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WOW what a great trip report! Fantastic sightings.

 

It's nice to see others appreciate Musekese the same as I do @michael-ibk, I'ts my favourite Camp in Zambia. The sightings there are exquisite and the guiding top notch without doubt. Phil and Ty are doing a great job there. This year was my 3rd & 4th stay there. Just arrived this week from Musekese, a few days before they are closing the camp for the season. Visiting the area over the years and seeing the impact in just numbers of game is an abslute highlight for me. Also the change with the old Camp site and the new one. An absolute winner.

 

Great Lion sightings @ Musekese, I saw the skeleton of the Hippos last week. There was nothing left, hehe. Good to see your pictures. Thanks for sharing. I had great Lion encounters in the camp last year there, absolutely thrilling. The new male coalition which move in there changed the story a little bit. I've actually not seen these 2 new male Lions, neither in Aug or Nov. So nice to see them with the Hippo Carcass. Great Lions eh?

 

The Twinspot pictures are stunning, exactly the ones I tried to get, but always without luck. We saw them always in camp just a few feets in front of us on the ground, an absolute treasure.

 

Excited to see more of your report.

 

Hopefully I will be able to start my own TR about my 2 visits to the Kafue about Aug/Nov this year soon.

 

Cheers

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Posted (edited)

Night Drives at Musekese were a lot of fun and produced some very interesting sightings. We did find the Lions twice at night but (partly due to the red light filter) no pictures worth posting of that. Also some Grysbok but not as accommodating as the one in Konkamoya. Of course lots and lots and lots of:

 

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Spotted Thickknee, classic night drive bird.

 

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I should really pick up my reptile game I still don´t have much of a clue about them. So I can only say it´s not a  Leopard Tortoise but what is it?

 

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I won´t even try with Toads.

 

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We saw a lot of Nightjars - one more ID nightmare for my Big Year thread.

 

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I was delighted about this one. We had plenty of Bushbaby sightings but mostly we just saw their eyes or they would hop around quickly. This one liked to pose (damn that twig!)

 

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And this was the highlight - two African Wild Cat Kittens!

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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Grüezi and thanks, @Grasshopper_Club , I very much look forward to your report. It will be very interesting to see the difference in the area between August and November.

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We did one walk at Musekese. The weather was pretty subpar again but we did find something very special - Bushpigs!

 

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Another new one for (I think) all of us. They were pretty shy and disappeared as soon as we tried to get close. So apologies for the quality, these are all heavy crops.

 

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The area was teeming with Puku and birdlife but since the light was quite rubbish and we could not get close to most things interesting it was not ideal for photos. But a very nice area to walk around.

 

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Wattled Cranes

 

Back on solid ground we did what one mostly does on (non Mana Pool) walking activites - concentrate on small things, like these Dung Beetles.

 

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Or this Three-Pointed Red Beetle.

 

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Structures:

 

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A popular tree with Cats:

 

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I have no idea what these two were up to, it was pretty intense in any case - so fighting or mating, take your pick.

 

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I was very proud to discover this African Barred Owlet.

 

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We had planned to walk until camp but because we hadn´t really gotten far from our starting point with our pace, looking at everything we decided to rather return and getting picked up by the car.

 

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And look - for the first time for our Kafue trip we saw a blue sky!

 

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We spent not too much of our time at Musekese with classic safari game driving - simply because we liked being on the river so much that we opted to go for the boat for three of our afternoon activities. So, besides the time spent at the hippo carcass, we spent only 1 1/2 mornings that way.

 

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The Musekese cars - I like these completely open vehicles (good for birds especially) but of course it does get quite hot.

 

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Elephants were regularly seen, they are so much more comfortable around humans than in Konkamoya.

 

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Still, however, not relaxed enough to hang around the cars. They don´t flee as such but avoid to be close to humans for too long - at least that was my impression.

 

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The weather was a mixture of pretty much everything - dark, gloomy, cloudy but also a few hours of pure and proper African sunshine which came very welcome.

 

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Puku are of course also the dominant grazers here. We´d also see Impala, Waterbuck, a couple of Kudu, a herd of Zebra and Duikers. Away from the lagoons activity was not very high. It had rained heavily the night before we had arrived, as a matter of fact the road to Musekese was often more puddle than road, and so a lot of the animals had probably dispersed away from the riverine zone.

 

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Some of the rams were already becoming "silly" as Doug put it.

 

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Peek-A-Boo!

 

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It was in this area we were hoping to see some of the more special antelopes Kafue is famous for. We had seen one Roan on the drive in but of course wanted more!

