Category Archives: Okavango Machaba

Okavango Machaba Safari: A Swimming Hyena

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Brendon’s News from Okavango Machaba: A Swimming Hyena

We went straight to check on the Wild Dogs this morning, and found them all sleeping at the den. And that is what they did for the whole morning. They must have made a kill after we left them last night as they were a little full, and showed no sign of hunting yet.

Some of our group went on a Mokoro trip up the river, where they experienced the wildlife from the water. That is a unique and iconic trip that guarantees lifelong memories.

6 Mokoro 2

Everyone else saw Wattled Cranes, plenty of elephants and general game, and spent some time photographing very busy Fish Eagles.

This afternoon we were keen to find predators again, and although we found both lion and leopard tracks, they all disappeared into thick vegetation or across the border.

So we returned to the Wild Dogs. Good Decision! About 10 minutes after we reached them the dogs woke up, and started their pre-hunt greeting session. This seems to reinforce bonding before they set out and it is interesting to watch as they lick and rub so enthusiastically against each other, yipping excitedly all the while.

The formalities over, they were ready to set out – and we were equally ready. Off they trotted, looking around eagerly for anything suitable to hunt. They sniffed around, stopped to listen, ran on, checked, and continued.

3 Wild Dog 1

Unfortunately for us, the pack disappeared into a huge Mopane thicket and although we waited for a while, they did not re-emerge.

When we arrived at the river we found an unusual sight. We could see a hyena on the far bank of the water. As we watched, the hyena plunged into the river and swam across to our side of the river. Needless to say, we clicked away!

A troop of baboons kept us very entertained with their antics and high-jinks. The sun was behind them for much of the time, giving us some great backlit shots.

3 Baboons 2

To end another fabulous day here, a cloudy sky created an absolutely spectacular sunset.

For our final game drive on this safari in the morning we would like to see the dogs again …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

Okavango Machaba Safari: An Incredible Clash …

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Brendon’s News from Okavango Machaba: An Incredible Clash

Lions called repeatedly during the night from the Mogotlo area – we heard them from about 02:00 – and determined to go straight there this morning. In any case, the Wild Dogs are there, and we were keen to catch up with them again.

On the way we saw magnificent elephants, hippos in the golden river, and then we found tracks of two large male lions. We followed these and found the two – very handsome fellows on a mission. This was the same area where the three male lions were yesterday, and as these two walked, they continually sniffed bushes and the air – possibly determined to find them.

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Then we heard that the dogs had been spotted and we dashed there, hoping for a hunt, but they were exhausted – and hungry. They hunted this morning but with no luck.

We turned back towards the Lodge, and we’re delighted to see a young female leopard that we have not spotted before. She didn’t hang around for long – a little shy, and she slunk away into some thick vegetation. But it was great to see her.

This afternoon we returned to Mogotlo, where a incredible, amazing, exciting afternoon unfolded.

It started gently enough when we passed the hyena den where we not only saw hyenas, we also found two porcupines snuffling around.

When we reached the Wild Dogs, the adrenalin started – and is just beginning to settle now that we are back at the Lodge.

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As we reached the dogs, they were getting up and looking around for possible prey. It took them a second or two to sight a herd of impala – and the chase was one.

The next minute – what was this?

A herd of zebras charged into the scene and completely blocked the dogs from pursuing the impala!

imageThe dogs veered one way, the zebras responded and blocked them there. The dogs veered to the other side and were stopped again. The dogs then started to chase the zebra, nipping at their ankles. The herd did an abrupt about turn and the dogs fled, only to turn again and try to intimidate the zebras.

An incredible standoff followed, with the two group staring at each other – then the chase started again.

This pattern continued, with dogs chasing zebras, zebras chasing dogs, … All the chaos continued right in front of us – meters away, as we watched, agog!

Until eventually the dogs made a huge circle around the zebras and disappeared from sight!

We stopped for calming sundowners, watching a beautiful sunset, still absolutely incredulous at the amazing, exciting events of the afternoon.

Tomorrow we would like to find the dogs again …
Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

Okavango Machaba Safari: A Leopard Visits …

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Brendon’s News from Okavango Machaba: A Leopard Visits …

This morning we wanted to check on the Wild Dogs or maybe the young leopards – but we started off with neither. Instead we found fresh tracks of two large male lions and followed these all the way to the Khwai River where they must have swum across to the neighboring territory.

We turned towards Mogotlo – this area has been very good to us in the past days – and yes, it delivered again today.

