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Found 34 results

  1. Preamble ~ Although this was my umpteenth visit to Africa and 4th safari in the South Luangwa I hadn’t been to Africa since 2008. Whilst life had gotten in the way I had kept my enthusiasm for safaris reading the numerous TRs here on ST. In 2008 the safari finished in the South Luangwa and this is where this trip began. The duration of this safari was 28 days including travel which allowed for 11 nights in South Luangwa, then 15 days in the Mara (the Mara will be in a separate TR). Peter my travelling companion, is a TA with over 30 years experience travelling to Africa, (often 4 times a year!) Nepal, Antarctica and beyond so I let him handle all the arrangements. The itinerary was based on the cancelled trip when I broke my leg in 2015. It consisted of; 3 nights Kafunta River Lodge 5 nights Mwamba Bush Camp 3 nights Kaingo Camp Initially we had tried for Flatdogs camp but it was booked out during our travel timeframe so with a plethora of options in the Mfuwe area we replaced it with Kafunta River lodge mainly because of the cheaper rates. A decision I did not regret. I have stayed at Mwamba & Kaingo before and they are my favourite camps in SLNP. I won’t elaborate further on the camps chosen unless I’m asked and rather than give a day by day ~ blow by blow description I’ll just post some images and provide relevant comment. In this first post a few images of what you're likely to see. The sun rising over Lion Plain not far from Mwamba camp. What will the day bring? South Luangwa is renowned for leopard and this trip did not disappoint. A leopardess patiently waiting for her beau to finish his impala dinner that he did not share with her. Even so it did not affect their romance and we heard (rather than saw them) mating in the thickets the next morning. Replete with buffalo meat the Mwamba pride retires to the shade, whilst the adults snoozed some of the cubs watched the vultures game enough to try for scraps. The area around Lion Plain hosts a few lion prides. The two prides mainly seen are the Hollywood Pride (so named as they are so often filmed by the BBC etc) and the Mwamba Pride. Carmine Bee-eater in flight. I captured this image from Kaingo's Bee-eater hide. Basically a tin boat with a canvas blind (works a treat). If you are in SLNP from about August onwards thousands of these birds nest in the river banks. Spectacular fliers they are a beautiful sight. An elephant road block. The only sort of traffic jam I enjoy.
  2. 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.
  3. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Kaingo Camp, SLNP, Zambia 2) Website address if known: here 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). September 2016, High Season 4) Length of stay: 3 Nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? A previous visit in 2008 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? A friend who is a travel agent 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 15 times 8) To which countries? Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Comparable to Kafunta River lodge in accommodation comfort 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 chalets 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Unsure of chalet number, all chalets have view of Luangwa River and private. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable, well furnished, ensuite bathroom 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes, excellent food 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal dining for brunch & dinner, pre-morning activity coffee around campfire. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Adequate snacks & drinks for morning tea & sundowners 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Modified modern landcruisers 19) How many guests per row? 2 per row 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? 3 - 4 hours on varied routes 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Morning drives begin after sunrise, afternoon drives around 16:00. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? No. The camp is one of the few permanent camps inside SLNP. At least 3 vehicles 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? With the sister camp (Mwamba) and Lion camp nearby at times there can be a few vehicles at a sighting. 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Possibly but rotation did not occur at any sightings whilst I stayed there. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Excellent leopard and lion viewing. Good elephant numbers and general plains game with diverse variety of antelope 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Tried his utmost to position the vehicle for a good photography perspectives. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes. Both community & conservation projects. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: here 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Very comfortable and informal camp (more like a lodge) with nice outlook over the Luangwa river with each chalet having a private viewing deck. Other activities such as walks and game viewing from the Hippo & Carmine Bee-eater hides are available. A good place to finish off with a bit more comfort after some time at Mwamba camp.
