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Zambia 2017 ( Kafue NP, August) & (Liuwa Plains NP + Kafue NP, November)


Grasshopper_Club
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Grasshopper_Club

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Well, where to start....

After reading so many fine TR recently especially about Zambia and the Kafue in particular, I've found some time to start with my own one now.

I decided this year to go back to the Kafue after 2 fantastic visits in the past 2 years. The Kafue is definitely a "holy grail" park in Africa for me. The diversity is absolutely phenomenal and the feeling to have the whole park for yourself as well, is the perfect match for me.

So I decided to go stay a little bit and make up a pure Kafue Safari this year. A combination of different patches of this huge park was my intention, with some new places in mind. The one part I haven't seen before was the far south down in Nanzhila Plains.

And as this was highly recommended to me, I've decided to spend 5 nights down there this time. I've ended up with 5n Nanzhila, 5n Musekese and 5n Ntemwa-Busanga. I like to stay 5n or 4n as a minimum in one camp.

So I had this trip in mind, but wasn't sure if it's possible to do the Nanzhila-Musekese Transfer in one day, as this is quite a bit of driving.

But after a final confirmation of the possibility, I booked the whole trip as planned. I would have liked to put also a camp in the middle sector of the park as a stopover into the itinerary like last year (Kaingu), but I was short with my days off from work. So the central part of the Park would be missed out this time.

In my planning early last year, I just catched up the notice @ Jeffery & Mckeith Safaris for a November special trip to the Liuwa in 2017. Couldn't resist, as me and Ty discussed this a year earlier and the Liuwa was always one of these dreamy places I wanted to go.

But the costs to go there, where always to high for myself in the past. But this opportunity was a nice and more camping style option at a very reasonable price compared to the other options. So I decided to take this opportunity as well....and ended up with 2 Safaris in Zambia and in the Kafue for 2017, not too bad...;)

Naturally the Liuwa trip was only 4n and It wouldn't have made sense for me to fly down to Zambia for only 4n. So I added 4n at Musekese in the Kafue on this November trip as well. A good opportunity to see the Musekese area in a different time of the year, especially the green season.

 

 

Enough, now here the Itinerary for my August trip. I will start with this trip anyway in my TR.

 

 

Part One / Kafue NP, August 2017

 

 

 

Itinerary:

 

18.08.2017 / ZRH-JNB-LVI

19.08.2017 / Transfer from Livingstone to Nanzhila Plains Camp

20.08.2017/ Nanzhila Plains Camp

21.08.2017/ Nanzhila Plains Camp

22.08.2017/ Nanzhila Plains Camp

23.08.2017/ Nanzhila Plains Camp

24.08.2017/ Nanzhila Plains Camp - Full day Transfer to Musekese Camp

25.08.2017/ Musekese Camp

26.08.2017/ Musekese Camp

27.08.2017/ Musekese Camp - Afternoon Transfer to Ntemwa-Busanga

28.08.2017/ Ntemwa-Busanga Camp

29.08.2017/ Ntemwa-Busanga Camp

30.08.2017/ Ntemwa-Busanga Camp

31.08.2017/ Ntemwa-Busanga Camp

01.09.2017/ Morning Transfer to Musekese Camp

02.09.2017/ Musekese Camp

03.09.2017/ LUN-JNB-ZRH

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Grasshopper_Club

Day 1

I arrived in Livingstone on time. I always try to have a seat as near as possible to the front rows, to get out of the plane as one of the first passengers. The airport is new, but the immigration set up is still the same Zambian way. Maybe 150 passengers on board from Johannesburg and even as I was one of the first ones in the row (maybe 10th in the row), immigration took me about 45-60 minutes. Just went outside into the great arrival hall to pick up my luggage and went outside, where my transfer driver awaited me.

