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Found 35 results

  1. Zambia 2017 / Liuwa Plains NP & Kafue NP, November Well, after my first trip in August I returend to Zambia in mid November for a second time in 2017. The Liuwa Plains NP was always a big dream of mine until last year. Before that I just not had the chance to go there as the only options available were out of my budget. Even now with the new King Lewanike Lodge (first permanent) in the park, the option was not given until I've seen the offer from Jeffery & McKeith Safaris . The documentary about Lady Liuwa "The last Lioness" a few years ago was the inital driver behind my interest to go on Safari on my own. The only time before was as a child once at a young age in South Africa. So the Liuwa always had a special interest in my heart from the beginning. Maybe it's also the remotness and the off map Safari destination, solely compared by visiting numbers. I think a few years ago when the documentary was produced, yearly visitors were about 50 people. The year before I discussed this with Ty on my regular visit to Musekese and he mentioend that he would like to do something more "camping" style in the Liuwa as well in 2017. I was giving my highest thoughts about it and kept my mind open for a possible Liuwa trip. And later on in the early 2017 I've seen their FB trip information and just enquired to be on boat on that trip. Actually with the offer from Jeffery & McKeith Safaris Zambia, I was finally able to got to this fine park in the remote Western part of Zambia. It was not sure at the beginning if Phil would be on the trip as well, depending on bookings @ Musekese. But a few days before we left I get the final confirmation that he would also on board on that fantastic trip. So we would be 3 guests and 2 guides and 2 staff at Liuwa. Itenerary: Day 1 - Pioneer Lodge, Lusaka Day 2 - Katoyana Campsite, Liuwa Plains NP Day 3 - Katoyana Campsite, Liuwa Plains NP Day 4 - Katoyana Campsite, Liuwa Plains NP Day 5 - Katoyana Campsite, Liuwa Plains NP Day 6 - Musekese Camp, Kafue NP Day 7 - Musekese Camp, Kafue NP Day 8 - Musekese Camp, Kafue NP Day 9 - Musekese Camp, Kafue NP So the major goal on this trip was definitely the Liuwa part but I also wanted to see the Kaufe and Musekese in particular once during the green season. After several visits in the dry season. Unfortunately there were no chances to see Lady Liuwa anymore, as she passed away in early August in 2017. Nevertheless the whole trip was phenomenal and I was more then just happy to visit Liuwa and the Kafue during that part of the year. Day 1 After getting on time to Lusaka I was picked up by Pioneer for a short transfer from the airport to the Lodge. I just arrived in the late afternoon and had a nice little shower after a long journey in the same clothes....Afterward I was heading into the main area where a nicely stocked bar was on offer to be examined and where I would later on would have my dinner. Outside view of my chalet, they have 3 different types of accomodation on the compound. Miomba Chalet (Like mine) are the biggest ones, then they have Safari Chalets which are smaller and Tents. Tents have no en suite bathrooms, instead they have shared ones. Very nice chalet and compound. The whole area is very nicely fitted into the landscape and it's not far from the airport. So makes this camp a very good option for 1n stayover in Lusaka if needed. Large bathrooms Day 2 On the next morning and stll quite early I left Pioneer for the aiport. Here at camp I met the 2 other guestes who would join me on the trip to the Liuwa Plains. Short drive to the airport and to the check-in process at the Proflight terminal. The weight limit on this route are more limited then on other routes with Proflight, my hand luggage was 15kg so definitely to heavy and I had to pay for that overweight 60USD! Ok for both ways as I lernt later on, as there is no "terminal" at the airstrip at Kalabo. So for both legs it was fine. We also met Phils father Richard who was on duty to check in a coolin box on our flight for our party at Liuwa. Logistics at it's finest! Our flight to Kalabo was scheduled for 8.10 am. which was on time, we thought. Once in the airplane, they closed the airport, because the President would arrive. We then saw a helicopter arriving with the President and the red carpet was there as well. We couldn't get off but were trapped in as they were supposingly waiting for some "guests of some importannce" to arrive. Just to remember, these were the last days of Mugabe and even our pilot was joking probably it's him or someone in negotiating process of the whole theater, as Zambia/Zim is still quite close especially Lungus PF and the Zanu-PF in Zim. So we were standing outside our plane as a wecloming comitee (the closest ones to the runway), once a private jet landed and passed us in front of us. We couldn't see anyone but we were finally in the position to get back into the airplane as they would lift the "airport closing" ban. Last but not least with about 1-1.5 hours delay we could take off. View from the sky over a cloudy Lusaka. It looked very wet and it was at that stage looking for some more showers in the Lusaka area. I hoped for the best for the Western part of the country as by some locals in the bar on the night before, the forecast looked better or let's say less rainy in that part of the country for the next few days. The Kafue River. Flying westwards was nice, especially to enjoy some finer weather. We had some other guests in the Caravan who left us at Lufupa airstrip in the Kaufe. Here we met Phil who joined us onto the route to Kalabo. Ty was already in the Liuwa with the car and some help from staff from Musekese. The Zambezi river close to Kalabo. Beautiful view eh? Going down slowly as we were close to our final destination Kalabo. Kalabo town...not the outskirts.. Te Hangar with a nice welcoming sign of African Parks and the Logo of the Liuwa Plain NP. The airport is in Kalabo Town, still outside of the park. The pilots made the plane ready to fly back to Lusaka with a bunch of other guests leaving this beautiful part of Zambia. Our vehicle was alread parked there on the strip and after sorting out our luggage we were off, driving through Kalabo to the main office into the park, where Phil would pay the Park entry fees. We waited and had some packed lunch whilst waiting there. A few meters away was the river which we would have to cross with our car on a pontoon moved by hand. After some tme driving after the river crossing we entered the park unnoticed, but here we are.....first large flocks of wildebeest as a welcoming party. Later on some Zebras as well and now you also can see why these are called the Liuwa tree just a plain area. We finally arrived at Katoyana Campsite where we would have 2 sites for our one purpose. All the tents were already set up, dome tents but very comfy and high enough to stand inside. I will show some more details later one here. As it was already 5pm we decided to go for a very short drive as it was a long day already. And shortly just outside the campsite, the first Hyena sighting! I always had bad luck with them and have not seen the for several years, last time in the SLNP. Some parts of the plains are full with different types of amaryllies. A lovely first sundowner with a small group of wildebeest just in front posing. It was an absolute dream to have my old Nikon 135mm f/2.8 AI-s lens with me. That one creates an unbelievable color rendition. A first short start in the Liuwa Plains on arrival!
  2. Musekese Conservation (founded by Phil Jeffery and Tyrone McKeith of Jeffery & McKeith Safaris) has recently received its approval from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to implement resource protection and conservation projects in the Musekese-Lumbeya sectors of the Kafue National Park. This is an exciting development that will see Musekese working more closely with DNPW and all other stakeholders and conservation organisations in the Park. Initiated by Phil Jeffery and Tyrone McKeith of Jeffery & McKeith Safaris, their shared background and passion for the conservation of wild areas has always been at their core as individuals. This passion combined with a learned appreciation for the world-class wildlife area that the Kafue is and an ever increasing realisation of the conservation challenges and threat to wildlife populations from poaching has resulted in the creation of this dedicated conservation initiative. Musekese Conservation has not happened overnight... many years of meetings and consultations with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and other conservation NGO's in the region has resulted in the understanding that if we can work together then we can create 'safe zones' in core-areas, such as in the Musekese-Lumbeya sector, an area known for a high density of wildlife and a haven for species such as elephant and pangolin, some of the world's most sought after and threatened species. The creation and preservation of these safe zones will hopefully one day run throughout the KNP and into the surrounding GMAs and open areas, benefitting the adjacent communities and cementing the Park's reputation as one of the world's last great wilderness areas. Please email us on for more information on what we are doing, what we plan to do and how you can make a difference too... Musekese Conservation received its first donations for operations in the Kafue National Park with DNPW. The donation of a 4x4 vehicle and two boats from Jeffery & McKeith Safaris will greatly assist with deployments of patrol teams in the surrounding areas. Jeffery & McKeith Safaris will also provide access to a private aircraft for aerial support and reconnaissance, such as pinpointing the location of fires, carcasses, poaching camps, etc. Exciting times ahead! This is day one for Musekese Conservation, and the below projects are what threy begin with - building capacity with the local authorities for better protection of Kafue’s wildlife resources: Creation and furnishing of a remote anti-poaching 'Outpost' for anti-poaching teams Sourcing of operational equipment (uniforms, communications, etc.) for anti-poaching personnel Fundraising for wages and bonuses for the dedicated Wildlife Police Officers (recruited from the local communities) Musekese conservation are excited about getting teams on the ground and as site security is realised look to seeing them broadening the goals of Musekese Conservation in Kafue National Park, in order for it to further benefit the adjacent communities in particular. Check out their website for more information. If you would like to donate and make a REAL and immediate difference their Just Giving page can be found here. Please do also take the time to like, follow and share our Facebook and Instagram accounts to keep up to date with conservation in and around Kafue National Park.