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Not only did we see so much general game that we found ourselves ignoring herds of Impala, zebra, lechwe, and even elephants as we picked up on another set of lion tracks. These looked as though they belonged to a small pride and we followed the spoor hopefully.

We found three of the four young male lions we had seen a few days ago … and have no idea where the fourth male has disappeared to.

4 Lion 3-1

The three were walking back and forth until,they found a good place to rest during the heat of the day.

We moved on for a coffee break and then returned to the lions. They were lying with very nice light around them, and surrounded by a sea of small, very pretty yellow flowers. That created some fabulous photo opportunities and almost cute portrait shots – if big male lions could be called cute!

We went off to find the leopards and only found the young male. He was half-heartedly stalking a herd of Impala, but they were really far away and he stood no chance.

4 Leopard Cub 1-1

Eventually he gave up and crawled into a shady thicket for his noontime siesta.

This afternoon we were getting onto our vehicles for our afternoon game drive when the Machaba Female leopard strolled ever so nonchalantly right through the camp!

4 Leopard Cub 2-1

We  followed her through the camp and then for quite a distance until she walked into an area with very dense vegetation and we had to turn away.

Back at Mogotlo we found the three lions again, showing very little signs of moving on. After photographing the game and plentiful birds, including a Brown Snake Eagle, it was time to return to the Lodge. We stopped for a handsome Giant Eagle peering at us from a tree next to the road.

So, no time for Wild Dogs today – so maybe tomorrow …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

Okavango Machaba Safari: Another Cracking Day

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Villiers and Brendon from Okavango Machaba: Another Cracking Day

Our last game drive for the group started with a slow meander along the Khwai River as we absorbed the wonderful atmosphere and stopped for birds and different game arriving to drink at the water’s edge. For example there was a pod of hippo with beautiful golden light, and mist and steam rising from the water above the water – a beautiful scene!

We could hear lions roaring and started towards them, but then heard that the Wild Dogs were at the den, and we set off towards them instead. We stopped at an adjacent pan, waiting for the dogs to head in our direction and jumped out of the vehicle to photograph the Pied Kingfishers, Grey Herons, African Jacanas, a Juvenile Fish Eagle and a Squacco Heron on the edge of the pan.

Then we heard that two leopard had been spotted and we dashed there – to find the young brother and sister playing in Apple Leaf Bushes. They were a little shy, but their boisterous game made sure that they were visible as they tumbled around.

We just had time to return to the Wild Dogs for a final visit, stopping very briefly for a Bateleur Eagle right next to the road that posed beautiful and then spread its wings slowly, and ponderously flew away, giving us plenty of time for photographs.

Our coffee break on the banks of the river as we watched the hippos snorting and cavorting in the water was a perfect ending to a fabulous, eventful safari.

The new group of guests arrived quite late and after refreshments and a quick briefing we were more than ready for our afternoon adventure.

Because the Wild Dogs did not hunt this morning, we hoped that they would be hungry and keen to hunt this evening. We found them out on a large pan, and yes – they were hunting! We followed them as they searched for likely prey until they eventually disappeared into a Mopane thicket.

5 Wild Dog

So we turned our attention in the direction of the two young leopards, hoping to see them again – and wow! Was luck ever on our side! We found the brother and sister lying on an exposed branch of a fallen Acacia tree.

5 two Leopards

The two were quite relaxed and the photography was simply outstanding. Out came the spotlights and flash – and we photographed every movement that the two made until they claimed down from the tree and melted away away into the night.

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The start to this safari could not have been better … and besides the dogs and the leopards we also saw magnificent herds of elephant, buffalo, hippo, Wattled Cranes, A Barred Owl, Giant Eagle Owls – oh, the list goes on and on. In summary another cracking day!

Tomorrow we hope to catch up with the leopards again …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to thrilling destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

Okavango Machaba Safari: A Leopard Surprise

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Okavango Machaba Safari: A Leopard Surprise

ODP Safaris, Outdoorphoto, Wildlife Safaris, Photographic Safaris, Wildlife Photography, Wim van den Heever, Villiers Steyn, Okavango, Okavango Machaba, Brendon Cremer, Leopard, Guinea Fowl, Leopard Kill, Tawny Eagle, Elephants, Hippos, Spotted Hyena, Wild Dogs

Villiers and Brendon from Okavango Machaba: A Leopard Surprise

The Wild Dogs were nowhere to be seen when we arrived at the den this morning, so we decided to make our way slowly to the where we would start our mokoro trip later.

