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SafariChick and Sangeeta's Adventures through Kafue and Liuwa Plain National Parks

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SafariChick

I have been back almost a week now, and trying to process this trip, which was quite different from my two prior safaris. I still have not finished doing that, but figure I had better just dive in to a report and hopefully the writing of it will help me with that! @@Sangeeta is still travelling for family events, but I am sure she will chime in when she is able to!

 

I will just start out by saying that not everything went quite as planned on this trip – which is not unusual for Africa, of course – but I experienced this more on this trip than on prior ones. I knew this trip would be a more rough-around-the-edges one in that the Liuwa portion would be a long, crazy drive to get there and camping in community campsites so I did expect some adventure!

 

The unexpected began when I checked in at SFO. I had bought my tickets on Emirates, though the first flight was on Virgin. It was a morning flight, arriving late afternoon at IAD and then our flight to Zambia would begin the next morning. This would allow me to stay overnight at Sangeeta’s house and get a good rest before the rest of the trip began. I had packed one soft-sided suitcase without wheels and a backpack. My plan was to check the suitcase as it had liquids in it that were more than the TSA allows for carry-on. However, I wanted to only check the suitcase to IAD and then take it with me to Sangeeta’s, then re-check it in the morning for the flight to Lusaka. I forgot to mention this however while checking in, and was not asked my preference. When I realized they had checked it through to Lusaka, I asked for them to change it – but was dismayed to hear that Emirates does not allow them to change the final destination after they already printed the luggage tags. So I grabbed a couple of things out of the suitcase that I would need most for overnight and said goodbye to my suitcase for a few days.

 

Sangeeta picked me up at IAD. We had been emailing, texting and talking on the phone daily for many months so meeting in person felt very comfortable. Sangeeta and her husband were wonderful hosts, having made me a delicious Indian dinner and provided me with a very welcome bed. I was also welcomed sweetly by their friendly dog Simba, who took a liking to my socks – apparently a particular weakness of his. The trip to Dubai and then Lusaka was long, of course, but relatively uneventful. (We did note that in economy, the planes used for the longer first flight were much better and more roomy than those used for the second, shorter flight). Sangeeta and I chatted for quite a while at the beginning which made the time pass quickly.

 

Finally we arrived in Lusaka after the 13-hour flight to Dubai, the 1.5 hour layover and the 7-hour flight to Lusaka.

 

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The airport was smaller than we expected. We easily found the gentleman who was meeting us and felt very welcomed!

]15731054727_963ae5f8cb_c.jpg[/url]

 

After happily finding that the Lusaka airport had free and fairly decent wifi, we quickly checked some email, collected our luggage and were off to Pioneer Camp for a one-night stay.

Edited by SafariChick

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SafariChick

Pioneer Camp is a decent place to stay for a night that is not too far from the airport, if you want something that is in the African spirit rather than a western-style hotel. It is made up of individual chalets, and we shared one with two beds with mosquito nets and one standing fan. (Could have used a second fan!) They had some cute dogs in residence. We briefly met Paul, the owner, but we were to meet up with him soon after and spend more time with him at Musekese as he also does guiding and had some clients he was taking to stay at Musekese overlapping our dates. The Pioneer wifi was not working, unfortunately, so we were glad we'd used it at the airport. We had a good dinner, with very big portions - I had a pasta with lentils that was yummy. Here are some photos:

 

[url=https://flic.kr/p/pXnL5q]15722858568_6c2170816d_c.jpg

 

[url=https://flic.kr/p/qcEqib]15884539876_66c3582057_c.jpg

 

[url=https://flic.kr/p/phXpKE]15288080664_59908a133e_c.jpg

 

[url=https://flic.kr/p/qeTj9L]15909688652_c13a8e05fe_c.jpg

 

[url=https://flic.kr/p/pibKRK]15290684753_42cc057f0c_c.jpg

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SafariChick

During the evening at Pioneer, we met the gentleman who'd be driving us the next day to our next destination, Mukambi in the Kafue, about a 3.5-hour drive. He had come to stay overnight at Pioneer so we could leave early the next morning. We had some debates about what time to leave due to rush hour the next day, but in the morning he took us what he said was a back way to avoid rush hour traffic. We drove through some not very attractive parts of Lusaka.

