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In early November, we flew from Johannesburg, South Africa to Maun, Botswana.  After clearing Immigrations & Customs, we were escorted to a Mack Air charter  flight.  We landed at an airstrip near AndBeyond’s Okavango Sandibe Lodge where we were met and transferred to the lodge.  We spent five nights at Sandibe enjoying great game viewing and excellent hospitality. 

The schedule at Sandibe is typical of many of the AndBeyond lodges.  The focus is on two game drives – one in the morning and the other in late afternoon.  Coffee is brought to the room at 5:00AM and left inside a “butler’s door”  - this was a new feature for us.  (The butler’s door allows the butler (our wonderful butler was “TT”) to leave a coffee tray inside a pass-through door and it can be retrieved from inside without having to answer the door (i.e., be fully clothed and ready to go).

At 5:30AM a continental breakfast is available in the main lodge.  The safari drive begins at 6:00AM (or whenever all guests are ready).  The drive lasts for several hours and a take-along breakfast sandwich is packed to enjoy on the drive.  Typically, there’s a morning break with coffee and tea served at a lovely location.  After the morning drive, lunch is available at the time of your choosing (we typically had lunch at 1:00PM).  At 4:00PM, it’s tea time and the afternoon game drive begins at 4:30PM.  During the drive, a lovely spot is selected for cocktails or “sundowners”. 

On the way home, there’s a search for nightlife using a spotlight to illuminate the “glowing eyes.”  Upon returning to the lodge, a lovely dinner is served and then guests retire to their individual abodes.  Since Sandibe isn’t an enclosed camp and animals can roam freely, once it is dark a security guard must accompany anyone coming to or leaving the main lodge.

Gaming at Sandibe was outstanding!  Below are some of our favorite - and perhaps the most lucky safari photographs - we can share:


A pair of Ostrich - the male has the dark feathers

The real treat - they have 18 chicks with them!
In this snap, we were able to photograph five of the chicks.

The Ostrich pair moving the chicks further into the bush

A pair of Bat-Eared Fox outside their den; amazing!

Even better.... their two babies (kits) come out of the den
(the babies are on the right; look for the two sets of big ears)

A Red Lechwe - this antelope is found only in Botswana

This is an elusive Side-Striped Jackal

While Impala are quite common, it's very
uncommon to capture them sparring

All safari enthusiasts kid around about finding an un-findable
HONEY BADGER - we even got to photograph him!

The icing on the cake... An even better sighting
of its mate - a female HONEY BADGER!! WOW!!!


A majestic male Lion

It decides to roar and show off those teeth!

Two Tsessebe with their lightly colored babies; these are
are called "The Ferrari of Antelope" since they can run 80km/hr

This Zebra is very, very pregnant; she will have the
baby as soon as the seasonal rains begin

A pair of Wild Dogs by a water hole

An affectionate Giraffe family

A beautiful Cheetah with two cubs

This Spotted Hyena stopped to check us out

A close-up of a Leopard sleeping in a tree
(a pretty common place to find them during the day)

These Buffalo are part of a larger herd beginning their migration

An Elephant enjoying eating water lilies

A sub-adult female Cheetah with lovely coloration

So many Hippos in the same pool!

A Wild Dog at an Impala kill

A colorful Lilac Breasted Roller, the national bird of Botswana

A sub-adult female Lion looking directly at the camera

[ T O P ]


Tuesday, 3 November:  We took our “hard-sided” luggage to the Concierge at the InterContinental and left them at the hotel until our return from safari.  We took only “soft-sided” bags on our flight to Maun, Botswana via Air Botswana.  Upon arrival in Maun, we transferred to Mack Air for a subsequent charter flight on a single-engine turboprop.  After a 15-20 minute flight, we landed on a dirt strip about 30 minutes from Sandibe.  Eric was waiting for us in a safari vehicle and he drove us to Sandibe.  We arrived at the lodge at 3:45PM and had a quick orientation.  Afterwards we, were shown to our lovely abode.  We quickly changed into safari attire so we could enjoy tea and our first safari ride at Sandibe.

