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Marks

A Fleeting Glimpse of Zambia (SLNP, Livingstone)

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Tom Kellie

The following picture may not have an equal impact on everyone, as I know food is rarely ever be considered to be a highlight of being in the bush. And I generally feel the same way, but all the same I certainly didn't object to being subjected to this varied and excellent menu, which changed daily as each special was gradually depleted. It must also be mentioned that Flatdogs has an absolutely fantastic bird's eye chili sauce, which is hot enough to rival anything I've eaten, even at our local Thai and Indian restaurants, where I am often found. I requested this sauce so often, and with every meal, that soon I did not have to ask anymore...

 

 

@@Tom Kellie You may remember that I have a special fondness for signage of this hand-painted nature:

 

~ @@Marks

 

That's a splendid menu board! I've never seen the like on my safaris.

More than ample compensation for any rigors during game drives.

Yes, I do remember that you're a hand-painted sign aficionado.

The sign you've posted is very nice, indeed.

Your writing style, @@Marks, is a favorite with me. It's about as low-key and ‘no drama’ as I've seen.

Here you've been away from safaris for several years, yet mildly start out your trip report with no more ado than strolling down the block to buy a dozen eggs.

Your matter-of-fact style is such a pleasure to read. When you highlight anything, I'm alert, as you're default style is almost like moseying along through the bush.

Few trip reports afford such pleasure to read. Your commentary is like a great river in a gentle stretch, with neither cataracts nor dams to impede.

Really lovely writing!

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

@@Marks

 

Quote "Now for a bird roundup...as I said, I won't be winning any awards here"

 

Maybe not but that's a lovely image of a Shikra

 

~ @@Geoff and @@Marks

 

That's exactly what I thought when I saw it.

Anyone would be more than satisfied with such a fine Shikra portrait.

Your lounging lions are a treat...their post-prandial indolence on full display.

Tom K.

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michael-ibk

Agree about the Shikra, and that´s a super Hare picture as well.

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Marks

Thanks @@Geoff, @@Tom Kellie, @@michael-ibk

 

It has indeed been a few years, and will likely be 1.5-2 more years before I get another such opportunity, but luckily this web site is here to fill that void.

Thank you all for your too-kind comments, and for following along.

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Tom Kellie

Thanks @@Geoff, @@Tom Kellie, @@michael-ibk

 

It has indeed been a few years, and will likely be 1.5-2 more years before I get another such opportunity, but luckily this web site is here to fill that void.

Thank you all for your too-kind comments, and for following along.

 

~ @@Marks

 

Had I the wherewithal, I'd gladly arrange for you and your partner to return for another safari sooner than you expected.

Lacking such largesse, I'll tell you that your trip report is among the finest I've read.

You share with @@TonyQ the ability to present your subject in a spotlight while Shakespeare-like you remain unobtrusively in the wings.

I highly respect your consistent graciousness towards others, which is a quality I prize in a breakneck, jostling era.

Like @@JohnR you bring intelligent curiosity to everything you describe, thereby enabling me to be more keenly aware of what I might have overlooked.

With @@Kitsafari you share the endearing quality of modesty and self-effacement, despite being far more talented than you give yourself credit for.

In other words, reading any post by @@Marks is sure to raise a smile, leaving me feeling happy for having read it.

May fate bring you and your partner back to Africa soon, if only so that we Safaritalk members and visitors might enjoy another fine trip report from your keyboard and camera.

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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Marks

@@Tom KellieTom, your unfailing kindness is enough to make one blush! I must return the compliment: even aside from your gifted photography and eloquent use of language, your friendliness and support has made a huge contribution to the spirit of camaraderie that I feel upon visiting Safaritalk.

 

Afternoon in camp provided another opportunity to watch the elephants at their (and our) leisure. Amusingly, the elephants sometimes had to contort themselves into decidedly ungainly and inelegant positions in order to clamber from the mud.

 

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We waited until the elephants had moved off before transitioning to the center of camp to entertain the idea of lunch. Featured in the next photo is a chicken & nsima meal. Note the alternately dreaded and esteemed chili sauce lurking to the side of the plate.

 

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As Flatdogs is located right outside of the Mfuwe bridge and gate into SLNP, each game drive from the camp requires that one reenter the park itself. I cannot imagine this being a great inconvenience to anyone, as the wildlife certainly do not observe such distinctions.

