wilddog

A Return to Northern Kafue

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It is five years since I was last in the Kafue This year I planned to return to the Northern Sector of Kafue National park. I travelled with a small group arranged by Busanga Safaris. Tony McKeith of Busanga is my 'go to guy' for Zambia.

 

Itinerary

19th October Pioneer Camp Lusaka

20th -22nd October Kaingu Lodge Kafue

22nd to 25th October The Plains Camp Kafue

25th to 28th October Musekese Camp Kafue

 

Dubai at Dawn

 

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I flew in to Lusaka from the UK with Emirates and arrived mid afternoon. I was collected at the airport and taken by private transfer to Pioneer Camp (only a short hop from the airport - traffic permitting). Pioneer is an ideal spot to spend the night on arrival. It is very 'bush' like with well appointed chalets with open views and a main boma area for drinks and meals. It helps ease you into the feel of the bush in preparation for the safari ahead.

 

I got myself settled in and then joined Tony and the others at the Boma for a drink and a meal. My travelling companions were 2 other women whom I had not met before. Over time as we got to know each other with the result that not only did we have a good safari but had a lot of fun and laughter along the way. After dinner and a restful night at Pioneer Camp we had an early breakfast and set off by road for Kaingu.

 

Our transfer to Kafue NP was provide by Pioneer Camp. The familiar drive out of Lusaka is always interesting, seeing the bustling motor parts businesses and general market areas followed by increasingly rural areas and small towns and markets. We had one stop off (toilet break) at a community run shop,/cafe en route where we also purchased a few crisps and sweets.

 

 

As we got closer the park boundaries, I learnt that during the intervening years since I last visited the GMA east of Kafue and south of the main road had been taken over by a series of settlements. The people who moved there had turned the area into an agricultural zone, growing crops in the dambos and chopping down trees for fuel. However these settlers had later been moved out again and the land was now returning to wilderness.

 

Once in the park we rendezvoused with a safari vehicle from Kaingu. Our driver was Kaley and he would be guiding us during our stay at Kaingu. On the drive south we saw some wildlife duiker, hartebeest, and lots of very pregnant impala.

 

To get to the camp our safari vehicle was parked up opposite the camp and a short boat ride across the Kafue took us to the camp. On arrival at camp we were met by Linda who made us very welcome and we sat down to a very welcome brunch by the river. Rik would join us later in the day and we would met Gil and Julia the following day as they were visiting the Busanga Plains when we arrived.

 

The main boma area is open plan bar lounge with a walkway leading to the dining area which overlooks the river. To the side of this area is the boat dock.

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My accommodation was rather palatial as I was given the Finfoot family house....just for me! I assume the other tented chalets were in use. Finfoot comprises 2 bedrooms, a double and twin either side of a central lounge area with a kitchenette. The lounge opens on to large terrace overlooking the river with a table, comfortable chairs and a couple, of hammock seats.

 

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Great start!

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After a couple of hours settling in we enjoyed our first boat trip on the Kafue.

 

As @@Caracal mentioned in his recent report the river here is scattered with rocks and small islands providing very picturesque setting. Activities on offer are boat trips, drives, walking and canoeing we chose not to do the canoeing.

 

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That evening we were driven to a spot a little way from camp to enjoy a bush dinner. Always a great way to start a safari.

 

 

The following morning 2 of us had elected to do a bush walk so I got up and got ready with enthusiasm ready for a wander through the bush. As I dressed I grabbed my safari trainers, shoved my right foot in, ............ SCREAMED...... and withdrew my foot rapidly.

 

All those warnings about checking your shoes in the morning for visiting scorpions shot through my mind................................ only to find that it was in fact a moth that had decided to take shelter in my shoe and fluttered against my toes as I unintentionally attempted to crush it. Relief and slightly hysterical laughter followed. I think the moth was a sadly a 'goner'.

 

A reminder to always heed the advice you have been given and not get complacent!

