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Safari: South Luangwa July/August 2011


ZaminOz
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After brunch and a little time to finish packing it was time to say farewell to Kuyenda and its crew.

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Next stop, Chamilandu.

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Part 3 – Chamilandu

 

We were met on arrival by camp manager Oli (who we also knew from the previous year) and shown to our fantastic chalet on stilts with panoramic views of the river and the Nchindeni hills beyond. Chamilandu really is one of my favourite camps, and with only 3 chalets it is small and intimate. Chamilandu is a seasonal bush camp, but here is one of its permanent residents:

 

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Some views of Chamilandu bush camp taken during our stay:

 

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Loo with a view:

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Dining chitenje, home to safari guests, geckos and fruit bats:

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Our afternoon and night drive from Chamilandu produced good general sightings plus a young leopardess who had brought down an impala literally seconds before we had rounded a bend in the track. The impala was still struggling for life as she suffocated it.

 

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This kill was only about 3 minutes drive from camp and during dinner a couple of French guests who were leaving the next morning without having seen a leopard were asked if they wanted to drive out with Oli and see this one, as it was assumed that she would have her impala safely up in a tree by then. I joined them driving out while Mrs ZaminOz stayed in camp with the boy who had fallen asleep by then. The first thing that we saw was that for some reason she had abandoned the kill and was resting up in some grass nearby, despite that fact that hyenas were around.

 

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So not wanting to attract undue attention to her and her kill, we headed back to camp.

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Landscapes are as important to me as game and you've shot some stunning sites. Love MastZamin and his very happy look. How many kids get to celebrate birthdays on safaris!

 

Well done; I am so enjoying following the young safaritalker around!

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Edit: These comments apply only to the first page - that's how far I got.

 

Mast ZaminOz is getting spoiled rotten. Two birthdays! Looks like he is having a great time and getting tons of attention - certainly doesn't do any harm to be that cute. Love what they did for the party - it's really telling that they made such an effort and did such a good job.

 

I'm getting a great feel for these places. It's a very beautiful park.

 

Lots of highlights but I like the elephants outside your room and I can see why you likevthe night drives there.

Edited by pault
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@@graceland

Thanks. Yes I have come back from previous trips and looking at my photos thought to myself; "gee, nice animals, but it shows nothing about where they were standing."

So I made a very concerted effort to record more landscapes, trees and game partly obscured by grass, foliage etc (a tricky task I discovered, especially on auto focus!)

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Thanks @@pault

Actually the night drives were a bit quieter that year compared to the previous. Luck of the draw really.

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@@Game Warden

Actually if Mast ZaminOz career pans out as he is currently planning it (age 7) he will be guiding safari talkers on safari in 15 or so years time... Either that or he will have graduated as a Jedi. Jury is out at the moment, depending on daily moods.

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Ok... where was I?

Ah yes...

 

The Following morning we drove back to the same spot hoping to see her with her kill in one of the nearby African ebony trees. Alas all we found was tracks and marks on the ground showing

where she had dragged the impala for about 30 meters before being intercepted by hyenas. There was no sign of her or the impala.

 

In the vicinity was one of the likely culprits:

 

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Elsewhere, some hippo fun:

 

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A tsetse fly trap from 2010 after the effects of the weather and elephants, plus another testse fly trap set up in 2011:

 

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Most of the day I recall was lots of elephant interaction. Regrettably I have very few photos of it, as I recall that I was either videoing or I just put the camera down to enjoy watching them live rather than through the view finder. Some days I will do that, just put the camera down and soak in the sights and sounds. Of course later I regret it and wish I had taken the photos!

 

In the night we saw the usual nocturnal suspects, bar any big cats, most too fleeting to photograph without major blurring (I don’t use a flash). But we did see a Giant Eagle Owl:

 

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The next day was our last full day at Chamilandu. Mrs ZaminOz decided to sleep in and enjoy relaxing in camp for the morning.
I must admit that Chamilandu is the only camp that I have ever stayed at that I was seriously tempted to not get up but just lie in watching the dawn unveil itself from the bed, with its sweeping vistas.
Of course I resisted the temptation, but it was real. So Mast ZaminOz and I headed out.


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Ahemm... we're over here... behind you...

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This family group of elephants were all standing fast asleep right beside the road on the drive back in to camp.

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This old girl was actually snoring:
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I felt like I could just walk up o them and touch one. Of course I wouldn't, but they just seemed oblivious to our presence. They only woke up when Onascious
restarted the Landrover.

Edited by Game Warden
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Chillaxing in camp after brunch and some views from the dining chitenje.

 

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The campfire spot:

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And the hills beyond:

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Across the river from the campfire spot:

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There is a regular elephant crossing point a couple of hundred meters downriver from Chamilandu camp and during afternoon tea it looked as if a herd was making ready to cross.

So after scoffing down rooibos tea and cake as quick as possible we bundled into the Landover and drove to a good vantage point opposite to where they were going to cross.

Then they crossed:

 

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More from that day:

 

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The following morning we did a game drive from Chamilandu before transferring to Chindeni after brunch.

 

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Ground Hornbill ungrounded...

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Then it was farewell to Chamilandu, Oli and staff.

 

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On the transfer drive to Chindeni we passed a dead elephant some distance off the track. Onascious mentioned that it had apparently died the day before and had already been reported

to ZAWA, but that everyone had been requested to keep away from it until ZAWA had investigated and, presumably determined its cause of death, checked for tracks etc.

It turned out, I believe, to have died of natural causes. At least that was the consensus at the time that we were there.

 

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Next stop, Chindeni...

