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Caracal

A Brief Return To Kafue And Livingstone

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Caracal

A Safari’s beginning happens at home with the planning, the booking and then the anticipation but if all things go well and according to plan the Safari only really starts to happen when you set foot in Africa, inhale the air and start absorbing the sights, sounds and smells of Africa.

 

2016 was not initially going to be a safari year for me – rather it was a year to return to England and see the family and catch up with friends from my childhood and teens.

 

In my youth I took the long haul flights in my stride. Nowadays I avoid them if I can and I avoided the long flight over by a One World Alliance Circle Trip Explorer using a mix of Qantas, Qatar Airways and BA and having 2 night stopovers at both Singapore and Doha and 3 nights at Stockholm before reaching London. Then after 3 weeks in England what better than a stopover in Africa in early September on the way back with stays at my favourite camps of KaingU and Nanzhila in Kafue and Waterberry in Livingstone.

 

The evening BA flight from London to Joburg was smooth and comfortable arriving at 7.00am. We joined the queue at International Transfers and just as it was my turn the largish African Immigration Officer called out to someone arriving at the rear “Are you a diplomat?” There was apparently no response so she nodded to me and I walked up saying “Good morning I’m heading to Livingstone Zambia but I’m not a diplomat”. Her face lit up with a beaming smile and she said “Yes you are – I’m making you a diplomat. You’re my diplomat for the day”. I laughed taking my passport back and saying “Thank you very much. I look forward to diplomatic privileges in your airport”.

 

John who was next in line was not made a diplomat!

 

We whiled away the time in the airport watching the place wake up, wandering around to stretch our legs, browsing some shops when they opened with particular attention to the African selection in Exclusive Books and then caught our flight to Livingstone.

 

We were standing in the queue for Tourist Visas when I see a sign with my name and before we know it Sebastian from ProFlight has ushered us out of the queue and quickly organised us thru’ visas, collected our luggage and escorted us to the domestic terminal where we paid domestic departure tax and waited for our pilot.

This preferential treatment was both welcome and unexpected.

 

We met pilots Zarius and Julian and walked out onto the tarmac where our plane awaited.

 

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Wild Dog Air Charters is a new venture by 4 Kafue Lodges including Kaingu and I booked the flight thru’ Lynda at Kaingu when booking our accommodation. The flight from Livingstone to the Chunga airstrip was smooth and took about 1hr 20mins.

 

We were met and welcomed at Chunga by Gil who took photos of the plane (I think we were the first guests at KaingU to use it).

 

 

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It was great to see Gil again and we caught up with news as he drove us down the spinal road to the lodge’s car park.

From the car park we were taken in the boat down river to the lodge on the opposite bank.

 

The Kafue in this sector is a stunningly beautiful river as it courses its way quite swiftly and clearly past majestic granite boulders and around numerous islands that dot the river.

 

The following photos don’t do it justice but might give you an idea.

 

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Treepol

@@Caracal what a great way to include a safari for 2016. I am right with you in Exclusive Books - did you make any exciting purchases?

 

Good to hear about Wild Dog Air, I do so hope that the venture is successful. Looking forward to your Kafue TR as I am hoping to visit in 2018.

 

Do you know anything about Hippo Bay Camp - it costs $80 US per night and consists of reed huts built in the traditional way with a bed, mossie net, outside en suite loo and outdoor shower.

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Caracal

@@Treepol I didn't buy at Exclusive Books this time but I'm currently enjoying The Ghosts of Happy Valley by Juliet Barnes which I'd purchased at a Waterstones store in the UK.

 

Can't really help with Hippo Bay Camp - I stayed at Konkamoya in 2010 & 2011 but never visited their camp site. If I'd had a bit more time would have returned this year to Konkamoya as well.

 

Konkamoya is one of the camps involved with Wild Dog Air and charter flights can be arranged from either Lusaka or Livingstone. For Konkamoya I'd imagine they go to the Ngoma air strip.

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Caracal

On arrival at the lodge we received warm greetings and welcome back from Lynda and Julia. Rick was away on business in Lusaka. Rick, Lynda, Gil and Julia combine really well as a team and this is reflected in the way the lodge is managed. The atmosphere created by the team and their friendly and attentive staff is conducive to guests feeling totally at ease, relaxing and enjoying their stay.

