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A Fleeting Glimpse of Zambia (SLNP, Livingstone)

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ZaminOz

@@Marks

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

 

Its not a mongoose, it's a bushbaby.

 

 

*** Oh... @@egilio beat me to it...

Edited by ZaminOz

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SafariChick

@@pault we have been having a ton of coyotes coming into our suburban neighborhood, sightings at 5 a.m, 8 p.m. and lots of dead pet cats whose owners let them wander all night. My husband thought it would be cool to set up one of these cameras near where we think they are getting into the neighborhood (we have a creek that runs behind some of the houses and through the neighborhood - the bed is now dry due to the California drought - seems likely they are coming that way from the hills that are not far off. Anyway, was just telling him last night about this report and that I was going to ask @@Marks about the camera - what kind is it, where does one get it, etc.? Sorry if you already said earlier in the report, I can't remember anything if I don't write it down!

 

Edited to add: ok I see now you said earlier it is a Bushnell (which is clear when looking at the photos) that you borrowed. Any idea what the model is and how much they cost?

Edited by SafariChick

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Big_Dog

Fine photography, and despite having only seen the in pictures I really agree on the landscapes. The open, hazy woodlands are very beautiful, almost reminding me of India in some places, or a well tended park. Also the open plains wiith sandy riverbeds.
I especially like the croc photo too.

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Marks
@@SafariChick This appears to be the current version of the model I used, going for about 150 USD. There are a number of other models that go for even less, though.


This was another afternoon spent mostly on birding, so this post will be light on pictures.


I was having trouble with this Great Egret; I ended up underexposing a little bit just so that the bird itself wasn't completely washed out. Herons and egrets are always a treat to observe, as they poke around in slow motion, with exquisite stateliness.


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These giraffes posed nicely for the sunset, though the romantic aspect they present is somewhat diluted by consulting Estes' Safari Companion, which indicates that these two may have been assessing each others' weight as opponents and evaluating their places in the dominance hierarchy. Whether that were the case or not (can anyone tell their genders?), things remained peaceful, and this remains in my memory as a particularly idyllic African sunset.


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The sun set remarkably quickly, as it always seems to in Africa.


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A beautiful sundowner location. Not pictured is a nearby elephant which faded with startling rapidity into the gloaming.


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After dark, we experienced the best genet sighting we've yet had:


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Also this Water Thicknee (Dikkop). I was concerned it would be bothered by the light, but seemingly not...


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Right before returning to camp (maybe 5-10 minutes prior to the gates closing, actually) we saw a few vehicles lined up watching the following scene. I suspect that @@marg may have better photos of these feasting lions, as she was staying nearby on this day.



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This kill seemed fresh, and I can only assume we arrived just after it was made. (I don't mind missing the kill itself since I can only imagine how long it must've taken to bring the hippo down.)


Interestingly, this may be the same pride that was recently featured in this Africa Geographic post.


Overnight, around 1:00 AM, the ever-present eles at Flatdogs went positively berserk, trumpeting wildly right outside the tent before crashing through the bushes as they went about whatever elephant business had excited them. A thrilling wakeup call!

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dlo

@@Marks

 

That's definitely a kill I wouldn't need to see. For us it was constant hippo action all night long. I never needed an alarm once.

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Kitsafari

 

Not a mongoose, but a greater bushbaby!

 

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

 

 

 

Neither have I! what a fantastic catch @@Marks

 

and that of the hare in the day light! there were tonnes of them, genets, civets and elephant shrews in SLNP, and it's so great to see them again through your eyes and camera.

 

Thoroughly enjoying the revisit in your TR! we also saw the ethereal mist among the groves, which I loved as it lent an air of mystery and tranquillity to the atmosphere, and I always thought it was more pronounced at the mahogany groves.

 

I too wouldnt have been able to bear the kill, so I'm glad for you that you were spared that. one of the lionesses is collared. I recall that the Zambian Carnivore organisation had collared lead lionesses in each pride to do research on them (@@egilio will correct me if I'm wrong!)

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Marks

Thanks @@dlo & @@Kitsafari!

 

This post covers our last morning in SLNP. We visited the scene of the previous evening's hippo kill; unsurprisingly, it had been consumed to an impressive degree. Only this subadult male was still feeding by the time the park gates opened; the others were lounging around in various states of satiety.

 

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This hyena was waiting on the outskirts, presumably for the lions to finish. At one point it stood and quietly approached the kill, but was abruptly chased off by a lioness appearing from the bushes with startling speed.

 

The hyena appeared to have been recently snared - after looking at some zoomed-in photos, Byron identified this as a hyena whose snare was recently removed. Once at home, I sent the pictures to ZAWA and to the Zambian Carnivore Programme just in case.

 

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I had been hoping that more hyenas would have been lingering around; sure enough, there were a couple of others quite far off the road. I only managed a decent look at this one, at the absolute limit of my zoom.

