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Posted (edited)

19 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

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

Agree, especially the lion charging through the water.

 

Those sunsets and sunrises are spectacular @AndMic and  @kitsafari.  Kit was a trooper too.  We got enough ground covered on our walks.  Sitting in the boat, no need to walk.  But as I recall there were some unpleasant times in the boat (rocky, nauseating) for Kit too.

 

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Barn owl medley, seen from the boat on the Kafue River, Musekese

 

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Young skimmers flying with the adult

 

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Skimmers on the Kafue River, Musekese

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Jacana on the Kafue River, Musekese

 

Even eagle-eyed @Michael-ibk might have trouble finding this Finfoot.  

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Captain and First Mate.  Guess who is who.  Doug has the pith and James, who works at Musekese has two hats, which I just noticed for the first time.

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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Posted (edited)

 

 

More river activity.

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Fleeing Finfoot on the Kafue

 

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Hadada Ibis, Kafue River, Musekese

 

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Tightly cropped Finfoot kill shot, Kafue River.  Frog is the prey.

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Back on land.

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White Fronted Bee eaters.

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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@Atravelynn As you probably know, @Kitsafari can't swim which only increases the high regard that I have of her. And of course I'm awed by the fact that you went on safari so recently after having broken your foot. I just adore all your photos of the river. I think its fair to say that after this trip that Kafue is one of your favorite places. I 'm sure that after my visit next year that it will become one of mine. I notice that none of you are wearing fly suits even if Kafue has a terrible reputation for tsetse flies, although of course not along the river. I have to say that it was so kind and considerate of @micheal-ibk to bring you that lovely scarf 

from  Austria. 

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Love that finfoot skipping on water! that was a super capture @Atravelynn!

 

the giddiness was partly my fault - i was trying to take shots of the skimmers flying above us once too often and compressed 

my spondylosis in my neck , triggering the giddiness and nausea. i had to quickly lie flat on the floor of the boat, shocking the others! but that helped tremendously and i was much better after that. This was a trip of mishaps for me! thank goodness for patient and understanding companions. 

 

Our trip at Musekese wasn't really over - we would be back for one more night after Busanga Plains.

 

@optig bug suits coming up next when @michael-ibk returns.  There are minimal tse tse flies in the Musekese areas as they use square pieces of cloths dosed with certain repellants (similar to Tanzania), but watch out for them on the way in and out of Musekese. we drove in in one full flight with windows fully closed and no toilet breaks. The flies had gathered at the windows, looking at us with such hunger and thirst.....:ph34r:

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Posted (edited)

Agree, really love the fleeing Finfoot, Lynn - outstanding!

 

6 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

Doug has the pith

 

Which reminds me I am guilty of the ultimate Safaritalk sin - I have to report that I did something inexcusable: I destroyed Doug´s Pith! I was a bit bored while driving back to Lusaka, and Doug had made the fatal mistake of placing his pith next to me. I fiddled around with it a bit, and all of a sudden had the knob in my hands and the pith had a glaring hole! Everybody was shocked, and agreed I could never go on safari again! At the very least I should be depithed. :unsure:

 

2 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

Our trip at Musekese wasn't really over - we would be back for one more night after Busanga Plains.

 

Well, this report is not very linear - we all have already incorporated most of the sightings (except one important one) of that last day at Museks. That´s when we experienced the second Elephant crossing for example.

Edited by michael-ibk
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@Atravelynn You only did so by mistake. Maybe I should be depithed for having missed on rare occasions a game drive out of sheer exhaustion. I'm sure that Doug will forgive you.

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So, on to the last chapter of this trip, on to the Busanga Plains! To get there we had to cross the river and move upstream to Lufupa but this was actually easier said than done - some Elephants had decided the mooring place was perfect for their midday feeding session, and going down to the boat was not really an option for us. Phil finally dared to on his own, very carefully, and after quite a long time decided the Ellis were relaxed enough about him that he could start the boat. We had meanwhile driven to another spot a bit downriver where we could embark.