 

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15731312969_bb84657b08_c.jpgUntitled

 

It turned out that our driver had to pick up another group at the Lusaka airport also that day so about half way to Mukambi, we met one of the managers of Mukambi, Jacques, a very affable fellow, and he drove us the rest of the way to Mukambi while our driver went back to Lusaka to pick up the other guests at the airport.

 

We were shown our room

 

15911015165_0cc2c074e4_c.jpgUntitled

 

15288750594_b64a6c564a_c.jpgUntitled

 

15723533278_4774a5d7a3_c.jpgUntitled

 

After getting settled and having lunch, we decided to go on a game drive that afternoon.

Edited by SafariChick

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graceland

Oh so happy you have started your trip report!

 

I never think to take pics along the way of an airport or people as we drive along. So glad you did; gives a real sense of where you are and what is to come!

 

Looking forward to it all :D

 

BTW that is a huge bathroom for Africa!

Edited by graceland

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pault

Still trying to process this trip..... Things did not go as planned....

 

This sounds interesting. You have hooked me. You will process it by writing about it. We will enjoy it.

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twaffle

I really enjoy seeing photos of the roadside as people travel along, gives a great feel to the country. I too am looking forward to hearing all about the unplanned adventures!

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Atravelynn

I have been back almost a week now, and trying to process this trip, which was quite different from my two prior safaris.

You can process and report!

 

I like your MO. I think we should ALL start our safaris from Sangeeta's house with some good Indian food.

 

I hope the suitcase misunderstanding is the only one in your upcoming ADVENTIURE!

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SafariChick

@@Atravelynn I agree that we should all start our safaris from Sangeeta's house with some good Indian food. I plan to suggest that to her from now on :D

 

@@twaffle this trip had LOTS of roadside travels so I tried to take photos whenever I could though I found many people were camera-shy and didn't want their photos taken.

 

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone.

 

Before we set off, Sangeeta and I donned our Bug Shirts. These were purchased upon the advice of the sage @@Safaridude in order to combat the famous Kafue tsetses. We felt a bit silly in them, but we sure were glad we had them. (We also had purchased gaiters as we heard the flies like to bite the ankles and these were also a good purchase). Didn't we look spiffy? :rolleyes:

 

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Our game drive involved taking a boat across to the other bank where the game drive vehicles were kept. (A few days later, Sangeeta was reminding me of this and I had zero recollection that we took a boat here. But now I find I actually have a photo of it - evidence that she was correct!)

 

15723534408_b8c1f3f2ff_c.jpg

 

Our guide Gilbert (and you can see the can hanging at the back of the vehicle - that is for elephant dung burning to ward off the tsetses - Gilbert did use it and I think it helped)

 

15288752884_52fa8455a1_c.jpg

 

I was finally going to get to test out my new camera. I have to say that I think I did get better photos overall than on prior safaris, but that I still have a LOT to learn about my camera! I need to do a lot more practice before my next safari - and I don't have much time. But back to the report.

 

Our game drive was pretty productive. I wrote down that we saw the following of interest while it was still light:

 

Puku (there were many puku - this was the animal I'm sure we saw most of on in the Kafue!)

Impala, including young

Vultures circling on the thermals

Kudus

a young bull elephant

a pretty subadult female lion resting

Helmeted Guineafowl

Bushbuck, including babies

waterbuck

Yellow baboons (the only kind of baboon they have there)

Marabou storks

 

Some photos of some of these:

 

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During our drive, it began to rain, but we continued on. We did have a roof on the vehicle. After it became dark we did some more driving with a spotlight and saw:

 

Nightjars

Jackals running

a Scrub Hare

some confused impala (I can't remember but I think they seemed confused about which direction they wanted to go)

a Mama and baby ele, nursing

and a bushbaby

 

My camera skills were sorely lacking for the bushbaby -it was a better view of one than I'd seen before, it was not too obscured by foliage and it sat nice and still for us for a long time. I managed to get a photo but it wasn't good. Sigh.

 

15291366443_ce2dcba9c2_c.jpg[url=https://flic.kr/p/piffv2]

Edited by SafariChick

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michael-ibk

 


will just start out by saying that not everything went quite as planned on this trip

 

Well, "not quite as planned" should make for a most interesting trip report, eager to hear about your misadventures. ;) Seriously, though, I hope all that unexpectedness didn´t impact too negatively on your safari.

