Having just returned from his Namibia Botswana Desert & Delta camping safari Jeff could not wait to tell us about his amazing experience.
This is what Jeff had to say:
“We were in Brandberg a mountain in Damaraland Namibia that was once seen as a spiritual site for San bushmen and is now famous for the more than 45 000 rock paintings evident on the rock faces of the mountain.
It was early evening and we had just finished our dinner and sitting down to relax and reflect on the day’s activities, when one of the clients suddenly froze. I stood up to check if she was alright when I caught a glimpse of something large next to the trucks ‘kitchen door’. Quickly realising it was a desert elephant that was at least 5 meters away from my client. I quickly moved her and all our other clients to the other side of the truck and then slowly we walked behind a bush where we could view the elephant and our truck. The elephant was casually sniffing around the front of the truck where we had some fruits lying on the inside. Luckily for us the door was closed so our elephant friend was unable to get the fruit. After making some noises the elephant calmly left our campsite and let us resume where we had left off.
Desert elephants are not a distinct species but are African bush elephants found in Namibia and Mali. These elephants have certain adaptions for desert life. This been broader feet, longer legs and smaller bodies. These elephants are herbivorous and their diet differs from wet season to dry season. Desert elephants tend to migrate from water hole to water hole following routes on the availability of food and water. In this case we were probably close to the elephants route and he smelt the fruit and came to see what food there was for him to eat.”
This week Gerrit tells us about the Walking South Africa accommodated tour and the hikes and scenery that guests enjoy in the Blyde River Canyon.
Here is what Gerrit had to say
“The Walking South Africa tour is an exploration on foot through Mpumalanga and the Drakensburg mountains taking in the beautiful scenery and wildlife South Africa has to offer.
Part of our journey includes the spectacular Blyde River Canyon one of the largest canyons in the world and one of the only canyons that has trees, due to its subtropical foliage. The canyon is 26km long and on average 762m deep, with altitudes varying from 600m to 1300m above sea level. This canyon is part of the Panorama route starting at the small forestry town of Graskop and includes the sights of God’s Window, the Pinnacle and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Our walk starts at Bourke’s Luck Potholes to view the confluence of two rivers namely the Blyde and Treur rivers. The potholes were formed by countless swirling whirlpools occurring as the Treur River plunges into the Blyde River causing waterborne sand and rock to grind huge, cylindrical potholes into the bedrock of the river. These potholes were named after Tom Bourke a local inspector who predicted the presence of gold but unfortunately never found any himself. From there we head off to a nearby resort to the start of one the many trails on offer. This time we decided to take the Guinea fowl trail a 3 hour walk offering different views of the canyon and the vegetation of the Kadsi river valley. The group thoroughly enjoyed their hike through the canyon as they got to see a diversity of vegetation numerous plant and birdlife that exist in the area and learn more about the geological features that give the Blyde River Canyon its immense beauty.
The Blyde River Canyon supports a large diversity of life including numerous fish and antelope species and all the primate species that are in South Africa including the Greater and Lesser Bush Babies and Vervet Monkeys. The birdlife is similarly high including the beautiful and sought after Narina Trogon as well as species such as the Cape Vulture, African Fish Eagle, Jackal Buzzard and many more. The canyon hosts a variety of habitats from grassland plateaus, wetlands, sponge areas, forests, woodlands and shrublands.”
Federica must be a good luck charm to many travelers as she always has some amazing stories about the wildlife she encounters on tours. Can you guess how many rhinos Federica spotted on her recent Namibia Botswana Desert & Delta camping tour?
Here is Federica’s story
“A highlight on the Namibia Botswana Desert & Delta camping tour is the 2 nights we spend camping inside Etosha National Park. Etosha is situated in Northern Namibia and one of Southern Africa’s best loved wildlife sanctuaries. Etosha meaning ‘place of dry water’ encloses a huge, flat calcrete pan. The pan itself contains water only after very good rains and sometimes only for a few days each year. A highlight of staying inside the park are the floodlit waterholes where people often sit throughout the night watching the wildlife come down to drink.