 

On our morning walk we were out about 3 hours, we saw bushbuck and duiker and found tracks of Porcupine,Civet, Genet, Hyena, Lion and a Leopard with a cub and lots of antelope and warthog tracks. We spent a lot of time checking out scat; porcupine was a new one for me. We also had lots of new information on the trees and bushes (not just the tooth brush story). We also found one of those large rocks with dips in it used for a game by the people taht had lived there in past.

 

I did not carry my camera for this walk as I simply wanted to absorb the essence of the bush so there are no photographs. For a mid morning break we climbed a large kopje called Mpamba Rock (Mpamba means spoon) where we sat and had some water and took in the 360 degree view of pure wilderness stretching to the horizon.

 

 

On our return to camp we were joined by the other member of the group, who had decided to chill out in camp while we walked, and then we all got into the boat again to head to an island for brunch.

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During brunch we were advised of a rock-surrounded pool in the river where we could paddle safely and where small fish would come and nibble your feet so we got in the boat again and went to the pool. As someone who loves a dip in an African river I was the only one who indulged in this. The fish did indeed come and tickle my feet and as the water was so refreshing I eventually fully immersed myself in the water ( fully clothed of course). It was now around 11 or 11.30 and very hot so the dip was very cooling. By the time we got back to the camp most of my clothes had dried.

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After siesta time we went joined our fellow guests for tea and cake and found that Gil (@Kiangu ) and Julia had returned from their trip to Busanga plains. It was good to meet them both.

 

We then went for our last boat cruise at Kaingu. The boat trips provided great opportunities to see and photograph the myriad birds that frequent the river. My photographic skills are not that great and the rocking boat and my settings misjudgement often gave a less than satisfactory result but here are a few images (apologies in advance).

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We also saw crocodiles, baboons and of course, hippos.

 

Kaley advised us that we could take our sundowners 'on the rocks' literally and that the hippos would then come and take a look at us. So Gin and Tonic in hand I sat one of the rock ledges and waited.

Sure enough a whole pod of hippos came to take a look at us.

 

 

 

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The following morning we were up early and with a quick breakfast set off for Busanga Plains. Enroute North we saw that impala babies were arriving and as the days went past we would see increasing numbers of them.

 

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Another interesting sighting was a family of Ground Hornbills. One of them was carrying something quite large and making attempts to keep this from the rest of the family of five, including taking flight with his/her prize. It is only reviewing the images at home I can see that the prey appears to be a young Spring Hare.

 

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I've been looking forward to hearing all about your safari @@wilddog - a lovely start - isn't the setting of Kaingu superb and the river and its bird life great there?

 

Am wondering if you can help me with identifying the birds in #4 in the 6th photo immediately below the group of white-throated beeeaters.

 

What sort of daytime temperatures were you getting?

 

Your walk and the Mpamba Rock were all bringing back great memories.

 

Looking forward to more.

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They are Rock Pratincoles @@Caracal

 

It was getting pretty hot at least 35.

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Thanks @@wilddog - they're quietly attractive birds if you know what I mean and I don't recall having ever seen them.

 

Just realised I said white-throated rather than whitefronted - don't know where that error came from!

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Yep, Rock Pratincoles. Nice image of the female kudu too.

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Must be some forgotten childhood trauma - or maybe reading 1984 at too young an age - but I can't take more than a couple of minutres of that fish nibbling.

 

Very gentle and relaxing sounding start and impressive accommodations. Nice view of the boat dock and camp in the trees - really attractive setting.

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Must be some forgotten childhood trauma - or maybe reading 1984 at too young an age - but I can't take more than a couple of minutres of that fish nibbling.

 

 

They were only baby fish @pault :)

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Oh Lucky you @@wilddog.

some of my favourite camps in one of my favourite parks. Very jealous.

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Must be some forgotten childhood trauma - or maybe reading 1984 at too young an age - but I can't take more than a couple of minutres of that fish nibbling.

 

 

They were only baby fish @pault :)

That is how they start out!

 

I might last five minutes then.

