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Zambia 2011 Kafue & S. Luangwa


Pennyanne
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I'm sorry this is such a late trip report but I just joined Safaritalk and was asked for some details on our 2011 trip. We took our first safari to Africa late August to September, 2011. It was an eye opening experience and I don’t think a day has gone by without me thinking of our trip and wanting to go back! We chose Zambia for our first safari as we wanted to be able to walk in the parks and to be in fairly remote areas that didn’t have a lot of people and vehicles. Zambia turned out to be the right choice for us. I think Botswana would also be great but it was much more expensive. We have just booked another trip to Zambia and Zimbabwe for 2013. We booked through Expert Africa and they were very knowledgeable about the parks and camps and excellent to deal with so I have booked the second trip through them also.

 

Our 2011 itinerary was:

Fly Vancouver, Canada to Lusaka
One night Pioneer Camp Lusaka

Kafue Rivers & Plains tour for one week:
Three nights Lufupa Bush Camp
Two nights Musanza Bush Camp
Two nights Busanga Bush Camp

Transfer by plane Kafue – Lusaka – Mfuwe
Nine nights at Bushcamp Company camps in South Luangwa:
Three nights Kuyenda
Two nights Kapamba
Two nights Bilimungwe
Two nights Chindeni
Transfer by land to Shenton Safari camps for one week
Three nights Kaingo
Four nights Mwamba
Transfer by plane Mfuwe – Lusaka – Livingstone
Three nights Zambezi Sun Hotel, Livingstone
Fly home from Livingstone

The Kafue Rivers and Plains trip was a tour so we were with the same people for the week. We were a small group (only 5) with an excellent guide, Brent Harris, and it was a great introduction to being on safari. We just did drives, not walks, in Kafue as the distances are great. There was a bit of a problem with tsetse flies at the start of the trip but they did not bother us too much. The camps were all good but Busanga Camp was special as it is on a vast plain full of animals in a very beautiful area of Kafue. We would have liked to spend a few more nights there and I hope to return to Kafue on another trip.

The Bushcamp Company camps were all very good. Our favourite was Kuyenda due to the excellent walks led by Phil Berry and the superb food and conversation due to his charming wife Babette. The food here was the best of the whole trip with a great selection of interesting fruit and vegetables dishes as well as meat. There were some good close up wildlife experiences at all the camps, including a lion kill right by our cabin at Kuyenda, Elephants were frequent visitors at all these camps especially at Bilimungwe.

The week at the Shenton camps finished the trip off on a high note. There were lions everywhere and the animal viewing got better and better every day. We loved both camps and they had an extra activity each day which was great. We especially appreciated the hides these camps have which allowed some very good close up viewing. Mwamba was our favourite camp of the whole trip partly because it was small and rustic and partly because the wildlife viewing there was so superb.

We enjoyed our last few days at the Zambezi Sun Hotel in Livingstone but it was a shock to suddenly be among lots of people again after the quiet of the bush. We also missed having companions and conversation over the dinner table. The Zambezi Sun is a big hotel but a good choice for visiting the Falls as it is only a few minutes’ walk away so we could go there at different times of the day. We also had an enjoyable day in Livingstone. We ate the buffet at the Zambezi Sun our first night – very good with live music, but expensive. We had some good meals next door at the Royal Livingstone at a lower cost. Be sure to make reservations if you want to eat there.

In summary this trip was the best vacation we have ever had (and we’ve had some very good trips). All the camps were excellent and I’d be happy to return to any of them. We chose to limit ourselves to a few companies as we got discounts by staying longer with one company. The guides were all knowledgeable and good. We had many superb walks and drives and always felt we were in safe hands even when very close to animals. Our transfers and travel arrangements all went smoothly.

My photos of our trip are at https://picasaweb.google.com/103756556041709623250/. I’m not an experienced photographer and I was just learning to use a new camera but they will give you an idea of the camps and the wildlife we saw. Unfortunately my camera could not take good night photos so I’m missing photos of some superb viewings of leopards and other nocturnal animals.