  4. Please note there is an earlier review of Mwamba Bush camp by Optig which can be found here 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Mwamba Bush camp, SLNP, Zambia 2) Website address if known: here 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). September 2016, High Season 4) Length of stay: 5 Nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? A previous stay at this camp in 2008 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Via a friend who is a travel agent 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 15 Times 8) To which countries? Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 4 thatched grass Chalets 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? I think chalet #1 closest to the communal dining area and bar though still private. The view from this tent looks across the small ephemeral Mwamba river. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable bed and adequately furnished. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes, excellent food. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Varied menu for brunch and dinner. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal brunch and dinner, pre morning game drive coffee & muffin around the campfire. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Adequate drinks & snacks for both morning tea and sundowners 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. modified Land Cruisers 19) How many guests per row? 2 guests per row 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Varied game routes taken. Most drives were longer than 4 hours. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Morning drives 6:00 - 11:00, Afternoon drives 16:00 - 20:00 but times are flexible. If something is happening you stay out longer. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? No. The camp is inside the National Park. At least two vehicles, though I remember 3 in use on a few days to cater for smaller groups. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Vehicle density can be high at times due to the sister camp Kaingo and Lion camp in the vicinity but usually this is well managed and you can find an isolated area to yourself. 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes, though the extensive road network is excellent and well graded / maintained and this allows for very smooth driving. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. This might be an issue but was not a problem whilst I was in camp. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Excellent leopard sightings and big lion prides. Elephant often in camp along with a few antelope species that frequent the waterhole behind camp. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Exceptionally high standard. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Excellent rapport, knowledge and enthusiasm made for stellar company and great sightings. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Very attentive, especially the waiters. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, A few community and conservation based programs. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: here 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: The authentic Zambian bush camp, rough and ready though with a level of comfort. Situated in a superb game viewing area known for its predator concentrations. Enjoyable hot showers in open air bathrooms after a long dusty day. The camp waterhole allows for exceptional game viewing between game drives and access to Kaingo camps Hippo and Carmine bee-eater hides can be organised. A top notch safari experience.
  5. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Kafunta River Lodge, South Luangwa N.P., Zambia 2) Website address if known: here 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). September, 2016 , High Season 4) Length of stay: 3 Nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Chosen as a quick stop over after lengthy travel before proceeding to more remote areas of the park 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Via a friend who is an agent 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 15 times 8) To which countries? Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 8 chalets on raised platforms 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? All chalets are reasonably private with views over floodplain 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Well appointed and very comfortable. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Excellent food. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes a varied menu was on offer. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal dining, Guides and Managers join the meals, one lunch for occupants of my vehicle was on a secluded raised platform with wait staff and guide. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Snacks & drinks offered (which is ample) for morning tea and sundowners 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Modified Landcrusiers 19) How many guests per row? Two to a row 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? 4 hours + with varied routes 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Supposedly 6:15 - 10:30 morning and 16:00- 19:30 afternoon but I suspect it is flexible if there is a lot of game viewing action. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? No. The Lodge is situated just out side the park. Unsure of vehicle numbers. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? The lodge is opposite the southern area of the central game viewing section which is accessed via a pontoon. Hence vehicle density is low until vehicles using the main access route into the park drive down to that area. 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes, to some degree 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Unsure, perhaps 3 vehicles to a sighting but this was never a problem during my game drives. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? 27) How was the standard of guiding? Very good. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: N/A 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes. A few community & conservation programs. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: here 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Extremely good value for money & a bit more than a basic safari experience. A superb lodge overlooking an amazing floodplain. Bird life is prolific and mammals are often in view. For some one who is used to basic camps it is extremely comfortable with swimming pool and hot tub spa. Massages are also offered. Unfortunately for bird photographers the floodplain is under-utilised. There is a hide underneath the main deck but it faces the wrong direction for light and is next to useless unless an elephant is nearby. A better solution would be for a mobile hide on the flood plain where you can be escorted by an armed game scout. Dislike ~ A full sit down breakfast is served rather than a coffee or tea with muffin etc. This slows the process of starting the morning game drive and during the high season the nice light is quickly lost. If you are not the 1st vehicle in line at the pontoon more game viewing time is lost. Advantages/Disadvantages ~ The lodges's location is a 30 minute drive to the main access gate. If the park is inaccessible via the pontoon then a lot of game viewing time is lost. Conversely there can be some advantage to getting quieter game viewing before other vehicles get to the area. Of course if other vehicles do not arrive you are probably missing something closer to the main gate.
  6. Well here I am again. The safari itch has gotten to me. This is an improvement: usually I'm ready to book the next one about a month after I get home. I made it four months this time. Safari #5 is in the conception phase! For the "next one" I'm considering Zambia in June 2018. I am however, somewhat confused by where I should look in terms of regions. Too many trip reports are too enticing. I'll have 10 weekdays at my disposal, max and I'm trying to work the late May Monday holiday in to squeeze out a bit more time. It may be just me, but likely will include my most recent safari, intrepid gorilla trekking friend Kim, depending on itinerary and pricing. My only priority is big cats with elephants a close second. From what I gather lions and leopards are common in South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi (?) Given my ridiculously good success with cat sightings in the Mara, am I going to have comparable experiences here, or have I seen "it" in terms of cats? One stunning trip report here (apologies I forget whose it was) had wonderful leopard sightings in Zambia. I know nothing is assured...but generally speaking? If I see dogs and elephants, fine too, but not #1 priority. And what part of South Luangwa (or Zambia generally) would you recommend, if you were planning this? And not to sound like too much of a newbie but is it even worth considering splitting time between, say, South Luangwa in Zambia and Chobe in Botswana linked by a day or two at Victoria Falls, or would you keep them separate trips? So I guess my questions are, good time of year? I'm looking for the equivalent crowd experience to the Mara in February where it's excellent game with lower crowds, is June that time?. Also want the cats. Any recommendations for camps in the mid-range...no basic camping but not high end Richard Branson style. (I tentatively have my eye on Kuyenda Camp, Chindeni Camp and Mfuwe Bush Lodge, feedback welcome and alternatives desired!) I just want to have my thoughts in order from you all before I turn this over to my safari planner. Thank you in advance.
