SOUTH AFRICA: AAA Serapa Goes Buck Wild 2018 Pt 1

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by buck wild, Aug 4, 2018.

  1. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    It's my 50th birthday celebration trip and 10 year wedding anniversary. Some guys go buy fancy sports cars, find a younger girlfriend or get plastic surgery during their midlife crisis. Me? I decided to go all in on my next safari. The memories would last far longer than the car or the skin that is sure to sag again sooner rather than later. Well, the memories of a younger girlfriend might last longer but quite possibly would costs more than the safari. :LOL:

    I was absolutely torn inside out with potentially leaving my previous outfitter/PH who has always done everything I asked for and more. This will be my 4th trip across the pond and I was specifically looking to see some different areas and wanted to check out the Kalahari. It was an agonizing 6 months in deciding. I want to thank all the sponsors on here that I flat wore out sending emails to and everyone was always quick to respond and thorough in their responses. So I accomplished both !! I did a split trip- first half with AAA Serapa-Kalahari and the second half with my old friend John Henry Keyser with Great Land Safari-Limpopo.

    To be fair to both, I will break this report into two segments, one for each outfit.

    I write these accounts mainly for me. They make me smile, laugh and cause introspection on my part. All good things of course and if someone else joins the emotional ride, maybe learns a tidbit or two, then even better. So bear with me, it will be long winded recitation with plenty of pics, but my memory isn’t as good as it once was (it’s already cloudy two weeks back as I start this) and if I don’t document it now for my sake, it might not be remembered the same in 25 years while I spin my Africa hunting yarns for my grandchildren. In some ways I also see the reports as paying my AH dues. It is also a great start to my Shutterfly book. If you don’t like long winded stories, skip to the pics now. Plus, Brickburn once dared me to try and break AH. :ROFLMAO:

    Animals of interest: Of course while in the Kalahari one must hunt springbok. I'm interested in a common and black. Also giant, sand dwelling eland , the always resident large gembsbok, the manic black wildebeest and the crown jewel- a huge, black shiny sable. The one thing I am really set on doing is tracking eland in the sand. One must be careful what they wish for!

    If I blank in the Kalahari, I always have chances at the eland and sable in the Limpopo along with klipspringer, bushpig, impala and there are always a few 55”+ kudu lurking in the Waterberg Mountains.

    Why AAA Serapa? As stated, I have always wanted to hunt the Kalahari. I first met Jacques Spamer at the AH get together at the DSC in 2016. We briefly talked but I never thought I'd be able to hunt AAA Serapa. Jacques even obliged me at drink at the bar despite me telling him there was little chance I’d ever make it his way. Once my wife saw the AAA Serapa booth at the DSC show the next day, all she talked about was the beautiful lodge. I told her if the room comes with the young lady in the bathtub they have advertised in the brochure, I'm in! :love:

    1.1 AAA tub.jpg
     
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  2. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I kept in contact with Jacques over the next year and he finally made things possible for my wife and me to come out and enjoy our 10 year wedding anniversary and celebrate my 50th birthday. Number one priority- track a giant, blue eland bull in the sand! My advice- don’t rule any outfit out without giving them a chance to meet your needs.

    I specifically had a Delta Sky miles Amex for building points to get a ticket to SA. I was able to build enough points in 2015 to get a"free" ticket for 150,000 points. Fast forward to this year, the threshold for Delta summer time tickets went to 300,000 points. No way will I ever be able to keep up that pace- so I ditched Delta, booked on Emirates and sold my Delta Sky miles (120,000) which I used to apply to my half priced ticket with Emirates.

    As the date approached, I pick up communication through email and Whatsapp with Jacques and occasionally Phil. My questions were answered promptly. All systems go.

