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Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa Sept 2017: A Different View


janzin

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vikramghanekar

Wow! Pel's fishing owl is just fantastic. 

I can see why you were disappointed. Starting so late in the morning means you lose precious time before sunrise, time that needs to be utilised to find a good subject so that you can photograph it before light turns harsh.

 

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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?

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 th

During the long lunch break I entertained myself by watching the comings and goings in our little marsh. The light was always very harsh so photography wasn't optimal, but here's a few of the critters

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Thanks all, yes the Pel's was definitely a highlight; we'd seen them in Botswana and I even got some good photos there, but nothing like this! Apparently this bird does visit Harry's pool quite often, but of our three nights there he was only present this one time. He actually stayed for a good 15 minutes at least.

 

Next morning we had our highly anticipated walk with Manda. We drove out of camp (thankfully leaving a bit earlier than on other days, since it was just us.) An armed ranger joined us. The eventual destination was to return to the Carmine Bee-eaters, so parked the vehicle some distance from there and the plan was to walk to the river's edge.  Well...the walk itself was quite tame and we saw no game at all and no wildlife other than a giraffe and a few lizards. Honestly, it was nothing like I'd expected from reading about walking safaris in Mana Pools, where predators are tracked and elephants abound. Manda did the best he could with what there was to see...plants, a few lizards, but...it wasn't much. It was nice however to just be walking in the bush in the cool of the morning.

 

I actually have no photos from that walk except a blurry lizard, which I'll spare you (it was quite a pretty guy with a bright orange tail, and I'm sorry I didn't get a better photo.) There weren't even many birds!

 

So let's get straight to the Carmines. This time we approached it on foot from the other side, which gave a much better angle with good lighting.

 

It was amazing to see all these birds in the sunlight!

 

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Hubby and I moved slowly and cautiously closer and the birds seemed to tolerate our presence.

 

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We spent a long time trying for the perfect flight shot. Even with the bright light it wasn't easy!

 

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We spent close to an hour with the birds. I won't inundate you with a lot more photos, because there will be a few more Carmines from Tena Tena :)

 

After this exhilarating experience, the return walk (and drive) was again pretty dull. Manda tried, of course! We were still searching for the dogs and he got down to look for tracks a few times. At one channel crossing, Manda found some dog tracks that looked fresh! We got really excited! But we searched the area...no dogs, no leopards, not much of anything.  Its not an exaggeration to state that in this area, you could drive for miles without seeing anything at all. The bush was really really thick along side the roads and the main clear areas were mostly along the river. Again, this sort of bush was a magnet for the tse-tses. By this time I was definitely feeling it.

 

Anyway, Manda felt the dogs were still somewhere close and suggested we return during the afternoon game drive to this general area where we saw the tracks. That sounded good!


 

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4 hours ago, optig said:

@Janzin I decided to visit Bilingumwe, Chamilandu and Kuyenda because as much as I've  loved my previous 3 trips to South Luangwa where I stayed in 

Kaingo twice, Mwamba twice, Tafika twice as well  I wanted to stay in a new area of the park where the scenery was quite different. I also know that in this area of the park one is more likely to see wild dogs. I've also stayed at Chikoko Tree Camp and Crocodile River Camp as well as Mwaleshi Camp in North Luangwa National Park. I'll be staying for 3 nights at each camp as well as one night at Mfuwe where I'll be there relaxing. I'm sure that I'll be quite satisfied at all of them. 

 

@optig I am sure you will have a great time, but you'll find it very different than the northern part of the park. I will be curious to hear your impressions.  I can only assume we had terrible luck but we did have one more good sighting, coming up soon. :)  It is just that overall we found this area really sparse in wildlife, and maybe we had wrong expectations about the walking. I think that Chamilandu and Kuyenda may actually be better than Bilimungwe due to their positions, especially Chamilandu which I believe is on the main river.

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Game Warden

@janzin that has to be one of the best images I've seen of a Pels: so close in such detail, a perfect pose. If you don't add it to this topic the old GW will be most upset...