Our charter with Mack Air

A view of the Okavango Delta area from the air

[ T O P ]

At the 4:00PM tea, we met SK, our Ranger, and City, our Tracker, as well as our companions, Eiko and Lindsey.  We started our first game drive at 4:30PM.  Highlights of our drive included spotting a Leopard relaxing in a tree.  Then, we came upon two mating lions (although they didn’t engage in front of us) along with an extra male lion.  We named the two males – the “Two Tenor Lions” – as they roared back and forth to one another.  In addition, we saw some of the usual suspects – Elephants, a lone Giraffe, and a sleeping pride of five Lions.  When we returned back to camp, we enjoyed a Boma (“British Officers Mess Area”) or a barbeque with tables set outdoors under the stars.  We sat alone and enjoyed the wonderful singing and dancing of our hosts which followed the delicious meal.

Look what we just found!!

As we approached, we could see that this Leopard wasn't totaly asleep

Wow a beautiful creature!

Here are a pair of Lions preparing to mate

A closer view of the female

The male decided to relax too

Wow, look at those teeth; yikes!

These guys were busy foraging so they let us get very close
(it doesn't always work out that way!)

A small giraffe

One of the female members of the sleeping Lion pride; so why
is that leg elevated?

Now we know.... a big sticker in her paw

A beautiful sunset in the Okavango Delta

[ T O P ]

Wednesday, 4 November:  After enjoying a quick cup of coffee (thanks, TT), we walked to the main lodge to get ready for our first morning ride at Sandibe.  We had great game viewing!  We saw Giraffe, Elephants, Baboons, Zebra and our first Tsessebe – the “Ferrari of Antelope” since it can sustain a bouncing gallop of 60km/hour for long distances.  We also had the pleasure of seeing some of the “Ugly Big 5” – Wildebeests, a Marabou Stork and a Warthog (other Ugly Big 5 designated creatures are the Vulture and Hyena). 

A group of Giraffes sharing some affection

A lone Elephant in the lush vegetation

A large male Baboon

Zebra and a group of Baboons

The mother is tightly holding her baby

The "Ferrari of Antelope" - The Tsessebe!

Zebra and Wildebeest together for safety
(As the saying goes, "Safety in Numbers")

A lone Warthog - one of the "Ugly Big 5"

[ T O P ]

In addition, we saw a Wildebeest with seven-day old baby and several Hippo.  We also saw our first Red Lechwe Antelope – only found in Botswana and new to us.  We also had some great birding seeing a Hamerkop bird, Heron, and an AndBeyond “Star Bird”, a Jacana (also known as a “Jesus Christ Bird” since it appears to walk on water).  After our morning break, we came across a beautiful Cheetah with two babies – ages 2-3 months old – with an Impala kill on ground.  Amazing!  We also saw a Leopard sleeping in a tree as well as a beautiful a Lilac Breasted Roller bird.  What an exciting morning!!

See the tiny baby Wildebeest laying next to Mom

A Yellow Horn Bill foraging on the ground

Ah, a Hippo enjoying the cool water

There's more than one Hippo in the pool!

The Red Lechwe (an antelope) found only in Botswana

This Squacco Heron sits motionless as it hunts for fish

The Jacana - you can see how it appears
that this bird walks on water

The mother Cheetah and her two cubs head into the shade

As they lay down, you can see the Impala they were eating

It's time to cool off as the cubs tuck safely in behind Mom

Feeling a bit more comfortable, the cubs move a bit

This little cub is so adorable!

Who wouldn't fall for that face!

Leopards do sleep a lot during the day

Yes, this Leopard is definitely asleep!

A beautiful Lilac Breasted Roller - one of
our favorite African birds!

