Caracal

A Safari Friendship Renewed - 2014

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A Safari Friendship Renewed

Itinerary 27 Aug – 13 Sep 2014

1 night - Pioneer Camp, Lusaka

4 nights - Leopard Lodge, Kafue

4 nights - Kaingu Safari Lodge, Kafue

5 nights – Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp, Kafue

3 nights – Waterberry Lodge, Livingstone

 

This safari had its genesis on 1 October 2013. That was when I sent the following email to our friend Louise whom we’d met in Katavi in 2005 and then again in 2007 when we visited her in Charleston South Carolina:-

 

Dear Louise,
I know this email is coming out of the blue but let me explain.
We've recently come back from 5
1/2 weeks away mainly in the UK catching up with family and friends. I had been going to write telling you a bit about it (and I still will) but then strangely last week I came across an email you'd sent back in 2011 talking about a possible trip to Africa in 2013. Obviously too late for this year but it was just when I was thinking about next year and how I'm being drawn back to Zambia. I explained to John how much I'd like to return to Zambia next year and he's agreed. We therefore plan to go back to Zambia for 2 weeks next year in the latter half of August/early September Kafue and Livingstone. Before we start any further planning we thought we'd contact you to see if you might be interested in joining us for a 2014 Zambian safari/adventure.
Let us know your thoughts - it would be great to catch up again and don't forget you're always welcome here in Oz - in fact you could tack on Oz as well!
Hope you're keeping well.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Love
Clive

 

I’m not sure that I ever did write telling her about our UK trip. I rather think that once I got Louise’s prompt reply sounding intrigued I launched into planning mode. If you’re like me you enjoy the planning – researching options, availability, prices, dates etc. Fairly early in the process I suggested that Louise purchase Peter de Vere Moss’ Guide to the Kafue National Park. This made liaising easier as Louise could gain a better idea of the park and options. We settled on Pioneer and Leopard to start with. These would be new to all three of us. Leopard Lodge is situated just out of the park in the north east area on the banks of the Kafue where it enters the park. I was keen to return to Kaingu ( previous visit 2010). This is a delightful camp in a spectacular position on the river bank in the Namwala Game Management area and the opening up of the old spinal road in the park opposite meant it had gained a lot more options with trips into the park that weren’t readily available previously. Nanzhila was a must for me (previous visits 2010 & 2011) as was Waterberry (previously 2011).

I favoured road transfers which I find give one a flavour of the country and its people and their lifestyles.

 

John and I were to be twin share and Louise single. It was pleasing that we did not have to argue about a single supplement. That was never raised by any of the above camps in my email correspondence with them. It didn’t take long to settle on prices and tentative dates.

One tricky part was dovetailing flights into Joburg with Louise coming from Panama via Sao Paulo and us from Australia but it all worked out OK.

Everything was booked by early November 2013 so there was plenty of anticipation time.

 

Not long before our departure I got prints of the following photos I’d taken in 2011:-

a) the stallholders at Maramba market

b ) the medical clinic and school at Nanzhila

c) Collins and his family at his home

d) David Chirwa and other Nanzhila staff photos.

 

A couple of days before we left for our first stop at Perth John and I spoke to Grades 4, 5 & 6 at our local primary school about our past trips to Africa and our forthcoming trip to Zambia. A week before that talk we’d left African artifacts on display at the school with cards as to each one’s country of origin.

 

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We live in a small rural town (pop 625) in Victoria. It’s a dairy farming district situated at the foot of rolling hills that plain out 24 kms to the southern coastline. The school is always active in community events and at one such event I’d chatted to the school principal telling him of our past and forthcoming visits to Nanzhila and wondering about a school link up. After an encouraging response here and with Steve Smith’s assistance at Nanzhila I’m hopeful of getting that going.

 

After our talk the teachers gave us some footballs and the like with a pump to take with us.

 

So all was set and after a few days in Perth we flew to Joburg arriving at 5.00am 27 August.

Louise’s flight arrives around 7.30am and when Louise comes through the transit section there are big hugs and greetings. We quickly find a place for coffee and a chat. Within minutes the 7 years since we’d seen each other dissipated – just melted away. All augured well for our safari.

