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Zambia June 2016. No noise. Only sounds.


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Apologies for being away from the forum; swamped at work then a storage problem on my computer then a trip off island to meet up with family. Back now and working on the last few installments so that I can then start catching up on all of yours.


@@ZaminOz - Lower Zambezi is a special place and I think anyone who has been knows that; the colour leopard shots were normal light so nothing fancy required on my part which is just as well because if the camera doesn't do something automatically then I would struggle to know what to do. There is actually a section though on the Chiawa website that does give instructions on how to get rid of the red. I have tried it and been somewhat successful but I like the B&W conversions of any taken with a red filter. Thanks for following along.


@@Hads - thanks for following along too; it does not surprise me that you or somebody close knows somebody here or that was here. We get that a a lot and I could have riddled these trip reports with such tales with accountants featuring a great deal. If you PM me I would not be surprised to find out that I knew them as we have some good SA friends that left here about 2 years ago and he is an accountant and we keep in touch. He also loves wildlife and is is one of the nicest human beings that I have the pleasure to call a friend. Amarula and Africa go together like bacon and egg...which is exceedingly well in my opinion.


@@martywilddog - next installment coming today; thanks for your comments and your patience.


@@AfricanQueen - Old Mondoro ranks the number 1 spot on out list of places visited. They have had to relocate a couple of the chalets and one got added on that lagoon but they are all fantastic as far as I'm concerned. We were lucky to get a kayak trip this year as the water levels were a bit low and that is a risk for the guides when they have to get out frequently to pick up the kayaks. However, we did get a trip in and it was amazing and will be the subject of todays two part installment - two parts not because we saw anything individually epic but the whole thing is just so nice that I can't squeeze it all into one update and video. I had Amarula or Jamesons in teas and coffee anytime from afternoon onwards and the same in porridge. The Amarula/Porridge combo is a new favourite of mine now.


kind regards



Edited by deano
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Day 12 Old Mondoro Discovery Channel part 1:


First off - thanks for all that read and comment and like; I enjoy putting these together and do so mainly to give back to Safaritalk so it is good to see that you guys actually look at this stuff. I also direct friends and family here and if just one of those gets caught by the bug then I will be happy.


Back to the report....


More new guests in camp today - Jean and Mimi who were Old Mondoro regulars with stays in the double digits and they were very well travelled and in no doubt that Old Mondoro was their favourite place. That plus the fact that stayed for 2 weeks at time should reinforce that. More great company although we only got to spend time with them in camp as our activities never seemed to overlap but that didn't stop us getting on well - easy enough when we have a shared love of rescue dogs with Mimi being the Founder of a charity for same in Vancouver. We also had Marco and Tamyn (sorry if I spelled that wrong). Both long time SA field Guides and now running a travel company; they too were (obviously) well traveled and it it was great to get info from them about their travels. Neither had visited OM yet though and I knew they would love it.


Our plan today was a walk but with Marco and Tamyn arriving late last night they were a bit tired and wanted to set off a bit later than usual so that they could indulge their passion for birding before a walk- they were in a lagoon chalet so I didn't blame them as I could have stayed there and not moved and been a happy camper.


So we headed out on a short game drive with Sebastian just for an hour or so before returning to camp to collect the others. They had seen some lifers (you twitchers know what that means) and were very happy about that. We had seen a lot of baboons and impalas and an odd looking creature that we caught a glimpse of through some trees until it showed itself to be a bush pig! Mrs deano had never even heard of them so was very pleased to spot a new animal for us. They are quite striking with that hair down their backs. A bit Billy Idol (have I put Rebel Yell in your heads now?).












After picking up our fellow guests, we didn't drive far before hopping out to start our shortened walk. Within minutes Sebastian said he could hear buffalo and sure enough we soon caught a glimpse of them. We were crossing a dry river bed in both directions in an effort to catch up to the herd and observe them but they always seemed to be aware of our plans while we thought we were tracking them. Quite enjoyable in the thick bush and we did eventually get to see them in a clearing and they definitely saw us and had probably been aware of our presence all the time. The bush is their back yard after all.




We stopped often for Marco and Tamyn to watch birds and I have to say that the colourful little ones were tough for me to spot but they seemed very happy with their sightings and I was happy to observe them and Sebastian and learn about the various bird songs. One day I'll get more into that I'm sure.