 

Here´s the culprit of our delay:

 

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Where the Kafue and the Lufupa meet Wilderness has a camp, and Musekese are allowed to park one of their vehicles there. So here we would change from boat to car (with a roof now, not unwelcome for a transfer at noon!). So, team, ready for the last hooray?

 

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Absolutely!

 

We didn´t see anything unusual the way up. Lufupa here has a long history of game driving, so the animals are quite relaxed. Especially noticable with Bushbucks who were tame like Puku here.

 

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Egyptian Goose

 

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This Thicknee was a good reminder for me that too often we really do not understand the impact we can have when watching animals. Doug said to be quick with getting pictures. Why, we wondered? Because it was trying to divert our attention from its eggs - which were meanwhile unprotected against the sun. While we were there the Thickknee would continue her diversion tactics, and her offspring was at risk of overheating. One of the many reasons why it´s good to have a guide of Doug´s calibre.

 

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Bateleur

 

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Some areas are pretty open going North, with beautiful Baobab trees.

 

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But most of it is woodland.

 

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Beautiful woodland ....

 

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... but also an area which can be quite taxing! Now it´s time to talk about the most uncomfortable features of the Kafue - Tsetses! I had read about that, but had not worried too much. After all, we had been to some alleged TseTse-heavy areas before and not really minded them too much. As a matter of fact, sometimes I had felt a bit ST-unworthy for not having been "hammered by Tsetses". Well, unworthy no more, I can only say!

 

In some areas they are really terrible. Unnerving. Painful. Irritating. Unpleasant. Demoralising. Awful. Bloodsucking. Odious. Dreadful. Ghastly.

 

Some areas, I have to emphasize, not everywhere in Kafue. It was fine at Konkamoya around the lake, fine around the more open areas at Musekese and not much of an issue on the Busanga Plains. Whenever you are in or close to the woodlands (like when we were going South at Konkamoya, searching for Lichtensteins at Musekese and especially when searching for Sable in Busanga), however, be prepared, the bloodsuckers are out there to get you - and get you they will. BZZ! BZZ! BZZ! BZZ! BZZ! BZZ! I was lucky enough to not really react badly to them, just found them very irritating. Poor @AndMic, however, was getting some pretty bad swellings and really suffered from them. So while it´s not true that Kafue as a whole is a "Tsetse park", some areas most definitely are - and one should be prepared for that.

 

watch out for them on the way in and out of Musekese. we drove in in one full flight with windows fully closed and no toilet breaks. The flies had gathered at the windows, looking at us with such hunger and thirst...

 

Unfortunately not completely accurate about the "no toilet breaks". I decided to have one when we got back to the main road from Musekese thinking "How bad can it be?" Wow, unbelieavably bad! They were really eating me alive there. It´s almost a shame nobody took a video of me (which of course would have been very impolite and unseemly), my act of trying to do what one does on such occassions while trying to slap hundreds of Tsetses who had just waited there for me, jumping, moving, twitching and wincing around must have looked insanely funny - a video of that would definitely be a Youtube hit. (Thank you, Lynn, Kit and Andreas for not taking it.)

 

Of course there´s something you can do about them, and of course the ladies were so much better prepared than we were - meet the bugsuits:

 

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Killerkit, as we would call her. She was extremely adpet with these flyswats Lynn had brought as presents for all of us. Which just proves again her mastery of practical thinking. I will admit that there was some joking at the beginning of this trip about these suits - but the joke was completely on us when we sat there in terror, awaiting the next launch of BZZZs BZZZS BZZS while Lynn and Kit could just relax.

 

And of course, they would look absolutely lovely even in bugsuits!:):wub:

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Phil and Tyrone have established a semi-permanent fly-camp up on the Busanga Plains - Ntemwa-Busanga Camp.  Only three tents, so it does not really get more personal than this. Four members of staff (who are rotating between here and main camp) were present, and they all did a great job. This is a fantastic little place to stay if you are happy with a more basic setting - we certainly were.