 

We were shown to chalet 2 which is one of the newly created chalets – a Meru style tent on wooden decking – like all the chalets beautifully and discretely situated on the riverbank – feeling totally private.

 

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Around 7.00pm we had drinks and a chat around the fire and then a lovely dinner on the riverside decking before turning in after a long but satisfying day’s travel.

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pault

Everything looking very nice so far (especially plane livery and river) and what a good way to return to Australia. Now there is surely no other way to do it?

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KaingU Lodge

So nice to see decent pictures of my plumbing (not what everyone looks for in a trip report I know) - many thanks Clive! :) It was great to have yourself and John back.

 

Yes, you and john were the first Kaingu guests in the plane. Prior to that (because of interminable delays with Dpt of Civil Aviation/elections etc) we all had to borrow Proflight's other Islander until the day you guys arrived.

 

Hippo Bay: Andrea has fairly recently built simple bush camp style accommodation within the environs of the campsite, so quite a good option between camping and full lodging. The campsite is a fair distance from the lodge, but you can still book activities and meals at the lodge. Spectacular setting right on the lake.

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twaffle

@@Caracal I had no idea that the Kafue river was so picturesque. Maybe I need to put it on my list, my ever lengthening list!

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Soukous

@@twaffle the Kafue river is stunning. the stretch near @@KaingU Lodge is particularly beautiful. You'd love it.

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twaffle

Thanks Martin, Zambia is high on my list but deciding where to prioritise has been a dilemma.

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Caracal

@@twaffle - glad to know Zambia's high on the list and hope Kafue's included - I can visualise stunning photos of a stunning river.

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Caracal

Sunday 4 September 2016

 

Must be getting into safari mode already as I wake up shortly before our guide JohnD arrives at 5.00am with a flask of hot water for an early morning cuppa. He returns at 5.30am to escort us to breakfast at the riverside dining area. Then at 6.00am he boats us up river to the car park from where we start our game drive.

 

We’d only gone a short distance when JohnD spots an elephant in the scrub then more – five in all that melt away into the thicket. I’m always fascinated by the way such large mammals can quietly disappear.

 

We turned onto the spinal road heading north towards the Shishamba Loop.

 

Alerted by some calls a distance away we started a search for a leopard and almost immediately came across this handsome and rather relaxed looking bushbuck.

 

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We also saw puku, kudu, waterbuck, impala and vervets but no leopard.

 

I favour early September in Kafue – the nights are still cool enough to sleep comfortably and the days warm up quickly under the tropical sun but it’s a dry heat which suits me better than humidity. Perhaps best of all is the way the bush responds to September sprouting fresh green growth in anticipation of the rains even though they’re still weeks away.

 

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Next we hear the roar of a lion so we start a search and on our search whilst picking up and following one track JohnD comes across tracks of another lion including tracks so recent we could see where the lion had recently urinated and JohnD pointed out that if we looked carefully we could see the marks left by the fur between the paws which indicated just how recently.

 

We didn’t find either of those lions despite JohnD’s great efforts but the tracking of both lion and leopard had been full of interest and some birds seen along the way included Schalow’s Turaco, Lilacbreasted and Racket-tailed Rollers, Little Beeeaters, Guineafowl, Rednecked Spurfowl, Grey Hornbill, Bateleur, Whitefaced and Whitebacked Vultures and Brown headed Kingfishers.

A semipassable photo of the latter

 

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We then headed onto the Loop and paused at this peaceful and rather idyllic scene

 

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Then we came across this jaywalker

 

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Next we arrived at a thickly grassed plain area firstly seeing these two

 

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And then a bit later the following

 

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Whilst watching this scene JohnD told us that impala are faster than hartebeest but can only manage top speed for Ikm whilst hartebeest can maintain their top speed for 6kms.

 

 

Soon after we left this lovely scene JohnD spotted a tawny coloured movement at an embankmet ahead so there we headed……….

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pault

Suspense!

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Treepol

@@Caracal lovely peaceful waterhole scene and great photo of the pair of kudus, sable and the bushbuck.

 

Your Kafue report is an inspiration for my next safari.

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wilddog

Really enjoying this so far. I will be at Kaingu myself in just over 2 weeks so very timely. Thanks @@Caracal

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Hads

@@Caracal thanks for your TR so far, gee those waterbuck are dark in colour.

The bushbuck are certainly beautiful antelopes.

