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Zambia June 2016. No noise. Only sounds.


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Towlersonsafari

Hello @@deano of all the wonderful things one can do on a safari, surely walking with a knowledgeable guide has to be the most fun! We did the Norman Carr bush camps as long ago as 2000 and your report makes me long to return their even more. then the 2 guides that stood out amongst some very good guides was a lovely gentleman called Abraham, and an old tracker called Rice Times ( I think) who would throw things at elephants to make them move! We even saw on that trip a white kudu calf-the sleep out sounds great fun but as I am like a tortoise on its back when I am on the ground, may give it a miss. Really enjoying your report

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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

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 ha

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 invol

Alexander33

@@deano

 

Your reports truly inspire me to go to Zambia -- on my short list! Love your many hippo shots as well as the lilac-breasted roller with the elephants in the background.

 

I will have to give your wife's mouth goggle a try some time. Most inventive!

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pomkiwi

@@deano Enjoying what seems to be a very relaxing trip. I would have enjoyed spending as much time watching hippos.

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Grasshopper_Club

@deano

 

Wonderful trip report, reminds me back to my trip to Luwi in 2014. Great Hippo shots and pied Kingfisher in action! Fantastic. Go on, lovely trip report!

 

Cheers

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AfricIan

Thoroughly enjoying this @@deano. Interesting comparison of Luwi's sleep-out "tents" compared to Kichaka's (Ruaha, Tanzania)

 

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Dawn breaks over the sleep-out

I'm with you all the way with your description of the experience, Epic sums it up perfectly!

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Kitsafari

I took a bit of time to get used to all those gruntings, grumblings and guffaws from the hippos in the night when I would swear they were sharing a secret joke about us humans, but got used to it, I did, and every night those hippos in the Luangwa River would soothe us to bed. no Fernandos in our minds (Altho it's starting to play in my head right now...)

 

thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories and sharing your experiences.

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TonyQ

@@deano

The sleepout looks wonderful! The mix of photos by you and your wife works really well - they really show the atmosphere.

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AfricanQueen

@Kitsafari Every time I read the next part of this TR it's the same: Fernando in my ear!

I hope it won't be a catchy song for me in Zimbabwe (only 6 weeks today! :D ), because I don't particularly like it - bringing back bad memories. (Not an unhappy love affair with a Fernando, but my older brother singing it years ago... A teribble experience!)

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deano

@@Towlersonsafari - hello to you both; thanks for following along and I am glad to have brought back memories. I heard tales of Mr. Rice Times shouting at lions and them turning around...now that would have been a walking safari!

 

@@Alexander33 - Hello to you too; I know that you would like Zambia (who wouldn't) and since we don't have a patent on the "mouth bug guard" then you are welcome to tweak it to suit your own 'taste'. Thanks for following.

 

@@pomkiwi - Hi mate; thanks for the comments. Hippos were not something we had seen a lot of until we got to Zambia and I can't imagine anywhere else like it; They are interesting to watch but the sounds they make are what make them truly interesting in my opinion; my wife is still trying to record one for a ringtone. Imaginer that going off in the queue at the bank!

 

@@Grasshopper_Club - thank you also; carving out time now to work on the next installment (Luwi is pretty special eh?).

 

@@AfricIan - love the pink hue in that image; thanks for the comparison. I'd sleep under a bin liner if it meant one night under the stars in Africa.

 

@@Kitsafari - ABBA or hippo? Tough call but after a couple of nights I would get used to the hippo sounds but the ABBA noise would drive me nuts! Thanks for following.

 

@@TonyQ - thanks; it was truly epic. Awesome even and one of the best things we've ever done. My wife has a much better arty side than me and I wish she'd pick up my old D5200 (plus I would be able to justify more lenses!!)

 

@@AfricanQueen - glad you're still here; I always get more excited about an up coming trip when I'm reading another trip report; I will do my best to leave out references to "catchy" pop songs in future installments. Thanks for following along.

 

Working on next installment now.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day 5 Luwi to Nsolo:

 

No need for any alarm clock or wake up calls this morning; up at first light before the first rays peaked above the grass on the dry river bank. It was a bit chilly but I soon warmed up once I layered up and started moving around. Within a couple of minutes I was drinking hot coffee and watching the sunrise.

 

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As you can see from the iPhone pic above, Judy served up a full english and I wondered if the day could start off any better; yes was the answer as John spotted a leopard just about to cross the river bed not far from us. She soon saw us and ran off into the long grass; I had a 24-85mm lens on a full frame camera so the picture is not the best but it is enough to remind me of what we saw.

