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My first TR - a return to South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi National Parks


Tdgraves

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Catching up at last.....lions making an appearance in the nick of time.

 

That's a beautiful postiion on the river. No better place to be in 38C heat than those chairs I bet.

 

better in the room under the fan @@pault ;)

Mad dogs and all that.....

 

Saw they had butlers. Don't they have punkahwallahs too?

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Afternoon drive   During our rest, we were treated to a display by two african harrier hawks (not sure if it was fighting or mating behaviour). A herd of elephants returning from a drink in the rive

You lot are insatiable!   Day 3 Tena Tena: Evening drive   We were paired up with a honeymoon couple from the UK. It was their first day and the bride was particularly tired after the wedding and

Day 10 Chongwe morning game drive   So after complaining about our late start, we were given Sam as a guide and we left at 6am. We were very surprised to find that we had a private vehicle, even mor

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Tdgraves

 

 

We found some very fresh lion tracks, but as we were off to the marshes, we couldn’t follow them up.

 

 

Why couldn't you follow them up? It's your safari and flexibility is the name of the game.

 

 

@@Geoff because we wanted to go to the salt marshes! Also see discussion on page 3-4 about previous lion tracks

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We found some very fresh lion tracks, but as we were off to the marshes, we couldn’t follow them up.

 

 

Why couldn't you follow them up? It's your safari and flexibility is the name of the game.

 

 

@@Geoff because we wanted to go to the salt marshes! Also see discussion on page 3-4 about previous lion tracks

 

 

Oh OK. The way i read it it sounded like the guide had made the decision for you.

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Tdgraves

Day 7 Evening drive from Nsefu

 

We were joined by some staff from the Malawi lodge on a busmans holiday. There were a lot of alarm calls and so searching for leopard was a priority.

 

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En route to sundowners we spotted a man on foot, carrying a firearm. George was worried that he was a poacher and called for reinforcements from camp. This made sundowners a bit tense. However, we were treated to a show by the quelea, also being filmed by the French film crew who had arrived in camp to film a documentary. When the “backup” arrived, it became clear that the “poacher” was a ZAWA game scout – what a relief!

 

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Look carefully at the bottom of the photo...

 

 

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So back to those alarm calls....

 

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It was the local leopard mother and her two cubs!! I have never seen more than 2 leopard in one place before and that was not the only reason he sighting was so special....

 

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Black & white photos courtesy of my husband (who had the 7D and was in the nearer seat)

 

Back to camp for a Mongolian BBQ – a first in bush cuisine for me!!

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What is it at the bottom of that photo? Crocodile?

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@@Tdgraves

Good to see the leopards - interesting with a hyena!

(I think the mother and 2 cubs are the same ones we saw some days earlier - good to see them again)

Glad to hear the poacher wasn't one. We had George as a guide for a small number of drives - we liked him.

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Tdgraves

@@pault - yes it is a croc! Don't think he caught one though..

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Tdgraves

@@TonyQ yes it was interesting. We thought that there may be a fight, but as there was no food to fight over, they kind of sniffed each other and then went about their business. Mum was well out of the way though!

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Kitsafari

love the pix of the leopard mum and cub in black and white - made it more dramatic and made the mum's eyes look even more piercing.and wat a pix of the interaction between leopard and hyena too!

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I'd love to see more pics of the hyaena and the leopards too...they can be a real threat! Great night captures overall.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Tdgraves

 

 

Catching up at last.....lions making an appearance in the nick of time.

 

That's a beautiful postiion on the river. No better place to be in 38C heat than those chairs I bet.

better in the room under the fan @@pault ;)

Mad dogs and all that.....

 

Saw they had butlers. Don't they have punkahwallahs too?

 

 

@pault no butlers etc - a very basic/rustic camp

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Tdgraves

love the pix of the leopard mum and cub in black and white - made it more dramatic and made the mum's eyes look even more piercing.and wat a pix of the interaction between leopard and hyena too!

 

@@Kitsafari and a very effective way at dealing with the red spotlight as well

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Tdgraves

for @@Big_Dog

 

this was all we managed

 

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The following morning we set off briskly as there were alarm calls echoing through the camp. George thought that it might be the lions, as there were buffalo in the area. In the end, we spent about two hours hunting, before we eventually found one of the juvenile leopard, in a very similar place to where we had left them the night before....

 

The highlight of the morning was a lilac breasted roller, actually rolling! Brilliant, but absolutely impossible to capture on film.

 

We also saw a juvenile african harrier hawk hunting.

 

Back to camp for a quick shower before a very hot and dusty 90 minute transfer to the airport in an open-topped vehicle for our flight to Lower Zambezi, via Lusaka. We had to pay excess luggage for our camera bags :(

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Tdgraves

Day 8 Lower Zambezi (transfer)

 

We arrived into Chongwe River Camp (albida suite) at around 4.30pm. We were not offered an evening activity, which was probably a good idea after all of the travelling. So we did something unusual for safari - we had a swim in the abandoned camp, while everyone else was out. The warthogs came to see us in the pool!

 

The suite is aimed at families and is based on two tents around a central lounge/dining area. We shared it with some men on a fishing holiday.

