For those of you who have traveled with me before, I sincerely hope that you enjoyed seeing our little bit of Africa at a very different time of year—the Mombo and DumaTau brought back some happy memories and, of course, created new ones. The lush landscapes, the flowers, the beautiful cumulonimbus clouds contributing to some stunning sunsets, and the baby animals were all differences from a trip in the dry season.
This trip wasn’t purely a natural history trip and I hope that you enjoyed meeting the Nama people with their wonderful “click” language, the beautiful Himba who are able to survive in unbelievably harsh conditions, and of course the happy smiling faces of the Kunda people of Mfuwe in Zambia.
The Setswana people are always wonderfully friendly and it was great getting to know the various guides that we had throughout the trip: Aloysius, Francois, Harry, Steve, Roi, Leon, OB, Ollie, Malinga, Silas, Lazzie, Ron and Moses. It is always interesting to learn more about their different cultures and to get even just a slightly better understanding of what life is like in the deep rural areas of Africa.
Of course the wildlife played its part too and we were unbelievably lucky to see some of the animals that we saw, including:
- Bumping into a black rhino on the very first afternoon at Rhino Camp and then going on to see no less than four more black rhino during the trip—the average on this trip is usually one!
- Seeing a cheetah at Ongava. This is the first time that I have seen a cheetah at Ongava in all the years that I have being going there. And then, to top it all off, it goes and kills a springbok right in front of our eyes!
- The excitement of tracking down and then finding the young male leopard at Vumbura by following up on impala alarm calls. And then following the leopard for the rest of the afternoon as it stalked the impala and then posed for us in various positions in the trees!
- Some of you saw a black and a white rhino standing side-by-side at Mombo. And then we had those boring times sitting watching the sleeping lions of Mombo, although I think some people amazingly managed to get pictures of lions actually standing up!
Of course, I am sure that the animal highlight of the trip for everyone was the amazing show put on by the wilddogs, hyaena, leopard, impala, and warthogs on our last night at DumaTau. Seeing interactions like this is what makes these trips so fascinating to me.The mammals on this trip totaled 47 species and we saw most species at Ongava and Mombo, a total of 23 species at each place.
You all saw an amazing array of colorful birds, including lilac-breasted rollers; seven species of hornbills; seven species of bee-eaters, including the spectacular carmines who so cleverly caught insects flushed up by our car; martial and bateleur eagles. Plus, we encountered glossy blue starlings, oxpeckers, kingfishers, ducks, herons, storks, shrikes, and bustards. All-in-all, we saw a total of 270 species of birds. (In the dry season we usually end up seeing just about 200.)
Excerpts from the Welcome Home Letter written by Expedition Leader Lex Hes from our February 2010 Back to Africa expedition.