    Travel Day

    I worked a full day, picked up my wife and drudged our way to Bush International Airport at 4 pm only to hit the dreaded Houston afternoon traffic and on a Friday no less. After the usual brief travel argument about the best way to proceed and my wife’s inability to even Google the best route through traffic, we arrive at the park and ride near the airport. Uneventful check-in other than the shuttle driver missing the terminal and the whole bus going merry go round style another loop around the airport. At the Emirates check-in they weighed my carry on backpack which was 5 pounds over limit –eek. I took out a few things and handed to my wife to hold, finally met weigh-in and promptly repacked same items into my backpack as we walked toward the security gate.

    I have my one of a kind, almost infamous AH visor in tow, doctored with my proprietary techniques.

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  3. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    More of the visor story to come. :ROFLMAO:

    Emirates report – We flew on the new A380-Double decker airbus. The airplane was new and clean. The flight from Houston to Dubai was 14.5 hrs. We departed Dubai to Joberg in the wee morning hours for the 7.5 hr final leg.

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    Take off out of Houston was almost worth the price of admission.

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  4. whitetail

    whitetail AH Senior Member

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    Love it- keep the story coming please!!
     

  5. wesheltonj

    wesheltonj AH Elite

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    When did Emirates start the A380 service from IAH? I like Emirates but not their B777’s. Can’t wait to read the rest of the story.

    Edit: Answered my own question June 1.
     
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  6. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Emirates report cont.

    Seat room- I was pleasantly surprised as there was more leg room and seat width than Delta. The Emirates standard econo seats were better than Delta Plus in my opinion-Grade A-. Based on advice from our travel agent we booked seats A and C hoping the middle seat would stay empty. It only worked on the second leg of the four legs, but we had no problem trading out my wife’s aisle seat for her to sit in the middle. I had the window seat and on the A380, there was at least 8-10 inches of room between the window wall and seat.

    Note- First and Business class are on the upper deck. All econo seats are on the lower deck. We opted to sit economy at the front of the plane and were only 7 rows from the cockpit area. The restrooms were close and clean. I never saw more than 2 people waiting in line. I would note that rows 43-45 do have a few drawbacks. The purser has a covey area here and the middle seats near the bulkhead have access to a basinet for babies that hangs on the bulkhead itself; therefore, these seats are usually occupied by parents with infants/toddlers. Luckily we didn’t experience any real issues.

    Food- satisfactory but not as good as AirFrance IMO. About the same as the last Delta flight I took in 2015. With Emirates’ reputation, I was expecting a bit more in this area-Grade B. A fun fact, there are LED “stars” in the ceiling of the cabin that are illuminated when they turn the lights off.

    The recently released top 10 world's best airlines for 2018: 1. Singapore Airlines 2. Qatar Airways 3. ANA All Nippon Airways 4. Emirates 5. EVA Air 6. Cathay Pacific 7. Lufthansa 8. Hainan Airlines 9. Garuda Indonesia 10. Thai Airways

    We had a 3 hr layover in Dubai. Arrived at 11 pm Dubai time- airport was basically empty. Spent the time to peruse the duty free shops but mostly camped out near the departure gate. No signs of any other obvious hunters on the flight, although there did appear to be another American father-son tandem in the group.

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  7. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    7 ½ hr flight from Dubai to Joberg on a 777 with no one in the middle seat. Matter of fact there were quite a few empty seats on this flight.

    We arrived in Joberg at 5:30 am and were met by Africa Sky VIP service. I have never done this before but we wanted to get through immigration quickly with hopes we could get a jump on the 6 hr drive to AAA Serapa in time to do some hunting the afternoon of our arrival. I guess because we arrived at 5:30 am and not off the Delta flight in late afternoon as we had done previous trips, there were only 10-15 people waiting in the immigration line so we really didn’t need the VIP service. Our luggage was in the last batch off loaded anyway so nothing was gained in the long run, but at least the luggage arrived. No guns to check in so off we go to the public meeting area where Charl our driver with Wolf transportation is waiting with a AAA Serapa sign and our names. We load up and off we go.

