Our 2008 Ultimate Botswana expedition was a record-breaker in two ways:
First, we saw a total of 15 different leopards on the trip which more than doubles the previous record of seven. It really wasn’t that long ago that leopards were considered to be the most elusive of the large game animals to see—and to a large extent this is still true. However, there are certain special places where leopards are regularly seen now and Chitabe is one of them. In the past Chitabe was a hunting concession and when I first started visiting in the early 90s, the animals were extremely shy of the vehicles and seldom seen. Now it can be considered one of Africa’s leopard “hotspots,” thanks to the great effort on the part of conservationists and tourism operations which has resulted in the intact survival of this wildlife haven.
Also, as far as I can remember, this was the first time that we have seen the so-called “Big Seven:” lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo, elephant, wilddog and cheetah on one Ultimate Botswana trip. Usually it is one or two rhino, cheetah, or wild dogs which eludes us, but this time we saw the lot and not only saw them but had great quality viewing as well!
A total of 47 mammals were seen, with the greatest variety at Chitabe (34 species). Between myself and the rest of the group we saw over 200 bird species which isn’t too bad for a group that had no really serious birders.
As interesting as these stats are, this is not what it is really all about. The special thing about this trip is that we had sufficient time to spend quality periods of time watching the animals behaving in front of us.
Excerpts from the Welcome Home Letter written by Expedition Leader Lex Hes for our October 2008 Ultimate Botswana expedition.