 

What camera did you use for this trip? The bug suits are a hoot hot and classy. I wonder why Safaridude never presented pics of himself in one? :rolleyes::P

 

Great start, very much looking forward to this!

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Soukous

I can only agree with your comment about the new camera @@SafariChick. the photos are looking fine.Sharp and well exposed.

as for the bug suits -- did you really wear those on safari? They look very uncomfortable

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TonyQ

@@SafariChick

Photos are looking good!

I am looking forward to hearing about this - and it has been a really interesting start. (The bug suits look amazing)

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SafariChick

@@michael-ibk I used a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200. I bought it a few weeks before the trip. @@Soukous thanks for the complements about my photos - I appreciate it. Of course, I'm only posting the decent ones, there are others that came out worse! :P The Bug Shirts were actually not uncomfortable - they are very lightweight material and have mesh in some places - so no warmer than wearing a long-sleeved shirt like many do on safari. The face part was different of course - I didn't always keep it zipped up - it has two zippers at the top so you could unzip it to take a photo or drink some water, or just keep it unzipped until the bugs got annoying and then zip it up! It is just a shirt and then gaiters that we are wearing - the pants are just regular safari-type pants.

 

I will get back to this ASAP.

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graceland

What a start! The ' Dude came through with giving you" Safari Attire Advice ".

 

Were the tsetses that bad? Perhaps it was a good idea for youall to just go and dive into this trip a year before I was thinking of joining. I'd be stressing over how many tubes of Mosi-gard I could get in my carry-on. And I doubt I could take just a carry-on with that ensemble - Neiman Marcus, I presume :P

 

You both look quite spiffy :blink:

 

Hope there aren't many in Kenya-- I am not buying more clothes!

 

You did well trying the camera out first...all the shots you chose were good ones!

 

Looking forward to more (mis) Adventures!

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Game Warden

Stop trying to outdo me in the Mankini... the sight of me wearing that alone puts anything off biting me.

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Safaridude

Bugsuit = tsetse flies = game!

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Atravelynn

The bug suits will make you trend setters. The photos look good so far. A bushbaby at night is no easy task.

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Alexander33

"My camera skills were sorely lacking for the bushbaby -it was a better view of one than I'd seen before, it was not too obscured by foliage and it sat nice and still for us for a long time. I managed to get a photo but it wasn't good. Sigh."

 

I know what you mean @ SafariChick! But I've never even managed a photograph of a bushbaby, despite a number of encounters, so I think you did pretty well. Looking very much forward to this report. Zambia is high on my list.

Edited by Alexander33

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SafariChick

@@graceland the tsetses were at times that bad! They would follow the vehicle or just hang on to it - the seats, our backs, etc. and whenever we slowed or stopped they'd start buzzing around us like crazy. Sometimes they were just annoying and sometimes they'd actually bite. One time I was hot and decided to take my gaiters off - I got a few bites on my ankles! Luckily, for me the bites hurt like a bad pinch when they happened but then I didn't seem to have much effect from them after that, unlike mosquito bites which drive me crazy for days and days. They also have there a very large fly they call hippo flies - I think it might be what we here in the U.S. call horse flies. One of those bit me my first night at Musekese I think as they don't have tsetses there and that bite seemed to get itchy afterwards. I also got mosquito bites during the trip. And I was using Rid and other DEET-based repellants. What can I say, bugs love me - but I got very few tsetse fly bites and I attribute that to the bug shirt and gaiters. Sangeeta thought the RID was also helping but I don't think it helped me at all, at least not from the tsetses!

 

Back to the report! Continuing the trend started with our transfer from Pioneer to Mukambi, another gentleman who was to drive us from Mukambi to our next destination, Musekese, had come to spend the night before at Mukambi. He was an employee of Musekese, a somewhat shy fellow named Cecil who is a mechanic for Musekese. We had decided we'd like to do a morning game drive before we left for Musekese, so Cecil was told we wouldn't be leaving until perhaps 10:30 a.m. Overnight, it rained all night, with big thunder and lightening. We were awakened at the agreed-upon time of I believe 5 a.m. but the wake-up call was accompanied by an announcement that we'd not be going out on a drive as it was raining again. Oh. Then why were we being woken up at the crack of dawn? Hmmm. We decided to get dressed and go talk to our guide and see what the situation was. I recalled hearing Linda, Jacques' wife and co-manager of Mukambi, telling another guest the day before that if it rained it was up to the guests but if they wanted to go out, they would go.