  3. Kafue is wild. Kafue is beautiful. Kafue is diverse. Kafue is a birder´s paradise. And Kafue is harsh. Difficult. Uncomfortable. And unwilling to easily reveal its many treasures. We had discussed Kafue with @Doug Macdonald on our last trip to Mana Pools, and his enthusiasm for this rarely visited, huge national park convinced us that we had to see it, and that we wanted to see it "properly". @Atravelynn had had similar talks with Doug and had come to the same conclusion, and so it was a logical thing that we would team up for this again. To our delight @Kitsafari also decided to join up, and so we were a very Safaritalky ensemble since we decided to have Doug along as well as a private guide. This was our itinerary, from Oct 3d/4th to Oct 16th: 1 nt Pioneer Camp, Lusaka (2 nts for Kit) 3 nts Konkamoya Lodge, at the Southern shore of Lake Itezhi Tezhi (about 7 hours from Pioneer) 3 nts Musekese Camp, Northern sector (about five hours from Konkamoya) 3 nts Ntemwa-Busanga Camp (Musekese mobile), Busanga Plains (about four hours from Musekese) 1 nt Musekese Camp, Northern sector 1 nt Pioneer Camp (only Michael and @AndMic) ( @wilddog I hope it´s ok to include this map? If not here´s the link: So let´s gonna find out how it was for us. Not always easy, I will admit that. But in the end, so much worth it.
  4. Well, where to start.... After reading so many fine TR recently especially about Zambia and the Kafue in particular, I've found some time to start with my own one now. I decided this year to go back to the Kafue after 2 fantastic visits in the past 2 years. The Kafue is definitely a "holy grail" park in Africa for me. The diversity is absolutely phenomenal and the feeling to have the whole park for yourself as well, is the perfect match for me. So I decided to go stay a little bit and make up a pure Kafue Safari this year. A combination of different patches of this huge park was my intention, with some new places in mind. The one part I haven't seen before was the far south down in Nanzhila Plains. And as this was highly recommended to me, I've decided to spend 5 nights down there this time. I've ended up with 5n Nanzhila, 5n Musekese and 5n Ntemwa-Busanga. I like to stay 5n or 4n as a minimum in one camp. So I had this trip in mind, but wasn't sure if it's possible to do the Nanzhila-Musekese Transfer in one day, as this is quite a bit of driving. But after a final confirmation of the possibility, I booked the whole trip as planned. I would have liked to put also a camp in the middle sector of the park as a stopover into the itinerary like last year (Kaingu), but I was short with my days off from work. So the central part of the Park would be missed out this time. In my planning early last year, I just catched up the notice @ Jeffery & Mckeith Safaris for a November special trip to the Liuwa in 2017. Couldn't resist, as me and Ty discussed this a year earlier and the Liuwa was always one of these dreamy places I wanted to go. But the costs to go there, where always to high for myself in the past. But this opportunity was a nice and more camping style option at a very reasonable price compared to the other options. So I decided to take this opportunity as well....and ended up with 2 Safaris in Zambia and in the Kafue for 2017, not too bad... Naturally the Liuwa trip was only 4n and It wouldn't have made sense for me to fly down to Zambia for only 4n. So I added 4n at Musekese in the Kafue on this November trip as well. A good opportunity to see the Musekese area in a different time of the year, especially the green season. Enough, now here the Itinerary for my August trip. I will start with this trip anyway in my TR. Part One / Kafue NP, August 2017 Itinerary: 18.08.2017 / ZRH-JNB-LVI 19.08.2017 / Transfer from Livingstone to Nanzhila Plains Camp 20.08.2017/ Nanzhila Plains Camp 21.08.2017/ Nanzhila Plains Camp 22.08.2017/ Nanzhila Plains Camp 23.08.2017/ Nanzhila Plains Camp 24.08.2017/ Nanzhila Plains Camp - Full day Transfer to Musekese Camp 25.08.2017/ Musekese Camp 26.08.2017/ Musekese Camp 27.08.2017/ Musekese Camp - Afternoon Transfer to Ntemwa-Busanga 28.08.2017/ Ntemwa-Busanga Camp 29.08.2017/ Ntemwa-Busanga Camp 30.08.2017/ Ntemwa-Busanga Camp 31.08.2017/ Ntemwa-Busanga Camp 01.09.2017/ Morning Transfer to Musekese Camp 02.09.2017/ Musekese Camp 03.09.2017/ LUN-JNB-ZRH
  5. So, it's now 2 weeks since I got home from my trip to Zambia. Together with my wife I visited Kafue National Park from 9-16 october. Actually the 2nd time I visited Kafue, first time in April 2013. First time we only stayed at Mukambi Safari Lodge, the main camp, and were there at the beginning of the dry season. This time we planned at the end of the dry season so we could also go to the Busanga Plains. Our itinerary: Day 1: Mukambi Safari Lodge Day 2: Mukambi Safari Lodge -> Fig Tree camp Day 3: Fig Tree camp Day 4: Fig Tree camp -> Busanga Plains camp Day 5: Busanga Plains camp Day 6: Busanga Plains camp Day 7: Busanga Plains camp -> Mukambi Safari Lodge Day 8: Mukambi Safari Lodge -> Lusaka All camps belong to Mukambi. We had a great time with them before, so decided to go with them again. Also, I tried something else this trip. I recently got into making videos and decided to try and make some sort of vlog of my trip. I'm not a vlogger at all and never really put my self out there for the camera, but I thought it would be a good occassion to create a video so I decided to go for it. I'm creating videos on a day-by-day schedule and haven't finished all of them yet, but the first two are online. Don't mind giving advice, but please be kind I hope you like it and think it reflects a safari experience. I will update this TR when I finish a new video and complete it with other stories/pictures as well.
  6. I thought by tagging my recent trip report it would appear in both forums but it only appears in the South African Forum. Here's the link to the report which includes half the time spent in Zambia. I sure hope to be back!
  7. Now that our very first safari is booked for 2018, my dad and I want to start improving our ID skills for birds (especially) and mammals. We'll be in Zambia (South Luangwa and Kafue National Parks) in late August and September. My searches thus far for field guides have not turned up a lot for Zambia. Do you have any recommendations of books that would help us for this area? Or should I just order guides that cover bordering countries and cross-reference lists from our chosen camps? So far, I've purchased used copies of Birds of Southern Africa (Princeton; it does cover Zambia along with many other countries) and Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa (does not technically cover Zambia, although maybe it doesn't matter). We won't likely take these books along with us, so if you have any apps or pocket guides that you'd also recommend, please let me know.
  8. I have a safari that has space for either one person or a couple in November 2017. The safari starts in Lusaka with one night at Pioneer Camp, we then travel by Land Rover through to Kafue National Park - Musekese Camp for 3 nights. From here we go to Mongu where we will have one night and do the resupply for our time in Liuwa. I have Katayona Campsite booked for 4 nights. We leave there and head down the Zambezi River to Kabula Camp and then finish off in Livingstone. Approximate cost depending on whether we are an extra one or two people is around the $4000 mark. I will confirm that as soon as I know who is coming. Please note that the Liuwa Plains part will require some participation from you in terms of camp set up, cleaning and cooking. Please email me direct on so I can discuss the safari in detail with you. Liuwa Plains and Kafue NP with Doug Macdonald 19 – 29 Nov 2017
  9. I'm in the middle of planning a first safari with my father for August/September 2018. We plan to spend 12-15 days. Our likely trip outfitter, The Wild Source in Golden, CO, has come up with a few great itineraries. And now we're having a very hard time deciding. All three itineraries include 6-7 days in South Luangwa, staying with the Bushcamp Company (Zungulila and Bilumungwe). The other half of the trip is where we need to make some tough decisions: 1. 4 days in the Okavango with Bushmen Plains, followed by 2 days on the Chobe River on a houseboat, and one day at Victoria Falls and Gorges Lodge (If we selected this trip, we'd have a private guide/vehicle for South Luangwa.) 2. 4 days in Lower Zambezi at the Amanzi Camp. (If we selected this trip, it would be 2 days shorter, but we'd have a private guide/vehicle for the entire trip.) 3. 4-5 days in Kafue (unsure of camps yet or private guides; this one is still getting worked out). A Little About Us: As this is our first safari, virtually everything will be new to us (except maybe cattle egrets). My father is a retired wildlife biologist, so he greatly appreciates wide, open space and NO crowds. We're both birders, but we are just as excited to see new mammals and reptiles. My dad specialized in ungulates, so a variety of antelope would be great; again, though, we wouldn't need to be chasing rarities. Wild dogs would be the cherry on top of an amazing trip. Victoria Falls is not a must for us by any means. Questions: Any advice or recommendations based on what you see above? Any concerns we should consider? Have any of you spent ay time on safari on a houseboat? That part sounds a little weird to me, but it might be great for birds. Thanks in advance for your help. I don't know how I'm going to be able to wait 18 months for this!
