Please follow the links below for my 3 posts on Linkwasha Camp, Hwange NP.
Please follow the link to my blog post: https://wilderness-safaris.com/blog/posts/mesmerising-chikwenya
As we have an obsession for the bush, and we have a 3 year old daughter as well as a newborn son, the only realistic option for some big game action close to our hometown (Pretoria) is Pilanesberg NP. We decided to book a unit at Bakgatla Camp for 5 nights, as there is a playground and swimming pool for our 3 year old! We were positively surprised by our visit.
Going on game drives with a newborn and a 3 year old could be quite a challenge...at times it feels wilder inside the vehicle than the bush surrounding us...but by self-driving that was part of the fun. We were surprised by the quality of the sightings, especially big cats. We had 4 lion sightings, and 3 leopard sightings! Our daughter particularly enjoyed the countless zebra and giraffe sightings.
The highlight of our stay was spending around an hour with a mother leopard and her cub. They were enjoying their impala kill in a tree on Mankwe Way. Our son had his first good leopard sighting, and he is only 1 month old! Hopefully the trend can continue! ;-)
On a birding front our definite highlight was getting decent photos of the elusive Coqui Francolin! They are more often heard than seen.
We really enjoyed our visit, and Pilanesberg NP is really worth a visit if you have kids. You are never too far from base, there is plenty activities for kids including playgrounds, swimming pools etc. The frequency of big game sightings, and the close proximity to Gauteng, as well as the fact that it is a malaria-free area makes it a winner. Yes, the park is busy, and there are a lot of vehicles, but if you stick to the small gravel roads there is a chance that you will have excellent sightings all for yourself.
Give Pilanesberg NP a try, especially midweek. Accommodation range from camping to luxury lodges, a fit for all.
The park is >50 000ha, and with almost 200km of self-drive game viewing routes available, it is a must visit. A stay of 3 nights or more would be optimal, but because it is less than 2 hours drive from Gauteng, even a day visit is possible.
Anton & Renate (and kids)
This is a trip report of our 5 night stay at Limpopo-Lipadi Private Game Reserve in Botswana's Tuli Block, December 2017.
We were treated with some incredible sightings as usual, and spent more than 10 hours each day/night on our game drive vehicle.
Our first major sighting was spending time with 8 African Wild Dogs not far from Cabbage Dam, on the Magerman's road. They were relaxing next to the road, and became active just before sunset.
The one morning we took the road to Southern Plains. We came across a Blue Wildebeest giving birth. After about 15 minutes we decided to rather carry on, and leave the wildebeest in peace. About 500m on we came across a very large male lion, relaxing on the northern edge of Southern Plains. He gave us a show. He then stood up, patrolling his territory and stroll across the Southern Plains, with the beautiful Lipadi hill as backdrop.
But then the inevitable happened...he came across the newborn Blue Wildebeest, and took the easy prey.
Other mammal sightings worth mentioning included Elephant, White Rhino, Brown and Spotted Hyena, and probably the biggest male leopard on Limpopo-Lipadi, a leopard named Motsamai, which we found at the airstrip stalking blue Wildebeest!
One of the birding highlights was finding 3 of the smaller raptors: Shikra, Ovambo Sparrowhawk and Gabar Goshawk. I also had my first sighting of Grey Penduline Tits on Limpopo-Lipadi! Nightjars were everywhere. We recorded Rufous-cheeked, Fiery-necked, Square-tailed and European Nightjars! We also enjoyed large flocks of Common Swifts, they are serious flyers and a photographic nightmare extraordinaire!
Our next trip to the bush will probably only be in April/May, as we are expecting our second child in March...some new adventures await us!
Anton and Renate
At the end of November 2017 my friend Niel Cillié phoned me: "There is a Pitta calling in Zimbabwe, not far from Vic Falls, lets go!"
The African Pitta is probably the most sought after bird to twitch in Southern Africa. It is a beautiful bird, which definitely plays a role, but the fact that it is so difficult to find makes it even more sought after. They only call for a short while (usually first week or two in December), and if they are not calling close to impossible to find in their preferred habitat: the leafy undergrowth of riparian thickets.
So with the opportunity to photograph this stunning bird, we decided to pack our bags for the weekend and give it ago...we were not disappointed!
After settling in at Lukosi Safari Camp (https://birdingsafarisvictoriafalls.com/) our nerves almost got the better of us, as the Pitta didn't call the first afternoon. Luckily the Pitta started calling before sunrise the next morning, so the search began. We got some decent photos, but nothing to write home about...but seeing an African Pitta is already an accomplishment! After spending a few hours with the Pitta (without decent photos) it stopped calling, so we decided to head out into the concession to try and find some other birds.
Our first sighting, a mere 5 minutes from camp, was a pack of the highly endangered African Wild Dogs. So cool when you scroll through photos on the back of your camera, and you toggle between African Pitta and African Wild Dog...not bad!
In the summer Zimbabwean heat we added Arnot's Chat and Racket-tailed Roller to our lists.
