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South Luangwa & Lower Zambezi 2009 "Trip of a lifetime"


Tdgraves

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Tdgraves

Given the success of my recent Kruger comparison (http://safaritalk.net/topic/12892-my-first-kruger-self-drive-january-2013/ and

http://safaritalk.net/topic/12471-kruger-jan-2014-a-safari-of-wild-dogs-ground-hornbills-and-steenbok/

 

I thought it would be interesting to compare our original Zambia trip, with last years' trip http://safaritalk.net/topic/11702-my-first-tr-a-return-to-south-luangwa-and-lower-zambezi-national-parks/.

 

The 2009 trip was our first full-time safari (i.e. the whole holiday, rather than 3-4 days in South Africa alongside other activities). It was inspired be seeing a travel documentary which included Sausage Tree Camp in the Lower Zambezi National Park. We both loved the look of it and immediately sent off for the brochure. Then we found out how expensive it was :(

 

We were on the travel agents' mailing list for several years before we could afford a safari and we justified the expense as it would be a "once in a lifetime trip" little did we know....

 

The timing was perfect however, as my husband was born in Zambia and we would be there for his 40th birthday. Poetic. He had never been back since leaving at the age of 7.

 

Despite booking the recommended 9 months in advance, we still could only manage 2 nights in Sausage Tree, rather than the 4 we wanted, so we moved upstream (I think) to Chiawa after that.

 

We went one week earlier than last years' trip and the temperature difference was really noticeable. Stepping off of the plane in Lusaka in the early morning was really cold. For the first few morning game drives, I had 6 layers on (as well as hat, scarf and gloves) although this was partly the product of staying in Kapani first, which is outside of the park and therefore necessitated an earlier start and a 30 minute drive on tar road (i.e. fast) to get to the gates.

 

The other difference was that there used to be direct flights from Mfuwe to Lower Zambezi, however, this was in the middle of the day and even though I don't get travel sick, I was pretty close as it was so hot and bumpy. Last year we has to change planes in Lusaka and consequently got to the park much later (too late for an activity).

 

As it was our first trip, we only had one camera body, a Canon 450D to share and i bought a second hand 100-400 lens for the OH's birthday present.

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Tdgraves

Kapani Camp, Mfuwe area

 

We stayed here three nights and did game drives every day. There are a naughty resident troupe of baboons who will steal the food off of your plate if they get a chance! One afternoon, the OH was having a siesta while I was sitting on the stoop, when one purposefully strode up onto the stoop and towards the doors into the bedroom - I think he wanted a nap too!! It is a nice camp, but not being inside the park makes the days longer. However, the game does seem to be highest in density near the gate.

 

We had seen this sad, skinny looking pride on an evening drive, as they walked right by the vehicle. They all looked like they could do with a decent meal. This was just over the Mfuwe bridge, less than one minute into the park.....

 

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One of the cheeky monkeys...

 

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sunrise from the deck whilst having a coffee

 

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not sure how this one ended up rotated....

 

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This family approached while we were having a tea break

 

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A very famous boabab

 

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Not far from here, we found a large pride of lion resting in the shade. This was where I have witnessed some of the most stupid behaviour be self-drive safariers...The guided vehicles were taking turns for their guests to get into good positions. A self-driver was fairly close but decided he waned a low angle shot, so he was lying under his bakkie taking pictures!!!!! He was obviously very sure that with their full bellies, human wouldn't be on the menu....

 

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This was actually outside of the park, just beyond the gate on our way back for brunch

 

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This beautiful leopard walked right past our vehicle - so tempting to reach out and stroke her

 

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TonyQ

@@Tdgraves

A great idea to post this. It is always good to see Zambia!

I can see why it was not "once in a lifetime"!

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Atravelynn

This is the trip that got you hooked. Lots of activity around Mfuwe and such variety, no wonder you were hooked.

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Tdgraves

Last afternoon in Mfuwe - our best lion sighting ever??

 

On our last afternoon drive, we were the only guests in the vehicle (little did we know how rarely this would happen in the future...).. Our guide spotted fresh lion tracks, very fresh lions tracks. How fresh? "In the last hour". We were instructed to keep quiet and keep our eyes open. I looked up and across the junction of the road we were on, a sleepy lioness stood up, changed position and then settled back down for her afternoon nap. When we approached we discovered that she wasn't as sleepy as lions usually are - because she was babysitting!

