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Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa Sept 2017: A Different View

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janzin

I have been a bit reluctant to start this trip report because there have been so many excellent reports out of Zambia and specifically South Luangwa lately...will folks really be keen to read another? And what can I say that will be different?

 

Well, as it turns out, my husband and I had a bit of a different take on this safari destination...perhaps our expectations were too high, or we chose the wrong camps, or we just got unlucky...but in the end we both agreed that OVERALL it was our least satisfying safari experience to date.

 

But all is not negative...far from it. We certainly had some excellent and memorable sightings, and in retrospect there's no such thing as a truly "bad" safari, as just being out in the bush is wonderful...and far better than sitting around at home dreaming of Africa....but given that this was also our most costly safari to date, we just felt it didn't deliver as we expected.

 

I will add right up front that we absolutely loved Lower Zambezi...and in fact much preferred our time there over South Luangwa. What!! I hear everyone exclaiming :o Well, keep reading to see why.

 

We traveled Aug 31-September 14.

 

Our itinerary was:

4 nights Lower Zambezi at Amanzi Camp
3 nights South Luangwa at Bilimungwe Camp
4 nights South Luangwa at Tena Tena Camp
3 nights Victoria Falls at the Avani Hotel

 

I had heard so much about South Luangwa, and read so many excellent trip reports, with so many people stating it as their favorite park in Africa, that I knew this had to be our next safari destination. We had considered it years ago when we were planning a November trip, but chickened out due to the heat, and decided at that time we wouldn't go unless we could go in peak season, before "suicide season." I was also excited by the idea of the walking-focus of the park, and was keen to finally get out of the vehicle and explore by foot, after so many stuck-in-vehicle safaris.  I had imaginings of the thrill of coming upon wild dogs on foot, or elephants...maybe I was getting these ideas more from Mana Pools trips, but somehow I thought it would be similar.  Well, that didn't happen...more on that later.

 

As for Lower Zambezi, I was attracted by the option of doing some boating activities...which I find so relaxing...and seeing the contrast with SLNP. Even though others had said sightings weren't as good there as in SLNP...we felt if we were coming all this way we should at least check it out. So glad we did!

 

Everything was booked through Bill Given at The Wild Source.  Originally in South Luangwa I had hoped to stay at Kaingo, mainly for their focus on photography and their hides, but it was way out of our budget in high season.  Fortunately, we were able to get some specials: four nights for the price of three at Amanzi and also at Tena Tena.  Our original itinerary didn't include Victoria Falls, as we were already topping out our budget; and this time of year the falls would not be at their best; but several months after booking (and just before buying our air tickets) I just decided to go for it...when I realized we could fly directly home from Livingstone on South African Airways at no additional cost from flying home from Lusaka.  I'm glad we did. We enjoyed being at the falls, had some adventures (stay tuned :D), and those last few days took a bit of the sting out of our experiences in SLNP.

 

The long tiring trip from JFK to JNB to Lusaka went smoothly on South African Airways, and we easily made the connection to our ProFlight fight to Jeki airstrip in Lower Zambezi National Park. Of course, as always, all my fears about overweight camera bags were for naught...camera bags weren't weighed and somehow everything gets crammed in, either in the back of the plane or under-seat. We were on our way!

 

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We were met at Jeki by our guide Lawrence, who told us that the drive would be around 1-1/2 hours to camp--that is, if we didn't stop.  Since we arrived at Jeki at around 4:30, we knew we wouldn't arrive at camp until dark. But what we never dreamed of was how productive this very first drive would be! We stopped a lot :)

 

I didn't take many photos initially as the light was fading and we were traveling a bit quickly to get to camp. We passed a very large herd of buffalo in the open grasslands near the airstrip, and some zebras, but as we got further away from Jeki the terrain started to change dramatically, and we entered into deep forest. Its here that things started to get interesting. It was getting quite dark by now, when Lawrence spotted something....

 

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He seemed very wary...but not of us...  Lawrence thought there must be lions around, and sure enough, shortly we heard some distant roars.