 

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The tents

 

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A very good, comfortable bed and enough space, really all you need.

 

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Bucket shower and (new since this season) flush toilet with running water (used to be long-drop).

 

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Staff will provide fresh water in the bucket mornings and evenings (and whenever you ask for).

 

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The lunch area, just an elevated platform. The fine breeze is very welcome in the hot midday sun.

 

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Our dinner table. I was amazed at how delicious everything was - almost on a level with Musekese main camp ,we were absolutely spoilt here.

 

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Ntemwa is at the most Southermost end of the Busanga plains, no other camps are close. Which has pros and cons - you feel like you are alone in the world here at night, but gamewise it is certainly not as packed as the Lechwe-infested area around Shumba. Which is not too far however, about one hour´s drive. We did go up on our first full day and again passed through there on our last morning. For our second day we decided to have lunch at camp and therefore stay in the general area there - and were rewarded with two top sightings.

 

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There was not much time left on our first afternoon, and the weather was very gloomy, so not many photos from that day.

 

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Again I´m disclosing my ignorance about reptiles - anybody know which species this is?

 

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We did see Side-Striped Jackal a couple of times but never got close, so I´m including this photo just for the record.

 

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Our first morning!

 

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Our two top targets were actually not predators but antelopes - we hoped to find Roan and Sable. Doug told us that especially Sable females are particularly attractive in Kafue, with a very appealing colour tone, and so we decided to suffer from Tsetses and search for them along the woodlands. Without success, unfortunately, some burnings had been going on near the airstrip (where they liked to hang around), and they were nowhere to be found.

 

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Black-Bellied Bustard

 

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Capped Wheatear

 

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Juvenile Marsh Harrier

 

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Wattled Cranes - an endangered species - are delightfully common on the Plains.

 

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We spent some quality time with a Wildebeest herd - many, many young with them, always a pleasure to see.

 

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Posted (edited)

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The roads on the plains are pretty bumpy. Not easy to maintain them given that they are submerged every year.

 

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Stonechat, ubiquitous in this area.

 

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In the wet season these treey spots become literal islands.

 

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Long-Toed Lapwing.

 

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Of course Puku, Kafue´s trademark animal, are around in good numbers here too.

 

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Steppe Buzzard, on its way with nesting material here.

 

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Sorry about the inclusion of this subpar photo but I do not think there are many photos of these little guys around - Locust Finches, a very good bird to see.

 

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But this is the animal which most symbolizes the lush Busanga Plains - the (Southern) Lechwe Antelope, only found in marshy areas where they can find aquatic plants to eat.

 

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Their legs are covered in a water-repellant substance which allows them to run quite fast in knee-deep water.

 

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A success story - their numbers have exploded in the last 10 years. Doug told us after the poaching heyday ended only small herds were left - now there are 1000s again scattered across the plains.

 

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We had our lunch break on one of the "islands" - little corners of paradise they are.

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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Posted (edited)

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On our way back the weather cleared up even more ,and we enjoyed some nice light.

 

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Busanga is not only a great place for Wattled but also Grey Crowned Cranes - this is the first time I saw them with young ones.

 

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Both species actually.

 

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To me, the Crowned Crane is one of the most iconic African animals, I´ve always loved them.

 

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This green area looked lovely with lots of Wildebeest and the Cranes functioning as colour specks.

 

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I crouched down behind the car to get an eyelevel shot of this cute little young one.

 

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This one did not feel very much at ease with our presence and seeked Mommy´s comfort.

 

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Red-Capped Lark - one of the few distinguished ones of this race.

 

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No ID trouble about this one - a Rosy-Throated Longclaw again, and it loved to pose for us.

 

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We searched for Sable again but to no avail - they remained invisible. Very late afternoon we´d see a very distant one by the edge of the woodlands but there was no way to get there.

 

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Southern Reedbuck.

