Posted by & filed under Bee (Shinde Guide), Safari Stories.

It has been a long time with no sightings of any Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath) around the Shinde private concession. It just so happen that we received guests in camp and their first question to me was “is it possible to see a goliath heron because it’s on the top of my list to see”. On our first game drive we went to Hippo Pool’s area, some time back I had seen a Goliath Heron there but wasn’t feeling so hopeful. I think luck was on my side that day. As we approached the water’s edge I couldn’t believe my eyes. We spotted the sought-after bird!

The Goliath Heron is described as an enormous wading bird which is easily recognised by its size alone, fully grown standing nearly one meter tall and weighing about 5kgs. It is usually a solitary feeder, normally found near to the water. It is identified as the biggest of the heron family Ardeidae.

Posted by & filed under Omphile Kaluluka (Specialist Guide).

Footsteps Camp located in the Shinde concession is home the the Ker & Downey Botswana family safari Young Explorers.

It was siesta time and we were back at Footsteps Camp. The kids and I were just packing out all the equipment to make our own bows and arrows when all of the sudden I heard a commotion coming from behind the tents. Going to investigate I saw impala running through camp. They didn’t give us a second glance as they darted out into the open area a short distance away.

From the bushes came the sound of warthog being attacked. I knew that sound could only mean one thing, sadly the warthogs last day!

We all quickly jumped in the gameviewer, abandoning the bows and arrows and headed towards the source of the noise. Our adrenaline pumped. What a surprise awaited us!

Eight lions feasting on not one but two warthogs. It was a thrilling but gruesome sight with equally gruesome sounds. The pride consisted of two mature lionesses, four sub-adult males and two sub-adult females. Each pride member looked exceptionally healthy. We hung around until the pride had had their fill and finally retreated into the shade of the bushes to sleep off their feast.

Sightings like this are very emotional. I myself still feel a great sadness for the warthog, I know that they have brothers and sisters, a mother and father. But its also important I explain life's balance out here in the wilderness of the Okavango Delta to all my Young Explorers.



 

Posted by & filed under Ras (Kanana Guide), Safari Stories.

It was a beautiful winter’s afternoon when my guests and I left camp for an afternoon game drive. We were enjoying the splendor of the Kanana concession when I heard the alarm call from a worried Kudu. We drove in the direction of the call hoping to to find the culprit causing alarm. Scanning the area in the direction of the Kudu's stares we spotted in the grass perfectly hidden a leopard cub on a fresh impala kill. As we sat and watched, breaths held, lenses focused the cub left the kill, wondering over to join its mother in the thicker grass. The mother slowly revealing herself, moved to the kill and continued feeding whilst we watched on in amazement.

RAS-Kanana-Leopard

It was incredible to see her cover the fresh blood, hiding the scent from other predators. Such majestic and intelligent creatures. The cub followed her lead and helped to cover all trace of the kill. A vital skill the young leopard would need later on in life. Once mum was satisfied with the “clean up”, she dragged the kill to under a nearby Fever Berry Tree.

RAS-Kanana-leopard

The following morning we were up and out by first light, eager to be reunited with the leopard and her cub. We rejoined the pair a short distance from the previous days scene. As they slept off their hearty meal from the safety of a tree branch we were able to get some spectacular photographs. I'm sure these memories will stay with my guests for a very long time to come.

RAS-kanana-leopard

Posted by & filed under Safari Stories.

SHINDE RE-LAUNCHED AFTER RECEIVING AN EXTENSIVE REFURBISHMENT

Ker & Downey Botswana’s ethos is firmly rooted in the classic luxury of African Safari camps in the halcyon days of the early 20th century.

Bathroom ShindeShinde Twin Tent

 

The elegance and historical charm of our iconic Shinde camp has been enhanced by enlarging the classic safari guest tents to incorporate a spacious bathroom with a large walk in shower and luxurious fittings. The larger bedroom with new linen and furniture in tasteful colours provide the perfect retreat. Wide sliding doors leading onto the extended front decks afford breath-taking views over the open floodplains or the mysterious waterways of the Delta.

Room Double ShindeMain Area Walkways Night Shinde

 

 

 

 

 

 

The unique “tree house” main dining room, bar and lounges, while structurally unchanged, has had a complete furniture and fittings makeover, and we have increased the size of the fire-deck/bar.

Shinde Lounge at NightShinde Dining Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back of house is a new kitchen and laundry, and new staff accommodation has been built.

