Geoff

South Luangwa Sept' 2016

104 posts in this topic

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?

 

Mwamba-Lion-Plain_G8A8397.thumb.jpg.e5651da44ab6531c420af70c6e62f81c.jpg

 

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.

5948fb5a86187_MwambaLeopard_G8A1507-2.thumb.jpg.fd864b3f2323816efb03a480f18f14ec.jpg

 

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.

Mwamba-lions_G8A0330.thumb.jpg.0c613babeed9a3fb937665f74e3c3e43.jpg

 

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.

Mwamba-Carmine-Bee-eater_G8A2053.thumb.jpg.5629f411f2fc9cebe2f7326a1dd12993.jpg

 

An elephant road block. The only sort of traffic jam I enjoy.

 

594906cc7704b_MwambaElephant_G8A1488.thumb.jpg.42c0157810353123047ecd58901c5a59.jpg

 

 

 

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~ @Geoff

 

From your Preamble and initial images, it was a great safari.

 

After being postponed from 2015, South Luangwa delivered for you.

 

As ever, your images show me how it's done.

 

Thank you.

 

Tom K.

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When we see an early morning sky here in Boston that looks like your first shot, we know it's going to be a pretty darn HOT day.  I felt that in that photo.  So far you're enticing me, looking forward to more!  I am of course interested in what made those camps your favorites, but only for my own selfish reasons as I am shopping for camps in SLNP now for next year.

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More please :)

 

How long ago were you there Geoff?

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I've been looking forward to this @Geoff - and what a beautiful start.

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Fantastic Carmine Bee-eater shot! Looking forward to more. Counting down to my South Luangwa trip this September :D We really wanted to stay at Kaingo for the hides, but it was just too expensive.

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Love the Bee-Eater, great photos overall. Very glad you´re giving us a report, I´m sure it will be epic!

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Posted (edited)

@amybatt I'll add some detail on these camps into your thread requesting info on SLNP. Yep, very hot, 35+ degrees celcius everyday (95+ Fahrenheit). 

@monalisa It's in the title this report is for the late September 2016.  I'm returning to SLNP again this October.

@janzin This October after staying at Mwamba & Kaingo i'm trying out Nsefu as well. We can compare notes after our trips.

Edited by Geoff
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Posted (edited)

The other main hide at Kaingo is the Hippo hide. It is rebuilt every season and had some considerable renovations & extensions since I last used it. One of the best spots for hippo photography in Africa.

Mwamba-Hippo_G8A1802.thumb.jpg.9be5b83e0cdcd3d276635672db0f1662.jpg

 

African Fish Eagles are a common sight along the river.

5949d1118ecd9_MwambaAfricanFishEagles_G8A9451-2.thumb.jpg.e7c39da30bc066cda344338b04bc6d80.jpg

 

As sunset approached Malaika the female leopard climbed into a tree along the river bank. We knew what she had planned, some one was in for a deadly surprise.  We waited for awhile without anything happening so we drove a discrete distance away for sundowners.

5949d2111c6ee_MwambaLeopard_G8A9627.thumb.jpg.cd0eacd1a7d3cdeba679b2569d922222.jpg

 

Upon returning she was not in the tree and we thought she had been unsuccessful and left the scene. Then we all heard a crunching sound from a nearby thicket. Guinea-fowl entree.5949d2c5f416d_MwambaLeopard_G8A0958.thumb.jpg.73d933ebdc3c79b5f4dadaea54c29f45.jpg

 

An elephant family crosses one of the picturesque dambos within the area. Note the poor youngster with a portion of its trunk missing.Mwamba-Elephant-herd_G8A1551.thumb.jpg.ec1560155ffc7d4e501254d315287bdb.jpg

 

 

Edited by Geoff
fixed text alignment
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The bee-eater and the pair of fish eagles are great.

 

Poor ele indeed. :( That can't make life any easier.

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Posted (edited)

SLNP - one of most favourite parks - and Mwamba - one of my top places in Africa to stay so I can understand very well why you stayed there longest! and why I'll follow you faithfully on your journey...

 

did Patrick guide you? and is Peter the Peter from Mwamba camp that I met? say Hi to him for us. :)

 

Malaika is as accomodating as ever. who is the pride male for the Mwamba pride now? many apologies for the numerous questions - but I just love south luangwa...

Edited by Kitsafari
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@Kitsafari Hi Kit, Yep, Pat was our guide whilst at Mwamba. Our transfer from Kafunta dropped us off at Kaingo and Patrick drove from Mwamba to pick us up. I couldn't believe it, he walks over to introduce himself, stops in his tracks, looks at me and says "I know you! How have you been?". I was gobsmacked, he then mentions something from 8 years ago.  And yep, Peter is the Peter you met at Mwamba. 

 

Andrew became our guide when we transferred back to Kaingo . He is very good as well and used to work with Egil on the carnivore project.

 

At the end of last year the Mwambas had a 3 male coalition known as the Numbu Boys. They were also in the process of taking over the Hollywood pride and killing cubs. They also killed older male cubs of the Mwamba pride. Pat and I watched one of the Numbu males stalk and chase the two of the year old Mwamba males.

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Thanks @Geoff  wow such an incredible memory and Pat looks so young for his age. I remember Andrew - a very polite person and a bonus since he worked with Egil. such sad news for the cubs, but the takeover was inevitable. 

 

I'll eagerly wait for your TR to unfold! there is never a lack of excitement at SLNP. :) 

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Posted (edited)

SLNP is synonymous with night drives. Many guests love them. Me, I'm in two minds about them. Often I think you end up in a hypnotic trance watching the spotlight flash back & forth in front of you and yet at other times they can be crackers.