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Tdgraves

Day 9 Chongwe

 

We chose to go on a game drive and we told that these left at 6am. However, the couple sharing the vehicle wanted a late start, so we were then told that we would leave at 6.30. In the event, they turned up at 6.40 and the light was already going golden. Although on the map the camp is adjacent to the national park boundary, in practice it takes 20 minutes to drive to the gate. As it had been such a dry season the entire western part of the park was dead. So it was about an hour and a half of driving before we encountered more than a few straggling impala. Because we had to get so far into the park, the lodge arranged a boat transfer back to camp and the guides took the vehicles back. Unfortunately, not long after we got to the productive area, our vehicle got stuck in some soft sand. Patrick dug it out and went forward, where it would get stuck again. This was repeated about 5 times, before he asked for help and the other vehicle towed us out.

 

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When we got back to camp, we made it clear to the management that leaving at 6.40 was not acceptable, as our main focus was photography, which requires the golden light.

 

 

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FlyTraveler

@@Tdgraves, I am enjoying very much your photography and writing, looking forward to the next installment on Lower Zambezi NP.

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Tdgraves

Day 9 Chongwe Evening boat float

 

Given the distance required to be covered to get into the park, an evening game drive was really out of the question. So we decided to have a boat cruise. It was very nice to be on the water after the hot and dry Luangwa and it means you can get very close to birds. I think that the management misunderstood us, however, when they asked us what we wished to do. When I replied "boat cruise to see the birds" I think that they thought we were birders and so they gave us their best "birding" guide! However, this had a very good upshot - we ended up with a private vehicle for the rest of our stay!!!

 

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I spotted these guys whilst relaxing by our plunge pool, prior to the evening activity.

 

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First we went up the Chongwe, where we saw quite a few species

 

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including this baby croc

 

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and this monitor trying to raid the white fronted bee-eater nests

 

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these guys lived at the mouth of the Chongwe,,,

 

 

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on the zambezi

 

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After dinner we went on a night drive in the GMA. Completely pointless. Saw one genet :(

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Tdgraves

Overnight we had some visitors. Woke up with one eating acacia seed pods from the roof of out tent.Very surreal looking at an elephant at the end of the bed through the netting, with the river behind!

 

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@@Tdgraves Really enjoying this, sounds like you had a great time and yes I'm green with envy. Also got to add that the image of the hippo above is a cracker he looks one mean mother, I wouldn't want to cross him.

Edited by Big Andy
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Tdgraves

Day 10 Chongwe morning game drive

 

So after complaining about our late start, we were given Sam as a guide and we left at 6am. We were very surprised to find that we had a private vehicle, even more so when it stayed that way! Unfortunately Sam didn't quite understand the reason for leaving early and I got a bit frustrated at him wandering around the GMA. However, we straightened things out and got going into the park. He was obviously misinformed about us being birders and was pointing out rare LBJs to us all morning! When we heard radio chatter that could only be about big cats, we told him that we liked animals too! We got on very well from this point on.....

 

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This was in the GMA though, so I forgive him

 

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and this is who all the chatter was about!

 

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Sorry, got a bit liontastic there.

 

This was the only time that we were aware of other vehicles, although we didn't have to queue. As it was getting pretty hot, most of the vehicles moved off pretty quickly, as we had to, in order to meet the boat to take us back to camp - happy game drive participants :D

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Tdgraves

Day 10 Chongwe afternoon boat float

 

Boat cruise follows the same format, cruise upstream on the Chongwe to see what is about and then on to the Zambezi.

 

For such large creatures, it is always amazing how much a hippo can panic!

 

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Best chance I have ever had of photographing these guys - they are always flying off!

 

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On an island in the Zambezi, Mana pools in the background

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One can never have too many lion cub photos! They are just lovely. Interesting pictures also of the panicking hippos, and the elephants and great bird pictures. I am enjoying it all.

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Tdgraves

Day 11 All day drive into the park

 

Given the dry conditions, the camp decided that an all day drive would be a good idea. We were again on our own in the vehicle, but met up with two other vehicles for lunch in the bush and a siesta, before going our own separate ways again.

 

We were the first vehicle into the park and almost immediately found fresh lion tracks. It took a bit of tracking, but eventually we found two females, one of whom was very pregnant.

 

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we then carried on further into the park

 

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We then found some southern ground hornbills, but they didn't really want their photos taken!

 

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We then found part of the pride we had seen yesterday

 

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Including this mating pair

 

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There were other animals too...

 

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And then we found the rest of the pride

 

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And then it was time for lunch by the water. It was nice to be with other people again, mostly from US and Canada. Unfortunately, two of the couples had no intention of resting afterwards, having brought their laptops to work on and loudly discussing business, pensions etc. This wasn't just annoying for us, but the guides and camp staff, as they had to keep attending to them, rather than resting themselves. As the beers were consumed, the conversation got louder. This also had the side effect of them needing much more water and soft drinks than the lodge had bargained for and they had to raid the cool box from the boat of a nearby fishing trip (after having raided the cool box from our vehicle). Sam was not impressed!

 

Afternoon drive to follow....

 

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@@Tdgraves

Some great lion picturres - and I love the baby elephant.

What a place to discuss business and pensions!

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