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Zambia 2017 / Liuwa Plains NP & Kafue NP, November


Grasshopper_Club
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Zambia 2017 / Liuwa Plains NP & Kafue NP, November

 

Well, after my first  trip in August I returend to Zambia in mid November for a second time in 2017. The Liuwa Plains NP was always a big dream of mine until last year. Before that I just not had the chance to go there as the only options available were out of my budget. Even now with the new King Lewanike Lodge (first permanent) in the park, the option was not given until I've seen the offer from Jeffery & McKeith Safaris .

 

The documentary about Lady Liuwa "The last Lioness" a few years ago was the inital driver behind my interest to go on Safari on my own. The only time before was as a child once at a young age in South Africa. So the Liuwa always had a special interest in my heart from the beginning. Maybe it's also the remotness and the off map Safari destination, solely compared by visiting numbers. I think a few years ago when the documentary was produced, yearly visitors were about 50 people.

 

The year before I discussed this with Ty on my regular visit to Musekese and he mentioend that he would like to do something more "camping" style in the Liuwa as well in 2017. I was giving my highest thoughts about it and kept my mind open for a possible Liuwa trip.

 

And later on in the early 2017 I've seen their FB trip information and just enquired to be on boat on that trip.  Actually with the offer from Jeffery & McKeith Safaris Zambia, I was finally able to got to this fine park in the remote Western part of Zambia.

 

It was not sure at the beginning if Phil would be on the trip as well, depending on bookings @ Musekese. But a few days before we left I get the final confirmation that he would also on board on that fantastic trip.

 

So we would be 3 guests and 2 guides and 2 staff at Liuwa.

 

Itenerary:

Day 1 - Pioneer Lodge, Lusaka

Day 2 - Katoyana Campsite, Liuwa Plains NP

Day 3 - Katoyana Campsite, Liuwa Plains NP

Day 4 - Katoyana Campsite, Liuwa Plains NP

Day 5 - Katoyana Campsite, Liuwa Plains NP

Day 6 - Musekese Camp, Kafue NP

Day 7 - Musekese Camp, Kafue NP

Day 8 - Musekese Camp, Kafue NP

Day 9 - Musekese Camp, Kafue NP

 

So the major goal on this trip was definitely the Liuwa part but I also wanted to see the Kaufe and Musekese in particular once during the green season. After several visits in the dry season.

 

Unfortunately there were no chances to see Lady Liuwa anymore, as she passed away in early August in 2017.

 

Nevertheless the whole trip was phenomenal and I was more then just happy to visit Liuwa and the Kafue during that part of the year.

 

Day 1

After getting on time to Lusaka I was picked up by Pioneer for a short transfer from the airport to the Lodge. I just arrived in the late afternoon and had a nice little shower after a long journey in the same clothes....Afterward I was heading into the main area where a nicely stocked bar was on offer to be examined and where I would later on would have my dinner.

 

Outside view of my chalet, they have 3 different types of accomodation on the compound. Miomba Chalet (Like mine) are the biggest ones, then they have Safari Chalets which are smaller and Tents. Tents have no en suite bathrooms, instead they have shared ones.

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Very nice chalet and compound. The whole area is very nicely fitted into the landscape and it's not far from the airport. So makes this camp a very good option for 1n stayover in Lusaka if needed.

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Large bathrooms

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Day 2

 

On the next morning and stll quite early I left Pioneer for the aiport. Here at camp I met the 2 other guestes who would join me on the trip to the Liuwa Plains.

 

Short drive to the airport and to the check-in process at the Proflight terminal. The weight limit on this route are more limited then on other routes with Proflight, my hand luggage was 15kg so definitely to heavy and I had to pay for that overweight 60USD! Ok for both ways as I lernt later on, as there is no "terminal" at the airstrip at Kalabo. So for both legs it was fine. We also met Phils father Richard who was on duty to check in a coolin box on our flight for our party at Liuwa. Logistics at it's finest!

 

Our flight to Kalabo was scheduled for 8.10 am. which was on time, we thought. Once in the airplane, they closed the airport, because the President would arrive. We then saw a helicopter arriving with the President and the red carpet was there as well. We couldn't get off but were trapped in as they were supposingly waiting for some "guests of some importannce" to arrive. Just to remember, these were the last days of Mugabe and even our pilot was joking probably it's him or someone in negotiating process of the whole theater, as Zambia/Zim is still quite close especially Lungus PF and the Zanu-PF in Zim. So we were standing outside our plane as a wecloming comitee (the closest ones to the runway:)), once a private jet landed and passed us in front of us. We couldn't see anyone but we were finally in the position to get back into the airplane as they would lift the "airport closing" ban.