 

The light was dimming, we stayed watching the leopard...would the lions get closer? Soon the spotlight came out... I was thrilled to be getting my dream shots...leopard on a termite mound...at night...what a start!!

 

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Shortly after this, the leopard got up and walked towards the distant trees...we followed a bit but he entered the forest, over a gully we couldn't cross, and we really needed to get to camp. So we started back to the main road.

 

But not before we found the lions who had been causing the leopard such anxiety!

 

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There were a pair of two magnificent males!

 

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We stayed with them for a while but eventually had to get to camp...dinner was long awaiting. But there was to be one last exciting sighting.....

A life mammal!

 

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Wow, Lower Zambezi had delivered in spades already and we hadn't even seen it in daylight yet!

 

Soon we arrived at camp, and we couldn't see much of it in the dark, but we were already thrilled with our choice of Amanzi.

 

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Edited by janzin
fixed spacing

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Tdgraves

So sorry to hear of your experience in SLNP @janzin I am one of those who call it my favourite park, although I must admit, Tena Tena was my least favourite camp on our last trip...it looks as if LZNP was already amazing though!

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Towlersonsafari

Well this report looks very intriguing! @janzin but already splendid photos!

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janzin

When we arrived at Amanzi, there was one other couple in camp, but they were leaving the next morning and we learned that for the rest of our stay, we would be the only guests. This meant that even though we hadn't paid for a private vehicle, we would have one! What luck!

 

Sunrise was at about six a.m. and wake-up at 5:15, with breakfast on the veranda at around 5:30, in the near-dark. We still had little idea what the camp looked like...but at least we knew it was on the river!

 

Dawn from the main veranda, where meals were.

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So after a quick breakfast of eggs made to order, (and there was plenty of cereal, toast, fruit, etc.) we were off for our first drive.

Now unfortunately I had messed up my date/time settings on my cameras so its a bit confusing as to when we saw what, but things should be more or less in order :) I think I finally corrected the camera time after the first couple of days.

 

That first morning was mostly general game and birds, and we started to get a feel for the awesome beauty of the habitat in Lower Zambezi, different from anywhere else we'd been in Africa. The light was something special...

 

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We found a hyena, which turned out not to be too common in either park.

 

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And of course, there were lots of birds.

 

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 We did find a lion...but he was definitely not in the mood to move, or even turn over :) I'm not sure if this is one of the same lions from the night before. There were at least two pairs of males in the general area (more on that when we get to the following day...)

 

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Lawrence brought us to a spot on the river where there was a colony of White-throated Bee-eaters, and we spent quite awhile shooting them. They may not be as flashy as the Carmine Bee-eaters, but I think they are just as beautiful.

 

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There was a weaver there too.

 

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And we started to get a taste of just how many elephants were around. More on that later.

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Before we knew it, it was time to go back to camp for lunch. For our afternoon activity, we opted to take a motor boat ride on the Zambezi river.  There is also an option to do canoeing but I wanted to scope out the hippo situation before committing to that.;)

 

Edited by janzin

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Treepol

@janzin I'm looking forward to this TR for your wonderful photos as well as your candid assessment of both parks visited.

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mopsy

@janzin great photos so far l can see I need to upgrade my camera equipment for my next safari. Which happens to be to SLNP and LZNP so looking forward to following your report!

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janzin

After lunch, we departed from Amanzi's dock for our boat ride.  Lawrence had told us that there was a small but active Carmine Bee-eater colony upriver, so that was our destination.

 

The boat was a very comfortable skiff, low in the water. As water levels were already lowering for the season, we needed to be careful as to not get stuck.

 

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Surprisingly, there weren't that many birds spotted along the river. I was hoping for Kingfishers....but we didn't see a single one.

 

We did find a Goliath Heron.

 

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And quite a few crocodiles. Some quite large...and close!

 

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We also saw an astounding number of Black Crakes...they seemed to be running everywhere, but try as I might I could not get a decent photo. They are fast! Other birds included African Fish Eagle, and swallows...but it wasn't nearly as birdy along the river as I'd expected.

