From a weather point of view, October has been surprisingly unpredictable and a bit strange for this time of the year. Normally, one would expect high temperatures throughout the month, however, we had a few lovely cooler mornings and evenings. We also had some of the classic late afternoon cloud build-ups filled with towering thunderheads which resulted in some lightning and a few fierce wind storms and light showers, but as always, once the storm passed the most beautiful sunlight touched the earth. It is always a special treat to venture out on a morning drive after an evening of rain as the mist covers the landscape.
After the light rains, the pans in the woodlands were temporarily filled, which helped the elephants to disperse in and out of our concession and not just congregate at the permanent sources of surface water. This only lasted for a couple of days though. October is undoubtedly one of the best and most beautiful months of the year at Chitabe.
With less vegetation, animals can be easily spotted. The yellow and sepia colours of the grasses are typical of this time of the year and with the additional build-up of clouds we were privy to some stunning sunsets and sunrises.
In general, most of the wildlife activity seems to revolve around the few remaining waterholes as the area continues to dry up and evaporate due to the heat. Elephants are often seen coming for their daily drinking and bathing sessions in the mud. Giraffe meander towards the water in the late afternoons as well as other herbivores such as impala and kudu. Occasionally we also had sightings of big herds of buffalo at the waterholes.
One of the highlights of the month was the increasing activity of nomadic male lions moving into the area from all corners of the concession. Recently the guides came across two different coalitions of males that they had never seen before. The one group seemed to be a bit skittish and it is possible they could have come from an area where they don’t often see game drive vehicles.
Another thrilling highlight of the month occurred when the three young male lions who left the Tsame Pride last month, due to their age, forcefully came back to rejoin the pride. This is not common and in most cases when the young males leave, they leave permanently. So, all the fuss and drama of these young males seemingly wanting to stay with the pride made for fascinating and rare behavioural viewing.
October gave us wonderful “active” predator sightings. The Tsame Pride was seen on a giraffe kill and with that amount of meat available it guaranteed lion sightings for the subsequent four days, as the pride didn’t move far from the carcass.
On the 12th of October, the guides and guests came across an unusual sighting of the two dominant male lions, known as the “Chitabe Boys,” feeding on a baby elephant which they had killed that night. We’ve spotted these males before chasing a baby elephant but on that occasion, the mother aggressively defended her baby. There seems to have been an elephant “baby boom” this year, as there are so many tiny calves running around which is delightful to watch.
Our local pack of four wild dogs has been seen at various sightings throughout the month. They have been extremely active and were seen hunting in the mornings and afternoons and covering vast areas within a very short time span. We certainly hope that this next season will bring an increase of wild dogs to the area as these highly social and fascinating carnivores are an integral part of Chitabe’s fauna.
The month of October has given us some of the best cheetah sightings we’ve had in a long time. A particular male has been resident in the area for quite some time now, moving around his prime territory which is generally around the open grassland near the Gomoti Channel. Many of our guests who went to the Gomoti area were able to see him and as luck would have it, he was often feeding on a kill. The guides have also seen the tracks of another male cheetah and have spotted him on several occasions feeding on impala carcasses.
On the camp side of things, we felt it was important to let all our readers know that Chitabe has recently acquired four brand new game drive vehicles. The new Land Rovers will no doubt enhance the safari experience and ensure that our guests are able to enjoy their game drives in utmost comfort. The new vehicles have an optional storage box between the seats on the two middle rows. However, this box can be removed and another seat fitted in between, depending on what the guests wish or if families are travelling with children.
We had many guests during the month of October and our guests enjoyed excellent wildlife sightings, tasty cuisine and the legendary Chitabe and Chitabe Lediba hospitality. Some feedback below sums up some of our guests’ impressions and experiences.
“Picnic in the bush was great, high staff spirit, thank you for your engagement, enjoyed the small camp atmosphere.”
“The whole experience changed our lives, it was different from the experience we had at other places, and the diversity is great!”
“Superb game drives, hospitality of the camp staff, excellent food and great camp, we enjoyed the very informative talk about history of Botswana.”
“Staff were lovely, meals were great and were the best we have eaten in our two weeks in Africa, thoroughly enjoyed our whole stay as every day held something a little different.”
“Following a big lion into camp was great, cheetah feeding and Phinley’s knowledge was wonderful.”
The guides in camp for this month were: BB, Anthony, Phinely, Gordon, Luke and Ebs.
Newsletter by: T.L Moalosi