We then walked up onto the plains and encountered elephants and spent a lot of time watching a lone animal as it crossed down through the woodland and on its way to the river. These encounters extended our walk but we were clearly with like minded souls who were genuinely happy to just be in the bush with nature - looking and listening and occasionally smelling the world around us. I made a point of thanking them both for being as quiet as we usually are so that we got a nice and peaceful walk. Don't get me wrong, we love company and are happy to stop and chat but today it just seemed like being quiet was the thing to do.












After stopping for tea we then returned for camp where we had a nice lunch and caught up with the other guests and then headed off to gather our things for the kayak trip. I had been looking forward to this for one year and even though it is something we had done before I could hardly wait although as usual there was an elephant in camp and he was on the path to the meeting area but soon moved off in search of easier food offerings.





We hopped onto one of the boats and the kayaks were on the back and we set off upstream to the Discovery Channel. Just the two of us so we got a kayak each with Sebastian taking the lead with me at the front (just like last year) and Mrs deano with staffer Prosper who was a guide in training but skilled on the water with the kayak, hippo and crocodiles.






I won't rattle on about the kayak trip but I will put in a few more photos than usual and have done 2 GoPro videos as I took a lot of footage. I intend to put a longer video together at some point and one with little or no music just so that I can remember the whole experience which was just as fantastic as last year.


As expected, we did see a lot of hippo and had a particularly thrilling encounter with a large bull who got out of the water as we approached and then got into a titanic stare down with us as we floated past. Sebastian actually stood up in the kayak to "make us look bigger" and did say that he really thought that the hippo was going to charge us. But he didn't which is good and bad - good because I don't ever want to be in a position where an animal gets the blame for something we caused (no guns on a kayak trip so no worries there) and bad because I had the GoPro mounted to the kayak filming the hippo as he watched us and my camera pointed at him with Prosper and Mrs deano right there in the middle of the frame. Neither of those two scare easily so hippo charge and at least a big splash would have been with taking a picture of eh? Probably better off safe though - Hippo bulls can be extremely dangerous.




























As well as a ton of birdlife we also saw waterbuck, impala, kudu, baboons, a water monitor (actually a few) and a lot of elephants. We saw them in the water ahead of us, on the bank to the side of us and then watched two young bulls as they had a play fight as we floated past. Its quite the technique swiveling at the waist while pointing a long lens at moving animals but I managed some GoPro footage (POV camera and into the sun so not the best) and a few pics with my Nikon. None of that matters though as I will not soon forget the scene as they kicked up dust as they battled and that dust got highlighted in the shafts of sunlight beaming though the trees on the banks of the channel as we drifted by them. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?


























Part 2 to follow with 2 GoPro videos.


kind regards




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I love all your photos, however, I really enjoy those of the bull elephants fighting. This is something that I've never seen before.

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Great installment. How lucky to see Bushpigs, really jealous of that one. Really like the Hippo photo from the worm´s eye-view, great angle. And the fighting Eles are very cool.

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Great to have you back @@deano.

Old Mondoro looks like a must to for my wife and I in the future.

That is one mean Hippo stare.....

I will PM you later.

Keep up the great work.

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@@deano i've only just finished post #62 but those tarts for afternoon tea at old mondoro look really tantalising.


aren't babies so adorable? those pudgy lion cubs are so cute, really brings out the smile and a laugh, especially when they think mum is a big toy.

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oh wow a bushpig! i didnt know there were bushpig in zambia.


great job in capturing the ele bull playfight. quite a sight to see them lock trunks and tusks. a first for me through your eyes! thank you!

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@@optig - thank you; I enjoyed the elephants and knew that we had seen something special.


@michael-ibk; there were four bush pigs and we had to sit a while to get a photo of that one as he came out into the open. But that is what we are there for isn't it. You move quite fast with the current in the kayaks and it can be tough to be in a good position for photography but every now and then the animals just seem to do their thing and that hippo certainly did. I am sure that you know what I mean (from your Zim trip report you spent a lot of time on foot with animals) when I say that you can sort of tell when an animal is okay with your presence and then when they are definitely not okay - Mr. Hippo was most definitely not okay.


