A Botswana Family Safari!

Botswana’s rand-new safari destination DumaTau’s extensive lagoon frontage ensures that each ultra-spacious 142 m2 guest suite has uninterrupted views over Osprey Lagoon, and the movements of the mega-herds of elephant the Linyanti is so famous for.

All seven guest suites and one family suite have a private plunge pool and a comfortable lounge, and feature a large bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers. The main dining and lounge area boasts its own wide-angle vistas overlooking the wildlife-rich lagoon, while the Osprey Retreat consists of a wellness center and gym – shared with Little DumaTau – includes an inviting shaded deck, a lap pool, spa, snack deli and safari trading store. DumaTau runs on 100% solar energy and was built with family in mind! From the newly renovated family suite to the perfect pool side setting for relaxing and talking about the exciting days activities, we highly recommend this amazing safari destination for your next Botswana family adventure!

DumaTau is located close to the source of the Savute Channel, with access to the Linyanti Swamps, floodplains and mopane woodlands, thus offering an excellent combination of habitats. Well known for its elephant concentrations as they congregate along the waterways and lagoons during the dry winter months, the area is also renowned for general wildlife including red lechwe, Burchell’s zebra, giraffe, buffalo and warthog. Predator sightings of lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog and spotted hyaena are good.

 

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A True Desert Experience – Little Kulala

While all the new additions and furnishings at Little Kulala, a Namibia safari destination, are beautiful to see, perhaps the most exciting additions are the amazing experiences and adventures during your stay at Sossusvlei. Head out each day to explore via e-bike, hike the dunes, discover canyons and the amazing Dead Vlei and so much more! And for those that would just like a day in or those looking for a reprieve from the day’s activities, a luxury spa awaits you. Read on to discover more about the amazing desert life in the area and let’s start planning your Namibia desert safari adventure!

 

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But for those guests who are looking for excitement, as well as the opportunity to learn something new, the Living Desert Experience has it all, exploring what appears to be an almost desolate area, yet is anything but! Every inch of the Kulala Wilderness Reserve and the Namib Desert is teeming with life just waiting to be discovered, and our talented guides cannot wait to share their knowledge with you.

Wilderness Safaris MD Alexandra Margull explains: “Since forming around five million years ago, the Namib’s fauna and flora has evolved to survive in striking ways, developing fascinating traits along the way. It was therefore important for us to plan activities that would reveal this to our guests: from desert-adapted species to the smaller creatures that are not as easy to spot”.

 

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The most captivating feature of the Namib Desert is its mysteriousness; from a distance it appears static, but those curious enough to take a closer look will know just how much there is to uncover.

One such curious soul is talented guide and photographer – Chantelle Bosch – who offers a preview into the power of small things, and the brilliant nuggets of information you can glean during this fascinating activity.

 

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The sidewinder snake (Bitis peringueyi) pictured here displays the behavior that gives it its name. These snakes can climb the side of soft dunes by slithering “sideways”, advancing in what appear to be steps. They are also able to move over very hot sand as less than half of their body is touching the sand at any one time. When they are cold, they move straight, like a puff adder.

 

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The Namib dune cricket (Comicus sp.) has very unique feet, allowing it to dig into soft sand very quickly, and providing good traction when moving over soft sand. Their antennae reach up to three to four times the length of their bodies.

 

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One of the many commonly called dancing white lady spiders, which belong to the huntsman family Sparrasidae. They communicate through the quartz dune sand by drumming their feet on the sand, and sensing vibrations.

 

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he dune lark is our only true endemic bird, and watching them looking for beetle larvae, termites, spiders and other insects is very entertaining

 

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Barking geckos call at night, and are more often heard than seen. They usually retreat into their burrows when they sense movement in their vicinity.

 

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Namib dune ants are very social, and collect honeydew from the various scale insects that live in the grass. They spray formic acid from their abdomens when threatened.

 

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The shovel-snouted lizard (Meroles anchiete) will dive into soft sand when threatened. If they cannot dive, they will run away remarkably quickly. These unusual lizards cool their feet on hot sand by preforming a thermal “dance” – lifting alternate feet (front left and back right / back left and front right) cooling two feet for a few seconds at a time before switching.

 

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One of the many commonly called “tok-tokkies” (Tenebrionidae) is the Onymachris plana – this one is also the fastest beetle in the world. They simply walk into the soft sand if it gets too hot, or if they need shelter.

 

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The ridged seed beetle (Stips stali) is very flat and aerodynamically shaped, which allows it to walk around in very strong wind without being blown away

 

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The palmato gecko (Pachydactylus rangei) or web-footed gecko is strictly nocturnal. With its very thin skin it is highly susceptible to UV rays. Its webbed feet give it a huge advantage when digging into the sand, as well as great traction when running over the sand hunting for silverfish, crickets, beetle larvae, spiders and other softer insects which make up its diet.

 

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The burrowing scorpion (Opistophthalmus flavescence) is active at night. This scorpion is very hairy, and each hair acts as a sensor to help it find its prey – which consists of anything it can grab with its incredibly powerful pincers, including other scorpions!

 

 


Conservation Through Photography!

Three years and thousands of images later, Angama Mara Safari Lodge’s Alison Mitchell unveils some of the exciting changes that have been rolled out for The Greatest Maasai Mara Safari Photographer of the Year.