 

When we were walking to the departure gate for our 10.30 am flight to Lusaka I heard a voice call Clive. I stopped turned round and faced a handsome well groomed African smiling and holding out his hand. I guess he was around 40 and as I shook his hand I’m racking my brain as to where I might have met him. I draw a blank – when I say I don’t recall where we’ve met he says he’s an engineer and that I am Clive Nobes the civil engineer are’nt I ? we met in the copper mining towns. When I said not me he smiled with surprise saying I looked just like him and then walked off. They say everyone has a double but to have a double also named Clive is a bit uncanny.

 

At Lusaka I was pleased and relieved to see my luggage as over the years Joburg airport and my luggage have had a very strained relationship with some bouts of separation.

 

We are met at the airport by Anderson who drives us to Pioneer Camp. Everywhere looking very dry. The drive takes only 30 mins. The camp is set in spacious grounds and the chalets are well separated.

 

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Our Chalet

 

 

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Looking out from bar/dining area

 

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Looking towards bar /dining area

After checking in to our chalets it’s long past time for a drink (ahem! well we might have had a drink or two on the flight to Lusaka but we hadn’t seen each other for 7 years and who’s counting ?!) so the three of us meet up at the bar and enjoy a beer or two chatting and relaxing. Later after a shower and quiet spell sitting outside the chalet and just absorbing being back in Zambia it’s time for dinner. A flavoursome T Bone steak with a shared bottle of red complete the day. For our road transfer to Leopard Lodge the next morning we are given the option of a 5.00am or 9.00am departure- before or after Lusaka peak hour traffic. After our long flights 9.00am is a clear and absolute winner.

 

Back in the chalet lying in a comfortable bed I think :-

So good to be in Africa

So good to be back in Zambia

So good to see Louise again

So great to be heading out tomorrow On Safari.

Edited by Game Warden
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And so good of you to share this with us. :)

 

I love the title of this report, and am really looking forward to seeing what Kafue had in store for you and your friends.

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@@Caracal...you are taking us on an adventure and it is fun!

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A very apt title - for your friend and for Zambia! Looking forward to reading about kafue, a place on my must visit list....

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Thanks michael-ibk ,Marg & Kitsafari - nowadays I often wish I'd learnt to type - that would have speeded things up for me but here's a bit more

 

 

28 August 2014

 

I had been expecting to wake up to the familiar calling of the Cape Turtle Dove. Instead I wake up early around 4.15am and what I hear comes completely out of left field. It’s chanting that’s obviously from some nearby evangelical church. This was being carried out with admirable enthusiasm in true African fashion. I then heard what sounded like exhortations from the preacher and once I established that I was awake and wasn’t dreaming it all and once the chanting eased off a bit I turned over and nodded off again. Waking up later there was the call I had been expecting – the dove call of Africa.

We enjoy breakfast at 7.00 am in the outside dining area in welcoming morning sunshine.

Louise says she also heard the early morning service. Soon it’s time to get ready to leave.

Our driver, Lackson, is of the Soli tribe and tells us he has been with Pioneer for 23 years.

It takes about an hour to get through the heavy Lusaka traffic but once out on the western side the traffic clears and the road is good all the way to Mumbwa which we reach around midday. The road we have to take out of Mumbwa is a dirt road in a rough condition, shall we say rugged, so progress is slow but it does improve somewhat much further on.

The sentry/guard at the Mushingashi Gate is out to impress – standing rigidly to attention as he sharply salutes us when we drive off. We cross the Kafue at the Lubungu Pontoon.

 

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Not long after the crossing we reach Leopard Lodge at around 2.45pm.

On arrival we are met by Elize Collins and staff and welcomed with refresher towels. Immediate impressions are of a well maintained lodge situated in a beautiful position on the Kafue riverbank with the rather rugged looking Leopard Hill rising majestically behind and the park opposite. The lodge is in the Lunga Luswishi Game Management Area.

Elize escorts us to the dining/bar area where we enjoy chicken wings and scones plus cheese sandwiches the latter being hurriedly made when Elize discovers we’d had no lunch. Let me tell you no one will go hungry at Leopard Lodge. Actually I think there was plenty for the three of us with the chicken and scones.