  10. For anyone interested in a safari to the Kafue National Park in Zambia check out our new video which should hopefully give those of you who have always wondered what it might actually look or feel like a glimpse in to what is on offer in this truly wild, truly world class wildlife destination... We still have space have space for the 2016 season (although September/October is all but full) and as such if you need a little nudge to get away on safari this year and are looking for something a little different to the 'norm' then feel free to contact me for more information and for special offers... With warm regards from the Kafue! Tyrone McKeith +26 0974173403 tyrone.mckeith (skype)
  11. Busanga plains. The North West corner of Kafue National Park and an iconic area. Three years ago we visited Busanga in May and it was lush green with water everywhere and we had to travel in to the plains by mokoro. It was a bit of a emotional trip as we were collecting belongings we had left there the year before. The end of three years working there and having some incredible experiences and leaving some real friends there was quite a tug. In fact canoeing out in the stunning scenery and birdlife was really like the end of an era for us and a bit of welling up might have been seen in Julia's eyes. So three years later here we are planning a Busanga trip. Julia's mother and a friend were out to visit us and we thought that it would be time to go back. Now if it was just us we would have headed up with the roof tent and roughed it at Kapinga with the guys from NamibSky (who stay for three months and do the ballooning for Wilderness Safaris). But camping is not really their thing in the heat of October so Mukambi very kindly came up with a good rate for the Plains Camp for three nights. untitled shoot-19095.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr A quick bit of general Busanga background: There are three permanent camps in Busanga (which generally is estimated to comprise 730sq kms). Shumba and Busanga Bush Camp are both Wilderness properties while Plains camp is owned by Mukambi. Plains camp is the furthest North of the three and in the beginning of the season is reached by a massively long boardwalk over the swamps. The Busanga season is a short one – 4 or 5 months maximum. The whole area is inundated with water from December through to June, and while it is absolutely stunning then it is impossible to operate. The area is deservedly referred to as the 'jewel of the Kafue' and to be honest it is. There is simply no question that the unique area offers something that the rest of the park (and the Luangwas and Lower Zambezi) just cannot match. It can be simply mind blowing. The sheer intensity of life there is incredible. Yes, early season if the lions disappear across the Lufupa channel then it can be 'quiet' for those seeking predator action, but the multitudes of birds and lechwe in the plains is amazing. I digress a bit. Anyway, the ladies were fortunate in that they could jump on a flight up from Chunga while I was driving. I elected to take the Western Boundary road which is exactly that – a road used by DNPW to deploy scout teams, sometimes a hunting safari and as a logistical route to the plains. It is a much faster (but more boring) route than the conventional 'spinal' road from the hook bridge up. So I dropped them off at the strip to wait for the plane and headed off. Four hours later I am now heading East, along the treeline and then turning North again into the plains. To be honest at this time of year the plains are a bit underwhelming when you arrive at the edge. In fact it resembles more the salt pans of Botswana than anything else! untitled shoot-18188.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr I bimble across the plains and before long I am seeing roan and (of course) lechwe in the dozens and dozens and some roan. But to be honest by this point I just want to get to camp, rendezvous with everyone and get a shower... The mid day light is also really harsh. untitled shoot-18195.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr I arrive at the camp to be greeted by Erko (apologies if I have spelled wrongly) and told that there is some mechanical drama with the plane so the ladies will not be arriving until much later. Erko is helping out for a few weeks with camp management (his real life consists of film making in Holland). So the rest of the afternoon is just spent wandering around. Edjan (Mukambi MD) has made some great changes to the camp since I last saw it - not least the spectacular elevated viewing lounge high up in the massive fig tree that the main area sits under. I have to confess I might have had a couple of Mosi up there while waiting for the rest of the party to arrive. untitled shoot-18256.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18260.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr The camp itself is four tents which are generously sized meru style under big canvas awnings that provide plenty shade for seating out the front. There are outdoor bucket shower bathrooms reached down a small grass corridor outside each tent. Comfy beds, great linen (can't believe I am writing this!) and as much as you need but not getting into the realm of 'luxury'. Tasteful. Thankfully no solid copper baths or personal waiter service here! Just a proper safari bush camp. The main area has lounge areas, is all up on an elevated deck and has a firepit down at the end of a boardwalk. It is everything that my dream Busanga bushcamp would be..... ;-) As careful readers of Caracal's Kafue trip report might know I like plumbing. I know that not all trip reports include bathrooms, but mine does. untitled shoot-18225.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18211.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18255.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr The ladies roll in around 18:30 after a great slow drive up from the airfield. A couple of drinks around the fire, meet the other two guests in camp and then a great dinner and bed! untitled shoot-19446.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr 05:00 wakeup call. What a pleasure to be on the receiving end rather than the giving end! A quick slice of toast and some filter coffee and off. Well, not before the obligitory lechwe with the rising sun... To be honest this works a LOT better in the winter months with the mist. The haze now is smoke from the bush fires. I had forgotten how much cooler it is in the plains in the evenings, at night and the early mornings. It makes sleeping a pleasure! But a sweater is a must. Unless you are forgetful like me. Fortunately at this time of year the cold lasts for about 15 seconds. untitled shoot-18508.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18495.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr We are driving with guide Powell (fairly new to Mukambi and the plains) and the other two guests in camp (a charming Kenyan/French couple who are into everything, just like us). First sighting (lechwe and hippo excluded) is a rosy-throated longclaw. This bird is tiny but spectacular and is a regular sighting in the plains. untitled shoot-18517.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr A few minutes later an elephant. When we were in the plains to be honest the elephant sightings were not as common as what our impression is now. Speaking to the various guides at various camps over the next couple of days backs this feeling up. The big Kapinga herd are still a bit spooked, but there is no shortage of fairly relaxed bulls wandering around the plains – which is really encouraging. We head off around 'acacia island' looking for lions but quickly we figure out that the heat and the wind have driven them into the shade of the long grass so they won't be showing until maybe the afternoon. untitled shoot-18527.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr We start heading slowly back North towards camp and encounter some fantastic pools packed with hippos. Hippos in Busanga break all the so called rules: it is not uncommon to see herds of them wandering around in daylight (yes, I know they are not really 'herds'). There are a fair old number of them around too. A fair number of side-striped jackals are seen as well. untitled shoot-18593.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18607.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr untitled shoot-18447.jpg by G Dickson, on Flickr We get back to camp around 10:30 (after setting of at 06:00) for a very good brunch with a great lasagna and fresh salad and rock shandies. If my morning drive description seems brief and the sightings few, then this is the wrong impression! I am too busy soaking up just the atmosphere of being back to really photograph and note what I am seeing. To be honest the heat and haze is such that the camera was pretty much put away at 09:30 as anything not really close is just too soft. As we are about to have our brunch I spot old friends out driving so walk out over the boardwalk to arrange a rendezvous for the afternoon....
  12. During the course of the last safari season my colleague Phil and I compiled some aerial footage of the Kafue National Park, mostly concentrated around our camp Musekese. I finally got around to editing the footage and have put it on Youtube. I wanted to let the ST forum know as I hope it excites people and gives you an insight into the Kafue and the amount of water and colour the park has in the 'early' season (May and June). Enjoy!