 

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And so, our two quests pretty much failed, we returned to camp.

 

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One distant Roan in diminishing light - surely we can do better than this?

 

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Baby Hare.

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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I’m only on page 2,but really enjoying things so far. @michael-ibk, really nice photos of the lion while you were out the car, not sure I’d have been thinking of my camera at that point! Also really like the tow Lappets walking in tandem, very nice timing.

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Posted (edited)

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And yes, we could do much better Roan-wise! Next morning we experienced one of my personal trip highlights.

 

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We found this nice herd in good light. See the small alley there? Doug suggested we could get out and try to approach them the crawling way, see if they would tolerate this. And so we tried.

 

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And yes, since we were moving very, very slowly, they did not flee but became more and more curious about us.

 

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And so we were lying there on the ground and looking up to these huge, gorgeous antelopes - it was absolutely wonderful!

 

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Roan overdose coming up:

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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Posted (edited)

We would see more Roan on the remainder of our trip, but after this rarely even stopped for them - after this sighting there was not much of a point to taking more pictures of them. We would make an exception for one nice herd on our way back to Musekese:

 

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A bit more from our second day:

 

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African Quail Finch

 

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Goliath Heron

 

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Oribi - the Busanga Plains must be one of the best places to see this little antelope.

 

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The mixed Wildebeest-Zebra herd gave the plains a very Serengeti-like flaire this morning.

 

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The area South around camp may not be as lush as the Shumba section but there´s certainly plenty of water around here as well.

 

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Blacksmith Lapwing

 

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Crowned Cranes everywhere

 

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And because it´s so beautiful and obliging - one more Rosy-Throaty sighting.

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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But what about predators? We must have been among the most unlucky Busanga Plains visitors ever because we did not manage to see the lions. Well, granted, we did not really make them a priority, and Doug also told us life has not been too gentle on them - there used to be three prides, now they are down to one. Still, normally I guess with three Busanga nights one can expect to see them but it simply was not to be. We were told about a Lioness with cubs but the directions we were getting (drive up a few kilometres, and you know, that little mount a few hundred metres to the left) were not all that helpful - there are a lot of mounts!

 

But we did have one sighting the second day which made up for the lack of lions:

 

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Hard to recognize but yes, that´s Cheetah! We had found tracks the day before so we had kind of hoped for them. Problem was, he was way off, and how to get there?

 

Fear not, where there´s a will there is a way!

 

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And so - sucess, after a little while we closed in on him:

 

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This was definitely the fattest Cheetah I´ve ever seen:

 

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He must have gorged himself on a whole herd of Oribis (his preferred prey here), his belly was almost hanging to the ground!

 

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His extremely full belly was probably the reason why he did not run from us. He did not really seem to be happy with our presence.

 

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So when he chose a shady spot to rest we let him be because it was quite apparent he would try to get away would we come too close - definitely not a Mara Cheetah. When he was resting there, even though we knew exactly where he was, he became almost invisible to us. Easy to see why it´s so easy to miss cats on a game drive, they might be straight before your eyes but still impossible to spot!

 

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Posted (edited)

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One of the traditional fish traps in Busanga. Doug explained to us that they were becoming a problem for the ecology of the park - simply too many young men were doing this now. Their number are making this ancient tradition a problem.

 

We soon discovered the Cheetah´s prey (not possible to tell what it was). The Vultures had also just found it and were starting to coming in big time.

 

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It was quite a spectacle seeing them whooshing in one after another, and it made for some cool shots.

 

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White-Headed Vulture

 

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This Yellow-Billed Kite may be the smallest of them all but that did not stop him from competing with the big guys. Here going after a Lappet-Faced!

 

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Four Vultures in one picture: Lappet-Faced, White-Backed, Hooded and White-Headed.

 

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Lappet-Faced, the most powerful of them.

 

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White-Backed closing in.

 

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This was certainly our best game drive on the plains, and we returned to camp very contently.