Lessons learned for next time:
- While we were pleased to experience staying at a lot of different camps we have decided for future trips we will stay 3 or 4 days in a camp as it allows us to get a real feel for the area and the wildlife viewing as well as get to know the guides and others in the camp. We also preferred “settling in" for a few days rather than constantly packing up and moving on.
- We both preferred to wear shirts with collars on the walks as binocular and cameras hanging around our necks were uncomfortable with a collarless t-shirt.
- Packed too many clothes even though we travelled carry on! All camps did laundry and when we washed clothes ourselves they were dry within a few hours as it was so hot and dry and usually a small breeze. A tiny clothes line bought in a travel shop and a few light plastic coat hangers were great for hanging up washing.
- Some clothes we took were too lightly coloured (very light beige or grey) for the walks so we have now purchased darker green, brown, grey clothes for the next trip which will involve a lot of walking.
- We were most comfortable wearing light weight synthetic hiking clothes made by brands such as North Face, Columbia, Mountain Hardwear etc. as they were cool to wear and dried very quickly.
- The wildlife viewing got better throughout the trip as the weather got hotter and drier so we will be going a few weeks later on our next trip.

I posted this report because I really found reading these reports helped me plan my trip so I hope others find this helpful. If anyone has any questions or wants more details I’ll be happy to provide more information.

 

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Thank you for sharing this, I'm sure it will be helpful for many.

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Thanks for the slightly tardy report. You've already made me feel better about being home 30 days and not finishing my most recent report.

 

The eles chasing the hippos were a fascinating sight. Good job on catching the action in sharp images. Thanks for showing the hippo hide. Do you recall if some of your hippo shots were from the hide? The bee eater hide was productive.

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The eles chasing the hippos were a fascinating sight. Good job on catching the action in sharp images. Thanks for showing the hippo hide. Do you recall if some of your hippo shots were from the hide?

 

Yes the elephant hippo encounter was hilarious. We could tell right away when the elephants arrived that they were out for trouble. They were swaggering around and then suddenly charged the poor hippos. They looked so pleased with themselves at creating such chaos! I wish I had a video of it. The noise was incredible too with the elephants trumpeting and the hippos roaring. All the photos in that album were taken from the hide and most of the other hippos in the Kaingo Mwamba album were also taken from the hide. The hide is on two levels and one is down by the water so you can get some great close up shots.

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That's very informative and you definitely shouldn't sound apologetic about posting a trip report late because you have just joined. We are more than happy to hear about it now, especially since it sound like such a great trip.

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In absolute agreement with Pault. Thank you for sharing your trip and we would love to hear anything you might want to share about it.

 

My question is about Kafue. Though this Rivers & Plains trip is advertised quite heavily as an itinerary, if done in combo with SNLP, most people sound a little happier with the SNLP part of their safari. Is it because predator action is so much more visible in SNLP and therefore more exciting, or because wildlife as a whole is much more visible in SLNP? You do say you would like to go back to Busanga, but what about the other areas you saw?

 

Thanks, Pennyanne!

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Just to jump in and say that I am not sure that Wilderness are doing the Kafue Rivers & Plains' this year, but I could be wrong...

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From your lessons learned:

"- Some clothes we took were too lightly coloured (very light beige or grey) for the walks so we have now purchased darker green, brown, grey clothes for the next trip which will involve a lot of walking."

 

I'm a great fan of walking but don't get the problem with this one - can you please explain?

 

I was also doing Kafue and SLNP in 2011...I found SLNP to be a bit more action-packed, but the remoteness and beauty of the Busanga plains is what I long for again if coming back to any of them. Even though we stayed at Lion camp in the remote part of SLNP, I found it to be a bit crowded.

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My question is about Kafue. Though this Rivers & Plains trip is advertised quite heavily as an itinerary, if done in combo with SNLP, most people sound a little happier with the SNLP part of their safari. Is it because predator action is so much more visible in SNLP and therefore more exciting, or because wildlife as a whole is much more visible in SLNP? You do say you would like to go back to Busanga, but what about the other areas you saw?

 

 

We did see much more wildlife in SLNP, especially lions and leopards. As it was later in September and getting hotter and drier there was a lot of activity near the water. But perhaps wildlife in SLNP is always be more prolific. However I loved the remoteness of Kafue and would like to go there again and spend more time there.. One day we only saw one other vehicle in the distance and it was a researcher, not tourists. Busanga is especially beautiful and we had a wonderful lion sighting there as well as numerous antelopes. I'd like to have spent 4 nights there instead of 2. The other camps did not have as much wildlife although I'd seen reports of great sightings especially from Musanza so it may just be a matter of luck. We thoroughly enjoyed the Rivers and Plains trip and are pleased we combined it with SLNP as both parks are quite different so a good contrast. However I'm happy we followed our agents advice to go to Kafue first as the predator action during our last week in SLNP was amazing and a great way to end the trip.