  7. Back in July/August 2008 an usual lion was born in South Luangwa NP. He was one of 5 cubs born around the same time in the Luwi pride. Some of the others drew the attention of some lion experts because of their unusual high amount of spots (one can be seen in the lower left hand of the photo), but they ignored this lion which I think is much more special! He was very lightly colored, making him stand out immediately. What was up with this lion. Some thought he was an albino, but he clearly has pigment (orange colored, not white, no red eyes). So what is it? Clearly there's a reduction or even complete absence of dark/black pigments. A condition caused by erythrism, which is either an increase in the production of red pigments, or a reduction of it (and anerythristic when there is a complete absence of it). A rare condition in lions, this is the only lion I know of which has this condition. However, Robin Pope mentioned seeing a lioness like that in 80's in the same region of South Luangwa. In his case it meant that the black behind the ears and on the tailtip appears orange, and his toe pads are pink, as can be seen in the following picture. More on this condition, with a leopard as example, can be read here. He grew up well, and turned out to stand his ground quite well, seen swiping and growling at the adults whenever they were feeding on a carcass. However, he did seem to have some trouble with his eyes, possibly caused by the fact that the skin around his eyes is lighter than usual, causing more light to enter his eyes. But he did well, and out of the 5 cubs born in the same period in the pride, him and his brother survived the first year and grew up into good looking sub-adults. But in the second half of 2011 he did what most 3 year old male lion do, he dispersed from his natal pride. I last saw him in June 2011, in those pictures you can clearly see how different he looks. After he dispersed sightings of him became rare and far in between. In 2012 there was one sighting, and there were a few other sightings from walking safaris mentioning seeing a very shy pale male lion. But in the second half of 2015 he showed up again in the main game area of South Luangwa, however, still very few sightings. But yesterday somebody posted pictures of him in the facebook group Wildlife of Zambia. Seen over Christmas, mating with a female, in the area he was born in (but which is now held by another pride). I've asked permission to post the pictures here, but until I get the permission I will just link to the facebook page here. Wildlife of Zambia Wildlife Extra also reported a few times on him in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
  8. 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!
  9. Now that I'm back from the Mara, its time to start planning the next trip. We are looking at South Luangwa/Lower Zambezi in 2017 and have the option to go either the first weeks in August, or the first weeks in September (we can't go late August due to a family event.) My agent has sent me an itinerary as follows: 3 nights Amanzi camp (Lower Zambezi) 3 nights Bilimungwe Bushcamp 4 nights Tena Tena First of all, how does that sound insofar as combination of camps? We'd love more nights but this is already at the top of our budget. (And our tour operator has already gotten us some free nights with special offers, like 3 for 2 at Amanzi, and 4 for 3 Tena Tena.) I guess we could substitute Tena Tena for a less expensive camp, like Lion Camp, to eek out more days, but I'm concerned with the possibility of six in a vehicle at Lion Camp; Tena Tena promises no more than 4. I don't see much about Amanzi camp, I know its new as of 2015. Anyone have any experience with it? Our interests are birds, leopards, wild dogs (unlikely, although I have read there was a pack near Tena Tena this season!), any more unusual critters, and of course, photography. (Would have loved to use Kaingo, for the hides, but beyond our budget. We are also keen to do some walking, finally...after many Africa safaris confined to vehicles! But not TOO much walking as its not really best for photography. As for timing...would early Sept be substantially hotter than early August? What might be the differences in wildlife sightings? I know we'd have a better chance at the Carmine Bee-eater colonies in September, but if the cost is going to be excessive heat, we might be better off in early August. Thanks for any insights.