[ T O P ]

On our afternoon game drive, we had a new companion.  Lindsey left that afternoon and Faith arrived so she rounded out our group.  Again, we had some great game viewing as well as birding.  We found a gorgeous Little Bee Eater – always a treat!  Then, we came upon Giraffe, Elephant, Tsessebe, Zebra, Warthogs and a White Backed Vulture.  As we continued to roam, we found the Leopard we saw the day before relaxing in a Jackalberry Tree.  We also came across the “Two Tenor Lions” who were both  asleep and the female was gone.  Finally we saw a huge Elephant with her family.  After this great afternoon/early evening, we enjoyed cocktails and dinner with SK,  Eiko and Faith.

A lovely Little Bee Eater

A Warthog passes as a Zebra enjoys a snack

A White-Backed Vulture

This Giraffe was really tall

This is one of the "Two Tenor" lions - the one who didn't
have mating rights and the one we didn't see until today

A closer view of this handsome face
and he actually opened his eyes for us

A family of Elephants enjoying a late afternoon snack

Our wonderful and talented team!!  SK, our Ranger (right) and
City, our Tracker (left), preparing a beautiful "sundowner" table

Another beautiful sunset in the Okavango

[ T O P ]

            Thursday 5 November:  Our morning drive was one again a productive one.  Just outside Sandibe, a prescribed burn had taken place to ensure the safety of the lodge.  This morning as we drove through the area Buffalo and Baboons had come to eat some of the fresh shoots that were emerging.  Then we came across a sub-adult Cheetah.  She was a bit leery and left shortly after we began taking photographs.  We got to see two male Impala sparring with one another.  It was great in terms of sounds too (snorting, horns rattling, etc.).  We came across a very large group of  Red Lechwe – largest gathering we had seen thus far.  We also found a sleeping group of two female Lions with four offspring – one male & three females.  We decided to wait a bit and the Lions did become more active.  As we were returning back to camp, we came across two Tsessebe - each with a calf.  SK estimated that one was seven days old and the other was three days old. We enjoyed snapping a Kudo who posed by a termite mound.  We returned back to camp at 10:45AM and said good-bye to Eiko who was leaving that afternoon for another AndBeyond camp.

A beautiful Baobab Tree (in the foreground
is the prescribed burn area)

A Baboon enjoying some Palm Hearts

Unfortunately, Baobab trees are sometimes destroyed
by Elephants enjoying their trunks (evidently tasty to an Elephant)

This is the beautiful sub-adult female Cheetah

A closer view of that beautiful face

These sparring Impala created quite the show!  SK told us it will
 soon be mating time soon so the males begin to establish dominance.

The largest gathering we have seen of Red Lechwe

This beautiful Red Lechwe was very curious about us

A group of Elephants on the horizon

The beginning of the migration of Buffalo

Their helmeted heads with those dangerous horns
are the reason these guys are part of the Big 5 - thos
animals most dangerous to people

This is one of the Moms in the group of six Lions

This is the group of sub-adult Lions - one male & three females

A close-up view of the sub-adult male Lion

The sub-adult male is doing a bit of grooming

One of the sub-adult females looking directly at us

The sub-adult male Lion leaves to join the two Moms

The female sub-adult Lions getting ready to join the mother Lions

The smallest of the sub-adult female Lions looks a
bit leery as she passes by our vehicle

Can you find the Kudu posing by the termite mound?

A Tsessebe with her calf

Both Tsessebe with their calves; the calf in
the foreground is nursing

[ T O P ]

            During our afternoon drive, Aaron, the Assistant Camp Manager, came along for the ride with us and Faith.  We had the luck of seeing another Star Bard, a pair of Wattle Cranes, a highly endangered species.  Then we had some fun taking snaps of the “Sausage” fruit.  We saw a Side-Striped Jackal, always a treat.  We found a White Backed Vulture in a palm tree as well.  During our happy hour, we were joined by several Hippo (obviously they stayed in the water or we would have left very quickly). 

 A pair of Wattle Cranes - very, very long shot

SK holding the infamous fruit of the Sausage Tree

An elusive Side-Striped Jackal

This Jackal took a moment to check us out

This little guy is a Magpie Shrike

Can you find the Monitor Lizard?  It's there!