 

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After getting our stuff together for the walk to Nsolo camp we then saw a herd of buffalo starting to cross the river bed from almost the same spot. A fantastic start to the day.

 

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Plenty of wildlife along the way and still more information from John about trees, plants, insects - you name it and these guys know it. We took a detour around a water hole and spent some time watching a heron perched on the back of a hippo and then headed back to the track that runs along side the Luwi river. All of a sudden Amon raised his hand and then motioned for us to move back quickly. We couldn't see much but could definitely hear the sound (not noise) of something big in the 10ft high grass. Within 5 seconds we were across the river bed and watching a herd of elephants peeking at us. Amon had somehow spotted a mother and a small calf and only a few feet from us when he first saw them. Exhilarating stuff (but no pics).

 

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We stopped for tea and since Judy had joined us as tea bearer (this woman is amazing) I thought I should at least include a picture of her (thanks Judy).

 

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Before long we were seeing a bend in the river that we recognized from last year and that, coupled with a large gathering of impala and baboons signaled our arrival at Nsolo Bush Camp.

 

A new host at Nsolo in the lovely Zambian lady - Charity. After a cool drink and saying goodbye to John and Amon we were shown to a new chalet. Brand new and with great view down the Luwi to the spot where the wild dogs hang out (we were not lucky enough to see them this time). We also had a great view of the watering hole. I had no sooner put my bag down when the troop of baboons appeared along with the impala and within 30 secs I was set up on the verandah photographing them and an LBR perched in the tree at the side of us. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?

 

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It was only 10AM and we had a while before lunch so I gave my camera a clean and took stock of my batteries and put them on charge. We met our fellow guests for lunch - Karen and Lauren from the USA. A mother and daughter on their first safari and they had great sightings at the NCS camps they had stayed in on their brief visit. They were great company and easy to get along with and I could tell that two more addicts had been created there and then.

 

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There were two guides in camp; Friday and Prince ,the latter had guided us at Kakuli last year. Really nice to have new guides and familiar ones to mix things up a bit. Nice lunch for us all we got on straight away and decided we would go out as one group and we opted for a walk, sundowner, night drive, Friday herded us up after a spot of afternoon tea (no day is complete without afternoon tea) and we walked out towards a fairly open plain where we encountered elephants and zebra and then a large herd of buffalo on the river bed. We then walked to the vehicle that had been driven out by Prince to meet us and were soon on our way to a sundowner spot. Charity had set up on the bank of the dry river and as usual the whole thing was just brilliant. I wasted no time in setting up my camera as I enjoy photographing these things nearly as much as the wildlife. We had a champagne toast and then nibbles (including popcorn...yes...popcorn...in the bush...fantastic) and I had my arm twisted and tried a Jamesons. Its quite nice and I think I might try it again one day.

 

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It was getting dark when we left Charity and her team while we headed off on the night drive. Genets and mongoose are seen very often and Edwin, the ZAWA scout, picked out a chameleon for us (tough to spot) and a hippo (not so tough to spot as it was out of the water).

 

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Shortly after that we were treated to a large male leopard patrolling his territory. It was good to see the techniques used by guide and scout with the lights to illuminate the eye shine of this predator and I believe now that I could probably pick out a leopard after another night or so in the bush to remind me what to look for.

 

This leopard was not at all bothered by us and we spent some time with him and I took a lot of pictures. Apologies for pasting them all here but a leopard walking in the dark is the sort of picture I really like to take.

 

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Back at camp we had another great meal before a night cap by the fire (the bush TV at Nsolo is as good as that at Luwi...just a different channel) and then a relatively early night at 10 PM ish and I slept soundly except for the sounds of three hippos who decided to make themselves at home in the water that was forming a pond in the bend of the river. No complaints from me though.

 

And so comes the end of another great day.

 

I have added another GoPro video below. No footage of the first half of the day so apologies for putting in so much of the sundowner but I had to pad it out a bit.

 

 

Thanks again to all who read, comment, like or whatever.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

 

 

 

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KaingU Lodge

Loving this trip report @@deano. I should be doing something productive, but this is too much fun!

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martywilddog

I'm loving your go pro video's @@deano! It really makes me feel like I was there!

 

I think I'll get one of those nifty little things for our next trip :) (the entry level hero though).

 

How did you make your video's? With a selfie stick or a chest mount? Or just hand held?

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AfricanQueen

Lucky you @@deano! A chameleon is on my wish list for years...