 

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We spent some time with this elephant at the golden hour that evening, hoping that it would decide to stand while feeding in one of those classic elephant poses. While it had no need to do so, as it was just able to reach the foliage without expending such an effort, this was nonetheless one of our favorite sightings. The beautiful light, the tranquility of having no other vehicles in the vicinity, and the sheer presence of the ele itself all combined to create an excellent memory. I read Brian Jackman's Savannah Diaries in the evenings back in camp, and the following passage from it seems both relevant and evocative of the mood of this sighting:

 

At the end of the day we drive home in the golden hour when the light deepens to melted honey, transforming the browsing herds of puku into antelopes carved in amber, and on the way we encounter a family group of elephants marching slowly across a plain.

 

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Here is the same hyena from the previous evening, still holding its leg in a similar position.

 

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Very close to the hyena was this resting leopard.

 

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As darkness fell, this leopard moved off into the bush, at which point the hyena stood and began sniffing around on its trail, thus allaying my fears that it may have been seriously injured.

 

Another fish eagle:

 

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African Hoopoe:

 

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Greater Blue-eared Starling (I could use confirmation on this ID if anyone can help!):

 

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After night fell we came across another leopard, but did not stay with it, choosing instead to let it pass into the bush. Its progress was tracked by a myriad of spotlights from other vehicles lancing through the dark. These beams could often be seen on our evening drives, the last two hours of which were conducted in darkness. At one point, having found ourselves alone, I requested that we put out the spotlight and headlights for a few minutes. This was a suggestion of another poster here (I am sorry I cannot recall which), and it was a wonderful suggestion. To be surrounded by the sounds and smells of the wilderness, to say nothing of the arc of stars overhead...night definitely transforms the safari experience.

 

Lastly some camera trap photos from the trip thus far. Some of the timestamps are not accurate, as I forgot to update the clock until a day or two into the trip.

 

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There are also a handful of interesting nighttime infrared shots that I will post later in the thread.

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Marks

 

After re-reading your entire trip report, and this most recent post, I'm left with a question.

What is it about the ‘bird's eye chili sauce’ which makes it both “dreaded and esteemed”?

Is it what is otherwise designated as ‘piri piri sauce’?

Does it's fascination have to do with flavor, or with heat, as measured by the Scoville index?

You've roused my curiosity with a couple of references, yet I'm unsure what to make of them.

***********************************************************************************************

The camera trap photos were a revelation to me.

I'm somehow accustomed to the notion of camera traps being black & white images with limited detail due to their low light nocturnal subject matter.

That may be a direct result of my green status in terms of more sophisticated safari photography.

The first thought in my mind this morning upon looking at your camera trap images was “They're in daylight! What a great idea.”

Was the camera trap yours, or was it rented or borrowed for the safari?

The border of the images says Bushnell. Does that reflect that it was a Bushnell camera trap?

I'm especially interested in the camera trap images as they're in color and well-lighted. I've mulled over the possibility of acquiring a camera trap, but am nowhere near to making a purchase.

As ever, your posts are both informative and entertaining.

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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ZaminOz

I know nothing about camera trap cameras but those images are great @@Marks

 

And I concur with @@Tom Kellie daylight camera trap photos are a great idea.

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Marks

Thanks @@Tom Kellie & @@ZaminOz, and others for all the likes!

 

I cannot speak to the specific ingredients of the chili sauce, but the base pepper is indeed the same ingredient used in piri piri sauce, though it was significantly hotter than any such sauce that I've tried. So you are correct in that its fascination lies in its heat, something for which I esteem it and for which I jested that @@dlo and possibly others may dread it.

 

The camera was indeed a Bushnell that I borrowed, though they aren't terribly expensive. When it grows dark, the camera switches over seamlessly to infrared mode and continues taking pictures.

I decided to leave it set up during the day as well, to see what happened in camp while we were off on game drives. The most fun part of using it for us was collecting the camera in the mornings and flipping through the pictures to see what wildlife had been around.

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Tom Kellie

Thanks @@Tom Kellie & @@ZaminOz, and others for all the likes!

 

I cannot speak to the specific ingredients of the chili sauce, but the base pepper is indeed the same ingredient used in piri piri sauce, though it was significantly hotter than any such sauce that I've tried. So you are correct in that its fascination lies in its heat, something for which I esteem it and for which I jested that @@dlo and possibly others may dread it.

 

The camera was indeed a Bushnell that I borrowed, though they aren't terribly expensive. When it grows dark, the camera switches over seamlessly to infrared mode and continues taking pictures.

I decided to leave it set up during the day as well, to see what happened in camp while we were off on game drives. The most fun part of using it for us was collecting the camera in the mornings and flipping through the pictures to see what wildlife had been around.

 

~ @@Marks

 

There seems to be something of a ‘rite of passage’ quality to testing capiscum-based hot sauces.

If the bird's eye sauce is comparable to piri piri sauce, it's easy to visualize the experience of testing it, gingerly at first, then whole hog!