 

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Bateleur going over.

 

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The probably most cloudless hour of our trip.

 

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And we did find one of our specials - Lichtenstein´s Hartebeest! This subspecies (sometimes considered a full species in its own right) is mainly found in the miombo woodlands of Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia. Another new one for me.

 

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The Hoopoe, my good old friend.

 

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Shepherd´s Tree

 

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White-Fronted Bee-Eaters

 

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We saw this Leopard in the morning. Doug and James (our Musekese guide for the bulk of our time there and on the Busanga plains) concluded that one had to be around given how nervous all the grazers acted. Finally we saw him running through the high grass but he was very nervous and avoided us, I was lucky to get in a shot. We did find a fresh Leopard kill the next day. Our guides were sure he had to be around and we waited at some distance. A lot of Vultures whooshed in but the Cat did not dare to come out. We did not want to rob him of his hard-deserved prey and left. When we saw all the Vultures going up throught the trees a minute later we knew it had returned.

 

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Yellow - or Kinda - Baboons.

 

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How Doug and James found this Lioness is totally beyond me, she was lying in deep grass and was totally invisible. I could have walked past her one metre away and would have overlooked her.

 

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Reedbucks.

 

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The team (with guide James on the left, Doug, Kit, Lynn and AndMic).

 

There was one more special sighting in Musekese at the very end of this trip but I´m leaving that for later.

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Posted (edited)

I will always remember Musekese for the incredibly warm welcome Ty andPhil threw me at my tent the afternoon we arrived. as I arrived at  my tent, I threw everything on the bed, grabbed my camera and there he was - the possessive King of beasts lording over Satan the deceased hippo....at one point, he suddenly saw us (Doug and I) and stared intently at us.

 

apologies for the swaying! each time i take my eyes away, the camera moves. and apologies for the chatter!

 

 

 

As Michael said, the lion was about 100m away from my tent, so I, for one,  was very glad for the mesh that was put up to seal the gap between the half wall and ceiling. Sure, if that big cat decided to swipe it, the mesh was no barrier to it, but pyschologically, it provided me reason enough for some sound sleep! especially when the lions went quiet and I wondered, were they hanging around my tent, trying to hunt that female bushbuck and her baby residing in the grove behind my tent? but the lion was only intent on guarding his prize.

 

Later, when we were parked opposite the lion and his hippo, we took turns to come down from the vehicle for a better eye-level of the cat. it was an interesting perspective for me, since it was the first time I was on the ground looking at the big cat , even if it was the view of his bum! it made my heart beat faster, adding to a bit of thrill and edginess that if it chose to rush to us, I would be scrambling up to the vehicle. This getting down and dirty in front of a predator can only be done with a guide as experienced and knowleageable as Doug. 

 

So Lynn and I were back in the vehicle when the lion turned and suddenly noticed Michael. He snarled, made a small mock charge, retreated, and yelled for his partner, who was lying flat on a fat tummy close to the treeline. The brother raised his head, then fell back into his slumber. You are on your own, partner!

 

 

 

I wasn't surprised the two lions had adopted musekese - after all they probably thought Ty and Phil were giving them free food - first, the dead hippo behind the camp, and then after they had returned from killing a baby elephant, the second deceased hippo was just lying there to feed their appetites. as far they were concerned, they had found their haven.

 

And, so did we at the Eden lagoon of Musekese.

 

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Edited by Kitsafari
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@michael-ibk has described Musekese so well, that I don't need to add anything, except that the bed was a little too soft for my back. I had aggravated my back a few days before the trip and was improving but soft mattresses didn't help. So we had planned to start walk at the lagoon and slowly walked back to the camp, but after two to three hours of walking, my back started to feel strained. No thanks to me, the walk was cut short, and a walk planned for the following day was cancelled. I felt terrible but that's the immense generosity of Michael, Andreas and Lynn,that they sacrificed their enjoyment of walks so that I would be included in the activities. and it was not the first time they did it for me. :wub: more later. 

 

some pictures from the walk:

 

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Posted (edited)

"We saw a lot of Nightjars - one more ID nightmare for my Big Year thread." Trying to get you every additional bird, @michael-ibk,  I believe Doug stated this second night jar of the night-drive was the Square Tail.  Your photos of the scrumptious meals bring back fond memories and make me hungry.  No photo shoots of the marmite, though.

 

@Kitsafari, what an artistic eye you have with the baobabs, the tattered butterfly on the red flowers, and the orphanage extreme closeups of various ele body parts!

