We left Chitabe Camp before sunrise again and went in search of tracks. Although we found lion tracks, we were still following them when we received a call about the female leopard with her cub. The two had been located, and it was a joy to see them again.
The cub was particularly playful, and together with mother climbed trees, jumped down, played on termite mounds, ran around, chased each other – and stalked anything that moved – like squirrels, birds, and even insects. The two kept us entertained us for much of the morning as our collection of photographs grew. The interaction between mother and cub was quite heart-warming and beautiful to watch.
When the two wandered off into a dense thicket, we moved on. We saw many herds of elephants, some very large herds of buffalos, and spent time with an active pod of hippos that cavorted and splashed.
When we saw a water hole that has partially dried up we stopped to photograph the birds there. Numerous Pink-backed Pelicans and Yellow-billed Storks had a very easy time fishing for catfish that crowded together in the diminished amount of water. The birds really had a feast.
When we returned to the camp it was time to pack up and leave for the airstrip for our flight to Little Vumbura. We landed and after a short drive to a beautiful setting in the bush under a large spreading tree we enjoyed an exceptional high tea. Then we set off on a short game drive to the Lodge.
On the drive we saw two handsome male lions accompanied by a number of lionesses and their cubs. The light was just right for evening photography and then it was time to check in at the superb camp. The area is beautiful with plenty of water everywhere. We have much to look forward to here …
Another fabulous day!
As we left this morning we very quickly came across a female leopard that had made a kill not long before we found her. She was beset by hyenas and tried valiantly to defend the remains from the ongoing, uninterrupted approaches from the scavengers. The tussle continued with the leopard trying to protect her impala from all sides. We watched, cameras busily capturing every tense, exciting moment of the interaction. But the battle was very one-sided with the lone leopard being totally outnumbered. She eventually had to give up, and retreated to watch the hyenas with her kill on the ground from a nearby low tree branch.
Then to our amazement we noticed a small leopard cub aged about four months peeking from the foliage of a neighbouring Leadwood Tree. Mother and cub watched the hyenas squabbling over what should have been their meal. There was plenty of action for the cats to watch as the hyenas yipped, scrapped, snarled, growled, and occasionally chased one another when a tasty morsel was grabbed.
The mother then decided that enough was enough! She started to approach the hyenas, but as soon as they saw her they forgot their meal and chased her – back into a different tree.
And then, much to our surprise, the hyenas gave up and started to shuffle away – away from the kill, away from the scene!
The female returned to the tree where her cub still sat on a branch. She settled close to him, while the half eaten carcass remained on the ground under the tree.
We remained with the leopards for the entire day. It turned out to be one of the best ever days one could wish for with a mother leopard and her cub. They played, moved from branch to branch, to neighbouring trees and fallen logs, and onto tree stumps. They posed and interacted for most of the day, giving us every opportunity imaginable to photograph them with different techniques, actions, portraits – you name it, we captured them all. We filled our cameras with phenomenal images. The cub then became very interested in our vehicle, and played around and under the strange object. It stalked the tyres, hid under the bumpers, peeped out to locate mom and then crept up on her, while she pretended not to notice. Every moment brought something new and precious!
We remained with the two until evening when they walked about a kilometre to a pan where they stopped for a long, relaxed drink together. They were very comfortable with our presence and were right next to the vehicle all the time.
As the sun set and we would need spotlights to continue photographing the two, we rather called it a day. We did not want to risk using lights on such a young cub, and elected to return to the camp, more than ecstatic with another incredible day.
We are ready for whatever tomorrow brings …
We left the camp shortly before sunrise. After driving around for a short while we found two cheetahs moving around slowly. The mother and her subadult son were not really going about with much purpose so when we received word about a leopard in a tree with an impala kill we quickly raced to that sighting.
We arrived to find not only the leopard and the kill in the tree with her subadult cub. A male leopard arrived on the scene intent on stealing the kill from the female.
He leaped up into the tree – and just then nine lionesses arrived, also wanting to pinch the kill.
It was so exciting to watch. We didn’t take our eyes from the action for a second. The lions milled around the base of the tree, constantly looking up to decide their next action. And their next move caused our heartbeats to hammer so much that we felt that even we held our breath, our heartbeats were surely audible. Why? One of the lions leaped up into the tree! The female leopard ran away, leaving her cub with the kill, the male leopard, and the lioness in the tree! Wow!
The lion managed to reach the kill and proceeded to move it around until it dropped to the ground. As the carcass dropped the whole pride grabbed it, and the fighting, tussling, snarls, spitting, swiping vicious claws at each other created a terrifying, frenzied scene. The two leopard left in the tree watched very uneasily, and we could see that the male was really keen to leave the action far behind. He was most unhappy. On several occasions he attempted to leave the tree but each time he would try, there were just too many lions.