In essence, the Shinde refurbishment reflects our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of excellence and service, so we may afford our guests the highest quality wildlife safari experience.

For more images check out the Shinde Gallery

We hope to see you there soon.
Family Safari Africa Ker Downey Botswana

Posted by & filed under Safari Stories.

"Best Family Safari in Africa" awarded to Ker & Downey Botswana

We are proud to announce that in the recent 2015 Safari Awards held in London, Ker & Downey Botswana properties were nominated and notably in the case of 'Footsteps Across the Delta,' awarded top honours in a variety of categories for Africa and Botswana.

In the 'Africa' category top honours were presented to 'Footsteps Across the Delta' in the following categories:

"Best Ecologically Responsible" (Winner)

"Best Family Safari Experience" (Winner)

Footsteps Across the Delta, a specialized walking safari, also offers the Young Explorers Safari, the ultimate in family safaris in Africa.

Family Safari Africa Ker & Downey BotswanaFamily Safari Africa Ker & Downey Botswana        Eco Safaris Africa Botswana Ker & Downey Botswana


Ker & Downey Botswana would like to thank all those who voted for us and confirm that we will continue to provide the highest value, experiential safari in some of the best game viewing areas in Africa!


 

All the Ker & Downey Botswana properties were prominent in the 'Botswana' category:

"Best Walking Safari" (Winner) – Footsteps Across the Delta

"Best Family Safari Experience" (Winner) – Footsteps Across the Delta/ Young Explorers

"Best Family Safari Experience" (Runner Up) – Okuti

"Best Ecologically Responsible" (Winner) – Footsteps Across the Delta

"Best Ecologically Responsible" (Highly Commended) – Kanana

"Best Community Focused" (Winner) – Shinde

"Best Community Focused" (Highly Commended) – Kanana

"Best Value Safari Property" (Highly Commended) – Kanana

"Best Safari Cuisine" (Highly Commended) – Kanana

"Best Safari Guiding Team" (Highly Commended) – Shinde

"Most Romantic Safari Property" (Runner Up) – Okuti

For more information on Family Safaris in Africa with Ker & Downey Botswana see www.kerdowneybotswana.com

For more information on the Safari Awards  and should you wish to nominate Ker & Downey Botswana for the Africa Safari Awards that are run by the Good Safari Guide for 2016  see www.safariawards.com.

 

 
Glamping Botswana Ker Downey Okuti Moremi Game Reserve

Posted by & filed under Safari Stories.

‘Glamping,’ is a relatively recent travel term, which swept the travel industry and can be defined as ‘glamorous camping.’ In short, glamping encompasses a luxurious to experience the outdoors and wilderness destinations. Camping if you like, minus the baked beans, sleeping bags, having to battle with your tent poles or wonder off into the woods in the early hours with a shovel and toilet roll in hand!

Ironically the concept of glamping is far from new, but rather developed as early as the very first tourists to visit the African continent in the early 20th century. ‘Safari’ is a Swahili word, derived from the Arabic word ‘safariyah,’ meaning a journey, and became used primarily in English as a game-viewing trip to Africa.

The early African safaris were the very embodiment of glamping and the early 20th century arguably saw the peak of the African safari on such epic proportions. Safari was a massive under taking, involving months of planning, pack animals, literally hundreds of porters and a single safari lasted for many months at a time. Every luxury was considered and carried along. Personal butlers were on hand at all times, midday rests were obligatory and dinners very formal affairs involving crystal glasses, champagne and the finest food and of course dress was black tie! All the comforts of home were available despite the often harsh and very remote locations in which the guests found themselves.

Thankfully today a visit to Africa is not as big an undertaking as it was in the 1920’s and doesn’t require a black tie at dinner! Donald Ker and Sydney Downey, two men raised during the height of the colonial safari era, founded ‘Ker & Downey Safaris’ in Kenya in 1946. The traditions of these early safaris remain very much a focus of the company’s identity today, experiencing the unique Botswana wilderness from classical and luxurious camps ‘under canvas.’

Glamping Botswana Ker Downey Okuti Moremi Game ReserveGlamping Botswana Ker Downey Okuti Moremi Game Reserve

Okuti, a Trip Advisor, Certificate of Excellence 2014 winner, is a truly unique safari destination, as it is far more than a simple ‘African safari camp.’ Okuti was designed to allow guests a taste of the rich culture within Botswana, beautifully complimenting the incredible wildlife of the surrounding Moremi Game Reserve and Okavango Delta. Thatch, reeds, raw wood and hand plastered walls all take their inspiration from Botswana’s rural life. The camp is decorated with contrasting images and décor from throughout the country, celebrating the nation’s many faces, from the modern to the rural. The distinctive ‘mosasas’ (house of reeds), are situated along the Moanachira River, and combine artwork and luxurious fittings and furnishings, with the charm of the traditional houses found throughout the country.