  10. Hi all, The following question is just one (possibly small) part of my trip-planning for the next year or two. I'm trying to come up with a realistic plan for visiting South Luangwa. In this case, "realistic" includes picking a time of year that works for both my work schedule and my wife's work schedule. Likewise, it of course includes cost. And it also includes wanting a trip that provides some contrast to our visit to Namibia and Botswana last November/December (this is more for my wife's benefit than for mine, as last year's trip was her first Africa trip south of Morocco). For those who have visited South Luangwa, could you comment on what time of year you went, and whether you did--or did not--see dogs while you were there? I ask because I'm trying make sense of the various comments I've read regarding the "dog-viewing season" there. The Expert Africa web site suggests dogs are most regularly seen during February through May, and there's a thread here on ST (unless I actually saw it elsewhere) in which several posters commented that dogs seem to den away from the commonly visited areas, so that one likely wouldn't see them during the denning season (June/July/early August??). The above don't contradict each other. However, I'm been reading the Robin Pope Safaris "It's Monday" newsletter for the past year, and there seem to have been quite a few sightings during what I had assumed would be the denning season. Who can make sense of this for me? To reiterate, this is just a part of deciding "when." But I find dogs much more interesting than, for example, certain large cats, so I have to factor them into the calculus. Thanks in advance for sharing your experience. -tom a.
  11. New short video: Zikomo Safari Video www.zikomosafari.com
  12. How lucky we are that places like South Luangwe still exist. How lucky we are that we can go to them. How lucky we are at what we experienced. This is my first Trip Report, so I hope I get the level of detail right! When putting in photos, I have tried to put in some that show the environment and what the parks look like, some that show the range of wildlife that we saw, some because they tell a little story, and some because I like them! Although we saw a lot of birds, and enjoyed watching them, I am sorry that there are few photos of them (lens not long enough). Why South Luangwe? It has been about seven years since our last safari – it felt like the time was right to go to Africa again. (I travelled with my wife). We had not been to Zambia before. South Luangwe has a reputation for good game viewing and excellent guiding. On previous safaris we had done a small amount of walking and really enjoyed it. This area gave us the possibility of doing more walking. We also hoped that we would see leopard. We wanted to stay in relatively small camps, and we hoped that game drives wouldn’t be in the company of masses of other vehicles. Why August? The rains are mostly in December to March. In June, July and August the game sightings are said to get better as it gets hotter and water dries up. September and October, game concentrates around water but it gets much hotter. As we wanted to walk, we decided to go before it became too hot. How did we organise it? We looked at Safaritalk!. (especially helpful in relation to walking). We also looked at a range of other websites. We were impressed with the amount of detailed information on the Expert Africa website. We talked to them (Claire) and again were impressed with their knowledge. They had been to all of the camps we were interested in and were able to answer questions based on personal experience. They were not pushy, but seemed interested in us making a good choice. We would use Expert Africa again. We ended up deciding to go to Robin Pope Camps, but could have just as easily chosen others. The camps are more luxurious than we have used before (we have mostly done mobile camping before). What did we do? Overnight: British Airways flight London Heathrow – Lusaka Next morning: Proflight Lusaka- Mfuwe Nkwali - 2 nights Nsefu - 3 nights Bush Camp - 2 nights Tena Tena – 3 nights Pioneer Camp, Lusaka – 1 night (for early morning BA flight to London.
  13. Opening Days Special - 10% Off Regular rates From May 15, 2016 to June 15, 2016 take 10% off our regular low rates by mentioning the Promo Code: Billy The Elephant. Reservations must be booked directly.http://www.zikomosafari.com/contact/ See our new video: https://youtu.be/J3NB-zOXGBs
  14. Okay its time for another Namibia trip report. There have been a few on here lately so...... lets have another one.So for some background this was our fourth trip to Africa but first in 4 years. In 2005-06 we went to Africa for 3 months and we're supposed to get married in South Africa and spend some time in Namibia based on the advice of a Kenyan guide who called it is his favourite country. We had some unexpected expenses though and had to cut the Southern Africa portion of the trip and we were forced to get married in the Masai Mara(poor us!). 2015 has arrived and its finally time to go. I'm hedgeing my bets a bit though in case i don't love Namibia and we are going to South Luangwa where i have been desperate to go to for years thanks to some of the people on this forum. The what could go wrong part springs from previous trips and even though i don't usually suffer from bad luck in Africa something always goes wrong usually to my wife's delight. From chivalry gone wrong in Botswana to a pipe in the head in Namanga to my wedding story in the getting married in Africa thread i could have an entire thread dedicated to mishaps.And yes this trip would have a few more! Itinerary May 14 Winnipeg to Toronto to Amsterdam May 15 Amsterdam to Johannesburg with O/N at City Lodge Hotel May 16 Johannesburg to Windhoek. Drive to Swakopmund May 16-18 Swakopmund Cornerstone Guesthouse May 19 Twyfelfontein Lodge May 20-21 Grootberg Lodge May 22-23 Okaukuejo Camp May 24 Halali Camp May 25-26 Onguma Camp May 27 Kaisosi River Lodge May 28 Ndhovu Camp May 29 Camp Kwando May 30 Jun 1 Zambezi Sun Jun 2-5 Flatdogs Camp Jun 6 Lusaka Taj Pomodzi Jun 7 Lusaka to Nairobi to Amsterdam Jun 8 Amsterdam to Toronto to Winnipeg Jun 9 its over The trip was organized by Expert Africa and was well done. It was the first time i did not use a local provider though but i do prefer the local route. The trip was a self dive from Windhoek to Katima Mulilo from where we got a transfer to Victoria Falls. Our rental car was a wait for it................Volkswagon Polo Yes i know that you all think I'm crazy now but hey i made it but there were some issues that i will get to at the relevant points. I had several firsts that i wanted to achieve on this trip and i am so happy to say we got them. I lost count at 20 Rhinos in Etosha, so many Leopards in Luangwa, my first Wild Dogs as well (soooooooo exciting) Our first walking safari and so much fun in Swakopmund and Vic Falls. From this point i'll let our pictures do more of the talking but we do not have a giant lens and are still learning photography so please don't be to hard on me.
