also gathering in pods in safety of the water, crocodile basking out on the banks, elephants feeding in the marshes – a completely unique perspective. It felt almost like a balloon safari as I floated over the Delta.I would definitely recommend it to clients so they can get this unusual take on the wide watery Okavango Delta for themselves.

 

 

 

My take on the camps:

 

Vumbura Plains:  Stayed in North Camp this time where Alex is doing great things as Manager.  The ambiance in the rooms is a lovely outreach to the Delta waters outside. Enjoyed the evening soup stop the first evening after a wonderful sighting of their must see - a majestic sable antelope. Huge variety of wildlife and fantastic one stop camp.

 


 

Mombo Main Camp: Stayed in tent #5 again which was looking very safari chic. So pleased to meet up with all the familier guides in camp like Tsile, Doc, Moss, Sefo, OB and Cisco. Huge anticipation in camp of new rhino translocation.  Saw a cheetah in two separate sightings and also 2 leopard sightings of Pula and Big Eyes.  Enjoyed a new wow experience, a wonderful afternoon high-tea spread under two large Acacia trees. 

 


 

Chitabe Lediba:  Love this place for both wildlife and camp friendliness. Believe it or not, was there again to experience Monday boma night - the dancing and singing rocked as usual.  The wild dog sighting was extraordinary; as was another cheetah sighting enroute to Gomoti Camp.  My best 2 leopard sightings ever.  The photo artwork in the rooms by Dave Hamman are exquisite!

 


 

Abu's Camp - coming in part #3



​Alison’s Safari Notebook: Linkwasha Camp, Hwange


Alison is just back from the wilds of the African bush and is sharing her insider look at the newest and most chic lodge in Zimbabwe, Wilderness Safaris Linkwasha Camp:

 

Linkwasha lies in Hwange’s south-eastern corner, on a private Concession. Situated on the same site as the old Linkwasha, the camp is close to the famed Ngamo Plains, which offer fantastic summer game viewing – to add to the already excellent winter viewing.

 


 


 

Overlooking a pan that is a magnet for game across all seasons, the fresh, open and airy design of Linkwasha Camp is complemented by an eclectic mix of contemporary interiors that combine modern décor with the original spirit and essence of safari. The camp focuses on luxury in its eight spacious en-suite tents and one family tent that look out over the waterhole. The main area includes various multi-level decks, a pool area, and a winter lounge complete with library.

 


 

 

Another great aspect of Linkwasha – extraordinary safari guide, Buli!

 


 

Our family has a great history with Buli. On a family safari 5 years ago, Mark and I and our two sons met Buli on his first day as an apprentice ranger in Hwange. We had a wonderful experience with him and truly enjoyed his company in the vehicle. Fast forward to 2015, and Buli is now a top-notch Pro guide in his own right. In addition to guiding with Wilderness Safaris, he also spent two years in the wilds of Orlando, working for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a unique program where Buli was able to see the world and develop an even greater knowledge of the hospitality industry.

 


 

I requested him specifically when I arrived in Linkwasha, and was thrilled with his knowledge and guiding skills. One afternoon we spent several hours at a water hole as we watched hyena and fish eagle both scrambling to catch barbel (African catfish). And after decades going on safari, Buli helped me spot a first, and that was a Martial Eagle, the massive bird of prey, swooping and diving down to the ground at least half a dozen times trying to catch a guinea fowl, the smaller bird squawking and running and eluding the powerful and hungry raptor time after time.

 


 

Hwange is rich with plains games, and with Buli I was able to spot dozens of zebra and loads of giraffe, lots of elephant as well. Even just tracking with Buli was fun – we followed leopard tracks and the call of a splendid sighting of a Caracal cat through the bush until the sunset.

  


 

Another highlight of Linkwasha are the two great managers: Jeremy, and Chedo, who bring some great energy around the camp. 

 


 

I was lucky to also be accompanied by Courtney Johnson (far right), a former Wilderness guide who’s now the operating manager for Wilderness Safaris Zimbabwe properties. Yvonne Christian (with me on the left) and Alex, the chief Wilderness Air pilot (second from right) also were able to enjoy the guiding skills of Buli.

