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deano

Zambia June 2016. No noise. Only sounds.

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deano

Hello Safaritalkers and guests.

 

Welcome to this my second trip report and this time I have not left it six months to present. What follows could maybe be tacked on to that first report as it involves the same places and almost the same itinerary. In fact, this second trip actually came about during a layover in Atlanta airport on the return leg from that first trip (yes - we actually booked from the airport before we got home!).

 

Itinerary 4th June 2016 to 21st June 2016:

 

Day 1 Grand Cayman to Atlanta; Atlanta to Joburg.

Day 2 Overnight Joburg Intercontinental Hotel.

Day 3 Joburg to Lusaka; Lusaka to Mfuwe; Luwi Bush Camp, South Luangwa.

Day 4 Luwi Bush Camp.

Day 5 Luwi Bush Camp.

Day 6 Luwi Bush Camp sleep out.

Day 7 Nsolo Bush Camp.

Day 8 Nsolo Bush Camp.

Day 9 Kakuli Camp.

Day 10 Kakuli Camp.

Day 11 Mfuwe to Lusaka; Lusaka to Jeki; Old Mondoro Bush Camp, Lower Zambezi.

Day 12 Old Mondoro Bush Camp.

Day 13 Old Mondoro Bush Camp.

Day 14 Old Mondoro Bush Camp.

Day 15 Old Mondoro Bush Camp.

Day 16 Jeki to Lusaka; Lusaka to Joburg; Overnight Joburg Intercontinental Hotel.

Day 17 Joburg to Atlanta; Atlanta to Grand Cayman.

Day 18 Atlanta to Grand Cayman.

 

We were picked up from home at 11AM on the Saturday and had an uneventful flight to Atlanta. Plenty of time to eat before the 16 hour flight to Joburg and everything departed/arrived on time. It is late afternoon before we arrive in South Africa and already dark as we exit the airport and check-in at the Intercontinental Hotel which is a short walk from the terminal. A nice meal at Quills Restaurant and off to bed. Up early for breakfast and the check-in for the flight to Lusaka and then more of the hurry up and wait that seems to be part and parcel of air travel these days. We were greeted at Lusaka by a tour company that Norman Carr Safaris provides to guide their guests through the airport - hardly necessary as it is not the biggest airport but welcome all the same.

 

It had been over 2 days since we left home and we were still not at our final destination but the excitement was building as we boarded the small twin prop Proflight Zambia aircraft to Mfuwe. Not long after take off we could see the smoke from bush fires as we approached Mfuwe and then actual flames as the light began to fade and we touched down to a sun that had about 10 minutes before it dropped to signal the end of our first "day" in the wilds of Africa.

 

We recognized Chris from Norman Carr Safaris (NCS) and as we were the only guests arriving on the flight we were soon on our way with my wife donning a pair of safety glasses provided by NCS to prevent bugs hitting your eyes in the open safari vehicle. Another type of glass protected her mouth from the same fate...this glass was brown and said Mosi Lager on it! I made do with a Coke and a smile as the safety glasses wouldn't fit over my reading glasses and I didn't want to miss a single thing for I had been looking forward to the road transfer from Mfuwe for many months.

 

The main road through Mfuwe lets you know that you are in Africa. The smell of the smoke from bush fires mingled with the smoke from Mopane wood that the locals collect and burn to keep warm and cook over, the silhouette of palm thatched roofs and the gathering of friendly locals waving at you is a true indication of where you are and that the trip is now well and truly under way. We stop at the gates to South Luangwa National Park before crossing the river and continuing on our journey. Very dark now and in the park we start to tune in to the sights as best we can but the sounds of the bush are what truly indicate that we are back in the place that we love so much and on the final leg of our journey back to Luwi Bush Camp. Chris stopped frequently along the way to point out owls that had taken to hunting on the roads and tracks but my camera was still in my back pack and each time I thought about retrieving it the owl would leave the scene. However, one owl hung around as though it was giving me a chance to get out my camera and snap on a lens. So i did just that and after taking a burst of 5 that was completely dark (400mm + dark does not equal ISO100) and then making some other adjustments I rattled off a few pics of our first sighting of this trip - a spotted eagle owl that had now flown up from the road and was perched on a branch above and in front of us.