  13. Tyrone McKeith, L and Phil Jeffery, R Personal resumes. Name: Phil Jeffery Date of Birth: 12/02/1985 Place of Birth: Harare, Zimbabwe Phil was born in Zimbabwe but brought up in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, where his father was working for Save the Rhino Trust. Phil has spent his life in the bush, and his knowledge and passion for Zambia’s flora and fauna is extensive. This is most evident in the Kafue National Park where he has worked for the past decade in many different capacities, including working with the Zambia Wildlife Authorities in mapping the Kafue under a project for the newest Management Plan. Phil has been involved in guide training for a number of years, initially for Wilderness Safaris and alongside his father, Richard Jeffery, (a wildlife consultant and pilot), is highly respected in the field and in the Zambian safari industry at large. A quietly spoken young man with a good sense of humour and an eye for detail. Phil is also an Honorary Zambian Wildlife Police Officer or HWPO, a designation which carries great responsibility and pride, allowing for hands on involvmement in management of the park, assisting the park authorities in many capacities from anti-poaching to intelligence and ecological research. Name: Tyrone McKeith Date of Birth: 10/06/1988 Place of Birth: London, UK Having been brought to Africa by a wildlife enthusiast father since the age of 5 and specifically Zambia and the Kafue since 8 years of age there is nowhere Tyrone feels more at home than the bush. Since graduating from University in 2009 he has managed camps across Zambia, most notably on the Busanga Plains in the Kafue NP where his guiding career started in ernest, before expanding to pass Level 1 Walking Safari exams in the Lower Zambezi NP and the Kafue NP, where he is now a member of the park’s guiding examination committee. Tyrone is an outgoing and confident young man and has given talks to interested audiences at some of London’s largest travel shows, and as a result has spoken at Eton College’s Shackleton Society. Like Phil, Tyrone has also recently been gazzetted as an Honorary Wildlife Police Officer for the Zambian Wildlife Authorities, a designation that brings a great deal of pride to him. An avid photographer and fisherman, there are fewer young men you will meet with such an insatiable appetite for what he does and the place he calls home. To find out more about Jeffery & McKeith Safaris visit the website ------------------------------ What is the history of Jeffery & McKeith Safaris and what is your ethos? We started out in 2012 by running mobile safaris and fixing for film crews, including for the BBC, before securing our own permanent site, (Musekese Camp,) the following year. On starting out, we had a combined experience of 15 years in the Kafue National Park, and the idea was to secure a core area of the Park and through tourism try and mitigate the conservation challenges that the Kafue, like many other parks across Africa, faces. Whilst both myself & Tyrone had worked extensively in the Park for other safari operators, it was felt that we had a lot more to offer the Kafue from both a conservation and safari standpoint, and the best way to do this was to set up our own operation. By doing so we could have final say in how and where we allocate our resources and what we focus on specifically. What are your own safari and conservation backgrounds? Both of us are graduates of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent. Although based in the UK, the Institute has a global reach and we were taught by leading experts in various fields of conservation. It gave a great foundation to further our existing interests in conservation. Phil: I was lucky enough to spend the first few years of my life in the Luangwa Valley where my dad worked with the Save The Rhino Trust. As he was a wildlife biologist, whilst growing up I was often fortunate enough to travel into the field with him and that rubbed off on me a great deal. Upon finishing school I went straight into guiding, before later attending University. Tyrone: My interests were sparked also by my father, when from a young age he would travel with me on safari across Africa, with Zambia ultimately being our favourite destination. After striking up friendships with various lodge owners, I was able to spend my summer holidays in the bush helping out in both Luangwa and Kafue, and straight after finishing University I decided to move out permanently. After a stint in the Luangwa I returned to Kafue, which had always been my favourite park. As a new generation of young guides, what defines your approach to safari tourism? In this day and age it is not enough to just be a safari guide or operator. Guides are conservationists by default, and have a huge amount of responsibility to educate guests, not only about the wildlife but the challenges in protecting it. Outside of day to day guiding we believe that guides, (and safari operators on the whole), should make every effort to lend their services and expertise to, and get more involved with, the authorities as well as conservation organisations. Through the Wildlife Authorities’ Honorary Wildlife Police Officer scheme, we are able to get involved on the ground, but also assist and contribute to organisations such as the Zambia Carnivore Programme, Game Rangers International and The Nature Conservancy. We have to make our presence count. In your opinion, what can be done to make safaris more attractive to a younger audience? It really depends how you define ‘young’! Safari is expensive across the board, and that is the limiting factor, but we do get a range of guests of all ages, from families with young children to people long since retired. Of course, when it comes to activities like walking there are age restrictions but being flexible and catering to the different needs of each individual is key. How do you encourage guests to disconnect from their social media world and connect with the natural world? First of all there is no Wifi or phone signal so guests haven’t got much choice other than to well and truly disconnect. The experience with us is entirely focused on the bush, and whilst guests are always free to enjoy the ‘usual safari siesta', for us there is no hanging about! If we hear alarm calls or have an inkling that something exciting or unusual might be about, then we’re off, guests in tow! We really hope that our enthusiasm for the area and passion for the wildlife rub off on everyone who stays with us. From the beginning what has been your target guest demographic and how have you been able to establish a reputation in a competitive marketplace? Anyone with an interest in wildlife! I suppose we were quite fortunate in that through many years of working in the industry we were able to build up a good relationship with both agents and repeat visitors to the park, and that has certainly helped in getting our feet off the ground and establishing a reputation in a competitive marketplace. Beyond social media and active marketing, the power of word of mouth should not be underestimated! Why base your operations in Kafue National Park? Apart from the fact that the Kafue is where both of us had spent the most of our careers, we truly believe that the Park is one of the last remaining true wilderness areas in Africa. It is a hugely important sanctuary for some of Africa’s most threatened species, and we could have a tremendously positive impact, more so than in areas and parks that are already saturated with camps and lodges. What made you choose the location for Musekese Camp? (Describe the area in which it is situated, what a guest can expect to experience there.) The camp is situated on what we call a dambo, which is a seasonally flooded grassland depression that is bordered by various habitats including miombo woodland, kasakasaka thickets, termitaria, riverine vegetation and large open, sandy grasslands. This diversity of habitat gives rise to an incredible array of wildlife, and is perhaps one of the most diverse areas in the Park where beyond the common, small to medium sized antelopes, guests can expect to see all the large carnivores, (never guaranteed!), as well as the more sought after herbivores such as roan, sable, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and zebra. There is also a healthy population of elephant. The river is closely accessible from the camp and we spend a lot of time on the water. We are located on the corner of what is essentially a peninsula, flanked on three sides by the main Kafue River, which means water is abundant in the dry season and game viewing is spectacular. Introduce us to your staff: who are they and from where do they come? We have a great team of 11 staff, (not including ourselves). Half of the staff came from the small village team that we employed in the beginning to help clear a 45km track to site. It was of course necessary to recruit some experienced staff from the industry but it was equally important to us to employ and train staff who had never had any formal employment before. All of the staff come from villages surrounding the Park, and as we become more established we hope to have a greater influence and outreach into their communities. Describe your personal highlights thus far from your time operating in Kafue. Seeing the wildlife and habitats flourish under the right conditions is a real thrill, especially to know that it is in part due to our hard work and perseverance. It should be noted that none of it would be possible without our guests, but of course the wildlife authoritoty and conservation organisations like Game Rangers International and The Nature Conservancy, to name but a few. What does Kafue offer over parks in Zambia? How should it be viewed: as a stand alone destination or part of a greater Zambia itinerary? The Kafue is definitely a stand alone destination. We say this because it is such a huge Park with a variety of habitats that deserve at least a few days in each to explore and make the most of the diversity of flora and fauna. There are also different experiences to be had depending on where in the Park you might be, and one could easily fill two weeks in the Kafue. Having said that, it is easily accessible from Lusaka and so one is very much able to attach it to part of a greater Zambia itinerary. In terms of offerings over other parks in Zambia, the Kafue River always comes to mind. Of course the other major parks in Zambia are characterized by large rivers, but they don’t offer the seclusion, tranquility and quality of wildlife viewing that the Kafue River does. It is not uncommon, particularly in the dry season, to encounter lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo whilst on an afternoon boat cruise. The other offering is the diversity of large mammals and of course birds. The Park boasts 20 different antelope species, more than any other park in Africa, as well as close to 500 species of birds, so there is something for everyone whether you are a first time ‘safarian’, or a seasoned bush-goer. What will need to happen for Kafue to recapture some of the spirit of its past glory days? I don’t think the spirit of the Kafue has ever been lost, there is a very unique and specific energy in the park. Unfortunately that unique positivity is often overshadowed by a perception that the park is somehow a poor relation to other Zambian parks, or perceived as a ‘recovering’ park. I would say when tourism slumped throughout Zambia in the 1970’s and 1980’s all parks were affected, unfortunately the Kafue just didn’t bounce back as quickly, in terms of visitor numbers, as our better known other major parks who had some seriously talented and hard working safari tourism operators putting in the hard graft to get their park back up to where it was. When guests arrive with a perception that the park they are seeing is a ‘shadow of it’s former self’ or something similar then you already start on a negative, in my opinion people should visit the Kafue for exactly what it is today and exactly what it will be in years to come, they will be pleasantly surprised. What are some of Kafue's secrets and what are your favourite areas of the park? I couldn’t say! I can however tell you that the most rewarding places to visit in the park are those areas, of which they are many, that have never had