@@Hads - many thanks (got your PM and will respond); the hippo is probably one of our favourite sightings from that trip.


@@Kitsafari - afternoon tea was nice everywhere we stayed. It is amazing what they can produce and I aways ended up having more than my fair share as afternoon tea is the one thing that most people skip because they feel like they "have eaten too much on their trip"; their loss, my gain. We enjoyed the lion cubs - it is a shame that the GoPro didn't pick up more audio though as the sounds from them and mum were wonderful and added to the whole sighting for us.


Glad you liked the bush pigs and the elephants and very happy to have shown these to everyone and that they are appreciated as much as I appreciate all that I have read in the various reports on Safaritalk.


kind regards



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Day 12 Old Mondoro Discovery Channel part 2:


Here is the video from the first part;



After leaving the elephants we continued downstream towards the Zambezi and were able to watch more birds, more elephants, more hippos and more antelopes. They are definitely aware of the presence of the kayak but because their is no noise (noise is caused by us; sound is created by them) we felt more like we were part of the scene.








If you are into birds then you absolutely have to try this sort of activity; it is the one thing I remember most from kayaking - bird life is constant. We get to see a lot of birds doing their thing including a Goliath Heron who kept landing on the bank in front of us and then flying off just as I locked focus.




One such take off and landing we watched as two fish eagles mobbed him as they made it quite clear that he was not welcome in their territory. He was none the worse for the attack and took off agin for safer fishing. All a bit far for my 400mm lens but a crop in post and you can see the action and get the idea.








We then saw a distant elephant crossing the channel in front of us. It was great to just watch it happen as we drifted closer and then right past him as he sauntered off into the woodlands on the other bank. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?










We pulled in for a drink stop and I had to laugh when Prosper was sent off to scout the area to make sure it was safe - he was armed with a kayak paddle! Thankfully the are was safe and we spent a pleasant half hour listening to the resident Egyptian Geese shouting at their kind who dared fly through their airspace without permission.






More bird life as we resumed our journey including Ibis, stilts, herons, kingfishers and a Goliath Heron at the mouth of the channel. I managed to get a pic of him taking off albeit from the rear and then again as he flew overhead. Very tough for an unskilled photographer and even more so from a moving kayak.




















We popped out onto the Zambezi as the sun was setting and it is just pure magic. I handed Mrs. deano the GoPro with instructions to just keep it running as we have battery life and memory cards to spare. A lot of the footage on the second video is just pure indulgence on my part but I will watch it often just to try an bring back the feeling of being there.


There was still plenty to see with hippos a plenty and the occasional water monitor and we were able to spend some time with a Malachite Kingfisher that Sebastian had spotted as it flew from Zimbabwe to Zambia across the Zambezi. The little bird perched on a dead tree and proceeded to jump about like little birds do and the light was fading but I didn't care and Sebastian maneuvered us into a decent spot for pictures and held onto another dead tree in the river and tried to steady us against the current. Mrs deano got that on the GoPro and I included that footage in video No.2 just for any of you that want to try this type of thing so that you can see what it can be like.














Before long we had drifted back to Old Mondoro where we had time for a quick drink before meeting up with Jane and Hiddo who were on an evening game drive.








It was just about dark as we set off and a fairly quite drive but we still saw genets, civets and a baby water buck hidden away for the night. I always seem to have one special sighting that I don't manage to photograph and tonight we drove back into camp and could see a herd of elephants wandering about on the edge of a small plain and the sight of the moonlight glinting off of their tusks is not one I will soon forget. Magical.




Another great day in a great place and I slept well that night. Not even the hippos could wake me.


Second GoPro for the day...not a lot of real action but still brings back great memories.



Kind regards






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Love your water-bird series... especially the malachite king fisher!

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A Bushpig! A bushpig! very jealous-was it off to a "White Wedding"? @@deano When we stayed at old Mondoro (which always sounds like some kind of tobacco) we had the lagoon chalet and indeed one afternoon just decided to stay there and watch what came by-ele's, 3 buffalo in the lagoon etc etc. It was hot and so (and please forgive the mental image in fact don't think about it at all) we decided to have a nap, and lay down under a wet sarong and nothing else-a fine way to cool off.About half an hour later a knock on the door-we must have been asleep as we did not hear the jeep-the wonderful camp manager saying that someone had seen a leopard nearby and she was going out to photo it-did we want to come along?