 

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We spent a good while watching this beautiful bird who in turn seemed to be watching us and I was glad that I had eventually taken my camera out and changed the settings. Half an hour later we arrived at Luwi Bush Camp and the usual NCS greeting with all staff present to wave and say hello. 60 hours after leaving our house we were finally here and it was worth every second just to walk from the vehicle to see that the bush TV that I has first watched nearly a year ago and that I had since visited in my dreams was still working (that is a camp fire just in case you are wondering). Have I mentioned that I love Africa?

 

A new host/manager in Charles (Frank from last was at a another camp) and after a quick freshen up we were eating dinner under the stars, catching up with staff from last year's trip with head guide Lawrence flashing a genuine warm smile at us as he greeted us from the bar and then being introduced to our fellow guests. More on that tomorrow but for tonight we were back in Africa enjoying dinner under the stars and listening to the sounds of the bush. No noise. Only sounds.

 

Day 2 to follow. Rest and sleep well my friends.

 

Kind regards

 

deano.

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michael-ibk

What, no Jameson so far? ;-)

 

Looking forward to this, if you saw half of what you did last time you had a fabolous trip.

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mapumbo

Yes,@@michael-ibk I had the same thought. Deano would have a glass of Jameson covering his mouth.

 

That owl looks ticked off that you disturbed his hunt.

 

Will be anticipating your next post.

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TonyQ

@@deano

A great start to your trip after a long journey.

It is very impressive to book the trip on the way home from the previous one!

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Kitsafari

agree with @@mapumbo - that owl sure looks annoyed!

 

great way to be welcomed back to SLNP - one of my most memorable and fav parks.

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marg

@@deano..eagerly waiting for more.

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deano

Thank you all for the comments and views so far;

 

@@michael-ibk - don't worry; Jamesons features strongly throughout the trip and more so as I found it medicinal for a cold that I picked up and besides...you can't eat on an empty stomach!

 

@@mapumbo - Jamesons swapped out for Amarula in my porridge in the mornings (I was on holiday and can do what I like).

 

@@TonyQ - a long journey indeed but part and parcel of getting to Africa when we live so far away (the return leg seemed a bit longer and a bit harder). There is already talk by Mrs deano of a return next year but we will be swapping out some of the camps for new ones.

 

@@Kitsafari - South Luangwa has it all as far as we're concerned and from your trip reports it is easy to see why you like it so much.

 

@@marg - thank you for following; taking advantage of a day off here in Cayman (well half a day as I was at work this morning) to start the next part.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day 2 in the bush (Luwi Bush Camp):

 

We like bush camps because of their remoteness and the fact that you are immersed in the sights, smells and sounds of the bush and Luwi is about as remote as it gets. Under a new moon it is pitch black outside with nothing but a fading solar lantern and even though we have a few safaris under our belts, plus the experience of last year, it takes us a night or so to get back into the whole idea of sleeping next to who knows what as it goes about its night time routine. So, at dark o' clock I am awakened by the sound (no noise...only sound) of grass being flattened and it is getting closer. Whatever it is must be huge and getting closer still. This is a hippo; no, an elephant; no, bigger still it must be a T-Rex; and then just as I thought the creature was about to knock on the side of the hut it identified itself with three extremely loud whistles - a puku territorial call. After the ringing in my ears had stopped and I had swallowed my heart before it jumped out of my mouth I laughed to myself and went back to sleep. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?

 

The dawn chorus was amazing this morning as we woke to the sights of Luwi in the half light. A 5.30 AM wake up and then a 6AM breakfast by the fire - scrambled eggs on toast with a tea for me and more conversation with our fellow guests who we had met last night over a night cap (guess what I had?). Di and Dave, great fun and easy to get along with, were visiting their God daughter Vicky - Vicky worked for NCS and on the trip last year we had spent time with her other God parents (Robin and Lynn - who were also great fun)) and also Vicky's dad John - imagine the coincidence. It was great to finally meet Vicky as well and hear her tales of living in the bush. I enjoyed asking her about navigate on the roads around Luwi which at this time of year are nothing but tracks carved out of 10ft high elephant grass. Sausage trees and distance travelled in minutes seems to be the navigation method of choice!

