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The year in retrospect and what to look forward to.



It’s already February and seems we have only just had New Year but I am sure we all say this each year, time does just keep marching on. But anyway I wish you all the very best for a great year ahead full of fun adventure and hopefully African safaris. Last year was a very eventful one for me as I think I covered more of Africa then I have ever done before and I thank all those that made this possible most especially the guests I was with and my support team especially Stacey who kept all the wheels moving behind the scenes. I would also like to thank all the various camp staff, transfer companies and guides that I worked with over this year who also helped me deliver a quality safari experience to my guests and added to my knowledge of these areas and also some of the back story in the countries we visited that you often don’t read about with the candid discussions we had.


Where we went

During the year I had safaris in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Chad, Zambia, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Gabon all of which were very different from one another and kept me thinking and pulling up information from the depths of my brain when seeing some of the fascinating little and large creatures. I am so privileged to be able to see and experience what I do and importantly keep meeting great people and learning more about this incredible continent.

I have been trying to think back on some of the highlights of the year and its difficult to pick specifics as there were many but here are a few but certainly not limited to this.




Some Safari Highlights from 2023

The Lioness versus The Wildebeest in Hwange – This was a test of patience for both us and the lioness who stalked a lone Wildebeest bull for almost 2 hours. She was waiting for the wildebeest, who suspected something was up, to lose focus and walk away from the waterhole. From that point it did not take long for her to get the advantage and be right on it and the wildebeest only realised at the last minute but it was too late and the lioness won that battle. Then after hiding the kill she walked off and returned with 3 very young cubs who really did not know what to do with this meal, they were that young that it could have even been one of their very early experiences with a dead animal. Incredible to watch all of this from beginning to end.



The Quelea Flocks in Zakouma – During my safaris there we did battle to find where the incredible flocks of quelea that come into drink during the early morning and late afternoon at their usual spots, we had found some large flocks but not as big as I know they can get to, so after some discussion with my Zakouma guide we decided to try an area with no roads nearby so it did require a lot of bouncing through dried mud flats pock marked with elephant and buffalo tracks to get there but we hit the jackpot and found the place. An incredible spectacle and certainly some of the biggest flocks I had ever seen in Zakouma, I know where to go now!

Black Leopard in Laikipia – This melanistic leopard called “Giza” has become very famous in safari circles of late and I can assure you when you see her up close it is very easy to see why. This young leopard is turning into a real movie star for good reason – I have had two safaris to that area in Lakipia and seeing her has always been a key highlight, we even had her right next to us grab a Dik Dik nonchalantly after a very short stalk and walk often into the darkness blending in beautifully to the black night. Leopards are hard enough to see but a black one in the dark is really holding all the cards.



Rhino De-horning in Selati Reserve – being involved and on the front line of a very important project like Rhino de-horning is incredible. My guests had helped pay for the project at the Selati Reserve so they were right there holding tails, taking temperatures, pulling biopsies and even administering the reversal drugs. It is an incredibly exciting way to spend a day on safari and you get to really pat yourself on the back as having contributed to the survival of these keystone species that is under massive threat. We managed to de horn 5 Rhino in the day and replace a tracking research collar on a young buffalo as well. A job well done and gives you a whole new viewpoint of what happens behind the scenes in these conservation areas around Africa.



Leopard Cubs in Lower Zambezi National Park – For those that have been on safari with me before you will know that it is one of my bogey sightings is to try and find very young leopard cubs. I have seen leopard cubs before when they are probably at about 6months old and starting to venture around with Mum. But little cubs stashed away is my snag, no doubt I have driven past them many times but on this occasion we managed to find two tiny little cubs stashed under a fallen in tree on a dry riverbed in Lower Zambezi, we saw mum first who walked away when we arrived and maybe trying to divert our attention but then a chance glance in a different direction showed these two little cubs. A wonderful sighting and great to watch the little guys explore their tree trunk, a very memorable morning for me and my guests.



Cheetah Mum with Seven cubs in the Okavango Delta – The Southeastern side of the Delta is my favorite area of this vast wilderness and this particular safari did not disappoint, at one point we had seen more cheetahs than lions which is very unusual for these big cats. One of those sightings was an amazing Mum with her seven cubs, Cheetah are potentially able to produce 8 cubs at a time, but this is rarely seen even 7 cubs is exceptional and may well have started out as 8 cubs. Being able to sit right there with them and watch the little guys who were very mobile playing and cavorting around all looking very healthy and every now and again come over to mum and jump on her and give her a cuddle before playing again was fantastic and certainly the most cheetah I had ever seen in one space before.



Watching Leather back Turtles laying Eggs on the beaches of Gabon – Having lived all my life inland and spending very little time on the beaches of Africa, having an experience like this was really a “pinch-me” moment. These massive turtles which come ashore to nest every year on the same beaches is an amazing story in itself, but being right there and being flicked by sand while the expectant mum precisely digs her hole and then covers it all up before heading back out to sea is extraordinary and well worth getting up in the middle of the night to watch.



There are many more highlights as I keep thinking about it which will have to wait for around the campfire under a starry African sky. Have a wonderful year ahead and I hope to meet or re-meet up with you again on safari in Africa.


What to look forward to in 2024

I have already been on 2 safaris this year into Tanzania and Botswana so I have some top sightings in my mind and camera already but through the rest of the year we will be going to Chad, Botswana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and a new first for me Cambodia and Borneo!! So watch this space and see and hear about what we did and I look forward to meeting new people and spending time on safari with friends from previous safaris.





From The Campfire 

We have been busy working on a few new safari ideas to add to our extensive menu of safari options, so if you are looking for safari inspiration and possibly being able to explore areas that you have heard about just let us know. Here are a couple of safaris ideas we have lined up - Combining Southern Ethiopia along the Omo River with Zakouma Nat Park in Chad - A combination of Pongara and Loango National Parks In Gabon - The East and South of Madagascar - The Niassa Reserve and Gorongosa National Parks in Mozambique - A combination of Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe with Gorongosa and Maputo Reserves in Mozambique. - All of these are not your regular safaris and will be great adventures.


So until our next newsletter - keep safe and well and we look forward to hearing from you on any safari plans you may have.

Doug







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