the foot of a tourist touch the ground. There are not many parks where you can head out on foot, (with a GPS…) and literally explore unchartered areas. I do know however that Phil is a big fan of the Lunga area and I myself have a soft spot for Nanzhila, as I say though there are so very many worthwhile and wholly different ‘secrets’ to explore in the Kafue. How do you feel Kafue is promoted internationally and what can be done to increase its visibility in the media? Overall little is known about the Kafue in the international media, I will say however that there has been a good, strong and steady increase in awareness of the quality of the park in the past 5 years or so, this is being reflected in increasing visitor numbers year on year. We have been lucky to have several world renown film crews shooting various scenes in the Kafue, unfortunately these have not been as self-proclaiming as wildlife films and documentaries that have been shot in Luangwa for example, these shows, such as ‘Countdown to the Rains’, have brought significant interest to the Luangwa, as such we hope for similar shows to come through the Kafue and showcase what we have to offer. What does Kafue offer the first timer, the more experienced visitor, (perhaps five safaris), and lastly someone who has experienced many other places but not yet been to Kafue, for whatever reason? Obviously each person’s criteria would be different so what would you recommend for each? Good question! It is a little gripe of mine, (just a small one), that the Kafue is often not seen as a suitable first time safari destination. My counter to that commonly held belief is that for the right kind of person it is very much a first time safari destination. If you have not safaried before but have a keen interest in wildlife, conservation, landscapes, geology, simply a slightly enquiring natural history orientated mind, then the Kafue is surely the ideal first time safari destination! With more antelope species than any other park in Africa, all of the major predators present and a great diversity of activities and habitat types on offer what wouldn’t a first time safari goer with the aforementioned interests not be enthralled with?! I feel there are many folk who would love the Kafue, they just havn’t heard about it yet. How far from both Livingstone and Lusaka is Kafue and what options exist for self driving in the park? Indeed, how is driving to the park, whether self driving or with an operator a viable option? The Kafue is a big park! The Southern most gate of the park is only apprx. 3 to 4 hours drive from Livingstone, however the Centre of the park is approx. 8 to 9 hours drive from Livingstone, Busanga in the north is more like 14 to 15 hours drive, (of course you would never do this in a day…). Lusaka to the Central Kafue is an easy 4 hour drive on a fantastically smooth road. Self-driving is certainly doable in the Kafue and although access to camping sites is non-existent in the Busanga Plains area, (unless you stay at one of the existing bush camps) - the rest of the Kafue from the Centre through to the South has a good handful of lovely campsites, notably McBride’s, Mayukuyuku, KaingU, Kasabushi, Nanzhila to name a few. Guests to our Musekese Camp invariably make use of our transfers or fly in to Lufupa airstrip which is just a short hop by boat from camp, we do still welcome self-drivers but do not have camping facilities and as such they stay with us a guests of the main camp. What improvements have been made to tourism infrastructures in Kafue National Park since Jeffery & McKeith safaris has been operating? What about safari operators – what are they doing for Kafue and how are they investing? What new properties and operators have started up recently? Considering the vast size of the Kafue we must applaud the wildlife authorities for what they manage to achieve in terms of infrastructure development in our park. Recently a re-opening of the magnificent ‘Spinal’ road from Central Kafue to Itezhi-tezhi has been one major success and has even made it possible for tourism development along it, (Mawimbi and Kasabushi Bush Camps as examples), something that would not have been possible 5 years ago before the road was created. We, like most other operators are very active in aiding the authorities in improving infrastructure, from lending man power to help clear old roads to providing the fuel and helping with the maintenance and spare parts of grading equipment. In terms of tourism, what developments would you like to see happen in Kafue? I am a real advocate for tourism development in the Kafue, the key however must be in the careful and well planned approach to it. We have so much space to play with here, as such there is no need for tourism developments to be on top of each other and most importantly in the eyes of Phil and I, by carefully selecting area for development you can benefit the park not just in terms of increased park revenues, (which can help further our management efforts), but from the mere presence of tourism operators in areas that have never been developed before and the associated benefits of pushing illegal activities out of these areas. There is little benefit in this instance if camps are placed side by side in high density, plus this would negate the whole essence of the Kafue. How can the need for greater tourism numbers be balanced with maintaining the park’s essential wilderness aspect? In your opinion what is the maximum number of properties the park can sustain and what type of properties should they be? I.e., lodges, camps, mobile operators etc? We get this question a lot! Visitors to the Kafue know that one of its major attractions is the fact that you can be here for an entire safari and conceivably never see another tourist. I feel that it would take one hell of an increase in tourist numbers before the wilderness feeling of the Kafue is negated. We get less than 1% of the visitor numbers that the Kruger gets, (and we are slightly larger a park), not saying that we ever want to be as busy as the Kruger of course, but! We are not looking at 50% of the Kruger’s numbers, not even 10%, even a 3 or 4 fold increase in visitors to the Kafue would not touch the sides. Luckily the park is well zoned in its management plan and as such certain areas will never be allowed to be over-developed whilst other areas are earmarked for more intensive development, other areas are strictly special conservation zones where no development of any kind is allowed, as such there will always be wilderness in the Kafue. How will increased visitor numbers benefit the conservation of Kafue National Park? If there is ever a park where simply visiting it makes a difference, then the Kafue is it. Where we built our Musekese Camp was known to the wildlife authorities for being a favoured haunt of poachers, that was one of the reasons we wanted to develop that area, (and not pop ourselves next door to someone else who already had roads and infrastructure, etc.). Because people visit us at Musekese it means that the area has a value to be protected and the poachers have upped and left. When we first arrived we would hear the odd gunshot and find the odd snare, it has now been 3 years since the last shot was heard and not 1 snare has been found since. The wildlife has bounced back in great numbers and we now see herds of over 200 Impala! Wildlife wants to proliferate and when we give them the space and protection to do so, they will… In your opinion, what is the future of safari tourism in Zambia? Another big question! I think in the short to medium term there is a very positive outlook and I can see the tourism sector in Zambia continuing to grow from strength to strength. If Zambia as a country is able to publicize itself, (the majority of marketing is done by the operators themselves) and play on our country's strengths, from the wonderfully friendly people, political stability to the perfect climate and all the other things that make Zambia stand out from many of it’s regional competitors, then we might see a big increase in visitors, and it will be well deserved and justified. In the long term we will see how the increasing human population affects our wild areas, but the saving grace of the Kafue is her vast size and as such I feel that we will be one of the most important and significant wildlife areas in Zambia and arguably southern Africa in times to come. Photo Credits: courtesy and copyright Jeffery and McKeith Safaris. The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.
  14. So a consortium of four of us lodges in the Kafue got together last year. I am waiting for completed pictures so that I can do a proper write up. Basically we are (in less than a month) going to be operating a 9 pax twin engined aircraft to service the Kafue. Hopefully "open it up" a bit more. It's early days, what we all know about operating an "airline" could be written on a postage stamp! Massive learning curve and for sure its going to be a while before it even breaks even. But hopefully one day.... I will update with rates and how it all works later, but until then here is a taster of the rather unique plane:
  15. This once in a lifetime sighting happened towards the end of last season. I had award winning film maker Mirra Bank and her husband with me, guiding them for a week from Musekese Camp. They were busy filming this remarkable sighting on their film cameras whilst I managed to keep steady enough to shoot a few shots with my stills camera (all be it with a 200m lens, hence the grainy crop factor of the images). The story and background to this sighting as follows: It was whilst on an afternoon drive from Musekese Camp, Jeffery & McKeith Safaris in north central Kafue National Park, Zambia that we witnessed the most unexpected and as far a we know, as yet photographically un-documented, sighting ever… We had just had the first brief rain storm of the season and the wildlife was noticeably excited and full of energy, with young animals running around merrily and the migratory birds in their hundreds picking off the newly hatching ants and termites. As we rounded a bend in a very attractive stretch of miombo woodland our guide Tyrone heard the frantic alarm calls of a herd of impala. Putting his binoculars to his eyes he shouted almost immediately, let’s go! As we moved further along the track to get a better look at what the commotion was all about he was explaining that he had seen a grey shape tussling with what looked to be an young impala, Tyrone assumed it was a baboon snatching an easy kill (as sometimes happens at this time of year of plenty). What we found however was absolutely not a baboon, but a lone, single warthog acting rather franticly, but what was it doing exactly? The other guests in the vehicle were asked to use their camcorders to record this moment, which they did. We sat and watched as a still very much alive and kicking young impala was set upon, attacked and gored to death by the warthog. In what seemed to be a frantic rage the warthog would tusk and stab and throw the kicking body of the impala around the woodland, all the time the mother of the baby was alarm calling and frantically running to and fro in an attempt to distract the killer warthog. It was so very strange to watch this unfold, it was a typical scene and setting, one that you might expect to find from a 'typical’ predator. Tyrone explained that it was not wholly uncommon to find warthog (and a number of other unexpected species) feeding on carcasses or carrion, especially at this time of year (the end of the dry season, when wildlife is a little more stressed and certain minerals and salts may not be so ready available in the bush). But to witness a warthog actively catch, kill and consume a baby impala was something that was very hard to explain away. One wonders how often this may actually happen but we simply do not see it? We did feel sorry for the impala mother however as who needs enemies when you’ve got friends like the warthog! Larger than Kruger, Kafue National Park is the largest National Park in Zambia as well as being relatively unknown and unexplored. It is one of the last real wilderness areas left in Africa, home to vital global carnivore population including wild dog, lion, leopard and cheetah as well as one of Southern Africa’s most important elephant populations.