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  8. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Our arrival time was no accident. During my research, the two airlines that I narrowed down were the obvious Unites States route of Delta, which as previously mentioned arrives at 5:30 pm and Emirates. Due to the 6 -7 hr drive from ORTambo to AAA Serapa, I was advised we’d have to overnight in Joberg if arriving off the Delta flight. When I found the Emirates flight was half price of the quoted Delta flight for the same dates, and although 4/5 hrs more flight time, we would arrive at 5:30 am eliminating an overnight stay and quite possibly an earlier departure from Joberg to AAA Serapa, that sealed the deal for me. It was a Sunday morning at 6:30 am on the Joberg freeway. Wow what an unexpected delight. I could count the other vehicles on the highway with one hand. We breezed through Joberg and in no time we were in the country side enjoying an African sunrise. It’s my first time in this area of South Africa. I’m surprised at the open landscape dotted with large eucalyptus trees. We chat with Charl about the hunting in Texas, the different business culture in the States and as with any South African I’ve ever met, the current U.S. President, no matter who they are! :LOL:

    According to the map, we travel N14 through Ventersdrop, Coligny, and I believe Sannieshof where Charl points out the black spots on the road where people have been burning tires in protest ( I never caught exactly why, but something about the Govt no providing enough stuff). No signs of discord today though. There is also lots of general smoke in the air from the burning agriculture fields nearby. The crops appear to be corn, sunflowers and peanuts. In Delareyville we stop for a 10 am brunch at Steers where we grab a few hamburger/chip (French fries) combo meals. It converts to roughly $14 US for the three of us. They also have a fish place next door. Think I’ll pass on S. African fast food seafood on the first day.:confused: We make a pit stop in Vryburg and grab a Coke at the gas station. Our driver says we are getting close, maybe just over an hour to AAA Serapa. We change routes to R378 North to Ganyesa, where I witness true South African rural living with free ranging goats and cattle roaming the streets of the small town.
     
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  9. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Great pic from the plane!! Looking forward to the full report!
     

  10. AustinL

    AustinL AH Veteran

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    In for the rest of the installments
     

  11. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    I hope to fly one of those A380s one day!
     

  12. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    OK, where were we? Ah yes arriving at the lodge.

    Alas we hit a spot on the map labeled Soutbos, although there isn’t much physically to see, but we pull into the AAA Serapa gate. Finally, we arrive. It’s a cool, crystal clear, sunny afternoon.

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    We are met at the fabulous lodge (more to report later) by Yolande, Francois, our PH for the trip ,Theuni Maritz, and the AAA staff who offer us cool washrags to wipe the 32 hrs of travel from our weary bodies. A quick toast of Amarula completes the welcome. We are given a golf cart, shown the way to our villa, and we unload our gear. The villas are simply breathtaking!! The pictures do them no justice. My wife is in love already but no signs of the young lady in the tub from the brochure yet. :LOL:

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    Our villa

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  13. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    After quickly unloading we head back to the main lodge for lunch: Asian chicken wraps.

    We discuss our plan for the week with Theuni and decide on a weapon. As noted, I have not brought my own guns to help alleviate any hang ups (see CAustin and others recent Delta report). I’m not a gun nut guy. They are merely a tool for me. The hunt is the adventure. I am provided a Springfield .30-06 , shooting 168 grain PMP- the ammo box has a picture of a Kudu on it so what else could I ask for. It is topped with a 15x Swarovski scope.

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    All is good and after a few shots at the range, I pass the PH eyeball test. Theuni suggest a loop around the hunting grounds to which I resoundingly agree to be a great idea. My wife is along for the ride and will possibly get into the shooting action if the circumstances present themselves. The thing I like about my wife is her really big…..eyes. :giggle: She spots game with the best of them. Our driver/tracker is what I believed to be named Armands to which I proudly address him as such several occasions before Theuni corrects me- it’s Erman spelled Herman :ROFLMAO:

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  14. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I promise there is a hunting story in here somewhere. Enough with the Travel Channel intro.

