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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Botswana and Victoria Falls October 2002,
Safety - What to take - When to go - Health - Travel - Accommodation - Itinerary - Lists
The only real hazard in Botswana is the wild animals, remember to give them maximum respect and they always have right of way on the roads. The advice in the National Parks is never to leave your vehicle and anyway most animals are used to them so you can drive up real close. However as soon as they see a human shape they will run off, apart from Elephants, Lions and Hippos. More people are killed each year by Hippos than any other animal so always give them plenty of room. Elephants will flap their ears and stomp about and will let you know they are unhappy. They will rarely charge unless really provoked or feel their young are threatened. We didn't see a single snake in four weeks travelling.
Zimbabwe is a different proposition, especially with the current political climate. Victoria Falls was fairly safe but take care with money and valuables.
See my other 'what to take' advice pages, take as few clothes as possible. If you are flying into the Okavango Delta you are limited to 12kg of luggage as the flights are on tiny Cessana six-seaters. We left some bulky items at the Delta Air office in Maun for a few days.
We both have Opticron 10 x 42 binoculars - the 'High Resolution' and Sequoiah models. On this trip I also took my Opticron Piccolo Telescope with 30x WA eyepiece and a Cullmann Video tripod. In hindsight the tripod was unnecessary as I used a beanbag most of the time.
We used the second edition of SASOL birds of Southern Africa by Sinclair, Hockey and Tarboton. The Third edition has just been published which looks even better. Also a Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa by Chris and Tilde Stuart was handy. The Lonely Planet guide to Watching Wildlife in Southern Africa was useful for planning the trip, and the Shell Tourist Maps of Botswana, Moremi and Chobe National Parks are absolutely essential if you are driving yourself.
We decided to go in October which is the end of the dry season. The Game tends to congregate at the water holes and migrant birds are just arriving. Also the roads are passable, with soft sand in places. In November the rains start and the sand gets compacted but the soil gets sticky and marsh roads get flooded.
However at this time of year the water is very low in the rivers, so the Victoria Falls aren't as spectacular and we encountered difficulties at Oddballs Camp in getting a decent mokoro trip
Malaria tablets are required although we hardly got bitten at all
We flew Manchester - London - Johannesburg - Victoria Falls, British Airways all the way. At Victoria Falls we picked up a Land Rover TDI110 which had a tent on the roof and a fridge in the back. This was to be our home for two weeks and we were very lucky not to get lost or stuck in that time. We drove 1500km, mainly on sand tracks.
A big thank you to Meregan Turner at Migration Safaris for making all the arrangements and to Adam Slater at Dalestrax for a one-day off-road driving course which was essential.
We stayed at a wide range of accommodation varying in price and quality - the two not necessarily going together !
Victoria Falls - The Sprayview Hotel was cheap and cheerful but very average food. It did have a pool though and was about 20 minutes walk into town. Get a taxi to the Boma restaurant at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge for a fantastic meal with entertainment for about $15 US, or the Victoria Falls Hotel for High Tea - we couldn't afford to stay at those two though.
Kasane - The Chobe Safari Lodge was in a delightful setting by the river with nice rooms, buffet style meals and they could arrange Game Drives, Boat Trips etc.
Camping - We stayed at the following Public Camp Sites in the National Parks - advance booking is essential. Savuti was dry and dusty, North Gate was nice, Third Bridge had a terrible problem with Baboons which arrive at around 8:00am and wreck tents, steal food etc. South Gate was very nice in a shady wood but not much Game around, and Nxai Pan South was the nicest by far.
Xakanaxa Lodge - luxury tents , marvellous food and very welcoming. They also do Game Drives and boat trips. Set in the heart of the Delta and surrounded by wilderness and animals this is a fantastic place - at a price though.
Audi Camp - a few kilometres from Maun but comfortable tented accommodation , very good food and a pool - all for a reasonable rate.
Oddballs Camp - very pricey for poor service, tinned food and a rip-off mokoro/camping trip which only lasts one hour on the water then a lot of walking. Pity as the camp itself is in a lovely location but I'm afraid I wouldn't recommend it.
Itinerary: Victoria Falls - Botswana October 2002
This is a brief summary of our or page down to lists of Birds or Animals that we saw
Lists of species seen
The following list is what we saw, names based on the SASOL Field Guide, but there may be a few Sibley and Munroe names creeping in, due to my eccentric spreadsheet containing all the world's bird species.