We just went up to the car park and without loosing time, heading upwards to the Kafue. The road to Kalomo is a very fine one, same level as the roads in Livingstone, but once you cross Kalomo and heading towards the left hand side to the southern park entrance of the Kafue (Dumdumwenze Gate)....no more roads literally. So 4WD vehicle is essential for that part. A lot of rocks in the middle of the road and as it happens, we had a car puncture near the gate, where I would have been picked up by Nanzhila.

Tried to get the tyre changed but that one was locked in so heavily, that I had to stand and jump on to the 4-way car wheel wrench for a while...funny to do that in the heat of the afternoon :D

Nevertheless I was at the Gate in time, where I was picked up by Steve Smith the owner of Nanzhila Plains Camp. We we're driving into the park at the aim to be @ camp before sunset. On our drive in we saw quite a few things and even a roan on our way up. Very nice and what I've noticed, was the completely different setting of the landscape, compared to the other places in the Kafue, which are known to me. A nice bonus as well.

Arrived in camp and welcomed by Cindy (Steve's wife) Ceasar (Guide) and Brad (Junior Guide).

I decided to stay in camp tonight and skip the possibility of a night drive, as the journey was quite long and I had enough driving for today. The drive from Livingstone to the Gate was about 3.5 hours and another 2 hours probably into the Camp. So I would say 5 hours in total definitely.

Day 2

Morning Drive:

After a nice breakfast at Camp, we had our first morning drive and just enjoyed the first animals on Safari. Just behind the Camp, was always a nice bunch of Waterbucks.

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Something that's different here, there are no Pukus down in Nanzhila. But you can see Reedbuck and I mean Reedbuck. Gosh, they are plentifull down here. Waterbuck and Reedbuck, especially Reedbuck is seen here all the time. Some ideas...

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We stopped for our tea and had a look around us...we planned to go further east afterwards to an other plain area, where the chances for Roan and Sable could be very good according to Ceasar.

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A nice little Bee-eater was posing for me on the way.

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After a while we moved further forward to the area supposed to go....and lets have a look. As promised the Sable where down there and in good numbers (25-30).

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After half an hour or so we went on our way back to camp for lunch. Not enough for this morning, we spotted a mixed group of Roan & Lichtenstein's hartebeest as well.

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Oribi

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Well this was a very nice morning game drive with a lot of game. Roan & Sable on the first morning drive, not too bad I would say...

More to come.

Cheers

 

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Grasshopper_Club

@marg, thanks. Just wait for the Kingfishers..:)

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Great sightings on your first day. Looking forward very much to this. Especiallly interested about Nanzhilla where we originally had intended to stay but then (unfortunately) ditched it in favour of Konkamoya.

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19 hours ago, Grasshopper_Club said:

Well, where to start....

 

The Kafue is definitely a "holy grail" park in Africa for me. The diversity is absolutely phenomenal and the feeling to have the whole park for yourself as well, is the perfect match for me.

 

 

 

The perfect match for me too @Grasshopper_Club - and what a great start with Nanzhila Plains Camp a favourite of mine.

 

Always love the antelopes down at Nanzhila in all their variety and I see Lichtensteins Hartebeest mixing in with those Roan.

 

Looking forward to finding out what else Nanzhila had to offer you.

 

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Grasshopper_Club

 

Day 1 / Afternoon

 

Well after a short nap in the afternoon, it was time for Tea and for the afternoon drive. Accordingn to all in Camp, there was a nice herd of Eland around in the past few days and Ceaser wanted to keep a try on them on the drive.

 

Outside behind the camp we encountered the usual Waterbucks and Impala groups. 2 Waterbucks were fighting...

 

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Not long afterwards, Ceasar spotted a single Eland in the distance and we later on saw a big herd of them moving away into the bushes.

 

Ceaser turned our vehicle and we followd them from a far distance off the beatan track with our Landcruiser...

 

We justf followed them and watched them totally relaxed for about 20minutes. My first sighting of Eland in the Kafue ever...I've seen them in Hwange (60-80 group) and some lonesme but very skittish ones in South Luangwa years ago.