 

We went to the dining area and had a chat with Gilbert. He seemed to think we could go out if we wanted but likely the animals would be hiding and we wouldn't see much. We had some coffee and waited a bit to see if the rain would let up. Eventually after chatting with him and others, it occurred to us that the drive to Musekese, which could take a couple of hours and was all driven through the park itself, could be significantly more challenging the wetter and muddier it got. Apparently at least some of this area of the park has the dreaded black cotton soil that can become so difficult when wet. So the decision was made we should simply forgo the game drive and leave earlier, giving us more time in case the drive took longer. So we went to pack up our things, and poor Cecil was roused from his slumbers and asked to get the car ready. We came back out to the lobby area and were waiting until he had the car ready. It seemed to be taking quite a long time. Finally we were given the information that the car would not start. Oh dear. Cecil and some of the Mukambi employees spent some time trying to get the car fixed but eventually it was towed to Mukambi's workshop and a decision was made that we would be driven by a Mukambi employee in their closed vehicle to Musekese. Though we felt quite bad for Cecil having driven all the way to Mukambi and slept there overnight only to now have no way to get back, we were happy to have a way to get to Musekese ourselves and actually quite pleased, between the rain and the tsetses, to have a closed vehicle in which to ride!

 

Here's a photo of Linda and Jacques we took before we departed.

 

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and here's a photo of a ground hornbill from the prior day's drive that I forgot to put in the last post:

 

15910356392_51dffdd0f9_c.jpg[url=https://flic.kr/p/qeWJDw]

Edited by SafariChick

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SafariChick

Our driver from Mukambi to Musekese was Ferrison, a very interesting name and a very nice fellow and good driver. Which turned out to be a good thing - the good driver part. The nice fellow part was also a good thing, of course.

 

We were impressed with how everyone in the Kafue knew each other and helped each other out. For instance, Cecil, the driver from Musekese who couldn't drive us there, used to work for Mukambi so they knew him well and were happy to help him try to fix the Musekese car in their workshop. And happy to lend us their driver and vehicle. As we started driving with Ferrison, we learned that he usually works at the Mukambi Plains camp, the sister camp to Mukambi that is up in Busanga Plains. We had wanted to stay there also but it was closing just the day before we arrived. Now that it was closed for the season, Ferrison was down at the regular Mukambi camp. Turns out, Tyrone - the co-owner of Musekese - used to work up at the Plains also, and so he and Ferrison knew each other well (of course - it was starting to seem like one big happy family there in Kafue!)

 

We set off on our drive through Kafue. The going was slow, due to the rain, and the soil that had gotten muddy. We saw puku, a big male waterbuck. While we drove, we chatted to Ferrison about Busangadude, the famous lion up in Busanga Plains that we hoped to see when we took our day trip to Busanga Plains from Musekese (IF that could even happen with all this rain). He confirmed to us that Busangadude's brother had died the prior year. He said Busangadude is still with the pride, and hasn't been entirely chased out by the two males that have been threatening. He also told us that in the 1980s, the pride was 42 members strong! It was very interesting talking to him about the lion dynamics, though he didn't have a good explanation as to why the pride numbers had fallen so much since the 1980s.

 

We came upon a really cute and curious hyena couple playing in the puddles. They were very interested in us and the vehicle, and kept coming to investigate us. Then they'd go back on the road so that we couldn't drive by, but we didn't mind. We spent quite a bit of time with them just watching them play and interract with us. It was very enjoyable.

 

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You can get an idea here about how much rain there'd been:

 

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After we left the hyenas, we entered a stretch of black cotton soil that was really bad. Ferrison would gun the engine and the wheels would spin, mud clots being spit up all over the car and we'd not move. Eventually we'd move a little forward, then he'd put it in reverse and back up, making big deep tracks, then he'd put it in drive again and floor it and we'd go forward maybe 20 feet. Then the process would start again. I was quite worried we might get stuck. This process seemed to go on for about twenty minutes at least. Finally we got through that stretch and the going got a little easier again. The car though was an absolute mess!

 

A little of the mud that ended up on the windshield:

 

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Here you can see some of the deep tracks he made:

 

15889299706_cfaaf451ab_c.jpg

 

Finally, we pulled up to the "Harbor" which is really just a small area where a couple of boats can dock on the river. This is where we would start game drives from Musekese generally - but one had to take a boat from here to get to the camp.