 

 

That lion and dead hippo sighting at Musekese could be experienced up close and personal at ground level, next to the vehicle, or from the deck of the tent.  I had the middle tent to the right of the main lounge.  Kit's tent was even closer.

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Viewed and photographed from the deck of my tent in the afternoon. 

 

This lion and his brother were new to the area and until recently were fearful of vehicles.  This hippo carcass (and the carcass of the sparring partner) played a role in building up trust between the lions and the Musekese vehicles. The carcasses attracted the lions and kept them in the vicinity of the vehicles.  Over time, the lions realized the vehicles were no threat.

 

There were many good photo ops right at camp. If the dead hippo had not attracted the pair of male lions, which chased off some of the prey species, there would have been even more to observe in the wetlands that extended from the main viewing/dining deck. Phil told me that a great way to spend the day is to just sit right in camp and look out and see what transpires throughout the day. 

 

Though we had little time to lounge in camp, we did get to meet and photograph some of the wild neighbors that frequented Musekese:

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They need to trim the twigs and branches for unobstructed views of the resident Musekese wildlife.  Or instruct them on some basics on posing for the guests. ;)

 

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The red-throated twinspots liked the shade but were around most afternoons at Musekese.

 

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                Having practiced the prone position at Konkamoya with the mongoose, I was all set to put belly to the ground to photograph this Musekese Monitor. About 200 shots to get the forked tongue. They named him Timothy, which of course  I remember because  that is my husband's name.  There was another monitor they called Tabitha, but this looks like a Timothy to me.

 

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Bushbuck seen at camp or next to it

 

Our first morning out with Tyrone at the wheel, we encountered a small herd of elephants.  Tyrone was beaming and stated, “this is five years in the making.”  When they first opened the camp, the elephant fled from the vehicles in fear.  Now they are more tolerant.  It was a triumph that added to the sighting.

All of the eles in that herd had temporal gland secretions.  Because it had rained the night before we were hoping it was excitement for the new rain.  It could also be due to stress from the prolonged lack of rain, as we headed to the end of the dry season.

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 Musekese Eles

 

"We did one walk at Musekese. The weather was pretty subpar again but we did find something very special - Bushpigs!" @michael-ibk

These bushpigs were a first for the four of us and our only sighting of the trip.   Except for a couple of minutes when we initially spied them from the vehicle, we enjoyed the bushpigs on foot, slowly approaching ever closer in crouched position.  I was pleased they did not run off, but they did meander in the direction away from us, and eventually entered the bush.

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Bushpig Medley

 

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Bushpig Tranquility, which we were a part of

 

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The Funeral March of a Marionette should be the background music for these two Lapid Face Vultures

 

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Wattled Crane shared the field with the bushpigs

 

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Young Whilte headed vulture spreading his wings

 

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Putting my best foot (not) forward.  Doug said that a safari would be the best medicine for my healing ankle and he was right!

 

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Doug said the Wildcat kittens were his top sighting of the trip.  Two shots of the same kitten. Very special!

Phil and Tyrone  explained that the area around there camp had not been burned for the five years they had been there, which allowed  species such as these wildcats to establish a home.

 

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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oh Lynn's post reminded me - I have to agree that the food was most sumptuous at the Musekese camp - and very familiar too! Those who have been to Zakouma's Camp Nomade and have tasted Jamie Sparks's delicious food will recognise her touches at Musekese. Phil and Ty brought her to the kafue camp for a short stint to customise a bespoke menu with her light salad touches and just-right amount of main courses and yummy desserts. 

 

Phil and Ty are as incredibly personable and hospitable - they are just passionate about wildlife and conservation, and their positive energies simply flow to the guests - whether it was at  the camp or at the wheel guiding. Their efforts in their area not only benefits us as guests but also the wildlife and the ecosystem in the area. a great product, a worthy cause to support. 

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Fun videos, Kit - I have to say the lion looks a lot less menacing from your perspective! :)

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Posted (edited)

We spent three of our afternoons in this:

 

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Boating the Kafue River was very enjoyable - it was peaceful, the temperature was pleasant, we saw lots of interesting stuff and it is simply beautiful - and almost insect-free!

 

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Don´t swim in the Kafue - it´s full of Crocs!

 

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A Reed Cormorant

 

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Giant Kingfisher taking off - none of them liked to pose for us.

 

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Pied Kingfisher, abundant of course.

 

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The Guineafowl here in the Kafue look a bit different with their golden crowns - and therefore a bit more attractive.

 

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This was quite special - a Barn Owl nest with two chicks inside.