We stopped to photograph hippos with beautiful golden backlighting while a Juvenile Fish Eagle watched from an overhanging tree branch.

A little later we stopped to photograph a really handsome Tawny Eagle right next to our vehicle. As we stopped we heard an almighty todo – probably small animals objecting to the danger lurking overhead. A number of squirrels and Guinea Fowl were in a real state, making a huge din, giving repeated warning calls, and frantically scampering around. Panic and chaos reigned!

But then we noticed that neither the squirrels nor the Guinea Fowl were even glancing up at the eagle! The consternation was caused by something else entirely … and the source seemed to be in or around bush.

And now we could see her – the Machaba Female Leopard had just caught a Guinea Fowl and was sitting there with the new kill in her mouth.

6 Leopard Guinea 2

As she walked away we followed, photographing the beautiful leopard’s every step. For a while we were certain that she was returning to her cubs with the kill. She shows definite signs lactating and as her cubs are almost a month old, we were really hopeful that she would lead us to them. But no, she lay down and ate the fowl. Our images as she walked along with the Guinea Fowl in her mouth and then settled down to eat it make a superb series!

6 better Leopard 3

That was the highlight of the morning, so let us not go into all the other game roaming everywhere …

This afternoon everyone was ultra keen to try and see the Wild Dogs again, so, holding thumbs, we set off for the den again. And all seven dogs were there, sprawled out all over the place, protected by the Mopane veld, but we managed to get really close.

6 Wild Dog Pose 1

The alpha female was busy again, checking repeatedly on the den where two week old puppies were very quiet this afternoon. No-one has seen the pups yet, and although we hoped, we also realized that it is a bit early for them to be out and about.

We enjoyed our sundowners at Motswiri Pan, watching hippos cavorting and snorting in the water, and periodically sending tall plumes of water into the air – all against a bright orange sky as a backdrop.

6 Group at Motswiri 4

As we switched on our spotlights to start the drive back to the Lodge, three Spotted Hyenas arrived and we were just in time for spotlight photography as they strolled past us on the way to the water.

This has been another bumper day, and because everyone would like just one more encounter with the Wild Dogs before leaving for home tomorrow, we will head in that direction in the morning …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to thrilling destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

Okavango Machaba Safari: Hunting in the Dark

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Villiers and Brendon from Okavango Machaba: Hunting in the Dark

Another beautiful sight awaited us soon after we left the Lodge this morning. We didn’t even reach the river when we encountered a magnificent bull elephant dust bathing in sand, with that early golden light behind him. What a picture! What a photograph!

7 Eles Dust Bren-2616

We went in search of the Wild Dogs or maybe a leopard but just had to stop when we approached a deep water crossing and found a herd of dozens of lechwe creating those wonderful arcs as they leaped over the water.

At the Wild Dog den we found only two baby-sitters diligently guarding the entrance to the den, as they waited for the remainder of the pack to return from the morning hunt. We hung around for a while and photographed the two as they patrolled this way and that, but there was no sign of the other dogs.

We parked at Matwiri Pan and were about to enjoy a welcome cup of coffee as we watched a lively pod of splashing hippos, and a bull elephant drinking at the water’s edge, when we heard that two leopards were not far far away.

Forget the coffee! We raced off to find a young male leopard with his sister playing in the Mopane veld. Lovely! When they disappeared we meandered back to the river for our delayed coffee break. A Yellow-billed Hornbill and a couple of Fork-tailed Drongos arrived to see what we were up to in their space.

We then took a slow, relaxing drive back to the Lodge, savoring everything that the bush offers. The peace, smells, sights and sounds … aaaahh. We stopped frequently to photograph birds, elephants, waterbuck, Impala – and a Tawny Eagle that grabbed a Francolin as we arrived and perched right next to us in a tree to enjoy his spoils – fabulous!

This afternoon we thought it would be a good plan to search for the cheetahs again, but no luck. That could also be because we were repeatedly distracted by Wattled Cranes, herds of Zebras, leaping Lechwe, and of course the huge elephants.

We spent ages with four young male lions resting peacefully in the afternoon sun before we left them for our sundowners.

But we returned … and found the four stirring. Almost immediately they went into hunting mode, but as it was pitch dark, we could not see what they were hunting at first.

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We had all lights turned off so as not to disturb the hunt, and peered hopefully into the darkness.

Then we saw them – a large herd of zebras heading directly towards the hunting four. Ears flattened, hind quarters quivering, you could see and almost feel the tension as the lions prepared – any moment now!