Que Keystone cop/Benny hill sequence as we desperately tried to get dressed in record time, getting our stuff together and mortified that every second we took might mean the leopard not being found! We made it-and decided not to say why it had taken so long-and indeed saw the leopard. Motto-always be prepared!

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@@ZaminOz - birds not something I used to be interested in until Safaritalk. I just noticed that the Ibis is much out of focus but then again I was shooting from a moving platform (that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it). Thank you.


@@Towlersonsafari - thank you; you managed to fill my head with lyrics from Billy Idol all day and also the music from Benny Hill. Could I respectfully request @ Game Warden inserts a suitable PG13 Benny Hill clip from Youtube please for the full effect. Either way, glad you got to see the leopard and I don't think it cared that you were probably wearing each other's undies and what happens at Old Mondoro stays at Old Mondoro...unless I happen to be there with my GoPro in which case everything is fair game.


kind regards



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Day 13 Old Mondoro final day:


Our last full day had arrived. Always sad at the end of a trip and these Zambia affairs even more so although I do always feel like we've been away twice as long as we really have so that takes the edge off of the sadness I think.


A beautiful Zambezi morning so I took the time to get a picture of the river view that I would not see for a while before tucking in to a breakfast of porridge with Amarula and a home baked muffin. We had decided on a game drive today and along with Jane and Hiddo, who were leaving at lunchtime for Chiawa, we were happy to be having a new guide in James who we had not spent much time with.




We headed out towards what I recognized as being a 'hot spot' for activity (where we saw the large herd of buffalo the other day) but any place here can be a hot spot. Today was quiet but we did still have some nice sightings with a family of kudu on the edge of the plains being a stand out - they were not far from where we had watched the lioness and cubs a few days ago but no sign (or sound) of them today.














We drove on past baboons and fishing marabou and a lone elephant.










Next up was a nice bull elephant who was sort of checking us out as he made his way from the plains down into the woodlands and towards the river;









James then drove us further West than we had been before and the terrain changed slightly although it was still fully occupied with resident waterbuck and baboons. A rare "other vehicle" was spotted from another lodge and the guides swapped information and we were tipped off about a male lion so James asked us if we wanted to try and find him. Of course we did and we drove about for about 30 minutes looking into 6ft high grass for the spot where a lazy lion might rest up in the heat of the day. We didn't find him but we enjoyed the search and then went on another hunt for a drink stop which was just as well I had drunk a lot of tea and was in need of a "comfort break" (I needed to pee but you all knew that didn't you?). And of course everywhere James stopped to have a tea break there was an animal - buffalo, elephant each place including these two nice fellows who were resting in the shade of a tree on a hot day.










Finally, after I was ready to pop, James took us to a beautiful elevated spot on what I thought was the banks of the Discovery Channel and I was right. A fantastic spot and once I was no longer in need of a comfort break we had a nice tea and chat while recounting our recent kayak trip and trying to identify whereabouts we were in the channel. We figured that we were just upstream of the spot where last year we had seen a pride of lions while kayaking the same channel. Have I mentioned that I love Africa?






After watching the various birds and animals, including a large croc on the opposite bank, we headed back to camp so that Jane and Hiddo could pack for the boat journey to Chiawa Camp about 2 hours upstream of Old Mondoro. Lunch was great (as usual) and we were again visited by elephants who were almost regulars now and I managed to get some pics of them as they ambled past - the one of camp host Shelley is for her uncle who always asks her when she is going to get herself a proper job. Hmmm; me thinks she already has one uncle.
















After saying goodbye to Jane and Hiddo we had a nap before our afternoon activity which was a second fishing trip. I don't care much for fishing but any excuse to get out on the Zambezi and I have to say that we did get some good bites this time but no luck. We both "caught" fish but didn't land them although from the coaching that I was receiving (and not doing a good job of putting into practice) from skipper Johan I was sure that a half decent fisherman would have landed at least one that afternoon.












Never mind, I loved being out there and enjoyed a large Jamesons while watching the sun set over the escarpment to the South West.