The accommodation consists of five spacious en suite chalets that are well spaced apart along the river bank. Apart from a generously sized bedroom there is a spacious enclosed lounge type area in front overlooking the river.

 

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We then enjoy a relaxing boat trip with Reuben and David appreciating the river and the scenery. The waters are clear and pretty shallow at this time of the year. Home to crocs and hippos. We see some puku and waterbuck at the riverside and birds included a bateleur eagle that looked as if it was taking up fishing, jacana, reed and whitebreasted cormorants aplenty, pied kingfisher, fish eagle and an excellent sighting of an African finfoot scurrying along the riverbank between waterberry tree roots.

 

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Apologies embarrassingly out of focus but I'm no photographer and the boat was rocking!

 

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David Kalimbwe, Louise, Reuben Mapalanga and John

 

Dinner of pumpkin soup, some delicious hake and chocolate mousse at a fireside table rounded off the day nicely.

 

Back at the chalet I find a scroll on my bed. It’s a story from Dick Hobson’s Tales of Zambia.

Each night of our stay there’s a different story - Kafue National Park, Musi-o-Tunya, The Zambesi and Ndolas Sunken Caves. A really nice touch.

 

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29 August 2014

 

After an early morning cuppa we set off at first light a little before 6.00am.

We head out from the camp straight into the GMA. Reuben drives, David guides and we are accompanied by Frederick, a ZAWA scout with a friendly engaging personality. There are impala near the camp and then large gatherings of puku on the riverside plains. Frederick tells us that puku are the only animal that can withhold birth for up to 5 months. I don’t recall hearing or reading that before and must find out more in due course. I understand that the kangaroo has an ability to control timing of birth by the ability to arrest development of the embryo through delayed implantation but I digress.

We drive up towards the top of Leopard Hill and then walk the last part for a morning coffee break. We stand at the top looking down to the river and across to the park.

 

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Suddenly a civet springs from out of the undergrowth beside Frederick and bounds down the steep hillside.

 

On the way back to camp we have some nice views of kudu and see warthogs, yellow baboon and a side striped jackal as well as the ubiquitous puku and impala. Along the way we tell Frederick that we are seriously thinking we might have to report him to ZAWA for scaring a civet. Even worse in the daytime! He loves it and laughs along with Reuben and David. During the drive I am again struck as always in Africa by how well the animals’ camouflage works.

 

Back at camp we enjoy brunch on the decking over the Kafue.

 

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Looking across from chalet

 

A quiet afternoon is followed by a game drive in the park opposite featuring large herds of puku and impala again, more big groupings of yellow baboon, 9 hartebeest, a large male sable, oribi and warthog.

 

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After sundowners we have a good sighting of an African wildcat, a number of whitetailed mongoose, nightjar and a hyena.

 

Another excellent dinner completes the day.

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Love the Oribi, not seen very often on these pages. :)

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So nice to see the bateleur and the oribi!

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Thanks @@michael-ibk and @@Kitsafari - I've seen more oribi in Kafue than in any other park. Never tire of seeing them - so delicate looking and beautiful. Kafue is great for antelope.

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30 August 2014

 

The morning drive in the park opposite again features lots of puku and impala with puku dominating the numbers, also vervet monkeys, common duikers, yellow baboons, reedbuck, the statuesque waterbuck, kudu, oribi, a blue duiker dashing off in a blur, warthogs and a good herd of Lichtenstein’s hartebeest with three calves. The hartebeest dash off with great speed and the calves have no trouble keeping pace.

 

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We enjoy morning coffee on the riverbank looking at spoor and watching puku wander past behind us. The tsetses are bad on the way back to camp. The little bastards sneak up on you and catch you unawares with their piercing bites but fortunately I’m not allergic to them!

 

Back at the lodge I while away a pleasant afternoon in a raised gazebo/rotunda listening to sounds and calls and watching three warthogs wander through the grounds then later a troop of yellow baboons. Alarm whistles from puku on the opposite riverbank make me wonder if there’s a leopard around.

 

At afternoon tea Elize Collins is fascinated by the tribal and language map of Zambia that I show her which she copies.

