Cat House

Nancy Vandermey, Author
South Africa/Botswana Trip part 7 Vumbera Plains - 18-21 November

Africa 2007 Africa 2007 Africa 2007 Africa 2007

At this point we had several free days in our itinerary, which I was hoping to fill with a camp in the Okavango Delta. At 9 am we turned up at the Wilderness Safaris office and spoke with Precious, who gave us some prices for different camps, but wasn't sure of availability because the system was down. We went a few doors down the street to the Travel Wild office, where we got quotes for going to Shinde camp. Another more water-based camp was offered, but we were interested in game drives, not water activities. Unfortunately the Kwando camps were full, they were high on my list. We used the internet at Bush Telegraph before returning to Wilderness Safaris. The system was still down, so we went off to secure a room at the Maun Lodge (one of the few places in town with air conditioning). Back to WS and Precious called the Joburg office, and found that the only camp with availability was Vumbera Plains, at US$2400 for 3 nights for the two of us, including airfare. At $400 pppn, that was a bit more than we wanted to pay, but certainly a discount from their rack rate. I had heard good things about Vumbera so we said yes. We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the Maun Lodge. A local disco nearby was noisy until 12:30 am so we watched a horrible movie (Speed 2) and played cards.

After breakfast at Bon Arrivee and more internet time we were ready for our flight. First our 6-seater from Sefofane stopped at Jao camp to pick up Colleen and Nada, then a short low flight to Vumbera. Flight pictures - 1,2,3,4,5,6. Our guide Ona picked us all up, and on the drive to South Camp revealed zebra, giraffe, warthog, impala, and tssesbe. After seeing the common areas we were shown room 7, again a villa of our own, similar in size and amenities to Leadwood. A nice end (well, near end) for our trip! Pictures of: sitting area, plunge pool, bed, bath. Red lechwe grazed on the plains, and kudu nearby. On the evening drive, several vehicles combined to track the Kubu pride of lions, leading to 7 flat cats in the grass. 2 adult females, four 2 to 3 year old males, and a female of a bit less than a year old. Another adult female was missing, and presumed to be off having a litter of cubs. Next we viewed a large breeding herd of elephant, with many young ones. Going back to the airstrip, there was an impala carcass up in a tree, but the leopard who put it there was shy. Nearby was a different lion pride, with 6 lions (2 adult females, 2 young males, 2 young females). Laying nearby were the 2 adult male lions who controlled both resident prides. More genet were seen on the way back to camp. The rest of camp was occupied by Ben's Birthday group. Dinners were served individually, but I missed the buffet style and choices.

At 2:30 am there was a huge thunderstorm with lots of wind and lightning, Eric rolled down the shutters outside to keep us dry. The staff hadn't expected a storm, the common area and outdoor furniture got soaked! On the morning drive bird alarm calls led us to *something* we disturbed as it ate a young tssesebe - the mother tssesbe and her herd were still nearby. Ona claims it was a caracal that made the killing, but the tracks were inconclusive - possibly serval or jackal. All anyone saw was a blur as it jumped in some bushes. Then we tracked the Kubu pride until we caught up with them resting by some bushes. Giraffe stared intently at them, as the young males looked on with some interest. The airstrip leopard was still hiding, but the impala had been moved and eaten off of overnight. Nearby we viewed a relaxed young male leopard as he walked through tall grass, went to part of a kill, and settled in the shade to have a bite. He was a handsome fellow! My first sighting of carmine bee-eaters followed, and there were lots of other birds, like yellow-billed stork and spoonbill. We said hi to the lions again on the way back, they hadn't moved much. A rock monitor lizard was resting near camp.

During the break, a breeding herd of elephants decided to have lunch at camp, attack room 6, crawl under the boardwalk, and pose with Eric and I. In the evening we went for a short motorboat ride and then a short game drive. Rain threatened so we didn't go far. Three hyena were seen close to camp. Dinner was held in the boma, with singing and dancing. In the morning after a great sunrise we looked hard for sable, but had a good giraffe family sighting instead. We tracked lions, then went to a leopard sighting first. This male was very relaxed, but had a hurt front right leg. The Kubu pride had meanwhile been found, resting up after killing and eating a wildebeest. Huge fat lazy lions! We then all went to the airport to drop off Colleen and Nada. Many tssesebe with young were nearby, and reedbuck. A group of kids from Children in the Wilderness were leaving, and another arriving. The boys left too, so we had camp to ourselves all afternoon! We took a walk to see the view from North Camp, and just relaxed a lot. Only 3 elephant walked by our deck (video) today. Meyer's parrots, green pigeon, butterflies, little bee-eater, and squirrel also visited. We had a private game drive in the evening, but our cat luck had left us. Except of course we could visit the lazy fat Kubu pride! We looked for cheetah and serval in the open areas with no luck. After sunset we saw bushbaby, more genet, a baby impala, a side-stripe jackal, and MANY frogs. For dinner the staff had arranged a wonderful private dinner on our deck but the bugs were horrible and we were tired, so the experience was a bit lost on us. We left very early to look for serval again, said hi to the lions, then spent a long time looking for cheetah, way to the north of the concession. It was much drier up here, and we saw ostrich in addition to all the usual antelope. Another vehicle found a nervous male leopard, but we were far away. Instead we enjoyed watching 3 hyena in a pan. After brunch we had some time to relax and watch a lechwe family before it was time to go to the airstrip. We said goodbye to the still-fat and lazy lions, then had to wait as a rainstorm moved in right as our flight was due. We were only an hour late, so we still had time to collect our car, visit an ATM and grocery store, fill up on gas, and head south 300 km to Ghanzi, where we spent the night at the Kalahari Arms.

Part 1 - South Africa/Botswana Trip
Part 2 - Hluhluwe/Umfolozi and St Lucia
Part 3 - Kruger
Part 4 - Mala Mala and Exeter Leadwood
Part 5 - Mashatu and Planet Baobab
Part 6 - Mobile Safari to Moremi, Kwai, Savuti
Part 7 - Vumbera Plains
Part 8 - Jwana Game Park, Cheetah Conservation Botswana