  16. Preamble Once again, I seem to find myself following a TR that visited the same Country, Park & Camp as I’m about to describe – hopefully you’ll stay with me and, as I’ve deliberately not followed @@douglaswise ’s posts (yet, I'll have to start catching up), I hope it’s not too “samey” although if he’s kept to his promise that there wouldn’t be any photos then there will at least be some pretty pictures here to keep you interested! This trip came about as we were looking for another trip “away from the crowds”, which would allow us to do some walking and, above all, give us a lot of flexibility to decide what to do at short notice. Armed with this brief we found ourselves at the London Destinations travel show taking to Tyrone McKeith (@KafueTyrone) and his dad Tony who runs Busanga Safaris here in the UK. After a long discussion & bouncing emails back & forward with Tyrone we finally booked up (through Tony) for the following: 28 – 29th Sept: Emirates LHR to Lusaka via Dubai 29th Sept: Pioneer Camp, Lusaka 29th Sept – 1st Oct: Musekese Camp, Kafue 1st – 5th Oct: Musakese mobile camp, Kafue 5th – 8th Oct: Musekese Camp, Kafue 8th – 9th Oct: Emirates Lusaka to LHR via Dubai. Our flight out from Dubai to Lusaka wasn’t the best Emirates flight we’ve had as the boarding arrangements were somewhat chaotic and disjointed, the aircraft was not docked at an air-bridge and we had a long “unguided tour” of the airport until we eventually arrived at the aircraft. Take-off itself was delayed for ~1hr., for reasons that were never really explained & the aircraft itself was a very “rattley” A340 with many alarming “crashes & bangs” on take-off, including one from the toilet near our seats as something quite large “fell off” which blocked the door for some considerable time until one of the cabin crew managed to get in. Then the entertainment system (which was the old fixed schedule type) failed completely, midway through the flight, so it was back to the iPod until we landed, still ~1hr late. With no air-bridge at KKIA, it was nice to be back in Africa again and breath in the late afternoon air (albeit aviation fuel laced) on the walk to the terminal. Once through immigration our driver from Pioneer was waiting for us to take us the short hop over to Pioneer Camp where we were very pleasantly surprised to see Tyrone waiting for us, together with his girlfriend Alex. The afternoon was getting on by this stage so we arranged to meet a little later at the bar and headed to our very nice chalet to freshen up (Toilet to the left, shower & wash basins to the right) Back at the bar, a cold Moshi was the order of the day and Tyrone explained that we had two choices for the morning: get up early, take a packed breakfast & try to beat the traffic or lie-in, have breakfast at Pioneer & wait until later to leave. Option 1 would get us to camp by late morning, option 2 might mean not getting to camp until mid-late afternoon. Option 1 agreed, we enjoyed a very nice steak before turning in. There wasn’t much chance to look around before it got dark but what we could see fitted very well with other ST descriptions, everyone was very friendly and our steaks were excellent – we’d certainly stay at Pioneer again. It was soon morning and we were quickly on the road, dropping Alex off at a deserted shopping mall en-route and we cleared the central Lusaka traffic without much of a hold-up. There’s not a lot to say about the M9 heading west but one hand written sign offering the intriguing combination of Hair Dressing & Car Wash caught my attention – would this be a husband & wife team or do you get your hair power washed? The M9 runs through the park so once we’d passed the park boundary checkpoint our attention picked up again and it wasn’t long after we turned off onto the dirt road towards camp that Tyrone shouted “sable” They weren’t very co-operative but sable were one of my hope-to-see’s so it was a great start to our time in Kafue and we hadn’t even made it to camp yet!
  17. I'm starting far too late for this to resemble a big year but I did manage to at least photograph some species on my recent trip to Zimbabwe and Zambia.
  18. Kaingu Safari Lodge – Kafue NP (Note: the photos with a black border are mine. The ones without a border are from the Kaingu Safari Lodge website, probably taken by @@KaingU Lodge .) It has been almost 20 years since I last visited Zambia. There is no particular reason why it has taken me so long to get back there but a return visit was certainly overdue. Even so, this trip came about due to a combination of circumstances: I was visiting Hwange NP in Zimbabwe; I had planned to continue to Mana Pools but, because I'd left it pretty late, I could not find space; and I was flying Kenya Airways, which routed me into Livingstone rather than Victoria Falls. Why is it that when I spend so much time making sure other people's travel arrangements are meticulously organised that my own are always last minute? The opportunity to visit Kafue NP was too good to miss, particularly as for some time I had wanted to get to Kaingu Safari Lodge. I'd heard so many good things about it and wanted to see for myself. I got in touch and was delighted when Lynda replied to say that they would have space for me. I flew up from Livingstone to Lusaka where I was met and transferred to Pioneer Lodge. The transfer took about 25 minutes as Pioneer is on the same side of Lusaka as the airport. I arrived at Pioneer after dark and left again the following morning when it was barely light so my first impressions were of little more than the bar – which was welcoming. I'd be staying at Pioneer Lodge again before flying out of Lusaka so I'd get the chance to see it properly then. Kaingu SL had arranged for me to be collected from Pioneer and transferred by road to the Lodge in Kafue. The two topics of conversation at the bar the previous night had been of the power shedding which was plunging the country into darkness for 8 hours each day and the dreadful Lusaka traffic and how avoiding it necessitated setting out before 6am. My pick-up was scheduled for 7am and as that time came and went with no sign of my driver I knew that the traffic was the most likely culprit. Sure enough Stephen arrived at 7:25 and apologised for being delayed by the traffic. Despite Stephen's best efforts at finding alternative routes around the congestion it took us almost 1.5 hours to get across Lusaka. There is no proper ring road and to cross from one side of the city to the other means driving through the CBD and the heart of the industrial area. Monday morning was not the smartest time to be doing this. Stephen was a wonderful travelling companion, intelligent and articulate, and even though the journey took over 5 hours it was never boring. Once we entered the National Park I was on high alert for wildlife but the drive in was surprisingly quiet. From the main road to the 'car park' where I would transfer across the river to Kaingu Lodge took just over an hour and apart from a few puku we saw no animals at all. I really hoped that this was no a sign of things to come. Kafue is a huge park and the animals have abundant water throughout the year so there are not the concentrations of animals found in parks like Hwange and Chobe. As I looked at the green all around me I couldn't help think how much those animals in drought stricken Hwange would love to be here. I was met at the 'car park' by John D who was to be my guide for the next few days. He led me down to the river for the short boat ride to camp. As John D navigated us around the rocks and through the narrow channels I was taking in the gorgeous views. I knew what I'd be doing this afternoon. After a whole morning in Stephen's Land Cruiser I would be spending this afternoon out on the river. Hosts Lynda and Rick were waiting at the jetty to meet us and after some form filling I was shown to my chalet overlooking the river. Wow! Lunch was taken on the deck. Another Wow! Kaingu Safari Lodge Kaingu can accommodate 16 people. Set on raised individual private wooden decks, each overlooking the Kafue River, KaingU Safari Lodge comprises 6 double Meru-style tents with en-suite bathrooms, indoor showers and an open-air shower. The “Honeymoon-tent” has an additional outside bath. Every tent is additionally roofed with thatch to provide additional cooling and further blend into nature. Our Finfoot family house consists of 2 bedrooms (one queen, one twin), 2 en-suite bathrooms plus outside shower and a central living area opening onto a private deck overlooking the river. It’s a perfect spot for a couple with children, or a small group of friends. In addition to the chalets Kaingu also caters for self drivers with 3 lovely camping sites beside the river. Separate to the lodge but within walking distance are three beautifully appointed grassy campsites by the rapids. Each site has its own ablution block with cold and hot running water, a kitchen sink, fire pits for cooking and a thatched sheltered area which provides protection against sun and rain. Before departing for my afternoon activity I also got to meet Gil (Safaritalk's own @@KaingU Lodge ) and his partner Julia. Sadly I didn't see very much of Gil during my stay as he was constantly on the move. Very remiss of me, but I didn't even get a photo. As John D and I set out on our afternoon boat safari I was still marvelling at the greenery all around me. I'm not an avid birder, but I love boats and rivers and I really relish the challenge photographing birds presents. I was not disappointed with what we saw, only my inability to do it justice. The stretch of river upstream from Kaingu Safari Lodge can only be described as stunning. Although in other places the Kafue is just a wide African river, around Kaingu rocks and small islands make for much more interesting scenery and also provide habitats for a wide variety of bird and animal life. white breasted cormorant African darter Egyptian goose African jacana African Openbill (Open Billed Stork) Pied kingfisher Puku Red necked spurfowl African wattled lapwing White fronted bee eater Water thick knee
  19. A very rare sighting a month or so ago at Musekese Camp, Kafue National Park. How many folk have seen or heard of a Melanistic Genet before? What strikes me about this sighting is that most of what we know or understand about the prevalence of melanism is from relatively closed populations of wildlife (think Aberdares or Mt. Kenya). Smaller populations with little to no migration to maintain genetic diversity in theory means that rarer genes, expressing things like melanism are proportionally more likely to be expressed in small populations, especially if there is a selection pressure on them (i.e. being black is favourable in dark forests, etc.) The Kafue NP is arguably the largest unfenced and 'open' wildlife area and as such the population of genet as an example is very unlikely to be a 'closed' population, in fact it is arguably going to be the complete opposite of what we understand are the ideal scenarios for melanism to be expressed? Anyway, just my thoughts!