 

Last but not least with about 1-1.5 hours delay we could take off.

 

View from the sky over a cloudy Lusaka. It looked very wet and it was at that stage looking for some more showers in the Lusaka area. I hoped for the best for the Western part of the country as by some locals in the bar on the night before, the forecast looked better or let's say less rainy in that part of the country for the next few days.

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The Kafue River. Flying westwards was nice, especially to enjoy some finer weather.

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We had some other guests in the Caravan who left us at Lufupa airstrip in the Kaufe. Here we met Phil who joined us onto the route to Kalabo. Ty was already in the Liuwa with the car and some help from staff from Musekese.

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The Zambezi river close to Kalabo. Beautiful view eh?

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Going down slowly as we were close to our final destination Kalabo.

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Kalabo town...not the outskirts..:D

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Te Hangar with a nice welcoming sign of African Parks and the Logo of the Liuwa Plain NP. The airport is in Kalabo Town, still outside of the park.

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The pilots made the plane ready to fly back to Lusaka with a bunch of other guests leaving this beautiful part of Zambia.

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Our vehicle was alread parked there on the strip and after sorting out our luggage we were off, driving through Kalabo to the main office into the park, where Phil would pay the Park entry fees. We waited and had some packed lunch whilst waiting there.

 

A few meters away was the river which we would have to cross with our car on a pontoon moved by hand.

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After some tme driving after the river crossing we entered the park unnoticed, but here we are.....first large flocks of wildebeest as a welcoming party.

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Later on some Zebras as well and now you also can see why these are called the Liuwa Plains.....no tree just a plain area.

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We finally arrived at Katoyana Campsite where we would have 2 sites for our one purpose. All the tents were already set up, dome tents but very comfy and high enough to stand inside. I will show some more details later one here.

 

As it was already 5pm we decided to go for a very short drive as it was a long day already.

 

And shortly just outside the campsite, the first Hyena sighting! I always had bad luck with them and have not seen the for several years, last time in the SLNP.

 

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Some parts of the plains are full with different types of amaryllies.

 

 

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A lovely first sundowner with a small group of wildebeest just in front posing. It was an absolute dream to have my old Nikon 135mm f/2.8 AI-s lens with me. That one creates an unbelievable color rendition.

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A first short start in the Liuwa Plains on arrival!

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I don't know why, but that picture of the hangar makes me wanna go there.

 

Great start seeing a hyena since a few years! Actually, I can't recall when I saw my last hyena as well, where at the start of my 'safari career' I saw them quite often I believe. Last time might have been 2013, which feels quite long when considering at least one safari a year since then.

 

Lovely sunset pictures as well. I'm not an expert on cameras, but can imagine being excited to have the right camera with you that really helps you shooting great pictures.

 

Looking forward to the rest of your trip. I've wondered a few times about that 'green spot' in the west of Zambia and what you would see overthere.

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Hello @Grasshopper_Club may I ask how long the flight to liuwa plains was? getting ready for a fascinating report!

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This really makes me miss that place! I'm sure you've seen a few hyaenas in Liuwa! Looking forward to the rest of the report!

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Thanks @amybatt, @Hads, @LarsS

 

@Towlersonsafari 3 hours. So thats the stopover included in the Kafue. But perhaps if there is no booking to the Kaufe the will fly the route directly to Kalabo. They also can fly to other airstrips like Chunga Airstrip in the Central part. But as far as I understood this is on a first come first serve base only. as thy only can stop on one leg, there is no refill posibility in Kalabo.

 

@egilio Yeah saw a lot of Hyenas during my stay. Which was a highlight!

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Looking forward to Liuwa and more Musekese goodness from you - bring it on! :)

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Wonderful sunset pic and really nice aerial shots, as well.

Your photos of Pioneer take me right back.

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Day 3 (Morning)

 

On our first full day in the plains we started early and just outside our camping site, we were surrounded by little black dots all over the plains....Wildebeest everywhere.

 

We then had to stop as a Hyena was dozing in the roadtracks for the first sunlight. A nice encounter to begin with.

 

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The Hyenas in Liuwa are very relaxed and don't run away. They are quite inquisitive...

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Close to the new camp of Norman Carr Safars (King Lewanika Lodge), we spotted a car watching some solitary bushes and just headed into that direction for a closer look.

