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


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Back at the motel, we were all shown our rooms. Unfortunately, mine had no light bulb in the ceiling fixture, which was the only source of light in the room. The motel suggested we take a bulb out of another vacant room, so we tried that but it wouldn't screw in - apparently the fixture was broken. The solution was to switch me to the room from which we'd taken the bulb (and put the bulb back into it!) We had some time before dinner was to be ready so we all decided to take showers. The ladies had agreed that if any of us didn't have hot water, we'd let the others use whichever shower(s) did have hot water. Mine did not have hot water but I didn't have the energy to come out and ask the others if theirs did. Here's what my shower looked like by the way:




I guess the mismatched, well-used flip flops were there to protect my feet from the (possibly unclean?) shower, but I was more afraid of the flip flops than I was the shower, so I didn't use them. The sink was also within the shower area. I got into the (cold) shower and the lights and all electricity promptly went off. There was a power outage. This was interesting trying to shower and get dressed in a completely dark room (it was now dark outside as well) which I was not yet used to. Luckily I was able to find my headlamp without too much trouble, and that helped. After a while, the lights came back but not the AC. Seems there was a generator and it kicked in but it didn't control the AC. Over the evening this would happen a few more times. Eventually I figured out that I could put the AC back on with a remote in the room. We gathered outside the motel at the tables there to wait for dinner and had some cocktails and the Salticrax. The dinner was quite late as expected. But when it did arrive, it was quite good. There were several green vegetables and, for me and the other vegetarians who chose not to eat fish, a large portion of nshima. Nshima is basically a porridge made of mealie meal, ground corn, and is the staple food of Zambians. It is fairly plain-tasting to me, I enjoyed the vegetables more. The fish was served with the head on it which Jason and the other Zambians amongst us enjoyed but which the Americans requested be cut off first. The waitress seemed to think this a very strange request (I am not sure they get many American tourists staying there!) but obliged. Full and slightly tipsy from our cocktails, we all went off to our rooms to have a good night's sleep.


The rooms had a mosquito netting hanging above the bed which could be taken down and stretched around the bed, but it was a very tight fit when one did so, and besides, I reasoned, the room was totally air conditioned so I didn't expect any mosquitoes. Well, that was a mistake. Somehow, there were mosquitoes or something in the room that proceeded to bite me during the night. I woke up in the middle of the night with itchy bumps and cursed my reluctance to use the net in the first place. I stretched it around the bed and went back to sleep, this time managing to avoid further bites.

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Well, what an adventure within an adventure! Smack dab in the middle of a remote safari, you land at the Hollywood motel. OK, you just have to LAUGH :D

If you had not taken the pics and notes, I'd not believe it!


What stories to tell! Especially to those who ask, "You sleep in a tent on the ground?" Add to that "And Hollywood." I imagine you'd get a refund for no elect. and no a/c...not! Finding gourmet crackers was a plus. I'd have to skip the nshima. Pass the wine around please!


A look into city life in Zambia. Knowing you and @@Sangeeta have a great sense of adventure and humor (I mean, bug suits?) this is just a typical day in the safari week! Hope "A" and "J" felt the same.


Worse room amenity :blink: ever...used, worn, non matching flip flops.


Your next safari is going to be pure luxury :) You may even have monogrammed flips!

Edited by graceland
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Just think..you are giving us a report on life in a city and so many people still live in villages. When I read about the Christmas commercialization, it makes you ask yourself about what we are passing on to the rest of the world. Thanks so much for making these stops and reliving them with us as this is a slice of Africa that most of us do not experience.

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@@SafariChick the ZAWA HQ is at Chunga as you say. The Shishamba Loop runs off the Spinal Road and I would think you'd know if you were on it because the road crosses the river for which there's a sign and that's where you turn off and onto the loop which tracks the river upstream a while. Anyhow I hope you enjoyed the drive and experience. Got close to elephants by the looks.