 

Linkwasha is definitely a special place in the bush, and a must visit for any client looking for outstanding accommodations, wildlife, and guiding in Zimbabwe. AAC is excited to offer it as an option on our award winning Eyes on Elephant safari in Zimbabwe: 

 

Read more about Alison’s 2015 Africa adventure, here: http://www.africa-adventure.com/southern-africa-bush-tails/alison-s-safari-notebook-abu-camp-okavango-delta



6 POSTCARDS from the AAC Voluntourism Trip to Zimbabwe in July 2013


Alison and Nicholas Nolting / Susan and Elizabeth Clemons / Anne and Caitlin Hampton

Matobo Hills and Hwange
- Zimbabwe is a country rich in wildlife and pristine ecological surroundings, one of the few places in the world where it’s possible to see the Big 5 in pristine wildlife areas.
- The uniqueness of this project arises from its truly magnificent ecological surroundings coupled with the communit ies living around Matobo and Hwange.
- Mother Africa is established to assist communities and conservation near Amalinda in Matobo Hills including WhiteWaters and Ethandweni .
- Children in the Wilderness is active with the Ngamo and Ziga communities around Hwange Park, situated near to their safari camp, Davison’s.


"So you may be asking, what kind of trip was this! 
This was a  “purpose-driven safaris” tailor-made for unskilled mothers and their student  children who wished to donate their time and leave a la…sting and tangible impression on Zimbabwe, in so many ways.

And that we did! We sourced over 6 large duffel bags of Grade 5-8 books for  both schools we visited. We acted as a “connector” in the classrooms  and community helping the next generation of children in Zimbabwe who are the future of their country.

We all came away with a mutual acceptance of one’s culture, beliefs and the lives they lead."

Alison Nolting – Trip Leader
Alison Nolting –  AAC Voluntourism Trip to Zimbabwe in July 2013


Lizzie Clemons
Lizzie Clemons,  AAC Voluntourism Trip to Zimbabwe in July 2013


Anne Hampton
Lizzie Clemons,  AAC Voluntourism Trip to Zimbabwe in July 2013

- by: Alison Nolting


Mark and Alison Nolting in South Africa



South Africa 2013
Mark and I cemented key partnerships in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.  The weather was stunning with meals enjoyed outside with stunning ocean views and green, lush vineyards.   We were there for two weddings - and the funeral of leader Nelson Mandela.

November 28, 2013 in Cape Town                                Bakoven Luxury Apartments near Camps Bay
November 28, 2013 in Cape Town  Bakoven Luxury Apartments near Camps Bay


November 30 – Constantia Winelands Wedding

Constantia Winelands Wedding 


My brother, wife and lovely daughter – my niece
My brother, wife and lovely daughter – my niece


December 02, Meeting Wilderness Touring – lunch at the Boat House by chef Bruce Robertson
Meeting Wilderness Touring – lunch at the Boat House by chef Bruce Robertson
                        

Meeting our Cape Town Guides -  Andrew, Lucia, Janice and Lazarus
Meeting our Cape Town Guides -  Andrew Meeting our Cape Town Guides -  Lucia Meeting our Cape Town Guides -  Janine Meeting our Cape Town Guides -  Lazarus


December 03, Meeting the Singita Operations
Meeting the Singita Operations


Meeting all at the Asilia Office and Operations
Meeting all at the Asilia Office and Operations


December 04, the Cape Grace 5 start Hospitality
the Cape Grace 5 start Hospitality


Dining at the Signal Restaurant  - Cape Grace
Dining at the Signal Restaurant  - Cape Grace Dining at the Signal Restaurant  - Cape Grace 
Dining at the Signal Restaurant  - Cape Grace Dining at the Signal Restaurant  - Cape Grace


December 05, Visiting Colin Bell – Conservationist and author of “ Africa’s Finest”
Visiting Colin Bell – Conservationist and author of “ Africa’s Finest”


Ellerman House and their 6 start Wine Cellar!
Ellerman House and their 6 start Wine Cellar!


