Marks

A Fleeting Glimpse of Zambia (SLNP, Livingstone)

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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.

 

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(Dogs are always a welcome addition to small owner-run places like this.)

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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More to come as I get photos sorted.

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Well that's a bit of a tease! Just getting started and then the old "Oh, I don't have any photos yet". :D Looking forward to finding out how Flatdogs was for you, and seeing South Luangwa again too. Always a treat.

 

Brief is indeed better than none!

 

Seems like your focal point was indeed jumping around a bit just after arrival, but since the ones you didn't take don't seem to have the same issue, I suspect it was user exhaustion (or perhaps exhilaration) rather than a hardware error and it will resolve itself for now on. After flying for as long as you do I wouldn't be surprised if the cordon blue picture doesn't reflect exactly what you were seeing.

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@@Marks - A most enjoyable start to this report which I've been looking forward to.

 

Pleased that you enjoyed Pioneer after your lengthy flight and I'm much looking forward to the continuation.

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I'm headed out that way on Saturday so it is great to see a positive vibe on Pioneer, where I will also be staying. thanks @@Marks

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Like @@Marks & @@Soukous, we're also overnighting at Pioneer (at the end of September) so it is indeed encouraging to get some good feedback. Did you take/are you taking Pioneers transfer from the airport or make/ing your own arrangements at the airport?

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yay! another revisit to South Luangwa which is always enjoyable. wonder what happened to that "newbie" - if he's taken on a new name here or just vanished?

 

Pioneer looks a very attractive alternative to where we stayed (in the city). that second ground landscape looked blackish brown - were there recent controlled fires? Look forward to the rest of your journey @@Marks!

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Pioneer looks great indeed. Even a Turaco! Looking forward to your SL adventures. :)

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Looking forward to this, and good to see my friends at Pioneer getting some love - Tunya (the Boerboel dog) is an absolute star. Gentle, peaceful and kind. But show her a cobra and she goes ballistic!!! I always stay there when I have to be in Lusaka and Paul and Sophie are great people. The road out there is being upgraded, so there are zero reasons to stay in the overpriced chains/"boutique" hotels in town... 30mins from the airport and the best rump steak in Lusaka.

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Thanks to everyone for your comments!

 

@@pault Exhaustion/exhilaration certainly sounds a lot nicer than incompetence, so let's go with that! ;) I did meet with more success in later birding attempts, particularly with some of the larger raptors, but I won't be winning any awards. I am at least pleased to have identified more birds on this trip than on any previous safari, though.

 

@@Caracal I'm so glad you found this thread. Your report from last year single-handedly inspired us to visit the Maramba market, which proved to be a really great choice (more on that a bit later).

 

@@Soukous @@AfricIan I am sure you will both enjoy Pioneer camp, and I hope your trips are great! We did take Pioneer's airport transfers and found them to be painless and convenient.

 

@@Kitsafari There were lots of recent (and current) fires burning while we were there. From what I was told, it's essentially for agricultural purposes. I don't know what happened to that poster, but I guess it goes to show that even a temporary presence on ST can have an effect on trip planning!

 

@@michael-ibk I was excited to see it and only wish I could've captured it better before it flew off. I think it is a Schalow's Turaco based on its range, but of course I am always open to correction if anyone knows better.

 

@@KaingU Lodge A lovely dog indeed, although I didn't see her ballistic side (which, if it takes a close-range cobra to initiate, may be just as well). I had read that their steaks were fantastic, but I ended up going for a traditional chicken nsima dinner that evening...I did end up getting some Zambian beef later, so hopefully I didn't miss out on too much.

 

Once we arrived at Flatdogs Camp, we were treated to the spectacle of elephants enjoying the small amount of mud and water that was available right outside our tent. I could (and did, in fact) watch this display for hours - at times it rivalled anything that could be seen on game drives, especially for an elephant fan like myself.

 

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In fact, this was a really excellent trip for eles, as they were in camp every day (amongst, at one time or another, puku, impala, buffalo, giraffe, even lions, in addition to the ubiquitous vervets and baboons).

 

Some birds:

 

African Openbill Stork

 

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Grey Heron (I think):

 

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African Sacred Ibis:

 

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Trumpeter Hornbill:

 

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The elephant bath is delightful! Wonderful photos!

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What a happy elephant.Lovely series....

 

Pioneer is the perfect spot at the beginning or end of a safari.

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User error well and truly corrected! Great action in the mud outside the tent.

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Love the elephants bathing - so cute, and look like they are having so much fun!

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How special to have a private showing of elephants wallowing with abandon!

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~ @@Marks

 

With your deft facility with words, you'd make a weekend visit to an outlet store parking lot sound intriguing.

I'm so enjoying your low-key, yet insightful commentary. Reading your trip report has the sense of being perched in a jumpseat without any camera, you doing all of the honors.