 

A beautfiul male Lion was laying in the shade under the tree. According to Ty, this was the dominant male lion in the Liuwa right now. He's only 4 years old but has already a very attractive and fully grown mane. As far I can remember there are actually 7 Lions in the Liuwa Plains. Lady Liuwa died unfortunately last August of age. So we were very lucky to see a lion on our first full day in the Liuwa!

 

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It was also nice to see so many young ones accompaning the wildebeest, they give the plains another contrast in terms of color.

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There are a lot of pools to drink for them in some areas.

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Our vehicle

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On our way back we stopped at another pool a littlebit further away from the track, as Ty remembered to have some good bird sightings here. And indeed, the pool was full of live, most notably with Hyenas bathing or cooling down in the water.

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We waited for a long time to see if a larger group of Wildebeest would come in for a drink that close to the Hyenas. They did and the Hyenas weren't bothered. Must be a different game during the nightime when they are on the hunt especially for young wildebeest. But during daytime these wildebeest weren't much bothered by the Hyenas.

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The plains here at Liuwa are so wiede only from time to time there is a little "island" of trees somewhere in the distance.

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Close to Katoyana, another big group of wildebeest. Funny thing about hte migration here, It's a more or less inter plains migration, so the single bulls are staying in their territory. So you will see always some single spots close on even when there is no bigger group around.

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Day 3 (Afternoon)

 

Well after a nice lunch under the shade in our camp, we were heading out again in the afternoon.

 

Just outside camp, we bumped into a group of Oribis in a itttle lilly field....nice spot! Ey?

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4 all together. As the Busanga Plains in the Kafue, the Liuwa is a very good spot to see Oribi. We have seen groups up to 8 animals and you see them on each drive several times. So, they are fairly a common sighting. I would say they are one of these 4 animals you'll see the most in Liuwa (Wildebeest, Zebra, Hyena, Oribi).

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We were looking around for a Hyean den in the middle of nowhere and were close to a group of wildebeest with their young ones.

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Not to far away Tyrne showed us the Hyena den. We could then watch a younger Hyean coming in to the den site from the distance. Looked they let that younger one beind in the den area, while already out for a possible hunt in the night time. This Hyena was ten running backwards closer to the den. It's a lovely sighting with all these green colours around them.

 

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Now within a distance of about 20meters away from the entry of the den, the Hyena youngster felt more secure and took an intrested glance at us.

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Taking a sun bath on the last chance before the sund was going down....

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The skies were bilding up quickly and it looked like some rains in the evening. But fortunately it stayed dry another day. We could watch the rain clouds going through some other parts of the plains. I've always noted that some parts of the plains were greener than others, so the rain patterns were very regionaly even within the plains.

 

Somehting that's very nice about that time of the year, are the colours you'll have and the light in the middle of a dark sky.

 

Nice setting with a Zebra in a green carpet and a lone wildebeest bull in the background holding on to his territory in a different patch of more yellow grass like i.

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A lot of youngsters were around. Always a treat to watch them even without a camera sometimes....just watching them with your binos and see their confused reactions sometimes...

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An Oribi in front of the Wildebeest.

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Another special Liuwa sundowner...

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The antenna of the old Matamanene Camp. Now mainly used by ZCP as a HQ or solely, not a 100% sure.

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After our G&T's also here in Liuwa of course....we were heading for a nightdrive back to our camp.

 

We've spotted a minimum of 5-6 selous mongoose that night.

 

A new one in my book, I've seen the White tailed mongoose before, but never a selous. The tail of the selous mongoose is only white at the tip, where the white tailed mongoose tail is as its name fully white, more or less.

 

And the absolute highlight and a very rare sighting for everyone.....

 

ZORILLA!!!! No pictures, I'm sorry....

 

We just spotted a couple of Zorilla just on the left hand side of the track in front of us. Only about 2m away, but they were running away quite quickly. So no chance for a picture, but a nice sighting especially at the beginning. They are quite small, would have thought they would be bigger..

 

So this was our first sighting of Zorillas.....we saw them again.....same couple more or less the same place a day later, also during a night drive.^_^

 

Returend to the Camp for a wonderful dinner under the stars, ok to be fair you couldn't see them as there were a lot of clouds..hehe..

 

But I really enjoyed these sightings on that day and I really appreciated these specials on the night drive. What a special! A big sip of Brandy was guaranteed later on the fire.....

 

I must admit I'm always lucky on Safaris somehow with these specials....In August it was a Cape Clawless Otter and now Zorilla...wow...