 

Matt

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We had one more afternoon drive in this section of the park and our fervent hope was to see leopard...which we were really surprised not to have seen so far here, as everyone had told us (and most trip reports reflected) that leopard was a given in SLNP.  And of course we continued to hope for the wild dogs as well. (I should add that it was hubby and myself driving the quest for the dogs, because the other folks did not seem to care one way or the other, but fortunately were going along with our "suggestion" :rolleyes:)

 

So we headed out towards the area where Manda had found the dog tracks this morning. Along the way, we saw a few more animals:

 

Some lone buffalo; we didn't see any large herds in this area, I think it was too dense with not much grazing space.

 

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A hippo...there really weren't many around here as the water was so shallow in most places.

 

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Our first Crawshay's Zebra...which are considered a subspecies of Plains Zebra and found only in South Luangwa and some parts of Malawi. For the most part they lack the shadow stripes (brown between the black) of other Plains Zebra subspecies, and the stripes extend under the belly and all the way down the legs.

 

crayshaw_zebra_JZ5_1365a.jpg

 

We were crossing back and forth across the river channel, which is were we had seen the dog tracks. Manda said they often run up the channel so they could be anywhere, but he suspected they were denning somewhere in the area.

 

No dogs yet, but some ellies crossing.

 

 

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And although as I mentioned we were trying not to stop for birds, we did make Manda stop briefly for this one...a life bird, Western Banded Snake-eagle.

 

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The light was really getting low and I was losing hope that we'd find the dogs...but then suddenly, this bolted out of an area of high grass! This is not an intentional panning shot, but an accident of having the camera set entirely wrong at that unexpected moment!

 

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Finally!! The only problem was that it almost immediately ran back into the grass. We could hear yelping and knew that there were more dog in there, but couldn't see anything! Arrrrgh!  Remember, you can't go off road in this area either. Manda gunned the vehicle, saying he had an idea where they would emerge, on the other side of the clearing...so off we bolted. (This is the first time our car mates got a taste of what it really feels like in the excitement of safari...I don't think they knew what to make of it!)

 

Sure enough, Manda was right...as we got around to the other side we found this....just standing in the road...for a moment...

 

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And then more followed.

 

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There were four dogs that we actually saw,  (you can see the forth just barely in the far upper right here) but we could hear many more in the brush, running and yelping. I am not sure how large the pack was, because unfortunately this was the last we saw of them. Here you can see the last two heading into the bush (and a third standing in the background) and you can see how thick it is...even if off-roading were allowed here, it would be nearly impossible to follow through this. They were surely on the hunt and Manda told us there were no other roads or tracks in this direction, so there was no way to attempt to head them off.

 

JZ5_1428.jpg.fa81dc39b2ea828fe4c866a731122e2b.jpg

 

Sigh, well at least we saw some Wild Dogs, even if it was a very brief encounter! Perhaps luck was with us and we'd find a leopard as we began the night part of the drive? Or how about an aardvaark? (Manda told us they have them in the area, but rarely seen, as they tend to come out later than the night drives...he said sometimes staff saw them coming to and from the camps after hours.) Still, we could hope!

 

Sadly, no. We didn't see anything at all on the remainder of the drive. I don't even have any bad, blurry photos of night animals, so I am fairly certain we saw zilch.

 

Our next morning was to be an early start back to the Northen end of the park, where we'd be met by the Robin Pope folks to take us to Tena Tena. I had originally thought we'd be having lunch at Mfuwe Lodge again, and picked up there for the transfer, but it turned out that we were supposed to get to Tena Tena for lunch, so that meant leaving immediately after breakfast.

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Just a short post to finish up our time at Bilimungwe. Our last morning was a transfer but we actually saw a bit more than we did on the way down.

 

Before we left camp, the resident Bushbuck stopped to say goodbye. Actually this bushbuck seemed to make the area outside our cabin his home, and was hanging around every morning either in front of our cabin or by Harry's pond. But this morning he was waiting here as we left for breakfast, right outside our door.

 

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The drive heading north was much more pleasant than the incoming drive; we took it a bit more leisurely and of course, being early morning, it wasn't nearly as hot. Our driver also was actually a guide this time, who was transferring camps, so he was much more amenable to stopping.

 

We found some Kudu, which we'd not yet seen in South Luangwa. They don't seem to be all that common here although we saw them occasionally.