 

And I certainly agree with you @@martywilddog

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optig

I've always dreamt of seeing a chameleon on a night drive in South Luangwa National Park. I know that a sighting would be simply unforgettable. As we all would agree it's often the small things that one see on safari that are the most memorable.

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deano

@@KaingU Lodge - thank you for the kind words. I'm having fun writing this and putting the videos together.

 

@@martywilddog - hello again! Glad you like these. If you can afford it my advice with be the Hero Silver with the LCD screen - it is extremely useful for seeing what you are actually looking at. I had a clip that lets you mount the camera on baseball cap and I used this a few times but without a doubt the most useful thing I had was a Joby Gorillapod tripod - this thing was brilliant as it allows you to use it as a mini tripod, a handheld mount and it also wrapped around practically anything e.g. trees, handrails, car roll bars, kayak sides. It was very useful and I was handheld with that most of the time.

 

@@AfricanQueen - We were lucky that our guide got out of the vehicle to pull the branch into a better spot for viewing. It was an amazing little creature and made my day even without the leopard.

 

@@optig - agreed; the little things are most memorable just like the antlion that we watched on a tea stop while it fought with an ant. The antlion tossed the ant about a bit like an Orca tosses a seal in the sea. On a pound for pound basis that must be one strong little predator. Good luck in seeing something little but memorable wherever you travel next.

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deano

Day 6 Nsolo Bush Camp:

 

It was nice to watch the morning light as it illuminated the dead tree in the waterhole and then the mist on the water itself before finally revealing the water hole and surrounding area. I often wish I could get up 1 hour early and set up a camera right there on the water to catch the last of the night visitors.

 

We would be in our own in camp today as Lauren and Karen were returning home but they joined us for breakfast before their game drive/airport transfer. I wished them good sightings and reminded them that our drive out last year yielded leopards and wild dogs and with their luck they were likely to see that as a minimum.

 

Another walk on the cards for us and we first drove out with guide Friday and scout Edwin toward an open area approaching the Luangwa river. Today would be a day of elephants and by the time we were done we must have seen close to 100 individuals in various groupings.

 

Straight out of the vehicle we were watching a herd across the plain from us;

 

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There was also a nice group of zebras that just kept us on the edge of their comfort zone as we tracked further on our intended path.

 

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Friday noticed a dead tree full of fish eagles and storks of various kinds and so, being that we had the benefit if being on foot, we headed off to see what they were all looking at. It could have been a kill so we approached with caution and soon saw that they were simply hanging out next to one of the few remaining bits of water that had been left behind as the flood waters receded and trapped a few fish and other unfortunate creatures who had clearly been picked off by the birds.

 

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We were still out in the open when we decided to stop for tea in the shade of one of the few trees out there; much more open in the area around Nsolo and we had a spectacular 360 degree view as we rested for half an hour or so.

 

Still more elephants as we headed back towards the vehicle and we also seemed to be seeing a lot of lilac breasted rollers; they are clever birds as they seem to taunt photographers by posing nicely and then taking off just as you point your lens at them.

 

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Back on the vehicle we headed for Nsolo and passed a spot we recognized from last year where we had a fantastic bush breakfast. This place was also visited by a lot of elephants and we switched off and watched and took in the smells and sounds that are so special to us.

 

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Back at base it was time for a clean up and then a nice quiet lunch with just Charity and Friday for company. We got to ask them about life in Zambia and really enjoyed our conversation.

 

After lunch I had a short nap and then set up my camera and tripod on the verandah and took in the sights of the water hole; always something going on there and today I was able to photograph a variety of birds, baboons, warthogs, elephants, hippos and the resident crocodile. With the right lens you could get all of these in one frame!

 

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Nsolo is situated overlooking a large dead tree that sits in the waterhole in front of camp and is visited every afternoon by yellow billed storks. It was great watching them circle and descend before landing on the next available branch and I happily tried my luck at photographing them. they make a great sound also as they cut through the air.

 

I even took a turn as Air Traffic Controller for the landing of YBS Airlines flight YBS99 arriving at 3.45PM;

 

"Flight YBS99 you are cleared for landing on branch XYZ"

 

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"YBS99 you are looking good"

 

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"YBS99 disregard last...you are not looking good...in fact you look look a bit off target...please correct"

 

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"YBS99 are you copying me?"

 

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"YBS99 is this your first landing here?"

 

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"YBS99 okay looking good again"

 

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"YBS99 actually looking very good"

 

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"YBS99 well done. Good fishing"

 

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After directing traffic a bit longer we took our leave and hopped onto the vehicle for another short drive to our afternoon walking location. 5 minutes out of camp and Edwin spots a leopard sunning herself in the sand but she didn't stick around and slinked off into the bush.