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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3 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

 

 

Well, this report is not very linear - we all have already incorporated most of the sightings (except one important one) of that last day at Museks. That´s when we experienced the second Elephant crossing for example.

 

I'm living in a loop these days. it's groundhog day, everyday.

 

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Posted (edited)

We are pretty stubborn, and refused to give up our Sable quest. So again, it was into the TseTse hell of the woodlands both for our last afternoon and last morning - no surrender, no retreat was the motto!

 

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We saw many Great White Pelicans in Busanga - they are quite noisy when flying over close like that.

 

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A very patient Little Bee-Eater

 

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But again - where.are.the.Sable?

 

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We did see two females far off, and a bull out in the open. Well, at least we knew they were around now. We tried to approach the bull but he would have none of it and ran.

 

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Our lovely Sundowner place, only 10 minutes from camp. I regret that we were not able to spend some time there during the day, it was birder´s paradise. This was the only time we would see Elephants in Busanga, they were coming out of the woodlands to drink here. I guess because of the early rains they were no longer as present on the plains as they normally are in dry season.

 

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Ground Hornbill

 

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We drove up until Shumba in our Sable quest. Doug does not like to be beaten, and so he tried everything to find them.

 

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Last Wattled Cranes and Lechwes.

 

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It was only logical that after all this driving around, basically covering most of the plains the last morning, that we found two bulls no more than five minutes from camp!

 

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Not the herd we had been hoping for but we were very happy to see these two at least.

 

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Mission accomplished, and that always feels much better than failed quests. It was time to go back to Musekese, and the trip had all but come to an end. One more night at main camp, and we´ve already covered what we saw there.

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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Posted (edited)

The best moments of safari come when you don´t expect them. Very true for us this time. We had said our good byes to the wonderful people at Musekese and were in Doug´s car again, on our way to Lusaka to get Kit´s flight. We were only prepared to battle intruding Tsetses at best and did not anticipate to see anything of note anymore . At least I have learned enough on my trips to know you should never ever pack away your camera, not until the very last minute.

 

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And all of a sudden, there they were, a breeding herd of Sable, the sighting we had worked so long and hard for in Busanga!

 

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Doug was right, these Kafue Sables looked absolutely magnificent.

 

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And with these pictures of the best-looking Sable anywhere I conclude my narrative on this report. I will be back with some closing remarks on Kafue, but now over to you, Kit and Lynn!

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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Posted (edited)

Getting down low in front of the vehicle offered some good perspectives, whether antelope or birds.

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Wildebeest in Busanga Plains

 

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Yellow billed kites harass a Marabou Stork in Busanga Plains

 

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Crowned Crane medley on Busanga Plains

 

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It is the sable, roan, and hartebeest that get most of the attention in Kafue.  But this wildebeest is nice placed with the classic terrain.

 

Both Doug and James put that roan sighting as #1 or near #1 on their list of roan viewing.  It was certainly #1 for the four of us.

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Busanga Plains roan herd of 22

 

In contrast to these cooperative roan, the sable were elusive.  James and Doug both described sable viewing in Busanga Plains as a “slam dunk.”  But it seemed we could not even find the basketball court despite valiant and prolonged efforts.

 

Two factors that might have contributed to the disappearing sable were (1) There had been a fire not long before our arrival that might have scared them away.  But the guide in one vehicle we encountered told us the fire had frightened the sable into the area surrounding our camp.  And we did indeed see two sable bound into the bush within 5 minutes of our camp. (2) Water. The rainy season had been more than adequate so puddles abounded all over, allowing the sable to avoid the river.  It had rained in Busanga Plains before we arrived adding to the water.

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Sable teaser #1 in Busanga Plains

 

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Sable teaser #2 - young and mature male in Busanga Plains

 

It was Musekese that delivered the best sable viewing from us, as we heading out from camp back to civilization. 

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Herd of 22 Sable in Musekese

The nicely lit, relaxed sable herd was a wonderful sendoff for our group before it was time to fly off (or in the case of Michael and Andreas) drive to Mana Pools.