 

We had a walk planned for this morning. Lawrence as guide with Goodson as ZAWA scout and Douglas as tea bearer and back up. An anti-clockwise loop across the plain towards the hippo lagoon and with frequent stops along the way to talk about tracks, plants, dung, medicinal plants and all types of stuff that we never tire of.

 

We spent a good amount of time at the hippo lagoon watching them as each tried to find their perfect spot in the water after a night of foraging.

 

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We continued on and enjoyed being back in the bush with the birds, insects and plants and some familiar things - like how to tell if a pile of elephant dung with urine is from a male or a female and some not familiar like how to roughly navigate by using termite mound chimney stacks.

 

Shortly before returning to camp we ran into a troop of baboons that provided a lot of entertainment but for some reason I didn't take many pictures probably because these guys don't hang around when they see humans and were constantly on the move.

 

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Before long we were back crossing the nearly dry Luwi river bed with at least two groups of puku hanging around which meant two territorial males. One of these was very likely the night time stalker/whistler and I wondered how he would take to me playing Fleetwood Mac in his ear as he dozed in the hot sun. He had his hands full with a handful of females so I decided that discretion was in order.

 

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Once we got back to camp we had to say goodbye to Lawrence as he was headed to another camp to guide a group there but the good thing about NCS is that they have many guides (at least 2 at each camp now) so we were introduced to John and had a really pleasant lunch with John and Charles and the other guests including an Austrian guy that had walked into Luwi with John from the NCS camp next on our list - Nsolo. His name was Hans and since he walked solo from Nsolo he was thereafter known as Hans Solo. But Dean you can't call him that; well I did and he laughed easily at that and fit right in with our little troop.

 

Chalres, our host, was from Holland and as his work here is seasonal he wondered what to do with his time back in Holland over winter - I introduced him to Safaritalk and WildSafariLive - what else does a man need? (well, apart from Jamesons of course).

 

We originally booked with NCS because we like walking and so on our second trip we were pleased that all of the other guests wanted to walk as well. So, after a very pleasant afternoon watching the puku and impala and impressive bird life (just beyond the reach of my lens) we met for afternoon tea. My bet is that you could just sit there every day and see some amazing things (Lawrence had told us about lions walking right past the chairs one afternoon, a leopard found eating a puku under a bush just adjacent to the chalet we were in and a pack of wild dogs chasing and taking down an impala right there in front of camp. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?).

 

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John took us on a short walk; it gets dark early in winter and man is not designed to be out in the bush after dark. First up was a hippo already out of the water and looking for food and not even 4PM. We then spent more time at the hippo lagoon which was by now bathed in sunshine and I would have liked to have stayed longer as I really wanted to get a picture of a hippo spraying water from its nose as it resurfaced; I had many attempts but nothing even half way successful. A good sprinkling of birds as well with the more avid birders spotting all types of kingfishers as well as crocodiles.

 

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We met up with a vehicle and soon stopped for a sundowner in a spot where the road almost touched the Luwi river; it had started to get cloudy now which blocked some of the sunset but it was still worth taking a photo.

 

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Back on the vehicle it was time to zip up the fleece and add warm hat for the night drive. Lots of owls about and this barred owl was one of a few that we saw tonight as well as genets and mongoose.

 

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John pointed the vehicle south and we soon ran into another vehicle (I believe this was a vehicle assigned to predator research) and they passed on some information to us - lions...with a buffalo calf for dinner but they were in very dense and tall elephant grass so our sighting might nit be spectacular. That didn't matter to any of us and we were soon off and bashing about in tall grass with Amon (ZAWA scout) on the spotlight. Every now and then we John would turn off the vehicle and we would hear grass being moved and the odd grunt from a lion that would make us all turn and look in that direction. The lions seemed to be all around us but we could not get a fix on them until Amon eventually landed his spotlight on a collared female. The view was hit and miss but it was sighting all the same and a good end to our first full day back at Luwi.

 

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I managed to see 3 lionesses and a bit of dead buffalo but there were definitely more lions in the area.