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Part 4 – Chindeni

 

On arrival at Chindeni bush camp we settled in to the tent nearest to the dining/lounge deck (the same one we had had the year before) and whiled away our time

before the afternoon drive. We had stayed at Chindeni the year before, and were given the same tent, closest to the dining/lounge deck.

Some images of/from the tent at Chindeni:

 

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Path to kitchen and back of house:

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After settling in and then a 3:30 pm tea and cake on the deck, we headed out on our first afternoon/evening game drive from Chindeni.

 

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The area around Chindeni is well thicketed in the riverine flood plain, and away from the river the bush is dominated by a lot of Mopani, which can make photography for those who desire neat,

clean, foliage free images of well posed animals a bit challenging - for example the bushbuck below.

Fortunately I am not a good enough photographer to worry about such imperfections.

Actually to be honest I sometimes like to have the bush in my photos from the bush. It keeps it for me more real, as I like visual reminders of the flora as much as the fauna.

Anyway, a selection of images from the next morning drive:

 

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Kudu, puku, impala & warthog secret meeting

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If I hide behind this leaf will they see me?

 

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Brunch that day was make your own pizza, and Mast ZaminOz got stuck right in:

 

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Views from the deck at Chindeni (taken just before the afternoon drive):

 

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For the afternoon drive we headed out to the Kapamba River area.

 

Terrapin hitching a ride in Chindeni Lagoon:

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... small giraffe? Or big landscape?

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That night back in camp dinner was a Mongolian BBQ served down on the banks of the lagoon with grass fires up on the Nchindeni Hills as additional backdrop lighting.

 

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Mast ZaminOz had fallen asleep during the night drive (as was often his want) and so the camp had brought a blanket and some beanbags for him to sleep on near the campfire

beside where we were eating. Unbeknownst to me at first, and entirely off his own initiative, Phillip (our spotlight operator who had been with us since Mfuwe) sat in the dark

next to Mast ZaminOz constantly fanning mosquitoes away from his face and keeping an eye out for crocs in the lagoon.

It is the little things that people go out of their way to do for you that can make a safari experience so special.

Edited by ZaminOz
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Love the idea of making your own pizza, especially great for children. And I agree about the some personal touches given when not asked for, which make camps and the people in them so very special.

 

Loving this report and can't imagine why you took so long.

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Unlike twaffle, I am much to lazy to make my own pizza. Between game drives and until the sundowners perk me up I am a Nile Cabbage (see, I am paying attention!) in camp.

 

Like twaffle, I agree about the personal touches and am loving this report. It has a very pleasant, laid-back feeling to it that us Nile Cabbages enjoy.

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The next morning Mrs ZaminOz wasn’t feeling well so she stayed in camp and Mast ZaminOz decided to stay with her (I think he was starting to feel a little worn out by this stage and

needed to recharge a bit). So it was only Onascious and I out on the drive, which was nice as I sat in the front passenger seat and had the opportunity to have a good chat with him as

we drove around. I also got to indulge in a personal pleasure of mine which is to just stop amongst elephants, just put the camera down and quietly watch them without feeling the

need to keep moving on, as it was only me that I needed to keep entertained. I did take some photos though:

 

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We also went back to where the dead elephant was to see if any predators had found it yet. Sure enough the super scavengers were in attendance:

 

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There was also evidence that a leopard had visited it during the night, but with the hyena around the leopard wasn’t to be seen. We had been hearing lions on both nights at Chindeni,

though they had been calling from across the Luangwa River. It was hoped that the smell of the carcass would bring them back to the National Park side, and apparently they did return

to feed on it, but after we had left.

 

While chatting to Onascious I mentioned that the previous year we had seen leopards on almost every game drive at Chindeni, but this time, apart from a couple of fleeting glimpses,

we were yet to see one (which I found odd given how good terrain around Chindeni is for leopard). He said that there had been a lot of lion activity over the weeks prior to our arrival

and that was why the leopards were keeping a low profile at the moment. I also got onto the subject of the general game density which I remembered to be greater the year before.

His theory from his own observation was that when the Bushcamp Company first opened their camps in that area the game was very skittish and hard to see due to years of poaching.

However, due to the presence of the camps two things happened; (1) the game moved in closer to the camps where they felt safest and got relaxed around vehicles, (2) the poaching

decreased due to the presence of the camps and game populations in the general area increased. Thus game densities in the game drive loops closest to the camps always seemed very high.

But what he is now noticing is that due to the low poaching levels in that area, the game has begun to relax and is spreading out further and further from the camps. His view is that the

game numbers are still increasing but that the distribution is spreading out to a more natural balance, with game being seen in areas further away from the usual game drive loops in greater

numbers.

Great from a conservation view I think, even if it means tourists have to work harder to see it.

 

Big croc!

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Elephant rubbing post:

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Sharpe’s Grysbok:

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Elephant Shrew:

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Spurwing goose:

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Edited by ZaminOz
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Back at camp and reunited with the family, Mast ZaminOz had commandeered my camera remote control:

 

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And thus after brunch and siesta, we set off on our last full game drive. As we had a 9:40 am flight out of Mfuwe Airport, which meant a 4:30 am wake up and camp departure the next day,

we took the opportunity for our traditional farewell photo from Chindeni before the game drive:

 

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I always find it somewhat melancholy setting off on the final game drive of a safari, trying not to think of the journey home, but also knowing that the outside world would soon

be crashing back into our lives.

 

Some images from that drive:

 

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Photos courtesy of Mrs ZaminOz:

 

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Mrs ZaminOz and Mast ZaminOz turned in early after dinner to be up for our 4:30 start for Mfuwe Lodge and then the airport, while I stayed up as long as I could, listening to

the sounds of the night; including lions roaring nearby, and despondently knowing that there would be no time to look for them in the morning.

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