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We felt lucky with the last-minute sable and lucky to have such a congenial and fun group, guided by the one and only, Doug Macdonald.

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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Posted (edited)

 

 

Quote of the Trip

 

“Go to your room and think about what you have done.”  Doug first uttered the quote when I departed to my tent before dinner on our first evening together, still overcoming the effects of jet lag.  At some point in the safari, we each were subject to those words, all in good fun.

The Adapter

 

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Thank you Doug, Kit, Michael, and Andreas for an outstanding trip.  Thank you adapter for allowing the photos.

Edited by Atravelynn
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12 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

 

Of course there´s something you can do about them, and of course the ladies were so much better prepared than we were - meet the bugsuits:

 

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Killerkit, as we would call her. She was extremely adpet with these flyswats Lynn had brought as presents for all of us. Which just proves again her mastery of practical thinking. I will admit that there was some joking at the beginning of this trip about these suits - but the joke was completely on us when we sat there in terror, awaiting the next launch of BZZZs BZZZS BZZS while Lynn and Kit could just relax.

 

And of course, they would look absolutely lovely even in bugsuits!:):wub:

 

I love the bugsuit ideas. You ladies look very comfortable in them. Where can I get them? Would they be too heavy to pack? And is it hot to wear? Thanks!

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Could the tortoise be African helmeted turtle , also called Marsh terrapin ??  If the size fit... and if they were in a more marshy area rather than in a dry?? 

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Posted (edited)

SInce my first trip toTanzania four years ago, I've been hooked on safaris and have gone on at least twice a year every year. Although each trip had its moments of discomfort, the joys and wonders of each safari would always outweigh the negatives. That is, until Busanga Plains. 

 

I have to admit. The Plains almost defeated me. The killer combo of tse tse flies and the stifling, sizzling heat of October on the full day we were out, and the disappointment of not seeing the sables or the lions weighed heavily on me that day. At that moment, I was ready to swear off the plains even though I know it was a beloved area of many a safaritalk member. 

 

The flies were targeting all of us, but Andreas and I had bad reactions to the bites. Andreas more so than I as his swells were red and bulging; for me the bites triggered a spread of itchy rashes throughout my body. But Andreas was stoic and uncomplaining in contrast to whinging me. 

 

While the bugshirt protected me from the flies, it was also hot in the shirt. I was thankful I had the shirt while poor Andreas and Michael had to endure the gathering flies, but I ended the full day trip dehydrated and unwell. So for my third mishap, I had to tell the team I was not up for a full-day trip planned for the following day and would sit out the drive. But the team with an amazing spirit of generosity decided to do a morning drive, return to camp for lunch, rest and then go out for an evening drive. I was very thankful for that. By then, I had dug out rehydration salts (which I had forgotten to take!)j and drank plenty of water. 

So the lesson is - DRINK and DRINK and Drink. (by the way, Doug's and Lynn's treasure trove of meds and lozenges helped me too as I had left my meds back at Musekese). 

 

But I had my revenge on the flies. Thanks to Lynn, who is so prepared and practical for such eventualities, I had the ultimate weapon - the flyswat. I put it to good use, and was so carried away that one time, I was aiming for a fly on the back  of the  car seat but I completely missed and whacked Michael instead. Fear not ,though, he had his vengeance when it was his turn to swat the flies. 

 

The roans were incredibly chilled when we saw the herd. For them, I crept along the gully with the others, edging closer and closer to the curious roans. The golden sunlight bathed them in beautiful hues, and their long ears and shiny coats took on a gorgeous sheen as the breeding group of young and mothers grazed calmly despite our presence. I could have sat there in the ditch for hours watching them, but slowly they drifted off. 

what a sighting! what an experience to get so close to them. and what perfect timing. Thank you roans for coming out to restore and re-energise my spirit again. 

 

now for another overload of roans again!

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Edited by Kitsafari
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