Sunday, May 04, 2008

Maun Safari - African Wild Dogs - After a Kill

African Wild Dog click for Wikipedia article.

It is late April and I am on a game drive with Alan and two friends from Italy - Gracia and Massimo. When we left Sedia Hotel at 7:00 am it was chilly. Approaching Moremi Game Reserve, we are just starting to warm up and thinking about some breakfast. Joe, are safari guide, starts to slow down our safari vehicle. For the next 10 minutes we have an extraordinary sighting of eighteen Wild Dogs - resting after a morning kill. Wild Dogs are seldom found in Reserves because they require such a large area within which to hunt.

It was a wonderful start to an exceptional day of game viewing. Elephants were plentiful, Joe found a pride of lions with three cubs - impala, kudo, girrafe, water buck and cape buffalo were spotted. We had a great lunch of chicken and tender beef roast, complete with salad and fruit for dessert. Seven or eight hippos provided the midday entertainment, complete with their occasional base booming sounds.
The day would not be complete without mentioning the birdlife - hornbills, egrets and a great white heron - who watched us eat most of our lunch. Vultures were in the trees around some kill we couldn't get to see. While looking at the lions Alan identified a Pels Owl call, which was unusual considering the time of day. All and all - quite an eyeful and earful.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Maun Safari - Mokoro Trails,The Transparent Reality

Over the past few years, the Okavango Delta and Maun in particular, has become perceived as an expensive destination with many Overland Companies no longer stopping in Maun due to what are considered to be high rates for activities such as Mokoro Trails. Even when Overland Companies do stopover in Maun, a growing number of passengers choose not to do key activities such as the Mokoro Trails because of the rates being quoted.

The rates at Sedia Riverside Hotel and Afro Trek Safaris are constantly reviewed taking in to consideration the declining value of the Botswana Pula against the US dollar, so that we always offer the best possible rates to our guests.

Below, we have described how the Mokoro Trails activity is arranged through the Community Trust that owns the concession area in which the trails are done and the rates the Trust charge locally based licensed safari operators , such as ourselves, for the Mokoro Trails activity. The Mokoro Trails activity forms a part of the Community Based Tourism Policy promoted by the Botswana Government in order to encourage rural communities to generate work and earn an income from the resources of the rural areas in which they live, namely the wilderness.

All drive-in Mokoro Trails from Maun are undertaken in the Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust , known as the OKMCT. The OKMCT have outsourced the Mokoro Trail activity to various Safari Operators based in Maun who market the trails and provide transport for the transfers from Maun into the Mokoro Poling stations within the OKMCT Concession Area. The most popular poling Station being at Boro, which is used by virtually all safari operators from Maun.

Afro Trek Rates for the Mokoro Trails Activity, including transfer charges are :
2 Day / 1 Night Trail US $ 110 - 00 per person

3 Day / 2 Night Trail US $ 125 - 00 per person

1 Day Mokoro Trail US $ 90 - 00 per person
( Rates valid for a minimum of four or more persons.)

The OKMCT is totally autonomous in the management of the Mokoro Trails activity and have fixed the daily rates which safari operators are charged as follows :

Licensed Guide with Mokoro US $ 25 - 00 per day
Licensed Poler with Mokoro US $ 20 - 00 per day
Entrance Fee to Concession US $ 6 - 50 per day

These rates exclude transfer charges into the concession poling station, this transfer is provided and charged for by the Maun based safari operator, the transfer charge being added to the OKMCT fixed rates for the mekoro and entrance fees , by the Maun based safari operator.

For a group of say 10 doing a two day / one night mokoro trail , the charges by the OKMCT would be just under US $ 40 per person. Afro Trek transfer charges into the Mokoro Poling station in the concession area are about US$ 40 per person ( In and Out of the concession area ) and are included in our rates given above.

Since the Boro Poling station lies under 20 kms from Maun and, we feel this rate to be fair and reasonable and covers our transfer costs , ground crew costs , public liability insurance costs, administration costs and vehicle maintenance costs.

The Afro Trek Mokoro Trails depart from the Riverside Hotel campsite for the Boro or Ditshipi Poling Stations. For the Mokoro Trails Transfers we use customised Toyota Landcruisers with rear mounted game viewing seats with a trailer for the luggage.

We feel the above transparency in our rate structuring is important, so that our passengers know where their money is going and that it will encourage more people to participate in a Mokoro Trails and in so doing meet some of the Bayei Tribe who live in the OKMCT concession area and have a real eco-tourism experience at a fair rate. All our guides and drivers are from the region, two of them being from the Kopano Trust area so passengers are given a good insight into the culture and traditions of the people.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Moremi Game Reserve - Rainy Season

Lioneses Resting With Carcass - Paradise Pools, Moremi

Elephant Enjoying Mud Bath

Early January brought some friends from Canada for a visit to Maun. One of the things we did was a mobile safari with Shylock Raborokwe, into Moremi Game Reserve. The video above shows a huge male elephant enjoying a very wet mudhole. We saw pleny of game - hippos, kudu, impala, wildabeasts, sable, dudiker, crocs, saddlebacked storks, spur winged geese, lions....

Moremi is very wet this year. Northern Botswana is having a heavy rainy season - most places already have over 300mm and some are over 400mm. With 6 to 8 weeks still to go for prime rain times, it could be well above our average rain fall of 460mm.