On one particular drive we were looking for ardvark, at one point a strange shape moved ahead of us... Is it!?, nope, ...only a leopard. I've never been so disappointed to see a leopard. Even so my consolation prize from that drive was this little gem.

 

An innocuous chameleon. It's disguise revealed by backlighting from a spotlight.

594a3e87e42e0_MwambaChameleon.thumb.jpg.c6814049543713b88a56b0cacf2cb9db.jpg

 

The young elephant from the family group shot in post #9. It's possible this was caused by a crocodile and I'd hate to think that a poacher's snare was involved. She seemed to be coping well enough and was healthy otherwise.

Mwamba-Elephant-half-trunk_G8A1542.thumb.jpg.c175dc5a954770334b6e6389ea073d4d.jpg

 

The Last waterhole hide at Mwamba camp is not in an ideal location from a photography perspective as usually you are shooting into the sun but other than that it is incredible. Often guests spend hours in the hide between brunch and the afternoon game drive. An amazing amount of game from elephant to the smallest birds visit the waterhole. I witnessed a lion hunt there in 2008. The animals can be incredibly close too, at times if I had wished I could have reached out and touched the elephants standing next to the hide. Buffalo frequent the waterhole too. This is a full frame image with the buff suspiciously looking at the hide whilst listening to the sound of my camera's shutter.

594a44ac73826_MwambaCapeBuffalo_G8A1397.thumb.jpg.7442f2b9c99dee7c98ceb3e66940005f.jpg

 

Behind you!, Behind you!. This impala herd was completely oblivious of the male lion and I could swear the 3 lioness (out of picture) deliberately forced them to run in his direction but the big fella was completely uninterested. He had found a nice shady spot with a cooling breeze off the river and wasn't moving.

 

 

Mwamba-Lion-impala_G8A9285.thumb.jpg.545228156b117e48b31eb4762bfb3bde.jpg

 

An ox-pecker either whispers sweet nothings or looks for parasites in a zebra's ear.

 

Kafunta-zebra-with-oxpecker_G8A7703.thumb.jpg.95e8bbd0494841ea5749b6ba980cac85.jpg

Edited by Geoff
fixed text alignment
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Hi Geoff,

 

I'm happy to see that you eventually decided to relate your last year come-back to Africa.  Great pictures as usual.

I like the bee-eater (and I know how difficult it is to get a decent picture of those guys in flight), the hippo head, the chameleon and some more to come.

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9 hours ago, Geoff said:

 

@monalisa It's in the title this report is for the late September 2016.  I'm returning to SLNP again this October.

 

 

Oops! Sorry! I'm "that" person that won't see someone waving right in front of them.

Your photos are excellent and so engaging. That poor ele! But what a great capture.

 

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SLNP has to be my favourite place that I have visited in the whole of Africa and what splendid photo's, especially the chameleon @Geoff . We were last at Mwamba in 2008 and wondered why it was necessary to have a guide to go into the hippo hide-the next day as we saw bits of the hide roof scattered all over the place we were told that lions had jumped on and through the roof!. i agree with you about night drives-too often they disappoint  and we start to fall asleep but it was at Mwamba we had our best ever night drive-3 leopards, and 2 Pels Fishing owls! looking forward to the rest of your report

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@Towlersonsafari Wow, that's some night drive. Yep, I've seen the damage caused to the hippo hide from lions falling through the roof. Not to mention the smelly deposits they leave behind as well :)

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Hi @Geoff what a great start to your TR.

The chameleon photo is a ripper mate.

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Alright another @Geoff trip report!     What a treat.

 

Very sharp flight shot of the Carmine Bee-eater - most impressive.   Already great Leopard action + photos and I am sure there will be a lot of cracking birds in this thread.

 

Reading how Safaritalkers love SLNP so much makes me keen to visit!    Especially since walking safaris are so good there.   And from @Towlersonsafari's comments, it sounds like Pel's Fishing Owls are at least possible!

 

 

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I'm with you @offshorebirder if I was on the fence at all about Zambia 2018, all of this undisguised love for it is certainly pushing me!

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@Geoff I just have to say that I think if I took that first shot in post #14 I'd never take another photo again.  That is STUNNING.  How can you top that???  WOW!

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The chameleon shot is awesome!! I'm really looking forward to night drives in SLNP.  Hoping for aardvaark ;)  but I'd be happy with some of the more "common" critters such as porcupine and civet, which we've never seen. We've certainly been on some dud night drives but I've heard great things about the night drives in SLNP!

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An elephant bull enjoys his mudbath in the Mwamba waterhole.

 

Mwamba-elephant-bull_G8A7919.thumb.jpg.0cc919ec6f5dd6b4939d164b564e3384.jpg

Mwamba-Elephant_G8A7957.thumb.jpg.c86f80f783c9d39710023bd4f396b4f8.jpg

 

Safari is full of surprises. A few minutes out of camp on a morning drive and we noticed that lions had walked down the track during the night so we were quietly following their spoor. Imagine our astonishment when we rounded a bend in the road and this scene presented itself.

Patrick the guide was agog. "Wow, that's rare" he said. In 24 years of guiding he had seen Spotted Hyaenas mating only once before.

 

Mwamba-Hyaenas-mating_G8A9816-2.thumb.jpg.1e99321617375af005aa9370cf5c9ce2.jpg

 

Mwamba-Hyaenas-mating_G8A9828-1.thumb.jpg.944c40b55f47dd3607a09362233854e1.jpg

Mwamba-Hyaenas-mating_G8A9931.thumb.jpg.2b498a576dc2183e65b1b6b320568bf2.jpg 

 

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Wow those hyena shots are great!! What a lucky sighting!!

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