  15. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/mar/08/ruger-american-dog-stopped-african-poachers ~ This article from the U.K. Guardian provides the background of Ruger, a three-year old Labrador retriever/German shepherd mix, who was found and trained by Working Dogs for Conservation. Ruger's keenly focussed sense of smell has enabled him to detect concealed illegal animal parts and weapons in Zambia, thereby supporting anti-poaching efforts.
  16. Hi All, I'm still rather green behind the ears when it comes to posting, but I've been lurking in the background for quite a while reading up on all things safari. I must commend all of you on the wealth of information that is on this forum, it's amazing! We just returned from our honeymoon which was both of ours first safari. We figured this trip would be a once in a lifetime splurge kind of thing. We played it safe and picked South Africa as our destination. Not knowing whether we would love safari or whether we would find it boring staring at yet another elephant/rhino/lion/etc. Needless to say it never got boring. It will come to no surprise to any of you though that now we are hooked :-) The only problem is: money. Safaris don't come cheap. We would love to return anywhere on safari this year. This once in a lifetime splurge has became a need. But we need to stick to a budget. In all fairness, we cannot justify spending more than 10.000 eur on a two week holiday (incl. flights so leaving about 4000pp for safari for say 12 nights - a tight budget by any standards). We are young professionals, still need to build a life, a house, have kids, etc. We need to keep it within reason. For any Belgian (not into safari) the number I just gave you would blow their minds, but keeping that aside and between us :-) So I was hoping to tap into you guys' vast knowledge and expertise. Are there any affordable safari's out there? Of course ideally we would love to see a different country than SA. I know you can keep the cost down by self driving in Kruger. And I know it is loved by many, but being in a closed car on a tar road with 20 other vehicles around a sighting just isn't my ideal of safari (though my experience is limited). I had found my ideal Kenya safari, but as some of you might still remember my then fiancé and now husband considers Kenya to be "dangerous". If anyone is interested , it was a mix of Porini camps, porini adventure camps (basic but seemed like great value for money) and Brian Freeman's safari camp. it came out to a bit more than the quoted 4000 but amazing value for money with small camps and private vehicle included at Freeman's (which after a honeymoon at a high end 5 star sabi sands lodge with 2 kids of around 8 years old in your vehicle you see as not a luxury but as a must ). I'm more than willing to pay the price if i get the feeling it is worth it, and with this itinerary i absolutely felt that way even if it stretched the budget. (In all honesty credit for that Kenya safari goes to @Flytraveller as it was entirely based on his trip report). I have read through the whole under 200 usd thread but nothing really jumped out at me. Ideally we would like to go around september but we'd be willing to wait off to November to have off season rates if need be. We had conceived the crazy notion that we wanted to see Botswana next. Before we go there we probably need to win the lottery. Though i'm being a tiny bit unfair since the only option worth considering that I have come across in my last days of researching safari was actually in Bots. And it is honestly very much appealing to me. The only reason I haven't pulled the trigger already is that i am maniacal about research (which given the budget is a reasonable stance to take I suppose). Another small reason may be that I haven't read anything/very little about about Kingfisher safari on here. Martin himself is an avid poster but I haven't seen any trip reports from people who actually went on their mobile safari (I saw a few mentions of Moses' Unlimited travel but the Kingfisher still comes out at about 100 usd pppn cheaper). Next I looked into Zambia, hoping that was cheaper. But it seems South Luangwa also comes with its price tag. And I would prefer to not only do walking safari. I would love to do a bit like x's trip report between camps (sorry x, but I read so many in such a short time frame that by god I can't remember your name - loved your report though!). If anyone would have any good priced options there? I was hoping to get discounts when booking multiple nights with the same safari operator but the savings still aren't even getting us close to our