 

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Long-crested Eagle

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Black-cheeked Lovebirds!!! I really hoped to see them down there in Nanzhila and this on my first afternoon drive....yes! These ones are endemic to that very southern part of the Kafue and are as well quite rare according to the distribution map in general. More to come on the next few days...

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After the Lovebird encounter, we settled down from the car for our ususal sundowner cocktails....G&T thanks..:rolleyes:

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Just shortly after, we managed to get on the car on our way back to camp, we spotted a group of 3 Lions heading for the night hunt. This female was lying down once or twice to get a nice decent picture of her. The others didn't bother and went into the thick bush fairly into one direction. They had something in their mind for tonight.

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Giant eagle owl? I think so..

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Ok, now as Steve told me that Nanzhila is very good for Serval and that he could guarantee me 100% a sighting with a 5night stay, my expectations were high from now on.

 

As I've never seen a Serval before in my life. I never go to Safari with an expectation that I have to see this or that, so It would be a nice one to see them, as I always missed them in the other camps and parks I'd stayed so fare (1 day late,or on the wrong vehicle...whatever).

 

What happend from now on was that we saw Civet, Civet, Civet....5 different Civets in one night drive...:D but no Serval. But it was great nevers saw 5 Civets in a 15minutes timeframe..

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As we returend back to Camp and Steve asked us if me managed to see Serval, we had to tell him that we saw 5 Civets...He mocked, that usually it would be the other way round in that area...:D

 

A very nice first full day on Safari was coming to an end...

 

Later on around the campfire, Steve told my that Phil and Ty from Muskese where there a few days before I arrived. They had a few days off and were camping down in Nanzhila. Close by the Camp there is also a public Campsite for selfdrivers.

 

I would see them later on my trip anyway.

 

 

 

 

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Grasshopper_Club

Day 2

 

So this day was compared to the other days I had down @ Nanzhila, the most calm one. But it was a great day as usual for me and great to spend more time with other stuff, especially trying to get the right technique of photography in experementing new stuff.

 

The early Morning mist behind the Camp...

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Reedbuck, as said before, seen all day long on each drive. Very commen down here. I really enjoyed to see them, as I only had one sighting before in the Busanga last year.

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We spotted some Lion tracks on the ground and folllowed them for quitea while in the same direction we had seen them the last night. And suddenly we also could hear a roar in the distance, we followed the tracks further and further until we came down to an are were we lost the tracks, as they leftand went into the bush. So no luck today with big cats but anyway always excitign in trying to track them. We turned round our cars and went into the other direction. Were we planned to go anwyway.

 

The regular Go-away-bird on our way..

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Here out in Nanzhila the Chacma baboons are on their most northern boundary. Further north in the Kafue, you'll find the Yellow baboon. The boundary goes somewhere around Ngomo, there's also a theorie that in that area a hybrid between Chacma/Yellow baboons exist, before the yellow ones starting again norht of It Itezi Teshi.

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The African Fish Eagle, the national bird of Zambia. Seen all day long...

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Always a nice one to catch with the camera...

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A nice little pond in one of these plains. As you can see the plains here in Nanzhila are completely different to the Busanga Plains in the far north of the Park.

 

Here the plains are stretching very long distances as well, but are more narrow and on the sides of these, there are tree lines. A good habitat for a lot of birds especially birds of prey. They tend to sit on the trees around these plains for a lookout. The diversity down here was absolutely spectacular.

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Another treasure down here are the African green pigeons, they are quite common and I've seen them on literally every day here. Mostly simultaneously with the black cheeked lovebirds around.

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Wattled cranes flying over our heads...

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Kudu's jumping around...

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A nice sighting of a martial eagle..

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Saddle-billed stork

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On our afternoon drive, we crossed always the group of waterbucks on our way out of camp. They just hanging around behind the camp all day long.

 

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A skittish lonesome Lichtenstein's hartebeest running away from us...

