AfricIan

Panthera paradise

63 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Preamble


Once again, I seem to find myself following a TR that visited the same Country, Park & Camp as I’m about to describe – hopefully you’ll stay with me and, as I’ve deliberately not followed @@douglaswise ’s posts (yet, I'll have to start catching up), I hope it’s not too “samey” although if he’s kept to his promise that there wouldn’t be any photos then there will at least be some pretty pictures here to keep you interested!


This trip came about as we were looking for another trip “away from the crowds”, which would allow us to do some walking and, above all, give us a lot of flexibility to decide what to do at short notice. Armed with this brief we found ourselves at the London Destinations travel show taking to Tyrone McKeith (@KafueTyrone) and his dad Tony who runs Busanga Safaris here in the UK. After a long discussion & bouncing emails back & forward with Tyrone we finally booked up (through Tony) for the following:

28 – 29th Sept: Emirates LHR to Lusaka via Dubai

29th Sept: Pioneer Camp, Lusaka

29th Sept – 1st Oct: Musekese Camp, Kafue

1st – 5th Oct: Musakese mobile camp, Kafue

5th – 8th Oct: Musekese Camp, Kafue

8th – 9th Oct: Emirates Lusaka to LHR via Dubai.


Our flight out from Dubai to Lusaka wasn’t the best Emirates flight we’ve had as the boarding arrangements were somewhat chaotic and disjointed, the aircraft was not docked at an air-bridge and we had a long “unguided tour” of the airport until we eventually arrived at the aircraft. Take-off itself was delayed for ~1hr., for reasons that were never really explained & the aircraft itself was a very “rattley” A340 with many alarming “crashes & bangs” on take-off, including one from the toilet near our seats as something quite large “fell off” which blocked the door for some considerable time until one of the cabin crew managed to get in. Then the entertainment system (which was the old fixed schedule type) failed completely, midway through the flight, so it was back to the iPod until we landed, still ~1hr late.


With no air-bridge at KKIA, it was nice to be back in Africa again and breath in the late afternoon air (albeit aviation fuel laced) on the walk to the terminal. Once through immigration our driver from Pioneer was waiting for us to take us the short hop over to Pioneer Camp where we were very pleasantly surprised to see Tyrone waiting for us, together with his girlfriend Alex.

The afternoon was getting on by this stage so we arranged to meet a little later at the bar and headed to our very nice chalet to freshen up


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(Toilet to the left, shower & wash basins to the right)


Back at the bar, a cold Moshi was the order of the day and Tyrone explained that we had two choices for the morning: get up early, take a packed breakfast & try to beat the traffic or lie-in, have breakfast at Pioneer & wait until later to leave. Option 1 would get us to camp by late morning, option 2 might mean not getting to camp until mid-late afternoon. Option 1 agreed, we enjoyed a very nice steak before turning in. There wasn’t much chance to look around before it got dark but what we could see fitted very well with other ST descriptions, everyone was very friendly and our steaks were excellent – we’d certainly stay at Pioneer again.


It was soon morning and we were quickly on the road, dropping Alex off at a deserted shopping mall en-route and we cleared the central Lusaka traffic without much of a hold-up. There’s not a lot to say about the M9 heading west but one hand written sign offering the intriguing combination of Hair Dressing & Car Wash caught my attention – would this be a husband & wife team or do you get your hair power washed? The M9 runs through the park so once we’d passed the park boundary checkpoint our attention picked up again and it wasn’t long after we turned off onto the dirt road towards camp that Tyrone shouted “sable”


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They weren’t very co-operative but sable were one of my hope-to-see’s so it was a great start to our time in Kafue and we hadn’t even made it to camp yet!
Edited by AfricIan
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@@AfricIan "Hair Dressing and Car Wash" may be a specialist car wash for convertibles and open safari vehicles? ;)

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Really lookforward to the rest of this report - @@AfricIan

 

Thanks for writing this up!

 

Sorry you had a lousy old A340 - that must be one of their old aircraft deployed on the Lusaka route.

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That's an impressive sable bull!

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Sable are a nice way to start.

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Thanks all, I'll try to not make you wait too long for the next installment!

 

Good thinking @@ZaminOz - I'd not thought of that combo!

 

It certainly wasn't the newest plane in their fleet(!!!) @@madaboutcheetah, and coming to it off a spanking new A380 made the contrast even more pronounced. Fortunately the cabin crew were as good as ever.

 

It's a shame the sable weren't a little bit more co-operative, I've got a lot of photo's of woodland(!!) but we've never seen them on our trips so it was great to catch them. Tyrone was quite surprised to see them where they were as it's a long way from any water.

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That's a heck of an opener! Can't wait to see where it goes from here.