I'm enjoying the report . An excellent title as you and Sangeeta are certainly having adventures - probably more than you bargained for at the Hollywood II motel !!

You'll remember that stay for a long time I bet.


On the A & J intrigue you say you all got on really well - I'm guessing A & J got on really really well but I may be totally wrong.


Looking forward to more - onwards to Liuwa.

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Absolutely loved the section on Mongu, in fact I don't know what's happening to me but I'm finding the reports that include more of these glimpses into village/town life in remote areas near game parks even more mesmerising than the game drives themselves. Perhaps because so many of us (me included) forget to include these things in our trips either avoiding them by flying everywhere or by not adding the memories to the report thinking that we only want wild animals. Your stay at the Hollywood 2 is a gem of a recount, had me laughing.


What an adventure you're having, love it.

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Trust me the Hollywood II isn't that bad. A bit better at least than Her Majestuc Best Luxury Lodge and Dolphin Lodge, although they're all in the same category, and I think better than you can expect in such a remote place (as far as my experience goes).

How about the view from Mongu???

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I did appreciate the humor of the situations and we just all took it in stride - there was a lot of laughing on this trip for sure! Luckily we all hit it off so it just made it easy to giggle about everything. And I do appreciate that on this trip I got to see more of the "real" Africa than I usually have. As J pointed out, we drove halfway across Zambia! And @@egilio you are right, it wasn't bad at all, there were just some funny moments, but I was actually pretty impressed with Mongu! I mean they had this great supermarket with Coke Zero even!


A couple more photos from Mongu:






I suppose you see this many places in Africa but I was really impressed how so many women carried large loads on their heads AND a baby on their back simultaneously!




I found this bus company's name incongruous in Africa:



But then ... the view from Mongu to where we were going, the Barotse floodplains - @@egilio you told me about it and you were right - you are in this city and all of a sudden you see this amazing expanse of green and wow, it's beautiful! Here are a few photos:








Our next step was to drive to Kalabo where we'd have to cross the water on a pontoon ferry.

Edited by SafariChick
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@@Caracal -


On the A & J intrigue you say you all got on really well - I'm guessing A & J got on really really well but I may be totally wrong.





ha ha - we thought that was a possibility but no, they were just good friends!




Worse room amenity :blink: ever...used, worn, non matching flip flops.


ha ha ha this made me laugh out loud!


@@marg and @@twaffle - so glad you're enjoying it! This trip did have a bit more of the towns and people in it than many I suppose and I'm glad I could take a few photos at least and remember what it was like and share it. I do enjoy hearing about those aspects of other people's trips myself.

Edited by SafariChick
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As we were leaving Mongu, we went past the still in progress construction of the Mongu-Kalabo road which will eventually replace the old broken up one we drove on. This has been under construction for years from what I gather and seems to be being built by Chinese contractors. Kalabo is usually cut off by road during the rainy season from Mongu, so this road would make it easier for the people who live in Kalabo to get to Mongu. But I think the area will lose some of its charm. Of course, for people who live there and are anxious to be able to get around better and modernize a bit, I'm sure they don't see it that way.


Road under construction:




We also drove past the compound where the Lozi King lives during the parts of the year that it is not flooded. The Lozi people are the tribe from this part of Zambia. A little background about the Lozi people, who live in this area, and Liuwa Plain National Park: The park is largely under water from approximately January through April due to flooding in the upper Zambezi Basin. It was original declared a royal hunting ground for the Lozi King. Now it is run by Africa Parks along with ZAWA and the Barotse Royal Establishment. There are villages within the park or on the borders and people are allowed to fish in the park. The Lozi King lives on the edge of the floodplains much of the year but when the flooding is reaching its peak, he moves to his other home on higher ground in a grand annual ceremony in a decorated boat. Here's a photo of his lower ground compound:




We did not catch a glimpse of the King, however.