December 06, Iliso Care Society in Kaylicha Township – visiting with Vivian
 Iliso Care Society in Kaylicha Township – visiting with Vivian


Visiting the Winelands–Delaire and Bablyonstoren
Visiting the Winelands–Delaire and Bablyonstoren


December 07,  country wedding in Kwa-Zulu Natal
Good to see Yvonne and Blessing.

country wedding in Kwa-Zulu Natal Good to see Yvonne and Blessing.


 Nelson Mandela memorial–a country in mourning
Nelson Mandela memorial–a country in mourning


December 08, the Saxon Hotel – 6 star hospitality
the Saxon Hotel – 6 star hospitality


December 08, Johannesburg Wilderness Safaris
Johannesburg Wilderness Safari

- by: Alison Nolting


Okavango Delights - Alison Nolting inside scoop on the latest food trends from Botswana


Our very own Alison has just returned from a wonderful trip where she not only saw Pula and her week old leopard cub at Mombo, but also she had the pleasure of samp ling many tasty food delights. The culinary delights featured from Jao, Vumbura and Mombo that can be sampled when traveling on our 11 Day Premier Wing Safari to Botswana - for more information, visit our website: http://www.africa-adventure.com/safaris-items/11-day-signature-wing-safari-to-botswana-premier-camps-may-dec-2014

The team at Jao will go out of the way to giving you an incredible dining and hospitality experience. Getting your feet wet for a surprise champagne breakfast in the wilderness is certainly something to write home about after a morning activity!

Incredible dining, getting your feet wet in the wilderness at Jao

There's nothing like a good breakfast in the bush to start off the day and the setting a t Jao is perfect for Cindy Swart, the high -energy, bubbly executive chef. A sampling of menus included the 4:00pm High Tea of spring rolls, melt - in- your mouth quiches, tartlets, and divine fudge (yum!) right before setting off on a boating excursion thro ugh the waterways.

Breakfast in the bush

Brunch at Vumbura is always a treat, with a buffet of fresh and healthy options coming out of the splendid kitchen. Vumbura Plains Camp comprises two separate seven -roomed North and South camps, each with its own raised dining, loun ge and bar area tucked beneath a canopy of cool, shady, indigenous trees. The sister camp is the delightful Little Vumbura - an oasis island retreat!

Brunch with a buffet of fresh and healthy option at Vumbura

The dining deck at Mombo overlooks the floodplains. The view is nothing short of spectacular! Kenny the chef cooked up some dream menu items. High tea included ostrich meatballs on sticks and mini chicken pot pies. Had surprise sundowners with fried bream. A dinner menu consisted of a choice of starter of cream corn soup or a salmon gravlax; followed by a combo platter of Chicken Wellington and Kudu with a peppercorn sauce. One of my favorite desserts was a Banana Sorbet. Breakfast included a basket of still warm freshly baked passion fruit muffins, each in their own paper parcel.

The dining deck at Mombo overlooks the floodplains

One of the dining experiences at Mombo (be there on a Monday night!) is dinner in the Boma - an unforgettable experience for guests with entertainment put on by the whole camp staff with singing and dancing and storytelling - a highlight for me is watching the characters transform from daytime jobs to night-time performers! A huge appetite is needed for the spread that is on display. The staple menu item, served in a three -legged-iron pot, is Seswaa, a savory Botswana beef stew which tasted delicious with added spices of curry powder, ginger, and chutney. Other dishes on a Boma night may include a kudu casserole, couscous, pumpkin, cream spinach crepes, local ground maize meal with tomatoes and onion. Enjoy the delicious Cape Brandy Tart for dessert.

dining experiences at Mombo (be there on a Monday night!) is dinner in the Boma

Pula found a perfect den- a hollowed out tree trunk to hid her new born cub Alison does leave this thought- what does Pula have on her dinner plans today to ensure that her young cub is going to survive?

Pula(leopard) found a perfect den


Uganda Trip Report


Chimps and Gorillas!
Louise Steynberg and Alison Nolting
November 12th - 21st, 2009

On arrival in Entebbe, Uganda we were met by a smiling Lydia who gave us a wonderful briefing, and then we met our Driver/Guide Benjamin Musisi and continued to the Kampala Serena hotel. You know you are back in Africa when you smell the dust and wood smoke!

