Climate and Landscape
Here in Botswana, it is considered to be a good rain year if the first showers arrive around Independence Day, celebrated on the 30th September. The rain made its first appearance at Tubu in October, showing great promise for the rainy season that lies ahead. There were a couple of evenings where a strong wind blew, threatening to bring buckets of rain, yet only providing us with just enough drops to get that fresh rain feeling, settle the dust and cool down the earth.
Other than the rain showing its face a couple of times throughout this month, it was very hot. Reaching 40° Celsius was not a rare occurrence in October, meaning that our pool was extremely popular.
The water levels in the Delta dropped consistently throughout the month and the warm African sun speeded up the process through evaporation. However, we can still provide our guests with a unique mokoro experience, an amazing experience as the animals are drawn to the small amount of water left around Hunda Island.
Our resident pride of lions was particularly photogenic in October. The five lion cubs are almost fully grown and will not be called cubs for much longer. Just like typical teenagers, they still moan constantly and are dependent on their mothers for food (with their mothers happy to oblige, providing them with a large kudu bull dinner this month), lazing about in the shade and teasing each other.
One of the lionesses must have been fed up with the cubs’ juvenile behaviour and was seen wandering alone. The guide who spotted her radioed his colleagues her whereabouts in the hope that the other guides and guests would see her as well. This was particularly good news for one of the other guides as he realised that they were in that exact location on a drinks stop. They quickly jumped onto their vehicle as they saw the lioness walk towards them and casually sniff the cooler boxes and snacks that were still left on the ground. A very personal and extraordinary sighting for our Tubu guests!
The leopards appear to have overcome their shyness and were sighted a fair number of times this month. Two of the larger males were seen in the long grass on Hunda Island. The two males appeared to be quite sour towards each other after a territorial fight, and have decided to head out in different directions to keep the peace. Our camp female was spotted hanging around with one of the males, raising our hopes that we might be seeing some cubs in the coming year.
The low water levels provided the elephants with the perfect opportunity to enjoy some ‘spa days.’ They were seen taking quite a few mud baths to cool down and almost certainly their skin is looking younger than ever. They even came to show off their great complexions on the floodplain in front of camp, emerging from the bushes next to Tent 11 and making their way along the edge of the camp, all the way to Little Tubu.
It was a particularly special wildlife month at Tubu as wild dogs were sighted right in front of camp on the floodplain, not to mention a lone hyaena making its way past the main area at breakfast on the last day of the month, completely ignoring the impala and zebra that were grazing in the distance.
Birds and Birding
We were happy to note that the broad-billed rollers are back in the area, thereby marking the official start to summer in Botswana.
African green pigeons were sighted regularly this month, with guests very excited to see these birds, especially around cocktail hour at our tree-bar.
Mokoro activities always offer a great opportunity for guests to enjoy beautiful sightings of birds interacting with the water, feeding on fish and bathing.
Other birding highlights this month were black egrets, pied and malachite kingfishers, reed cormorants and African jacanas. The openbill storks and great egrets (also known as the great white heron) are also regularly seen around the water’s edge, making for beautiful photographs.
The ostrich family was looking happy with 12 fluffy chicks trying to keep up with their long-legged parents. One group of guests saw the adult ostriches crossing the water, giving the chicks no choice but to follow behind. This is the first time that our very experienced guide has seen ostriches swimming. It was obviously very exciting for our guests as well.
The presence of a bateleur eagle never goes unnoticed and we were delighted to see one gliding and gracefully rocking, looking for a hapless snake to become his lunch.
Southern carmine bee-eaters as well as blue-cheeked bee-eaters have also been swooping through the area of late, while a Bradfield’s hornbill was spotted perched up in the tree next to the waiting area at the airstrip, a last minute gift for our departing guests.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Jared Zeelie, Philile Hlongwe, Sharon Nyamangara, Ndiwo “Shabba” Masesane, Pierre Cronje, Andriana Botes, Marius Neuhoff, Mompoloki “Lookie” Saakane, Charity Mpotokwane
Guides: Radipitse Onalethata, Kesentse “Kaizer” Rams, Phenyo Lebakeng, Kambango “Delta” Sinimbo, Kelebeng “Steve” Mahupe