 

Back at base we were told that we had 5 minutes to freshen up as we were "eating out'; a quick glance across the plain towards the river and I could see that we were in for a treat. Luwi's bush braii on the river bed. We had experienced this last year and it was amazing and this year was equally amazing. I took a few pictures but decided that I would sit and relax this year as last years pics were enough to remind me of the time we spent there. Fantastic. I would travel 60 hours just to do that and then 60hours home again.

 

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We sat around the fire for a while before being driven the short distance back to camp for a nightcap where we continued with a game that Dave and Di had started on the walk this morning. We came across a hippo spit ball; a large clump of grass shaped like a fat cigar. Dave mentioned that it reminded him of Hamlet cigars and I thanked him for planting that Hamlet ad theme song in my head for the rest of the walk and promised to get him back. The game went back and forth all day but my night time contribution was at least a fair one and very appropriate...Louis Armstrong...Wonderful World! I fell asleep to that and didn't stir. Not even for a puku.

 

More tomorrow.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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mapumbo

Deano, I couldn't think of a Fleetwood Mac song but no matter, Wonderful World is jangling around in my head now. Sounds are definitely an appropriate theme.

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ZaminOz

@@deano,

 

Great to see another trip report from you up and away!

Interesting to see the Luwi area so green too.

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optig

@@deano Your photos are superb especially of the hippos, you managed to make such unappealing animal almost handsome. I can't wait to return to South Luangwa National Park. It will be my 4th visit there.

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AfricanQueen

@deano A new trip report on Zambia! When I saw it this morning, sitting with my coffee on the balcony and having no time to read it :( I nevertheless had s.th. to look forward to during working time.

Booking the next trip while waiting for a connecting flight home is really a cool thing to do. I always have to wait for some weeks before starting planning next year's trip and there was always my fear that my husband would suggest another continent than Africa, because "we have not seen to much out of Europe". But as he also got bitten by the African bug by now I can relax now.

I really like your vivid and comprehensible description of going from Mfuwe airport to camp, as we also travelled that road in 2014 (but then to another destination in S.L.N.P:) and it felt like being with you in the car. I would have been the one with a Mosi to protect my mouth...

I share your feelings of it's being worth going there such a long way and then maybe only for some moments as I too love every minute being in Africa. And I'm always looking forward for the first steps being in the bush again and I'm thinking of how it will be arriving there again.

As we have also been to Old Mondoro in 2014 I'm especially looking forward for your report about being there - I remember it as an area of very nice trees - and leopards! (But then: leopards I connect to S. L., too)

I'm thinking of writing a TR of that very nice trip in 2014 but I'm not sure I can manage (I'm not the technician in our family). And I'm not sure whether safaritalkers are interested in an old TR. But would be a good training for me for the next trips to come...

 

I love the gaze of the Spotted Eagle Owl in the first picture of that series :P

 

Thanks for sharing your experiences and your pictures with us!

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deano

Thanks again to all that view, like, post or just read.

 

@@mapumbo - welcome to the game; some of the songs planted in my head by fellow guests are still there today (including bloody ABBA!).

 

@@ZaminOz - we can really only travel to Zambia (or Africa for that matter) in certain months of the year so we would like to see it looking a bit different but I'll take whatever I can get. A green season trip would be great as would an end of season but both unlikely for us.

 

@@optig - you do flatter me - thank you my friend. It easy to take pictures of hippos in South Luangwa but with 3 visits already you probably know that. We saw one in Lower Zambezi that looked less handsome and a bit more intimidating!

 

Working on the next installment now.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

 

 

 

 

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deano

@@AfricanQueen - thank you for your comments; I read Safaritalk wherever and whenever I feel the need for my fix.

 

It was an easy decision to re-book for Zambia; I agree that there are plenty of other places to try but for now we are smitten with South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi and a third trip is already looking likely for next year. We have affection for each park but Old Mondoro in particular is very special I think - I have a few more days of photos to upload before I get to this year's Old Mondoro report but if you can't wait that long then please visit last year's trip report in the Zambia section.