1 Struthio camelus Ostrich Maun-Nxai Pan Road 2 Francolinus sephaena Crested Francolin Victoria Falls 3 Francolinus adspersus Red-billed Francolin Common especially at the campsites 4 Francolinus swainsonii Swainson's Spurfowl Fairly common 5 Numida meleagris Helmeted Guineafowl Victoria Falls 6 Dendrocygna viduata White-faced Whistling-Duck Chobe river (boat) 7 Alopochen aegyptiacus Egyptian Goose Very common 8 Plectropterus gambensis Spur-winged Goose Chobe and Kwai rivers 9 Nettapus auritus African Pygmy-goose Small numbers where there are water Lillies 10 Anas undulata Yellow-billed Duck Gau Pan, Xakanaxa 11 Anas erythrorhyncha Red-billed Duck Chobe river (boat) 12 Anas hottentota Hottentot Teal Gau Pan, Xakanaxa 13 Dendropicos namaquus Bearded Woodpecker North Gate campsite 14 Lybius torquatus Black-collared Barbet Xakanaxa woodland 15 Trachyphonus vaillantii Crested Barbet Xakanaxa - very tame at the camp 16 Tockus erythrorhynchus Red-billed Hornbill Very common 17 Tockus leucomelas Yellow-billed Hornbill Few in woodland areas 18 Tockus nasutus African Grey Hornbill Small numbers 19 Ceratogymna bucinator Trumpeter Hornbill Victoria Falls Hotel and Chobe Safari Lodge 20 Bucorvus leadbeateri Southern Ground-Hornbill Small numbers 21 Upupa africana African Hoopoe Small numbers in woodland areas 22 Phoeniculus purpureus Green Woodhoopoe North Gate, Chobe 23 Rhinopomastus cyanomelas Common Scimitar-bill Nxai Pan 24 Coracias caudata Lilac-breasted Roller Very common 25 Coracias naevia Rufous-crowned Roller Savuti 26 Eurystomus glaucurus Broad-billed Roller North Gate and Mboma Island 27 Megaceryle maxima Giant Kingfisher Victoria Falls and Chobe river 28 Ceryle rudis Pied Kingfisher Very common 29 Merops bullockoides White-fronted Bee-eater Small numbers along the rivers 30 Merops pusillus Little Bee-eater Fairly common 31 Merops hirundineus Swallow-tailed Bee-eater Chobe (game drive) 32 Merops apiaster European Bee-eater Victoria Falls 6 flew over the town 33 Merops nubicoides Southern Carmine Bee-eater Fairly common on Chobe river 34 Urocolius indicus Red-faced Mousebird Chobe safari Lodge carpark 35 Centropus cupreicaudus Coppery-tailed Coucal Chobe river (boat) 36 Centropus senegalensis Senegal Coucal Chobe river (boat) 37 Poicephalus meyeri Meyer's Parrot South Gate campsite and Oddballs 38 Glaucidium perlatum Pearl-spotted Owlet Only heard at South Gate 39 Otus senegalensis African Scops Owl Only heard at South Gate 40 Cypsiurus parvus African Palm-Swift Fairly common 41 Apus barbatus African Swift Victoria Falls - a few, late afternoons 42 Apus affinis Little Swift Victoria Falls - one or two daily 43 Corythaixoides concolor Grey Go-away-bird Fairly common, very tame at Xakanaxa Camp 44 Streptopelia senegalensis Laughing Dove Most areas 45 Streptopelia decipiens Mourning Collared-Dove Small numbers 46 Streptopelia capicola Ring-necked Dove Small numbers 47 Streptopelia semitorquata Red-eyed Dove Fairly common, call at sunrise and sunset 48 Turtur chalcospilos Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove North Gate, Chobe 49 Oena capensis Namaqua Dove North Gate, Chobe 50 Treron calva African Green-Pigeon North Gate, Chobe 51 Ardeotis kori Kori Bustard Chobe (game drive) and Nxai Pan 52 Eupodotis ruficrista Red-crested Bustard Nxai Pan 53 Eupodotis afraoides White-quilled Bustard Nxai Pan 54 Eupodotis melanogaster Black-bellied Bustard Savuti and