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From your lessons learned:

"- Some clothes we took were too lightly coloured (very light beige or grey) for the walks so we have now purchased darker green, brown, grey clothes for the next trip which will involve a lot of walking."

 

I'm a great fan of walking but don't get the problem with this one - can you please explain?

 

I was also doing Kafue and SLNP in 2011...I found SLNP to be a bit more action-packed, but the remoteness and beauty of the Busanga plains is what I long for again if coming back to any of them. Even though we stayed at Lion camp in the remote part of SLNP, I found it to be a bit crowded.

 

We were told that light colours are much more visible in the bush. We even had a guide send us back to change into darker shirts one day as he said our shirts were too light. Many of the walking guides looked over what people were wearing and instructed us not to wear light or really bright colours. I agree with you about Busanga although we also love SLNP and will be returning there this year.

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Enjoyed the pics quite a bit; esp. the ellies and lions, and the ellie/hippo action was a treat to watch! Your list of camps you specifically enjoyed goes into my "possibles"file!

 

 

Thanks, and welcome to ST. I was given great advice and support in planning my Bots trip last fall by the members.

 

Hopefully I'll get around to finishing my TR, :blink: but meanwhile I jump over to other's when I am in need of a fix!

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Kafue National Park is great. No crowds, just the bush, animals and you... Try Mukambi Safari Lodge next time. Been a regular there for years. Beautiful lodge on the banks of the Kafue River. Lots of wildlife, wild dog, leopard, lion, elephant and Basil the hippo visiting regularly to have a nap on one of the decks..

 

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Hercovanh, you should know Tyrone who posts on Safaritalk as KafueTyrone then :) Welcome aboard. Please do tell us a bit more about yourself here, and,

 

Try Mukambi Safari Lodge next time. Been a regular there for years.

 

Better getting writing some trip reports then ;)

 

Matt

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Let me ask some things about Kafue in Sept. I was under the impression that it was common to see herds of sable and roan in Sept. I noted you did have some close roan sightings with great photos. Do you recall what the sable situation was? I also thought it was common to see lions in the trees in Kafue in Sept, especially one particular giant fig tree that is near the old Busanga Plains Camp. Did you see any lions in trees? I believe your photo documentation did not include sable or tree climbing lions in Kafue, but that doesn't mean they were not present.

 

Thanks for any info on these items.

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Hi Matt, thanks for having me. Yes I know Tyrone quite well. We've travelled together in the Zambian bush quite a few times.

 

To answer the question about Kafue in September... Roan is plenty on Busanga Plains. The "tree climbing lions" are on Busanga Plains at 'One Fig', (enormous fig tree and a landmark) although it is not something you see regularly. Wild dogs are frequently seen around Mukambi Lodge and even on Busanga plains. They are very curious and sometimes come right up to the car. The sable are fantastic, if you find them. They like the thick bush. Also remember, Kafue NP is the size of Switserland!

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We were there last week of August and did see a lot of antelope on the Busanga Plains, especially roan. However did not see any sable or tree climbing lions. I think we were the wrong time of year for the tree climbing activity. The Busanga Plains is wonderful for herds of antelope and Kafue has a very remote wild atmosphere so even though we didn't see as much wildlife as in SLNP I still highly recommend Kafue and do hope to return and spend more time there.

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Thanks for the reply. Agree Kafue does not have the wildlife density of South Luangwa. But give it 50 years! End of Aug might be just a tad early for tree climbing lions and sable. Mid-July, when I was there, certainly was.

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The only way to truly settle this is for Pennyanne, Paulo, and Atravelynn to do a comparison afari of South Luangwa and Kafue 50 years from now. Let's start a planning for 2063 thread now.

 

Rather than "density" if the term were "volume" Kafue, at 22,400 sq km, should have a chance to match the number of animals of South Luangwa, at 9,050 sq km. I hope they both thrive for 50 years and beyond, even if we won't be able to check it out personally.

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I'll swap 2063 for Nov 2014 :) Personally, I want to get to Kafue before it becomes really popular, which I hope very much that it does, and fairly soon too. I am willing to trade predator density for species diversity and landscape variety and a true wilderness feeling... but think I am going to have to rope my husband in for this safari because I can't seem to find partners in crime on ST :(

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