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Zambia – South Luangwe August 2013 – Great to be back on safari!


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Brilliant start to my morning, catching up with this. Perfect start to your safari and I can't believe the number of leopards you saw. Never too many photos of leopards or anything else. I really like the sprinting porcupine. I've never seen a wild porcupine even though there was a live den right by one of our camps, I always missed it so loved seeing your photo.


Lots of good sightings and your guide seems very good. Looking forward to more.

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Good job on your first report. It brought good memories of our trip to Zambia. Thank you for sharing.

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Thank you







for your positive comments


@@Super LEEDS

The chalets are fairly open - and during the day you have to be careful what you leave around as baboons can go in and take things they think might be edible. We really liked the fact that it was so open on one side overlooking the river.


At night they are a bit more closed. If you look at the photo of the chalet - to the left of the chairs you will see a white curtain. Just to the left of that is a folding iron screen (there is a similar one on the right also). When you are out on the evening drive, an attendant pulls these screens across (still open to the air) and draws the curtains. (You can open the curtains if you like).

It remains open above these + you sleep under a mosquito net (though we saw very few mosquitos). The bathroom (at the back of the chalet) is partly open


Lots of animal noise immediately outside the curtains at night really makes you feel that you are in Africa.

Edited by TonyQ
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Nkwali to Nsefu


Next morning was a combined game drive and transfer to Nsefu. We went via the main gate area, where it was much busier, many more vehicles - but there was still excellent game viewing.



Fish eagle


Lilac breasted roller plus unidentified lunch

We came across a young male lion who had been in the wars,




and then an older male, enjoying the shade.


The one time on the trip when I felt uncomfortable about vehicles crowding the lion, and I was pleased to move on and leave him alone.

Not very far on and we found another group enjoying the shade



Watching the youngster carefully



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After a tea break near a lagoon (and one here),


we switched vehicles to one from Nsefu and continued on the game drive



Crawshay’s zebra (only found in Zambia)



White fronted Bee-eater


Male Puku - apparently they secrete a "perfumed" oil - the black marks are dust sticking to this




There were also lots of elephant in the area, coming down to drink





The baby looks as if it has been in pretty deep

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Nsefu is the oldest of the camps in the area. The rooms are rondavels (6) – originally built in the 1950’s – but renovated and with bathrooms added. They are fairly close together compared to the other camps. After Nkwali, they seemed small initially, but we soon got used to this, and Nsefu was probably our favourite of the main camps.



The setting of is exceptional, with spectacular views on the bend of the river.



The dining area has great view across the river. The bar area overlooks a waterhole, and there is also a newly built hide next to this – well worth a visit to see antelope, birds and elephant.


At lunch, all the guests were very excited. Apparently at breakfast this morning there had been a tremendous commotion a few hundred yards away. They rushed out in the vehicles to see 3 lions bringing down a buffalo. Then a group of 14-15 other lions from outside the area came on to the scene, drove these lions away and finished off the buffalo. They said this took a long time and was very noisy and fairly gruesome. ( Actually we are glad we missed it -we are a bit soft. I'm not squeamish when animals are dead but don't like to see them suffer. I know that animals kill other animals but I don't claim to be logical).

Anyway, this probably explained why they were not as interested as we were in the distant lion crossing the river.


Our guide for the afternoon/evening drive was George - he was really good at explaining about how the ecosystem works - about the inter-relationships.

The major part of the drive was going to the site of the kill. As expected, the lions were still there.






Lots of full stomachs, but they carry on eating. We were told that they pant for breath because they have eaten so much that the food pushes on to the diaphragm!


Another lion came towards us and the kill, stopped to look for a while and then wondered off. I presume he was not part of this group.



We eventually decided to leave them to it



The drive continued enjoyably but perhaps not quite so spectacularly



Bushbuck - struggled throughout the trip to get a good picture of these - (they are always in the bush!)


George (and Steve) used a red-spotlight throughout – he is convinced that the white light is more disturbing to animals, and can be harmful to some.

We saw many Night Jar on the track, genet, hyena, civet, elephant shrew, and had a fairly short encounter with a leopard - a vehicle had been watching it and we just saw it leave in our spotlight. (No photo!)


As it was so close to camp, we went back to see lions on the kill.


(I am sure that clever people can get rid of the red - but I like to be reminded of the red spotlight)

We watched for a while – George turned lights off to listen (amazing to hear lions around you in the dark.) When leaving, we couldn’t go via the track as lions were asleep on it and were not moving, so had to take a long bumpy diversion!


Back at camp, overnight there was a lot of hippo noise and really loud lions. Great to lie in bed listening to that!

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Fabulous report and photos. We were thinking of South Luangwa next year and you may have persuaded us!

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I think we were lucky with lions - and everything actually! As you will see, we loved Nsefu. We haven't been to other camps in South Luangwa other than those in this report, but it was our favourite of the fixed camps.



Thank you for the kind comments

Edited by TonyQ
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Nsefu (continued)

Breakfast is served around a fire on the river bank, with superb views as the sun comes up over the river.


On the first morning we saw a lion cross the river in the distance,


and then saw two others


And three of them headed towards watching guest and staff



Getting closer and closer


They eventually came and within a few yards of us.



(Taken at 160mm, not cropped - so possible15 yards?)

We were safely ( :) ) behind the breakfast buffet table! Some guests were not yet out of their rondavel - so were advised (!) to stay inside.

Two lions left between the lunge area and our rondavel. Another decided on a different route.


Mrs Q - safe behind canvas chairs (!) watches the lion walk along the path in font of the rondavels (Shot at 18mm)


And up towards and through the dining area



I think we deserved our porridge. Luckily the lions didn’t want breakfast.