Nxai Pan 55 Grus carunculatus Wattled Crane 3 at Xakanaxa 56 Amaurornis flavirostra Black Crake Victoria Falls, Chobe and very tame at Xakanaxa Camp 57 Tringa stagnatilis Marsh Sandpiper Small numbers most areas 58 Tringa nebularia Common Greenshank Small numbers most areas 59 Tringa glareola Wood Sandpiper Small numbers most areas 60 Tringa hypoleucos Common Sandpiper Small numbers most areas 61 Calidris minuta Little Stint Small numbers most areas 62 Calidris ferruginea Curlew Sandpiper Small numbers most areas 63 Philomachus pugnax Ruff Gau Pan, Xakanaxa 64 Actophilornis africanus African Jacana Fairly common 65 Burhinus capensis Spotted Dikkop Heard only at night at Nxai Pan 66 Burhinus vermiculatus Water Dikkop Victoria Falls and Chobe river 67 Himantopus himantopus Black-winged Stilt Kwai River and Chobe 68 Charadrius pecuarius Kittlitz's Plover Third Bridge 69 Charadrius tricollaris Three-banded Plover Chobe (game drive) 70 Vanellus crassirostris Long-toed Lapwing Chobe river (boat) 71 Vanellus armatus Blacksmith Lapwing Fairly common 72 Vanellus albiceps White-headed Lapwing Victoria Falls 73 Vanellus senegallus Wattled Lapwing Chobe (game drive) associates with Buffalo 74 Vanellus coronatus Crowned Lapwing Third Bridge and drier areas 75 Glareola pratincola Collared Pratincole Chobe river (boat) 76 Glareola nuchalis Rock Pratincole Victoria Falls and rapids on Chobe river 77 Rynchops flavirostris African Skimmer Victoria Falls and Chobe river 78 Chlidonias hybridus Whiskered Tern Chobe river (boat) 79 Pandion haliaetus Osprey One at Gau Pan, Xakanaxa 80 Elanus caeruleus Black-winged Kite Vic Falls - Kasane Road 81 Milvus parasiticus Yellow-billed Kite Very common 82 Haliaeetus vocifer African Fish-Eagle Very common, especially Chobe river 83 Necrosyrtes monachus Hooded Vulture Small numbers at kills 84 Gyps africanus White-backed Vulture The commonest Vulture 85 Torgos tracheliotus Lappet-faced Vulture 3 at Nxai Pan 86 Circaetus pectoralis Black-chested Snake-Eagle 1 over Xakanaxa 87 Circaetus cinereus Brown Snake-Eagle 1 or 2, Xakanaxa 88 Circaetus cinerascens Banded Snake-Eagle 1 in the reeds, Chobe river (boat) 89 Terathopius ecaudatus Bateleur Small numbers Kwai river and Xakanaxa 90 Circus ranivorus African Marsh-Harrier Xakanaxa and Oddballs 91 Melierax canorus Pale Chanting-Goshawk Common at Nxai Pan 92 Micronisus gabar Gabar Goshawk Xakanaxa 93 Buteo buteo vulpinus Common 'Steppe' Buzzard South Gate - Maun Rd 94 Aquila rapax Tawny Eagle Vic Falls - Kasane Road 95 Aquila nipalensis Steppe Eagle Chobe (game drive) 96 Aquila wahlbergi Wahlberg's Eagle Xakanaxa 97 Hieraaetus spilogaster African Hawk-Eagle Daily on Chobe river (boat) 98 Polemaetus bellicosus Martial Eagle Chobe (game drive) 99 Sagittarius serpentarius Secretarybird 2 at Nxai Pan 100 Falco dickinsoni Dickinson's Kestrel Oddballs Camp 101 Tachybaptus ruficollis Little Grebe Surprisingly rare, only seen at Oddballs Camp 102 Anhinga rufa African Darter Very common 103 Phalacrocorax africanus Long-tailed Cormorant Very common 104 Phalacrocorax carbo Great Cormorant 1 or two at Victoria Falls 105 Egretta vinaceigula Slaty Egret Kwai river 106 Egretta ardesiaca Black Heron A few on the Chobe river (boat) 107 Egretta garzetta Little Egret 1 or two daily Chobe river (boat) 108 Ardea cinerea Grey Heron Fairly common 109 Ardea goliath Goliath Heron Victoria Falls and Chobe river 110 Ardea purpurea