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Hot in the Valley! South Luangwa Sept 27th - Oct 14th 2017


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After morning tea Sly decides to take a track that winds its way through an area with numerous thickets. The track looks rarely used with many branches encroaching and a layer of leaf litter crunching under the tyres as we go. As we drive along Sly suddenly brakes and gazes over his left shoulder with a quizzical look on his face. “There was something squealing in that thicket back there.” The engine is still running and neither Peter nor I can hear a thing.


We are just about to continue driving when Sly hears it again. This time he turns off the engine. I still can’t hear a thing but Sly is adamant. 

He turns the vehicle around and edges into the thicket. The leaf litter is really thick in places and we don’t immediately see anything.

Finally I see a tail flick up out of the leaf litter. “It’s a Slender Mongoose and… It’s killing an Elephant Shrew!!”


Obtaining a clear view was extremely difficult. When we tried to creep in further the mongoose grabbed the shrew like a leopard would drag its prey, bolted a few metres and dived down a hole in a termite mound.


These images will never win an award but it was an amazing sighting.


Biting the nape of the shrew's neck


The getting a bite on the shrew's throat



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Only read this report today. So many amazing leopard photos, the mating leopards are a real gem.

Also all the wild dog photos and some superb photos of lions. The night photos are great as well.

Hope to be going to Zambia for our next safari.

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Wow- that last bit? Wow......Never ever in a million years would have expected a mongoose killing a shrew....wow

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After brunch Patrick transfers us back to Kaingo for our last 2 nights. He is to be our guide for this period.

During the transfer we arrange to go to the Hippo hide before the afternoon drive. 


Arriving at the Hippo hide around 3:00 pm there is more action than earlier in the safari.


I generally concentrated on one particular cantankerous individual.



Say Ah.



A bit of biffo



And if you're wondering where the lions are from the morning drive


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In case I haven't said so already, superb photos mate! 

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9 hours ago, Julian said:


Hope to be going to Zambia for our next safari.


With what you and especially your wife has been through I hope you have many more safaris.


7 hours ago, lmonmm said:

Wow- that last bit? Wow......Never ever in a million years would have expected a mongoose killing a shrew....wow


You and me both. Such an unexpected sighting. It would have lasted about 30 seconds.

It's one of the things I like about safari... you never know what you're going to see.


7 minutes ago, ZaminOz said:


In case I haven't said so already, superb photos mate! 


Thanks ZaminOz. I can see why this place is so dear to you. The memories from your younger days must be special.  

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Finally caught up, but too many magnificent photos and wonderful sightings to single them all out.


Mating leopards, getting splattered and the elephant shrew kill are all once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I would be happy with just one of the three. Any one.


Superb Sir.

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@Geoff I couldn't agree with you more that all of the guides at Shenton Safaris two camps are superb, but I have to say that Patrick Njobuvu the chief guide is one of the finest guides I've ever had after having gone on no less than 14 safaris the longest of which lasted 2 months. Furthermore, I have to say that every walk or drive with him leaves me reeling with laughter!  He's literally one of the funniest people that I've ever had the honor of knowing.  I certainly do regard him  as  a friend. 

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@Peter Connan Thanks for your comments and following along. There's plenty of good stuff on ST at the moment to grab your attention.


@optig Yes, Patrick is one of the very best guides. He seems to have that innate ability to find things. As it was Shenton's 25th year and Pat has been with them all this time I asked him if he remembered his very first game drive. His response went something like this ~ "Oh yes, I was so nervous. I had been studying the field guides in case i saw anything special. We had not been out for long when up ahead I caught a glimpse of something. When I saw it through the binoculars I had to radio the Head guide"  (I think the Head guide was Deb Tittle of Deb's tree fame). Her reply to his radio call was "Patrick, are you sure it's a caracal !?!


Sure enough caracal on his very first game drive. 


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The afternoon drive was fairly quiet.

We checked on the lions, they didn't look like they were going to do much so we moved on.


The most active member of the pride.



I photographed 2 fish eagles on this perch last year. They are very territorial so I suspect this individual is one of those birds.


Kudu bull


Young Batleur



Arriving at our sundowner spot we found 3 lions on the river bank, probably members of the Liuwi pride so we had to look for another place.


Our improvised sundowner location.


On the way back to camp we bumped into Luambe.






Edited by Geoff
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1 hour ago, Geoff said:


Sure enough caracal on his very first game drive.



I'm still waiting! Have you seen caracal @Geoff?


More wonderful photos to enjoy - that last one of Luambe is hauntingly beautiful.

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59 minutes ago, Caracal said:

I'm still waiting! Have you seen caracal @Geoff?


@Caracal  Yes I've seen caracal, but only once, Selinda 2005. Hunting in the very late afternoon. A very brief sighting, alas no photos.


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Day 10.  Our last full day at Kaingo.