 

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The evening drive is very quiet. We stop for sundowners and I wander away from the vehicle a little watching the sun go down on its way to other places when I hear the unmistakable sound of lion roaring. It sounded quite distant. I walk smartly back to the Cruiser. Everything’s hurriedly packed and we set off on the search in the direction of the roaring. A while later we pause on a grassy plain and Reuben turns off the engine. We sit there wrapped in the descending darkness of the African night and in the silence. The silence spoke loudly. It spoke of animals waiting, watching, smelling, listening. All senses fully alert.

Then more roaring cut the silence and filled the night – much closer now.

Reuben, David and Frederick quietly share their thoughts and assessment of the locale of the lions they think are “Copper” and “Coin”, two males around 5 years who are in prime condition. Soon we find them walking in single file along the top of the riverbank and ROARING as they do so. We drive parallel following them through the bush and they continue to roar as they stride. We are approximately 20 metres away. The sound coming from deep within their chests is transfixing, mesmerising. It surrounds you and pierces you like no other sound. Unforgettable. We look at each other in awe but there is nothing to say – nothing needs saying – the lions are saying it all.

We follow them through the bush for quite a while with masterly driving and spotlighting but then they walk into bush that no vehicle can follow. We back track a bit and then turn onto a track and suddenly they both appear and cross in front of our vehicle.

 

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We lose them as they move further into the bush. Frederick mentions they’re roaring as they’re well satisfied and not hunting for food so it doesn’t matter that they frighten animals or let their position be known.

We receive a message that a leopard has been seen at camp by as we start to head off we pause for an excellent sighting of an African wild cat.

 

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Excellent sightings but not excellent photos I know - however for me they're aides-memoire

 

Then back to camp without sighting the leopard but we are more than satisfied with all that we’ve just experienced.

At camp we find a South African couple have sought overnight accommodation. They were on a self drive tour and we were somewhat stumped to find them saying they had run out of money and were having trouble finding a bank or ATM somewhere. Not likely to be much luck on that score in this remote location.

Whilst at dinner we find that Max the local hippo has joined us for dinner and is browsing grass near us. This means that after dinner we are detoured round the back of the bar area to reach our rooms.

 

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Reliving the memories of the nightdrive kept me awake for quite a while. What a special nightcap.

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@@Caracal

Very enjoyable reading your report on a slightly less visited area.

We stayed at Pioneer Camp and I remember hearing the church service and the singing!

I always like seeing Puku - I have never seen an Oribi - it is very elegant.

And great to see a Wildcat!

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Posted (edited)

Sounds of a lion at night remain with you throughout don't they? And finding a wildcat, and oribi...terrific time.

Enjoyed the map as well....interesting find.

Edited by graceland
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You say you are no photographer, but you have many great photos of excellent sightings!

 

 

Dinner of pumpkin soup, some delicious hake and chocolate mousse at a fireside table rounded off the day nicely.

 

 

This sounds extremely delicious.

 

Back at the lodge I while away a pleasant afternoon in a raised gazebo/rotunda listening to sounds and calls and watching three warthogs wander through the grounds then later a troop of yellow baboons. Alarm whistles from puku on the opposite riverbank make me wonder if there’s a leopard around.

 

Hard to imagine a more ideal afternoon, really. Reading this almost takes me away...

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Thanks @@TonyQ & @@graceland - yes seeing wildcat on two consecutive nights was special and in fact we saw two more down at Nanzhila.

@ Marks - yes those quiet afternoons on safari contemplating and absorbing ...

 

31 August 2014

 

I receive a Leopard Lodge birthday present around 3.00am when I wake up to the sound of lions roaring. The roaring continues intermittently for an hour or more. I guess it’s Copper and Coin.

Breakfast is a little later this morning as John and I are going for a walk with David to the Chipusi Hot Spring. Louise, who has had footwear problems, will be driving there with Reuben. At breakfast I receive a hug and a kiss from Elize and a lovely birthday card. Elize has sussed out my birthday from the registration form I completed and signed on arrival.

After breakfast David introduces us to Kingsman, another ZAWA scout who, like Frederick, has a friendly and outgoing personality, and Raster a junior staff member who will join us on the walk.