 

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African Fish Eagle

 

The weather was very changeable. We had dark menacing skies, beautiful golden afternoon light, fantastic sunsets - everything! Now is a good time to adress an inexcusable omission - of course, as usual, a lot of the pictures in this report, often (but by no means exclusively) landscape photos, were taken by @AndMic - and I haven´t given him credit so far. Very sorry about that!

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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Good to see the boat is still going strong @michael-ibk & like you, we spent most of our afternoons on the river, it really is a wonderful way to spend the time.  One big difference I can see is how little wind there appears to be compared to when we were there - the sun-shade on the boat acted as a big sail so the anchor was little more than a device for slowing down though it was a big advantage when we found a leopard cub on the bank as we could motor up-wind, throw the anchor in, drift slowly past & repeat, getting a little closer each time - worked a treat.  The wind just died away at sundowner time :rolleyes:

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More river goodness:

 

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This was another of my top feathered targets for this trip - very happy to have found a Half-Collared Kingfisher.

 

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Green-Backed Heron

 

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A very obliging African Darter

 

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Immature Reed Cormorant

 

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The river was full of Hippos, and not all of them were friendly.

 

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Two trees very much into Yin & Yang.

 

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A happy team.

 

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And another very important sighting for the birder in me - an African Finfoot, a very special bird to see. From Wikipedia: " Even experienced ornithologists see them very rarely, making them a prized sighting for birders and twitchers. Because they are so elusive, it is not known if they spend most of their time in the water, where they are almost always seen, or on land." Ha, take that, you experienced Ornithologists! We had not only Finfoot but Finfeet bonanza - I think we saw six one time! They are very fast, and I failed getting shots of this one on water - but I know Lynn has some super pics! When they realize they are spotted they immediately leave the water and hide under the roots on the banks - invisible then.

 

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This is a juvenile and was more relaxed about the boat.

 

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Not much is known about Finfoot and their diet but I have it on good authority they do like frog a lot. B)

 

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We were lucky to see Elephants crossing the river twice, very late when already dawning the first time, and right at the start of the boat drive the second time.

 

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55 minutes ago, michael-ibk said:

Fun videos, Kit - I have to say the lion looks a lot less menacing from your perspective! :)

 

that's simply because he wasn't watching me - his eyes were on you all the time! i'm not sure who was more fearful - you or him! :D

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Posted (edited)

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And my personal highlight - the Skimmer colony!

 

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A fantastic bird I´ve never before seen that close. They are near-threatened since they need undisturbed river banks or islands - and those places are becoming fewer and fewer. Now they are classified "Near Threatened". While widespread across Africa they are not very common, their total population is estimated at about 15,000 to 25,000 individuals.

 

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Good fun trying to get them in flight.

 

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Getting them do their thing was more difficult - they only skim when the water is very calm, and there were few moments like that. When they did it was a bit far or already pretty dark but finally they thankfully decided to perform.

 

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And that concludes my part for Musekese.

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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Now I'm really jealous @michael-ibk, being able to get a good photograph of Skimmers skimming is one thing I didn't manage to get at Musekese!

 

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@Kitsafari as you know I think that your'e an incredibly intrepid lady because of the fact you never  let your problems with your back get in the way of you going on safari. All of us appreciate your attitude. As I told @Sangeeta all of us have of us have some type of disability when they go on safari, mine are my incredible absent mindedness due to the fact that I have A.D.H.D ( Attentional Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder) and the fact that I'm so technologically inept; nevertheless I realize that I have to find ways to cope with these issues. I think in the future when you go on safari you should always make a point of requesting a hard mattress for your back; I feel that this is a simple request.

 

I love all your photos of Kafue,and am glad that all of you were so happy with Musekese in every way. I can see that the new site: "Eden" is even better than the previous one.  It looks just awesome and I'm glad that the food was so yummy! I'll be staying there for a whole week next year and then going to Mukambi Plains for 3 days. I'm so excited about the wide range of activities available. As you know I can't wait to tick off all the new species of birds. You were really luck to see bush pigs  so close to you and get such great photos. I've only seen them once before in Katavi, and that was at such a distance I couldn't get a good photo. Unfortunately I haven't yet gone on safari with @Micheal Ibk or his friend Cornelius, but I am sure that you share my high opinion of @Atravelynne in every way, shape and form. 

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@michael-ibk as well as @Atravelynn and @Kitsafari

 

I'm thoroughly enjoying this report. I love the tag-teaming, and hearing about the experience from three different perspectives. It sounds like you all had a lot of fun together. 