Our afternoon stint with the Pitta was unsuccessful again, with only a quick sighting of the bird in the undergrowth, and only one quick call. We decided to call it a day, and try again the next morning.
The following morning we were treated with the most incredible African Pitta sighting. It displayed for close to 2 hours, and we were able to get some stunning photos (if you take the difficulty into consideration!) We were ecstatic, I don't think even an elicit drug could get us more excited!
We stayed at Lukosi Safari Camp (https://birdingsafarisvictoriafalls.com/), a tented camp on the banks of the lovely Lukosi River, in the Deka Safari Area bordering Hwange National Park.
It would be amazing to visit the area again in the future, but then for more than just 2 nights, there is so much to explore!
Please follow the link to our story / weekend to the magnificent Madikwe Game Reserve by clicking on the link: http://magazine.africageographic.com/weekly/issue-188/magnificent-madikwe-game-reserve-south-africa-safari-travel/
If you are planning a safari to the Greater Kruger National Park, and can't decide whether to self drive or go to a lodge, read our story/report by clicking on the link: http://magazine.africageographic.com/weekly/issue-155/kruger-lodges-vs-self-drive/
The Kruger Wilderness Trail is probably the best way to experience the "real" Kruger National Park... To read our story follow the link: magazine.africageographic.com/weekly/issue-133/kruger-walking-magic/
This blog post is a trip report on our visit to the 22 000ha Limpopo-Lipadi private Game Reserve in the Tuli block of Botswana. We really love this place :-)
This trip will be remembered for for 3 things.
1. The hot and dry conditions (luckily there is a swimming pool, and air conditioners in the room
2. 9 leopard sightings!
3. logging 29 mammal species on 1 day (excluding mice and bats)
The week we spent at the reserve was really hot... The average daytime temperatures we experienced ranged between 42 - 45 degrees celsius. And it was bone dry, the driest I have seen the reserve. The dry conditions had it advantages, as wildlife frequented the waterholes - with the predators never far behind.
I remember a blog post by Walt Tingle a few years back, when they had 9 leopard sightings in their 30 days at the reserve. (hope I remember correctly). That was amazing I thought, as leopards are so elusive. Having leopard sightings everyday at famous reserves such as the Sabi Sands is not unusual - but, there is one big difference: there are a lot of lodges, a lot of vehicles, and everybody is in radio contact with each other. At Limpopo-Lipadi the policy is different. There are only 4 vehicles traversing the whole >20 000ha! You have to find the leopards (and everything else) yourself, and that is awesome, the thrill is in the unexpected and the chase!
We had 9 leopard sightings this week, and 8 of the sightings we found ourself! And no it was not the same leopard 9 times...we saw 5 different individuals!
We keep a daily count of mammals seen (excluding mice and bats), and usually we end around 23 species per day at Limpopo-Lipadi. This time saw us breaking our record! We saw 29 species in one day. Ironically, that was the only day we didn't see a leopard, and we also did't see lion or cheetah that day! Haha! So, 30 is the target!
The list was as follow: Brown Hyena, African wild dog, Grey duiker, Impala, Baboon, Kudu, Plains Zebra, Blue wildebeest, Giraffe, Warthog, Steenbok, Tree squirrel, Banded mongoose, Gemsbok/Oryx, Waterbuck, Hippo, Vervet monkey, Bushbuck, Slender mongoose,Spotted hyena, Spring hare, Scrub hare, Elephant, Porcupine, Bat-eared fox, Eland, Lesser-spotted Genet, Black-backed jackal, Lesser bushbaby!
Our last morning saw us driving up the Mogorosi River to Mogorosi waterhole, where we came across 3 lions, where they were feeding on an eland kill.
Due to the hot and dry conditions, there were only a few pools of water left in front of the lodge in the Limpopo River. All kinds of animals came for a drink, but the stars of the show were the birds. We had the following birds coming in for a drink, while we spent hours alongside the pool of water: Greater honeyguide, African Hawk Eagle, Little Sparrowhawk, Shikra, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Ashy Flycatcher, Grey Tit-flycatcher, Black-headed Oriole, Pearl-spotted Owlet etc etc.... Other good birds in the reserve included Kori Bustard and Retz's Helmetshrike!
We absolutely love this place...and can't wait for our next visit!
If you would like to become part of the Limpopo-Lipadi family, feel free to visit their website at www.limpopo-lipadi.org
Anton and Renate
What happens at an African waterhole when nobody is looking....?????
I decided to investigate, and chose the centrally located Mbusi Waterhole in the magical Limpopo-Lipadi Private Game and Wilderness Reserve. It is a small waterhole, which was made famous by the "Leaping Leopard" (The Leaping Leopard Youtube link). Please note that all the concrete structures have been removed - and looks a lot more natural now.
I had a Trailcam / Cameratrap at the waterhole for a few days in November 2014, and this blogpost will showcase a few highlights of what was captured during the period. And yes, the tree in the background is in fact the tree the leopard used in the "leaping leopard" video!
