Climate and Landscape
Mother Nature delivered the perfect gift for us on Christmas Day in the form of a beautiful and heavy rainstorm. We had Christmas lights in the shape of lightning bolts and Christmas carols to the tune of roaring thunder. It was one of a number of storms this past month, each of these storms separated by a couple of days of perfect sunshine.
December has been labelled “baby season” as we see baby-everythings popping up all over Hunda Island. The label took on a whole new meaning this year however, when our guests got to see a wildebeest giving birth right in front of Tent 1. It was an unusual and rare sighting that our guests were lucky (and surprised) to experience.
Even with the low level of water remaining on and around Hunda Island, we still had great hippo sightings! Maybe it is especially because of the small amount of water that we have had these good sightings. They actually don’t really have a lot of options for places where they can wallow but nonetheless, they put on quite a show for our guests whenever they saw them. It might be that they have become bored with each other (as we all do when we have been stuck in a small space with our family). We are, however, not complaining.
It’s always hard to explain to first-time safari-goers that it is extremely unusual to see wild dogs coming to drink some water right next to a bush sundowner setup or to see the dogs hunting impala right in front of camp, especially when this is really what happens. On the other hand, this is Africa and anything can happen.
We saw two grown male lions taking down a decent-sized buffalo between the camp and the airstrip, allowing guests to have a kill sighting before they had even set foot in camp, and starting off their adventure here on a high. These two male lions might have thought that they were sorted for dinner for the next few days, but they were chased off by two bigger, stronger and obviously more experienced males. The former had to give up the buffalo that they had worked so hard for to the newcomers – and the vultures that had gathered on the plains, patiently waiting for their turn on the carcass.
We had a beautiful pride of lionesses with small cubs wander over from our neighbouring island, Jao – confirming again that December is baby season and a gorgeous time of year to visit the Okavango Delta. They were spotted on Hunda Island a couple of times towards the end of the month, to the delight of our guests.
One of the best sightings of buffalo our guests had was while on a helicopter flip over our concession. This allowed them to see the immense size of the buffalo herd that we have here on the island. It was also fascinating to see the amount of crocodiles baking in the late afternoon sun, not at all bothered by the fact that their water is very limited. Somehow they must know that this is not permanent and that the water will be coming back in full spate very soon.
Birds and Birding
Sometimes you don’t have to venture far from camp to see the most beautiful creatures, and we have been seeing malachite kingfishers flitting around our swimming pools, showing off their beautiful colouration in the sunlight. They were often joined by summer migrant woodland kingfishers. The same goes for the black-collared barbets, crested barbets and cardinal woodpeckers who have a ball in the birdbath every afternoon.
It’s always great to have birders in camp, pointing out all the beautiful species that we mere mortals sometimes miss. One of these sightings was of a little bee-eater and blue-cheeked bee-eater seen looking cosy on the same branch. Later in the month we got to see our first southern carmine bee-eaters which only reside here in the summer season.
Our ostrich family is growing up! Even though it is a tough life for these ground-dwelling birds to survive with all the predators on the island, our babies have been doing very well and our bundle of chicks is now a bundle of long-legged teenagers. We get to see this family on a regular basis in front of camp.
Every so often we are lucky enough to see a pearl-spotted owlet around camp, and we definitely were over the past month. The managers here at Tubu all agreed that it might just win the contest of being the cutest little owl on this continent.
Staff in Camp
Guides: Kambango “Delta” Sinimbo, Kelebeng “Steve” Mahupe, Seretse Xaeko, Maipaa Tekanyetso, Kelebogile “KB” Lesotho
Managers: Ndiwo “Shabba” Masesane, Pierre Cronje, Andriana Botes, Marius Neuhoff, Charity Mpotokwane, Leo Camm