 

Cheers for now

 

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@Grasshopper_Club Really enjoying your report and it brings back memories of November 2013 when I stayed at Matamanene. Seriously envious of your Zorilla sighting!

What difference does Lewanika make? It's built at Kings Pool, isn't it? We stopped there for sundowners once, a lovely spot, so I wonder how the landscape has been affected. And are there many more vehicles out on the plains?

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@Galago

 

Thanks for your post. You're right, Lewanika is build at Kings Pool a lovely spot. So the set up of the location is very nice and you do notice the main building in the landscape from that side looking towards the tree line and pool. But the doubt that I have about the place, is it's fitting into the park in general? I'ts over the top for such a wild place isn't it? I mean 1k + USD per night and got this very luxurious lodge does it attract the people who enjoy this special place and it's sepcial habitat? In terms of game viewing the park is very specialized, so you don't get the big 5 or whatever. The place looks like a little bit of the Chinzombo one in SLNP also by NCS, which is for me absolutely over the top and I really don't need that. But there are of course people who like this kind of ultra luxury "Ritz Carlton on the riverbank" like style but it's just not mine..

 

We had guest in the airplane towards Kalabo who went to Lewanika, after discussing some points and as they realized that I was in Zambia several times before, they asked me if there are many Elephants down there? Hmm....uups....No I said, there are no Ellies there....They were quite shocked but I reassured them that they will see many Ellies in SLNP, as they were heading there after the Liuwa.

 

So would have thought that something more rustic, like a bushcamp would have been a better option for a 1st permanent camp in the park. As the people who want to go there are more specialized and in my opinion not first timers. I think now a lot of people could be attraced by this very posh lodge but could be quite "disappointed" over the game viewing as they tend to have wrong expectations.

 

We noticed the vehicle from Lewanika only around that area, we never saw them out in the plains close to Katoyana. We've seen definitely more self drive vehicles then from this lodge, so that's not an Issue. But they only had 3 guests in the Lodge during our stay as we were flying back with the same ones. So probably they only used 1 vehicle at all.

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@Grasshopper_Club  Thanks for your observations, really interesting. It seems that what I expected has come to pass! It's no longer a particular, and special, kind of safari but, for some at least, the opportunity to loll in luxury while the critters put on a show! Oh, that makes me sound like a terrible 'safari-snob' :wacko: but this seems to be a trend now, to build more and more 'luxury camps'. And Matamenene was really comfortable and entirely satisfactory in my opinion.  

 

Anyway, looking forward to more of your report.

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Day 4 (Morning Drive)

 

Well, new day new luck! We planned to go further to an area with some bigger ponds in the plains. To go there we had to cross the Lodge at King Lewanika and further down. So this would be quite a drive.

 

For the whole day we had luck again as we never get caught by rain. So we were very lucky to have such good weather durign our stay in the plains.

 

First sightings in the early mornings outside our campsite.

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Further down after the Lodge we passed this junction with a nice array of Zebras and many wildebeests...

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This was a beautfiul part of the park as the colours were a fascination combination of green and yellow...and luckily with some visitors in black and white..

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We had our vehicle here and could use both sides of the car as an opportunity to take some pictures. The Zebras were on the right hand side a litte bit higer positioned and the wildebeests were roaming on our left hand side. So we would be spoilt for choice on which side to focus to take some stunning pictures. I could have stayed here for hours...

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I was sometimes even to close with my 400mm lens, a zoom lens would have been a better choice sometimes....I really tried hard to get the Zebras in to the frame on the back.

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Wildebeest Kindergarten

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Further on, we crossed the first pools. Our main aim for this morning. There is a lot of life in the Plains in general. Especially Birdlife.

 

After 4 days I had marked down 59 birs on a nice checklist which was provided by Ty. And to be fair, I definitely didn't marked down every bird we have seen as I'm still not that good with birds. And we didn't were on a pure birding trip, so If somebody is very keen on birds I think 80-100 species in such a short stay could be easily managable in Liuwa to spot or even more.

 

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Another color in these little paintings....blue from the water.

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Landscape wise, the Liuwa is very diverse. As it is not just plains and the paterns of soil and the areas are very different in some parts.

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A Lanner Falcon? Not 100% sure as said previously I'm still not that good on birds. Except from Kingfishers and Bee Eaters:D

 

A nice sighting as there was a lonely palmtree in the mids of the plains close to a pond and we stopped there under the shade to have a cup of tea. We could walk around and fave a better view out of these falcons (This was a couple actually).

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Crowned Cranes and a lonely wildebeest in the background who stucks to his territory. And everywhere these nice pink lillies.