 

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And a wandering hyena, who I think was just looking for a cool place to rest.

 

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When we got to a more open area, we made a pit stop by this huge Baobab.

 

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You can see the elephants had done quite a number on it!

 

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We were getting very close to Mfuwe Lodge at this point and starting to see a few more vehicles. (We had seen maybe one other vehicle the whole time we were at Bilimungwe...one nice aspect of this part of the park; there are no other camps other than the Bushcamp camps.)

 

In the course of chatting with our driver we had expressed disappointment in not seeing any leopard during our time at Bilimungwe. He was really surprised! A few times, he did the usual greeting with passing vehicles and I guess at one point information changed hands in some mysterious way; he told us that one of the guides had told him there was a leopard sleeping in a tree, not far. Did we want to go for it?

 

Well...duh...yeah!!

 

So we took a side road and it didn't take long to find the cat in question.

 

There was hardly a view, between the leaves, and he (or she? Couldn't tell) was fast asleep. But at least we can say that indeed, we did see a leopard! ...although technically it was in the central area and quite far from Bili.

 

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Sigh.


We couldn't stay long as we had a schedule to keep and besides, he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.

 

As we continued north past the Mfuwe Lodge area, the terrain changed considerably, much more open, less flat, and we began seeing more wildlife. We passed a large marsh with zillions of Yellow-billed Storks and other water birds, but by this time we were running a bit late and couldn't stop. It made me really wish we'd stayed in this more central/northern part of the park.

 

In all honesty I would not return to the southern area of South Luangwa. I might add that we were sort of warned against this southern area of the park by another safari-goer who used to post here a lot, and is now a Zambia expert on TripAdvisor. (Some of you probably know who I am talking about.) She and I had a lot of back and forth about this trip and she really didn't recommend the area of the Bushcamps, saying the wildlife was not as dense, the roads were few, and the bush was thick (she had no specific qualms about the camps themselves, or the guides...just the area.)  But I felt that I wanted to see both ends of the park...both the south and the north. In retrospect, I should have listened to her. We had a few good sightings and some lovely moments (the Pel's, the time with the Carmine's, the fleeting glimpse of dogs..) but on the whole, we felt it lacking.

 

Also it was at this point that I realized my ankle had swollen up from the tse-tse bites, and both hubby and I were feeling rather uncomfortable and scratching like crazy.

 

So now we continued on to our rendezvous with the Tena Tena folks and a journey across the river into the Nsefu sector. How will this shape up? Stay tuned....

 

 

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Kitsafari

Beautiful carmines and I wished you had posted more photos as your pictures are awesome. But I guess I have to wait for the Tena Tena stretch. I'm not familiar with the central-Mfuwe  stretch of SLNP but when we drove past that bit, it was really crowded. It is far less crowded in the northern part of SLNP. But Tena tena is on the other side of the river so it should be quieter. 

 

But yay you saw the dogs and the leopard. even if briefly, it's such a thrill to see them. it's so exciting when we try to chase or follow the dogs - such a rush of adrenaline! and they are so gorgeous to watch too. 

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Thanks for posting.  As you you know from previous PMs, I was in Zambia on a not dissimilar itinerary (albeit stayed in the North end of South Lunagwa) in September last year. Our experience was probably better (I'll wait until I hear about your Tena experience) but I 100% agree on morning departure times. At three of the four camps we stayed (Mwamba being the exception), the morning drive started too late - like you,  I'm used to a  biscuit and coffee before departing just as the sun comes up with breakfast in the bush or on return. It's a much better schedule... It sounds like this is the norm in Zambia?

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I certainly don't want to hi-jack your topic and my comment is most likely also completely off-topic - but when I came back from my last safari I had exactly the same thoughts (albeit for different reasons):

 

everybody in this community was and is raving about Mana Pools and everybody in this community was and is raving about Doug McDonald, so I was extremely looking forward to my November trip. Turned out to be the worst trip to Africa I ever had (in 15+ years and 30+ safaris). So much so that I paid a few hundred dollars to leave the park and the country earlier than initially scheduled. And that's all I will say about it, I certainly don't want to argue with all those "Mana Pools is the best place on earth" lovers and "Doug McDonald is one of the best guides in Africa" fans.

