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Wild Dogger

Are there any Leopards in South Luangwa?

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Wild Dogger

@@pault

The very most shots are taken with the fixed 300 mm, sometimes I use TC. Also I sometimes shoot with the 70 - 200 lens, but I find myself not often using it.
For sure the landscape are mostly taken with that lens or even the 24 - 80 Tamron, while the camp shots are taken with the Tamron or my Walimex fisheye.

And the variety comes from the different distances you have from the subject, I guess. And just in case, at home I still can crop <_< , if the original is good enough.

 

Yes, walking safari is not my prime interest. I think, I am afraid to miss something when we´re walking.

But I still like to do it for a change and I don´t complain, if I don´t see anything.

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Wild Dogger

19 July
Day 5

 

Our last morning in the fabulous Lion Camp.

It´s time to say byebye to the lovely staff here.

We hope to come back some day, although the lodge is closed, when it´s our „normal“ Safari time, but you never know.

 

Isaac´s taking us down to Kapani Lodge in the Mfuwe Sector.

It will be a normal game drive down there.

At first we try to find the leopard from yesterday night as it was so close to Camp, but we don´t find the cat.

 

We head south.

A hippo is blocking our way.

 

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We see another beautiful Cookson´s Wildebeest.

 

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Impalas in the woodlands.

 

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Claudia mentions, that we have not yet seen a monitor lizard, and oops

 

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The more we get further south, the more the vehicle traffic increases, but still not heavy traffic.

Somebody tells us that there is lions close to the road, feeding on a buffalo.

They are not to be overseen.

There´s another car on the sighting with awful squeaking breaks, sounds like a warthog getting killed by wild dogs.

There are also little cubs breaking through the bushes.

 

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We take our coffee break on a beautiful pan.

 

At least we reach Kapani, where we say byebye to Isaac and thank him very much for his patience and work.

 

We were curios, how the Mfuwe sector in July would be campared to our November trip in 2011 (trip report view here).

 

Kapani is outside the Nationalpark, maybe a 10 minutes drive.

The lodge is operated by Norman Carr Safaris. We did not like the lodge very much, totally different to Lion Camp. We found it somehow a bit run down. Looking at the reputation of Norman Carr we expected more. Maybe we´ve just been too spoilt by Lion Camp.

Lunch and Dinner is served on the rivers edge. There is no long table with all guests. You sit together with your guide and the other people who are joining you in the vehicle.
Lunch was always very good, while dinner could not cope with Lion´s.

But they had very good vehicles, which where in excellent shape and looked good.

Our guide was Charles. He was very knowledgable and liked to show it. He talked a lot. Well, it did not klick between us.

In the afternoon drive we joined a british tour operator who was setting up a birding tour and was looking for camps. You can guess, that Charles did everything, to please this guy. So we ended up looking for birds, which is not a bad thing in itself, but sometimes I have the feeling, that birders are esp. interested in birds far, far away, which you can´t really see. The closer the birds are, the less they are of interest (I overdo, bear with me).

 

Nonetheless we got to see a Giraffe.

 

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We reach a wide open area and see another car stopping for sundowner as they frantic jump back in the car and pack the stuff. What´s up there?

The area is known for it´s little canyons (I don´t know, how to label it), these are hippo made walk ways. Leopards often use them to approach their prey unseen. I think, this is one of the reasons, why Alice, the well known queen of the South Luangwa, is able to hunt successfully in daytime.

Well, the bespoken car parked just on the edge of one of those „canyons“, as they realized a leopard in it.

We quickly headed there and saw how the leopard was really angry and made an aggressive jump to the vehicles, who had yet arrived, before returning back into the canyon.

The cat relaxed a little sooner,

 

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(sorry for the poor quality, this is ISO 6400)

 

but was not happy to stay any longer.

 

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After sundowner on our way back to camp we see scrub hare and a civet cat (famous for coffee making).

 

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This was the poorest drive on this safari although the Leopard experience was good, but you know, soooo many Leopards ....

 

Tomorrow we hope to find Alice.

Edited by Wild Dogger

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ZaminOz

"Sorry for the poor quality" ??? Seriously dude, that is an excellent leopard photo!

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pault

Haha +1 with ZaminOz You can't say things like that @@Wild Dogger. People will never post another photo here again.

 

Seriously good hippos, impala and monitor lizard though. The day started off good but it's a pity how it went downhill. A series of not so good things. Hope things get better.

 

 

And of course I didn't think the camp photos were with the 300.... :) I really ought to ask better questions! Thanks for the answer anyway.

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Wild Dogger

@ZaminOz@pault

 

I too love this photo, but it could be sharper. But with ISO 6400 I am still not unhappy. "Poor quality" might have been the wrong word.