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One of my favourites in the park are these lillies. Thats one of these big things you wanna see down there and to take some pictures of. These famous pictures of Liuwa in the advertisments or articles are always showing these fields of lillies in that extremely contrasty color pink in such a wild place. We decided to have our sundowners here later on.

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A lot of life  around these ponds here...

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A long tailed widow bird if I'm right, a very common sighting in Liuwa.

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More to come..

Edited by Grasshopper_Club
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Fantastic! The falcon is a red-necked falcon. You can often find them around palm trees.

The pictures before the falcon picture is fantastic! I think it even gets better if you cut of the bottom ~1/3. Try it, I really like it!

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Great photos and what wonderful light in the zebra pics. I also took a photo of a Red-necked falcon in the 'lonesome palm'. I don't suppose it was the same bird though as this was Nov 2013 (when @egilio was working there with ZCP).

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Day 4 (Afternoon)

 

After a little nap in my tent we were heading outwards again. Our goal was to go to the lilly fields to have some nice sundowners there. But not today...because today was Hyena Day!

 

Before we left our base, villagers who are in charge of the campsite in general, told our staff that they had seen Hyenas crossing the forrest into the southward direction toward a pool close to the camp.

 

We just left the camp and within the last few meters before heading out of the trees into the plains, we spotted a pygmy kingfisher. Unfortunately I only had my short tele lens on. Nevertheless a nice sighting and a new one as well for me.

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We get out of the camp site and just about 200 meters south was the pool and 2 Hyenas were there as promised. So this was our afternoon drive..;) We don't have to go far..

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One had a nap in the grass as the other was playing around in the water.

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funny behaviour of the wildebeest..

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A 3rd one was coming into the water.

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Whilst the other one on land felt asleep again.

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As more Hyeans were coming into that area, we easily decided to stay the rest of the afternoon here. We went out of the car and were staying on the ground close around the vehicle, not to provoke some suspicion. From that angle we had some very good photographic opportunities.

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Funny to have the hamerkop so close in the foreground...

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Some of my favourites with the fish eagle in the back...

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Wattled cranes.

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Beautiful colours.

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We later on decided to leave our position finally and move toward the tree line, as there was a group of Hyeans there as well. We did this with the possibility in mind to go back to the pool to have the sundowner there with the possibility of the Hyenas in the water and the sun in the back.

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A group of Hyenas was crossing our position. This example was so close tho Phils lens, sitting on the back ramp of the landcruiser, the nose nearly toched it.

 

As hoped, they went straight into the pool nearby. We followd them and get some nice shots and a beautiful sundowner.

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Isn't it magic? Liuwa Plains magic...

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We stepped out of the vehicle later on to have our drinks, quite a special feeling with all these Hyenas around as even more were coming into the pool and the surrounding.

 

A wonderful afternoon evening, not as planned, but exactly what I was looking for here in the Plains.

 

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1 hour ago, Grasshopper_Club said:

Isn't it magic? Liuwa Plains magic...

 

Fantastic sunset images. With photos, one only gets a 1 dimensional representation: what was the fragrance in the air? Could you smell the lillies? And were the hyenaes whooping? What were the nocturnal sounds like?

 

Matt

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Day 5

 

Katoyana Campsite

 

Here is a short overall view of our campsite.

 

Main road through the site, the different campsites within are spread fairly around and you'll have a decent distance inbetween. In the middle are the showers and toilets for everyones to use. So as a selfdrive option this place is really highly recommended. The sanitary installations here are well looked after and the whole place is kept in a very good standard. Every camp site has a little covered straw-roof area, where we had lunch under the shade. The campsited are spacious and nicely placed withing the area of trees. So in the middle is enough place to make a fire during the evenings and nighttimes. It mus be noted that these campsites here are absolutely unfenced, just for information purpose. In Zim I've mostly seen these campsites fenced (a little bit). Just in case someone is interested to to a selfdrive up here.

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My tent nicely placed under a tree to give me some shade durng the afternoons.

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A very good domed tent which gave us the ability to stand inside in full, so there was no need to crawl into bed. The bed was as well very comfortable as it was a field bed.

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Early morning start, it has rained during the night time on some locations in the park but not at our place so we stayed dry.

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Reedbuck were seen north of Katoyana allt the times around some waterholes/ponds.

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The morning drive was quite peacful as we tried our luck further north deeper in the plains at a place where the Lions were heard in the morning. But as we arrived there we saw some big heards of wildebeest but far in the distance. Some fisherman have set up their camp under a lonely palmtree which would have been the only tree and shade within kilometers. The perfect hangout point for some lions on the lookout, but it was to busy now for wldlife up there. So we left the place.