Setting off we see two bushbuck, plenty of puku plus a fleeting glimpse of a side striped jackal.

 

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I pause to view a rather handsome green pigeon and pause again a bit later to look at a pair of white backed vultures at their nest. Unfortunately they flew off before I snapped.

 

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Along the way we talk of the trees and shrubs including sjambok, marula, leadwood and kudu berry and of the berries of the prolific woolly caper bush which are favoured by monkeys and birds but fatal for humans.

Before reaching the spring we walk through an area which Kingsman says is favoured by wild dog but no sign of them today.

 

I was amazed at the sight of the hot springs with their clouds of steam that from a distance I first thought was smoke. I suppose I’d been expecting some shallow bubbling waters but this was much more impressive. A fascinating place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On the drive back we see a number of warthog mixing in with puku and a kudu lying perfectly still relying on her effective camouflage.

 

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A special steak for birthday brunch was followed by a quiet relaxing afternoon.

 

The evening drive was quiet but I was still taken by the surprising display of the miombo woodlands in spring with their flushes of reds and yellows as well as greens. All this quite some weeks before the rains. I read somewhere that the colours are thought to fool insects and other feeders into thinking that they’re not nourishing new leaf growth but I’ve no idea whether there’s any truth in that theory.

 

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When we return to the lodge I am taken by complete surprise with birthday celebrations. Name spelt out on the ground with flowers from the sausage tree near the bar and the staff then singing, chanting and dancing a traditional song and dance – the swallow. This was carried out with much verve and enthusiasm.

 

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An excellent barbecue cooked by Innocent completed the evening making me feel quite spoilt.

 

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This is so lovely that you have the added element of renewing a friendship along with the excitement of a safari. I love that term: "aides-memoire"

 

You won't forget this birthday!

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Here's to more birthdays on safari @@Atravelynn - I'm lucky mine's at a good time for safaris. It's been great to renew our friendship with Louise - I think this safari might have awoken " le mal d'Afrique" in her although I don't think it ever really left her.

 

 

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1 September 2014

 

When John from the staff comes to our chalet early morning he tells me that Max the hippo is still visiting and beside the bar area. I walk down with him just as Max decides it’s time to head back to the Kafue.

 

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We enjoy a boat ride during which we see the finfoot again and then after brunch get ready for the transfer to Kaingu Safari Lodge. Rick Schulz arrives around 11.45am. We immediately recognise the Aussie accent and have a chat and a cuppa with him before we say our thanks and farewells to Elize and staff.

 

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On the drive to Mumbwa Rick tells us that, following what must have been a fairly early retirement from business in Australia, he and his wife Lynda decided to look for an investment in a safari camp and purchased a share in Kaingu.

We stop at Mumbwa to buy fuel. Things are somewhat chaotic at the service station with long queues for the fuel pumps and many touts who have purchased fuel from the station and want to sell it at a marked up price. Whilst waiting I can’t help wondering what the furniture maker opposite does in the rainy season.

 

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After Mumbwa we soon hit the Great West Road and head to the Hook Bridge where we turn south onto the old but now repaired and rejuvenated Spinal Road. We see three elephant and a number of kudu along the way to Kaingu’s car park from where we take a boat ride downstream a little to the lodge on the opposite bank in the Namwala GMA.

At Kaingu we receive a warm welcome from Lynda and Gil and Julia who manage the Lodge.

Kaingu is situated on a spectacular stretch of the river which is dotted with islands and granite boulders of various shapes and sizes. There are four large Meru–style safari tents on raised wooden decks each of which has its own private and secluded view of the river.

 

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There is an outside shower to enjoy on a warm sunny afternoon as well as the ensuite facilities under cover. The bar dining and lounge area is incorporated beside a large wooden decking area on the riverbank. There is also a family house which I have no doubt is comfortable and maintained to the high standards set throughout the Lodge. The lodge is constructing two riverbank chalets to increase capacity and like most Kafue lodges that I’ve visited there is a campsite for selfdrivers.

 

That evening at pre dinner drinks around the fire we meet Tony and Victoria , a delightful English couple on their first visit to Africa, and a friendly Dutch couple. I was also pleased to meet Steve smith from Nanzhila who was there to take the Dutch couple to Nanzhila the next morning.

