Sept 4-19 2019 Botswana, South Africa & Zambia Tour



  • edited September 2019

    cathyandsteve, 8:49PM, The elephant came to eat the palm tree next to our tent. I literally could have reached out and touched him. He was aware of us but completely uninterested.

    If its ears were out and not flapping (ear flapping is a cooling technique) it was not "completely uninterested"!!! :o

    When an elephant puts its ears out like "your friend" there, it means they are wary or even annoyed. According to our guide and one internet source, "The time to be wary is when an elephant turns and faces you head on, with its ears extended and held out at its sides (normally with its head held high and trunk and tusks raised). The elephant is trying to make itself look bigger and intimidate you." We saw that a couple of times when our vehicles got too close. Ears out is sometimes combined with trumpeting- we saw that too!. Another source said, "A young elephant in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique threatens Poole’s vehicle, from which she is observing him. He spreads his ears in an exaggerated way to intimidate her. Typically in such an aggressive stance, an elephant will hold its head well above its shoulders and, with tusks lifted, direct its gaze at its adversary."

    Since your elephant hadn't raised its head, it may have only been mildly annoyed and wasn't being too aggressive.

    For example, here is a photo I took when an elephant wandered into the Khwai River Camp and noticed me:

  • edited September 2019

    I'm just saying- while they often appear docile and friendly, unlike the elephants at Mikuni, this one was wild so should have been treated with respect and caution, especially since it was so close and already exhibiting typical annoyed and aggressive body language (I'm not making this stuff up. Google "elephant body language") Obviously it wanted to eat the palm leaves more than it was concerned about your presence. But make no mistake, it WAS NOT happy that you were there! It can be dangerous to try to read its mind, instead read its body language!

    Fantastic photo though!

  • My comment was also one of concern. At the same camp there was an elephant right by our tent when we were returning after dinner one night. We walked back to the main area and a couple of the guides had us wait while they tried to get him away. At Camp Kalahari, a huge male elephant was foraging right at the bottom of the steps of a single female member of our group. There was nothing anyone could do until he decided to move away which took several hours. She was marooned in the tent all that time. We have been in several dodgy encounters with elephants on game drives. One was by a Marula tree, elephants love marula fruit, they were eating the fallen ones. So they were somewhat fermented. The elephant was clearly drunk and objected strongly to our presence and we had to hightail out of there.
    We spend probably hundreds of hours watching wildlife documentaries and are familiar with the behaviors of many animals now and Alan is correct. I’ve also read ‘The Elephant Whisperer’ this year and it’s made me really wary of them. I am sure the camp people warned us to keep away from them. At The Royal Livingstone, the same year we stayed there, a Tauck guest was very badly injured by a giraffe that they got too near to. These are wild animals.

  • edited September 2019

    As usual, I have something to say
    Luggage. Tauck asks that your bag weigh no more than 44lbs, not least because it’s in consideration of the people they employ who have to lug our bags around. I have never ever even needed to take a bag weighing more than that anywhere I have been, dressy or not and I do take tons of clothes with me.
    I can’t remember specifically about the Botswana tour because now you are confusing me, but certainly on the K and T even the one we are about to take, the duffels MUST weigh no more than 33 lbs, this if for safety on the small planes
    I can only give you my experience on five tours to Africa, hardly anybody dressed up on the tours we were on.

    Hats are up to you. They are not mandatory or a fashion statement, they are suggested to protect your skin from the harsh equatorial sun. Every morning winter or summer but especially summer, I wear a wide brimmed hat to protect myself when I take my walk, my husband always wears a hat too. . I guess that’s why we stay looking so young. 😀😀😀I’ve known people literally keel over with shock when my husband in particular tells people how old his children are.
    Liquids on the flights... I don’t remember saying anything about liquid restrictions. I have travelled to several countries where there are still no restrictions on liquids, not just in African small plane situations. The only bigger liquids we tend to take are unsurprisingly sunscreen at times, rather than several smaller containers, and I now prefer a certain hair conditioner and take a bottle a little bigger than 100 mls and anyway some places don’t provide conditioner.
    I’m sorry if I was one of the people who misled you, it was not my intention.

  • Do you want to organize my photos- still not done from May! :D Actually, I did have about 15 printed on canvas, but haven't hung them yet.

    It sounds like it was a wonderful trip and learning experience.