 

We managed to drive through to the other side at Lewanika and would coming down then as well from north, a new loop for us as well.

 

A nice day with some nice white dots of clouds in the air. It was now much quiter here in terms of game so I enjoyed the oppotunity to take some landscape pictures as well. Something which I forgot sometimes, especially if you're to busy to take as many wildlife photos as you can get.

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The denhams bustard, they are literally everywhere in some parts of the plains and seen in good numbers easily. A common sighting here.

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Another one of many Oribi sightings.

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Black-crowned Tchagra

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Oribis are found always in pairs....

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Not!:huh: This was Oribi junction. Nothing unusal in the plains as you can see sometimes up to 8 animals up together.

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This was our only Hyeana sighting today. Quite a stark contrast compared to the day before.

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The weather was turning quick now and it looked for rain right now.

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But luckily we were able to escape once more and were heading down southward to a big lagoon where some pelicans would be seen. A nice treat again from Phil and Ty who really tried hard to show us the many different faces of the Liuwa Plains. Something which was really enjoyed and valued by us guests.

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You can see in the background some wildebeest as well.

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The weather stabilized again and it looked safe to drive up north again closer to the big lilly field we've spotted two days ago. This was our goal to have a sundowner there.

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The african fish eagle is not only common in Zambia, but in the Liuwa plains as well. We've seen them many times.

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Last but not least we arrived at our sundowner spot and the weather was getting better and better, perfect for a sundwoner and having some light on the ground inbetween these pink lillies.

 

A good idea was it from the other guest who placed on our way out a gopro right into the ground and started a movie for as long as possible.

 

On our way back they collected it and it was real fun to see later on what happend there during that time. A lone wildebeest was even sniffing and licking at the gopro, which resulted in some phenomenal close-us on a wide-angle scale.

 

We all tried our luck with some landscape inbetween these fields of lillies. It was real fun here.

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We met a team from ZCP, which returend back to their homebase at Matamanene and had some chats with them as well.

 

It was now nearly all dark and we went back to Katoyana once emptied al our G&T's.

 

Roughly same place as 2 days before we've seen most probably the same couple of Zorillas again! What a luck! And as well again 3-4 sightings of a selous mongoose....

 

So this was our last full day in the Liuwa Plains.

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Thanks @egilio for your help with the red-necked falcon! Always appreciated:)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 6 (Morning, Departure @ Liuwa Plains)

 

So this was our day of departure of this fantastic place Liuwa! Early wake up and after breakfast everbody was packing up his stuff and as soon as possible the tents were packed and stowed into the cars as well.

 

Especially in the "kitchen" backyard was a lot of stuff, as they brought with them really everything necessary to have a full mobile camp setting out here in the campsite.

 

A look up to the sky was also worthwile, dark clouds were gathering. It rained as well during the night in the close area, but we stayed dry. So we were in a hurry to leave quick and get out dry. Especially as we would be on the game viewer back to Kalabo.

 

All said and said goodbye to Ty and the guys, they would drive back in another car. Phil was driving us back to Kalabo.

 

Just outside a last goodbye from these many Hyenas....

 

We left the campsite at around 8 o'clock I would say so.

 

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Another example who was not afraid from us and was staying so close, I was even with the 105-300mm equivalent FOV nearly to close.

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We couldn't spent to much time here as it was getting darker behind us every minute and we had to catch the flight in Kalabo in time.

 

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Due to the rains in the night in a lot of areas, it looked more greener and a little bit more lush, was my thinking.

 

Some last Lillies...

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On our way out we watched some more interesting stuff but we stopped only for a shortwile as the weather was up for a storm and we in the middle.

 

Luckily we crossed the first villages in the outward direction still dry. As we were getting closer to the river with the pontoon, we were finally catched by the rain and had to stop our vehicle a good mile before the pontoon. I hoped for to cross the pontoon before it started but no chance...

 

The rain started gently and we had enough time to put on our ponchos and put the plane under our feet as our luggage for the flight was stowed under there as well. It was quite busy at the pontoon to get into the park. So we had to park on our side and wait until the cars from the other side were brought to ours. This took quite some time and the rains were heavier with every minute. So the whole crossing took us about 45minutes or longer. Just after we wen off the pontoon, it poored down strongly. So Phil was trying to drive us as quick as possible down to the airpor/city center. On the road on the open game viewer I had to close my eyes, that harsh was the rain. Event the roads were flodded by now and we decided to park our car on the side of some old houses where we could get some shelter under a roof and park the car under a tree.