  20. Zambia gets left out. It’s definitely not east Africa, and it’s not exactly southern Africa, or for that matter central Africa. It has a reputation of not being a suitable “fist-timer” destination, despite having the sweetest people on the continent, a stable, democratic government (a succession of peaceful transfers of power… beat that, the rest of you in Africa!), and prime wilderness. And for a good 6-7 month stretch every year, Zambia is left off the itinerary of most tourists because the country is literally under water. But during the short “tourist months”, when the dry season’s haze on the open plain shrouds the moving wild shapes in the distant treeline just as Africa’s bloodiest sun is about to set, you know Zambia’s spell has been cast. A Zambian safari can match any “in your face” lion, leopard or elephant sighting on the continent, but it also always delivers subtle and fleeting ones (and you know what they say… the very best moments in life are often fleeting). So, naturally, I am back in Zambia for the fourth time, smitten, under its spell, and in search of the fleeting as well as the “in your face”. Itinerary (September 2013): Kaingo Camp, South Luangwa National Park – 2 nights Mwamba Bush Camp, South Luangwa National Park – 3 nights Shoebill Island Camp, Bangweulu Wetlands – 2 nights Wasa Lodge, Kasanka National Park – 1 night Luwombwa Lodge, Kasanka National Park – 1 night Shumba Camp, Busanga Plains, Kafue National Park – 3 nights Nanzhila Plains Camp, Nanzhila Plains, Kafue National Park – 4 nights South Luangwa National Park – Life is good Take some of the greatest game parks and reserves of Africa. Take Serengeti for example: Michael Grzimek’s and Myles Turner’s association with Serengeti fades with each wildebeest calving season. What is written today of Paul Kruger and his connection to Kruger National Park? Frederick Selous hunted everywhere in Africa, not just the Selous. It is far from certain that he spent significantly more time in his eponymous reserve than anywhere else. Not so, “the Valley”. The late Norman Carr and his band of self-described social outcasts, who founded park conservation as well as a certain safari subculture, are still firmly tethered to the Luangwa Valley. This inseparable bond has been continually romanticized and immortalized in writings such as Vic Guhrs’ poignant The Trouble with Africa, Simon Barnes’ deliciously mischievous Rogue Lion Safaris, Mike Coppinger and Jumbo Williams’ comprehensive Luangwa, Zambia’s Treasure, Craig Doria’s freeform Following the Dust, not to mention Norman Carr’s own Kakuli, as well as numerous guidebooks and news articles written by others. So, as I cross the bridge into South Luangwa National Park for the first time, it is as if I already know it. There are ghosts here. That lagoon over there could be where Arthur, unarmed, tried to rescue a drugged (darted), drowning lion by trying to lift the beast out of the water with a bear hug. That’s Luwi River over there… that must be where Rice Time (born Maqaba Tembo), the famous problem animal control officer and “the scariest guy in the Valley” lead walking safaris, screaming and telling off the charging lions, “f--- off!” The ridge over there could be where Jake and Craig while on anti-poaching duty accidentally set their mate’s hair on fire by mishandling cheap tequila. Kapani is that direction… where Norman Carr once put his hard-earned cash in a hideaway safe, only to later find the safe submerged in mud and the bills inside turned into worthless crumbs. What has changed since the “back in the day” days is the amount of traffic in the Mfuwe Lodge area. The lodge now sports 40+ beds and is closely flanked by other properties. Supposedly, a night drive in this part of Luangwa is like attending a Hollywood premier (Kakuli must be turning in his grave). To escape the madding crowd now, a long two-hour drive to Shenton Safaris’ Kaingo Camp and its sister bush camp Mwamba is desired. Kaingo overlooks a particularly perfect bend of the Luangwa River. A separate “sleepy” deck built out over the river, where lunch is taken in private if you wish, accompanies each chalet. There, you are invariably serenaded by both bass and soprano singers (hippos and fish eagles). I am guided by Sylvester Mbaama, just one of the many incredible, enthusiastic guides employed by Shenton Safaris. “Sly” would guide me at Kaingo as well as Mwamba. My chalet's private deck at Kaingo Sylvester ("Sly") Mbaama While Luangwa is endowed with a wide variety of flora, there is an underlying general pattern/progression: cathedral mopane woodlands are found furthest away from the river, bordered on one side by a belt of leadwood growing on fossilized tributaries; then a unique suburban parkland-like ebony (jackalberry) grove, with elephants currently unable to resist the falling fruit, signals that you are now close to the river; and finally, a sausage tree-dominant riverine belt is where impalas, pukus and bushbucks are presently concentrated. The sausage tree deserves special attention, as it may be one of the most fascinating and ecologically important trees in Africa. Before it is able to bear the sausage-like fruit containing the seeds necessary for propagation, the tree must drop its flowers – by the hundreds. During the dry season, just when the browse is becoming meager, the sausage tree flowers, pollinated by bats and insects overnight, drop by the bucketful each morning, providing tasty and nutritious nectar for a variety of animals. Every morning, it is a frantic race under the trees: impalas, pukus, bushbucks, kudus and baboons jealously gobble up the flowers. One deviously crafty impala ram lets out a false alarm call, scattering the other animals away from the tree, and then leisurely mops up all the flowers himself. Perhaps I am witnessing impalas evolving in intelligence before my eyes? Ebony grove Gobblig up sausage flowers I come to Luangwa at an interesting time. 2013 has been one of the driest in memory. Virtually all of the oxbow lagoons have dried up, leaving the main Luangwa River as basically the only source of drinking water for the Valley’s animals. This of course equates to stressful times for the prey animals but a boon for the predators. And what predator action! Within 10 minutes of starting the first afternoon drive, the Mwamba-Kaingo lion pride is found on a fresh buffalo kill, and this pride would be found on every subsequent game drive. The Mwamba-Kaingo pride is part of some unusual lion social dynamics unfolding in the Valley. This pride of 16 and the adjacent Mwamba-Kapanda pride of nine are both ruled by the same two males. Conventional lion behavior described in various ecology books does not apply here. Earlier this year, the females of the former pride went on a rampage and killed six cubs of the latter pride. The two males apparently took no issue with this gruesome affair. Mwamba-Kaingo Pride on a buffalo kill The two males Still going strong at night The aftermath A post-sundowner drive back to camp finds an unknown female leopard in an open combretum patch. The leopard stalks a herd of completely unaware impalas and takes down a fully-grown male. Strangely, none of the other impalas sound their alarm, and the kill occurs in silence – except for the expiring impala’s heavy panting magnified by the thin night air. As the leopard tightens her asphyxiating grip on his neck, the impala’s gasping becomes faster and louder at first. Then, with the legs visibly weakening and trembling, everything begins to slow; the impala crumbles to the ground, and a few seconds later it’s over. This previous unknown leopard seems untrusting of the vehicle, and Sly decides it best to let her be. Kill sequence Shenton Safaris is known for its various photographic hides, and we visit the hippo hide and the carmine bee-eater hide while at Kaingo (the Mwamba hide would be visited later). While the hippo hide provides an excellent close-up, water level view of the often-comic giants, it is overshadowed by the brilliant carmine bee-eater hide. Each late August, thousands of carmine bee-eaters migrate into the Valley to nest on the sides of riverbank walls, forming giant colonies. A floating metal boat has been turned into a hide near one of the colonies and is reached via a light wooden boat. Having arrived at the hide at sun-up, Sly and I wait patiently for over an hour for the bee-eaters to come. Just when we thought they would never turn up, they do – in full force and at once, like a World War II bombing squad. A deafening noise accompanies the utterly chaotic jostling and nesting. I am not sure I have ever seen so many calories being burned. As is the case with a wildebeest river crossing, the essence of a carmine bee-eater colony is impossible to adequately capture on camera. And I will go out on a limb here: I find the carmine bee-eater action nearly as compelling as a wildebeest crossing. The bee-eater hide is not to be missed. Action from the Hippo Hide The carmine bee-eater hide Carmine bee-eater sequence ZAWA scout Peter Onto Mwamba now… If Kaingo is of generous but not superfluous luxury in the bush, Mwamba Bush Camp is of bare essential luxury in the bush. Mwamba is a place where you can wash away civilization’s silt by stargazing through the see-through ceiling of your thatched hut at night. If there is indeed some “greater truth” out there, it would most certainly be found while stargazing at Mwamba. Translation: perfection. See-through ceiling at Mwamba Predator action at Mwamba is also immediate. We begin our first afternoon game drive with a few guinea fowls running ahead of the vehicle, and Sly begins to explain that there is a female leopard around who has learned to hunt guinea fowls by ambushing them on the road. Since I am fussing with my camera settings, Sly’s words barely register (“Yeah, ok. Something about leopard and guinea fowl…”). Merely seconds later, just in front of our vehicle, a large, spotted cat explodes eight feet in the air, her front paws extended and claws bared, barely missing a guinea fowl in flight. She lands softly and silently, and she glances at us (sheepishly?) as if she is embarrassed to have missed her prey in public. We soon lose her in the thickets but find her again (betrayed by her tail) in an ambush position next to the road, exactly at her previous ambush location. We back the vehicle up to give the theatre some room and wait. Lo and behold, a few minutes later, five guinea fowls (these pea-brains will never learn!) stroll down the road toward her. Tension begins to mount in the vehicle: Sly draws his camcorder ready; I reach for my smaller zoom lens for what could be a “career shot”; my right eye is firmly affixed to the camera’s viewfinder; and with my left eye, I can see a rivulet of perspiration coming down the side of Sly’s face. The lead fowl gets to within 20 feet of the her, then 15 feet and then 10 feet, but inexplicably, the leopard does not make her move. The lead fowl detects the leopard’s presence at the last minute and flies off, effectively calling off the ambush. Sly and I exhale in disappointment. No harm, no fowl. Sheepish (?) Ambush position (note her tail - bottom right) That evening, the spotlight picks up the Mwamba-Kapanda pride hunting zebra. While negotiating the black cotton soil in our vehicle, the kill is heard, not seen. The noise of the kill is quickly replaced by the noise of several lions growling and jockeying for position at the kill. At least now we have a straight line of black cotton soil to our destination. