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wilddog

A Return to Northern Kafue

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Atravelynn

 

@@wilddog I love all of your photos.but I particularly love the one of the ground hornbill carrying a young springhare in it's mouth. I did't know that they realize that they ate such large prey.

 

Neither did we @@optig . Quite a surprise! :)

 

That is likely a forum first!

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wilddog

Busanga Plains Camp

 

Once we reached the main road from Lusaka we said Goodbye to Kaley, and the Kaingu vehicle, and were taken north from there in a vehicle from Mukambi Lodge, who own and manage the Plains Camp. The drive north is quite long (5-6 hours) but includes a stop at 'The Rocks' for a picnic breakfast, provided by Kaingu Lodge.

 

As got further northwards the landscapes changed to more open areas and the game we saw changed also. We saw less impala but now we were seeing hartebeest, puku, roan antelope, lechwe and luckily a sable, although at very long distance.

 

We also found the first elephants of the trip. What was noticeable to me after 5 years was that these elephants are much more chilled and less skittish, when vehicles make an appearance, and compared to my first trip in 2009 even more so.

 

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The camp is laid out looking over the plains. There is a central boma with a wooden walkway out to the camp fire area, raised just above the plains. There is now a viewing platform/seating area built on the roof of the boma, at the back under tree shade. I forget to take any photographs of that I am afraid.

 

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The cheetah photograph at the end of the dining area was taken in Kafue by Phil Jeffery (of Jeffrey and McKeith safaris) and Tyrone McKeith managed the camp last time I was there.

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The four guest tents are set out along the edge of the plain each with shade from the trees. My tent was the at the far end with open views to the front and side.

 

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The bathroom is open to the air and views but surrounded by bushes and trees behind to provide privacy. The bathroom is approached by a side door the tent leading through a reed corridor to the 'facilities'. There is small gap on one side between the end of the fence and the tent so that staff can access the shower to add hot water without disturbing guests. it is possible to block this at night with one of the substantial chairs if you are anxious about large intruders entering the bathroom.

 

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wilddog

The weather was beginning to change very slowly. We had seen a tiny isolated cloud on the way north and the numbers of these were to grow over the coming days. Often in the afternoon the cloud would accumulate and in the far distance we saw some rain on the horizon. As you may have noted on the Sable image there was also a fire just outside the park.

 

After a fantastic lunch in the boma and some chill time we set off for our first full drive. For the first time I saw two, young fish eagles. I was completely unaware of their juvenile coloration so this was interesting for me.

 

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Later we came upon this very fine courting couple who gave us many fantastic photography opportunities as they followed a drying gully in their search for a drink.

 

 

If you are not a lion fan you may wish to duck out.......I have lot of images...................

 

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As the lions move forward together, the elephants retreat to the island of trees

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optig

@wilddog I'm of course delighted to learn that the elephants are increasingly less skittish. I just love your photos of the lion as well as the crowned cranes.

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Caracal

@wilddog I'm used to seeing sable close to bush/woodland so I find it Interesting to see one on the wide open plain.

 

Intriguing info re juvenile fish eagle and I love the photo following them with the lechwe and three elephants on the plains in that lovely warm light.

 

Your courting lion has an impressive mane.

 

Pleased to learn that the elephants are calmer.

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wilddog

Thanks@@optig

 

Glad you found the juvenile fish eagle interesting too @@Caracal

 

We saw another/or possibly the same Sable in the open later during our stay on Busanga Plains. Is there territory display going on? I don't know. They certainly did not seem to be escaping from a predator................... @@KafueTyrone, as someone who who spent many years in this area of Kafue, can you comment?

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Atravelynn

Those young fish eagles were nicely posed. The different plumage at different ages and different stages of the breeding cycle adds to the challenge of identifying the bird species. Such cooperative pair of lions. Seems the elephants are really settling into this area. Not being on edge all the time has to be more relaxing for them too.

 

The camp is lovely, as is your toiletry bag!

 

Great report!

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wilddog

 

 

The camp is lovely, as is your toiletry bag!

 

 

Bit dazzling isn't it? It is well travelled though...................@@Atravelynn

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wilddog

After a while we moved on to find the rest of the pride which we could see in the distance. There were with a couple of vehicles nearby and they moved off shortly after we arrived.

 

This was the most vehicles I saw at any one time here in Kafue. If you like it quiet this is the place.

 

There was a second male, paler than the first, with another lioness

 

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a young male who sat at a distance from the adults; probably he would be made to move out of the family soon,

 

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3 younger cubs - 2 males and a female.