 

And of course, there were the hippos. LOTS of hippos. Sometimes ANGRY hippos.

 

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There are many islands in the river, and several times we had to maneuver in channels around the hippos. They really didn't look pleased.

 

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Seeing this many hippos up close made me realize that doing a canoe trip was not in the cards for us. Even in the skiff there were some scary moments! A couple of times, the skiff grounded and Lawrence had to get out to push...with hippos uncomfortably close. :o

 

Finally we arrived at the Carmine Bee-eater colony, which was in a small side channel. Unfortunately...the light was all wrong. We could see that there would be no light at all because the bank they were in was on the wrong side of the river. So I didn't take many photos, and I will only post a couple here because we got MUCH better looks at colonies in South Luangwa.

 

 

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Lawrence did his best, moving from one side of the birds to another (this is where we got stuck once, as the channel was really very narrow and with low water.) After some discussion and a bit of sun calculation, we decided to attempt to return in the morning when the light should be falling on the correct bank.

 

 

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bluebird

Beautiful photos! I've read great things about Lower Zambezi National Park; I hope I don't regret missing it for my upcoming trip. I'll be following this trip report closely, as I recently booked through The Wild Source for South Luangwa National Park (Bilimungwe being one of our stops). Very curious now! 

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janzin
3 hours ago, bluebird said:

Beautiful photos! I've read great things about Lower Zambezi National Park; I hope I don't regret missing it for my upcoming trip. I'll be following this trip report closely, as I recently booked through The Wild Source for South Luangwa National Park (Bilimungwe being one of our stops). Very curious now! 

 

@bluebird  We did have some issues with Bilimungwe which I will get to eventually... Feel free to PM me if you want details sooner.

Edited by janzin

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Grasshopper_Club

@janzin Great TR so far.

 

Keep on going. I must say I also prefer the Lower Zambezi over the SLNP, especially comparing it's a quite park not so "crowded". Wonderful sightings of Leopard and Lion on your arrival wow.

 

For me these Hippos in the Zambezi are the most beautiful ones, setting with all the water source and that nice light ist outstanding.

 

I'm also interested to see your thoughts about Amanzi, as it is also on my list, as it is situated on the most eastern part of the Park.

I stayed in Old Mondore once which is close to the Jeki area and really loved it, Chiawa naturally as well and had wonderful sightings in the Lower Zambezi which I will not forget.

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janzin

We were awakened the next day by the always thrilling sound of roaring lions. What a wake-up call, and they sounded really close to camp.  The staff member who came to retrieve us from our room said the lions had walked right past the camp shortly before dawn. :o

 

Our plan for the morning was to revisit the Bee-eater colony, but the light wouldn't reach it until 10 or 11 o'clock, so we had plenty of time for a game drive before that. After a brief reconnaissance with Lawrence and a quick breakfast, we headed out on the lion hunt.

 

The lions had been heading away from the camp, to the east. I should mention that one of the great things about Amanzi is that it is a quite remote area with only one other camp nearby, its sister camp, Anabezi, which was several km to the west. So we almost never saw any other vehicles at all during our stay. To the east there was pretty much nothing for many, many kms.

 

We searched the immediate area of the camp to no avail...and the local impalas looked calm. But Lawrence had a good idea of where the lions might be going. We drove quite a way through a very dry wooded habitat, pretty much empty of game. Since we were on a quest, we didn't make any stops except when I glimpsed a pair of Arnot's Chats! Unfortunately they were flitting deep in the trees and no photos possible, but that was a good bird for the trip and only our 2nd sighting of this species (first was in Botswana.) Lawrence said he hadn't seen them there before either, so he was pretty chuffed.

 

Eventually we came upon the Kulefu airstrip...which was where we had been headed. This strip apparently is not serviced by any scheduled flights, but used for charters and the parks department. (It is much closer to Amanzi/Anabezi then Jeki is.) Lawrence was sure the lions would emerge here.

 

Lo and behold, we weren't there but a moment when we saw this coming out of the bush...

 

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And this...

 

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Two more magnificent males! I asked Lawrence if these were the same two we'd seen the first night, but he said no...those two were quite far in the opposite direction, on the far side of Anabezi camp.