 

Muskese does sound enticing, but, phew!, I can almost smell Satan's carcass from here! Michael, well-done on the bushbaby photo. Those are just about impossible. Good for you for "complying" with Doug's instructions and getting those lion photos. The wild cat kittens are great, too. 

 

I have to to say that I'm also enjoying seeing a lot of the birds that you all came across -- some new and very interesting things there. 

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11 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

 

@Kitsafari, what an artistic eye you have with the baobabs, the tattered butterfly on the red flowers, and the orphanage extreme closeups of various ele body parts!

 

 

 

 

@Atravelynn Thank you! 

 

 

3 hours ago, optig said:

@Kitsafari as you know I think that your'e an incredibly intrepid lady because of the fact you never  let your problems with your back get in the way of you going on safari. All of us appreciate your attitude. As I told @Sangeeta all of us have of us have some type of disability when they go on safari, mine are my incredible absent mindedness due to the fact that I have A.D.H.D ( Attentional Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder) and the fact that I'm so technologically inept; nevertheless I realize that I have to find ways to cope with these issues. I think in the future when you go on safari you should always make a point of requesting a hard mattress for your back; I feel that this is a simple request.

 

I love all your photos of Kafue,and am glad that all of you were so happy with Musekese in every way. I can see that the new site: "Eden" is even better than the previous one.  It looks just awesome and I'm glad that the food was so yummy! I'll be staying there for a whole week next year and then going to Mukambi Plains for 3 days. I'm so excited about the wide range of activities available. As you know I can't wait to tick off all the new species of birds. You were really luck to see bush pigs  so close to you and get such great photos. I've only seen them once before in Katavi, and that was at such a distance I couldn't get a good photo. Unfortunately I haven't yet gone on safari with @Micheal Ibk or his friend Cornelius, but I am sure that you share my high opinion of @Atravelynne in every way, shape and form. 

 

@optig thank you Owen - you give me far more credit than I really deserve. :)

and you are absolutely right - @Atravelynn was a delight to travel with. and so was @michael-ibk and Andreas aka @AndMic. we made a good team. In fact, the STers I have had the pleasure and privilege to travel with have been fabulous companions. I'm so thankful that this forum has provided me a platform to find like-minded people who love wildlife and nature, and are considerate and kind, and have become good friends.

 

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@michael-ibk I love that photo of the elephant in the waters curling his trunk against his face! great shot!

 

For Michael, the skimmers were a highlight on the river, but for me it was the crossings that was special. It was quite an experience to first watching the big four males walk across the river, and then swimming in the deep water. there were moments when I felt we were so exposed and so vulnerable, especially when the jumbos were almost close to boat, and loomed over us puny humans. but their calmness and our quietness made the entire atmosphere almost hynoptic. 

 

Now that is what I would call an elephant crossing. 

 

the first crossing: 

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Second crossing: 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Alexander33 said:

@michael-ibk as well as @Atravelynn and @Kitsafari

 

I'm thoroughly enjoying this report. I love the tag-teaming, and hearing about the experience from three different perspectives. It sounds like you all had a lot of fun together. 

 

Muskese does sound enticing, but, phew!, I can almost smell Satan's carcass from here! Michael, well-done on the bushbaby photo. Those are just about impossible. Good for you for "complying" with Doug's instructions and getting those lion photos. The wild cat kittens are great, too. 

 

I have to to say that I'm also enjoying seeing a lot of the birds that you all came across -- some new and very interesting things there. 

 

@Alexander33 that perfumed air did make its way into my tent a few times, but fortunately it did not last long as the wind would shift and the "fragrance" would vanish. 

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That African finfoot is an extraordinary bird - and I was amazed that Michael's sharp eyes would just pick them out from a distance. we thought it was a rare bird but wow did they come out for us! I didn't get great shots but @Atravelynn was quick on the draw and captured some splendid pictures of the finfoot (even the name is super!). I can't wait to see hers. 

 

Musekese's lagoon is fed by the Kafue River when the rains come. Sometimes I could hear the hippos along the lagoon in the night, and I recall that Phil or was it Ty that said some hippos were still in the pools in the lagoon as well. I did not expect the river to be so wide and so full of life.

the richness of the river feeds the abundant birdlife and provided us some spectacular sunsets as well. 

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Posted (edited)

and those glorious, breathtaking sunsets......I just have to add to Andreas' brilliant collection...

 

.skip this if you are tired of looking at the skies....

 

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Edited by Kitsafari
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Thanks @michael-ibk, @Atravelynn and @Kitsafari for this shared report - interesting to get individual views of the same experience. All of the photography is excellent. Musekese has been added to the (increasing) list of places I'd love to visit.

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