Back at camp we were paired up with Sebastian and Ruben and because we were the only two guests on the vehicle we had requested some company and were pleased when Shelley said she could join us. We set off and set Sebastian a challenge to find us leopards but that on a points scoring system a leopard was 20 and a genet was 1 with a civet being 2. would you believe that we saw no leopards but that Sebastian got so close to finding 20 genets that we started deducting points for impala rams! We did have a nice sighting of a civet and finally got to see honey badgers as Ruben picked them out in the distance as they clambered down a tree and off into the night. Not the best image but its a honey badger at night running so what do you expect!






It was a cold evening and we had a quiet drive by OM standards but we were still happy. We had been happy with the whole experience and the animals for us are just the icing on the cake...and we both really like cake. Nice to see the animals of course but sometimes it is nice not to as it keeps you wanting more.


Back at camp we met more new guests - an English couple and a German couple and we were slightly envious that they would be there after we had gone but it was our turn to leave and let someone else have their own adventures.


We stayed up a while but the new couples were tired and had gone to bed early so we were chatted with Sebastian and camp host Jake and it was very nice to have Jake join us for a night cap. Both he and Shelley had been great hosts and we would happily request their company if (when) we return to OM or if we try Chiawa in the future.


Probably no later than 10.30PM when we turned in but I was quite tired and slept like a lion with a full belly. It had been a great stay at Old Mondoro and a great trip overall.


GoPro video to round off the set.



Kind regards



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Booking trip #2 while still at the airport of trip #1 says it all. So does a very similar itinerary. That first owl photo is a spooky start.


The hippo closeups are classics.


Aubrey! How nice you could see him again. I went to Kakuli especially for Aubrey, having met him on a guide exchange program along the Zambezi. He was a reluctant canoer.


That giraffe calf was so tiny. I thought I'd see an umbilical cord.


The Yellow billed stork's retort to your YBS99 series. "I meant to do that. Everything's under control."


Chameleon, leopard and everything in between.


I through p 3 and have one question, "Do you love Africa?"

Edited by Atravelynn
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Such a great detailed report with so many interesting photos. Well done on capturing those night time animals.

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I am so sad this trip (report) is almost over :( And it wasn't even my trip!


Thanks for introducing me to the wonder of Go Pro on safari - would have never thought about it otherwise and I loved all your video's! (secretely hoping there is at least one more to come :) )

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Despite your cold and your lost bag, you were doing quite well. Your photos really allow us to immerse ourselves in Zambia.


I am at your Old Mondoro arrival but I caught a glimpse of the word "bush pig" in the following posts. I'll be very interested when I get to that part.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Thanks for a wonderful and detailed TR in words, pics and even video clips!

I'm already trying to persuade my husband to take his GoPro together with his film camera and therefore pointed out some of your clips to him.

It would be nice to have some memories of the going-ons in camp around the firepit or during breaks in the bush! And another advantage: my husband would also appear on the clips when using a kind of mounting! (With us, I do the photos, he is the one with the film camera.)


I remember South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi N.P.s as "Leopard land" and would really like to go there again.

So lucky you were, seeing a bushpig, and during daytime, too! I was a little bit jealous when during our stay at Old Mondoro other guests twice saw a bushpig and we didn't. But that's how things go in the wilderness!

When on a morning drive our guide asked us what we would like to see, my husband was quick on the trigger with answering: A honeybadger!

The guide said that the chances were yery small. He drove round the next corner and cried out: Look! A honeybadger!

It was still dusky, the honeybadger was far away and disappeared quickly, but there he was!!! And my husband even has got a little bit of it on film. Me, I had no chance of taking a picture, but what counts is the sighting! And we had a story to laugh about!


Well, having been taken back to Old Mondoro with your TR, we really consider going there again. Soon. (At least I hope soon.)

But first we go to Zimbabwe again, more precisely next week :)

I'm curious about the new things (Hwange, Chitake Springs) and happy to return to the Vic Falls and to Mana Pools and I'm counting the days to our departure now...

I'm sure you will understand my present mood- it's pure joy and anticipation!


Thanks for sharing your sightings and adventures with us!

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Fighting eles along the bank plus the rest of the Discovery Channel; Bushpig!!!!; Billy Idol (who has been mentioned recently in another report); and those oh-so-adorable lion cubs; all topped off with amarula porridge--what a trip.