Eventually the Leopard managed to get about half way down the huge tree. We wondered what he would do next? Oh my goodness!
Who would have guessed – the hapless leopard flew through the air and hurtled to the ground! We were shocked, astounded, and almost dropped our cameras. And as soon as the lions saw the leopard they were onto him. This is the end, we thought. But the leopard managed to bolt away, but not far away – about 50 meters further on he leaped into another tree, with lions once again all around the base of that tree …
The lions gave up on the leopard after a few minutes and returned to the tree where they had eaten the stolen impala, and the leopard took the opportunity to slink away and disappear into the bush! Whew! The action!
After all that excitement we returned to the camp for lunch and when we set out again in the afternoon we headed to the two cheetahs we saw on the morning drive. We found them starting to hunt. They climbed termite mounds to check the area for prey, and luckily for us, the lighting was glorious, and the cheetahs seemed to choose the most ideal mounds and spots for photography. When they spotted two impala they started to stalk them in earnest. We – and the cheetahs – were unaware that the impala were being stalked by a leopard!
The next moment the impala spotted one of cheetah and started to run. The leopard then saw the cheetahs and started to chase the two! It was unbelievable action! The cheetahs ran away, and being much faster than the leopard, they easily outstripped him. After about 100 meters they settled on a termite mound to watch their pursuer. The leopard advanced close enough for us to photograph him with the cheetahs. When he came a bit too close the cheetahs got up and ambled off into a thicket just as the sun was setting.
What a day! After sundowners we returned to the camp, still excited and somewhat dumbfounded at the events on both game drives. Wow! What could tomorrow hold for us …
We arrived at Chitabe camp after a pleasant flight, and although it was already 15:30 by the time we landed, our cameras were ready for action. As soon as we arrived at the stunning, brand-new camp at Chitabe we checked in and gave ourselves only a few minutes to down a delicious high tea before we were set to start our first game drive.
We were very keen to follow up on reports of a cheetah sighting during the morning, and with this in mind we drove to the relevant area. And yes! There they were! Three cheetahs together – a mother with her two subadult cubs. As the sun was close to the horizon the lighting was perfect, golden and warm. We photographed the cats until we received a report about lions close by.
We moved on from the cheetahs and found two male lions lying peacefully under a tree. Because the duo was fast asleep we decided to stop for a quick sundowner at a beautiful, scenic, open spot. We watched as the sun dipped below the horizon as we chatted and marvelled at the beauty around us.
On our drive back to the camp we were lucky enough to come across a Civet. What a start to our safari! Three different cat species on one very short game drive.
Back at the camp we are ready for dinner and then an early night to prepare for our very early start in the morning …
There is so much to see in this magnificent part of our planet, and because we are keen to experience as much as possible, we were up bright and early, and after breakfast we were ready to leave more than a half hour before sunrise.
Now, should we check on the leopards, hyenas, Wild Dogs, or hippo carcass first? But as always we changed our mind. The morning was just so calm, serene and idyllic that we went straight to a pool with hippos to enjoy a quiet, relaxed, re-energising morning.
It was just wonderful. Only the sounds of birds, hippos in the pool, and the wind rustling the leaves. Who could ask for a more perfect start to the day.
Then we drove around slowly, and concentrated on the general game and birds. We stopped to watch one particularly busy Elephant as she stood on her hind legs to reach into the lofty branches of a tree to reach the softer, more succulent new leaves way up at the apex of the tree.
We increased our bird photography count – and currently we have images of almost a hundred different species. Wherever you look there seem to be a different birds to be identified and added to the fast growing collection. It is almost overwhelming! One hardly knows where to point a camera, there is so much at any one time.
When we heard that a leopard could be seen we scouted around that area, but no luck. We tried quickly this afternoon again, with the same result.
A Grey-headed Kingfisher appeared right next to our vehicle during our afternoon drive. He posed so beautifully for us!
We enjoyed sundowners at a beautiful spot overlooking a river where elephants grazed peacefully. Idyllic!
We heard that the leopard had been spotted again, but it disappeared into the bush before we could get a good sighting.
Now we are enjoying dinner out in the bush, under the bright twinkling stars, and listening to those magical nocturnal bush sounds. In the morning we have one more drive before we leave for our next destination (Mombo) …
After eating a full breakfast with steaming hot coffee we were ready and eager to welcome another day in this paradise.
We tried to figure out where the leopards would be this morning, and as we drove in the most likely direction we received a call that one of the guides could hear the sound of fighting hyenas.