 

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We stayed and enjoyed the entertainment as the youngsters decided to play for a bit.

 

 

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One of the young females came and sat right next to us 'posing' beautifully for some photographs

 

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As I failed to get the full yawn in the above sequence I resorted to a short video

 

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The female cub looked very relaxed but I remember someone moving a bit quickly in the vehicle and she locked on with her eyes as they do....... and then looked away and carried on grooming.

 

We headed back to camp with the sun setting and a lone puku and the elephants making a final appearance in the fading light.

 

All together an excellent day.

 

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Zim Girl

@@wilddog

 

Enjoying this very much. Both camps so far look really nice.

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optig

@@wilddog Those photos of lions are just priceless!!! I notice that the elephants have such short tusks. I have to wonder if it's due to the fact that

Kafue's elephant population was decimated by poaching. I can hardly wait until 2018 when I'll visit Musekese for a week along with 4 days in Mukambi

Plains Camp for 4 nights

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wilddog

@@wilddog Those photos of lions are just priceless!!! I notice that the elephants have such short tusks. I have to wonder if it's due to the fact that

Kafue's elephant population was decimated by poaching. I can hardly wait until 2018 when I'll visit Musekese for a week along with 4 days in Mukambi

Plains Camp for 4 nights

 

@@optig Gladd you like the lions shots.

 

The tusks are not huge on the bulls I saw but you may be right - some of the older guys may have been taken in the past. But these chaps still have time to grow their tusks as long as they continue to remain safe.

 

I am sure you will enjoy both camps enormously @@optig . I hope to get around to Musekese in the next week or so. Thanks for reading so far

 

@@Zim Girl Thank you; glad you are enjoying the TR

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wilddog

I should have mentioned earlier that our guide at camp was Ferrison. He is really expert and has been working on the Busanga plains for many years so knows the habits of the local wildlife and best spots to find them. He was at the Plains camp 5 years ago and may well have been there for many years prior to that.

 

The camp manager was Herco van Houdt, a dutch wildlife film maker who knows the Mukambi team well and has spent a lot of time on the Busanga Plains. He was charming, entertaining and knowledgeable, so all in all, an excellent host.

 

The food at all the camps was excellent with the format of tea/ coffee and toast or cereal breakfast before the morning activity a substantial brunch and finally a 3 course evening meal normally around 7.30 -8.00.

Meals were flexible depending on when the activity finished. The camps were given warning of holdups/planned arrival times and any hot water requirements by radio from the vehicle.

This morning's drive revealed a variety of wildlife in large numbers. Babies/young were everywhere.

 

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Just love those ears...........................

 

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In the afternoon we managed to find both Rosy and Yellow-throated Long Claw, the latter refusing point blank to face our way. We drove around the clump of scrub trying to get a frontal view but he just turned around so we have a bit of a bum shot for this one, but you can see a bit of yellow.

 

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We crossed the plains towards the tree line and air strip as I was hoping we would see some cheetah during this trip. On the way we found a lot of the usual suspects plus the lions again doing what they do best.......nothing.

 

 

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The search for cheetah today was to prove unsuccessful so we set off back to camp.

 

Suddenly Ferrison stopped the vehicle and shone the spotlight into the darkness...............................a lioness with cubs secreted away amongst the trees. This was first time the team were aware of these cubes so a very exciting find to end the day.

 

The images are not of good quality but are a record of the sighting.

 

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madaboutcheetah

@@wilddog - I somehow missed the report earlier ........ Those Roan look incredibly calm! WOW

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wilddog

Thanks @@madaboutcheetah No apologies needed.

 

Yes the wildlife generally in Kafue is more relaxed than 5 years ago. Just habituation I guess.

 

I have been a bit slow ( i.e busy) in completing this report but hope to finish it in the next couple of weeks.

 

SO glad you enjoyed Mana after finally getting there!!!

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Atravelynn

Glad the updates are rolling in once more. How exciting to see lion cubs for the first time. Love the pile of roan.

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wilddog

This was to be our last full day at the Plains camp so we returned to the tree line/airstrip area in the hope of finding the lioness and cubs again.

 

As the days at Plains camp had passed we had seen an increase in the number of clouds and the mornings were often a bit overcast and hazy, made worse by the impact of the fire outside the park. So early morning photography, for me, was a to prove something of a challenge.

 

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We did not find the lioness and cubs but DID find the two cheetahs who tend to frequent the area. I was so pleased that we found them. They were resting under a tree and keeping lookout for likely prey whilst keeping a bit of an eye on us. We did not push in too close.