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Posted (edited)

We were welcomed to camp by Sam & his version of the Rock Shandy. Phil was up at the Mobile camp & pretty soon we were joined for lunch by Tom, Musekese’s other guide. Musekese Camp is on a small ridge by a seasonal flood pond (Dambo) & about 100m from the Kafue river, tents (5 of them) are slightly smaller than we’ve been used to but are perfectly comfortable with a couple of “directors” chairs out front – looking over the dambo. Out-back is a flushing loo, wash basin & bucket shower. The wash basin is “cold water” only but is fed by from a header tank that is piped in black plastic so is mega hot at mid-afternoon (ideal for my 1 mid-trip shave!).


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Being so close to the river, boat trips form a big part of Musekese’s activities, along with walking &, of course, vehicle game drives. Our initial thoughts were to walk in the mornings & “play it by ear” for the afternoons and as it turned out we spent both mornings before we went off to the mobile walking & both afternoons out on the boat but flexibility was the order of the day & we could have changed things at a moments notice.

Phil had returned by mid-afternoon and said that he’d seen a couple of “new” lion on the far bank of the river so we all elected to take the boat, head downstream to see if we could find them again. No such luck but we did see some of the bird-life along the river including a glimpse, Tom assured us, of an African Finfoot lurking in the shadows of the undergrowth before settling back to enjoy the sunset.


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Half-collared kingfisher


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Fish eagle


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Yellow-billed kite


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Next morning we thought we try & see if we could find any signs of the far bank lions again, but on foot, in case they’d just moved a little way away from the waters edge. Phil was going to be our guide & we were joined by Mukendra (?sp), Musekese’s ZAWA ranger for the month. Once again, we had no luck with the lions, indeed in the area where the lions had been seen the Puku were very relaxed.


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We walked a good way downstream so rather than retrace our steps Phil arranged for the boat to meet us and we came across this fella enjoying his “brunch in the bath”.


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For the afternoon we again opted for the boat & headed upstream towards “skimmer island”:


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African darter


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I don’t know what the hippo had done to upset the skimmers but they didn’t seem too happy:


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Giving us a flypast

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And as the light faded, (nearly) doing what skimmers do!

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Edited by AfricIan
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I am really glad that you enjoyed Musekese. I have very fond memories of a couple of nights there, including one where Phil had to head off to pick up guests and very kindly lent us his camp, his boat and his staff!

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Yes, @@KaingU Lodge, it lived up to everything we were expecting of it, and more.

 

Next morning it was boots on again:
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Rather blurred Barred owlet
Before we came across this bull elephant who, despite us giving him a wide berth, decided to have a bit of fun & turn the tables by “stalking” us.
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Once we’d managed to shake him off, this Warthog posed for a photo before we found a spotted eagle owl chick.
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After lunch, we were just set to head north to the mobile camp when this Yellow-billed kite decided to give us a private air display right over camp
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Then it was into the boat for a quick run down to the confluence with the Lufupa river, load up the “Landie” and up the Moshi Road towards our new campsite. A group of baboon with young interrupted progress for a short while before we arrived at camp, nicely positioned on the south bank of the Lufupa, where Malambo (sp?) was head-man and waiting for us with another refreshing cool drink.
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It may be a little tent but it's plenty comfortable.
Next morning we headed back out in the “Landie”, checking out the tracks in the road and looking in the little gullies & shady spots along the river
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Then Phil stopped the vehicle & whispered “follow the trunk of that tree up until it forks right then look just below the fork”:
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And for those of you who were thinking “Where does the title of this report come from?”, things might just get a bit more interesting!!
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Great to see another report from Musekese - really enjoyed my stay there with @@Sangeeta about a year ago - look forward to what's next!

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Then Phil stopped the vehicle & whispered “follow the trunk of that tree up until it forks right then look just below the fork”:
And for those of you who were thinking “Where does the title of this report come from?”, things might just get a bit more interesting!!

 

~ @@AfricIan

 

I'm hooked!

Great photos and commentary.

You're pulling my attention along with you.

Looking forward to what's yet to be posted.

Thank you!

Tom K.

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I couldn't follow the instructions..... am useless at that. But I can see the leopard!

 

Some fantastic birdy stuff... really impressive... and the lone elephant in the water is great. I'm glad you continued as I really want to know how this goes... I'm sure you were a lot more excited doing it. It looks like it was a bit cloudy and damp from your photos, but not really wet? Was it? I thought it would be very dry for some reason (ignorance, most likely). Was it a good time to go there in retrospect?

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@@AfricIan

 

A fantastic start to a report on one of my favorite places. I love the "eeriness" of the Kafue River.

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Thanks all, glad you’re keeping with me.