We quickly headed that way and spent a very exciting time watching hyenas indulging in a brawl. They were next to a hippo carcass that they were feeding on. The morning was cool, with a wispy mist hanging over everything. This created the most fabulous, moody scene for photographs and with that rather violent interaction between the combatants, the entire sighting is one that will be remembered for years.
From there we went in search of the leopards again, and to our amazement and even more delight we actually located them without too much difficulty. Mother and cub had done almost exactly what we imagined last night – a waterbuck kill! We remained with them for a long while as the cub played in and out of the trees, pounced on anything that moved, then rolled around, harassed mom, and enjoyed the early morning.
Our second vehicle went to check on a report of Wilds Dogs, but as they were fast asleep and disinclined to move for the next while, they returned to the leopards. They were just in time to see the female drag the kill to a new location.
So all in all we had a superb morning and returned to the Lodge for lunch, well satisfied with more wonderful memories and our growing photographic collection.
This afternoon we first returned to the hippo kill where we photographed the different vulture species as they squabbled and fed, flapping, and hopping, and grabbing tasty morsels. The scene appeared really chaotic, with movement everywhere.
We found a troop of baboons at a water channel. They were drinking and playing around in and out of the water.
After this we went back to the Wild Dogs. They kept us busy especially when they started to hunt. After they spotted a herd of zebra the chase was on! Excitement mounted as they singled out a male and chased him around quite a bit.
And finally we returned to the leopards but as they were barely visible in thick bush we didn’t hang around. After all, we have spent an excellent time with them and have lovely photographs …
Tomorrow we will decide whether to check on the leopards, hippo carcass or Wild Dogs first when we set out – or the morning could hold a different surprise for us …
We left the Lodge this morning after a hearty breakfast and about forty minutes before sunrise.
We were not on a mission to track down anything in particular and were happy to simply enjoy the African bush and see what various animals would appear – an did the bush ever show off today!
We found leopard tracks almost as soon as we left the Lodge, but couldn’t locate the actual animal. But that could have been because we spent so much of our time photographing birds. One has to experience the amazing bird life here to appreciate quite what I mean … so many species, so many colourful, beautiful birds, wow! It really is a birding paradise!
We photographed a number of raptors including Tawny Eagles, Bateleurs, African Hawk Eagles – the list is very long but someone kept count and we managed to photograph 43 different bird species on that one drive!
Then we heard of a young leopard and made our way there. He was sleeping peacefully but lifted his head from time to time, giving us a chance for some great shots. What a healthy young cat. In fact he is so young that he has not yet left his mother. We checked the area for her, but she was not there. Maybe she was out hunting or patrolling her territory.
This afternoon we went in search of Wild Dogs that were reported to be in the area. While on our way to them we photographed Southern Ground Hornbills as they walked along in that typical ungainly manner. Occasionally they made that deep uuuggghhh sound that so typifies them. They foraged for food as they wandered along, and then one used its beak to dig deep into the ground and pulled out a mouse! It tossed the mouse into the air, creating perfect photos for us.
Then we saw the dogs getting up in the distance and starting to greet one another. We rushed there, but when they had finished their greeting they napped for another 30 minutes or so. We waited patiently – and were rewarded.
The dogs decided it was time for action. They started to hunt. We followed them, cameras photographing every move, as the pack ran through long grass, stopped for some water and then continued their hunt – all the way into dense bush where we could not follow.
We returned to the young male leopard that we saw earlier and to our delight his mother arrived. She took him and the two started to walk swiftly and with determination.
As it was late we followed the duo for a short distance but as soon as they went into thick bush we turned towards the Lodge. However, in the morning we plan to try to find mother and son again because we probably believe that mom was leading her youngster to a kill …
We arrived at the Lodge after delayed flights and travel. It was sunset by the time we dashed out for our first dame drive, but we were determined not to miss even a moment in the bush.
And in that short time we have been here we have managed to see more amazing wildlife than many do in a whole day. Can you believe … not one, but two different leopards! They disappeared quite quickly into Mopane bush, so that other than a few grab shots, photography was not great. But hey! Who is complaining?
Then we saw a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl. He sat there, staring at us balefully while our cameras got busy.
There were some fabulous elephants and then a huge surprise – the Lodge treated us to an amazing dinner out in the bush, under the stars, and surrounded by the sounds and smells of the African bush. It was fabulous! .
Photographs from the Okavango Delta – Uli was a guest on our recent Okavango photo safari to Wilderness Safaris Mombo Camp, based on Chiefs Island right in the middle of the Okavango Delta, Botswana