 

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It feels like it was just the other day when after much dreaming, scheming, planning and excitement, we launched The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year. I clearly remember the 1st of January 2018 when we celebrated our very first entry and waited with anticipation for more.

 

At first, they trickled in, but it wasn’t long before the entries became a frequent delight in our inboxes. It has been a joy to watch this initiative gain momentum and to see the community of Mara-loving photographers and appreciators show their support by entering the competition, engaging with us and each other through our social media channels and by sharing the incredible photographs and stories with their own communities.

 

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The very first entry (2018) – “Sundowner Rumble” by Abhilash Kar

 

It’s fair to say that this is no longer a “new initiative”; we’re well past the toddler phase now, but we always said that after three years, we’d take stock of where things were at and what we could do better. And so, in the early days of 2021 we did just that and decided to make some changes that we hoped would be well received and assist us in taking the competition to the next level.

 

The first change was to increase the number of annual finalists from 10 to 50 (5 each month) thereby giving more photographers the recognition they deserve as well as the opportunity to win. And what a wonderful collection of finalists we already have for 2021 – 15 spots filled and 35 still to come…

 

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2021 Finalists Clockwise from Top Left: “Under Mother’s Umbrella” by Brahmanand Kori; “Fly Bee” by Nick Dale;
“Feline hug between father and son” by Philippe Henry de Frahan; “Kissed by Mum” by Thorsten Hanewald; “The Descent” by Andrew Liu.

 

Another change we made was to migration entries. Without wanting to decide on a particular headcount of wildebeest or zebra that constituted a “migratory herd” and with the unpredictability of these herds coming and going during many months of the year, we decided that only crossing shots would be restricted to the months of June through October.

 

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Competition judges Kathy Moran, Paula Kahumbu and Charlie Hamilton James

 

On the judging side, we welcomed three new professionals to the team. Hailing from the USA, Kathy Moran is National Geographic magazine’s Deputy Director of Photography and the magazine’s first senior editor for natural history projects; Kenya’s own Paula Kahumbu is one of Africa’s best known wildlife conservationists and CEO of WildlifeDirect; and from the UK, Charlie Hamilton James is a photographer, television cameraman and presenter specialising in issues pertaining to conservation, natural history and anthropology. Together with long timers Federico Veronesi and Adam Bannister, we are humbled to have such an incredible panel of expertise. We wish them well with the very difficult task that lies ahead of choosing the monthly finalists and, of course, the grand winner later this year.

 

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2021 Finalists Clockwise from Top Left: “Flying Tano Bora” by Sarah Salvato; “Knight” by Sankhesh Dedhia;
“Aggressive Celebration” by Mohammad Murad; “The Murderous Pharaoh” by Aditya Nair.

 

And finally, we wish to once again thank the incredible community that continues to support this competition – the old names that we have seen entering for a number of years now. You have all played an invaluable part in raising over US$120,000 for our six hard working conservation partners that continue to care for the reserve which has captured so many of our hearts. With your support we hope to reach this number many times over in the future.

 

About: Alison Mitchell

Ali is a key member of the Angama Mara team. If you ask her what she does she might take a minute to answer but it would probably be something along these lines: ‘on Mondays I market, on Tuesdays I work on the website, on Wednesdays I project manage, on Thursdays I place orders and on Fridays I plan for the safari shop at the lodge’. And on Saturdays and Sundays she writes blog posts.


Kapama’s Impalas

If you have ever been on an African safari or seen a wildlife video, you will often see the common impala featured in some shape or form. These antelope are often overlooked as they are so plentiful.

Here, however, are a few interesting facts to show just how interesting and vital they truly are in the circle of life.

 

Breeding Behavior

Impalas go into a breeding stage every year. It is an important survival technique. Impalas only give birth to a single lamb at a time. Gestation is just short of about six months. Males fight for dominance over a group of females every year. They fight from May to June for dominance and give birth in November or December. The males are territorial. While the females do not hold territories, males will only hold territories during the mating season.

After giving birth, the lamb can walk 30 minutes after being born. After only two days, they can already run as fast as their mother.

 

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Distribution & Feeding

They are found almost everywhere in Africa except for a few deserts. Males and females do not look the same. Males are a little bigger and have horns that he uses for fighting other males. They feed on grass, fruits, leaves and a lot of other vegetation.

 

Escaping Predators

They have glands on their hind legs known as metatarsal glands. This gland is said to release a scent when the impala is frightened and escaping danger. The scent can be followed by other individuals so that they can all find each other. Their survival technique is to breed every year to keep the numbers high. They can run relatively fast, about 80km an hour. The main predator of an impala is a leopard even though almost anything can prey on them. It includes things such as snakes, owls and lions.

 

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Size & Appearance

Impalas are medium-sized antelope. People like to call the impala the fast food of the bush because they are really fast and have a “M” on their rumps which could be compared to the McDonald’s logo. Their color pattern is known as “contour coloration”. This means their coat is darker on the top and lighter at the bottom.

 

 

Safety in Numbers

A group of impala is known as a herd. Herds can reach very high numbers of up to 100 impalas. At night they will find an open place to rest for a clear view of where potential predators may emerge.

 

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Impalas play crucial roles in the ecosystem because they provide an adequate sized meal for almost all predators. Without impala, the bush would be a completely different place with very few predators. They are under-appreciated by people. As you now know a little about impalas, next time you see one, I hope you will stop and admire it for a little longer.

 

 

Story by: Southern Camp Carlos Lubisi and photos by Linda Taljaard