 

Just shortly afterwards, Ty arrived with his car as well and we had some good old warming Tea und some biscuits under the roof. We were soaked with water all over, the ponchos couldn't hold anything back from the rain anymore. So the be under a dry roof was a good choice as we experienced now the heaviest rains. Phil told us that the clouds were that low and that the airfield in Kalabo could only be flown in on sight, as there is no instrument landing facility. Worst case they would land in Mongu and we had to drive to Mongu.

 

Hey phoned around and was getting on notice that they should informe us within 15minutes as the pilot would then have to decide where to land. We get a call and that they would try, the clouds weren't that low anymore but still around us. We later on heard then the engine of a plane and just over our heads we spotted our plane on approach.

 

We then packed all our belongings and jumped into the car.....

 

We had some Issues with the game viewer in the park, the battery life was quite short i'll supppose and so the starter wasn't functioning very well and we had to push the car from time to time until the battery was recharging. In the park at some good weather this was good fun from time to time....we didn't stopped the engine afterwards when we stopped our we searched for a little bit higher position to park and let it roll on the beginning, so we wouldn't have to push.

 

But in the hurry of the heavy rainfall this was forgotten.....so the car was parked under a tree fully loaded and it was even a little bit in a depression. So no chance this time. Fortunately there was welding shop nearby and a local was asked for some help to ask somewhere for a battery. He was running away in the heavy rain. We were waiting for quite a long time and were getting a little bit nervous as the plane was already landed but we were not even at the airport still a 15min drive or so.

 

We decided we couldnt wait for assistance any longer. So we asked everybody around who was looking for shelter under a roof to help to push our car! We only would have 1 chance. About 10 people were pushing the car as quick as possible and in the last momentin front of a fence, the car turned on!!! Puhh....that was luck. We thanked all the wonderful guys who helped us in our awkward situation and were hurrying to the airport. It still rained and as we arrived on the airfield the 2 pilots were waiting under the wing, covered from the rain. Ours were just jumping in the cessna caravan where the other passengers were already waiting. We just said a short goodbye to Phil as they just had to move the luggage into the plane and afterwards we were off. Completely wet...;)

 

We were now en route to teh Kafue! The weather was getting bad further we flown eastwards. I must say I think we had a lot of luck in the past few days in the western of Zambia as it looked much drier and we stayed dry until the departure.

 

So our flight would bring us down at Chunga Airstrip and not at Lufupa, as other guests on the plane need to get out at Chunga. As far as I understood this new Proflight service is on a first come first serve base for any stopover wishes in the Kafue NP. So once landed we had to wait for our driver in that case James. Lufupa would have been very close to Musekese, so Chunga would give us a 3h drive up to Musekese.

 

James arrived a little bit late, he had some problems as the car was stuck in some mud. The vehicle looked really like that.:D

 

Nevertheless we went on with our drive up to Musekese and had some great sightings even with this bad weather on the the roadside after Chunga.

 

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A Coqui francolin

 

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Reedbuck before we arrived at Camp.

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And a special for this time of the year.....the Baby Impalas...

 

A little Kindergarten..

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The weather didn't looked good actually and we had a lot of rain during the next days. But according to James they already had a lot of rain during the days before, so we were definitely very lucky with the weather at Liuwa.

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We arrived in time in late afternoon, enough time to settle in and have a late afternoon / early evening game drive before dinner.


Phil and Ty were driving back to the Kafue and would have a stopover at Mongu, so we would meet them again on the next day.

 

More to come...

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

 

Day 6 (Evening Drive)

 

Just shortly after our arrival in Camp, we were set to depart for a short evening drive. The clouds were very dark again and it looked like some more rains during the drive. Fortunately we stayed dry.

 

We were heading for the south loop to find something interesting in particular lions. We spotted some solitary Pukus in the beginning and later on more and more large groups of Impalas. It was now also the time of the year when the impalas drop their young ones and we were able to witness these little groups of Impala Kindergartens over the next few days all the time. In general during the dry season the Puku is much more dominant in the area compared to the Impalas but not during the rainy season. Thats a major difference that I've realized during my stay in November.

 

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We later on thought to hear some alarm calls by some larger groups of Impalas and we were heading towards a larger tree in the middle of a muddy pan out of nowhere to have a better look over the area.

 

After a while, 50+ Impalas were starting to run from a place further down and therefore we decided to head towards that direction. Our fist guess around the area was that a Leopord would be there but after seeing these Imapalas running away from the open plains, James was sure that the Lions were around.

