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Everything posted by Soukous

  1. South Luangwa, without breaking the bank. Zambia's South Luangwa Valley is one of Africa's most outstanding wildlife viewing areas. With a mixture of woodland and riverine forest, it is home to an amazing variety of animal and bird life. One of the real highlights of my recent visit was discovering that you can enjoy South Luangwa without breaking the bank. Whilst he lodges situated inside the park are expensive, US$500 per person per day, or more, there are some terrific camps & lodges located about 10 minutes drive from the park gate that will cost you around half that price. A bed is a bed The accommodation is not as fancy, with simple rather than luxurious chalets, but the guides are equally good, sometimes better. You'll see just as many animals and are just as likely to have elephants walking through your camp; the animals don't pay much attention to the park boundaries. The money you save means that you can either stay longer or put some of that saving towards a private vehicle and guide which will ensure that your game drives are focussed on the things you want to do. There are several lodges & camps that charge around US$270 per person per night for a full board package that includes all meals and 2 game activities per day. In Green (low) season those rates fall to as low as US$170 per person sharing and those who live in the area will tell you that this is the best time to visit anyway. It's cooler, it's greener, the skies are clearer and the bird life is more abundant. Park entry fees are an extra cost. Here are a few places worth checking out. Thornicroft Lodge is located on the banks of the Luangwa river and has just 9 guest chalets. It is currently looking a bit drab but the chalets are comfortable and renovations planned for early 2018 should bring it right back to the top of its game. Head guide Godfrey is one of the best working in South Luangwa. Wildlife Camp, also located by the river, has both chalets and safari tents as well as a campsite. If you'd like to vary your game viewing experience and do some walking, Wildlife Camp has a simple bush camp set up in a lovely river side location especially for walking safaris. Marula Lodge has a lovely setting with a cheerfully decorated communal lounge and dining room overlooking the river. Electric tape around the lounge is a clear reminder that elephants regularly visit the grounds. Guests I spoke to rated their guides highly. There are a couple of cons: the chalets are stone built with tin roofs and get extremely hot in summer. Some of the people I spoke to said they found it hard to sleep. The other negative point is that, because it is a budget lodge, Marula will pack 9 people onto their game vehicles. If you are serious about photography this is a real no-no, but if you just want game drives with a good guide, then why not? All three camps are just 10 minutes from the main entrance gate. All three camps have small swimming pools. The rates do not include drinks or laundry, although the laundry service and the cash bar are reasonably priced. Getting there South Luangwa is easily accessible from Lusaka using Pro Flight. The one way air fare is about US$325. Alternatively, if you have a bit more time to spare, South Luangwa can also easily be reached from Malawi – about 6 hours by road from Lilongwe. The combination of game viewing in South Luangwa and time spent relaxing on the shores of Lake Malawi is very popular. Zambia visa costs US$50 Malawi visa costs US$75
  2. Oh crikey. 2017 is already flying past and I'm just getting around to posting my first birds. It has been a slow start but hopefully a trip to Botswana in May will help me get my numbers up. In the meantime here are a few to get my ball rolling. Robin (Erithacus Rubecula)
  3. Maybe a bit of a generalisation @ice I was there in October, which is reckoned to be one of the hottest months. In November & December the rains have usually begun which brings the temperature down significantly. I do agree with you that June & July are generally cooler, but my comment was more in relation to the dusty heat of October.
  4. #179 Dark Chanting Goshawk (Melierax metabates) & #180 Burchell's Coucal (Centropus burchellii) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017 we were returning to camp in the late afternoon when this Dark Chanting Goshawk swooped over us and settled in a nearby tree to eat his prey, a Burchell's Coucal. I don't think it states anywhere that the birds have to be alive
  5. #178 Red Headed Weaver (Anaplectes rubriceps) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017
  6. #177 Violet Backed Starling (also called a Purple Starling) (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017 another disappointing photo I'm afraid. I always seemed to spot them with the light behind them. But I did catch both the male and the female.
  7. #176 Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Majete NP,Malawi. Nov 2017 Sadly I couldn't get any closer
  8. Lower rates normally apply from November until the end of June although some places have been bringing June into High Season as it is a busy month for bookings.