 

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The lionesses after chasing after the first hyena:

 

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Some assorted photos from the remainder of this game drive:

 

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White-crowned Lapwing (Plover):

 

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Immature Bateleur:

 

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Ground Hornbills with Marabou Stork:

 

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Evidence of leopard:

 

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Black-headed Heron:

 

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A wonderful herd of eles, almost felt like a farewell:

 

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And the oft-neglected impala:

 

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Of course there were a few more eles at camp when we returned (and nor were these our last). But after returning to camp, we quickly grabbed our gear and headed off to the airport. Next up: Livingstone.

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Marks
Also of interest (I hope) is this compilation video made from about 330 camera trap images.



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ZaminOz

@@Marks

Does the camera trap use disposable (AA) type batteries or is it a rechargable Lithium? And what was the battery life like?

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pault

Sad you're leaving - the last morning is never long enough.

 

That's a bad wound on the hyena. Worse wound on the hippo.

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dlo

@@Marks

 

I really love some of you're bird photos, wish we could get some with your quality. Looking at your and my photos I am starting to think about Flatdogs again next year but that November heat really scares me. Looking forward to comparing Livingstone impressions.

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Caracal

Thoroughly enjoying the ride with this excellent report @@Marks which captures the Luangwa so well.

 

I wasn't aware of Norman Carr's grave being in the park so I never visited it and wonder where it's situated?

 

Your lovely photo in Post 31 of the elephant feeding on what I think is a winterthorn (Acacia Albida) in that beautiful golden light reminds me of a photo in Carr's book "Valley of the Elephants - The Story of the Luangwa Valley and its Wildlife".

 

Looking forward to your Livingstone instalment.

 

 

PS Winterthorn probably has a different botanical name now which I don't know. I believe we Aussies have commandeered all acacias!

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Marks

@@Marks

Does the camera trap use disposable (AA) type batteries or is it a rechargable Lithium? And what was the battery life like?

 

This particular model uses either 4 or 8 AA batteries (8 would give it longer battery life, but 4 was plenty for just a week's worth of safari since I believe the batteries are meant to last for months).

 

@@Marks

 

I really love some of you're bird photos, wish we could get some with your quality. Looking at your and my photos I am starting to think about Flatdogs again next year but that November heat really scares me. Looking forward to comparing Livingstone impressions.

 

Thank you for the compliment! Following along with your thread, the quality and clarity of your bird photos far surpasses mine. But ST always gives me goals to which I can aspire next time. :)

 

Thoroughly enjoying the ride with this excellent report @@Marks which captures the Luangwa so well.

 

I wasn't aware of Norman Carr's grave being in the park so I never visited it and wonder where it's situated?

 

Your lovely photo in Post 31 of the elephant feeding on what I think is a winterthorn (Acacia Albida) in that beautiful golden light reminds me of a photo in Carr's book "Valley of the Elephants - The Story of the Luangwa Valley and its Wildlife".

 

Looking forward to your Livingstone instalment.

 

 

PS Winterthorn probably has a different botanical name now which I don't know. I believe we Aussies have commandeered all acacias!

 

The grave site is very close to the Mfuwe gate, actually. I've mapped it here (using Flatdogs as a starting point for reference), after checking the location on tracks4africa.

 

Thank you for mentioning the elephant photo! I haven't seen Carr's photo, but given his tremendous reputation, I am honored by the comparison.

 

I think your tree ID must be correct. The eles were all over the winterthorn seed pods in camp. And I think all of Africa is in open rebellion as far as acacia classification goes! ;)

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Marks

So that afternoon we went back to the Mfuwe airport, checked through security, then left again to have some drinks at a very nice little cafe right next to the terminal. Soon enough, though, it was time to move on to Livingstone.

 

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We chose Chundukwa River Lodge for the next couple of nights. Run by owners Gail and Doug, it was superb. We really felt like their houseguests. They have a number of pets around that complete the feeling of being at home. Another very welcoming element was the near-constant presence of elephants. We arrived just as the darkness was well and truly becoming complete; it was a careful walk to our chalet (the honeymoon suite, no less, though we weren't on honeymoon - that'll be next year) in the dark. The room itself has a wonderful view of the Zambezi, and at night and in the early morning, hippos could be seen and heard on the riverbank directly below the window.

 

 

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In the morning, Doug took us to the small Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, where we had booked a walking safari to look for the park's rhinos, which are under round-the-clock armed guard (and are, as such, easy to locate). While waiting for our guide to arrive, we were pleased to just be out and about while enjoying this sunrise.

 

I expected visiting Mosi-oa-Tunya to be a low-key affair, especially after South Luangwa, and it largely was - but, perhaps due to tempered expectations, I was surprised by what an excellent time we had here. It is unusual in that it has a major road going right through it; but on the other hand, that made it extremely accessible from Chundukwa.