 

Alternatively, please make a start on your own trip report; I find that Safaritalkers are just keen to get as much of Africa as they can so a 2014 report will go down as well as a 2016 report; and don't be worried about getting it all together; I found the community extremely helpful with advice and tips across the various forums (format of report, how to create a gallery; how to post pics and videos etc.) and we are all happy to help as needed.

 

I thank you in particular for your comments regarding the Mfuwe road transfer as I did try to get across the sense of being in Africa that I had when I made that trip; and because of your comments I have decided to share some GoPro footage that I have edited together. It was intended just for family and friends only but Safaritalk is full of extended family and friends isn't it.

 

Video of day 1 covers the Proflight landing at Mfuwe and the road transfer in the dark.

 

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Hello again.

 

Struggling for time for the next installment but here is another GoPro video that I had already put together. This was intended for family and friends so please don't expect BBC style footage of big cats and elephants - these videos are intended to show my mum what we do on a walking safari which is basically walk, look at plants and animals and drink a lot of tea. The perfect combination in my book.

 

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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Geoff

@deano I thoroughly enjoyed the vids.

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pomkiwi

@@deano Thank-you for this - enjoying the journey. I liked the hippos in the middle of the green pond particularly. It's good to see that I'm not the only one who believes in having the next trip booked before you finish the current one!

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Fredweinman

Wow... We arrived in south Luangwa on June 10th. We were at Kapamba, Chinzombo Camp and old Chiawa. I can tell you Frank is now at the Norman Carr Chinzombo Camp, or at least, he was there during our stay. Great guy

 

 

We were at Chiawa, I think, when you were at Old Mondoro. Did you see the Pangolin at Old Mondoro?

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deano

@@Geoff - thanks for that; I will definitely put some more up when I have some spare time,

 

@@pomkiwi - glad you're enjoying it; I'm swamped at work and the only thing keeping me going is the thought of my next trip to Africa (SA in December and 2017 on the cards also).

 

@@Fredweinman - nice to hear from you Fred; We had heard that Frank was there and were sorry we missed him; Speaking of missing things, we left Old Mondoro on the morning of their alleged pangolin sighting. I am not falling for it though as it was clearly a clockwork one that they wheel out every now and then. Just like the aardvark that they supposedly saw the day after! Hope you enjoyed Zambia and looking forward to your trip report.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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Uh_oh busted

Zambia is on our list...and I am enjoying your videos. The older I get, the fewer photos I take as I find I want to savor the experiences as they happen. And yet, I am not ready to give up the photography altogether, because digital technology has improved and oh, it is hard to NOT take pictures. Work towards that happy blending :-) and know that many of us truly appreciate your sharing your experiences with us. While I can keep putting destinations on "my list" the years speed by faster as we get older, and I know I will likely not get to some of those beautiful places. Looking forward to your next installment!

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deano

@@Uh_oh busted; Zambia should be on everyone's list and glad to see you like the videos. My first effort with a GoPro. I agree with your comments about pictures and videos and while I do enjoy photography I sometimes wonder if I might as well just carry an iPhone and a GoPro and spend more time just being there. Working on next installment tonight.

 

Thanks for following along.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day 3 Luwi Bush Camp:

 

I had a solid sleep last night and didn't wake until a hyena started calling from close by at around 5AM. I was starting to tune into the bird calls now as well and the Cape Turtle Dove and Fish Eagle were always amongst the first that I could pick out from the crowd.

 

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Another breakfast by the fire while chatting with Hans, Dave and Di and the staff to see who heard what in the night and how far away we all thought it was and then Di landed her parting shot with the "songs that get stuck in your head game" from yesterday - ABBA. Fernando. And I can still hear those bloody pan pipes or pan flutes or whatever they are! But there was definitely something in the air that night, the stars so bright.....and now you all know what my head was like for the next day (thanks Di - you were great fun).

 

We were walking again today because, well, that's what you do on a walking safari and we set off towards the hippo lagoon but this time taking an anti-clockwise loop so that we didn't repeat yesterday.

 

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We arrived at the lagoon and watched for while and were treated to a hippo serenade which was great as they all started shouting at each other or maybe they were shouting at us. We heard them a lot on our Zambia travels and it was nice to experience it while sitting with them in the Zambian morning. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?