While driving into Etosha through the Namutoni gate towards our campsite we came across a male white rhino lying on his stomach catching up on much needed rest under a thick bush. After watching this rhino for a while we continued on towards our campsite at Halali. We had only driven a short distance when we came across 2 black rhinos walking alongside the road, a mother and her young calf. The calf seemed nervous with our presence but the mother was relaxed at all times as she ate on the leaves while her calf used her as a shield. We followed them for a while until they disappeared into the bushes. Onwards we drove spotting many impala, giraffes and gemsbok until suddenly we came across another white male rhino standing next to the road. We decided not to get to close to him as he was showing signs of discomfort, this could have been as a result of other vehicles that may have come to close to him. While driving the last couple of kilometers towards our campsite we came across another male rhino standing on the roadside watching us.
After eating a lovely bush dinner watching the sunset we decided to take a short walk to the waterhole, upon arriving at the waterhole guess what we came across, yes another 5 rhinos who had come down to the waterhole to drink at the end of a warm day. 10 rhinos in 1 day a sighting that the clients will never forget.
White rhino are the larger of the rhino species. White rhino are grazers and only eat ground vegetation, whereas black rhino are known as browsers as they eat from trees, bushes and shrubs. Black rhino males tend to live on their own and they are territorial. Female black rhino tend to remain solitary and are usually only found in the presence with their calf, whereas white rhino are sedentary and semi-social. Both black and white rhino have very poor eyesight, they do however have an excellent sense of smell and hearing which helps them detect observers that may be nearby. When feeling disturbed rhino will often sniff or snort as a sign of their discomfort.
Rhinos were once abundant throughout Africa and Asia with a population of 500 000 in the early 20th century. Despite intensive conservation efforts poaching of this iconic species is increasing. Etosha is a safe haven for the endangered black and white rhino with many rhinos having been relocated to the safe boundaries of the park. Sunway Safaris supports the conservation of these species by bringing our groups into national parks and game reserves. The money earned by entry & accommodation fees goes towards anti-poaching programs in Etosha and other parks in Southern Africa.”
Larissa is one of the most experienced German speaking tour leaders and loves showing the wonders of Southern Africa to our German speaking guests. On a recent Cape to Vic Falls Grand Explorer accommodated tour her group had an unforgettable Cheetah sighting.
Here is Larissa’s encounter
“Etosha National Park is the second largest nature reserve in Africa. The park was founded in 1907 to regenerate the animal numbers which had significantly decreased due to hunting from the local villagers and big game hunters. Since then Etosha has grown into one of the highlights of any trip to Etosha and is world renowned for its excellent wild life sightings.
Rising very early in the morning just before sunrise, we set off on our game drive hoping to catch the nocturnal animals returning from their evening antics.
After some successful sightings we came across something under a tree. Coming closer we were excited to see a cheetah with a fresh springbok kill. The cheetah was lying next to her kill exhausted and still breathless, it took her a while to start eating and we all got a feeling that she was not really enjoying this meal as she often looked around her and surveyed the surroundings. Unfortunately the cheetah was not alone for very long as a couple of jackals discovered her with her prey and slowly moved closer hoping that the cheetah would abandon its kill. Suddenly we heard a cheetah warning call which sounds very much like a bird call. At the sound of this the cheetah sprang up and left the kill to the hungry jackals. Curious about the cheetahs sudden movement we followed her and soon saw she had another hungry mouth to feed. The calls were coming from a cheetah cub which she had gone to fetch and bring it to feast on the springbok kill. As both mom and cub were making their way back towards the kill, the young cub became distracted and very soon mom and cub were engaged in some playful behaviour and grooming, leaving the jackals to feast on the springbok kill.