I just experienced about 4 awful days of an unusual and formidable summer cold and thought about how much more difficult it had to be for you when just laying on the couch and reading Dave Barry books is not an option.

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@@deano Oh Deano! I just wish that you would learn to love Africa like the rest of us! :rolleyes: Thanks so much for the great report!!!!

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Thanks for another great report on Zambia. Someday, someday.... In the meantime, I just realized that we have something in common -- I love Africa, too!


Seriously, thanks for sharing your experience and such an engaging narrative.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Great report Deano. I'm in the process of booking a trip next September and its really helpful. To my surprise, the best camps are already getting booked so we are thinking of doing Lower Zambezi (Chiawa 2nts, Old Mondoro 3nts) followed by South Lungwa (3nts each at Tena Tena and one of the Norman Carr camps on the Western side of the river. Any view on these camps and which Norman Carr camp to visit - my wife likes the look of Mchenja? Most people also seem to do Luangwa first but I guess it doesn't matter which way round...

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Apologies again for being away for so long; somebody thought it was a good idea to overload me at work andI am struggling for spare time.


@@Atravelynn - easy to book again when the place is amazing and hard at the same time because (thanks to Safaritalk) we know that there are equally amazing places to go. These other places would have course have to be in Africa....which as I'm sure you have figured out is very close to my heart.


@@twaffle - thanks; I like to cover a lot of ground in reports mainly to repay the folks on here who posted trip reports that helped me out before we took the plunge. If I am totally honest though, writing a detailed report is just a good way of re-living the trip.


@@martywilddog - thank you; I have some footage somewhere of the flight from Lower Zambezi and back to Lusaka and I might find time soon to do one more installment.


@@Hads - thank you too; will hopefully be catching up on reports from others now that my work life has settled down from absolute chaos to just chaos.


@@Atravelynn - a second thank you; much deserved as I know that you really do like to ready every word and look at every photo in every report you read. I see a few reports of yours that I need to catch up on.


@@AfricanQueen - you are most welcome and I hope that you did take the GoPro on your Zim trip and would really like to see what footage you got from it. Pure joy and anticipation is a feeling we all know well but more so when we have a trip to look forward to that is days away like yours. Hope it was absolutely amazing and looking forward to reading about it.


@@Atravelynn - thank you one more time; the cold was more of a severely runny nose if I remember correctly and it was quite common in the camps at this cold time of year. The sniffing of wild basil is a definite "kill or cure" though and highly recommended when in the bush....just be prepared for watering eyes and a fit of sneezing. Okay so Jamesons, Amarula and not being at work helped as well!


@@marg - hello; I am working on learning to love Africa. How am I doing?


@@Alexander33 - thank you too; Raised my Jamesons to that.


@@philw - hello and thank you for reading; If you want more info then PM me but for a short response; our SA based travel agent advised that we do SLNP first then LZNP and having done that twice I can say that we believe that to be the better option. We haven't done Mchenja and got close to booking 3 nights there for next year but decided on a different trip with both sets of parents instead while they are still fit enough to travel to visit us here in Cayman. The three camps we have done (Luwi, Nsolo and Kakuli) are all worth a visit; Luwi is very remote and has the hippo lagoon and hide within easy walking distance. Nsolo is also remote and has a water hole right in front of camp although in September it might no more than a puddle. Kakuli is right on the Luangwa and a bit more substantial in terms of the chalet. I do think that the river is an obvious wildlife magnet and the terrain is a bit more varied so Kakuli is perhaps the "best" choice if you will only visit one camp and only for a few days but you will get a good deal with NCS if you book their Luwi River trail which is all 3 camps for a couple of nights. Whatever you do, please try and squeeze in the sleep out. Hands down one of the best things I have ever done anywhere.


kind regards,



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I just loved that sighting of the bush pig. I'm so envious. Despite two trips already to Mana Pool-one of which lasted 9 days and included a 3 day canoe safari; I really do want to visit Lower Zambezi National Park all of the sudden. The quality of guiding, lodges,and great night drives would make it a quite different experience from visiting Mana Pools. I love walking,and

I don't think that I'd ever tire of more boating trips along the Zambezi River. It's simply one of the most beautiful,and idyllic places in the world without even taking into account the wildlife,and birdlife.

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