Purple Heron Chobe (game drive) 111 Aredea alba Great Egret Small numbers 112 Mesophoyx intermedia Intermediate Egret 1 or two Xakanaxa 113 Bubulcus ibis Cattle Egret Fairly common 114 Ardeola ralloides Squacco Heron Fairly common 115 Ardeola rufiventris Rufous-bellied Heron Kwai river and Xakanaxa 116 Butorides striatus Striated Heron Small numbers on the rivers 117 Nycticorax nycticorax Black-crowned Night-Heron 1 near Mboma Island (boat) 118 Scopus umbretta Hammerkop Victoria Falls and Chobe river 119 Plegadis falcinellus Glossy Ibis Xakanaxa - roosting on lagoon 120 Threskiornis aethiopicus Sacred Ibis Small numbers 121 Platalea alba African Spoonbill Chobe river (boat) 122 Pelecanus onocrotalus Great White Pelican 1 at Xakanaxa and 1 in a thermal Third Bridge 123 Mycteria ibis Yellow-billed Stork Small numbers 124 Anastomus lamelligerus African Openbill Small numbers 125 Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis Saddle-billed Stork Kwai river 126 Leptoptilos crumeniferus Marabou Stork Small numbers, nesting at Xakanaxa 127 Corvinella melanoleuca Magpie Shrike Most areas 128 Eurocephalus anguitimens White-crowned Shrike Third Bridge and South Gate 129 Corvus capensis Cape Crow Maun - Nxai Pan Rd 130 Corvus albus Pied Crow Common in urban areas 131 Dicrurus adsimilis Fork-tailed Drongo Common 132 Terpsiphone viridis African Paradise-Flycatcher Odd numbers in woodland 133 Dryoscopus cubla Black-backed Puffback Small numbers 134 Laniarius bicolor Gabon Boubou Chobe river 135 Laniarius atrococcineus Crimson-breasted Gonolek North Gate, Chobe 136 Prionops plumatus White Helmetshrike Chobe safari Lodge 137 Batis molitor Chinspot Batis Chobe safari Lodge, more often heard 138 Turdus libonyanus Kurrichane Thrush Xakanaxa 139 Bradornis mariquensis Mariqua Flycatcher Nxai Pan 140 Cossypha heuglini White-browed Robin-Chat Very tame at Chobe Safari Lodge 141 Cercotrichas leucophrys Red-backed Scrub-Robin Chobe (game drive) 142 Saxicola torquata African Stonechat Xakanaxa 143 Oenanthe pileata Capped Wheatear Nxai Pan 144 Lamprotornis nitens Red-shouldered Glossy-Starling North Gate, Chobe 145 Lamprotornis chalybaeus Greater Blue-eared Glossy-Starling Chobe (game drive) 146 Lamprotornis australis Burchell's Glossy-Starling North Gate, Chobe 147 Lamprotornis mevesii Meves's Glossy-Starling Chobe (game drive) 148 Creatophora cinerea Wattled Starling Chobe river - associates with Buffalo 149 Acridotheres tristis Common Myna Joburg airport 150 Buphagus africanus Yellow-billed Oxpecker Small numbers Xakanaxa 151 Buphagus erythrorhynchus Red-billed Oxpecker Most areas 152 Parus niger Black Tit Mboma - dead tree island 153 Riparia paludicola Plain Martin Chobe (Boat trip) 154 Riparia cincta Banded Martin Xakanaxa 155 Hirundo fuligula Rock Martin Joburg airport 156 Hirundo rustica Eurasian Swallow Xakanaxa and Chobe river late October 157 Hirundo smithii Wire-tailed Swallow Common on Chobe river 158 Hirundo semirufa Rufous-chested Swallow Joburg airport 159 Pycnonotus barbatus Garden Bulbul Very common 160 Pycnonotus nigricans Black-fronted Bulbul Nxai Pan 161 Chlorocichla flaviventris Yellow-bellied Greenbul Very tame at Chobe Safari Lodge 162 Phyllastrephus terrestris Terrestrial Brownbul Victoria Falls 163 Prinia subflava Tawny-flanked Prinia Victoria Falls 164 Prinia flavicans Black-chested Prinia Nxai Pan 165 Camaroptera brachyura Grey-backed Camaroptera Chobe