    The terrain is not unlike areas of Texas I have hunted before. I chose AAA Serapa because of its vast contiguous concession of approximately 50,000 acres (78 square miles) and also because the Kalahari was on my bucket list. The area does not disappoint. We are 30 miles from the Botswana border to the North. The color palette used to paint the landscape is muted. Everything blends together in soft pastels of grey, beige and lavender with the occasional dotting of dark green acacia and camel thorn trees. What a simplistic, marvelous creation. What most would see as a barren, desolate land shines brightly in my eyes. But I didn’t just come here to soak in the richness of the landscape; it’s the desert inhabitants I have come to seek. My interest consists of common and black springboks, black wildebeest, eland, giant gemsbok and perhaps a sable if all things line up. The first afternoon I attempt to count the game we encountered but I was unable to keep track. Notable sightings include a herd of cape buffalo bulls and one rather large rhino. Two of the Big 5 in one afternoon isn’t too shabby. Other game- warthog, red hartebeest, duiker, steenbok, gemsbok, kudu, springbok, impala, eland and black wildebeest. We did play hide and seek with a herd of eland but never got a good look or a confirmed bull sighting. As sunlight fades, we wrap up our first day.

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    Dinner back at the lodge: Roasted lamb shank, wheat (looked like rice to me), sweet potatoes and lemon tart with a crushed Graham cracker crust.

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    We have a few Castle Lites at the bar, a glass of red wine at dinner and converse with a father and his two sons from Georgia as they are wrapping up their trip. Everybody in camp seems compatible, always a good thing, but we still head off for a mildly early evening at 9 pm.
     
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  15. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    No we are past the Travel and Food Channel sections !! Well maybe, maybe not :cool:

    Day 1- Who has time for sleep?

    I haven’t slept in two days, you’d think I’d be out for good, but nope, wide awake at 3:30 am with nothing to do but listen to the lions taunt me I can’t go back to sleep. Unfortunately it doesn’t get much better for me the next two weeks. A good friend of mine once told me, “I don’t want to sleep while in Africa- too much to do, too little time to do it. I’ll sleep when I get back.” Seems I’ll have no choice in the matter.

    I finally decide to roll out of bed at 5 am, take a shower, pick out my hunting costume, as my wife refers to it, and catch up on my journaling. It’s a brisk dawn with temps in the mid 40s. It might be the warmest morning of this leg of the trip. Everyone back home is so shocked to hear how cold it was in the South African desert when I return. Duh! Breakfast is served at 7:15 am. I calmly pace the villa while my wife gets on her hunting costume- come on let’s go daylight is burning. Finally it’s time appropriate to move over to the main lodge but we are still the first people stirring other than the staff in the kitchen preparing breakfast. We get our first real look of the grand lodge as the sun begins its ascent across the Kalahari sky. I gotta say one of the prettiest scenes I’ve been witness to. A flurry of pictures ensures, mostly of my wife is various poses around the lodge. Best we get them out of the way early in the trip before the real works begins.

    First sunrise in the Kalahari

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    Some pics of the villa

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  16. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Breakfast: eggs, sausage links, toast. I spot a curious bottle displayed among the other more recognizable breakfast condiments of butter, jelly and syrup- Bovril. I stay silent but earmark it for later discussion. The other family in camp is up also and we all dine together. Their trip is coming to a furious close and they are in kill mode. Their breakfast table interaction so closely mirrors those of my two sons, roughly close in age and same interests that I laugh to myself when the youngest son gets agitated with his dad.

    We are ready to depart the lodge by 7:45 am after I am adequately fueled up on Diet Coke, a must for each morning. Everyone is bundled up.

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    On the drive out to our hunting area we already bump kudu, steenbok, duiker, warthog, hartebeest, blesbok and impala. An hour into it, we spot two sable bulls. They aren’t too perturbed by our presence and we get to evaluate them for several minutes. One appears 38 the bigger maybe 40. Their jet black coats glisten in the soft morning sunlight. I’m being sable picky at the moment and although the bigger is a trophy, I don’t see the shape I am looking for yet. We also see a decent kudu bull.