I won't bore you with text in this post - so enjoy this pictorial blogpost!
If you would like to find out more about Limpopo-Lipadi, visit the website at www.limpopo-lipadi.org or send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anton & Renate Kruger
Every now and then, you get one of those days - one of those days that everything works together - and turns out to be a day you will never forget. The morning of 2 October 2014 (which also happen to be me and Renate's 5th anniversary) was one of those days. This blog post is an account of our amazing morning game drive on 2 October 2014, at Halali (Etosha National Park).
We were spending 9 nights in Etosha National Park, with great friends (Tiaan & Catherine de Wit, Felix & Delia Reinders and Cilliers & Kotie Enslin).
As a ritual, me and Felix would sit the evening before and do our planning for the following morning's game drive. As we already spent a few days in the area we were able to spot some patterns in the local wildlife's movements, so the planning was an exciting time of preparation. The previous day we noticed that all the herbivores headed down to the waterholes just after 10 o'clock, and that there were 3 female lions hanging around the Sueda - Salvadora - Charitsaub trilogy of waterholes to the south-west of Halali Camp. We witnessed the lions ambushing their prey from the grass surrounding Salvadora waterhole - and saw them fail at an attempted hunt. (see photos).
In our planning, we knew that the 3 lionesses were hungry - so the centre of our planning process was to be at the trilogy of waterholes at 10h00. That gave us about 3 hours of game drive before we got there.
As we are all suffering from leopardophilia, we decided to head for the woodland area towards the south-east enroute to Goas waterhole early morning. Thereafter we will try our luck for leopard at Nuamses waterhole, after heading to the plains closer to the pan in the hope of stumbling across cheetah on our way to the 3 waterholes where we expect some lion action! This was the plan........and my oh my.......!!!!!
So, we are out of the gates as soon as they opened, the morning of 2 October 2014, full of expectation, heading through the woodland towards Goas waterhole. After about 10 minutes we stumbled across 2 hyenas, but Felix decided to move on, we are anticipating a leopard after all! After about 5 minutes we received a sms from Felix: "Leopard!" We left the hyenas there and immediately rushed towards Felix a few kilometers ahead, to find a beautiful male leopard strolling through the woodland to our right. We followed him for about 10 minutes, whereafter he disappeared into the deeper bushes.
We then moved on towards Nuamses waterhole a bit further south - where another awesome sighting awaited us. There we found a mating pair of lions, "slap bang" in the middle of the parking area of the waterhole! They were extremely relaxed, until a breeding herd of elephants arrived for a drink at the waterhole... What a morning so far, it is only 8h00 and we already saw hyena, leopard, lions mating and a breeding herd of elephants disturbing the lions!
We decided to make a quick stop again at Halali to celebrate our sightings with an ice cream - and make a quick stop at the rest room as we were anticipating a long wait at the waterholes between 10h00 and 13h00!
So, we are off again.
Arriving at Rietfontein, could you believe it - CHEETAH! It was relaxing next to the waterhole, had a drink after a few minutes and moved off. It was the first and only cheetah for the trip, and what a beaut!
We headed on towards the 3 spectacular waterholes to see if the lions were in town, but without getting too far we spotted a splendid female leopard relaxing in a small Mopane tree, right next to the road! Could today get any better? As it was 9h30 in the morning, the temperatures starting soaring, and the shade of the overlanding truck was just to inviting for the leopard - as she jumped out of the tree, and guess what, came to lie in the shade of the overlanding truck, about 3meters away from us! Crazy relaxed! The only way the tourists were able to get a view of her was by attaching a GoPro camera to a stick and filming the leopard in the shade behind the truck! After a crowd started to form, we decided to move on...
A quick stop at Salvadora (where we saw the unsuccessful hunt the previous day) revealed no lions, so we knew they must be at Charitsaub / Sueda. We saw the plains game still grazing lazily quite a distance away, but knew they would come for a drink as the African sun started to bake the earth. Arriving at Charitsaub, a quick scan through the grasses surrounding the waterhole revealed the same 3 lionesses as yesterday, starting their ambush yet again! At about 10h20 the herd of wildebeest started moving in...and we knew...LET THE ACTION BEGIN!
The lions waited a while, until a whole bunch of wildebeest were in the middle of the waterhole, before striking with an immense rush of speed! Chaos!! Wildebeest running everywhere. Splashing water. The lions focussed on one target, and we thought this was it, as the lions were closing the gap on the wildebeest. When less than a meter away, the lioness went for the strike / trip....but she missed!! Oh no! When looking at the photos, you can see the lioness missed by a few centimeters, and you cannot believe that the wildebeest got away! Lucky for the wildebeest though...
After the attack all the plains game decided to rather go and drink at Salvadora waterhole, leaving the embarrassed lions behind...
We had all these amazing sightings between 7h00 - 12h00, 5 hours of Etosha magic, at it's best, and this on our 5th anniversary to top it all!
Anton & Renate Kruger