Glamping Botswana Ker Downey Okuti Moremi Game ReserveGlamping Botswana Ker Downey Okuti Moremi Game Reserve HoneymoonBath Oku 11288

Okuti offers a blend of spectacular wildlife, vibrant Botswana culture, and classic luxury, all set in the extraordinary Okavango Delta. Glamping, while over 100 years old, seems to be aging well!

For more detailed information see Okuti (http://www.kerdowneybotswana.com/our-camps/okuti/)

For sample itineraries see The Ker & Downey Botswana Safaris (http://www.kerdowneybotswana.com/our-safaris/ker-downey-botswana-safari/)
Family Safari Africa Ker & Downey Botswana

Posted by & filed under Young Explorers.

KER & DOWNEY BOTSWANA FAMILY SAFARIS AND "TRAVEL WITH KIDS"

Ker & Downey Botswana continues to focus on providing an exciting and unique family safari experience. These efforts were acknowledged at the recent Safari Awards in London when first and second place in the “Best Family Safari Experience” were awarded to Footsteps Across the Delta and Okuti respectively for Botswana.

Ker & Downey Botswana family safaris through the ‘Young Explorers’ program have been operating for well over ten years, led by our own very experienced guide and fun loving Omphile Kaluluka. The Young Explorers package is a specially designed safari which offers families the opportunity to discover the wonders of the African wilderness together. One of the special attractions of this safari is its exclusivity.

Recently well-known traveling family, Jeremy, Carrie and their sons Nathan and Seamus, hosts of the very popular TV show ‘Travel With Kids.’ Travel With Kids is a family travel guide show produced by parents for families to get inspired and learn about destinations around the world! Broadcast internationally, and winner of many awards, Travel With Kids explores the fun, excitement, learning and family bonding that comes with adventure travel experiences in exotic and familiar destinations. Together they explored the Ker & Downey Botswana concession experiencing wildlife sightings as one can only find in the Okavango Delta! Have a look at the clip below to give you an insight of what is on its way - the TV show will soon be airing this episode!



Ker & Downey Botswana has always been a forerunner in family safaris. For more information read The Ker & Downey Botswana Family Safari

Ker Downey Botswana Family Safari

Ker & Downey Botswana would like to thank Terry von Guilleaume and DSA Vacations (www.dsavacations.com) for organising this trip.


 


Walking Safari Kanana Ker Downey Botswana

Posted by & filed under Safari Stories.

BIG CAT SIGHTINGS ON FOOT WITH KER & DOWNEY BOTSWANA


I recently had the pleasure of guiding Tim Johnson, a visiting journalist from the Globe & Mail in Canada, on a visit through Ker & Downey Botswana's concession areas within the Okavango Delta. Tim is extremely passionate about Africa's big cats, and wanted to experience as much of the Okavango as possible during his stay. Naturally, the best way to do this is, is to step out of the vehicle and submerge your senses on a walking safari!

We enjoyed several excellent walking safaris  at both 'Footsteps Across the Delta' and 'Shinde,' but by the time we arrived on the final leg of our trip in the Kanana concession, we were yet to see any of the big cats. Kanana is an area best suited to exploration by canoe and on foot being a myriad of crystal clear waterways, dotted with wildlife rich islands.

An early morning excursion, found us heading to a large island in a mokoro (a traditional dug out canoe and the main form of water transport within the Delta), as we had heard the urgent alarm calls of a baboon troop coming from the distant treeline. As we neared the island, the baboons' barks were joined by the rapid chatter of vervet monkeys. Such distress among monkeys and baboons is a sure sign there is a predator in the area and I knew we would have to tread carefully.

After about an hour of slow and careful walking, checking tracks and listening to the sounds in the area, I pointed out several giraffes to Tim. Despite the fact we were standing in the open a hundred yards away, they were clearly ignoring us and were focused on something else. The only potential threat which supersedes a human being, would be one of the big cats! As we focused on the area in which the giraffes were staring, a herd of impala burst from the undergrowth and headed in our direction! The impala ran directly at us before passing close by, scarcely giving us a glance! The immediate question was of course, what was following behind them?