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6 hours ago, philw said:

Thanks for posting.  As you you know from previous PMs, I was in Zambia on a not dissimilar itinerary (albeit stayed in the North end of South Lunagwa) in September last year. Our experience was probably better (I'll wait until I hear about your Tena experience) but I 100% agree on morning departure times. At three of the four camps we stayed (Mwamba being the exception), the morning drive started too late - like you,  I'm used to a  biscuit and coffee before departing just as the sun comes up with breakfast in the bush or on return. It's a much better schedule... It sounds like this is the norm in Zambia?

 

@philw From what I understand the early wake-up with just coffee and biscuits and then a later bush breakfast is pretty much confined to East Africa. Of course I didn't know this before our trip. This was a real disappointment to me (as you have seen) and actually it was more or less the same at Tena Tena (you'll see shortly ;) 

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34 minutes ago, ice said:

I certainly don't want to hi-jack your topic and my comment is most likely also completely off-topic - but when I came back from my last safari I had exactly the same thoughts (albeit for different reasons):

 

everybody in this community was and is raving about Mana Pools and everybody in this community was and is raving about Doug McDonald, so I was extremely looking forward to my November trip. Turned out to be the worst trip to Africa I ever had (in 15+ years and 30+ safaris). So much so that I paid a few hundred dollars to leave the park and the country earlier than initially scheduled. And that's all I will say about it, I certainly don't want to argue with all those "Mana Pools is the best place on earth" lovers and "Doug McDonald is one of the best guides in Africa" fans.

 

@ice you are well known and respected on here on ST so I really hope you will do at least a short post about your experience. It is really helpful to others to get an alternative perspective. I think we are a mostly reasonable group (more so than other message boards I've been on) and hopefully no one would flame you :)

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We arrived at the crossing which would take us to Tena Tena, on the other side of the river in the Nsefu sector of the park. We had to wait about 10 minutes because there was a huge hippo in between us and the boat on the other side (why didn't I take that photo?) Well I thought to whip out my phone just after he'd rambled off to the right. Now it was safe to cross :)

 

Tena Tena crossing. That little skiff came across to pick us up.

 

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Our guide, Jacob, was waiting for us on the other side. We headed towards camp; it had been a long hot drive and we were ready for lunch! On the way, we did make one very brief stop as Jacob spotted a lioness asleep along the river. We took a brief look, but told him we could move along...figuring we'd see plenty of lions in our four days. Little did we know...

 

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We arrived at camp, and met Jen, the manager, a young British woman who was very sweet. For some reason I find I don't have any photos of the camp. The tents faced the river, but the river was completely dry, so it wasn't actually very scenic.

 

At lunch we met our camp mates and the folks who would be in our vehicle. Robin Pope camps put a maximum of four in the vehicle, which is much more manageable than six. Our car-mates were a very nice couple from Yorkshire, who had been to South Luangwa previously--and had actually been married there some years ago. They seemed like people we'd get along fine with, and they even liked birds. So that was all good! The camp was full; there was a group of two German couples, most of whom didn't speak much English, and another British couple. None were first time safari-ers, a much different mixture than at our previous camp.

 

However I was again disappointed to discover that morning safari would miss first light. It was a little better than Bilimungwe...by 15 minutes. Wake-up was at 5:30, breakfast (again with eggs to order, porridge, etc.) at 6 and departure (hopefully) by 6:30.  Sigh.

 

We went off on the evening drive with high hopes.  First real sighting out of camp was a fabulous bird, one which we'd seen before in Kgalagadi, but I'd never gotten a photo of.

 

Red-necked Falcon

 

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He's just so beautiful I will put in another photo.

 

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I don't know why the 2nd photo came up so much smaller than the first, they are exactly the same size :unsure: A reminder that clicking on any photo will give you the full resolution and the best view!

 

We drove around a bit, just getting the lay of the land. Certainly this area was much more open than the southern end of the park.

 

There was plenty of fauna here. We drove along the river route...

 

Happier Hippos!

 

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Galloping Giraffes!

 

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Elegant Elephants!

 

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and piles of Puku.