Our safari vehicle

A White Backed Vulture

A few Hippo in the fading light

Another beautiful sunset in the Okavango Delta

We saw these Guinea Fowl on the ride home

[ T O P ] 

When our game ride was over, we were surprised with a braii (a barbeque) at “Little Sandibe” – a pan flat near Sandibe.  It was a great way to finish a wonderful day!

Friday, 6 November: This morning was a very special game drive.  We were only three guests to the vehicle – us and Faith – and we had some amazing viewing.  We encountered a pair of Ostrich with 18 chicks.  Wow, what a treat!  We spent plenty of time observing and photographing them from a distance.  While we were doing so, SK and City spotted a pair of Bat-Eared Fox with kits approximately 1-2 weeks old.  This sighting is even rarer than finding the Ostrich with chicks.  So, double wow!! 

The male Ostrich

Five of the 18 Ostrich chicks

The pair of Ostrich - the male has the dark feathers

The Ostrich pair moving the chicks further into the bush

An adult Bat-Eared Fox with a Kit outside the den

An adult Bat-Eared Fox (the kit disappeared into the den)

Both adult Bat-Eared Fox with a Kit in the background

The entire Bat-Eared Fox family - one adult and two kits are easily found
by their ears; the other adult has its head partially hidden in the tall grass

Two adult Bat-Eared Foxes; a really special photograph!

After leaving these beautiful creatures, we came across a large pack of Wild Dog.  There were 10 adults and 11 pups.  We enjoyed watching them interact with one another.  We also enjoyed watching a group of Elephants enjoying time in the water.  We returned back to camp glowing and bragging about our amazing morning!

A Wild Dog on alert

Two Wild Dog pups

We got this great shot of a Saddle-Back Stork
when it came into a nearby pool

Two of these beautiful creatures!  The guy on the left
has a bit of its ear flap missing.

A side view of a male Wild Dog

This Vulture flew into the area - perhaps to see if the Wild Dogs had a kill?

A young pup heads over and the Vulture begins to take flight

This curious Wild Dog laid down beside our vehicle

This Elephant is selectively eating water lilies

[ T O P ]

Then, to our surprise, a treat was awaiting us at the Lodge.  TT, our Butler, had arranged for us to enjoy lunch at the private terrace on our abode.  What a wonderful and thoughtful treat!  We enjoyed every moment and every bite!  Thanks to all who made this possible, especially TT!!!

TT, our wonderful butler, at our surprise luncheon setting

Us being spoiled!

[ T O P ] 

            On our afternoon drive, we were joined by a cranky couple from New Zealand along with Faith.  Oh well, you don’t always get wonderful safari companions like Eiko and Faith.  Our afternoon began with some great birding.  We saw a Yellow Billed Kite, a Brown Snake Eagle and a Lilac Breasted Roller.  All were a treat!  Then we once again found the large pack of Wild Dogs.  As we watched, SK explained that they were getting ready to hunt for the evening.  As they took off, so did we – along with other several safari vehicles.  We followed one group and were able to watch them hunt and kill an Impala.  Always an amazing experience!  Later at the Lodge, another guest told us they had seen part of the group kill a Steenbok.  After enjoying a celebratory drink at the bar, we, Faith and SK enjoyed a braii at the BOMA just outside the covered dining area.

This Yellow Bill Kite is stopping for a drink

This Zebra is very, very pregnant.  Per, SK she will try not to deliver
the baby until the rains arrive (which should be any day)

This is a Brown Snake Eagle

Always beautiful - a Lilac Breasted Roller

A pair of Wild Dogs by a water hole

The pack is off to hunt

We caught up to these two members chasing an Impala

This is one of the many Wild Dogs which fed on this Impala

The Wild Dogs left the rest of the carcass - likely
due to fear that Lions will come to steal the balance

[ T O P ]