 

We all enjoyed an excellent dinner. The meals were excellent back in 2010 and they still are.

 

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@@Caracal

What an excellent birthday celebration - and the hot springs look really interesting.

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Yes @@TonyQ a lovely celebration and what made it even more special was the way the staff seemed to be genuinely enjoying it and doing so with gusto.

 

 

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2 September 2014

 

Wake up around 4.00am to the sound of lion roaring in the park across the river. The roaring continues till dawn. I’m starting to think Kafue lions are a vociferous lot and that’s fine with me.

 

After breakfast we go on a game drive in the park with Tony and Victoria and Isaac Kelio guiding. Isaac boats us over to the car park and I’m really interested to see what the park holds and whether the animals we see are skittish or relatively calm. Tony and Victoria’s excitement at sightings and enthusiasm for gaining knowledge of all things is infectious.

 

We see many different bird species including a striped kingfisher which I don’t recall having seen before. When we see Ground Hornbill Isaac mentions that they are on the endangered list and that they can live for 50-60 years maturing around 15 years.

 

Forest Waterberry with its low growing bright green leaves looking rather like rows of cos lettuce was prolific everywhere. Apparently it grows after fire with its main growth underground.

 

For me the highlight of the drive was a lovely herd of about 20 Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest –

the best sightings I’ve had of these rather strange looking antelope – which was followed a short time later by another nice herd.

 

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At the morning tea break

 

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I admire the flowers of Morning Glory

 

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and asked about some blue flowers that caught my attention with the flowers also turning into attractive brown seed pods. Isaac said he’d check them out and later back at camp told me they were Bells of St Mary’s – Boraginaceae – showing me the details and drawings in a field guide. Should have taken a photo of the flower and no idea why I didn’t.

 

On the way back to the car park whilst searching unsuccessfully for the lion’s whereabouts, we admired a Flame Creeper,

 

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the poison-pod Albizia with its red leaves and a Sjambok Pod Tree with its yellow flowers and long pods a tree used for stomach ailments, diarrhoea and unwanted pregnancy.

 

Back at camp after lunch I paused to watch a bushbuck beside the path near our tent.

 

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Later on John and I had a short walk with Kaley to the hide. Kaley is another excellent guide at Kaingu. His real name is Willard Kaleyanungu and he tells me that Kaleyanungu means avoid porcupine quills, which I guess is sound advice as well as a good name. We look at various tracks on the way and when Kaley points out bushbuck tracks I mention having read that they can be feisty and dangerous when cornered. Kaley tells me that when he was a child his father assisted someone who was disembowelled in an attempt to trap a bushbuck.

 

Kaley checks the hide first when we get there and then leaves us with his radio. Things are quiet on the mammal front and even the bird life is fairly quiet but we still enjoy our spell there before walking back to camp when the sun starts to lower in the western sky.

 

We enjoy drinks around the fire with Louise, Tony and Victoria, Rick and Lynda, Gil and Julia before another superb dinner on the decking by the Kafue.

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3 September 2014

 

I wake up with a start at 2.30am. This time it wasn’t due to the roaring of lions. Something heavy had fallen on my left thigh, my head and shoulders were entangled in netting and dust and minute torn fragments of what smelt like hessian were invading my sinuses.

 

I shouted “What the *#*# has happened?”

 

John’s voice loomed out of the darkness:

“I sat on the mosquito netting. Don’t worry about it ” as he got back into bed from a nightly perambulation and promptly went straight back to sleep!

 

Meanwhile I’m left to try and manoeuvre myself into a position in my bed where I might have a small chance of getting back to sleep amongst the confusion of netting and poles. Suffice to say further sleep that night was spasmodic and I was wide awake long before the 5.30am call.

 

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I took this photo as evidence but I had tidied the mess up somewhat first. John for his part was unaware till the morning of exactly what had occurred or so he claims!

 

At breakfast I recounted the story of the night’s misadventures to Louise and Tony and Victoria who were amused and of course we did rather embarrassingly have to tell management of the damage that had been wrought. I have to say that Julia is to be congratulated on the way she so calmly accepted the news with a wry smile saying that it would be fixed no problems..