 

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This cub was very interested and strode towards us with real purpose. The vehicles that they use there do not have drivers doors and I was convinced that he was going to jump in for a cuddle! the guide let the handbrake off and the noise diverted him....

 

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You can see how close he got!!

 

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His sibling was very photogenic, sitting on the other side of the vehicle, but given we only had one camera and there were no other guests, it was easy for us to move about to get the best position

 

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They then both moved into the middle of the road

 

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We had the sighting to ourselves for at least 45 mins before any other vehicles arrived. Eventually some non-tourist traffic wanted to pass and our guide suggested that we move on to allow the others closer. But it didn't matter as we had had the best of the light and behaviour. Big grins all the way back to the lodge!!

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graceland

Yes Indeed, @@Tdgraves, I can see how this started your safari addiction. What great shots.....and to have the cubs so very close; as well the leopard!

OH yes, I would have been so excited as well.

 

I can't understand how people can only go once to Africa. (with the exception of finances, of course!) As there are so many variations of a safari style and places to go. I just can't imagine NOT going. I give up quite a bit "here" to be able to go "there"....else,

 

My heart would be broken.

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twaffle

Lovely to see pictures of your first safari, how did your OH feel when he landed back on Zambian soil?

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TonyQ

@@Tdgraves

Those are beautiful photos of the lions - especially the 3rd from last and the last one - the two of them lying together!

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Tdgraves

Lovely to see pictures of your first safari, how did your OH feel when he landed back on Zambian soil?

I'm not sure that he felt like he was "home" or anything. He was certainly glad that we did it. All of the guides liked the story -"so you are Zambian then?" was a frequent sundowner conversation. Zambia remains his favourite safari destination....only partly because of history I think

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Tdgraves

@@TonyQ @travelynn I'm sure we would have been hooked, no matter where we went! :)

 

@@graceland I agree. We are not "allowed" to go anywhere but Africa on holiday now!!

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Tdgraves

Kapani

 

I have just found a few more stragglers from Kapani that had been hiding on page 2 of my gallery!! These were from the night drive on our final night.

 

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We came around the corner to startle this hippo eating sausage tree fruits

 

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And little did we know how rare it was to see a Pel's fishing owl....

 

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We saw other leopards on night drives, but none as good as our first encounter.

 

En route to Nsolo

 

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Tdgraves

Nsolo Bush Camp, 2 nights

 

As I recall, there are 4 rooms here, but camp was not full. The main thrust is walking, so I think we walked in the mornings and did combination walk/drives in the evening. This meant fewer photographic opportunities, but a real taste of the bush. The location is really remote and we did not see any other vehicles whilst we were there. We had dinner in the dry river bed and we were joined one night by a leopard wandering past.

 

Zebra on foot

 

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Elephants on our front doorstep/riverbed

 

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This lead to a lengthy delay for lunch as the entire herd decided to come through camp, forcing us to wait on th edoorstep, for our armed escort!

 

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Once we got to lunch, we found that another herd were in the "pond" right next to camp.

 

For another game drive, I had gone for a last minute toilet stop (the communal toilets being a reed hut in the car park. When I tried to get to the vehicle, everyone shouted at me to stop and I was stranded until these two decided that it was time to leave....

 

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We watched this leopard stalk impala unsuccessfully for a long time.

 

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On the way back to camp, we found lion in the road outside camp

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Atravelynn

'best of the light and behaviour." It certainly was. Adorable cubs. I like those sunset to night time shots at Kapani

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This looks like a great time. So far I like the "coffee sunrise" and the spotlit hippo especially!

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Tdgraves

This looks like a great time. So far I like the "coffee sunrise" and the spotlit hippo especially!

Thanks @@Marks. I think we jumped as much as he did when we rounded a corner to stumble across him - I think the largest animal we have ever seen on a night drive! Usually lots of elephant shrew etc....

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Tdgraves

Kakuli Bush Camp

 

Again, we were here two nights. We didn't walk much, as the other guests wanted to drive. Another really isolated spot and only a few rooms in camp.

 

This was the view from our tent

 

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From the main deck we could look over a wet area where the elephants liked to come and eat and bathe

 

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From game drives

 

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Our guide sent the tracker out of the vehicle to make the maribou stork turn its' head to get a profile in the sunset!

 

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Our first ever eland

 

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We found a pride o lions digesting their food next to the river.