The trip from Mongu to Kalabo took I think about two hours (not sure if that is right). We passed rural areas with dogs and pigs roaming about






Kalabo was a much smaller and more rural place than Mongu, and is considered a town.






We pulled up in front of the offices where we needed to check in and be approved to cross the river with our vehicles. This would be done by driving the vehicles onto a pontoon ferry and then some combination of being pulled or pulling ourselves across. When we arrived, we saw no vehicles on our side waiting to cross, though we did see some on the other side.




Jason and Biggi were talking to the officials about what we needed to do to get approved. Apparently we needed to show our passports. We were about to line up do this when a large group of about twelve vehicles and their occupants pulled up and jumped in line ahead of us, both by putting their vehicles in queue position waiting for the ferry to come back across and by arranging themselves in a line to show their passports to the officals. They were a group of self-drivers from Namibia I think, with a guide leading them. We were rather annoyed that they just jumped in line ahead of us, but what could we do. As we were waiting in the seemingly interminable line, I guess some of that group who'd already been approved had been preparing to go across already. The Namibian guide ran back in to the office and said someone better come out there because another vehicle had pushed in front of one of HIS vehicles onto the ferry and had knocked his vehicle into the water and they were about to come to blows! Of course, I ran out to see if I could photograph anything interesting!


It was kind of hard to see what was happening:




But I did see one vehicle with its back wheels in the water, but not very far in - didn't seem too big a deal. Jason found it ironic that the Namibian guide was upset about the other vehicle getting in front of him when of course they'd done the same to us!


Queue waiting to cross from our side while the feuding parties figured out what was going on:




People crossing towards our side in a boat also use the rope that the pontoon ferry was using to pull themselves the other way:






Finally everything got sorted, the offending vehicle was made to get off the ferry and the Namibian was apparently calling the police to file a report! It really seemed silly to us but in any case eventually after I think we'd been in Kalabo a few hours, it was finally our turn to get ready to get on the pontoon ferry.


Our two vehicles:




Andrew and Gregory's vehicle crossing (Andy in the orange shirt helping pull the rope)




To be continued ....

Edited by SafariChick
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Wow! That's a busy day for Liuwa and the ferry! There actually used to be a spot where you could drive through the river at that time of the year, but it was very tricky, it involved an S-curve in the middle of the river. I did it once, when there was a similar large queue of vehicles. We were with several vehicles so walked it first and then had people standing in the middle of the river to indicate the 'road'.

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I'm also really liking seeing this side of your trip, Christmas elements and all.

The business "Holy Corner Investment" sure piques my curiosity!

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I'm also really liking seeing this side of your trip, Christmas elements and all.

The business "Holy Corner Investment" sure piques my curiosity!

I saw that as well and just wondered?????? What?

Could it be a church :D

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I like that you noticed it is a really weird thing to ask for a cooked fish to be decapitated. in fact I like your adventures very much. Even though you are not having my h luck getting people to pose for photos it seems you enjoyed trying.


I don't know what to say about your savory snack. I better stay quiet.

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I don't know what to say about your savory snack. I better stay quiet.


Haha, Paul - between the Naughty Girl wine and the Salticrax savory, there wasn't much left for anyone to say :D


Good to be back home and back on ST.

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@SafariChick Kalabo! That ferry is such fun, although we didn't have to deal with a load of queue jumpers so it was a speedier experience.


Loved your photos looking over the plain and really looking forward to hearing about Liuwa.


Here's my view from the ferry:



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Sorry for the delay in continuing. Was dealing with "the storm of the decade" here in Northern California - wasn't actually as bad as expected in our little neighborhood but steady rain for about 24 hours, sometimes pretty hard!


@@pault Well in the U.S. I think we don't eat whole fish as often as in other parts of the world so we are not used to it - but I am sure yes it was weird to the Zambians - and when you put it the way you did, asking to decapitate a cooked fish, it does sound pretty weird! I did finally find some willing photography subjects in three young boys all eating mangoes. Each time I took a photo of them, I went over and showed it to them and they all cracked up at themselves!