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In a gully which we had to cross on the main junction to another plain area, we just spotted some nice birding on the sandbank and stopped for a while.

 

Pied Kingfisher

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On the same place more little bee-eaters...

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Our first sighting of Zebra in a nice new area after that gully, we've crossed.

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The obligatory bum-shots.

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The guys setting up our sundowner...always appreciated:)

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On our night drive:

 

A side-striped Jackal sighting.

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Hello Mr. Civet again! Another night drive with about 3-4 Civet sightings...

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Another day comes to an end..

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@Grasshopper_Club I hope you don't mind but I took the liberty of editing one of your images into the initial post, so your trip report now shows up on the Latest Trip Reports sliding banner: that way it will have more exposure.

 

Matt

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Great report so far.  I like your approach to travel -- to take things slowly and spend quality time in fewer places.  That third Little Bee Eater photo is one of the best I've seen.  I'm looking forward to more,  Here's hoping you got your Serval!

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Day 3 / Morning Drive:

 

So this was the day with the biggest highlight of the trip in general. More in the afteroon section...B)

 

Nice African sunrise as usual and always something special to enjoy...

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A male saddle-billed stork.

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And just around the next termite mount, 2 Cheetahs!

 

We watched them from a fair distance and spent some time with them, unfortunately the light wasn't that good. As it was getting later on, temperatures climbed as well and we decided to leave them afterwards, as it was clear that they wouldn't move much during the daytime. We hoped to go back there in the afternoon to find them possibly under the same mount again in the shade.

 

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After we left the cheetah and getting out into a more open area, we just spotted a little herd of Roan.

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And on the same place a group of Impalas just passed inbetween.

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A nice tea-break on a nice spot. Here you can see the kind of plains Nanzhila stands for. Long stretched but more narrow until the next tree line comes into place.

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Not the best one, but a very nice sighting for a vast period of time. Crested Barbet.

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After the Crested Barbet we turned round on the junction back to the camp for Breakfast/Lunch.

 

Nanzhila Plains Camp:

 

I just wanted to bring in some pictures about the Chalets as well, but somehow I can't find the pictures anymore I've taken. The Camp consists of 8 rooms in total and of 4 Chalets and 4 Tents. They are built around the main area in a "buffalo horn" style setup around the main water source in front of the main deck. It's a very nice camp and very well managed by Steve and Cindy. You feel home there at the first moment and you can feel the passion these owners have about their camp and the area surrounding (the whole Nanhila Plains habitat, there is no other Camp down there).

 

A short glimps of the camp.

 

The very nice main area and dining area of Nanhila Plains Camp.

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Main Pool in front of the Camp. From time to time you could see big groups of Waterbucks up to 20-30 animals crossing that area and even Elephants.

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Birding in the whole area is fantastic and a lot of times in the afternoon when I sat infront of my chalet reading, many different specials were around especially woodpeckers. They liked the trees and bushes around these chalets.

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Grasshopper_Club said:

Nanzhila Plains Camp:

 

 

......... The Camp consists of 8 rooms in total and of 4 Chalets and 4 Tents. They are built around the main area in a "buffalo horn" style setup around the main water source in front of the main deck. It's a very nice camp and very well managed by Steve and Cindy. You feel home there at the first moment and you can feel the passion these owners have about their camp and the area surrounding (the whole Nanhila Plains habitat, there is no other Camp down there).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excellent description of Nanzhila @Grasshopper_Club - I'm starting to think that like me you might be becoming hooked on it! As you say you Steve and Cindy have a real passion for Nanzhila and Steve has a great interest and knowledge of the park and its history.

 

Well with those cheetahs in the morning you've really whet the appetite for what you're going to see on the afternoon and night drive.

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Grasshopper_Club

Day 3 / Afternoon Part 1

 

So after our siesta time, we were all ready to go and have a look, if the cheetah would be still there, where we saw them in the morning.