 

Lions were in fact roaring at breakfast and as Isaac was boating us to the car park opposite. At Isaac’s suggestion we boated back down the opposite bank awhile to see if we could locate them before continuing to the car park. We then made an unsuccessful vehicle pursuit south in another attempt before heading north to our intended target of the Shishamba Loop.

 

On the Spinal Road I saw some distance ahead what I thought was a largish cat run across the road. However it was in the shadows of trees across the road so I could not say what it was. Isaac saw it and was pretty sure it was a leopard. Hope he’s right. If so it keeps in tact my record of seeing leopard on every safari. The best being in 2000 when I saw seven , three in Ruaha including one on a walk and four in South Luangwa.

 

Impala, puku, warthogs, squirrels, were seen on the way to the loop together with waterbuck crossing.

 

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When on the loop we saw a lovely grouping of placid puku,

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four buffalo and a lone elephant,

 

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and warthogs

 

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but the highlight was three small family groups of elephants taking their turns at the Shishamba river. When we arrived the first group was already in and crossing the river drinking and then on the opposite bank scratching on fallen tree trunks. In the last group there was playful activity between youngsters and then a warning from the approaching matriarch at which point Isaac grabbed Louise’s sun hat and held it up whereupon she stopped and advanced no further.

 

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After that special sighting we got back rather late around 4.00pm in fact.

 

That evening we had dinner outside by the rapids. We walked down there with Gil, Julia , Tony and Victoria. Drinks and chats around the fire and a lovely dinner completed a memorable day.

 

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Some really nice encounters with wildlife....but the non-animal highlight for me might be the mosquito net...quite a rude awakening :)

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Not sure about it being a highlight @@Marks but I have used the incident as a dinner party conversation!

 

If you're in the Eastern States I hope all's OK after that massive snowstorm.

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4 September 2014

 

After breakfast we say goodbyes to Tony and Victoria and take a boat trip with Isaac.

 

It was beautiful cruising along the Kafue gazing at the resident hippos as they popped up to check our intrusion and at the crocs nonchalantly sunbathing on the banks or islands.

 

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I was fascinated by watching a playful young bushbuck having much fun on the riverbank dashing around chasing vervet monkeys to and fro.

 

Unfortunately I was looking the wrong way when Isaac spotted an otter slipping into the river in the shadows of a large boulder.

 

We saw many birds including Schalow’s Turaco, a pair of yellow billed kites mating in a tree above us, a pair of African Skimmers that had a nest on an island, a colony of white-fronted beeeaters and a redheaded weaver busy nest building.

 

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The boat was bobbing around at the time!

 

 

After lunch and a spell in the lazy afternoon we went for a walk with Isaac to Mpamba Rock.

Along the way we pause to look at various tracks, shrubs and trees including the Camelfoot Tree that can be used for a toothbrush with the toothpaste being a mixture of ash fron the leadwood, a monkey apple tree, and the savannah dwaba berry the stem of which is used for weaving granary walls in local villages.

 

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We then climb Mpamba rock which is a huge granite outcrop jutting out of the surrounding woodland. However the route we take up the rock face is not difficult – as is evidenced by the fact that we made it to the top without any problems.

 

At the top we find Kaley crouched on his haunches cooking bacon over a small fire, and as the sun starts to set we stand enjoying our drinks and crispy bacon.

 

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What we most enjoy however is the superb view – one John and I remember from 2010.

Wherever you look is wilderness – miombo woodland stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions – tree tops highlighted by colours and shades of the setting sun.

 

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A bigger force is at work making the humdrum and worries of day to day life pale into insignificance. To emphasise this the first stars of the African night sky start to appear as we descend the rock and drive back to the lodge for dinner on the decking accompanied by the grunts of hippos making sure we know This Is Africa.

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What a beautiful view. Everything looks deceptively flat, but you had a great vantage point.

The hippo sound is truly like nothing else.

 

Not sure about it being a highlight @@Marks but I have used the incident as a dinner party conversation!

 

If you're in the Eastern States I hope all's OK after that massive snowstorm.

 

Thanks - missed me by one state for now! Hope any New York STers are well.

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