Also looking forward to finding out what the "tawny" colour is.

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Caracal

Thanks @@Treepol don't hesitate to PM me if you think I might be able to help with Kafue info.

 

If you like antelope as I do then Kafue's the place - it has more antelope species than any other park.

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Caracal

Thanks for your comments @@Hads - I never tire of seeing bushbuck or other antelopes.

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Caracal

@@pault I had to finish the previous section somehow!

 

We watched this young adult male having a drink

 

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and noticed a mature lioness lying in the shade and apparently overseeing things

 

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and then a younger female

 

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While watching this scene JohnD told us it was a mother, son and daughter. The lioness was part of the Shishamba pride but when the dominant males evicted her son she chose to go with him along with a daughter. The three have been together about a year now and JohnD reckons the mother is about 8 yrs.

 

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After drinking he returns to his sister

 

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For a lioness to leave a pride in these circumstances seems most unusual and I wonder if anyone knows of a similar occurrence. I keep wondering about what the future holds for these three – does the young male strike off on his own hoping to meet up and form a coalition with another male or males, if so do the lionesses attempt to return to the pride, or do the three remain together and maybe get joined by others.

@@KaingU Lodge – I might pester you with occasional emails requesting updates.

 

When we move on we come across this massive croc. Due to the lie of the land couldn’t clearly show his length and girth but he was one of the biggest I’ve seen and must have been a good age.

 

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We headed back down the spinal road seeing, puku, impala, waterbuck and warthogs and then shortly before the turn off to the carpark we saw this lovely herd of elephants which were obviously returning from the river.

 

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I would estimate that the herd was 30 to 40 strong and it was looking very healthy with young. To see a herd like this augurs well for Kafue and it is interesting to see that in The Great Elephant Census 2016 Kafue is one of the few parks that shows an increasing population. http://www.greatelephantcensus.com/

 

I should add that earlier in the drive we came across evidence of a very large herd of buffalo recently crossing the track which also augurs well for the park.

 

We then headed back across river to the Lodge for lunch, an afternoon spell and then a boat cruise.

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pault

A-ha... the "tawny" was the clue. That is a monster crocodile. The girth is quite obvious - looks like he/she just ate a buffalo.

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michael-ibk

Really enjoying this report, Caracal, especially since I´m going to Kafue next year. Good to know what is awaiting me there. :)

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Caracal

@wildog - not sure whether you've been to KaingU before but whether it's new or a return visit you'll love it.

 

I look forward to hearing all about it and Musekese + Busanga.

 

Have a great time.

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Caracal

Thanks @@michael-ibk - will have to look see if your itinerary is in Trip Planning.

 

Great to have such plans.

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Caracal

After an excellent lunch on the decking overlooking the river

 

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I spend a quiet time in the deck chair at our chalet and then have a wonderfully refreshing shower outside under the warmth of the afternoon sun.

 

A bit later we set off on our boat ride with JohnD. Almost immediately we see bushbuck – they are permanent residents around camp and that’s our tented chalet in the second photo.

 

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We then see this Monitor Lizard

 

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And a short time later this rock hyrax

 

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JohnD says they’re very clean animals and when asked to explain tells us they have latrines.

 

Hereunder folks is a hyrax latrine

 

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A darter

 

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More river shots

 

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Another darter

 

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A wattled plover – oops lapwing

 

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More river shots (apologies if I’m posting too many)

 

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Then redeyed dove

 

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And one more river shot before we enjoy sundowners then head back.

 

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Whilst having sundowners JohnD told us how he got his name.

 

Apparently John’s father and Kenneth Kaunda were best mates at school and Kaunda was in Livingstone when John was born. His father and Kaunda visited the hospital a few hours after John’s birth and John’s father wanted John to be named after Kaunda. John’s mother would have none of that and decided to name him John Deere after the tractor on their farm at Choma. This has over the years been shortened to JohnD.

 

Another great dinner after drinks (let me tell you all meals at KaingU are great) top off a day to remember.

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wilddog

@wildog - not sure whether you've been to KaingU before but whether it's new or a return visit you'll love it.

 

I look forward to hearing all about it and Musekese + Busanga.

 

Have a great time.

First for me at KaingU (and Musekese). It certainly delivered for you so fingers crossed. :) The plains are familiar territory but it has been 5 years I guess.

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Hads

Stunning photo's over lunch @@Caracal

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