 

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A pleasant morning today with the usual stops for John to point out interesting things like on the walk today where we saw damage to a Marula tree where an elephant had got at the resin produced by the tree; that resin is known as Amber and if you have seen the film Jurassic Park then you would know that my mind went straight away to the scene where we see a prehistoric mosquito trapped in a piece of Amber. We arrived at our morning tea stop and had to dodge some poo that we had not been able to identify - John immediately knew that is was African Wild Cat. They are clearly in the area but we had never seen one. An Ibis shouted at us while the tea was being brewed and I sat down with camera in hand to see what I could see and was happy that I picked out a Pied Kingfisher dive bombing nearby.

 

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I had always wanted to try and capture that on camera so I sat there for a good while but he didn't oblige. And just when I was taking pictures of something else the Pied suddenly launched into a dive. My settings were way off so please accept my apologies for the sequence that follows but hopefully they will please the twitchers and also help wannabe photographers like me to know that patience is what is required...and a bit of luck.

 

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Wish I'd been more patient as the autofocus did well but the shutter speed was way too slow (I started at 1/4000 sec and after 10 minutes of watching I moved to 1/180 sec for something else and that is when he set off).

 

A short walk back to camp where we enjoyed an ice cold drink and a short chat with Charles before lunch which was fantastic as usual. They are building a new chalet at Luwi and it is more elevated so I asked permission to go and admire the view and ended up sitting there for about half an hour watching a very distant Lilac Breasted Roller doing its thing. Plenty of puku as well and that is going to be a very popular chalet at Luwi but then again, they all are.

 

Pottered about the place after lunch and then it was time for afternoon tea before a short walk to the hippo hide for sundowners via the lagoon. We got to see some great interaction between two bulls. A sort of fight but they were only playing really. Still amazing to watch form the bank when they are only a few feet away from you.

 

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There is some thick bush along the way and it is not uncommon to spot elephants in the area just as we did tonight along with a fantastic assortment of birds.

 

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I enjoyed my sundowner there in that hide and set my camera on a tripod as there were some nice birds around as well as hippos and crocs. My D750 is full frame and my main lens an 80-400mm zoom - I like the flexibility of the lens although I do find it maxed out at 400mm a lot of the time. It is by no means perfect at that end and with small far off subjects it has to work a bit outside its remit but I was able to pick out some hippos as well as a pair of pied kingfishers hunting in the last of the light from a perch almost opposite the hide. It wasn't until I got home that I noticed that one of them had a fish as well so I pulled out a crop. As with the last pied pictures, these are not the best but they will hopefully help a fellow Safaritalker with camera and lens choices.

 

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A fairly quiet night drive followed although quiet always means owls, genets, mongoose and the chance of something else. It had got a bit cold tonight as well but my nightcap of hot chocolate with Jamesons (or was it the other way arouund?) was great for warming me up. My wife was happy to receive a hot water bottle which she gratefully shoved under her fleece jacket as we sat under the stars by the fire and I am fairly certain that...there was something in the air that night, the stars so bright, Fernando (sorry; couldn't resist but it is all Dave and Di's fault).

 

So, the end of another great day in the bush at Luwi with Norman Carr Safaris. I have added another video as well and that will hopefully string together the words and pics above for those of you that are interested.

 

 

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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AfricanQueen

As you may notice I was eagerly waiting for the next installment :D

 

Very nice hippo shots!

Love the video clip, too. The "routine stuff", like fetching a coffee or walking around camp during breakfast or breaktimes brings back a lot of memories and pleasure.

I always enjoy the open bathrooms and yours looks great!

 

Btw: I don't think you mentioned loving Africa :lol: (I can understand you so much!)

Looking forward to more...

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deano

@@AfricanQueen - thanks for the comments; It is not hard to photograph hippos in Zambia...they are everywhere! I took the videos in short bursts and edited them together hoping that somebody would like to see the routine as you call it. As much as I like to see the animals it is often the people that we meet and the places that we stay that make the trip complete for us.