 

After the junction it was quite difficult to find the spot, as the area looked like the same for quite a distance with symetrical mounts. We crossed and turned over until we found them just a mount further away from the road but in the same area.

 

The sun was still high and it was hot as well, so that they still prefered the shades under the trees.

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We stayed with them for quite a while as a new couple arrived in the afteroon and didn't saw the cheetahs in the morning drive. It looked like that they still would ease in the shade for a while and Ceasar pointed out that option to us and that it therefore would make more sense to skip sundowner drinks and come back at that particular time. Which we all onboard approved

 

 

 

Further on on our way away from the cheetah..

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We then came close to the Nanzhila River which is downwards in a gully like system with tree around, quite dark down ther and only some minor open areas where you could have a glimpse down there.

 

Down on the left hand side we spotted a Hamerkop on a log, just above the tiny little stream of the Nanzhila River. Ceasar loocked through his binos and there was something moving down there in the water....what could it be?

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I saw it and I know what it was...a Cape clawless otter (now Africa Clawless Otter)!! WOW wouldn't be prepared to see that one down in Nanzhila or anywhere else....Just turned the camera an get some shots.

 

My first sighting in the wild of an Otter ever in my life anyway. I was so excited and happy!

 

It was such a nice scenery to watch the otter, as this green water hyacinth looked like a carpet where he would submerge from time to time and also went unter these root system.

 

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This was definitely the most spectatcular sighting for me on the whole trip! WOW

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More to come...

 

Edited by Grasshopper_Club
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Grasshopper_Club

Day 3 / Afternoon Part 2

 

After some time the clawless otter disappeared, we were driving back to the cheetah as the sun was going down slowly.

 

On our way back we crossed a group of Roan quite close to our vehicle and watched them until they passed.

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I was surprised in general down here about all these sightings of Sable/Roan, the more specialized antelopes species. Wouldn't have expected that on the first hand.

 

Sun was down now and at the right moment, we spotted them again. They were now slowly moving and so we....

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I really liked that look from the cheetah, covering behind a single tree and looking straigt into your eyes.

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Both of them reunited...

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Ceasar was moving our vehicle with great comfort for the cheetahs, we moved to the expected direction and let them behind us. After enough space inbetween us, he stopped the car and we waited quite a time until they were heading towards to us. Coming closer and closer...

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Wow, a very nice and long encounter of about half an hour with them until it was really dark. Great special for today. We went then for a very very short sundowner, but it was completely dark already.

 

On our way back to camp....Serval! Yes finally!

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Great day for me:

 

-first Cape Clawless Otter (Otter in general) sigthing ever..

-first Serval sighting ever

Cheetah sightings in the morning & in the afternoon

 

Back at Camp after dinner some Klippies en Coke to celebrate our sightings....:)

 

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@Grasshopper_Club as @Caracal says, a memorable day: you were in the right place and right time for the otter, a minute or two after and you'd not have seen it. It was a lucky sighting and I bet one you were not expecting... and the cheetahs and serval were none too shabby either.

 

Matt

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Wow, I really regret not going to Nanzhilla now. Fabulous sightings, and the otter is super-special indeed. Only ever had a short glimpse of them in Botswana. Enjoying your report very much indeed!

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Grasshopper_Club

Day 4 / Morning Drive

 

Today the Camp was fully booked. Steve decided that I would get a personal treatment and that he would guide me with Brad as well. So I could entirely decide what to do. The others would try to get a look on the cheetah if they could find them today as well.

 

I was in the mood for some birding and asked,if we could get a try with the black-cheeked lovebirds. So we headed out for some good fun and hopefully the lovebirds. Steve had some tree in minds, where they would usually tend so sit on.

 

A big Kudu Bull compared to the Lichtensteins hartebeest.

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Before we found the lovebirs, the green pigeons were on spot. Nice sighting and good early morning luck with all the nice colors.