As with @@ZaminOz, I'm interested in the camera trap's daylight shots.

Your explanation of the Bushnell's daylight-to-infrared transition feature has inspired me to look up the product on-line.

The possibility of using a camera trap has increased during the 5 months I've been a Safaritalk member as the photos I've seen are what I'd enjoy doing.

Your trip report takes camera traps to a new level by adding the daylight dimension.

I think that it would be great fun to see what, if anything, had been captured.

Who knows? That may be how I might finally obtain my long-sought zorilla image!

BTW: Your comment today on @@Kitsafari's trip report is the quintessence of eloquence and grace.

My graduate students would marvel if they had 25% of your expressive facility in English.

Just sayin’...

Tom K.

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SafariChick

Continuing to love this report. What fun watching those eles enjoying themselves in the mud! I must get to S. Luangwa. I do think I'd also be a little distressed at a lot of spotlights following a leopard. I had one experience like that in Botswana and I asked the guide to stop following the leopard as I felt it was being harassed.

 

Regarding the hyena, do you think it's possible it just likes to lie relaxing in that position? It looks very similar to the position my dog sometimes lies in. I would think out in the wild, animals would be afraid to leave their bellies so exposed intentionally but just wondered.

Edited by SafariChick

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dlo

@SafariChick The spotlights can be a little overwhelming at times but I will say for the most part they were responsibly used on my trip. If I ever get to my trip report I have a couple of stories about their use.

 

South Luangwa surpassed even my high expectations and should be a must for any safari goers list. I can't urge you highly enough to get there.

 

@@Marks Looking forward to more of this report and loving being brought back to Zambia.

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Big_Dog

Wonderful photos, especially the rich evening shots. The dynamic elephant wallow and assorted birds are also fantastic. Flat dogs looks like a very nice place - nicely priced to I've heard?
Must also agree with Game Warden...beard coming along great!

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Marks

@@SafariChick You must be right about the hyena. I was probably overthinking it - it just seemed weird to see it in exactly the same location 24 hours later. Though on the other hand, we didn't see too many hyenas, so I was very pleased to get a second look at this one.

 

@@Big_Dog The price was nice indeed! Thank you for mentioning the birds - I found myself diving headfirst into birding on this safari, moreso than ever before.

 

A beautiful Luangwa morning:

 

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Hippo trails in the dry riverbed:

 

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The Little Bee-eater, which may have supplanted the LBR as my favorite bird:

 

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We encountered the same group of lions again:

 

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Opposite the track from these lions were a handful of zebra, which were snorting and stamping in alarm. The lions were not showing any interest in them at the time, but better to be on the safe side, from a zebra's perspective.

 

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I found myself rather fond of the way the landscape would fade into an indistinct blue haze further and further amongst the trees:

 

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In many ways I think the Luangwa landscape is my favorite area of any that I've visited (which admittedly is otherwise confined to the Masai Mara and Sabi Sand, for now). There is an incredible amount of variance, and the landscape changes dramatically as you drive, from riverbed to forest to open field. I must agree with @@dlo that it's definitely worth a visit.

 

Of course, much of the riverbed is dry in August:

 

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That said, there's still water to be found, and these Yellow-billed Storks were employing one of their several interesting fishing techniques by shading the water with their wings. Other such techniques include disturbing the water with their feet and following hippos through the water to snatch up displaced fish.

 

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Norman Carr's memorial. Hard to imagine a better place.

 

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Bushbuck:

 

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Dark-capped (Black-eyed) Bulbul:

 

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Our tent at Flatdogs, with some baboon visitors (they entered the bathroom and made quite a mess on a few occasions, but cleaning up baboon feces is all part of the experience!):

 

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@@Tom Kellie I had you in mind when I took this photo:

 

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Puku:

 

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And the camera trap set up for another afternoon/evening's work:

 

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Glad others are finding something to enjoy here; I really appreciate all of your kind comments.

Edited by Marks

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Tom Kellie

 

Hippo trails in the dry riverbed:

 

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I found myself rather fond of the way the landscape would fade into an indistinct blue haze further and further amongst the trees:

 

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@@Tom Kellie I had you in mind when I took this photo:

 

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And the camera trap set up for another afternoon/evening's work:

 

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~ @@Marks

 

To think that you held back these lovely images as a “just one more thing” bonus for those who've been enjoying the tale of your low-key Zambia getaway.

The hippo trails image shows what I've long wanted to see...all the more definitive with one of he active parties present. Really a fine shot, adding to my understanding of hippo movement.