 

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Not very far from the leopard sighting Friday pointed out a nice grouping of bee eaters perched on a branch. Normally they fly away but these fellows hung around long enough for me to try my luck with the camera and I was happy that one actually filled a gap in their line up and it even had a bee in its beak. Imagine that...a bee eater with a bee! (actually, it looked more like a wasp but please don't spoil my fun). He tried to use the bee to impress a nearby female but she was having none of it. Tough to please these female bee eaters.

 

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We were soon at our walking spot which turned out to be the breakfast lagoon we visited that morning. The light was golden and we set about covering the perimeter in an anti-clockwise direction. The plain in the middle was home to puku and impala and they were soon making frantic alarm calls and Friday speculated that it could be the leopard we had seen earlier.

 

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Sure enough, as we got just about opposite where we had been when we heard the alarm calls we found the tracks of not one but two leopards on the dusty road we were walking along. I wondered what we might have seen had we taken a clockwise route? We would have been right on the spot of these tracks 20 minutes ago. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?

 

Continuing on from this morning we were seeing a lot of lilac breasted rollers. The sun was low in the sky but as I snapped away at one bird it took off and these are the best images I managed to capture; not perfect by any means but I am happy to put them up here.

 

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Back at the vehicle we enjoyed a nice sundowner and took in the scene. Puku and impala called this place home and with two leopards in the area they were likely in for a rough night as we drove back to camp.

 

More elephants in the dark on the short drive home as well as distant civets and genets and a not so distant bushy tailed mongoose.

 

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Another good day in the bush rounded off by a traditional Zambian meal with nshima and chicken - a great end to the day made even better with a Jamesons and good company.

 

Another GoPro video of the day - as stated previously, these are really aimed at friends and family who ask us every year why we return to Africa. I have to admit that only a few of our friends that watch these videos actually "get it"; the rest are clearly missing out on something if you ask me.

 

 

kind regards

 

deano.

 

 

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martywilddog

Very much enjoying your report @@deano!

 

I was rebuffed by my husband to buy the go pro 4, we will first give the hero a go, see how we get on with it ;-) I am the proud new owner of a joby gorrilapod though, that seemed so handy, there I put the foot down!

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Great report thanks @@deano

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pomkiwi

@@deano Still reading and still enjoying! I was particularly taken by the nocturnal leopard series - I am also fascinated by cats on the move, especially in the dark.

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deano

@@martywilddog - thanks for sticking with me and good job with the Joby...you will use it a heck of a lot.

 

@@Hads - many thanks. Working on the next installment while I have the time.

 

@@pomkiwi - thank you; we were lucky with leopard sightings this trip and all except one were at night. As much as I like leopards though I have to say that a lion walking towards me and planting its heavy feet down is the scene I enjoy the most.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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deano

Day 7 Nsolo to Kakuli:

 

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We heard lions roaring all night and very close to camp and if that wasn't enough to remind us that we were in Africa then an elephant with calf right outside our chalet certainly did.

 

We were walking to Kakuli today; our third and final Norman Carr Safaris camp and right on the Luangwa and about 9 miles down the Luwi river bed from Nsolo. After a hearty breakfast (I think I had a bit of everything on offer) we said our goodbyes to Charity and the staff and headed out.

 

Not far from camp we encountered a large herd of buffalo. This was interesting as this was the general location that the lions had been roaring from all night and into the morning. The buffalo did not seem impressed by us and they did not move when Friday and Edgar make the usual hand clapping or foot stomping noises that normally send the buffalo running.

 

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This group actually came closer and it was decided that we needed to get out of their way as they did not look like they were going to move. Edgar even raised his gun at one point although he said afterwards that is was just routine and that he had a few more ''stages'' to go through before a shot would be fired.

 

We dropped down onto the dry Luwi river and there were still more buffalo which probably explained why the main herd did not move for us. We crossed to the other side and all four of us heard a sound that came from a nearby tree line. Friday and my wife thought it was a buffalo, I wasn't sure what it was and Edgar, who was closest, was convinced it was a lion! Since we couldn't see it and it would not be wise to continue towards an unknown animal in unknown bush we had no choice but to cross back towards the known animal i.e. the buffalo herd. Thankfully there was no further drama and we soon found ourselves well and truly into the walk where we saw new plants and trees and a few birds not seen before including this swallow tailed bee eater.

