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Sth Luangwa Nat Park- Zambia


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africaaddict

My wife Rossana and I recently returned from a 16 night safari in the Sth Luangwa Nat Park where we had

a fantastic time with many great experiences and memories that will last forever.

 

It didn't start out too well with SAA losing or rather deliberately offloading our check-in bag at Lusaka

due to over-selling of the flight, something that is not just common to SAA.

So, the first thing that gets off-loaded is the baggage!

We o'nighted in Lusaka @ the IC Hotel without even a toothbrush! That'll teach us to not at least pack

some toiletries and emergency clothing. However, we were both carrying between us over 18kg of camera

and video gear, so we had our hands full already.

We eventually got our bag 2 days later when we were at Kaingo, so it could have been a lot worse, where

we heard tales of - "You'll never see your bag again!" or "It'll take at least 10 days!"

 

We spent the next 9 nights @ Kaingo - the first 2 at Kaingo itself, then the next 3 at its bushcamp Mwamba and the remaining 4 back at Kaingo.

Rather than going through a night by night description, I shall condense it a little.

Both of the camps at Kaingo were fabulous, the staff, owners Derek & Jules were very welcoming and the guiding of Greg and Patrick- 1st class!

I can't say enough good things about Patrick Njobvu, his knowledge and sense of humor were great, especially his ability with his animal calls to get a particular species attention, I found this extremely helpful from a photographic point of view.

The location, food and accommodation were spot on, nothing was too much trouble, the drinks flowed full and little things like having dust covers on the vehicles for your camera & lens were a nice touch. The only small criticism (by my wife) would be to have the lighting over the mirror, rather than to the side.

The spacing on the vehicles were great, where we had only more than 4 in the vehicle only once in 9 days! And they were nearly fully booked for most of this time, this was a big plus for me and the large lens I poked around!

The animal sightings were fabulous, especially the birding ( a big difference to the SSGR). The chance to get some great photos from all of the hides cannot be overlooked, including the Ele tree hide sleepout!!

 

Apart from the huge variety of birdlife and predator & antelope species, the highlights were seeing and photographing Baboons stealing White-fronted Bee-eater chicks and eggs from what appeared to be the abandoned Red Carmine nesting holes. Also caught in this same act were a Honey Guider parasitising on a nest hole and a Monitor Lizard seen poking his head out from another nesting hole. (Have a look at the Dec/Jan edition of Africa Geo "Caught in the Act" monthly photo submission)

A female Leopard on a freshly caught Impala, partially eating it and then leaving it to 4 members of the Hollywood pride who completely missed it from only 50 yds away due to a strong breeze that was blowing the scent away from the pride.

Watching and photographing Hippos gurgling, burping , farting and fighting just a metre or two away behind in a Hippo hide.

Watching and photographing Carmine Bee-eaters in there hundreds gathering around their nesting holes in beautiful early morning light.

Following 4 members of the Hollywood pride on a moonless night, stalk and take down an Impala, where you could hear the sound of the thud as one of the females hit the Impala mid-flight as she lay in waiting in a small gully. And then preceding to devour it live and pulling the poor animal apart in a 4 way split!

Watching hundreds of Storks, Cranes, Ibis, Hammerkop, Kingfishers and Eagles in a fish feeding frenzy on a drying up waterhole.

Watching a Female Leopard getting kicked off her Impala kill and tree by a Male and watching 2 Hyenas below fighting for the scraps.

Going out on a Midday drive with Patrick and finding a most unusual sighting of a pair of Pel's Fishing Owls and it's fledged young in daylight, with the male being perched out in the open!

Photographing a pair of Fish Eagles in flight and thinking we had spent too much time in that spot and moving on, only to discover a beautiful Female Leopard walk across the track again in lovely early morning light and take refuge in a tree and watch for Impala coming down to drink, something we would not have seen had we not spent less time with the Fish Eagles! All this taking place less than 300 metres from our Bush camp.