    I'd just like to add a few comments about clothes. It is hard to predict what others in your group will wear, but the best guidance is to know the environment and climate and choose clothes that you will be comfortable wearing and that includes social comfort. We are very casual dressers- not the country club set, so wear what we wear and others be damned. Unless yo plan future trips together, you'll likely never see your fellow travelers again. We chose a mix of earth toned safari clothes because of the dust and dirt and cooling properties of the fabric, not to look like Bwana and Jane. I was a Naval Officer for close to 30 years and often had to wear a(n uncomfortable) hat- I hate to wear hats, even ball caps- never, ever wore or will wear one of those (don't ask me how I feel about people wearing ball caps in restaurants!). But, since the grass on my roof is getting very thin and the African sun is intense, especially at the higher altitudes in the Serengeti and Mara where the air is thin and clear, I took and wore a hat. (I did so at Disney the past July too) I have fair skin, so went with the typical Tilley with wide brim because I also wanted to protect my face and neck. As you discovered, it is all about what you are comfortable wearing. Oh, and I almost NEVER wear shoes with open toes- you really don't want to see my toes! :o One more comment about safari clothes- you will likely take multiple Africa trips and maybe a Peru & Galapagos tour where safari clothes also work well,so they are not a one-time deal. We don't have real winters in NC and don't ski, so are carefully considering what clothes we will need to buy for our upcoming Yellowstone in Winter trip. We might even check out what winter clothes are available at the various thrift shops! :D

    So where to next?

  • Hey cathyandsteve - I was just checking our spam filter, and it looks like a couple of your posts had accidentally gotten flagged as spam by the system. This was the computer doing it, not anyone in the forums. I unflagged them, which is why more photos just appeared up above. If you don't want them in the thread now, please feel free to delete. :)


  • edited November 2019

    Cathysteve Nice photos. Thanks for posting.

  • Great pictures Cathy and thanks for your review. It's always terrific when Tauck travelers share their experiences to help others prepare for their adventures. I believe we will be getting off the Voyager in Auckland when you get on, Bon Voyage!

  • Awesome pictures! Africa is so incredible. Thanks for sharing.

  • edited June 2020
  • cathyandsteve Your recap of Eagle Island and the One & Only in Cape Town brought back a flood of memories. I remember all the places your mentioned including the Cape Wheel. Yes the Botswana, Zambia and South Africa Safari was memorable and an over the top experience.

    You mentioned having lunch on the One and Only patio…. fish and chips and wine. It reminded me of the best wine tasting I have ever experienced which was at the One and Only on our last afternoon prior to the farewell reception and dinner. What was very unusual is that I was the only person at the wine tasting. When I arrived at the restaurant the maitre d greeted me by name as I walked in and escorted me to a private table for one preset for a formal wine tasting with multiple wine glasses and a place setting for assorted appetizers and introduced me to the sommelier. I questioned the maitre d why the table of one and he indicated that their scheduled wine tastings are set based on the number of hotel guests who request reservations. The sommelier proceeded with his welcome comments and explained that I would be testing 4 wines and paired appetizers. He then set 4 bottles of wine on the table and a waiter served 4 appetizers, he spoke about each wine and the suggested appetizer. For one hour I enjoyed sampling 4 South Africa wines. When the tasting was done the maitre d thanked me for coming and noted that our Tauck dinner reservations were at 7:00 PM that evening. When I returned for dinner the sommelier came over to the table with the 4 remaining open bottles to share with those seated at the table. The One and Only was a terrific hotel, the best rooms and with classic service for all of its guests.

  • cahtyandsteve - Wonder what kind of camera/lens you used? Also, how far were you from that hyena closeup pic in the 2:42 post and the leopard closeup in the 2:21 post? Again, great pics!

  • Fantastic shots! How much post processing do you typically do?

    Did you know what this is and how you can tell? :D

  • Wonderful photos Cathy. On our most recent trip to Africa, Gorilla trekking, our cameras were the most sophisticating in the group and they are just simple SLR ones. Most had cell phones. On our most recent wildlife tour, Borneo, again we were the only ones with what I call real cameras. A couple had cell phones and the others took no photos. They were all Experienced world Travelers. We love to document that kind of travel though obviously not as seriously as you. When we go to Europe, we don’t often make photo books from those trips, to us it is just Europe. We did take photos in Iceland and made a book. We generally buy colorful guidebooks to document the trips otherwise and keep the Tauck booklets for future reference. Tauck did not always send those booklets, it was just a lot of loose paperwork. I know some people make notes in the booklets, time spent at destinations and food they ate, I’m not that disciplined but grateful to those that are here on the forum if I want to learn more info for a tour.

  • Lovely pictures! I cannot wait!

  • cathyandsteve
    7:02PM edited 7:22PM

    No I do not recognize your photo.