Saturday, 7 November:  Our morning ride was once again a treat as it was just us and Faith with SK and City.  Our day began when the guys discovered three Spotted Hyena.  It was amazing how much larger the female was than the male.  Next we were into birds – lots of birds!  We first found a Marabou Stork, White-Backed Vultures in a tree, a sole Hooded Vulture,  a Pied Kingfisher and an Open Bill Stork.  We also saw lots of wildlife including a female Giraffe and eight Hippos.  The premier sighting for the day was seeing a male and a female Honey Badger!  We were so excited because you only dream of seeing a Honey Badger.  Wow, another amazing treat and we actually got photographs too!  We also saw our first Reed Buck in Botswana (we had seen them previously in South Africa).  Then we found a female Cheetah with two cubs.  The mother was in the center with an alert female on her right and a sleeping male on her left.  Our final sighting was a male Cheetah.  He definitely was much larger than the female we saw earlier.

A large female Spotted Hyena

A smaller male Hyena with a second female in the background

The male Spotted Hyena stopped to check us out

A couple of Marabou Storks in the tree top

A White-Backed Vulture

A Hooded Vulture

A Piped Kingfisher

An Open Bill Stork

The dream sighting a HONEY BADGER (male)!

A female HONEY BADGER - Wow, you only dream
of seeing these elusive creatures; what a TREAT!!

A female Cheetah (middle) with two sub-adult Cheetah -
the left is a male and the right is a female

A closer look at the female sub-adult Cheetah

Our first Reed Buck sighting in Botswana

Two Tsessebe with their lightly colored babies

A Monitor Lizard hiding in the grass

The male Cheetah who is the father of the
two sub-adult Cheetahs lying with their mother

A nice yawn!

A closer look at his beautiful markings

[ T O P ] 

On this our final afternoon drive at Sandibe (at least for 2015), we enjoyed great game viewing.  We began by seeing a Baboon with a baby on her back.  Then, we saw a Dickenson Kestral, another Sandibe Star Bird.  Perhaps one of the most interesting encounters was watching a stand-off between a Wild Dog and a Zebra.  We all agreed that the Zebra was the winner.  We also saw a Tawny Eagle and a Red Billed Horn Bill.  We came across a sleeping male Cheetah followed by seeing a female Lion with two sub-adult males.  According to SK, the female Lion has two additional sons who will join the group later in the day.  We enjoyed a final happy hour in the bush before returning to Sandibe.  We then had a relaxing dinner with Faith and SK.  Afterwards, we returned to our abode and found a cold bottle of bubbly waiting for us!  We didn’t hesitate to open it and spent the final hours of this late, late evening toasting our wonderful experience at Sandibe!

A baby Baboon going for a ride

A Giraffe with babies - perhaps twins??

A Dickinson Kestral

These Wild Dogs ultimately leave the Zebra to its grazing

A Red Billed Horn Bill

A beautiful Tawny Eagle

This male Cheetah is resting before an evening hunt

This group of Lions is resting too

SK repositioned the vehicle so we could get a
photograph of this sub-adult male Lion

It looks like a Hippo convention!

SK (left) and City (right), an excellent team!

[ T O P ]

Sunday, 8 November:  On our final game drive, we came across Baboons, Kudo and Impala.  Then, we followed a male Leopard walking through the bush.  SK estimated he weighted 75-80KG.  He was marking his territory throughout the bush so he was somewhat difficult to photograph.  We did see another beautiful Lilac Breasted Roller and learned it was the National Bird of Botswana; neat!  We returned back to camp at 9:00AM.  We gathered up our things for a 10AM transfer back to the air strip.  We enjoyed a singing send-off.  We can truly say that our time at Sandibe was amazing - both the game viewing and the time spent at the Lodge!

We begin following this huge male Leopard

The Leopard marking his territory

Our final glimpse before the Leopard heads into the deep bush

A Lilac Breasted Roller, the national bird of Botswana

A male Cheetah resting in the shade

A Go Away Bird (its call sounds like it's saying "go away"!)

[ T O P ]