 

The two boys walked steadily down the runway and we rode slowly alongside of them the entire way, Lawrence always managing to stay just ahead so we could get photos. The light was fabulous. The boys clearly were on a mission and nothing was going to deter their walk.

 

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Every once in awhile one of them would roar... Its always amazing to actually see a roaring lion...its not like in the MGM logo...they barely open their mouth, but what a sound comes out!

 

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I put this one in so you can see the runway markings...

 

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Eventually we  (and the lions) reached the end of the runway. Where would they go now? Could we follow?

 

They sniffed around this bush and continued into the brush. Lawrence figured they were following the scent of a female.

 

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We lost them in the brush, but Lawrence had yet another idea of where they were heading.  There was not much of a road here...a track...but we continued on; a couple of times we dead-ended at a sheer drop-off and had to find another way around.

 

But there was a clearing down below, and Lawrence was sure the lions were there...we just had to figure out how to get to it. Somehow, bumping along, we got down...

 

And spotted the lions almost immediately!

 

They were actually doing something we'd not seen before. They had found some hippo dung and were rolling and rubbing their faces in it (yuck :wacko:) They do this, we were told, to disguise their scent. (BTW, for any of these long/pano type photos, click on them to see them fully...they will look far better.)

 

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Yum!

 

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Soon they started to move, but didn't go far. And shortly we were treated to some more really interesting behavior.

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janzin

The lions moved a bit further along and then started intently sniffing the ground. It seems they had found the urine of the female. And then there was this...

 

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They were flehmening (if that is a verb); or exhibiting the flehmen response; where an animal facilitates the transfer of pheromones and other scents into the Jacobson's organ located above the roof of the mouth (somewhat paraphrased from Wikipedia ;)

 

This went on for some time and it was fascinating to watch. Did I mention that for this entire lion encounter, there were NO other vehicles around?

 

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What an incredible morning! But now we had to make a decision. Did we want to stick with the lions, or stick with our original plan of going back on the boat to get to the Carmine Bee-eater colony in the sunlight? We reluctantly decided to leave the lions as it seemed they were going to head even further out into the bush, and Lawrence told us that there were no real roads in that direction. We'd never make it back in time to get on the boat, which was waiting for us, if we headed further east, so back towards camp we went.

 

But we did have one last interesting sighting in this patch of dry woods. Right alongside the road, we spotted this female Double-banded Sandgrouse.

 

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We couldn't understand why she was so confiding, and didn't fly even as we pulled alongside her. But then we saw this a few feet away. Fabulous camouflage!

 

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No wonder! We immediately left her in peace to guard her eggs, and headed back to camp to pick up our boat ride.

Edited by janzin

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Kitsafari

@janzin such stunning photos - so reflective of your skills. And the light is really gorgeous on the hippos and lions.

 

We were told some years back when we were in SLNP that LZ would be quiet and not worth doing a trip but it looks like your first drives killed that silly myth.

 

SLNP is also one of my fav parks so I’ll be keen to hear your views on it, but be brutally honest - its always good to hear other views! Look forward to more awesome photos.

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michael-ibk

Sorry to hear that South Luangwa did not quite live up to your expectations, but my oh my, Lower Zambezi certainly delivered. Spectacular photos, but then that goes without saying.

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janzin
1 hour ago, Kitsafari said:

 

 

SLNP is also one of my fav parks so I’ll be keen to hear your views on it, but be brutally honest - its always good to hear other views! Look forward to more awesome photos.

 

I will be honest...we really were surprised to have a less than positive experience since so many experienced safari folks--yourself included!--love this park. That was one reason we wanted so badly to go, because so many people whose opinion I greatly respect have said it's their favorite.

 

Well there's still A LOT more great stuff from LZ so it will be a couple of days before we get to SLNP.

Edited by janzin

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janzin

So we went back to camp and headed out again on the boat. Making our way to the site of the bee-eaters, and wanting to get there for the good light, we didn't really dally. However, we did spot a few more birds along the river, more than the previous day...although oddly, not a single kingfisher (I was looking and hoping for Malachite or Pygmy.)