 

You will note that one of them is collared, as was the first lioness we saw 2 days ago. These are collared by the Zambian Carnivore Programme. But more of that later.

 

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When we had returned to camp for brunch Herco had advised us that a new male lion had wandered in front of camp during the morning and settled in the bush opposite the camp. We watched for him during siesta time but did not see him but that night we could hear the new male roaring at night with answering calls from the local boys in the distance. The following days at the Plains camp may well have proved very interesting but we would not be there to see it.

 

We had seen a huge range of wildlife on the plains, but it was now time to move on.

 

Tomorrow we would make our way south to Musekese.

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pault

Great you saw the cheetahs @wilddig

 

Really looks nice there - and so quiet.

 

 

Haven't got my glasses on so hope that says what it is supposed to!

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wilddog

Apart from being called Wilddig (interesting images that conjures up!) All fine ? @@pault .Thanks for taking the time to read it. Yes Kafue is quiet in terms of people numbers. One of the reasons I really like it.

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Kitsafari

Finally caught up with this report too - i have a lot of catch-ups to do. but seeing those lions and their amber eyes and the sleek curves of the cheetahs and my funny Roan valentines and the lovable lechwes, I'm glad I caught a chunk in one go!

 

thank you for continuing.

 

Really looking forward to what Musekese is like in October! and quiet and remote with plenty of wildlife will do fine with me.

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wilddog

Part 3 Musekese

 

We set off early to make our way to Musekese. Most of the time we just chilled enjoyed the drive and reviewed our time so far.

 

But the journey did provide some very nice sightings.

 

We were scheduled to stop at The Rocks for a bit of a late breakfast and as we approached the area we saw some impala with babies crossing the road. Then we relalised we were not the only one's watching them. There she was............................ Buttercup the leopard; so named because this area is very near the Musekese camping site where she steals the butter when she can. I have no doubt this practice is no longer permitted but the name sticks.

 

She is certainly a very beautiful cat. We had clearly disturbed her hunt so after a few minutes she walked away giving us 'the eye' and climbed a tree to get a better view of potential lunch.We left her in peace.

 

 

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We got to the rocks and as we arrived found a large group of Hartebeest around the edges of the pool.

 

One of them was very obliging and walked past and behind the vehicle and all though the grass here was very high we managed to get some decent portraits.

Harteebeest.

 

Later I would ask what the black smears were down the side of the Hartebeest. Apparently they have some sort of parasite that lives in their nostrils which irritates them and increases mucus production. Then they wipe their noses on their flanks! Hence the muddy/sooty looking smear on their sides which is not evident in the wet season.

 

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As we moved away from The Rocks we came across two very fine male lions.

 

Again, one of these was collared by the ZCP.

 

Lion 1

 

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Lion 2 - who was very interested in a smell at the base of a bit of brush and stopped to examine it and appeared to rub his face in it.

 

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wilddog

To get to camp we rendezvoused at Lufupa boat dock where our bags were offloaded from the Mukambi vehicle and we said our goodbyes to Ferrison.

 

We then boarded one of the Muskese boats for a leisurely trip up river to reach the camp.

 

The camp has moved since a year ago away from the boat landing stage to the other side of a promontory where there is a p

lagoon between camp and the river. This retains some water all season and is a massive draw for the animals and birds.

 

Map showing

  • the Kafue and Lufupa rivers,
  • Lufupa camp (upper right label)
  • Musekese landing stage (lower right) where the old camp was
  • the lagoon to the left of the picture, where the new camp is sited

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There is a large boma with library, bar, tea and coffee etc ,..........and below is the dining area overlooking the lagoon, with trees providing shade throughout the day.

 

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@@KafueTyrone met us on landing and after a cooling drink led us down to our chalets.The camp has four guest chalets,; some built entirely of reed and others, canvas and reed. Views are stunning from the open front in both bedroom area and bathroom.

 

Apart from the normal safety instructions Tyrone did mention that there a monitor lizard that regularly rested on a fallen branch adjacent to the path to the chalets. Often guests would not spot him until he would suddenly move away resulting in Guests shouting out 'Oh F***! ' . So he is now, informally, known by that name.

 

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Hads

Great photo's of Buttercup, the monitor lizard nickname is amusing and very interesting what the Hartebeest do wiping there noses.

Great report thanks @@wilddog.

The accommodation at Musekese also looks great.

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wilddog

Thanks @@Hads

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douglaswise

I've been enjoying your report which has been bringing back happy memories. Good to see pix of the new Musekese Camp.

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