 

African green pigeons

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After the green pigeons we finally found the black-cheeked lovebirds on a tree behind a little pond. Unfortunately they just flow away. We positioned the game viewer behind the tree and discussed what to do. As I said I would be absolutely fine to wait there until they come back, even if we have to wait an hour or more. Steve was sure that they would come back as they didn't drank when we arrived and would come down for a drink in the morning. So we waited and during that we had some tea and biscuits. Finally they came back, but on the wrong side of the treetop in the far distance.

 

Black-cheecked lovebirds

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We literally watched them for about 1 hour, it was really nice and one of the specials down there at Nanzhila. I was very happy to watch them twice during my stay here.

 

 

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Reebuck

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On a later stage when we were heading backwards the camp, we got a radio message from the other vehicle that they found the cheetah. We just went there as the others left for a short glimpse. We wouldn't stay to long with them, but then they started to move around the mount and were looking slightly in one direction. Steve was sure that they didn't catched anything the night before and were quite hungry. He was right as the one on the right hand side was looking into the far distance about 200-300 meters away was a group of warthogs with young ones. Steve was sure that one of the cheetahs was in a mood for a hunt even as it was now getting very hot (nearly lunch time).

 

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Starting to look for the pray.

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Now they moved! straight to the warthogs. As we didn't want to spoil the hunt, we stayed on the same position and watched from the far distance a very thrilling sighting, when you only see the dust coming up from their runner up...

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It was so quick and far away, that I didn't took any pictures. But it was very thrilling to see all that. We saw the dust from a roll on the ground which one cheetah performed. We thaugth the catched one, but they must have missed them in the last second (very close indeed).

 

After the hunt, we spoted one cheetah in the shade under the tree. We coulnd't see the second one for a long time. And this one here was was moaning like a litltle baby cat for a while, but no answer from the other one.

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Later on they found each other. A very interesting sighting. Once they met again the one who didn't replied to the calls, was quit upset with the other one who (It looked like..) spoilt the hunt and was scratched with the paw.

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We spent another hour with them around that mount as they rested from the unsuccessful hunt.

 

Unfortunately when we went back to Camp and as I wanted to get out of the game viewer i dropped my D750 with the big lens on it....

The mount was off, but the camera was still alive. Nevertheless the D750 was out of the game for the rest of the trp, fortunately i had a second body the D500 with me.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Grasshopper_Club
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Really enjoying your report @Grasshopper_Club. Was tossing up between Kafue and Hwange/Mana Pools later this year, ended up with the later. Will definitely have to put Kafue on the list for a future visit. Shame about your lense.

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Finally found time to read your report.  Great pictures.

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So sorry to hear about your camera - was it salvageable?

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Grasshopper_Club

@Ratdcoops Hwange & Mana is a great choice anyway! Especially for big Game, density there is much better.

 

@Tdgraves Not durign the stay, but back home yes. Nikon was able to repaor the mount and I was happy to have everyting insured.;) But yes, I can understand now, why some peoble take 3 camera bodies with them on a long Safari like this. If one is getting dumped, you still have 2. I don't like to work with onyl 1 body, as the change of the lenses all the time in that environment with all the dust, is not very preferable on a game vehicle.

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@Grasshopper_Club I'm going to Kafue for 11 days later this year,but now I'm beginning to wish that I was going to Nanzhilla Plains as part of my trip. That sighting of an otter is just awesome as are all those cheetah and bird photos.

 

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@Grasshopper_Club     I am not sure I understand:

 

You rented a vehicle and then drove up to the park where you then were driven around in the game drive vehicles of the various camps?

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Grasshopper_Club

@optig Nice, 11 days in the Kafue is a very nice time to spend there and give you the right feeling to experience the park in it's full beauty, with all these possibe sightings. Which i'm sure you will also experience. The longer you stay the bigger the chances, that I's my motto.

 

@ice No, I didn't drive on my own. So all transfers were performed or organised from the Camps.

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