The next morning we began our journey to Murchison Falls National Park . We stopped for lunch at Kaniyo Pabidi Forest where we heard that the newly habituated,
resident chimp family was very close - maybe 15-20 minutes walk away. This was too good an opportunity to miss , so lunch was forgotten and we headed off to find the chimps.

After a mere 10 minutes we found a family of 30 chimps in a huge fig tree and spent a very enjoyable hour watching them up in the trees and down on the ground in the shade. They amused
us with their cavorting and screeching as they played and chased each other . What a great start to our safari! Onward to Murchison Falls where we spent the afternoon in the park and saw Rothschild's giraffe, elephant, wart hog, water buck, Ugandan kob, buffalo, bushbuck, hartebeest and Hyena.


Uganda Trip Report - Murchison Falls Rothschild's giraffe

We woke up the next morning to lovely views of the Victoria Nile from Paraa Lodge and then we were off back across the Nile on the ferry , to view the top of the Murchison Falls.  Our road travel took us onward to Kibale Forest and a night at Ndali Lodge.

The following day we set off on a chimp trek,  and again we were lucky as after just 15 minutes we stopped to admire a monkey in the top of a fig tree , there sitting sunbat hing on a neighboring branch was a chimp ! He was then joined by a second chimp and we watched as they came down onto the ground and bounded up another fig tree where the made themselves comfortable. We carried on through the forest see if we could find some more chimps and found two more in yet another fig tree. We also saw a huge black and white hornbill, a blue diiker, Colobus monkeys and many more birds and butterflies.

  Monkeys in the top of a fig tree  

 After lunch at Primate Lodge we did the community S wamp Walk and had some fantastic bird sightings as well as red tailed monkeys and the L'hoest's monkeys.

Primate Lodge and L'hoest's monkey

Onward to Queen Elizabeth National Park where we drove around the craters and spent the night at Mweya Lodge which has stunning views over the Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward. On our game drive here we saw many elephant, Ugandan kob, water buck, olive baboons and warthog

Queen Elizabeth National Park  Mweya Lodge which has stunning views over the Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward

Enroute from Queen Elizabeth we drove through the southern area of Ishasha, the open grasslands contrasted to the northern part of the park that has many volcano craters. This is where the tree climbing lions are found!

This is where the tree climbing lions are found! Southern area of Ishasha, open grasslands.
Southern area of Ishasha, open grasslands

A long drive had us arriving at the Nkuringo side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the wonderful welcome at Clouds Lodge! Including a hand massage at the door!


Clouds Lodge Clouds Lodge

The next morning we were up early as we were trekking the Nshongi gorilla family and it was an hour's drive to the Park Head Quarters. Bwindi forest is incredibly beautiful and we trekked until 1:00pm before we found the gorillas. The terrain tends to be rolling hills, so there was lots of trekking up the hills, along the top and down the other side to then come to another hill! However the long trek was worth it when we found the gorillas - the family group of 36+ had only been recently opened to the public to trek since September 2009.

Trekking to the Nshongi gorilla family Trekking to the Nshongi gorilla family Trekking to the Nshongi gorilla family

First we saw one of the silverbacks sitting under a tree, in the pouring rain I might add. He didn't seem overly keen to see us as he hid his face behind the leaves of the tree. We heard the others before we saw them as they shrugged their way through the undergrowth. One of the black back juveniles climbed to the top of the tree where he stood up, waved his arms in the air, hooted and jumped up and down. The dominant silverback didn't seem at all perturbed as he continued eating. We saw 20 gorillas during o ur time with this family. Then we made our way back through the forest, sliding our way down the muddy hills, crossing the river and finally at the end of the day back to our lodge for a hot shower and dinner in front of the fire.

Trekking to the Nshongi gorilla family Trekking to the Nshongi gorilla family Trekking to the Nshongi gorilla family

The next day we explored the Nkuringo area to see first hand the incredible sustainable projects they are introducing to the area including schools, the Batwa village where they are selling baskets and growing dye plants, and the local village where we purchased some Uganda home -grown tea. We also enjoyed some leisure time at the lodge before we were visited by the choir from the local orphanage.