 

Here's How the car looked by the time we arrived:

 

15729356797_8aa0104f88_c.jpg[url=https://flic.kr/p/pXX4LR]

 

It had taken us considerably longer to get there than the Musekese folks anticipated, and they told us that Ferrison is one of the best drivers around so it was not due to his driving skills - the conditions were just really bad! We were glad to finally arrive and get out of the vehicle, where we were met by Phil, the co-owner of Musekese. Phil helped get our luggage to the boat, where he was barefoot and quite at home. We said farewell to Ferrison, who had to just turn around and drive back but he assured us it would be a lot easier and faster on the way back now that he'd made those tracks for himself to drive in! We boarded the boat for the next part of our adventure.

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Geoff

Well those Bugsuits do look spiffy. ...and hilarious (I almost spilt my coffee all over me).

 

What did your guides say?

 

I must admit i don't blame you though. I've been hammered by tsetse flies (and do have a slight allergic reaction to them) in Kafue & other parts of Zambia.

Edited by Geoff

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Safaridude

I actually think the bugsuits are fashionable! I know I look darn good in it! :D

 

I can hear the black cotton soil being churned by the tires as I read this...

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JohnT

@@SafariChick @@Sangeeta This is wonderful ladies, :D keep it rolling.

The intro through the airport is especially enlightening, conveying the true beginning of the adventure!

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Soukous

I actually think the bugsuits are fashionable! I know I look darn good in it! :D

 

 

are you sure? :ph34r:

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SafariChick

@@Geoff our guides were impressed with our comfort level in the bug shirts - but really, what were they going to say to their paying guests - you look funny? ha ha!

 

@@Safaridude I think you need to post a photo of you in your bugshirt and gaiters to prove how darn good you look in it, now that @@Sangeeta and I have embarrassed ourselves by doing so, and it was all at your suggestion!

Edited by SafariChick

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SafariChick

Musekese is a camp owned and run by Tyrone McKeith and Phil Jeffrey. I know many on ST are familiar with them from their postings here, but I am not sure, were @@Sangeeta and I the first from ST to stay at Musekese? No I remember one member wrote a brief report about staying there, but I can't recall who it was - someone who doesn't post here often. Anyway, I have to say we were thoroughly impressed with these two young men and what they've done here. And they ARE young. I mean 29 and 26 - come on! How impressive is it that they have just finished the second season of running their own camp at those ages. When @@KafueTyrone was running down for Sangeeta and I all that he's done already in his life, I felt like a total slacker. The first day and a half we had Phil guiding us, as Tyrone was in the S. Luangwa with some friends visiting from England. Then Tyrone came back and both were there for a bit, and then Phil had to go to Lusaka so we were guided and hosted by Tyrone for the remainder of our stay. It was good to get to spend time with each of them.

 

The camp is about a 15-minute motorboat ride down the river. They are working on building the road behind Musekese after which it won't be necessary to arrive this way, but I found it rather charming. Our view as we boated off towards camp:,

 

15727735048_da263977e2_c.jpg

 

Upon arrival, there is a short (5 minutes or less) walk to the main gathering area, which consists of a dining table, campfire area, and sitting area with couch and chairs. There are just 5 tents so none is too far away. Sangeeta and I were given separate tents so we would be separated for the first time during the trip. I think we both felt a little sad! I know I did. But the tents were not huge so it was probably better that we each had our own space. The way it worked is you enter the tent at the front then you can walk out the back end of the tent (unzipping it then zipping again behind you) and your bathroom is there, attached via three walls (the tent itself making up the fourth) and with a roof of reeds but also with an area between roof and walls that is open to the air. It was all very attractively done and I wondered if the two young men had some female help in the furnishings and little touches. Then I wondered if perhaps wondering this was sexist and if so, I apologize to Tyrone and Phil who may count well among their many talents a flair for home decorating. Here are some photos of my tent with the ensuite bathroom.

 

Front and side:

 

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Front:

 

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Bed and night-table

 

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Water and book about Kafue:

 

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The loo:

 

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With Bucket Shower:

 

15729472547_3a6506a2d9_c.jpg[url=https://flic.kr/p/pXXEbx]

 

A very comfortable room.

Edited by SafariChick

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