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    We drive by a waterhole so I take advantage of the trail camera I have packed along. We set it up and leave it for the remainder of the trip. The pics will be loaded at the end of this report.

    10.2 tracks sand.png
     
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  17. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    By mid-morning we have located a herd of gemsbok that looks promising. We unload from the bakkie with Theuni leading the way and me right on his heels. Herman and the wife stayed behind. 200 yards in we spot a gemsbok just as it was spinning to leave. We continued our slow stalk, arriving upon the turf of the departed gemsbok. Fresh tracks in the sand and Theuni begins following. Truth be told I’m a little skeptical. Yes these are fresh tracks and we did just see a gemsbok but there are tracks everywhere. 400 yards later we come across very fresh gemsbok scat. But yeah it could have been from any gemsbok this morning. The trek continues, we bump into a small heard of eland but no bulls.

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    Within the next 500 yards we see the rumps of three gemsbok walking ahead. Humm, I guess they were the right tracks :) We make our way toward the group with a slight quartering wind that is variable to slightly toward them, back from our left to right shoulder. The group has decided to hold tight in some thick stuff watching their back trail. Best we can see are three to four gemsbok tails swishing back and forth. We reposition to the right and get spotted by a herd outlier, but he isn’t exactly sure what we are. If we had been playing chess, the gemsbok would be informing us, Check. The group moves out to the west.

    It’s starting to heat up and the walking has us on the verge of breaking a sweat. We gather under the shade of an acacia tree and remove a layer of clothing. We had just crossed a road through another block when the PH decides to drop his jacket to the ground. At the same time, he checks his phone so I figure he is GPS marking the jacket or he knows exactly where we are. Come to find out, neither were the case. The pursuit continues and we spot the gemsbok 300 yards ahead but now springbok are also in the area. We slowly maneuverer around them trying to gain an advantage. Finally we get our first good look as the gemsbok filter across an opening 175 yds out. There are five cows and one bull 38” or so. Theuni inquires if I am interested to which I nod in the affirmative. We slide one more opening to our right and can see a tail swishing. The sticks go up; I flip the safety and settle in. Minutes pass with no movement-one tail still twitching. 5 minutes up on the sticks- sweat is beginning to bead up on my forehead. 10 minutes pass, my right arm is getting numb so I try to shake the feeling loose. Well the group reversed course and headed out the way they came. Checkmate! We were never able to pick them up again. Theuni called for the bakkie. As we waited, he asked if I remembered where he left his jacket. I bust out laughing! :ROFLMAO: In total I estimate we followed the group for at least 1.5 miles.

    As the bakkie arrives, we grab some water and head over to an amazing bush lunch next to a waterhole with white table clothes and all the proper table settings. The Georgia crew is already there waiting on us. The PHs prepare lamb ribs and springbok liver wrapped in intestine fat over the braai, potato salad with cheese cubes and green peas, and the densest cornbread I have ever eaten. It was quite a treat and my wife is still kicking herself for not taking pics of the bush table setting.

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  18. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Fanatic

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    Buck..............I really enjoy reading this, and especially like the inclusion of very up to date info on travel/seats/aircraft. Helps me directly for my next trip. Your fotos are excellent. It is apparent that 1. You are well prepared, 2. your outfitter is hi quality, 3. a prettier girlfriend would not have been easily achieved, and 4.you're a fine reporter.........thanks much for the posts........................FWB
     

  19. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Thanks Flatwater Bill; glad you are enjoying it. As I stated above it's more for me so remember but if someone else can gain from it- great! I'm literally packing my house to move as I try to get this out but I promise to keep it going.

    There is going to be hunting involved soon (y)
     

  20. Jfet

    Jfet AH Fanatic

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    Great Story!!!(y)(y)(y)
     

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