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Really looking forward to this report as it's been about 6 years since I've been there and been thinking about going back. Enjoying it so far and love the Zen baboon :)

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@Imonm Thank you for kind advice, I'm planning on going to Kafue in 2018,but I'm not going to go in October because as you stressed it's "suicide"

month,and it's just too hot. I know that I'll simply love Kafue.

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@optig I really did like Zambia, but it was hellishly hot the time I went (late Oct/early Nov) and not pretty- very dry, animals stressed due to lack of food and water- rough. If I ever went again (and I've always wanted to go back which is why I'm eyeing this report) it would be a much more pleasant time of year.

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@optig I really did like Zambia, but it was hellishly hot the time I went (late Oct/early Nov) and not pretty- very dry, animals stressed due to lack of food and water- rough. If I ever went again (and I've always wanted to go back which is why I'm eyeing this report) it would be a much more pleasant time of year.

Just wondering if you experienced difficult conditions, @@wilddog? You were there a little earlier than Imomnmm, but in a drought year.

 

Great birds from the water even though photo conditions can be tough. Ground hornbill kill! Surrounded by newly born impalas had to add a nice touch to the trip.

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@@Atravelynn It was of course hot but not overly debilitating.

 

We enjoyed walking in the mornings until about 9 am, boat trips and drives were fine etc. and continued until about 10.30 or 11.00. Siesta time could be a bit hot as, although all accommodations had either open sections or mesh walls/windows, the breeze was limited. Easy answer, use a damp kikoi to cover your self whilst resting in the afternoons to help keep cool, and then sleep is possible. I have been to Mana in early November and coped equally well.

 

I am always careful to consume enough water though

 

No temptation to commit suicide! in fact my guess is that NO tourist has committed suicide due to the heat on safari.

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I should point out that Kafue temperatures are considerably lower than those in the Zambezi and Luangwa valleys. We saw 39 degrees C on the thermometer this year which is unusually high. 35 is more normal. We are at about 3,500' above sea level here.

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@wilddog

 

Wow great trip and great start for your report!

 

Luckily I was there in September this year as well, Musakese & Kaingu. The Kafue is my definite favourite destination in Zambia..

 

Hope my TR will come soon, but I still have to comb through all my photographs first..

 

Cheers

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Posted (edited)

I should point out that Kafue temperatures are considerably lower than those in the Zambezi and Luangwa valleys. We saw 39 degrees C on the thermometer this year which is unusually high. 35 is more normal. We are at about 3,500' above sea level here.

I clicked like on your comment, but can't say that I like seeing that. Oh, well. Good to know that at no point was wilddog suicidal, despite hitting 35, and it was not too hot for leaping impala.

 

What a relief that 35 is more the norm than 39. :wacko:

 

Was there noticeable stress on the wildlife or different behavior by the animals at those high temps KaigU Lodge?

Edited by Atravelynn

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great report! Pictures are very good :-)

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@@Grasshopper_Club @@Soukous

 

I am also very fond of Kafue; good game varieties and viewing, and not filled with loads of people.

 

Looking forward to hearing about your trip @@Grasshopper_Club when you have time. I know the problem; I am still struggling to get the next Section on the Busanga plains sorted but will get there shortly. It is a work in progress that is being affected somewhat by the forthcoming festive season.

 

Thank you for your kind words @@The_Norwegian

 

@@Atravelynn I personally did not notice that the animals were particularity stressed. It sounds as though things were a bit tough temperature wise in Mana this time but my goodness what terrific wildlife experiences you had!

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Temps were hot but not unbearable in MP. Glad neither you nor the animals were too stressed in Kafue, and you were there at a hot time of year.

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@@wilddog I love all of your photos.but I particularly love the one of the ground hornbill carrying a young springhare in it's mouth. I did't know that they realize that they ate such large prey.

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@@wilddog I love all of your photos.but I particularly love the one of the ground hornbill carrying a young springhare in it's mouth. I did't know that they realize that they ate such large prey.

 

Neither did we @@optig . Quite a surprise! :)

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