budget. I know 12n is pushing it, but since the flights wherever we'd go would already be about 1000, i want to make the most of it. Anyone have anything to suggestions for Tanzania? Please don't say something like serana lodges though because those types of places are my worst nightmare (overcrowded mini bus tours). I'd rather wait a year and save up than go to a place like that. The focus needs to be wildlife and not generally nature so i think Namibia is probably out. We were in Zim for a short leg of our honeymoon as well, around the zambezi river and the vic falls, and though i loved our camp, loved the people, in terms of wildlife it was a big bust (not only in comparison to SA but just generally). I can do a mobile camping private safari but I don't want to do a big bus group tour. Though they are mightily frowned upon on this forum I love plunge pools but I can happily do without :-) (if you give me lions and leopards in exchange - yes I'm sorry another unoriginal big cat devote joins the ranks ;-) ) I will do a trip report on SA soon and a lodge review (because they were all great and definitely earned our support!), but none of it compares to what I've seen on here in terms of sightings and photography. If I were you guys I would start buying some bulk lottery tickets because you are a lucky bunch from what I can tell! Longwinded post in the end to just ask for your advice on a next destination that hopefully won't break the bank, nor will require a second mortgage (fyi, they don't do those for some reason in Belgium - must not have enough safari lovers among bankers). Any help would be greatly appreciated! PS I wonder if anyone is going to read this bulk of text without any pictures :-)
  17. Hi Everyone I´m just back after two weeks, 7 to 22 november, in South Luangwa National Park. It has been wonderful and I have now a treasure of pictures to go through and start processing. I will do it as I work my way through this trip report. I like to say that I am a serious amateur wildlife photographer, and my first priority on this trip is wildlife photography. By profession I am a clinical psychologist and manager of a primary care unit. This will be my third trip report on safari talk, and my fourth safari/wildlife photography trip. After 6 months of waiting since i decided to go to SLNP, it was time. I worked all day, rushed home to pack up my things, and then my father and mother collected me. My thought was to go by myself, but my mother wanted to join, which is really nice. I sad goodbye to my wife and two boys (2 and 4 years old), and off to Arlanda airport. Day 1 and 2, 7th and 8th of november At check in the personel observed my a bit heavy hand luggage in a Thin Tank Airport securit v2.0 bag. I told her that it was camera equipment and that I can´t check it in. She told me I have to speak to Ethiopian airlines. So I did. He was really nice and asked how much it weigh. Uhh, about 20 kg (23 kg). He chocked a bit, but then sad it is ok. Next time, pleas tell us before you arrive at the airport. Of course, I sad.. After an uneventful flight via Addis Abeba we arrived at lunch in Lilongwe in Malawi. There we had booked a regular flight with Ulendo Air to Mfuwe in Zambia. I had told my mother, she didn´t have to worry about the plane. I have seen on their homepage that it will be turbo-prop airplane size of about 30 seats. Well, this was it A very friendly pilot named Russel welcomed us. My mother didn´t seem to worried, though. Actually, flying this 1971 Cessna was a great experience, and we loved it. Russel told us before take off, that it might be a bit turbulence. Well, it is nothing compared going in a car on african roads. This is much more of an experience than going with a airliner, you can see and enjoy the landscape so much more. After landing in Mfuwe, our guide for the coming two weeks, Friday, collected us at the airport and 40 shaky minutes later we were at our lodge Track and Trail River Camp. The lodge is just att the bank of the Zambezi river. This time of the year, as those of you that have read other threads on ST know, water is low and the riverbank is a big sand beach. Very tired after the long trip we declined going on night driven and enyojed early dinner, watching the animals; crocs, elephants, buffalos, hippos, pukus, and lots of birds below us walking in the river bank. It was like suddenly being in dreamland. Then the bid red African sun set down over the Zambezi river Happily we went to sleep.
  18. Not planning to go to the parks anytime soon, just curious to know which one is the best place to see leopards. Any replies are greatly appreciated!