safari Lodge 166 Bradypterus baboecala African Bush-Warbler Oddballs Camp 167 Turdoides hartlaubii Angola (Hartlaubs) Babbler Tame at Xakanaxa 168 Turdoides jardineii Arrow-marked Babbler Most campsites 169 Sylvia subcaeruleum Rufous-vented Warbler Chobe safari Lodge 170 Calandrella cinerea Red-capped Lark Third Bridge 171 Nectarinia senegalensis Scarlet-chested Sunbird Victoria Falls 172 Nectarinia talatala White-breasted Sunbird Audi Camp, Maun 173 Nectarinia mariquensis Mariqua Sunbird Third Bridge 174 Passer motitensis Southern Rufous-Sparrow Nxai Pan - south campsite 175 Passer diffusus Cape Sparrow North Gate, Chobe 176 Motacilla aguimp African Pied Wagtail Victoria Falls 177 Motacilla capensis Cape Wagtail Kwai river 178 Macronyx ameliae Rosy-throated Longclaw Chobe (Boat trip) 179 Anthus cinnamomeus African Pipit Chobe (game drive) 180 Anthus vaalensis Buffy Pipit Xakanaxa 181 Bubalornis niger Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver South Gate campsite 182 Sporopipes squamifrons Scaly Weaver South Gate and dry areas 183 Plocepasser mahali White-browed Sparrow-Weaver Small numbers 184 Ploceus intermedius Lesser Masked Weaver Chobe safari Lodge 185 Ploceus ocularis Spectacled Weaver Chobe safari Lodge 186 Ploceus xanthops Holub's Golden-Weaver Xakanaxa 187 Ploceus velatus Southern Masked-Weaver Victoria Falls 188 Ploceus cucullatus Village Weaver South Gate 189 Anaplectes rubriceps Red-headed Weaver Xakanaxa camp 190 Euplectes axillaris Fan-tailed Widowbird Chobe (Boat trip to Namibian side) 191 Mandingoa nitidula Brown Firefinch Mboma Island, Third Bridge 192 Lagonosticta senegala Red-billed Firefinch Chobe safari Lodge 193 Uraeginthus angolensis Blue-breasted Cordonbleu Small numbers 194 Estrilda erythronotos Black-cheeked Waxbill Third Bridge campsite 195 Vidua regia Queen Whydah Chobe (game drive) by entrance 196 Alcedo cristata Malachite Kingfisher Xakanaxa
1 Vervet Monkey Most areas 2 Chacma Baboon Most areas - real menance at Third Bridge campsite 3 Elephant Most areas, very common at Chobe 4 Hippo Most areas with a reasonable stretch of water 5 Warthog Most areas - very tame at Chobe Safari Lodge 6 Cape Buffalo Chobe and small numbers in Mosi-oa-Tunya NP 7 Bushbuck Vic Falls, and darker race on river bank by Chobe Game Lodge 8 Nile Crocodile Most areas with a reasonable stretch of water 9 Lechwe Common at Chobe 10 Tree Squirrel Very common in woodland 11 Monitor Lizard Chobe river 12 Giraffe Most areas, very pale individuals at Mosi-oa-Tunya NP 13 Impala Common at Chobe and Moremi, small numbers at Nxai Pan 14 Sable Antelope Small herd at Chobe 15 Slender Mongoose Odd ones crossing the road 16 Kudu Most areas, common at Chobe 17 Puku Small numbers at Chobe 18 Waterbuck Most areas with open water 19 Roan Antelope Small herd at Chobe 20 Lion Most areas, hard to spot though 21 Zebra Fairly common 22 Spotted Hyena Only seen after dark at North Gate and Third Bridge campsites 23 Gnu Small numbers near South Gate 24 Banded Mongoose Xakanaxa and Chobe Safari Lodge 25 Wild Dog 3 on Dead Tree Island, Xakanaxa 26 Steenbok Odd individuals seen alongside the road in Moremi and Nxai Pan 27 Tsessebe 2 en route to South Gate 28 Dwarf Mongoose South Gate campsite 29 Springbok Common at Nxai Pan 30 Black-backed Jackal Small numbers at Nxai Pan 31 Gemsbok 1 by track to Nxai Pan
If anyone wants further information, please E-Mail me at Tony@tonyc.demon.co.uk