 

And so was it....we spotted the lady down in the open quite quickly. It was an older female with a collar ( I suspect that this one was desnared before and get the collar from there), I was quite sure to recognise this female from my previous visits. She was laying there by her own and according to James, she was heavily pregnant and they expected her to give birth to the young ones within days.

 

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She was staying with one of her offspring from some time ago, as she was to pregnant to be a good hunter she relied to her younger daughter.

 

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Now the older lady was standing up and moving into the direction of her younger one.

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You can see her "full" belly and she also walked noticeably slower as you would expect without.

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Meeting and greeting each other...

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After their reunification, they were up for something or in other words up for a hunt.

 

They moved now out of the area and we tried to follow from a distance as it was getting darker every minute. They were travelling up into the confluence area of the dambo far in the south. The younger Lioness was in the lead. She was in the lead from a distnace in front of her mother, she spotted then quite early a baby Hippo which was feeding grass on his own.

 

We managed to place our car on the sideline of the dambo, as it was clear from now that the lions will go or at least give it a try....

 

It looked quite weird from our position, that the baby Hippo was out of the water and no adult was to see at such a late stage of the day. Something we didn't saw from our position, was that there is a pond in the dambo at the point we saw the baby Hippo and that it was standing likewise on a little island and that the mother would be most probably in the pond very close to the baby.

 

The lions tried it and were approching slowly into the direction of the Hippo, but the younger lioness was not so carefull as her mother who was keeping her profile very low on the ground. So the younger one stand up tried to get faster to the Hippo in moving higher above the ground and was relatively easy to see from that position for the Hippo.

 

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Just to give and idea about the baby Hippo, not the best picture but it was now more or less dark.

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At one point the baby Hippo was gone into the water nearby and the Lions skipped the idea from hunting this one down.

 

They decided to leave the dambo again and come closer to the roadtrack where we've been waiting and watching them for that long period of  time. The interaction after that spoilt hunt was absolutely brilliant and special to watch.

 

They both meet each other again in front of our vehicle and the mother was definitely unhappy with the hunting technique and the spoilt food opportunity and gave her daughter a loud snarl and show her the claws!

 

The younger one then was very submissive and this made her mistake up with her mother and they both then went away in peace for another opportunity somewhere else.

 

We decided to let them alone on their hunt and I must say  I also was happy for that litttle Hippo...

 

We were heading then slowly back to camp for a wonderful dinner.

 

James is always a very good Guide in particular for the little things and you'll always have good sightings with him for creatures like these little Bushveld Gerbils or Chameleons....

 

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Day 7 (Morning)

 

New day, new luck! We tend to go with a morning drive as well today. We just started behind the camp and tried a new bushpath with the Landy north of the camp behind the magic grass field where I once have seen a pangolin a few years ago. Now quiete an unusual sighting i tend to think so ,a stately Kudu male...not that common in the area or not that often seen.  I've seen them more in the southern parts of the Busanga Plains on the tree lines quite regularly.

 

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Quite a productive area with a lot of smaller creatures as warthogs and guinea fowls..

 

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We were heading to a pool more north in the dambo, where a big Hippo was killed 1-2 months before and the remaining of the carcass coud be seen. That was caused during a fight with another male as I understood and the winning one would have been also dead a few days later from the injuries. But that one, would go back into a pool and would then slowly dying. Some of the remaining rests of the Hippo must be flooding in the water or underneath it.

 

Note the water conditons........and there was still a bad taste in the air around that waterhole. It didn't bothered the saddle billed stork to fish in these waters...

 

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We returend then back to the camp from that position and were heading into another direction.

 

Endless sightings of Impalas and their "Kindergartens"....

 

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A rarer sighting of some Bull Elephants a couple who would be in the backyard feeding on the roots of the trees. It was very nice to watch them so peacfully digging for the roots with their feet.

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Swallow-tailed bee-eater

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We were after the male lions later on but couldn't find them and were having watched a nicely solitary male Puku in the green grass. We were then leaving the car for some tea and not in a big distance we spotted that nice little dung-beetle on the road.

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Interesting to see all these little flies on it...

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After our stop we tried the south loop, but I was so stupid to loose my binocular caps on that drive, so we had to return and look for them....time which was lost. But luckily for me we haven't seen much more stuff on our way back to camp.

 

A nice little close up at the end of our drive was this little squirell. Nice sighting and very relaxed. Normally they thend to be skittish.

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