Uganda Trip Report Uganda Trip Report

The following day, instead of driving around to the other side of Bwindi with Ben our guide, we took the short cut and did the forest walk from Nkuringo to Buhoma. As we stopped often to look at birds it took us the better part of the morning and so we arrived at Gorilla Forest Camp in time for a very late lunch. Ian, the Manager filled us in the gorilla family groups and showed us the new Park headquarters. That afternoon we visited the Bwindi Community Hospital and it was very inspiring to see all the good work that is being done there.This will be one of new projects we will be supporting for 2010.

www.bwindihospital.com

From Buhoma we drove to Lake Mburo where we spent the night at Mihingo Lodge. We had a very successful game drive in the park as we saw herds of zebra, impala and e land. The lodge is high up in the rock kopje with wonderful views over the plains. That evening we watched the bush -babies come down at sunset.
Herds of impala in Mburo Herds of zebra Uganda Trip Report

Our last day dawned and we headed back to Entebbe, stopping along the way to do some souvenir shopping and to re-pack and relax at Lake Victoria Hotel before boarding our flight home.

Alison Nolting in Uganda Trip Report


Botswana and Victoria Falls - June/July 2008


June 26 
Maun/Okavango Delta - Vumbura

Departed Maun in a very smart scheduled charter flight on a Caravan accompanied by our specialist guide, Matt Copham.

The Vumbura concession was looking superb from the a ir with delightful scenes of elephant tromping through the delta waters. The draw of Africa happened on the first game drive into camp with sightings of a hornbill eating a puff adder, Lechwe and reedbuck simmering in the afternoon sun among the grasses , and more breeding herds of elephant parading through their water playground. Boisin the camp-manager greeted us with his signature grin and wave and cold drink in hand on the dock at Little Vumbura.

A quick lunch and Matt was badgering my son Miles (14 ) and I back into the boat to take a short boat ride to a near-by island. He quickly showed off his superior guiding skills by finding a Pels fishing owl and we knew he had earned his dinner ! Our game drive continued with sightings of a big herd of buffalo throwing up dust in the sunset making for great photography with back lighting. We found two male lions from the Kubu pride who were keeping right up with the herd and into the night. The best time of the day for me is the fading light of the African day with the orchestra of calls and sounds that accompany the traditional sundowner.

The evening meal was a traditional Boma dinner with the guides in camp including Kay, Lazarus and Rain and trainee camp manager , Tendai joining in the festivities around the jumping campfire light.

Buffalos! First day sightings at Vumbura Buffalos! First day sightings at Vumbura
First day sightings at Vumbura

First day sightings at Vumbura


June 27 
Vumbura

The alarm call was early morning splashing through the shallow water in front of the tents. Dark silhouettes of Lechwe antelope could be seen through the cracks in the drawn canvas blinds.

The morning sunrise was greeted with Coucal calling in the reeds . Matt got us out bright and early for a morning walk and enroute were rewarded with a sighting of a hyena dragging a lechwe that had been stolen from the resident leopard and a few families of breeding herds of elephant .

The walk started at Jackie's Pan and soon Matt was introducing us to his collection of animal names including an implausability of Wildebeest and murmation of Starlings. On the walk we were able to get a decent sighting of a breeding herd of elephants, warthog, baboon troop, a lone buffalo ambling through the thicket, starlings diving onto a mongoose and a pair of giant eagle owls .

After a late brunch we enjoyed the ambiance of Little Vumbura which has a lovely library area and bar area built in and around the resident fig trees and alike. The deck area overlooks a waterway through the delta that the mokoro rides take and often the camp will arrange this in combination with a walk to Darter Island.

The afternoon drive was a combination of more interactions with elephants, h ippos in the marsh area and finally a rewarding sighting of a male cheetah on a lechwe kill. We sat with him until dusk and enjoyed a moon-upper afterwards as we were too late for a sun -downer. A porcupine was the lone sighting on the night game drive back to the dock/camp.

Elephant in the distance and Matt tracking our vehicle in the delta waters Elephant in the distance and Matt tracking our vehicle in the delta waters
Elephant in the distance and Matt tracking our vehicle in the delta waters

Other sightings on the game drives Other sightings on the game drives
Other sightings on the game drives

June 28 
Vumbura

Matt was determined and bound to go back to the cheetah sighting from the previous afternoon to see what was there. His intuition of following his guiding instincts was spot on and we shared in his obvious passion with nature and bush when the lone cheetah was still where we had left him.