Cheetahs are diurnal hunters which means they hunt during daylight hours. They are the only cats that do not hunt at night. Before unleashing their speed cheetahs use their keen eyesight to scan the environment for prey, when the moment is right the cheetah will sprint after its chosen prey and attempt to knock it down. These big cats are the world’s fastest land mammal. They are nimble at high speed and can make quick and sudden turns in pursuit of prey. Running at such high speeds puts immense pressure on their bodies and quickly elevates the body temperature and depletes oxygen levels in their blood stream. If it has been a hard chase that leads to a kill the cheetah will need to rest for some time before eating its prey. Due to the cheetahs thin and fragile size they are not able to defend themselves against other predators and will easily surrender a kill in order to avoid being injured by a larger more aggressive predator. “
Kruger National Park is an iconic national park native to South Africa. This park is a must visit for all South Africans and international visitors to our country. The following took place on a recent visit by Chris Pindani and Larissa on their South Africa Rainbow Route tour.
This is what Chris had to say:
“Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa which is 360km from north to south and approximately 60kms from east to west. It also houses the big five which consists of the Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard. However this sighting involved a much smaller mammal.
We were on a sunset game drive sitting at a water hole been entertained by a pair of fighting hippos when a troop of baboons arrived at the water hole. We saw one of the females carrying something in her mouth and on closer inspection we saw that it was a dead baby baboon. A vehicle stopped next to us said that they had seen the same female the day also her carrying the deceased baby baboon.
Baboons much like humans take time to believe once they have lost a loved one. Female baboons can take up to 4 days of moving around carrying the dead infant in its mouth as a sign of protection before they can accept the tragedy that has taken place.”
Moremi Game Reserve is a highlight on our Botswana Wildside and Botswana Wild Parks Tour. Jeff who just returned from the Botswana Wildside camping safari had an amazing wild dog and lechwes sighting.
Here is what Jeff had to say:
“Moremi Game Reserve rests on the eastern side of Okavango Delta in Botswana. It combines permanent water with some drier areas which allows for some spectacular contrasts. Moremi offers excellent viewing of Savannah game and bird-watching on the lagoons.
It was while we were on a game drive near to the banks of the Kwai River that we came across a pack of wild dog consisting of 6 adults and 5 puppies feeding on an impala. The puppies were pushing the adults to regurgitate the food so that they could feed off them. While the alpha male stood checking around for more prey. On just the other side of the river were 2 male red lechwes, upon spotting them the alpha male made a call and was soon joined by the other adults with the puppies following on a little later. Slowly the wild dogs moved closer towards the river looking out for crocodiles and a safe place to cross the river. The lechwes continued to stare at the wild dogs as they attempted to unsuccessfully move across the river, after a couple of failed attempts the wild dogs gave up and returned to the impala carcass while the lechwes went back to their grazing.
Members of a pack vocalise in order to coordinate their movements, their voices are characterised by chirping or squeaking sounds. Wild dogs live and hunt in large packs and pursue prey in a long open chase. After a hunt the hunters will regurgitate meat for the puppies, the sick or old wild dogs that are unable to hunt. “
During a recent Botswana Wild Parks accommodated tour guide Gregory Bates and his group experienced an amazing hippo sighting in the Okavango Delta.
Here is what Greg had to say:
“On a recent tour into the Okavango Delta, situated in the North West region of Botswana, we were privileged to see an amazing sighting that we shall never forget. The Okavango is the largest inland delta in the world. It is formed when rain water that falls in Angolan highlands flows onto the flat Kalahari Desert sands forming a beautiful green oasis for numerous species of birds and wildlife.
We travel by mokoro, which is a traditional dugout canoe made from the dwindling Sausage Trees, to our tented camp on a remote island. It was while our polers were teaching our clients the skill of poling a mokoro we had an unexpected guest; a hippo join us!. With caution we swiftly exited the water and let the hippopotamus entertain us while we watched from a safe distance. The hippo is known as Africa’s most dangerous animal due to its aggressive behaviour. This we witnessed with the constant “yawning” display by the hippo.
Hippo’s are territorial in water and operate in an area of approximately 250sqm. We had obviously encroached on this particulars hippo’s territory. Hippo’s spend the majority of the day in water, a safe haven for them and move onto land at night to graze on grasses.”