Seconds later, our question was answered. A female leopard strolled out into the open plains, as relaxed as could be. Even more amazing was the little ball of fur which followed behind her. A very young cub, still with its dull grey colouring, was clearly only several days old! An incredible sighting at any time, but on foot this was extremely unsual and very exciting! While the female leopard was well aware of our presence, she completely ignored us and we were fortunate enough to be able to observe the pair for over ten minutes.

Walking safari Kanana Ker Downey Botswana

The following day we decided to walk on the 'mainland' concentrating on tracking down members of the concession's lion pride. Other guides and guests at Kanana had seen lions on a game drive a day earlier and so we were able to concentrate on this area of the concession. The walking  was eventful and filled with general game, but none of them were exhibiting any of the signs of predators being nearby. As we had seen so clearly when we spotted the leopard and her cub, large mammals such as impala, kudu and giraffe as well as monkeys, baboons and even birds will let you know if there are any predators in the area. But all was quiet in the bush this morning, no tracks or sounds to alert us to the presence of any cats.

And then they were there. As we rounded some low bushes, no more than thirty meters away, lay two huge male lions staring directly at us. The lions had clearly heard us coming and were, thankfully, not surprised by our appearance. They remained sprawled upon the grass, eyeing us with a level of disdain that only cat lovers will truly understand!

Our behavior at this proximity was extremely important and I reminded Tim that whatever happened he was not to make any sudden movement, let alone think about running! We stopped moving and evaluated their behavior for several minutes. Once it was clear they were extremely relaxed and did not consider us a threat, we slowly moved further away from them, before stopping to enjoy these magnificent animals. So relaxed were the lions that one of them even fell asleep while we watched them!

Walking safari Kanana Ker Downey Botswana

Tim was extremely fortunate to experience a wide variety of game and habitat on  while walking in the Okavango, but undoubtably the most vivid memories from our time together, will be our exciting and humbling interactions with two of Africa's apex predators!

For Tim's side of the story read : Tracking animals on foot in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. (Tim Johnson for the Globe and Mail)  A different kind of safari: Walk with the animals in Botswana
Botswana Birding Safari Ker Downey Botswana Kanana

Posted by & filed under Safari Stories.

A Botswana Birding Safari : The Kanana Heronry, "One of the most important breeding sites in Southern Africa"

The Kanana Heronry lies in the central region of the Okavango Delta, within the wider floodplains which form the headwaters of the Xudum River and forms part of Ker & Downey Botswana's private Kanana concession making it a great Botswana Birding safari.

The area is typical of this region of the Okavango and comprises of open shallow floodplains covered with a mosaic of Lily pads, Cyperus grasses & assorted floating sedges with small crystal clear channels and pools of open water. Scattered randomly throughout the area are dense 'islands' of varying sizes, covered in Gomoti figs (Ficus verruculosa) mixed with Water Berry trees (Syzygium guineense) & edged by Papyrus reeds (Cyperus papyrus).

These 'islands' are used extensively for both breeding and roosting of several species of birds, with breeding activity starting in mid-July with the arrival of Pink-backed Pelicans, closely followed by the Cormorants, Darters and White Egrets. Thereafter the Marabou storks arrive, followed by Yellow-billed Storks, Sacred Ibis and Grey Herons. In addition to these species, there have been documented sightings of Rufous-bellied Heron’s with fledged chicks and small numbers of Black-crowned Night Herons using the breeding site, though it not been confirmed they are actually breeding within the heronry.

The main breeding locations consist of two main large 'islands' of roughly 10,800 and 20,000 square metres, as well as numerous smaller 'islands' predominantly used by Marabou, Pink-backed Pelican and some Yellow-billed Storks.

A recent visit by researchers to the heronry for the purpose of a survey led them to state, "this heronry is the most dynamic & vibrant heronry that we have ever visited in Botswana" and that "this site is one of the most important breeding sites in Southern Africa."

Botswana Birding Safari Ker Downey Botswana Kanana Botswana Birding Safari Ker Downey Botswana KananaBotswana Birding Safari Ker Downey Botswana Kanana

The researchers estimated at the time of the survey, well in excess of 5,000 birds of ten species were using the heronry for breeding or roosting purposes. Of special significance is the breeding presence of the Pink-backed Pelicans and Marabou storks.

Listed below is breakdown of the species identified by researchers at the Kanana Heronry, in their order of conservation importance.