We sat quietly listening to the sunrise chorus of egrets and malachite kingfisher and the sight of huge bull elephant with very large tusks standing proudly in the early light with clouds of mist and wet grass. Not for long! Splashing and calling of two hyena echoed through the delta waters and they rapidly approached to chase off the cheetah.

The cheetah made his way through the Vumbura plains for over an hour sighting, and finally poised on a tree trunk - magnificent! The morning concluded wi th tea at the pool at Vumbura Paradise with elephant, hippos and lechwe being our Bush TV documentary.

Arrived into Vumbura Plains Camp for an overnight stay and got off to flying start with afternoon tea of samoosas and chocolate brownies. DELICIOUS !


The afternoon drive to find lion on buffalo and hy ena cubs at the den did not materialize and we quietly had sundowners with curios giraffe off in the setting sunset .

The dinner setting was more formal and the managers, Rodger, Ryan and Janice gave some delightful pre- dinner chats at the minimalist bar with crazy-fun bar stools. The North Camp looks over a lagoon whereas South Camp has views of the grasses of the delta. Johannes the new chef showed off some wonderful talent with his mushroom risotto!

Fabulous cheetah sighting - we followed him for half the morning! Fabulous cheetah sighting - we followed him for half the morning!
Fabulous cheetah sighting - we followed him for half the morning!

Little Vumbura setting - only takes 12 guests and has a family unit Little Vumbura setting - only takes 12 guests and has a family unit
Little Vumbura setting - only takes 12 guests and has a family unit

Mom and Miles have one on one time on safari Mom and Miles have one on one time on safari
Mom and Miles have one on one time on safari

Vumbura Plains - North camp - perfect spot for sunrise sightings Vumbura Plains - North camp - perfect spot for sunrise sightings
Vumbura Plains - North camp - perfect spot for sunrise sightings

June 29 
Vumbura - Mombo

Freezing morning so 'nice Matt' let us sleep in until 6:30am.

As a specialist guide Matt can walk all over Botswana and he arranged our final morning to be a walk in an easterly direction hoping to pick up the recent sightings of the pack of wild dog. We did see their tracks and followed them for some distance but eventually had to turn back as we knew there was a flight to catch to the next camp. Matt got us nice and close to giraffe with his weaving bushman walk which h also took us through lovely vistas under forests and around several pans.

Back for brunch which was a n OUTSTANDING DISPLAY . However, more outstanding, was the quality time that my son Miles and I had shared with Matt and to be surrounded by his superior tracking skills, incredible photographic experience, encyclopedic knowledge of nature and the bush, a keen sense of humor - and we learnt why he is called the Silverback of the Okavango!

What an education for children - spending time with bush happy g uides. Matt Copham is happily known as the Silverback of the Okavango .
What an education for children - spending time with bush happy g uides. Matt Copham is happily known as the Silverback of the Okavango .

Met many familiar faces on the charter flights from Vumbura to Mombo including the Russel Friedman family and the specialist guide Dave Luck. On arrival at Little Mombo there was a lovely scribbled postcard from Garth Thompson, a fellow Zimbabwean who has guided for over 30 years in Africa .

The welcome at Mombo was 'like home -coming' with a lovely staff of smiling faces. Our guide Cisco introduced himself and he is pedigree of note as he has brothers and uncles are all over Botswana in camps. His private vehicle 'Tonto', which we nicknamed in c onfusion with the two shows Cisco the Kid and The Lone Ranger, delivered well and our first 24 hours of game viewing at Mombo was incredible.

Miles and I had missed the morning baby giraffe and lion interaction which we heard was amazing, but thankfully we had an equally exciting time ourselves starting in the afternoon and turning into the best game-viewing on all my Africa trips. First followed the lion and they were hunting a herd of buffalo - magic sighting of male lion running forward with mane flying back - Bob Marley as he has big dreads! Ran into 3 wild dog and whoopee followed them for a good hour as they ran towards Chiefs - came into open

area and they chased down lechwe until the water got too deep. Continued following them and they found a small impala which we missed seeing. Ran into a cheetah male who was sauntering through and Cisco picked up a caracal in the background in the fading sunset. Fabulous sighting! Enroute home ran into Legodima female leopard and her two cubs drinking near camp!