 

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And the Black Crakes were out again, but again I failed to get a decent photo. Here's a record shot though (just to prove it!) It seemed they were everywhere, in every opening but they never stand still and the light was actually pretty harsh (I'm making excuses :)  but they are tough!)

 

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Soon we reached the channel with the Carmine Bee-eater colony.  The light was shining perfectly on the bank! We timed it just right!!

 

BUT...

 

THERE WERE NO BIRDS THERE. NOT A ONE :angry:

 

What hadn't occurred to us is that they might be out foraging at that time of day.  They were just....elsewhere. :(

 

So sadly we turned back to camp for lunch. We could have stayed longer with the lions...but we did get some other nice birds and I just love being out on the water, so all was not lost.

 

On the way back we stopped to look at some "riverside attractions."

 

This ellie was drinking right at the base of Anabezi camp, I had to have Lawrence manuever the boat so there wouldn't be buildings in the background.

 

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There were some buffalo too; you can see Anabezi camp buildings in the background here.

 

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Of course there were plenty of hippos, and at one point--this is for the second time--we grounded and Lawrence had to get out to push the boat. This time hippos were REALLY close and I was wondering if I could pilot the boat if Lawrence didn't make it ;)

 

But of course, he knew what he was doing and all was fine. For some reason I didn't take more photos of hippos that day, I guess I'd had plenty from the day before and was just relaxing.

 

Had some nice views of really big crocs too.

 

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And a turtle...anyone know what kind?

 

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So even with the miss on the Bee-eaters, it was a VERY satisfying morning. And we still had another day and a half at Amanzi! What would the afternoon bring?

 

 

Edited by janzin

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marg

@janzin...your photos are beautiful!

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janzin

I will take this lunch interlude to show a few shots taken around camp.

 

Amanzi is absolutely beautiful. The rooms are over-the-top luxury for us...I am not complaining, it is really wonderful to stay in such a comfortable place especially as a first stop after a long trip. Certainly the first time that I've stayed in a safari camp with a MINIBAR! In the minibar were sodas, beer, and water...all of course included.

 

I wish I'd taken more photos of the interior but I always forget. Here is the bed area...very comfortable and with furnishings by Tribal Textiles. The overhead fan was much appreciated. Excellent lighting, a charging station in the room, and 24 hour power. You can see the console to the right which had the minibar, water, and coffee making supplies.

 

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We had a nice patio to the side, with hammocks and chairs. But I found it too hot during lunch break to sit out there.

 

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The rooms are all perched on the river but there is no access down (for obvious reasons.) All the rooms are joined by boardwalks, so there is really no walking around the camp, other than on the walks.
 

View from our patio, you can see the boat dock in the distance. There is no access to that strip in front of the room. We had hippos moving through there at night, and possibly something else :o

 

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Here is the outside view of our room, with a large sausage tree offering shade.

 

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The view from the main dining area.

 

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Down from the main dining area there is a swimming pool. We never used it, although it was tempting there just never seemed to be time (after lunch I was usually busy downloading photos...or napping.) I did walk the boardwalk a few times, from end to end, looking for birds but there wasn't much in the heat of the day. Some nice butterflies though.

 

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I can't recall specifics about the food except that it was fabulous! Every afternoon before the game drive we'd be presented with a menu of choices to select from for dinner...usually two choices of appetizer, main, and dessert.

 

We really loved this camp and would return, although its impossible to say what it might actually be like with other people there :)  But it only has four rooms, so it can't be too crowded.

Edited by janzin

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janzin

Between the boat rides and following the lions to the east in the morning, we hadn't really explored much to the west. So that afternoon's game drive headed west...into what we discovered was the "land of the elephants." We headed out around 4 pm with the intention of staying out after dark for some spotlighting. Maybe we could find the leopard we saw on our first night. (The prior night, because we had sunset and sundowners on the boat, we didn't do a spotlight drive.)