@@pault – yes, we did have quite a lot of cloud over the whole of our time in Kafue, which in some ways was quite nice as it kept the temperatures down whilst we were walking. There was quite a dramatic thunderstorm with heavy rain during/after dinner on the night before we headed up to the mobile camp, I took a poncho from behind the bar to protect my camera going back to our tent but scorned the use of one for myself – I got soaked! It was also “very black over Bill’s mothers” (don’t ask me to explain this saying!) to the north of us at the mobile and when we headed up that way the following day you could see they’d had quite a bit of rain there, though we didn’t have another drop. October is heading into the rainy time of year but everyone was surprised to see heavy rain so early in the month & didn't think they would see any more for a few more weeks

Was it a good time to go? Yes, absolutely so,
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Posted (edited)

During our conversations on the drive over from Lusaka I’d mentioned that whilst we’d seen leopard before, we’d never seen them in a tree, never mind in the classic “draped over a branch” pose so just catching this highly obscured glimpse was a first, especially as Tyrone had said “leopards round here don’t usually bother climbing trees”. Things got even better as we moved a little closer as Phil pointed out not 1 but 2 others tucked into the undergrowth, a mother & two cubs – wow!!


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We’d been with them on our own for ~1hr when a vehicle from Musanza camp arrived and whilst thy interrupted our “quality time”, their guide could fill us in on a few details – It was indeed a mother & cubs and they’d killed a heavily pregnant Puku. The carcase you can see in the tree is the unborn foal & the cub had taken it up into the tree.

I couldn’t resist this shot.


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The cub wasn’t going to let go his prize for anyone& when mum ventured under the tree we were treated to a real “hissy fit” from the cub and shortly afterwards the mother sauntered off behind the tree, followed by the other cub. The cub in the tree had moved into a very un-photogenic position so we backed out & had a look to see if we could see where mum had gone but without success however we did find these cheetah relaxing under a not-so-shady tree


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and a lone Roan wandering the plain


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before we headed back to our leopard cub who wasn’t leaving his carcase for anybody!


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“classic”


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Ater ~4hrs we finally dragged ourselves away, coming across these ele’s on our way back to camp,


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calling in at the Treetops School Camp where it seemed that everyone wanted to have their photo taken with us


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Later in the afternoon we headed back to the leopards and were delighted to find both the cubs up in the trees “Leopards don’t climb trees round here - Ha!”, though the 2nd one didn’t stay up for long




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And as the light faded we said our farewells – what a wonderful day.


Edited by AfricIan
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A wonderful day for sure! That's a very special sighting... So much so that you can be just a bit blasé about cheetahs in Zambia. I know this was going to be a good one when it started with sable @@AfricIan

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Your "classic" leopard shots are definitely great! They do have a tendency to relax in the most absurd positions and uncomfortable-looking perches.

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@@AfricIan

 

Fantastic photos (especially the leopards and cheetah)!

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@@AfricIan

 

Great report, glad you got your leopard draped over a branch picture.

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Starting a trip report with Sable - now that´s how it´s done in style! :)

 

Fantastic Leopard sightings, you must have been over the moon with those! AND Cheetah, awesome! Really looking forward to more of this, Kafue is very much on my radar for 2017!

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Posted (edited)

Thanks all, I’m really enjoying reliving the moments & hope that’s coming across.


@@pault, Having re-read the post, I can’t believe how dismissive I appeared to be about the cheetah. I’d better correct this before Hari ( @@madaboutcheetah ) spots it & forever brands me as a total philistine with no interest in these super felines! I think we spent a good half hour or so with them, again with no other vehicles. Just watching, getting excited when they spotted a puku or impala in the distance, hoping they would start to hunt or at least move to a more shady tree but they seemed quite happy where they were so we left them to it – as evidence in my defence, here’s another cheetah photo “I just happen to have lying around”.


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Edited by AfricIan
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What!!!! Only 30 minutes?????? ;)

 

Still good ........ That must be a brilliant find in Kafue, though? Although, following some random reports online I do see that they occur in the Busanga area.

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@@AfricIan your enjoyment of reliving the moment is definitely coming across - we're enjoying this trip with you. I'm loving it - Kafue being my favourite park nowadays.

 

What a great leopard sighting and then an excellent cheetah sighting to top it off.

 

@@madaboutcheetah - so far I've made four trips to Kafue and three cheetah down south in Nanzhila back in 2011 have been the only cheetah I've seen there although I know they're in Busanga - just not showing themselves there for me in 2007.

 

Looking forward to the next instalment @@AfricIan.

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What!!!! Only 30 minutes?????? ;)

 

Still good ........ That must be a brilliant find in Kafue, though? Although, following some random reports online I do see that they occur in the Busanga area.

 

I know, I know, but they were acting the typical "flat cats" & didn't look like they were going to be doing anything soon. This was at the southern edge of the Busanga Plains which ties in with your other reports but Tyrone has seen them at Musekese which is south of Busanga & also south of the Kafue river

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