Natalie met us back in camp and Tsile and Cisco joined us around the campfire before dinner. Early to bed as early to rise was happening!

The lion hunt
The lion hunt

The three wild dogs were such a treat to see
The three wild dogs were such a treat to see

sightings of a cheetah and caracal
Late afternoon light and the continuing Mombo mini -documentary with sightings of a cheetah and caracal

June 30 
Mombo

Found Legodima in the early morning light sitting under a tree quite near camp. T hen Cisco picked up another male leopard in a tree with a kill. As we watched him a 3 rd male leopard camp into the picture who he thought was the father of the two cubs. We got a few nice pictures of him before we looked for the cubs - a female and male and what a treat to view them. Can you believe we saw 5 leopard s within an hour all in a very small area? We spent a delightful few hours working our way around the various sightings.

Legodima and her two cubs - a female and male
Legodima and her two cubs - a female and male

Legodima and her two cubs - a female and male

Poster (the Save the Rhino guy) came on the radio - he had found two rhino so headed on a long drive north. Got our Big Six sighting- both a black female and a white male rhino together - very rare!!


The black rhino in the background I s a browser, the white rhino in front is the grazer

Finished up with picturesque lunch spread at the hippo hide and felt incredibly lucky to be viewing at Mombo - the place of plenty. Hooked up with Legodima on the way back to camp but she was laying up I n a shade. What a morning!

This afternoon Cisco wanted to find us the resident Maparota pride - 20+ with two lions and about 4 cubs. Picked up the tracks and he followed them until light ran out. It was a different kind of drive as Cisco was using his skills as a guide to find us wildlife and it is incredibly exciting to have him point out what he is finding in the patchwork quilt of the African veld.

Back in camp it was 'Boma night' so had the wonderful 'braii brashness' from Simon the chef with about 10 selections sitting in traditional black pots over warm glowing coals. Tsile was overseeing dinner and then herded us upstairs as Poster and his Mombo choir was the after dinner entertainment . Lizzy, one of the Managers of Main Mombo had a spirited voice along with being very sassy and getting guests to dance the African way. A fun, fun evening and I was eager to make a purchase of their CD in the shop on our last morning.

Sundowner in Mombo


July 01 
Mombo

Up early as Cisco wanted to continue the tracking of the lion so headed over the to the rhino boma where he had picked up the tracks yesterday. Drove for 7 hours tracking to Lechwe Heaven and traversed along an entire river line. Saw many, many lion tracks of all sizes, hungry vultures in trees, zebra grazing peacefully, kudu grazing peacefully, lechwe grazing peacefully - and no sign of lion. With the sun high in the sky we headed home tired but having enjoyed a morning of tracking. There was a reward as we found the two males of the pride lying up as we headed back to camp. Nat our tireless manager had late brunch waiting and new visitor, Grant Woodrow who heads up the whole Botswana Wilderness operation.

Early morning sighting leaving camp
The lion and the culprit of all those tracks! The lion and the culprit of all those tracks!
Early morning sighting leaving camp      /    The lion and the culprit of all those tracks!

The afternoon we kept on with the lion tracking but still no fresh-fresh signs so Cisco knew that a sighting of the two leopard cubs would keep us happy. He searched and found them in the late evening light having a bit of playground fun on a branch.

Poster did an excellent pre-dinner presentation on the Mombo, rhino mixing in his humor along with the seriousness of the re-introduction of rhino into the Delta.

Our final evening in Botswana ended with conversation s around the campfire. The background hippo splashing through the delta waters kept us serenaded.

July 02 
Mombo - Livingstone - Toka Leya
 

Cisco was eager as the first day , for the final game drive. Found the two lion cubs playing at their tree and Cisco picked up a hyena coming along who had a wiff of their scent, our hearts pounding, we could only hope that the cubs saw him. Rejoice they did and were up in the tree in a flash'¦Ye ah! Dare I say it'¦.more lion tracking and gave up with still no fresh tracks.