 

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Including this albino cub

 

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The reason that they are relatively alert for resting lions, as a croc had a go at one of them for a large meal - unfortunately it all happened so fast, there is no photographic evidence!!

 

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The end for South Luangwa - next up, Lower Zambezi National Park

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Tdgraves

Sausage Tree Camp, Lower Zambezi National Park

 

After our very hot and bumpy flight, it was good to land in the park. We had a vehicle and then boat transfer to the lodge. It was really nice to be on the water after 8 days in the dry luangwa valley. The camp management had kept lunch for us, which was lovely, as we had already had a long day. Activities were very flexible, walking, drives, boats and canoes. In the evenings it was nice to do a boat cruise, followed by a night drive.

 

The camp is beyond luxurious (especially as we were upgraded to the honeymoon suite). Meals were communal

 

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In room dining....

 

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From a canoe

 

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The canoe meant we could get close to the animals

 

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Barbeque lunch in the Zambezi anyone??

 

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ZaminOz

@@Tdgraves

Enjoying this report and the great photos!

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I don't think I have read of in-room dining before, other than by special request; how did you like it? The crocodile-lion interaction must have been something to see.

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Tdgraves

@@Marks - we have had it several times in different countries and never on request! This time I think it was to keep us away from the other guests. The canoe trip wasn't as tranquil as the photos show. The lady in the boat in front of me got hit out of the water by an angry hippo :(

 

No photos of that either.....

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Tdgraves

Weirdest lion-elephant interaction ever?

 

We were driving back in the general direction of where we had left the mating pair of lion in the morning, when we heard an almighty elephant trumpet. This ele was not happy, as he had found the lions. This lead to the most ridiculous form of chase/hide and seek ever....

 

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The lions thought that they could hide behind some flimsy palm tree bushes - the ele just walked straight through them...

 

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So the lions had to hide up a dead tree

 

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The ele got very close to our vehicle, so we put the camera away. Then he reared up on his back legs and waved his front legs in the air at the lions! Even the camp manager didn't believe that....always keep the camera handy!

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@@Marks - we have had it several times in different countries and never on request! This time I think it was to keep us away from the other guests. The canoe trip wasn't as tranquil as the photos show. The lady in the boat in front of me got hit out of the water by an angry hippo :(

 

No photos of that either.....

 

Wow! That's alarming. I assume she was able to re-board without any further incident?

 

And why would they want to keep you away from other guests?

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Tdgraves

 

@@Marks - we have had it several times in different countries and never on request! This time I think it was to keep us away from the other guests. The canoe trip wasn't as tranquil as the photos show. The lady in the boat in front of me got hit out of the water by an angry hippo :(

 

No photos of that either.....

 

Wow! That's alarming. I assume she was able to re-board without any further incident?

 

And why would they want to keep you away from other guests?

No, she and her guide were too shaken to continue (as were we), we had only got 1/3 distance. We had a short drive back to camp, where we saw the leaping lion pair.

 

I am only assuming that they didn't want us to put off others from doing the canoe trip, but maybe they gave everyone an in room dining experience....I'm not so sure that that is the case

 

Anyway, the lady in question was very glad of the in room bar, which she attacked with a vengeance, given that being attacked by a hippo had been her lifelong fear.....it had taken her husband 3 weeks to persuade her to do it!

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graceland

OMG, it is a fear of mine as well and my DH really wants to canoe. Well, I've got to try it; and Pray :wacko: we steer clear of the hippos.

 

Terrific report and photos, TD!

 

I dont like in room dining. We can do that at home!

We like to chat with others from around the world too much and hear about their day or even whereas the folks have been.

 

I am really going to take a drink before a canoe trip! LOL - that is very scary.. How did she get away from the angry hippo?

 

I had heard Sausage was very "upscale". In room bar a necessity of course.

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Tdgraves

The problem was we got too close - it was a narrow bend (in a channel, not the main river) and the hippo came across under the water and flipped the boat into the air, tossing the occupants into the water.

 

The worst thing was that she dropped her camera and they were at the end of a three week trip of a lifetime having not changed the memory card. (I was too paranoid to carry the camera so my OH had it - again no photos of the incident as some kind of six the sense made him put it away)

 

So later that afternoon the camp manager and guide went back with a hook on a stick and retrieved the camera, which had been squashed, but the Memory stick still worked!

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