    Well, as you can see it is an African elephant but there is something special about this fellow. :D

  • I am an avid Amateur Photographer and have always used a DSLR camera and I enjoy the entire process of using such a camera including which settings to use and all aspects that would affect the outcome of the finished image including post processing. In addition, I always shoot in RAW format because I want to capture all the image data recorded by the camera sensor versus using a JPG compressed file that automatically applies a number of tweaks to the image to save space. It is a hobby for me and I enjoy it very much. I do have to say that I attended a local exhibition a couple of years ago where a professional photographer had taken several images which were displayed with a minimum size of 16 x 20 and some even larger. Some images were taken with an DSLR and others with an I-Phone. I couldn't tell the difference from afar. Cell phones have become so advanced in recent years that it makes for a good case to ditch your heavy SLR and multitude of lenses for an easy to use, light weight alternative. I understand why it is so popular these days. On a Photographic Trip to Cuba in 2016, we had many tour members who strictly used their cell phones and I was amazed at the quality of the images. I have used both my DSLR and Cell Phone to take images during my travels, but I mostly use my cell phone to take videos which are exceptional. In come cases, my cell phones images contained some of my favorite shots, especially inside buildings where I would have to fiddle too much with the DSLR settings in order to admit enough light for a well exposed shot. A cell phone is a much better choice for a quick grab shot. Regardless, I think the most important point is that it is not the type of equipment you use to capture an image, it is the skill of the photographer to utilize the basic skills of photography including composition and light.

  • cathyandsteve
    Can someone tell me the name of this animal....I have forgotten.

    Looks like a Gazelle.

  • More specifically, perhaps an Orix Gazelle.

  • edited August 2020

    It looks like an Oryx but the wrong color. I think there is another one that looks very like it but I just can’t remember the name. Where did you take the picture, that might help with identification

  • Maybe a Defassa Waterbuck?

  • A Grant’s Gazelle is the largest of the gazelles.

  • edited August 2020

    The facial marking is different, so I don’t think it is a color variation of an Oryx. I really do remembered seeing a nature show with something that looked very similarly to an oryx but can’t even think of how to google it. It’s not any of the other suggestions And it’s not a Bongo either. I’ll keep looking for a bit longer, I’ve only had one glass of wine.

  • edited August 2020

    It’s definitely a Sable Antelope. I, trying to cut and paste a photograph

    Sable Antelope
    Male Sable Antelope or Matsetsi (Hippotragus niger niger)
    Male Sable Antelope or Matsetsi (Hippotragus niger niger)
    Female Sable Antelopes or Matsetsi (Hippotragus niger niger)
    Female Sable Antelopes or Matsetsi (Hippotragus niger niger)
    The Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger) inhabits wooded savannah in East Africa south of Kenya, and in Southern Africa. Bulls are black and cows are mainly brown but occasionally black. They have vertical white lines on the face, white stomach, white inner thighs and buttocks. Both sexes have horns. These large antelope have a shoulder height of (135 cm) and an average weight of 510 lb (230 kg). Hippotragus niger niger, the southern sable or black sable (also known as the Matsetsi, south-Zambian and common sable) is regarded as the “typical” sable, as it was the first to be described and named in 1838. Often referred to as the black sable because it tends to have the darkest coat, this subspecies occurs south of the Zambezi River, particularly in northern Botswana and in large numbers in the Matsetsi valley of Zimbabwe, but is also found in South Africa. In South Africa, most of the commercial sable farmers crossed their Matsetsi sables (indigenous to South Africa) with western Zambian sables in the hope to move nearer to the nearly extinct giant sable (that was larger with bigger horns). Currently, only about 15% pure Matsetsi sables are thought to exist in South Africa. The Matsetsi sable population in Zimbabwe is only 450 (down from 24,000 in 1994). The sable population in South Africa is about 7,000 (commercial and in reserves). Therefore, the Matsetsi sable population apparently is less than 1,500 and declining. Fortunately, most of the sables in the reserves are pure Matsetsi sables. I saw these in South Africa on a private reserve which makes a profit selling Sable antelope for $8000 per animal.

  • I think the angle of your photo makes the horns look straighter than they actually are. You know, I may have seen some in the wild now I think about it. Unlike you, I find it hard trolling through all my photos the way you have to do it here. I find them on my iPad and then lose them on tje thumbnail you have to do to add photos

  • edited September 2020

    That looks like a retirement flight with the AA and the water cannon ... been there, done that, on my last flight to LAX. Ours was on a centerfield taxiway shortly after landing. I warned the people about it so they would not think we were on fire and try to evacuate. Everyone seemed to get a kick out of it. It was really quite touching ... each controller we had going into LA had a few words and a nice ‘goodbye’. I don’t know how they set that up. It just occurred to me, that since it looks like the airplane is outbound, that might have been a retirement ‘washdown’ for the MD-80 aircraft.

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