Lion cub playing at the tree Baboon on the tree

There was just enough time left to find Legadima who had another kill only to find that the same male had snuck in and got it from her. We watched hyena and baboon trying very hard to scare the male out of his place of hiding.

Taps (from Zim and the GM of Mombo camps) joined us for brunch and a lovely 'laid-back' ambassador for Mombo and the Wilderness Botswana Camps in general. Our private vehicle (Tonto) was the hit of the trip at Mombo as it gave us the perfect schedule to be game -viewing at all hours of the day! The rooms are perfectly under-stated and yet have all the refinements of a Premier Camp. We thought Little Mombo had the most idyllic setting overlooking the floodplain in front.

Our guide Cisco and faithful Tonto  Little Mombo setting Our guide Cisco and faithful Tonto  Little Mombo setting
Our guide Cisco and faithful Tonto  Little Mombo setting


***********************************


Our scheduled charter went via Chobe airstrip (Savuti, Dumatau and Kings Pool) where we saw the new Zibjianja location in Selinda and also the flood waters making their way up the Savuti channel. Picked up more clients at Kasane and continue onto Livingstone. Paid US$275.00 at immigration for our 2 visas, and proceeded to Toka Leya. Gavin McCabe was with a group of happy Wilderness safariers including 3 of our AAC clients.

Toka Leya has a great feel and the setting on the upper Zambezi River is magnificent . The rooms are large and all beautifully situated along the river ecosystem. George and Chipo the new managers are running a good show. Stayed in camp for sunset and enjoyed sundowners on the deck. First international reception on the cell phone!

Toka Leya Toka Leya

July 03 
Livingstone - Victoria Falls

Had an 8:00am sunrise cruise with Donald (ex Tongabezi) who showed us elephants on the islands, hippo still on the island beaches and the first migrant skimmers arriving as the water levels were dropping on the Zambezi river. Lots of microlights flying overhead! Would highly recommend going in the morning as no other boats around and had the mighty river and all its glory to our selves.

Hippos still on the island beaches First migrant skimmers arriving

Time to cross over the border into Zimbabwe , with no hassle change of vehicles and paid our 2 visas of only $100.00 total. Yvonne was at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge to meet us which was a perfect sign that things were normal after the elections. After a delicious lunch overlooking the waterhole, Yvonne organized an afternoon of canoeing on the upper Zambezi.

Picked up by Shearwater vehicle and Menguzo was the guide who gave a good safety talk and took us through quite a few sma ll rapids before Raymond was there to take us out. Saw waterbuck, baboons and some buffalo.

We thoroughly enjoyed dinner at the Boma with lots of game meat and some great drumming. They also have a CD out giving the Mombo choir competition!

Afternoon and evening fun in Victoria Falls Afternoon and evening fun in Victoria Falls Afternoon and evening fun in Victoria Falls
Afternoon and evening fun in Victoria Falls

 Wonderful to see my two friends and mentors - Yvonne and Esther
 Wonderful to see my two friends and mentors - Yvonne and Esther

July 04 
Victoria Falls

Met Yvonne at 9:0
0am and our resident Vic Falls ambassador Esther was there too - these two wonderful ladies have been mentors for me for many years . Alex was our wonderful driver and visited the two schools that we sponsor. First was Chamabonda Primary School in Victoria Falls. And then Chinotimba which is th e oldest school in the Falls. Very interesting as the second election results (June 2008) were posted up  outside the classrooms as it had been a voting station , and all the precincts in Vic Falls were won by the opposition even though he was not standing in the election.

 A week after the elections and the local kids were happily attending school at Chamabonda  A week after the elections and the local kids were happily attending school at Chamabonda
 A week after the elections and the local kids were happily attending school at Chamabonda

Had tea at the home of Esther and her husband, Stanley. Picked up some Tanganda tea at the local supermarket and had quite a billionaire rush seeing all the zeros after the Z W$dollar sign! After lunch went to have a quick inspection of the Victoria Falls Hotel before we walked over to the train station to hop on board the cocktail ride onto the bridge.

Leaving with happy memories
Leaving with happy memories

Had our final dinner in Africa at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and was very thankful that Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe had pulled through this last round of elections.



|

1