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a spotted cat runs toward the kill! It is a leopard, not a lion. Why the heck is a leopard running toward several lions just about to feast on a zebra? Sly recognizes this leopard as Elliott, the one-eyed leopard. Perhaps due to his handicap, Elliott tends to steal kills from other predators, including those of his own mother (the guinea fowl-hunting leopard is believed to be Elliott’s mother). Sly speculates that Elliott may have thought the zebra kill may have been that of a lesser predator. At any rate, Elliott soon comes to his senses, makes a U-turn, and disappears into the night. Zebra eating sequence Elliott the one-eyed leopard Lioness sequence Benson Siyawareva joins me on my second day at Mwamba and for the rest of the trip. I realize having Benson in addition to Sly (or any of Shenton’s excellent guides) is complete overkill (reminiscent of the Monty Python episode in which heavy artilleries are brought in to hunt a mosquito). But by now Benson and I have become great friends, and I cannot fathom being without his company on safari. What more can one say about Benson? To suggest that he is one of the best safari guides in Africa is to actually miss the point. He is exactly that but so much more. I could go on and on, but let me just say I am privileged that he considers me a friend. Sly and Benson goofing at the Mwamba bar That Mwamba Camp has a waterhole hide within its complex means Benson and I would be antisocial to those others at camp during the day. You can literally spend all day at the hide watching the procession of animals and birds. Other than the usual ungulate suspects and elephants, Lilian’s lovebirds offer up a rare close-up photo opportunity. One small crocodile remains in this shrinking waterhole and makes several flailing attempts at impalas it seems at regular intervals, but at some point we need to eat lunch, go on our afternoon game activity, and otherwise get on with life. The Mwamba hide is a dangerous place – literally for the animals, and figuratively for the photographer. Impalas from the Mwamba Hide Lilian's lovebirds West of Mwamba Camp is a large black cotton soil area called the Lion Plain. A few Crawshay’s zebras and even fewer Cookson’s wildebeests, two endemics of the Valley, graze what little is left. A big herd of 300 buffalos are on the edge of the plain and heading toward the river to drink. East of camp is an area called Fish Eagle, one of the most attractive lookout points on the Luangwa River. Herds of impalas and pukus gather under the sausage trees lining the river, elephants and hippos abound, and a third pride of lions (the Hollywood Pride) laze in the thickets. A picnic lunch for all the guests of Mwamba is organized at Fish Eagle one day. A cool breeze kicks up as we, while gorging on delicious food, watch hundreds of animals and birds coming and going. Patrick Njobvu, one of the senior guides at Shenton Safaris, declares, “life is good”. Cookson's wildebeest Buffalo Elephants on the riverbed Patrick (left) and Sly at Fish Eagle So, life is good indeed at the moment in the Luangwa Valley (despite some looming “clouds on the horizon” for Zambia’s wildlife I will discuss later). My first visit to the Valley is everything I’ve read about and dreamed of – and more. And I will go out on another limb: Shenton Safaris’ Kaingo and Mwamba camps just nose out Kwando Safaris’ camps in Botswana and the old Rekero Camp (before it was sold) in Kenya as the best on the continent in my book. For those who want to be completely immersed in the wilds of Africa, Shenton’s camps in the Valley are “it”.
  21. Reports To read the full article click here. @@egilio, @@KafueTyrone @@Peter de Vere Moss, did you know her/of her?
  22. Forgive me if this topic has been covered previously but I have just been going through some images from the season out here in the Kafue and came across this one in particular which made me wonder who of you ST'ers have images of predators on whom the prey has turned the tables…?
  23. I have been back almost a week now, and trying to process this trip, which was quite different from my two prior safaris. I still have not finished doing that, but figure I had better just dive in to a report and hopefully the writing of it will help me with that! @@Sangeeta is still travelling for family events, but I am sure she will chime in when she is able to! I will just start out by saying that not everything went quite as planned on this trip – which is not unusual for Africa, of course – but I experienced this more on this trip than on prior ones. I knew this trip would be a more rough-around-the-edges one in that the Liuwa portion would be a long, crazy drive to get there and camping in community campsites so I did expect some adventure! The unexpected began when I checked in at SFO. I had bought my tickets on Emirates, though the first flight was on Virgin. It was a morning flight, arriving late afternoon at IAD and then our flight to Zambia would begin the next morning. This would allow me to stay overnight at Sangeeta’s house and get a good rest before the rest of the trip began. I had packed one soft-sided suitcase without wheels and a backpack. My plan was to check the suitcase as it had liquids in it that were more than the TSA allows for carry-on. However, I wanted to only check the suitcase to IAD and then take it with me to Sangeeta’s, then re-check it in the morning for the flight to Lusaka. I forgot to mention this however while checking in, and was not asked my preference. When I realized they had checked it through to Lusaka, I asked for them to change it – but was dismayed to hear that Emirates does not allow them to change the final destination after they already printed the luggage tags. So I grabbed a couple of things out of the suitcase that I would need most for overnight and said goodbye to my suitcase for a few days. Sangeeta picked me up at IAD. We had been emailing, texting and talking on the phone daily for many months so meeting in person felt very comfortable. Sangeeta and her husband were wonderful hosts, having made me a delicious Indian dinner and provided me with a very welcome bed. I was also welcomed sweetly by their friendly dog Simba, who took a liking to my socks – apparently a particular weakness of his. The trip to Dubai and then Lusaka was long, of course, but relatively uneventful. (We did note that in economy, the planes used for the longer first flight were much better and more roomy than those used for the second, shorter flight). Sangeeta and I chatted for quite a while at the beginning which made the time pass quickly. Finally we arrived in Lusaka after the 13-hour flight to Dubai, the 1.5 hour layover and the 7-hour flight to Lusaka. The airport was smaller than we expected. We easily found the gentleman who was meeting us and felt very welcomed! ][/url] After happily finding that the Lusaka airport had free and fairly decent wifi, we quickly checked some email, collected our luggage and were off to Pioneer Camp for a one-night stay.
  24. Well, I think the trip is close enough now that I am going to start a Getting-Excited-Thread! I am finally heading back to Africa, leaving my house Sunday November 9 - woo hoo! It will have been approximately a year and 9 months since I have been in Africa by the time I arrive - seems like way too long! (I returned from Botswana in late February of 2013). This is the Liuwa Plain trip that @@Sangeeta has been planning for forever, and that we were originally going to go on in November 2015. For various reasons, we decided not that long ago to push it up to THIS November if we could make it work, and it is going to work, so we are very excited! We were planning on adding a few days seeing the bats at Kasanka but instead have decided to scrap that and are going to spend 4 nights in Kafue before meeting up with our other two safari participants to do the Liuwa safari. The itinerary is this: 11/9 I fly to the east coast and stay overnight with Sangeeta! 11/10 Sangeeta and I fly to Luskaa 11//11 We overnight at Pioneer camp in Lusaka 11/12 We spend 1 night at Mukambi in Kafue, hoping to see Basil the famous resident hippo 11/13 to 11/16 Three nights at Musekese with @@KafueTyrone and @@PhilJ (planning a day trip to Busanga Plains during that time!) 11-16 Transfer to Chunga Camp in Kafue and meet up with our guide, Jason Alfonsi, and the other two safari participants. One is the person who runs the website He has been to Liuwa Plain several times and knows many of the people who work there, and the other is a friend of mine who will be going on her first ever safari! 11-17 Drive to Mongu and the Barotse Floodplains and overnight there 11-18 to 11-23 Liuwa Plain - we will stay at two different campsites in Liuwa and hope to see Lady Liuwa and her pride, including the three cubs, hopefully the mama cheetah and her recently born cubs, wildebeest, hyena, as well as whatever other wildlife chooses to show themselves. 11-23 Game drive back to Kalabo and Fly back to Lusaka and fly home We are preparing ourselves for Kafue with bug shirts and gaiters thanks to advice from @@Safaridude and I've ordered some RID from the UK (they don't sell it in the U.S.) which should arrive in about a week - supposed to help with tsetse flies somewhat as opposed to just DEET which does not. Any updates from the field Tyrone or Phil? What have you been seeing and how's the weather? @@egilio have you heard anything more about the mother cheetah and cubs in Liuwa that you can share? If anyone has any advice (or wants to jump on board the trip last minute!) chime in!
  25. We have a very good safari at a great price of US$6749.00 per person for this 12 night safari - a minimum of two people and maximum of eight. The Safari starts in the Kafue National Park for 2 nights with Phil at Musekese Camp where you will be able to do game drives, nights drives, boating and walking and then moving up to the Busanga Plains for a two nights using a fly camp in a seldom seen area of the Busanga. Back to Musekese for one night before going to Lusaka for one night to catch your breath. Transfers are then arranged between Lusaka and Mana Pools where Doug Macdonald then takes over the guiding and you have four nights in a Mobile Camp on the famous Mana Pools flood plain where the walking safari will be the focus and trying to spend time with some of Mana's iconic animals on foot. We then move downstream to the very comfortable Chikwenya Safari lodge to spend your last two nights in this very productive private concession area. An air charter to Harare completes the safari. This safari is also available for 2015 and can be booked either through Doug Macdonald's Safaris or Jeffery & McKeith Safaris. Please contact us to get all the details. or

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