 

Working on next installment now.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day 4 Luwi Bush Camp sleep out

 

It was bitterly cold last night and we had the sleep out planned for tonight. My wife had not fancied it last year because she really does not like the cold and I had worked hard to persuade her that she would be warm enough. Anyhow, nothing we could do about it except plan for the worst and hope for the best.

 

We had said hello to an old friend last night, Aubrey, who we had met last year at Kakuli. Aubrey joined us for breakfast and also on the morning walk which was really nice for us and him as he doesn't get into the bush as much as he would like since his relocation to Kapani (NCS HQ).

 

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Aubrey added to John's guiding with a few stories and a touch of humor which is always appreciated by us.

 

We were not far outside of camp before we encountered tracks in the dry river bed - the long imprint of a tail and the imprint of scales gave this away - a crocodile that had been relocating or possibly hunting in the night.

 

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And then a more familiar track.

 

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We didn't see any lions but we did find one of their favourite food groups; Buffalo; a large herd scattered in the bush with a few bulls keeping an eye on us.

 

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As well as a humorous tale from the bush about a buffalo, a guinea fowl and an eagle we studied lion and hyena tracks today and added to our knowledge with particular emphasis on difference between pads/toes on chasers and stalkers and the 2/3 split (pad and toes).

 

We next found a nice spot overlooking the Luwi river which was mostly sand but a bend had retained some deep water and was home to two pods of hippos.

 

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After continuing our walk including a stretch through 10ft high elephant grass along a very recently used hippo pathway we then found a nice spot for a tea stop and spent a relaxed 30 minutes or so just chatting about the bush and training our binoculars on anything that took our fancy before completing the walk back to Luwi for lunch before re-packing our things for the transfer to the next camp - Nsolo. We would walk there from the sleep out tomorrow while our bags would go by road.

 

It doesn't take long to pack for us these days as we just have a small soft sided bag with 3 or 4 of everything in it; they do great laundry at these bush camps so you can get away with packing light.

 

After a brief siesta watching Wood Hoopoe on the tree in front of where we were staying we headed down to the main area for the last time and were greeted with a typically African scene. Antelope grazing in the grass with a few elephants in the background pushing over a tree and nibbling on it.

 

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I could have stayed there that afternoon and just watched that scene play out as the older bulls pushed the younger guys off of their meal but we had to get to our sleep out spot somewhere on the river bed. As we set off on the walk a Lilac Breasted Roller perched on a bush not far from us and for once didn't fly away as soon as I aimed my lens at it.

 

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We arrived at the site of the sleep out after about 4 miles of walking; we had seen buffalo, warthogs (who were very surprised to see us when they ventured out of the long grass - if you stand still they hardly notice you until the very last minute) , elephants and plenty of puku and impala along the way as well as the usual assortment of birds.

 

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Just before sunset we arrived at our spot and as we walked down onto the river bed we saw the small camp site being set up; we were asked to sit and watch but we couldn't do that so we helped with dragging fire wood from the river bank across to four or five small fires that would be our protection and cooking source for the night. Mopane wood is quite heavy you know! We were happy to see Judy the cook from Luwi who had prepared some wonderful food for us in the last few days and tonight's braii would no doubt be extra special.

 

The whole scene was so nice that even my wife took some pictures (iPhone) and I have put these in here as well as my own; I actually like hers better as they pick up the fact that it was getting dark pretty fast.

 

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The braii was indeed very good and we had Creme Brule for afters! Have I mentioned that I love Africa? It wasn't long before the Jamesons was being poured and we sat by the fire chatting with John about life in general and his passion for football (Man City...could have been worse). We headed off to bed and slept with clothing on just in case we needed to get up for any reason (I did...needed the loo...very exciting when you realize that the loo has a view that obviously faces away from camp and you feel like the only person there). I slept in bursts of a couple of hours and it was great to see how our view of the stars had changed.

 

I had also set my GoPro on time-lapse and have extracted a frame for that; It comes nowhere near the real thing but I'll remember that night for a long long time; sleeping under the stars listening to lions, hyena and hippos while watching the Milky Way pass overhead. Epic. And it wasn't too cold either.

 

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Another GoPro video of the whole day just to finish off this installment.

 

 

Thanks for reading and commenting and liking.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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