1. Pink-backed Pelicans: Classified as vulnerable in Southern Africa and breeding has been recorded in only a handful of places in Southern Africa.

2. Marabou Storks: Classified as near threatened in Southern Africa. 298 active nest sites were identified. This species has a small breeding population in Southern Africa and this site is probably one of the largest one in the region.

3. Yellow-billed Storks – This species was nesting in several sites throughout the heronry.

4. Sacred Ibis – This species was nesting in small numbers on the larger of the two main large 'islands'

5. Grey Herons – This species was nesting in small numbers in both of the main 'islands.'

6. Western great Egrets

7. Darters: A handful of birds were seen sitting in the dense areas of the two main “Islands”. No sign of any actual breeding could be seen & from what we were advised by the guides we believe that the Darter breeding had been completed for this season.

8. Reed Cormorant: No sign of breeding was noted but each evening, huge numbers of these birds flew into roost.

9. Rufous-bellied Heron

As well as the species noted above, the area is also home to other 'Okavango specials' species including Pels Fishing Owl, Slaty Egret, Lesser Jacana, Greater Swamp Warbler, Chirping Cisticola, Luapula Cisticola, Swamp Boubou, and Hartlaub's Babbler to name but a few.

Ker & Downey Botswana's Code of Conduct:

Having identified the significance of the Kanana Heronry within the southern african region, it is the responsibility of Ker & Downey, as custodians of the concession to ensure the protection of this breeding area. Great care has been taken to identify best guiding practices throughout the company's areas of operation and to educate our guides and guests in the appropriate behaviour when observing animals and birds. However, the unique importance of the heronry required additional attention as nesting sites are extremely susceptible to external pressures. The remote location of the heronry is also fortunate, as visitors are restricted to only Kanana guests, and therefore human interaction is minimal. In addition there are strict speed limits for boats, limits to how close boats can get to the nesting sites and care is taken to keep noise level to a minimum. Nesting birds exhibit obvious stress when disturbed and this can easily lead to a desertion of nests and even chicks. Uncontrolled human interaction is possibly a reason for the decline in the other notable heronry within the Okavango Delta, Gadikwe lagoon in the Moremi Game Reserve.

While it would seem obvious that humans would pose the major threat to such a breeding area, ironically it is more likely that another the large populations of a common resident of the northern Botswana, could pose a more serious problem. Elephant, in the early summer months are partial to feeding on the islands and within the waterways of the Okavango, and probably pose the greatest threat to the site as their destructive feeding activity is extremely disruptive to breeding birds.

 

 




 

 

 

 

 
Bana Ba Letsatsi Ker Downey Botswana

Posted by & filed under Safari Stories.

At the Bana Ba Letsatsi fundraiser, the Ker & Downey Botswana team were awarded second place in the inaugural Maun Strongest Man!

A few weeks ago the Maun community was out in force, to raise money for Bana Ba Letsatsi, (www.banabaletsatsi.org) a center for the care and rehabilitation of the street children of Maun, which is supported by Ker & Downey Botswana. This exciting fundraiser was the first Maun Strongest Man competition and the entire community ensured a highly competitive and successful day !

10 teams, including the Ker & Downey Botswana ‘Monnas’ (Setswana for ‘Men’) entered the competition, with five exciting events including tractor tire flips, the safari dash, team press ups and pulling a two-ton 4x4 vehicle! All teams paid to enter and events were sponsored by a variety of local businesses. Combined with huge local support and raffle ticket purchases the event raised over BWP113,000 for a very important local charitable organization.

Ker & Downey Botswana  ( part of Chobe Holdings Ltd ) was also presented the ‘Local Heroes’ award in appreciation for their continued support for Bana Ba Letsatsi.

Ker Downey Botswana (Chobe Holdings)

 As part of its’ social responsibility program Ker & Downey supports Bana Ba Letsatsi. Bana Ba Letsatsi (which means Children of the sun) is a charity that was established in 2004 with the mission of supporting vulnerable, orphaned and at risk children living in Maun. There are over 200 children on the register; these children are registered as they have either never been to school or dropped out, suffer sexual or physical abuse, are orphaned or lack parental care, beg, work under-age, abuse drugs. For more information please see their website www.banabaletsatsi.org

Ker & Downey Botswana is committed to supporting Bana Ba Letsatsi and as such have launched a range of safaris, a percentage of which is donated directly to the charity – The Ker Downey Botswana Safari  

 

  Bana Ba Letsatsi Ker Downey Botswana