 

I don't know why, but I didn't expect to see so many elephants in Lower Zambezi. We lost count but over our time there we must have seen over 200 elephants. They seemed to be just everywhere (but mostly west of the camp...)  West of the came was a large forested area with trees similar to those in Mana Pools. (I'm not that good with trees so I can't really tell you what kind they are.) The ellies were foraging in there most of the day.

 

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We drove through some marshy areas where elephants were enjoying the wallow.

 

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The light was lovely on these Waterbuck.

 

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We soon were out of the forest and came to the open area where we had seen the lions and leopard the first night. A herd of elephants were making its way towards the dry riverbed. This is probably one of my top favorite elephant photos that I've taken. Please click on it to see the full size panorama!

 

 

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We followed these ellies who were heading to the dry riverbed. What were they doing? Eating the clay! Eating dirt, and especially clay, is done to gain minerals in their diet, and also acts to aid digestion.

 

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We watched them for a long time, until the light was really fading and they headed back towards the forest.

 

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It was now time for the spotlight. Unfortunately, we didn't re-locate the leopard, but we had some other great sightings.  Many, many genets (impossible to get a sharp shot!), another porcupine,

 

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and most excitingly for us...another life mammal...African Civet!

 

 

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This was on my "most wanted mammal" list and we were so thrilled to see it and even get a decent photo! We actually saw more than one but this is the best photo.

 

With that, we ended our second full day...and what a day it was! From lions to civit and lots in-between. A great day. But we still had one more day to go...could we top it?

 

Edited by janzin

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lmonmm

@janzin  I've been following right along,, but I went through the male lion pictures again and just couldn't help but laugh. It's almost like they were toking some cat nip (what I call cat pot) and then laughing hysterically. Made me giggle. And I would love to stay at Amanzi- what a lovely camp and sooooo small. I love that aspect. Looking forward to more

Edited by lmonmm

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janzin
28 minutes ago, lmonmm said:

@janzin  I've been following right along,, but I went through the male lion pictures again and just couldn't help but laugh. It's almost like they were toking some cat nip (what I call cat pot) and then laughing hysterically. Made me giggle. And I would love to stay at Amanzi- what a lovely camp and sooooo small. I love that aspect. Looking forward to more

 

Yes they seemed pretty drunk on a combination of hippo poo and lady lion pee! :lol:

 

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janzin

On our last full day at Amanzi we opted to go for a full day drive to "the other side" of the park; that is, west of the Jeki airstrip, where we had not yet been. Shortly before our trip, there had been sightings of a cheetah around the Jeki airstrip area...the first cheetah seen in Lower Zambezi in many years. Although it hadn't been seen in the few weeks before we arrived...you never know. We thought it was worth a shot! Also, I had asked Lawrence if there were Wild Dogs in the area, and he said that there was a pack that was sometimes seen in the western end. There are several well known camps in that far western section, including Chiawa and Sausage Tree, and Potato Bush Camp.

 

So off we went with a packed lunch and hopes of more cats...and maybe dogs...

 

One of the first sights of the morning indeed was canine...but not Wild Dog. We found this lone jackal resting right off the edge of the road.

 

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I actually was surprised at how few jackals and hyenas we saw overall on this trip.

 

We drove through the forested area with its many elephants. One thing that struck me about the elephants in this area...they were extremely feisty.  Perhaps because there are so few tourists...or perhaps because this area was heavily poached in the past...they did NOT like vehicles approaching too closely.  In fact, this trip was the first time I ever really felt afraid of the elephants...and they were just everywhere in this forest. It actually took us quite a long time to get through because we had to go around them or wait for them to get out of the road.

 

This guy really wasn't happy with us. Lots of foot-stamping and trumpeting. Luckily he wasn't really very big :o

 

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Of course, there were calmer elephants too.

 

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It wasn't always elephants blocking the road.

 

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And we passed through some lovely habitat.

 

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As we neared the Jeki airstrip, we started looking for the cheetah. There are stretches of grasslands in that section which seemed like good habitat, and that's where it had been seen in the past. But to be honest, we didn't spend too much time looking, as there had been no recent reports, and it seemed pretty unlikely that it was still around. We were more keen to go find the dogs.