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xelas

@@Wild Dogger

 

Sharpness, noise, high ISO ... who cares when you have been able to capture The Moment !! (or as in your case "the look she gave")

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Marks

The giraffe silhouette is superb, and the civet shot is one of the clearer looks I've had at the species. Great stuff.

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Atravelynn

After only your first post, the answer to your title is yes! That baboon in the darkness is exceptional. Beautiful elephants in the water.

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Gregor

I got to say both you and South Luangwa delivers. Amazing how many leopards there is in south Luangwa. And that giraff silhouette is absolutely fantastic.

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Wild Dogger

20 July
Day 6, our last full day in Zambia

 

Today we are alone in the vehicle.

The tour operator is going north to the beautiful „Lion Camp“. This guy is really in a rush, making one camp a day. I don´t know, if this is a way to get an idea of the camps you´re visiting.

 

After passing the gate we drive southwest.

We stop for a beautiful Thornycroft Giraffe, looks a lot like a boxer.

 

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Vultures up on a tree looking for a free meal.

 

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The safari clientele here in the South Luangwa is partly totally different to those we have seen on all our previous safaris. Lots of Muslim people in the vehicles, seperated by their gender. Male and female vehicles.

 

After a while we come again to the wide open space. Charles told me the name of the area, but I always forget this.

 

Strangely, we´ve only seen elephants with tusks in the Mfuwe area, no tuskless tuskers anymore.

 

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Coming to the place, where we´ve seen the Leopard yesterday night, we find Alice.

 

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She´s moving in the deep hippo alleys, trying to hunt.

 

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There is some Puku on the edge of the alley and Alice stalks them.

 

We are nicely positioned to witnes the hunt, but the predator waits to long and the designated prey notices her.
Successless hunt.

The cat is unsatisfied and shows it.

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Charles says, that she might be 15 years now. She has lost parts of one canine tooth already.

 

We leave her and have our coffee on the banks of the Luangwa.

 

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Luangwa scene

The good thing in the South Luangwa is, if you don´t find anything, you just go to the river and you will see crocodile or hippo.

 

We go back to the cat, but the Leopard is resting.

 

Home to the Lodge. I talk to Charles, if we can leave a little earlier in the afternoon, because it is always a long way to get into the park. He agrees and so we will go out 30 minutes earlier.

 

In 2011 we stayed in the Mfuwe Lodge. Although this lodge is more like a hotel, we still liked it more as it is directly in the Park and you don´t waste time getting in and out.

Edited by Wild Dogger

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janzin

Wonderful report and photos. The leopard shots at night are fabulous. South Luangwa is on my short list :)

 

Just one thing, going back a few posts: "First we see a Little Bee-Eater (not sure, if that´s the right name)."

 

Actually that is a White-fronted Bee-eater :)

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ZaminOz

I think @@janzin is correct about the Bee-Eater I.D.

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pault

Strange looking giraffe. Really does look like a boxer.

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Wild Dogger

@@janzin
thanks

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michael-ibk

As always, your photos are special - beautiful, beautiful shots there. For whatever reason, I particularly like that Baboon shot in one of the first posts. It always amazes me how many Leopards people get to see in SL, and you got terrific shots of all of them. Your birders comment really made me chuckle. :)

 

Outstanding report, but then, nothing less would be expected from you.

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Wild Dogger

still owe you another afternoon and morning drive.

 

Here´s the afternoon.

 

As promised we leave earlier to be „in time“ in the park.

 

Right behind the gate the usual suspects await us, Thornycroft Giraffes.

gallery_5715_1383_240608.jpg

We do see our first Kudus of the trip.

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A beautiful Puku ram in perfect light poses for us. Would have liked this light on the predators, but Safari is not ticking a wishlist.

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Strangely we found that the elephants in Mfuwe do have tusks, not like in the northern part at Lion Camp.

 

Charles seems to have a plan and after a while we find other vehicles :) .

Ah, and we find a dead hippo in the bushes. Close by a pride of lions, they look as if they had not feeded on the hippo. No bloody faces.

There are many Mfuwe Lodge cars on that place.

I see this support mounted on one of the cars. Looks like a nice toy. I saw first Jonathan Scott using this in 2011 in the SLNP, while he was a guiding a group when we´ve been at Mfuwe Lodge.

 

gallery_5715_1383_16825.jpg

 

A nice surprise on the sighting: we meet James, who was our guide in 2011, we will meet him also at the Mfuwe airport the next day.

 

The lions are just doing nothing beside yawning and rolling, so we leave them and have our sundowner drinks.

 

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Something seems to be wrong, no leopard yet on this drive.
But there are Kudus again.