Like the bird images. The detail you select is just right.

Here I had no idea that you were planning any safari, and you've slipped away to Zambia for a lovely experience.

Tom K.

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Sounds like you had a great time at Flatdogs... Can't wait to read and see more!

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Almost brings tears to my eyes. I was to spend a few days at Flatdogs in September.

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@@Geoff Sounds like you have to go there when you're able.

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Thanks for all the nice comments and for following along so far.

 

@@Geoff I must agree with @@JohnR; I hope you're still able to go!

 

The following picture may not have an equal impact on everyone, as I know food is rarely ever be considered to be a highlight of being in the bush. And I generally feel the same way, but all the same I certainly didn't object to being subjected to this varied and excellent menu, which changed daily as each special was gradually depleted. It must also be mentioned that Flatdogs has an absolutely fantastic bird's eye chili sauce, which is hot enough to rival anything I've eaten, even at our local Thai and Indian restaurants, where I am often found. I requested this sauce so often, and with every meal, that soon I did not have to ask anymore...

 

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@@Tom Kellie You may remember that I have a special fondness for signage of this hand-painted nature:

 

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Eventually, we had to tear ourselves away from the mud-bathing eles and embark upon an evening game drive. At times I was sorely tempted to stay behind and watch the wildlife right in front of me, but I've never yet missed a game drive on safari and didn't intend to start now.

 

Here you can see that the birds featured in my previous post were actually congregated in a single tree:

 

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A group of impala which I found to be unusually pale in color (especially when considered next to their incredibly vivid neighbors, the puku):

 

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Some eles with calves enjoying themselves and dusting near a very nice baobab specimen:

 

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Blacksmith Lapwing:

 

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@@Big_Dog Unfortunately, hyenas were fairly thin on the ground during our week in South Luangwa, and they were usually spotted (no pun intended) alone. This individual was collared. The way it was holding its leg led me to suspect that it may have been experiencing some discomfort - a suspicion strengthened when we returned to this area on the following evening and found that it had advanced only a few hundred feet overnight and was continuing to rest in a similar pose. However, it would eventually get up and move off hot on the heels of a leopard, indicating that perhaps it was fine, after all.

 

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And finally a sundowner panorama to wrap up the first drive:

 

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@@Marks thanks for reminding me about the Chilli sauce - truly epic!

 

One of the things I love about Flatdogs is the first day - not going on a game drive and having a full cooked breakfast at about 11am. Not very ST, sorry! And then maybe lunch at about 3pm and several beers, a snooze and maybe a G&T on the river bank about 6pm. Then more food.

 

The next day is generally more "safari" focussed I swear.

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@@Marks

I am enjoying this very much. (We stayed at Pioneer Camp and used their transfers when we went to Zambia a couple of years ago - a very good option)

 

Elephants in mud, and then baby elephants playing in mud. What more could one want - especially when viewable from camp. I could (and have) watch elephants for hours!

Flatdogs looks good (good food selection) and it looks like good wildlife viewing. I look forward to the next posts...

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I don't know if epic is a strong enough word. It almost made me cry though and I couldn't even have it on my table after my first try. Flatdogs is fantastic though .

 

@@Marks Really enjoying you're report.

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@@Marks And the beard is coming on a treat :)

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Glad to see the chili sauce is well known, even if not universally adored!

 

In the morning we came across a group of lions. We would encounter these lions a few times throughout our time in South Luangwa. They were fairly obliging as far as lions go - characteristically, there was a lot of sleeping, but they also moved around a fair bit and interacted with each other. From a photographic perspective, I found it interesting how the lighting changed so dramatically just from the lions moving in and out of shade.

 

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Slender Mongoose:

 

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Scrub hare by day:

 

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The endemic Thornicroft's giraffe:

 

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A nice group of puku:

 

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Hippos along the riverbank:

 

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Now for a bird roundup...as I said, I won't be winning any awards here, but I should mention that our guide Byron loved the Sasol app I was using, and especially its bird calls. Between it and his hard copy of the same guidebook, we enjoyed a lot of time spent on bird identification.

 

Ground Hornbills:

 

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A (Distant) Grey Lourie/Go-Away Bird:

 

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Fish Eagle:

 

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Giant Kingfisher:

 

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Shikra (Little Banded Goshawk):

 

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White-fronted Bee-eater:

 

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Living up to its name:

 

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Fishing Saddle-billed Stork:

 

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A great place for morning coffee:

 

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Later that morning we drove a little further afield. The landscape changed accordingly:

 

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We came across this elephant, who gave us a quick charge before sauntering off.

 

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A rather satisfying start to the day! Back at camp, elephants were active as usual.

 

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@@Marks

 

Quote "Now for a bird roundup...as I said, I won't be winning any awards here"

 

Maybe not but that's a lovely image of a Shikra

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