Your sensitivity to the loveliness of forest light fading away into smoky blue resonates with me. During safaris there are scenes which rival ancient Chinese brushwork for their quality of distance as shown by the gradual fading into indistinct chiaroscuro, reflecting the evanescence of existence.

I'm obliged and moved by your thinking of me in connection with your excellent dragonfly image. In all candor, your image far exceeds in quality any I've posted, as such details as the tail claspers and an antenna are sharply visible, not to mention the fearsome leg spines.

All along I've been curious about the placement of the camera trap. Now I know, thanks to your helpful posting of the image of it strapped to a tree trunk. Deciding the optimal location for the camera trap must be an enjoyable quandary, each day presenting new possibilities. Your report is nudging towards camera trap acquisition and use.

As ever, my highest respect for your writing and photographs, but most of all for the graceful, respectful tone, including your acknowledgement of Mr. Carr's memorial.

It causes one to wish you another safari in the near future, in order to savor more commentary from your keyboard.

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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pault

ahhh...those South Luangwa trees. I love them.

 

More specifically, I love those hippo tracks.

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PT123

@Marks

 

Thanks for a great report. I haven’t been on safari in Zambia but it is certainly on the list of future destinations and detailed reports like yours really help in the general education/planning process. I appreciated all the bird shots and can see what you mean about the Little Bee Eater being a favorite. The shots of the elephant feeding on the tree in post 31 are fantastic. Also, do you think the zebra in post 39 that was doing the snorting and stamping is pregnant?

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ZaminOz

@Marks [/size]

 

Thanks for a great report. I haven’t been on safari in Zambia but it is certainly on the list of future destinations and detailed reports like yours really help in the general education/planning process. I appreciated all the bird shots and can see what you mean about the Little Bee Eater being a favorite. The shots of the elephant feeding on the tree in post 31 are fantastic. Also, do you think the zebra in post 39 that was doing the snorting and stamping is pregnant?[/size]

She looks pregnant to me. I also thought that @@PT123

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SafariChick

@ZaminOz @PT123 oh ha ha i was just about to post the same thing! Ask @@Sangeeta but on our trip through Zambia I actually became kind of obsessed with pointing out zebras that I thought might be pregnant and then we'd see some that just HAD to be - I'd put this on in that latter category :)

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Earthian

@@Marks

just caught up reading this thread and liked it immensely. You have a flair for writing. That elephant photo was amazing. What did it want up that branch?

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Marks
Thanks, everyone. I figure that zebra must have been pregnant - you often hear of carnivores being mistakenly called pregnant when in fact they'd just eaten, but I've yet to hear of a herbivore eating to that extent!


The rest of the day which I began in my previous post was mostly spend on birding - which, while productive, didn't result in many photos worth posting, as neither of us are equipped with cameras really suited to birding, aside from producing "record" photos.


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Immature Wire-tailed Swallows:


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The shadowed recess visible near the bottom of this next image was active with bees. Those of you who are familiar with my near-pathological fear of this species won't be surprised to learn that I didn't care to linger in the vicinity, even though I normally love baobabs (and this one did cut a dramatic figure against the sky).


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We encountered the same group of lions for the third time that evening, and though the extremely low light didn't allow for much in the way of impressive photography, we spent some time with them and enjoyed watching as a few of the restless females flopped down on either side of our vehicle.


The following morning, we opted to do a walking safari. This was largely a pretty low-key affair, concentrated mostly upon identifying tracks and other signs of animal passage.


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This is an uncommon track: specifically, the imprint left behind after extricating my shoe from the mud!


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We got a nice look at an immature Saddle-billed stork, with its distinctly dull coloration.


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On the way back to camp, these elephants crossed the track in front of us. One of them stopped to asses us.


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Another Fish Eagle:


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Western Banded Snake Eagle:


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Back at camp, it was clear that the baboons had visited again:


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After seeing how much wildlife activity there was going on throughout the day behind our tent, we decided to reposition the camera trap.


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I could use some help ID-ing this mongoose, if anyone is up for it (bushy-tailed?):


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I found it a little thrilling to see what was just on the other side of the canvas while we were sleeping.


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I wondered if this ele had been investigating the camera:


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To me, they resemble nothing so much as enormous, completely silent grey ghosts (there are two in the next image).


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It's a bit hard to tell, but here I think we may have caught a nursing calf:


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TonyQ

It is great to see South Luangwa again - but through your camera and your fine writing

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egilio

Not a mongoose, but a greater bushbaby!

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Marks

Not a mongoose, but a greater bushbaby!

 

Wow, thanks! I'm honestly stunned. I heard one in camp but have never seen one before.

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pault

The bushbaby is a great catch. Damn, I need one of these cameras! (Damn, as in I am so weak.... but hey, who could do without now?)

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