@@Marks @@graceland Yes, I was unsure about Holy Corner Investment myself - some kind of religious financial institution?


When it was finally our vehicle's turn to cross the river, we were told we had to be OUT of the vehicle while it crossed (Biggi stayed in, everyone else out). Jason thought it had to do with liability if the vehicle was too heavy and everyone sank? I have no clue but the idea of them worrying about liability is pretty funny when you see the way this operation is run. There's this skinny totally inebriated guy who is motioning at us to come on, come on, and where to stand, weaving and wobbling all over the place. He's barefoot and shirtless as I recall and he seems to be running this ferry but later it seems he is just a local drunk guy who hangs around all day and likes to feel useful and help out? Maybe @@egilio can shed light on him. As we walked on to the ferry, he noticed me drinking the last of my Coke Zero and motioned to me like he wanted a sip. I was not sure that I was interpreting that right, but I held out my can to him and he raised it up and emptied the last few drops into his mouth quite happily. Just another chapter in our crazy adventure!


This is J in the flip flops helping to pull the ferry across. He says I can use his real name - it's Jon and he's the person who runs lionvoice.org (which is also on Facebook). He's been to Liuwa twice before with RPS (Robin Pope Safaris) and is a huge fan of Lady Liuwa, but had always flown in to Kalabo before and not had this exciting pontoon experience til now!




This is Jason - I think in this photo he's getting ready to jump on these ramp-like boards when we get close to shore as that seems to help it inch closer to the shore so those of us walking off don't have to walk through the water!



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Oh @@Galago it looks like you had an official ferry person guiding you across - we only had the crazy drunk guy - I seriously don't know if there was anyone official on board with us on the way TO Liuwa, though there was on the way back!


By the way, you can see crazy drunk guy in the last photo in post #85 at the front of the ferry, shirtless and leaning on the white vehicle, probably so he doesn't fall down. Jon kept teasing A that he (crazy drunk guy) was her future husband.

Edited by SafariChick
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At last we were over the river and almost in Liuwa. There were a few people including kids on the other side whose photos I managed to take.






As we entered the park, we soon started to see one of the stars of this season in Liuwa, mother and baby wildebeest, in this case with one nursing




with some zebra mixed in






Table set up at our campsite; in background is our vehicle - it had a handy fold out shelf attached to it that we used often to spread out snacks or lunch in the bush.




After stopping at camp, we went out to drive around; it was about the right time for an afternoon game drive by now. Immediately we were struck by how peaceful this place was. So vast the plains are, with very few vehicles to be seen even though this is the high season for Liuwa. The colors were also stunning, with the wild flowers and pools and everything starting to become green from the first rains. I will mostly let the photos do the talking here.


There are many lagoons or pools and in addition to birds, we'd also see other animals drinking there:




But there were a lot of birds!










As we were driving that afternoon, we had some rain, but nothing terrible. And we were lucky to get out of that rainstorm a lovely rainbow






A long shot of one of the pools, with birds in it and the yellow wildflowers in the background.




We continued on, but suddenly Biggi came to an abrupt stop - and got out of the vehicle. He bent down and came around to show us the cause of his stopping (it was fine, he luckily avoided it - good eyes!)






I tried my hand at a shot of birds flying - I think these were crowned cranes?




Some closer up shots of pelicans - i was trying to get a shot of one with its gullet full.




Wildie having a drink:




Crowned cranes with wildie in background:






Scrub hare with amazing camoflage:




I have some videos I'd like to post as well, but need to upload them first.

Edited by SafariChick
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Oh good, you've arrived :D


Starting off with a good feel of the area I've wondered about. The birds, and the sweet scrub hare caught my eye! Hope there are shots of the flowers coming up.


And a Food Truck in the Bush!

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Lovely scenic shots of Liuwa. Any sense of how much rain Liuwa had gotten by the time you arrived? And how good/bad were the roads for you for getting around?