  19. Well, maybe the foolishst title for a trip report about a safari to South Luangwa. As my business was supposed to be very low in July, we decided to do a Safari to South Luangwa. We never been on Safari in Southern Africa in the so called high season, so I was very eager to see how it is compared to November, when we normally go. We flew from Germany via Dubai directly to Lusaka, from there to Mfuwe, closed to SLNP. Arriving at late afternoon a guide of Lion Camp awaited us. It turned out, that he should not be our guide, he was just the „taxi driver“ to Camp. The drive to Lion Camp was unspectacular and as it was already getting dark, it was quit chilly. Arriving at Lion Camp we were welcomed by a young lady who showed us our chalet, which was the furthest away from the public area. The chalet was a bit dark, but that was no problem. The walk ways of the camp are raised wooden walkways, which are also „roofed“ by branches. In the beginning we were sceptical about the camp, but in the end it turned out, that this was maybe the best camp (for our needs) we ever stayed in. Best food we ever had on Safari! At dinner time we were introduced to our guide Isaac. He turned out to be a good guide, nothing to complain about. As well we were introduced to our „car mates“ Gary and Kit, a nice couple from New Jersey, USA. Dinner at Lion Camp is not as we were used to served as buffet style. There is real table service. All guests sit at a long table which we always enjoy very much. 15. July day 1 as always on Safari we go out early, here it is 6. It is still very cold and the animals seem to hide from the cold. We later think, that there is no need to go out before 7 (besides the golden light), we rarely have seen anything in the first 90 minutes of the drives besides Puku and Impala. We found that strange compared to our November trips. Well, this morning we see a taxi hippo shutteling a Grey Heron. After a while we come close to a Grey-hooded Kingsfisher. Yellow Baboons in the forest It is a quite drive that morning and I begin to think about the myth of high season Safari. Gary and Kit tell us, that they had seen a Leopard with cub the other day, something you don´t want to hear, but hear often arriving at a camp. As the sun is warming up, we meet a nice little herd of tuskless tuskers. Close to camp we also see our first Leopard, far, far away. Back in Camp we have our brunch before Siesta. The lagoon in front of the camp is frequented by all kinds of critters. The number of animals increased day by day. Maybe because water got more sparse elsewhere. We saw elephants, lots of Zebra, crocs, Kudu, Puku, Impala and Bushbuck. In the afternoon we first visit a pool with hippos and lots of birds. Isaac spotes a Malachite Kingfisher somewhere there. We spent about 20 minutes without seeing what he sees. In the end we say, yes we can see it, so that we can proceed ) . There is African Spoonbill Sacred Ibis Openbilled Stork and a Great White Egret. For the remaining of the afternoon there is not a lot to be seen. After sundowner we slowly go back to camp. And then there is, why we came here: Leopard a young female Leopard is posing for us in a tree. She´s relaxed and allows us to take a couple of shots before she decides that it is enough, climbs down and walks her way. This was it for day one. One day, one Leopard (don´t count the one in the faaaaaaar distance) and still counting.
  20. Some of you may remember my all-too-brief trip to the Masai Mara in 2012. My philosophy remains that it's better to go on a brief safari than none at all, especially when a brief one is about all you can afford, and so August 2015 found my partner and me in Zambia, mainly to visit South Luangwa NP and Livingstone. Our flights from the States, which as usual were comprised of a long and convoluted series of connections, necessitated that we spend a night in Lusaka. Rather than opt for a normal hotel in the city, we discovered the charming option of Pioneer Camp. (Dogs are always a welcome addition to small owner-run places like this.) Pioneer Camp, while only 25-30 minutes away from the airport in Lusaka, is set within 25 acres of miombo woodland (a description which may have been taken verbatim from their web site), which gives it a very nice, away-from-the-city feel. It was a pleasant way to unwind after an obscenely long series of flights, and it also gave us the opportunity to wander around the attractive, safari-style chalets while taking unfocused, washed-out photos of otherwise beautiful birds. The next morning we were off to begin the main part of the trip by flying to Mfuwe and staying at Flatdogs Camp, which is a well-situated (lots of wildlife in camp) and affordable option for South Luangwa which I learned about in this nice trip report, though the thread creator doesn't seem to have stuck around ST. More to come as I get photos sorted.