 

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We stopped for sundowners at a spot along the river, by this dry riverbed. Drinks were set up, when the Yorkshire fellow (for the life of me I can't recall their names :( --I'm so bad with names) noticed that one of the tires looked soft. Sure enough...we had a flat.

 

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So we enjoyed our sundowners while Jacob and our spotter changed the tire.  (We had a spotter only at night...to hold the spotlight. On daytime drives it was just Jacob.) It took some doing, as the jack kept slipping and wouldn't hold. We all had multiple G&Ts while we waited :lol: At one point I really thought we'd have to call another car to come bring another jack, but finally they got it done.  We'd missed a bit of our drive, but you have to expect at least one flat tire or stuck-in-mud situation on safari! We were quite relaxed after this (haha) and ready for what the night might bring us.

 

As the light got low, the spotlight came out. We saw a good variety of the little critters: Genet, Bushy-tailed Mongoose, a Hyena...but no decent photos. Of course, we were keen to find leopard (or aardvaark ;) or something else new. Heck, I'd be over the moon with just one leopard!)

 

And my wish was granted...! Not far from camp, this emerged into the light...

 

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Not the greatest shots but heck, I was just glad the jinx of leopardless night drives was over. He (she? not sure) approached this tree and we all hoped he was planning to climb...but alas, he turned and went further into the bush.

 

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They didn't seem to have names for leopards in this area, or at least Jacob didn't know them. I should add here that Jacob was an excellent guide...no complaints...but he was actually on loan from another Robin Pope camp, so this wasn't his primary area. Still, he knew the area quite well; he was one of their more senior guides.

 

Anyway, it was now about 7 pm...and time to head back to camp. But dinner wasn't until 8. So another "huh?" moment. Why go back at 7 if dinner is at 8? I knew for a fact that park rules state that one is allowed out until 8; Manda had told us this in Bilimungwe. So why not stay out until at least 7:30? Do we really need an hour to "dress for dinner"? Especially with a four-hour break midday for showers etc? Again, the timings here in South Luangwa continued to astonish--and annoy me. And we had a leopard which was still in the area! Grrrrrrrrrr.

 

But, all in all we had had a very good first drive and we were looking forward to the rest of our stay at Tena Tena.

 

Back at camp I indulged in my new favorite drink: Amarula on ice. I don't know why it took me six trips to Africa to discover this wonder ;) The manager at Bilimungwe introduced me to it, and luckily here too they had a giant bottle (multiple bottles) and plenty of ice. (I have a nice big bottle still chilling in my fridge here at home...although I'm running out.)

 

Speaking of ice, after dinner Jen was kind enough to give me an ice pack to put on my now very swollen ankle. She also saved the day by giving me an entire tube of an anti-itch/bite cream called Anthisan. Its a British product which worked better than anything I've gotten here in the US...luckily I found it on Amazon.com here and bought several tubes. The bites were at this point so inflamed that I was starting to really worry, but Jen reassured me that some people react this way to tse-tse bites--and that she herself had once had her whole leg blow up. That made me feel better :o So between the ice, the Anthisan, and a Zyrtec, I was able to sleep that night.

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9 hours ago, janzin said:

 

@ice you are well known and respected on here on ST so I really hope you will do at least a short post about your experience. It is really helpful to others to get an alternative perspective. I think we are a mostly reasonable group (more so than other message boards I've been on) and hopefully no one would flame you :)

 

@janzin thanks for your kind words but I am absolutely sure that whatever negative I have to say my trip with Doug to Mana Pools will lead to heated discussions and arguments and I don't have the time nor the nerve for these. I am, however, willing to talk about my experience in private, especially to folks who are considering a similiar trip. One member has already contacted me by PM and received an answer. 

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Kitsafari

wow and wow on the falcon! such a crystal clear photo of a lovely bird. 

 

Amurula! my nightime drink in Africa. and my mocharula at breakfast time - coffee, choc and amarula - that's a wake-up call made in heaven. :)

 

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Aaaah- the magical Amarula. :)  I am thankful to have discovered it on my first Africa trip eons ago so have been indulging for years. I hadn't bought any in a while and recently bought a bottle (one of my local liquor stores carries it) which I have been savoring. 

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It's good in your porridge at breakfast too.