The zebras came closer and closer … and suddenly one of the leaders sensed danger, snorted an alarm call and the herd scuttled away as one. Within seconds there was not a zebra to be seen anywhere. The lions stood up, and we switched on our lights to make our way to our treat for this evening – dinner way out in the bush. (I dashed back to the Lodge to complete this blog and am on my way back to join the others. Think of us as you read this! Out there, far, far away from any city or town’s hustle and bustle – with only nature all around as it always has been and thankfully is preserved for these special moments!)

Tomorrow we would like to start with the lions again – maybe they will hunt again at dawn …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to thrilling destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

Okavango Machaba Safari: A Grand Slam Day …

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Villiers reports from Okavango Machaba: A Grand Slam Day …

We headed to the Khwai River this morning in time for a glorious sunrise as we drove along the rivers edge, with those magnificent, iridescent, golden colors reflecting in the water and creating a dream world.

8 Sunrise 3-3

A pod of hippo were perfect in that beautiful light, and to really please us, a Coppery-tailed Coucal flew past right next to our vehicle. Spoonbills and Yellow-billed Storks relaxed along the water’s edge to the delight of the birders in our group.

We decided to check a local Wild Dog den when we received a call – the dogs had killed an impala in the Mogotlo area. We raced there, not even stopping for three lionesses lying right next to the road, enjoying the early warmth of the sun.

We spent a full 40 minutes with the dogs as they finished off their Impala and then started to trot along the road next to the river. They stopped occasionally for a drink from the river, and headed without further interruptions to their den.

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We stuck with the dogs, passing large herds of elephants eating and drinking along the river, –

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– photographing a Spotted Hyena almost without stopping, but we did stop momentarily for some Reedbuck and captured a lovely collection of images.

Finally, with the dogs back at their den, our cameras full, and tummies empty, we headed back to the Lodge for a meal.

This afternoon a very friendly Lilac-breasted Roller posed for us as we left the Lodge and then flew alongside our vehicle, ensuring that we all got super images.

8 LBR-1

We were delighted to see a herd of Tsessebe and then two calls came in close together – first, a about leopard nearby and then news of two cheetahs. We dashed to see the cheetahs as this is only the second time that cheetahs have ever been spotted at Machaba! We felt very privileged to see them, and although they were a little skittish, we still a managed to get some really good images.

Then on to the leopard. We found the Machaba Female just as the sun was setting. She was so very relaxed, and strolled next to our vehicles, passing between them from time to time. So everyone captured the finest possible images against the setting sun, and then as darkness fell, we continued with spotlights and flash! Wonderful stuff!

We went to Leopard Pan for sundowners, and there we met Wim and Fanus with the ODP Botswana Overland group, currently at Khwai Lodge, and spent a really convivial time sharing notes, laughing, teasing, and admiring images.

So all in all today was a Grand Slam day – what with lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena – and Wild Dogs! All in one day! Whew! Who could dream of more!?

We plan to start tomorrow at the river in time for another amazing sunrise …

Okavango Machaba Safari: An Amorous Lechwe …

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Villiers reports from Okavango Machaba: An Amorous Lechwe …
By lunchtime we were all here at beautiful Machaba, and scrambled to get ready for our first game drive.
Knowing that the area is particularly famous for its elephant population, we were keen to see a large herd. Large herd? Well, try more than 100 that we encountered within minutes after leaving the lodge.
9 Elephants
The herd was strung out along the river, enjoying the water, splashing, drinking, bathing. What luck to see so many at one spot. And there were so many youngsters and little ones, all up to their fun and games.
The late afternoon light was magnificent as we left the the elephants, only to stop a few minutes later at a large open plain where the sun sent long slanting rays to provide perfect backlighting for the animals roaming on the plain.
9 Impala 2 1-2
There was even a very amorous Lechwe who tried his best to mate with a number of very reluctant females. He chased different females this way and that, but was unable to persuade them …
9 Impala
Meanwhile the bird life is as spectacular as ever. Among so many others, the Saddle-billed Storks, Long-toed Lapwings, Coppery-tailed Coucals, and of course the iconic Fish Eagles just have to be mentioned. It is just so special to see them again and to capture stunning photographs of their beauty.
We have heard that a leopard has been spotted close to the Lodge – and we plan to start the morning with a search for his tracks …

Okavango Machaba Safari: Wild Dogs Hunt, and Hunt, and Hunt …

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Brendon from Okavango Machaba: Wild Dogs Hunt, and Hunt, and Hunt …

The morning started with a search for Wild Dogs, but although we found tracks, there was no sign of dogs.