  21. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Lion Camp, South Luangwa NP, Zambia 2) Website address if known: www.lioncamp.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). 14. - 19.07.2015, High season 4) Length of stay: 5 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? We wanted to stay in the northern part of SLNP this time and the rates were excellent (stay 5 pay 4) and also the reputation sounded good 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Agent, ATR, yes and yes 7) How many times have you been on Safari? Don´t count anymore 8) To which countries? Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Kwando, Botswana 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 9 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Don´t know the numbers. First we were in one chalet (# 7 or 8) on the far side of the communal area. After 2 nights we were settled in the honeymoon chalet, which is no. 1. Both chalets overlooked the lagoon. The honeymoon chalet had more view to the left. Private enough 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Comfortable enough with fans 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Can´t rave enough about the food! Best food ever on Safari! Very tasty! 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Lunch was served buffet style There is a set menu for dinner, which was served plated. I am sure you could get vegetarion food. Don´t if you had to ask for it in advance. At least I guess at check-in. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal dining, long table, just perfect for us. Guides and maagers host (not all, but at least one from manaegement and a couple of the guides) One day lunch was served as a bush lunch on the banks of the Luangwa, which was nice! 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? N/A 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Land Cruisers 19) How many guests per row? 2 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? About 3,5 – 4 hrs in the morning, same in the afternoon 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? 6.30 – 10.00 16.00 – 19.30 Did not ask for that, because the suggested itinerary suited our needs perfectly. Only one night I would have liked to stay out longer as a Leopard was hunting. The other cars still drove earlier than us, but we could easily have stayed 15 minutes longer, as we were really close to camp. I am no fan of all day outings. But I am sure, they would offer that, if you ask, because the management is over the top and extremely helpful! 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? National Park 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Very low traffic, no public vehicles in the area, only Lion Camp and I think we have seen 1 or 2 Norman Carr (?) vehicles, almost like private concession 24) Are you able to off-road? It is not allowed, but …. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. We had this only once, but that was because we were somewhere were we should not have been (see question 24 ) 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Leopards, lions and Cookson´s Wildebeest Yes, we had 27) How was the standard of guiding? Guiding was good, not exceptionell, but nothing to complain about 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? ./. 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: ./. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes! I only want to point out one occasion, that comes in mind directly: I had a chat with Emma, the manager, one night. I told her how much I like this Camp and that the only thing I miss was an outside shower. The other day, she moved us into the only chalet with outside shower! 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Don´t know 32) Safaritalk trip report link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/15359-are-there-any-leopards-in-south-luangwa/ 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: For us, this was the perfect camp. Best we´ve ever stayed in. Chalets are a bit heavily built, not like most camps in the northern part of SLNP. No outside bathroom, bathroom totally enclosed, which is a must for my wife. We chose it because of that. Might not suite the more bush camp fraction. Really loved the hospitality. And the food! 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Will follow
  22. Hi, I am off to SLNP for 8 nights after a couple of days as part of a larger Zambia itinerary. My days there are split between Luwi, Nsolo, Kakuli and Mchenja - all Norman Carr camps. I had wanted to a full day drive in the Nsefu sector. I was advised that the best camp, out of these, to undertake this trip from would be Kakuli. But, the river crossing is not possible and the transfer to Nsefu sector is 2-3 hrs each way. Would you guys still recommend this all day outing. If so, what parts of Nsefu could we focus on? Help much appreciated in advance, Tintin
  23. 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”.
  24. After a short safari experience in South Africa we were eager for more. I started to research safari trips, but it is very overwhelming for a newbie. Deciding on country alone seemed to take forever, all of them looked amazing. We read about walks in the national parks of Zambia, and as we only had experience with game drives, that sounded very interesting – being able to leave the vehicle and walk around surrounded by wildlife. The idea to be able to do different sort of activities was very appealing, besides walks there were also possibilities to go canoeing in the Lower Zambezi national park and a microlight flight in Livingstone and South Luangwa NP. We were sold. Preparation: much more than for the first trip! - Vaccinations (like DTP, hepatitis A, yellow fever). Yellow fever because of the changing and confusing rules for entry to South Africa at that time. - Malarone, in the Netherlands you need a prescription. I had read that some people got side effects from Malarone, so I asked for a trial package. I’d rather be sick at home than in Africa, but no side effects for me. - Bought one pair (!) of binoculars - Neutral coloured clothing (more than necessary) - Plenty of sunscreen and DEET too - I thought of bringing a notebook as well, which turned out to be very helpful for this trip report. Itinerary 6 – 22 May 2012: Day 1 - Flight Amsterdam – Johannesburg (KLM) - overnight stay at City Lodge Day 2 – Flight Johannesburg – Livingstone (Comair - BA) Day 2-5 – Livingstone –Sindabezi lodge Day 5 – Flight Livingstone - Lusaka – Royal airstrip (Proflight / Sky trails) Day 5-9 – Lower Zambezi NP – Chiawa Camp Day 9 – Flight Royal airstrip – Lusaka – Mfuwe (Proflight) Day 9 -17 – South Luangwa NP – Puku Ridge (3 nights), Tafika (5 nights) Day 17 – Flight Mfuwe, Lilongwe, Nairobi and finally Amsterdam. Was not looking forward to that. Luckily KLM added a route to Lusaka, so we could change our flights to Lusaka from Mfuwe and from Lusaka a direct flight to Amsterdam. (Proflight / KLM) As the new route to Lusaka was scheduled three times a week, we either needed to extend or shorten our stay at Tafika. We were originally booked for three nights, but decided to extend our stay with 2 nights and are very pleased we did. The reason to include Livingstone was the Victoria Falls, I couldn’t visit Zambia without seeing the Victoria Falls – I felt we would miss out by not going. We stayed for three nights, which was long enough to do some activities and relax a bit before starting our safari!
  25. Hi there, maybe we are lucky to get a few days for Safari mid July. I stumbled upon Lion Camp in the Nsefu sector of South Luangwa. Any experiences, thoughts, about that camp? Thanks Thomas

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