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amybatt
6 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

 

Amurula! my nightime drink in Africa. and my mocharula at breakfast time - coffee, choc and amarula - that's a wake-up call made in heaven. :)

 

@Kitsafari, I knew I liked you!  What a brilliant sunriser!!

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amybatt

@janzin all your photos are wonderful, but you really do make birds interesting to me, you’ve captured so many so well.  So that’s a high compliment from a non-birder.  I really wish you more leopards for this trip, I’m waiting to see how it plays out!

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I want to make one minor correction...I was reminded that while the wake-up time for Tena Tena was 5:30, they did start breakfast at 5:45...not 6. So in theory they tried to get everyone out at 6:15, but in practice the net result was still usually closer to 6:30. However, return time was 10:30 for 11:30 brunch. That return time figures a bit into this next morning's fiasco :(

 

What started out as a very good morning ended up being the most frustrating and aggravating of the trip...although we had some fantastic sightings! (That was part of the issue, you'll see why...)

 

Before I get to that, another detail. When we first met Jacob he asked us if we were also staying at their sister camp, Nsefu, which was just a few km away. We told him no, but he actually asked us that again the next day...double-checking. When I asked him why he was asking, he said that if we had been staying at both (some people combine the two camps) then he wasn't really supposed to drive us in that camp's area, because it would be covering too much of the same ground. Although on surface this seems to make a certain sense, in practice it seems nuts...we should go where ever the animals are, irrespective of what road they are on!  Its a national park, so not like a conservancy in Kenya where certain camps can only traverse in a prescribed area.

 

So lucky for us we were not also staying at Nsefu, and neither were the Yorkshire folks (I really wish I could remember their names, I feel like an idiot calling them the Yorkshire folks. My bad for not taking notes :( ) So we could cover that area around Nsefu. And it was a good thing too, because it seemed to us that there was a much higher density of animals there, and further north. Except for night drives, we didn't really see much in the immediate area of Tena Tena.

 

Anyway, the morning started out well with lovely light a couple of beautiful giraffes.

 

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They were breakfasting on the flowers of this sausage tree.

 

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We drove along the river road. A Fish Eagle perched in the morning light.

 

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No shortage of crocs!

 

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Jacob told us he wanted to head up to the plains further north of Nsefu camp, because there has been a small Wild Dog pack in that area (of course we'd told him that we were eager to see dogs. The other couple was keen to see the dogs too, so we headed north.

 

We had to traverse some long stretches of very barren ground but it was there we found some large flocks of Red-billed Quelea.

 

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And then I spotted a flash of color...one of the birds we really wanted...a lifer... I yelled stop, stop as Jacob was going right past them!

 

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Eventually we reached the area where the dog pack had been seen recently. This was the first place where we really saw more than one other vehicle. There were quite a few searching the area for the dogs. Although there aren't many camps in the Nsefu section, vehicles can of course come from areas out of the park itself. We saw vehicles here from Tafika, and Zikomo, and of course other Robin Pope vehicles. Still, the number wasn't anything like you might find in other parks.

 

It wasn't long before word got out that the dogs had been found! We saw other vehicles making their way and we followed. This was a small pack of just five dogs, one with a collar; and they had just made a kill. We missed the kill (not sure if anyone saw it) but got there just in time to see the aftermath!

 

The dogs were having a bit of a tug-o-war.

 

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It didn't take long before there wasn't much left.

 

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The dogs, with full bellies, moved into the shade and lay down. This is when the unthinkable happened...Jacob said, we'd seen all the action...we had to leave!  I was like...huh? We came all this way to see wild dogs, which we'd been trying to see for a week now, and we are leaving after ten minutes? It was, I know for a fact, under 9 minutes because I could see by the start and end time of my photographs.  Jacob said something about there being too many vehicles there (there were maybe four), and the dogs were just going to rest now, so there would be nothing to see, and we had to go. Of course we all know that a) you never know what might happen and b, even resting dogs can be interesting to watch and photograph. I asked if we could move aside for awhile and then come back, and he said that we really needed to start heading back (which seemed crazy as it was only just around 8 o'clock!)  Well I didn't want to get into an argument, so I just shut up and off we went. But I was really, really upset. I'm not one to really push things and I didn't want to upset the other couple (who were just silent about the whole thing), so I just fumed quietly :angry:

 

So we turned around and started back in the direction of camp. We actually had another great sighting on the way back...we found a resting leopard. A really gorgeous one.