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finally catching up with the report. you had a lot of thrills! so sorry you didn't get much out of busanga plains, and missed seeing the Dude. Shumba's campfire pit reminds me very much of Vumbura Plains. but their views are enticing.


Mongu is very intriguing and you all survived Hollywood Motel in one piece and I admired you lot for seeing the bright side of it all! and funny shot of the holy corner investment! you have an eye for the quirky and interesting stuff that many of us would have taken for granted (quite like @@pault in a very good way!).


crossing to Liuwa is a testy adventure, but what a reward! Liuwa is every bit as beautiful as when I first saw it through the eyes (and lens) of @@Atravelynn.

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You both really had "fun" getting to Liuwa. :P


But obviously absolutely worth it, what a beautiful and tranquil setting there. Looking forward to the Lady!

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@@graceland yes, ha ha it was kind of like a food truck! @@Safaridude Thanks. It had only rained a few times maybe? So there hadn't been a really torrential downpour. (Though a good hard rain was to come on our last night - but more about that later!) So the roads, or tracks I'd say, weren't bad in the sense of being muddy or anything but they are sandy and really really bumpy! When Sangeeta and I first got in the vehicle, we said ah, this feels much more comfortable than your typical safari vehicle, and it did on the tarred roads. But when we got into Liuwa, it was tough going in terms of really being bounced around constantly! I am not sure whether any other vehicle would have felt better or worse, but this was one of the bumpiest parks I've been in for sure.@@Kitsafari Thanks for the comments - I definitely am tuned in to quirkiness in life and there was plenty of it to see!


Here's a video of spoonbills feeding in one of the pools. I think they almost look like they are choreographed, so symmetrical!



I will continue with the report once I get a chance to process more photos.

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Trip sounds fantastic...Did you get to see lady Liuwa and the two males that were introduced there..Were they still together and did she produce cubs...?

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@@RichB it's a long sad story about the various lions that have been introduced in Liuwa. Here's a summary:


Efforts to reestablish Liuwa's lions began in 2008 with the introduction of a male lion from Kafue National Park, but he unfortunately died during translocation. In 2009 another two males were introduced from Kafue and successfully bonded with Lady Liuwa. However despite repeated matings, Lady Liuwa was never able to conceive, thwarting the plan of developing a lion population that retained the famed lioness's genes. Then in 2011 African Parks took the decision to introduce two sub-adult females from Kafue in the hope that they would bond with Lady Liuwa, learn her successful hunting techniques and form the nucleus of a pride.

These efforts suffered a double setback however. In 2012 one of the young females was killed by a poacher's snare and her surviving sister fled towards the Angolan boundary. In a dramatic rescue mission, the lioness was darted, airlifted by helicopter back to the park and placed in a fenced boma for safety. African Parks took the difficult decision to place Lady Liuwa with her in the boma to encourage the two lionesses to bond, which was imperative for the young lioness' survival.

After two months they were released back into the wilds and have been inseparable since. However whilst the two lionesses were in the boma, another tragedy occurred. The two males wandered out of the park and into Angola where one was shot dead by villagers. After a period of great anxiety, the second male lion made it safely back to Liuwa and has become the resident male in the pride; and also father of the two new cubs.



That is from this source:




The remaining lioness other than Lady is called Sepo and she actually gave birth to three cubs last December, not two as that article indicated - they must not have been able to see them well enough at the time to see there were three. Lady, Sepo and the three cubs remain a cohesive little pride. Sadly, the father of the cubs - the last male - died about a month before we arrived. It looked to be poisoning of some kind is what we'd heard before we arrived in Liuwa - either deliberate by humans or possibly snakebite - but they were doing testing on his remains to try to determine exactly what happened. So all that remains now is Sepo, Lady and the cubs. But as for whether we saw them, well you'll have to wait just a bit ....

Edited by SafariChick
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