 

Towards the other side of the park, the habitat changed quite a bit. It was more open, with different trees, including Baobabs.

 

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And even palm trees.

 

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This odd bush had been browsed very evenly by impala. Who needs a gardener?

 

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We weren't seeing much game here at all, and I was beginning to wonder if we'd made a mistake in coming all this way...although it was rather interesting to see the difference in habitat.

 

Of course, there were birds...

 

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We were really excited to get a life bird here...Crested Guineafowl. Unfortunately they were running fast, actually too close to the vehicle, and all I could manage was a record shot--but this was our only sighting of these on the trip.

 

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From time to time we did pass a few other vehicles...not many...and we of course asked if they'd seen dogs (or anything else!) Well it seemed like everyone was looking for the dogs, and no one finding them.

 

However, one group told us that they had just left a leopard in a bush....! Their guide gave us some directions. They were heading back to their camp for lunch, but because we were out for the day, we didn't have that restriction :)  We shortly found the bush in question, but where was the leopard?  Well, she was really well hidden deep inside this bush. Almost impossible to see. But soon we realized why...there was a tiny cub in the bush with her! I actually could not see the cub but only saw movement. Lawrence was the only one who actually saw the cub. We waited a long time to see if she would come out, but she wasn't budging...and soon we realized why.

 

Look who came strolling out of the bush behind us...

 

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A lovely young male leopard!

 

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Now, the light was harsh as it was just around noon but so what! For those people who think there's no point in going out in the heat of mid-day...well you just never know.

 

He seemed very keen on the bush where the female was hiding with the cub. We really didn't know if he was the father, or if the cub might be in danger.

 

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Before too long he headed away, towards the shade. Should we follow him or stick with the bush in hopes of seeing the cub? Well, it didn't seem likely the female would emerge with this guy hanging around, so we decided to follow him. We could come back later to see if the female moved out of the bush.

 

We followed him a little ways and he plopped down in a shadier spot. What a beauty he was!

 

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Soon he got up and climbed a bit onto a termite mound which was quite entangled in a tree.

 

Even though there are branches in the way, this is one of my favorite leopard images.

 

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We moved around to the other side to see if we could get a more unobstructed view. Yep!

 

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After awhile, he put his head down and closed his eyes so we decided to go back to the first bush and see if the female had moved.

 

She was still in the bush, but moving around a bit. I finally got a look at her...for a moment.

 

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But that's about the best look she'd give us...and we never saw the cub again. We moved off to find a spot to have our lunch, and start the long trip back to Amanzi.

 

We kept our eyes out for the dogs, of course, but never did find them. And as we approached the airstrip again, we spent a bit of time looking for the cheetah, or perhaps some lions, but no other cats were around.

 

But that was okay, because we were very satisfied with spending over two hours with 2-1/2 leopards :)  (The half being the little cub which I really can't say we saw.)

 

And to top it off, as we neared camp at the end of the day, we did a bit of spotlighting and saw several more genets, civet again, and yet another life mammal!

 

White-tailed Mongoose...which is the largest of the mongoose family, and mostly nocturnal.

 

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What an incredible day, and well worth journeying to the "far side"!

Edited by janzin

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Towlersonsafari

What wonderful photos @janzin and our time at the Lower Zambezi was also memorable for the leopards, feisty elephants and absolutely no desire whatsoever to get in a canoe! why do you think the lions wanted to disguise their scent?

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Galago

Loving your report and your photographs are just stunning. I've not been to Lower Zambezi so good to learn about it. I have been to SLNP several times but not since 2010, so fascinated to hear why and how it disappointed. 

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vikramghanekar

@janzin Fabulous TR. Loving it! The Lion images (when the males is running/roaring) are stunning! Loved the leopard on termite mound as well. Curious about your experience in SNLP especially Bilimungwe. I had fabulous time there back in September 2014 with Manda Chisanga. I had my best leopard sighting with him (a pair of leopards, 1 vehicle, 1 guest: Me) I wonder what went wrong! 

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