 

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He was giving us the stare-down!

 

He soon got up and started walking right towards us.

 

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He went into the now very harsh sun and proceeded to give us a roll-around! Just like my kitty at home!

 

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So another great sighting...but then Jacob said we really needed to get going. At this point, I had to ask him...what's the rush? So what if we get back a bit late for lunch? So he finally told us...there was going to be a "surprise" bush breakfast this morning, and we were already running late.

 

Well if this was supposed to make me feel better, it didn't. I was livid :angry::angry::angry: To be rushed away from dogs and leopards...to have breakfast? Aren't we here for the wildlife?

 

#($*#@&#)$)#*$!!!

 

But off we went. I realized that Jacob was just following instructions and he really wasn't at fault here. Meantime, as we headed towards this bush breakfast, we ran into another obstacle which delayed us.

 

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A really large herd of buffalo...and we had to wait until they all crossed the road.

 

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So needless to say we were the last to arrive at the bush breakfast, and folks had started eating already.

 

Of course, as we arrived Jen was there to greet us and asked how our morning had been. Well...I could not stay quiet about this. I told her very clearly (well maybe not so clearly, because I was almost in tears) that I while we had had fantastic sightings of dog and leopard, I was really upset that we had been rushed through them and I felt the whole morning had been totally rushed so we could get to this breakfast. I was very clear to state that I knew it wasn't Jacob's fault and he was fantastic etc etc. but that we had come here to see wildlife, and not to eat!

 

To her credit, Jan was very understanding.  She said she would work something out for us.  Later, after we'd finished eating, she took us aside and said that she'd worked out that we could have Jacob as our private guide the rest of the trip, putting the Yorkshire couple in with the other Brits, and that everyone was fine with this. And if we wanted we would be able to stay out longer, etc. So I was pleased with this outcome.

 

I might add that the bush breakfast was really quite lovely, in a nice shady setting looking out over the Puku plain; and if it had been done at the normal brunch time and we hadn't just been rushed away from great sightings, we would have enjoyed it immensely! But if it came down to spending time with the animals vs the bush brunch, I'd take the animals any day.

 

 

 

 

 

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amybatt

I’m so sorry for the wild dog sighting but had you not left maybe you’d not seen the handsome male leopard? (Sorry, trying to look for the bright side).  Good for you though for speaking up.  I hope that the resolution takes care of things for you going forward!

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50 minutes ago, amybatt said:

I’m so sorry for the wild dog sighting but had you not left maybe you’d not seen the handsome male leopard? (Sorry, trying to look for the bright side).  Good for you though for speaking up.  I hope that the resolution takes care of things for you going forward!

 

Absolutely, and I told myself that. But of course there was no way to know that up front, and we didn't stay as long as I'd have liked with the leopard either. Its always FOMO in the bush (fear of missing something) but I always say that a bird in the bush is worth two in the hand, or something like that ;) In other words if you have a good sighting, you don't leave it in the hopes that something better might be around the corner! It might, but it might not. We were just lucky that this time there was something good after the dogs!

 

Anyway the larger issue was that the whole morning felt like we were rushing around from place to place instead of immersing ourselves in what we had. If we'd been seeing nothing, it would have been different.

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This might a lesson for all of us to state up front when we arrive in a camp, that we do not want to leave a sighting/s for a meal.  Let others enjoy eating and we will get a bite to eat later.

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13 minutes ago, marg said:

This might a lesson for all of us to state up front when we arrive in a camp, that we do not want to leave a sighting/s for a meal.  Let others enjoy eating and we will get a bite to eat later.

 

Indeed! The main lesson I learned this trip is that I have to book a private vehicle, even if it means we can stay less days due to budget. Or look for camps where the private vehicle fee isn't too unreasonable.

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@janzin.....on our last trip we were at two Bushcamp Co. camps with a private vehicle.  We left earlier and stayed out later.  Looking at my notes we were never served eggs for breakfast.  Just toast or porridge and fruit and we were on our way.  

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