 

The next 5 nights were spent at Tafika Lodge with it's lush green lawn housing 6 very spacious Chalets overlooking the dry river plain and a welcoming cold Mosi to wash down the dust. Once again, the location (even being outside the NP), food and staff, with the owners, husband and wife, John & Carol Coppinger making for a very relaxed and easy going atmosphere. I wish I could say the same for a few of their guests!

The guiding & tracking were also first class, special mention to Brian Jackson and Naturalist & Birder Rory McDougall whose company we both very much enjoyed.

Perhaps the only small criticism being would be to invest in some newer vehicles to replace the older model Landcruisers which didn't do as good a job of soaking up the bumps as the newer Land Rover Defenders @ Kaingo.

 

The highlights here were every bit as good as Kaingo.

Such as the staff being decently charged by a large Ele inside the grounds (see my pics, it's somewhere in there) and having to duck behind a chalet.

Watching and photographing Carmine Bee-eaters (in early light, of course) diving and tussling over the river and getting some shots of them drinking.

Numerous encounters of Leopards, including a very special occasion where we spent nearly an hour with a very relaxed Female and her 2 cubs in good daylight, watching them play and suckle from mum, ............ very special indeed.

My wife, Rossana and I taking a Microlight flight over the Luangwa, scaring the s..t out of big crocs laying by the river bank and coming across a big pride of Lions relaxing by a Buffalo carcass they had taken down, we had heard this action taking place the evening before from (unfortunately) the other side of the river.

Watching Crown Cranes by their hundreds coming in to land on the salt pan, great timing by Brian for that one! And whilst we were there seeing a Grey Heron trying to scoff down a full sized Scrub Hare, being successful on it's fifth attempt (see photo)......amazing!

Following circling and descending Vultures on a Impala kill that was most likely not too well hidden by a Leopard the night before. I managed to get some very classy shots of one of them pecking the eye out from this poor beast!

Getting decently charged by an old female Ele who didn't appreciate our presence and having to gun the pedal to get outta there! I just couldn't understand how my wife couldn't get a video shot of this. :)

And to top off the last night drive, finding 2 Cervals (one, very cooperative) on the salt pan, as promised and well done by Brian!

 

You can check out the images here, these were just some of the 34GB ( + 5500) that were taken.

Equipment used were 2 Nikons- D2Xs & D2Hs and 300 f/2.8 VR, 70-200 f/2.8 VR, 17-55 f/2.8 and 12-24 f/4.

 

http://africaddict.smugmug.com/gallery/3554672#201384814

 

Cheers

Marc

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Wow, Marc what a fantastic gallery and so many highlights. I'm glad that you were able to take a moment from the big and document the small, such as the 4 toed elephant shrew.

 

Put the kettle on, make a nice coffee and sit down with Marc's images. Outstanding.

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  • 1 month later...

Your itinerary is fantastic and the photographic results are too. Your carmine bee eater selections are works of art. You caught so many colorful birds in motion! Not to mention the leaping leopard and Cookson's wildebeest in their action shots. You had splendid sights day and night. The hippo pods from the air was fantastic. Was that from the microlight? I saw the cooperative serval. It was at Tafika that I saw my first serval, relaxed at night.

 

I also noted the lack of birds in the SSGR vs. places like Zambia. But each spot has its own highlights and beauty. Your SL visit had plenty of each.

 

Tell me again the month-days that you went. Better to have bad luck with the luggage than the game viewing. That's easy for me to say with a tootbrush, several pastes, and floss sitting around the corner and ample underwear in the dresser drawer.

 

I haven't seen complimentary dust covers before. That's a nice touch. Did you use that hide on the boat much? If so, for what? The carmine bee eaters?

 

You had an outstanding trip!

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africaaddict

 

Fantastic Photos! And your trip report made me green with envy... greeen I tells ya!

 

Cheers

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