 

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Within the park, on the Zambezi:

 

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Pied crow:

 

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Walking through the bush:

 

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Zebra track:

 

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A tiny mantis:

 

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Dr. Jones, I presume? (love that hat)

 

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A singularly beautiful landscape:

 

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I suppose I kind of already mentioned that the rhinos aren't difficult to find, so I won't leave you in suspense; I'll just save them for the next post. As they're under constant guard, I can't imagine any problems with posting their photos.

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dlo

@@Marks

 

I'm so jealous, we were going to stay at Chundukwa but Vic Falls was all about activities for us so we didn't want to do the transfer times. My wife thinks I'm a freak because of my love of crows so I'll just say love the crow shot.

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Marks

Thanks @@dlo!

I also like crows at home (particularly their iconic vocalizations).

Looking at your itinerary, it looks like you stayed at Zambezi Sun? Looking forward to seeing what it's like; it's in a great location (we checked out the front of it on our way to the Royal Livingstone to do the Devil's Pool).

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dlo

@@Marks

 

Yeah the sun was budget friendly and very close to all activities, also being in the park meant we could go see the falls any time we wished at no cost. We also had a fair amount of wildlife at the hotel as well.

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Marks

 

Your mantis photo is excellent!

Like the color and contrast with the dark stone.

Very glad that while looking for rhinos, your lens continued to capture smaller wildlife.

The honeymoon suite? Ha! Why not?

It'll get you ready for the full treatment next year, plunge pool and all. (Just kidding...)

Tom K.

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FlyTraveler

@@Marks, I have no idea how I have managed to miss this trip report of yours up to this moment... The good part is that there will be lots to catch up with... Thanks for sharing your experiences in SLNP and I am glad that you had a great safari! I will comment when I get a chance to read the report in details, today I had the time for just a very quick glance over it.

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Marks

Thanks @@Tom Kellie! This walk was a nice opportunity to get up close to some smaller things (antlion, beetles, as well as handling and breaking apart some elephant poo and checking out various plant life).

 

@@FlyTraveler Thanks for the likes, hope you find something to enjoy over the last few posts!

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Caracal

Many thanks for taking the trouble to map Carr's grave site @@Marks. Clearly in the past I have been close without knowing.

 

Very interested to learn about Chundukwa River Lodge. Sounds great.

Waterberry Lodge which I really enjoy is similarly situated on the riverbank but a little further upstream I think.

 

I'm sure you'll agree that there is something very special, absorbing and relaxing about watching the Zambezi drift majestically past on its way to the Falls.

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Marks

@@Caracal You are so right. It was a great last stop on our trip because it was so peaceful on the river (although we were unusually busy for these two days, in contrast to the comparatively relaxed pace of the safari in SLNP).

 

I have just given Waterberry a look online, and it does indeed appear to be quite similar; tastefully decorated, with stunning views of the Zambezi.

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Marks

Mosi-oa-Tunya NP's rhinos were relocated from South Africa and now live in the park under 24-hour ZAWA guard. The rhinos have bred since being relocated, and there are now eight of them (if I recall - it occurs to me that I don't actually have a single photo with all of them in the frame). We were fortunate enough to be able to easily see all of them.

 

Being so close to these behemoths on foot was a very humbling experience. Perhaps the best feeling of all, though, was knowing that our tourist dollars were contributing to this very tangible act of conserving a species in such a crisis across the continent.

 

 

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So much death over these horns:

 

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Here is one ranger, Kapoka, guarding "his" rhinos. A very cheerful fellow; we all had a good laugh when I asked about protecting the rhinos from poachers, and he explained how he would have to shoot them and would try to shoot them specifically to incapacitate them. When I asked if he had ever had to shoot at anyone, he gave a brief pause and then said "not yet." :)

 

In all seriousness, though, hopefully he will never have to!

 

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Never would I have believed that I'd willingly turn my back to a large group of enormous rhinos, even for a quick photo, but they were pretty relaxed owing to the constant presence of their guards. At one point, a sudden movement caused one resting rhino to leap to its feet with alacrity; they can certainly move quickly when they want to.

 

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Here are a few assorted shots from our walk back to the road:

 

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Our short hike in Mosi-oa-Tunya was a great experience and was very convenient to do at sunrise, allowing us to do some other activities in Livingstone in the remainder of the day. It felt surprisingly wild for being so close to a major city and tourist hub, and the best part may have been being able to see a conservation program at work on the ground. For anyone who is interested, I found a link to a somewhat dated management plan (from 2001) that discusses their relocation, breeding, and, obviously, management.

Edited by Marks

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dlo

@@Marks

 

Glad you enjoyed it, always a great experience and I agree very humbling.Congrats on the upcoming wedding as well, hope you have a honeymoon safari so we can get another trip report.

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Marks

Thanks @@dlo, we are planning to have the wedding and honeymoon in New Zealand next year - another safari will be next, though!

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