We are out very early, the Mwamba pride had not eaten for days and we are hoping they will be active in the relatively cooler temperatures.  The documentary film crews have the same idea.


The lions are snoozing in the thickets and there is a buffalo herd approaching. Now this could be interesting but we all look on in astonishment as the pride members barely lift their heads to watch the herd meander past their position. 


So we moved on...

Carmine Bee-eater


The Luangwa is thick with crocodiles.


During morning tea large numbers of impala were coming to drink at the river. As we were out of the vehicle they were nervous as they passed.

This allowed for a few action images. When they weren’t photobombing what would have been my better impala in flight shots some puku joined in too.





On the way back to camp we checked on the lions. They are still in the same location.



After brunch I collected some sausage tree flowers, placed them in a suitable location and sat on the ground with my back against the chitenge wall.

The camp’s bushbucks found them irresistible.



Vervet monkey


Edited by Geoff
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Before the afternoon drive we were back in the Hippo hide again.


Saddle-billed Stork flyby.





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Our new vehicle companions were a lovely French couple on their 20th Wedding anniversary. They were seasoned safari goers and excellent company.

During brunch they had mentioned that they saw a leopard in a tree within 10 minutes of Kaingo on the camp transfer. Patrick decided to investigate.


We stopped for this Scops Owl on the way. My what big feet you have...


From their brief description Patrick found the tree with little trouble though the leopard was not in it.

Instead he was resting on the ground just off the track.




I immediately recognised him as the male from the mating episode a few days earlier. He is a magnificent beast and extremely relaxed. 

We spent 1.5 hours with him and he was not the slightest bit fussed by our presence.


 watching a warthog



When we left for sundowners he had gone back to sleep.





During the night drive we stopped to view a chameleon and passed the male leopard walking down the road. 

We also watched a female leopard during a failed hunt.  Much of it was lights out (so no images). 



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cracking photos of the mongoose on the shrew. and so incredible that Sly could hear the cries!


as usual, Geoff, fantastic photos. 

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I am enjoying this report-but where are the photo's of you pretending to be James bond and using all those crocs to cross the river and back? @Geoff

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On 12/14/2017 at 7:49 PM, Towlersonsafari said:

I am enjoying this report-but where are the photo's of you pretending to be James bond and using all those crocs to cross the river and back? @Geoff


Ha, I'm no James Bond and look far better at the rear of a camera. 

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Day 11. 


My last game drive out of Kaingo before transferring to Nsefu camp mid morning. We head out looking for the Mwamba pride to see if they were successful hunting during the night. 


Not far from camp this considerate elephant moved off the track allowing us to pass.


The first lions we saw were part of the Nsefu pride on the far river bank. I would see them again in the same place that afternoon.



Further on we found the Mwamba pride. The three male Numbu coalition were with them.


A male was dozing on the road about 400 metres from all the other lions.



They had not eaten during the night and closely watched any prey species with intense interest.


Watching Puku



Watching Kudu


 Though one of the males still had other things on his mind



Whenever the lionesses moved the males would follow.


The male known as Bald Head. Not the best looking male lion but the girls seem to find him attractive.





Although they searched they did not find anything close enough to hunt and finally began to look for a shady spot to settle.



We let the lions be.


During morning tea we once again watched the crocs that were still feeding off the hippo carcasses.

When breeding season arrives many of the crocs will be in prime condition.








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@Geoff I'm trying to catch up on some reports and pleased I started with yours. Excellent images - thank-you.

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Have been following on my phone but I have only just had time to sit down and view on a bigger screen that can do justice to the photos. I have never really felt the need for more than happy snaps and have no skill with a camera. My visiting of safaritalk and the images yourself and other members are able to capture have inspired me to try and correct this on our next trip. 

Great trip report, so many Croc’s. Is it unusual to have that many Hippos dead at one time and do you have any idea what caused this?

Edited by Ratdcoops
Reread previous posts to verify had not been answered prior
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@Ratdcoops, a word of warning:


If you want to get anywhere near @Geoff's photo quality, don't wait for your next safari. It takes a huge amount of practice to get there. Years and years of almost daily work.

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Gorgeous, gorgeous photography!  Beautiful shots!  Thanks for sharing!

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Funny you should say that @Peter Connan immediately after posting this I turned to my wife and said we will have to purchase our new camera well before we go so that we can practice before we go. I am however under no illusions that I will approach the level of expertise demonstrated by someone such as @Geoff, but I hope for marked improvement from my last trip.

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17 hours ago, Ratdcoops said:

Is it unusual to have that many Hippos dead at one time and do you have any idea what caused this?



@Ratdcoops  At the height of the dry season their is little food for hippos and they have to cover large areas to find sustenance. Many are in a weakened state and it takes a toll on the population. The other thing is a disease outbreak such as anthrax.

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