But anyway, as usual we were taken by the plethora of game, and besides the large herds of Zebra, hundreds of Impala, numerous Kudu, we were thrilled to see a herd of no fewer that 16 Sable Antelope. They looked so stately against the green, lush surroundings.

The river also provided plenty to see. Not only Hippos showing off, this morning there were two young bull Elephants fighting in the water. The sight of the two jostling, shoving, creating huge splashes as they vied for dominance was a truly fabulous sight to photograph.

In fact, the riverside was so magnificent that we stopped for our coffee break along the banks of the river, and then found ourselves very reluctant to leave the beautiful spot. We remained for much longer than originally intended as we photographed all types of bird species as they flew by, or landed next to us to check us out!

So, Open-billed Storks, Egyptian Geese, Spurwing Geese, Red-billed Teals flew around busily, while African Jacanas trotted around on the Lily-pads and Pied Kingfishers hovered above the water before diving to catch fish.

2 Wim van den Heever NV-011

Every minute presented something to photograph.

On the way back to the Lodge we heard that the Wild Dogs had been spotted and although we detoured in that direction, they had disappeared into some very thick bush.

This afternoon we headed back to the same area, hoping to see the dogs – and this time they were right there – sleeping out in the open.

Now, how do I describe the remainder of the afternoon? It could not be more different from the serenity of the morning! The afternoon was loud, frantic, exhilarating, fast-moving, breathtaking – you get the idea!

The dogs were hunting!

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And what a fast-paced, nonstop action this proved to be, with adrenalin, breathlessness and moments of sheer heart pounding excitement. First the dogs spotted, and went after a herd of Impala, with us close on their heels. Then another two Impala chases followed – each with all the incredible anticipation of the chase!

Then the dogs spotted a Waterbuck, and this was the closest, most dangerous, frenzied and electrifying chase of all. The dogs chased – again with us following closely – and just as they were about to grab the Waterbuck, it suddenly veered and plunged into the safety of the river, and swam across to the far side! Whew! I think we are still shaking from that chase!

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The hunting continued up and down the river banks, and we remained with the activity until it was simply too dark to see anything.

Tonight we are having a Braai out in the bush! Think how amazing that is! And of course there is always something extra wonderful to end a spectacular day like today. Tonight it was a Giant Eagle Owl, watching us with a deep blue-black sky behind it. So, our cameras are still busy …

Tomorrow is our final morning on this safari … hopefully we will be lucky enough to see the Wild Dogs again …

Okavango Machaba Safari: Leopard in Camp!

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Brendon from Okavango Machaba: Leopard in Camp!

(all images from back of camera)
As we left the camp this morning we found the Wild Dog tracks … we wanted to catch up with the the dogs before sunrise, hoping that they would want to hunt, and started to follow them – all the way across the Khwai River and on to Mogotlo, after which they disappeared into the Chobe National Park.

Along the way we stopped countless times – for Elephants, Sable Antelope, Zebra – and a very entertaining hippo that shook his head vigorously at us before storming out of the water, only to retreat and repeat the performance.

A list of birds would be too long and boring to wade through – but we did have a wonderful and prolonged sighting of a very rare Pel’s Fishing Owl – this was a first-timer for most of our group, who were more than delighted to capture some rather decent images of the uncommon encounter.

We heard that another pack of Wild Dogs had been spotted and we headed that way. This was not our day for dogs, though. On the way we were completely side-tracked when we came across a female leopard lying on a tree branch.

After we had photographed her for some time she came down from the tree to start walking around with us close behind as she traversed open plains, walked sedately down the road, and passed through bushy areas … every possible terrain as a backdrop for our images.

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As she walked along, she called intermittently – such an awesome sound! We remained with her until lunchtime.

This afternoon we wanted to search for the dogs again – and again we were side-tracked – by the same leopard. We found her less than a kilometre from the camp, and followed her as she led us straight back to the Lodge – where she disappeared somewhere near the swimming pool.

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By now we just had time for a quick visit to the hyena den, where a 9-month old and a 4-month old were playing some vigorous game that seemed to have no rules, but engendered a lot of rolling around and fun.

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After sundowners we started back to camp and this time stopped for a chameleon that posed on a small branch.

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Maybe we will try to find the Wild Dogs again tomorrow …