  9. to be honest I didn't even think about it @AfricIan I'll let you know if anything nasty starts to happen
  10. It’s fair to say that, by just about anyone’s standards, I travel a lot. Some of it is for work and some of it is for pleasure. Actually that is misleading. I love Africa and that is where my work takes me, so really all my travel is pretty much for pleasure. Over the years I have built up a list of the places I like to stay in half a dozen countries and these tend to be the places I go back to time after time. These are also the places that I recommend to my clients. I’m always on the lookout for new places though and it is exciting for me to visit places I’ve never been before. Especially if they turn out to be somewhere that I can add to my list. When my assignment in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley finished a couple of days early I had some time on my hands and thought it might be worth taking a look at a new lodge on Lake Malawi. What with one thing and another, mostly the power outages that seem plague Lilongwe, I was delayed and would not be able to get to the lake in time for the shuttle boat to the island. I needed an alternative. A colleague recommended Kumbali Lake Retreat, a little eco lodge on the shore of Lake Malawi. It took me a couple of hours to drive from Lilongwe to Salima where I turned north for the last twenty kilometres or so to the lodge. I had no idea what to expect but Kumbali Lake Retreat was certainly not at all what I’d imagined. Kumbali Lake Retreat is built into the side of Lifuwu Hill and on the shore of Lake Malawi. There are 4 individually thatched chalets each with private bathroom facilities, private veranda overlooking the lake and double or twin beds. For some reason I was allocated the highest chalet, which necessitated a 5 minute hike, but the views were wonderful and there was a cooling breeze which meant that mosquitoes were not a worry. There’s a charming restaurant & bar where all meals are served and a small sandy beach. The staff were all friendly and efficient and the food was outstanding. Amazing considering the simplicity of the kitchen. It’s a place where relaxing comes naturally. The phone signal is patchy at best and there is no internet, so those distractions can be set aside for the duration of your stay. You won’t be bored though. There’s great hiking, kayaks for you to explore the lake and boat trips on the lake. As well as prolific bird life you might catch sight of the indigenous Samanga Monkey. This is my kind of place and I can’t wait to go back again. I don’t mind if it’s with friends or with clients, as long as it is soon.
  11. Yes @AfricIan Basically as you drive from Salima towards the Livingstonia Hotel there is a turning off to the left - about 1.5 km before the Livingstonia. I know this because I missed the turn and had to turn around. From there is it about a 20km drive.
  12. There were a few on my list that I didn't find at all and even more that I saw but couldn't get a photo of, so I was very very happy to finally snag the Broad Billed Roller
  13. #175 Broad Billed Roller (Eurystomus glaucarus) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017 This was quite a quest. I saw a couple on South Luangwa, but always far away and against the light. The one time I thought I might get a photo, the broad Billed Roller was chased away by a Lilac Breasted Roller. My first couple of sightings in Majete were also not great, with very poor light. Finally though, I got my shot. I'm particularly thrilled as this bird was on my wish list - I'd never seen one before.
  14. #174 Pin Tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017 sorry about the quality, it was far away
  15. #173 Tropical Boubou (Laniarius major) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017
  16. #172 Lizard Buzzard (Kaupifalco monogrammicus) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017
  17. #171 Kurrichane Thrush (Turdus libonyana) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017
  18. @Galana That's poetic justice regarding the Canary. My guide said it was a Yellow Fronted Canary (Mozambica) and that is what I recorded at the time. When I was posting I looked in my guide book again and thought it looked more like a Yellow Canary. Hubris!
  19. This sound fantastic. Enjoy. I'm sure you will.
  20. #170 Wailing Cisticola (Cisticola lais) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017
  21. #169 Bohm's Bee Eater (Merops Boehmi) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017
  22. #168 European Bee Eater (Merops apiaster) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017
  23. #167 Palm Nut Vulture (Gyphhierax angolensis) Majete NP, Malawi. Nov 2017
  24. #166 Speckled Mousebird - (Colius striatus) Lake Malawi, Malawi. Oct 2017
  25. Pure luck @Peter Connan I followed the bird around for quite some time, waiting for it to emerge from among the reeds and took pictures every time it spread its wings. I only noticed the fish when i was looking at the images after I got home.

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