Ever heard of the Linyanti? Perhaps you have.
If not, ever heard of Dereck & Beverly Joubert? I am sure you have! They started out filming lions in this area many years ago and one of the most incredible documentaries was born there thanks to their hard work. It is called Eternal Enemies, a battle for life and death between lions and hyenas.
Ever since I was a little boy I had wanted to see the infamous Linyanti area. When the opportunity came up to guide a private safari within this unspoiled wilderness I could hardly believe it. Please stay with me and read through the highlights of my incredible safari through the Linyanti Concession.
As we arrived in camp the the warm-hearted staff were ready to welcome us. After spending almost an hour on winding roads through dense Mopane the sight of the lodge and views of the river in the background was a welcoming sight in itself. We sipped on welcome drinks and were given a breakdown of what to do and what not to do. I loved the part where they warned us to be careful at night as section of the raised boardwalk leading to the rooms were lowered so that hippo’s can continue using their ancient “highways”, eco-tourism in practice!
We were rather excited to get out and explore the riverine woodland hugging the Linyanti’s flow and at 4pm we were out and on safari and bursting at the seams with excitement! We took a leisurely drive and came across two seperate elephants herds feeding on the green Mopane’s. As we meandered along the edge of the river we came across a pod of hippo rather close to the side. I managed to get some stunning shots of a curious sub-adult that came right up to the edge of the water to give me a closer inspection.
I love coming home to camp on the first day. The camp at night is beautifully lit and the fireplace is acutely inviting. There’s very little that rivals a gin & tonic in the King’s Pool fireplace whilst watching the stars and listening to the hippo’s. Pure bliss.
The camp at night and in the early hours of the morning was real special. Choruses of frogs and toads could be heard all night long, and sitting by the fire at 5am before anyone else has arrived is the perfect way to start a day in Africa.
Sunrise was at 06:22 and we were out out 6am, perfect! This particular morning was a little quiet at first. Impala made their usual appearances and the birds were out and about. Our guide Ollie took us to the sight where Carmine bee-eaters nest during November. What’s different about it is that they nest on an open piece of ground next to the river, very different to what we are used to. They habitually nest within river embankments where they dig out holes of up to a meter deep. I would love to return in early summer to see them nesting on flat ground. As the heat set in we started seeing alot of elephants coming down to the shade offered by many extremely large Ebony’s, Apple-leaf’s and Leadwood’s. They were also interested in not only the large water source in the form of the river, but would also cross through the river to islands where abundant nutritious foods were readily available. A highlight would have been two elephant calfs sleeping right in the road with the rest of the herd right besides them. We simply switched off our vehicle and enjoyed it until they moved off some twenty minutes later. The guides tend to get back to camp between 9 and 10am, after which you get to enjoy a scrumptious brunch whilst looking out for waterbirds in the adjacent reed bed.
Our plan was to set out onto the Linyanti River in the afternoon on their barge, named the Queen Silvia. As nature would have it things often change, and in this case for the best. Just before arriving at the barge we spotted a few elephants on an island about two hundred meters from where we were parked. Within minutes 2 elephants turned into about 15 and my gut-feeling was that they were readying themselves to cross back to the mainland. Then it happened. A large female took the lead and we were treated to a spectacular sight as they crossed in two separate herds. They would swim with only the top of their heads protruding over the water. It was such a special scene and to play witness to this first-hand was an absolute privilege.
After that we took a special trip on the Linyanti, gin & tonics in hand with the setting sun ahead of us. It would be tough to find a better way to top off a day in Africa.
The barge at King’s Pool names after Queen Sylvia is the perfect break-away from routine vehicle-based drives. The scenery and birding is fantastic and we saw amongst others an Allen’s Gallinule as well as Abdim’s Storks.
On our second morning safari we were alerted to the presence of wild dogs in the area just east of camp. We tried as hard as we could but we just could not spot them. They were tending south into the Mopane woodland and made it virtually impossible to get a glimpse of them. Our hopes were that we could find them in the late afternoon. Dogs tend to be crepuscular in nature and are best viewed during those active times. Clouds were building and the promise of rain loomed over the Linyanti Concession. My hopes were that the cooler weather would tempt the dogs out of their state of torpor a little earlier in the afternoon. My optimism was spot on.
We had a surprise brunch set up in the hide overlooking the river adjacent to camp. It was so nice and different, something to remember.
We found the dogs shortly after leaving the lodge in the afternoon and they were active and hunting. Once again the dense vegetation made following them tough. We caught sight of 2 of the 8 members in full pursuit of a female impala but quickly lost sight of them. About 15 minutes the entire packed re-appeared, faces covered in red. They were successful and devoured the impala within minutes. This was good for us as they calmed down a little allowing for a magical sighting during the last minutes of the day.
They are relatively inactive during the dark hours and we hoped to see them again in the morning. We ad yet to see lion and leopard but we had great sightings of those at Mombo Camp on the first leg of our journey and we were so blown away by the absolute beauty of the Linyanti that it did not bother us much.
The following morning saw us out on a shorter drive. That by no means meant less action. Shortly after departing from camp we happened upon the dogs once again. They were on the hunt and soon killed another female impala. We were only able to see the last bit of the feeding due to inaccessible thickets but still a memorable way to end off our safari at King’s Pool Camp.
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Marlon du Toit