 

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As the sun is fading: Afrcan Fish Eagle

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In the dark we see 2 Honeybadgers in the distance, still no Leopard.

 

But then:

on one of the paths there is a small cat walking. From the distance and in the dark I first think it´s a Serval or maybe a Caracal, but it´s a Leopard cub.

He slowly walks the road.

 

We keep our distance and Charles sees through his binocs that there´s a genet and the leopard´s chasing the small predator. Charles has fun and we see nothing.

 

gallery_5715_1383_198855.jpg

 

After we get closer the cat decides to leave the pad.

 

But South Luangwa still has something to deliver:

on the side of the bridge just close before you leave the park, our spotter (forgot the name, but he was good) sees 2 Porcupines. They are too far to take a picture but we could see them well.

 

So that was our last night in the SLNP but we still have another morning drive.

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ZaminOz

@@Wild Dogger

 

All of the Bushcamp Company vehicles now have one or two of those camera-rest-mount-things in them for guests to use. I used one extensively in July / August last year... unfortunately it did not make my photography anywhere near as good as yours :(

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pault

Nice lion yawns and great for you to see such a number of kudu in nice light, but the unpictured after-dark sightings (well, one a sighting only for Charles) are the best of the drive by far.

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Alexander33

@@Wild Dogger

 

Let me echo the others' comments about your superb photography. Very inspiring.

 

And honey badger and porcupine, even if you couldn't manage to get shots of them, plus leopard on your night drive: very special.

 

I'm greatly enjoying your report.

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Marks

The kudu in such good lighting is a dream come true; they were not nearly so cooperative for me in SLNP!

That last leopard shot is very nice, too.

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Wild Dogger

21 July 2015

 

Our last morning in the valley.

This morning could also be called: In search of Alice

 

From the bridge right behind the gate we watch some fishermen in the river.

gallery_5715_1383_68418.jpg

 

The giraffes seem to be stationary there.

 

We drive to the wide open plains, where we saw the Leopard last morning.

 

Alice was around there, we hear from others.

We meet a young german with a vehicle labelled „From Cologne to Cape Town“. As we live only 70ks from Cologne we are interested in talking to him. It comes out, that he and his girl friend have made that Cologne to the Cape trip a few years ago and now leave the car in Africa and use it each year for their trips. Sounds like a great idea! He has seen the cat earlier disappearing in the bushes but also can´t find her anymore.
We scan the area for almost an hour, but can´t find her.

But there are still animals.

 

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We stop for our breakfast break as usual on the banks of the Luangwa.

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In a dead tree a Water Monitor Lizard enjoys the early african sun.

 

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We pack our stuff and procede trying to find this cat. Our last morning was not too productive till now.

 

In a total different area where we looked before, we find her:

Alice!

She´s in hunting mode. Something is above her on that little slope. She´s crawling up and quickly comes down again. There´s some guys on that slope busy on a walking activity. Luckily they are not on the cat´s menu.

 

Alice walks on the foot of that slope, still in hunting mode.

 

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Something´s up this slope.

(Following pictures are really not good, they are just documentary)

 

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Again she crawls up the hill.

There are some Impala.

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She stalks them.

 

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Unfortunately for her, there are also some Giraffe, who see her early and somehow their behavior alarms the antelopes too.

 

Again Alice failed.

 

She returns down the rim.

 

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For me, I thought this experience had lasted for almost an hour as it was so exciting. Looking at the exifs of the pictures, I realize that this all happened within 15 minutes. Strange!

Although the light was not on my side, I am extremely happy with this experience.

As Claudia always says, she doesn´t need to take pictures, she has it on her memories.

 

Wow, that was another highlight of our fabulous South Luangwa trip.

 

We slowly head back to Kapani, where we spent the rest of the day packing and relaxing.

Our flight leaves in the late afternoon and luckily we can stay in our hut until we have to leave.

 

On the airport we meet James again and have a nice chat with him.

 

And, by the way:

 

THERE ARE LEOPARDS IN THE SOUTH LUANGWA

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Peter Connan

Stunning trip, stunning last sighting and great report, I really enjoyed it.

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Marks

Great leopard sequence. The way their shoulders point sharply in "stalking mode" never fails to strike me. They are in such masterful control of their own locomotion.

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ZaminOz

Great final sighting of a leopard hunt and great "documentary" photos!

Most people only get glimpses of that at night time...

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Alexander33

@@Wild Dogger

 

Truly an Alice in Wonderland experience. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your report, and your photographs are magnificent. You have done nothing to dissuade me from keeping South Luangwa on my short list. One day....

 

Thank you for taking the time and effort to share your safari with us.

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