We had a good excuse to be slightly late on this morning's game drive.

Edited by TonyQ
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For the morning game drive (and the rest of our time at Nsefu) we had Braston. He had worked here for seven years and we thought he was excellent.

It was quite difficult for the morning drive to live up to our breakfast entertainment, but it was very enjoyable and interesting.


Vultures tackling the remains of the buffalo


We found it interesting that three species of vulture could work alongside each other at the same time. (Lappet-faced, White Backed, Hooded - I think)

Apparently they have different beaks adapted to different parts of the remains.



Baby Puku


Guinea Fowl


Male Puku


Mother and baby


Keeping up


And safely alongside mum.


And then some Carmine Bee-eaters. They were just arriving in the area. They nest in river banks a little later in the year (and we hear that then there are hides available to watch them coming in and out of the nest) - at this time we saw them a few times but I always found them difficult to photograph - however here is an impression.


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I see that BA are stopping flying to Lusaka from mid October. Its a shame as it makes it much more difficult to get to from the UK. We'll find a way but it will effect visitor numbers from the UK

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Thanks @philw I have responded in the thread that Game Warden mentioned

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Nsefu (continued)


Game drive continues with meeting a large herd of Buffalo. As the area is not open plains, it is difficult to get the impression of how many animals are in the herd, but they walked past us for a long time - Braston thought there were two to three hundred.



We also enjoyed good view of Waterbuck




I mentioned earlier that Braston had worked for Robin Pope for about seven years. He has great knowledge of the area, of the wildlife generally and even some individual animals. In the afternoon drive (and the next day) we were to benefit from this greatly.


We were driving alongside a gulley, when Braston stopped and pointed to the distance


Eventually with the help of binoculars, we saw this dot (the photo is at 300mm) - but were still excited to see another leopard.

Braston explained he knows this cub - it is about 7 month old - and he has been visiting it since it was a tiny cub (it also has a sister). It can be nervy (his mother is probably off hunting). Braston said that he has often found that if he allows the cub to see us for a while, it may then allow us to get closer. So we tried.



Wait and let him see us again


Then he runs off a short distance - have we lost him?


Braston know the area well, and the likely behaviour of the leopard, so soon we meet him again



He wanders on a bit more, but seems quite calm


Here he is just catching some of the last rays of the sun


Eventually we let him rest. We spent about 45 minutes from first seeing the small dot to these last sightings. We didn't see another vehicle.


After an excited sundowner we started the night drive. I think the big advantage of being in an area that allows night drives is that you can stay out later in the twilight and don't need to rush back in situations like our leopard tracking. The drives are interesting in heir own right, but this is a real bonus.

This evening, amongst the usual sightings we also saw hyena in the general area of yesterday's kill.




Again, we have found it difficult to believe the amount of experiences that can be packed into one day.

Edited by TonyQ
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When at Nsefu, we seldom saw other vehicles. The vehicles from the camp planned to be in different areas, with brief exceptions, and no others were around.


In the morning Braston took us to the salt pan area, where there was also a hot spring. It was a different environment - flatter and more open.



Hornbill (red billed?)




Grey Crowned Crane - they arrive around 8.30 every morning and are an impressive sight as more and more groups come in to land

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Great sightings on this trip and some beautiful photographs. Looks like you got quite lucky throughout the trip and saw a wonderful diversity of wildlife in a relatively short time. Bet you're glad with the choice you made now.

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Heading back towards the river nearer the main camp, we came across the Nsefu pride, enjoying the shade on the track and under surrounding bushes.



Checking us out


This is not the pride that we saw on the kill previously, but it is their area.



This was just like watching our cats washing (ours are not quite as big!)


Learning from dad


We shared part of the lion viewing with another Nsefu vehicle, but the pride were spread out and it never felt like we were causing much disturbance. Again, a brilliant morning.

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Thank you - we were amazed at what we saw in a short trip. We certainly are very pleased with the choices we made, but you are right that there is an element of luck as well.

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Fabulous photos TonyQ! What a nice safari!


I kind of feel sorry that I booked Botswana + Sabi Sand and Timbavati instead of Botswana + South Luangwa for May-June next year... have to check on the cancellation policy :) Do you think one could experience a good safari in SLNP by staying at one of the lodges just outside the gate (Marula, Flatdogs)?

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Wow Tony, great read, great sightings and wonderful photos!

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Just read your entire Trip report ( so far) and I have to say its excellent with wonderful pictures illustrating your sightings. I don't think I have ever seen a report with more leopard sightings in the first day. Made my Sunday morning. Thanks for posting this and keep it coming.

Edited by AKR1
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What a beautiful report- I think you might have sold South Luangwa to quite a few people here, although you are preaching to the converted with me!


I am back in the valley next June which is a new time of year for me- hope I get as lucky as you.

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Thank you for the kind comments.


@stokeygirl - Thank you - as you can see, we were really impressed by South Luangwa. It has a lot to offer. I am glad to hear you are going again -it will be interesting to see what it is like in June - I am sure you will enjoy it


@@FlyTraveler - thanks for the positive comments. I don't have experience of staying in those camps. I think it would be a bit busier, but people have positive experiences. When we were researching, Flatdogs had a lot of positive reviews, and I enjoyed reading the trip report from @mtow - "Lower Zambesi/South Luangwa/Livingstone - August 2013" which included staying at Flatdogs. Some great photos. You might ask him a question through his report

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Nsefu (continued)


On our final afternoon at Nsefu, we enjoyed watching wildlife around the camp.

Much time was spent watching distant elephant cross the river.


We visited the hide and watched birds, baboons, antelope visiting to drink.


We also watched animals from our rondavel


Young male Puku (from window)




The afternoon game drive started well



We saw lots of crocodiles during the trip

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