 

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I had decided to enjoy the walk as much as possible today so not too many photos of the first part but my notes remind me that we saw a lot of lion and hyena tracks on this stretch of dusty road and hopefully we would get to see them while we stayed in the area.

 

After a nice tea stop where we watched an ant lion smashing an ant in his trap we set off on the final leg and soon found ourselves walking along the Luangwa River. This river is packed with hippo and crocodile and a great variety of birds and before long we sneaking up on a group of hippo sunning itself on the bank. They were surprised by us but soon got into the safety of the water. The sound of all of that splashing made us laugh and we managed to catch it on the GoPro thanks to a heads up from Friday and Edgar.

 

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We knew that Kakuli was close by and sure enough within a few minutes we picked out the thatched roof of the bar and as we got closer still we could see host Claire waving us home. Always nice to see familiar faces and Claire had been a great host last year (and was again this year).

 

After saying goodbye to Friday and Edgar we sat in the bar and had a cold drink and swapped stories with Claire. Claire informed us that Kakuli had been chosen as a nesting site by a pair of swallows and this was confirmed when we heard hungry chicks above our heads and than watched as mum and dad swooped in and fed them and took again; their nest was right in the ceiling of the bar and it was not long before I was up a ladder trying to attach my GoPro to a rafter to see if we could film them. The birds didn't seem to like it though and rather than worry them too much I took the camera down and resorted to a more direct approach (more on that tomorrow).

 

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After unpacking and showering we met for lunch and were the only guests in camp for today although we were joined by a female bushbuck and a few greedy baboons who seemed intent on stealing food. A swift throw of a bread knife carefully aimed to shock rather than hurt them and they were soon gone.

 

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We met Julius at afternoon tea; he would be our guide for the next 2 nights along with Z the ZAWA scout. We walked out of camp pretty much back along the path we had used to come in on earlier that day and as it was right beside the Luangwa we saw lots of hippos and crocodiles. There was also a nice little open area that was filled with puku, impala, warthog, guineafowl and no doubt lots of other critters. Much more open down here by the river and probably just as much game here as the other areas but much more visible owing to the thinner vegetation.

 

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Z took us along the river until we had to detour due to a hippo that appeared sick and was sort of napping under a bush. Not a good idea to tick off an already unhappy hippo so we backtracked and headed into the park a bit before rejoining the river at our sundowner spot.

 

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Claire had driven out with the vehicle to join us and as the sun was setting I set up my tripod to try and capture the sunset. I quickly set up my camera and went to the back of the vehicle to get shot of the sun as it was setting behind some trees.

 

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Before I could take a second picture, I heard all four of the others calling my name quite excitedly and I came out from behind the vehicle to assure them that I had not been stupid enough to wander off. they knew exactly where I was and then they pointed out the leopard that was about 100 feet from us! That would explain the excitement in their voices.

 

The leopard was not concerned by us but disappeared into an area that led to the Luangwa and Julius speculated that she would emerge in a certain spot. I quickly grabbed my camera and with Z guiding me a little closer I soon picked her out but the light was fading and my camera set up for a sunset and not a relatively fast moving leopard in low light but I did get a few pictures.

 

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Sundowners were quickly drunk and we jumped into the vehicle and started the night drive. There was still a bit of light although barely enough to see properly and Z turned on the torch and we were able to find her and follow her for a while as she wandered down the road. She would stop and listen every now and then and while she didn't exactly show us her best side, it was a very nice sighting.

 

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An absolutely beautiful creature and to think I was standing no more than 100 feet from her a few minutes ago. Jamesons, leopards, Africa. Doesn't get any better than that does it?

 

The rest of the drive was filled with sightings although sadly most were just at the edge of the light - including two porcupines that Claire had seen out of the corner of her eye. We did get to see a skinny sub adult lion cub wandering off in search of the 3 lionesses that formed its pride as well as a nervous looking group of kudu.

 

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A lovely meal under the stars back at camp and a nightcap of hot chocolate and Jamesons completed another great day in South Luangwa.

 

GoPro video of the day is included as usual. I know that most people don't have the time to watch these but I enjoy putting them together and will watch them all again in a few months to keep the memories alive. I'll probably have a Jamesons as well...

 

 

kind regards

 

deano.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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michael-ibk

Continue to enjoy this report a lot! Love the Hippos splashing in. :)

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deano

@@michael-ibk - thank you; is it because I mention a certain brand of Irish Whiskey a lot? I seem to remember that you quite like that stuff yourself!

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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@@deano this installment is great thanks. Leopard , Jameson's and africa - does it get any better?

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martywilddog

What are you talking about no time? I watch all your video's religiously :)

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