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South Luangwa (Tafika and Kaingo) and Lower Zambezi (Old Mondoro and Chiawa)- 15th July to 28th July 2018


Julian

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A few minutes later the young lion rushed past us and immediately joined the others feeding. The lions continued to keep a close look out for the buffalo as they ate, and slowly the buffalo returned.

 

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Boaz then told us that the buffalo would eventually cross the water to the island, and probably remain on the island for a couple of days, and sure enough, a short while later the buffalo did cross to the island.

 

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The other vehicle that had joined us to see all the action departed and after a few more minutes we left the lions to continue feeding in peace and headed back to camp.  

 

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Arrived back home a week ago from our seventh safari, but our first safari to Zambia.   So... how was it..... Amazing! .............Easily our best ever safari. All our guides were superb, n

Here is a taster of a highlight of the trip:              

After watching the elephants for a while Lloyd said it was time to drive us to where we would be transferring on the river to Kaingo. However a few minutes into the journey he had a call on the radio

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michael-ibk

Wow, what an intense, special sighting, and great photos. Really love this report Julian (just went through the Luangwa part again)!

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Fogot the video clip of the lions feeding:

 

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1 hour ago, michael-ibk said:

Wow, what an intense, special sighting, and great photos. Really love this report Julian (just went through the Luangwa part again)!

@michael-ibk

Thanks very much for the comments. Pleased to hear you love the report- makes me feel the effort/time spent producing this is really worthwhile.

That lion hunt was really special for us - first time we have ever seen the whole story play out - from the lions relaxing in the morning sunshine  all the way to them all having a very long feed on their capture.

However what was so interesting was that they are all young lions and already they are successfully hunting buffalo - they have to be able to hunt them in Lower Zambezi as the only other sizeable prey In numbers are kudu and waterbuck - and I assume they are very difficult for lions to catch.

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@Julian...I am enjoying your trip report very much!  We were at Chiawa thirteen years ago.  We also did the canoe trip.   Before we started our guide asked me if I could swim.  Not a very comforting thought but yes I swim.  The tree at the end of the channel that has fallen over into the water was upright back then.  One night the two dinner tables were set up next to the river.  We had just started to eat when a very large male elephant came along eating leaves.  The guides to us to be still and to be quiet and they shined flashlights on him.  The ele was about twenty yards from the other table and I was ready to jump into the river.  He left then another came along but did not linger.  What a night!  Does the kitchen staff still sing to announce dinner?

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@marg

Thanks, yes the talk before we got into the canoes did really make you realise that there are real dangers being in the water.

No kitchen staff announcing dinner, but two out of the four evenings we didn’t have dinner in the camp. One was the birthday surprise dinner on the boat, and the last night , which I haven’t posted yet, dinner was on an island in the river.

 

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We now only had 24 hours left before our safari ended, but after the all the intense action of the lion hunt this morning we felt very relaxed about what we might see during our remaining time in Lower Zambezi.

 

After lunch we said farewell to the Janette and Brendan who were transferring to Old Mondoro Camp. Before they went they wanted a photo of the camp staff who were present, so we also took a few photos of the five staff. Simon, in the centre, is the overall camp manager, and Moses, on the far right is the operations manager. (Can’t remember the names of the other three.)

 

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So for the afternoon/evening drive it was just the two of us in the vehicle with Spencer being our guide. There were now only eight guests left in the camp – the other six being the UK family group, who were also heading home tomorrow afternoon. We were told that the evening drive would be shorter as we needed to be back in camp earlier, presumably for another surprise.

 

We decided to go back to see if the lions who hunted this morning were still around.  We found the lions not far from where all the action took place earlier. Not surprisingly they were all lazing around and looking very full.

 

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After watching them for a while we noticed a family group of elephants not far off so we drove closer to watch them.

 

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After that it was time for sundowners and as darkness approached we noticed how bright the full moon looked in the sky so I took a photo of the moon and then another one after it was dark.

 

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We did see another leopard that was walking along slowly but it remained at a considerable distance, as it was almost impossible to drive closer on the strange terrain - which looked like a typical UK ploughed field but was actually rock hard, so attempting to drive across it, even really slowly, felt like we were driving over corrugated rock. Therefore we decided to continue watching until the leopard moved away into more bush.

 

As we disembarked back in camp we were told to go down to where a couple of boats were ready to take us and the other six guests for our evening meal surprise location. As we set off we could see in the distance an island on the river that was lit up with lanterns on it and a fire.

 

As we stepped out of the boat an on to the island there was a long table with a white table cloth and all the places set. The evening meal was being prepared by several staff, and apart from the roaring fire there was also the bar - a couple more tables stocked with drinks and glasses - and there was also a toilet. The staffing also included an armed park ranger.

 

Simon, the camp manager, is very interested in astronomy and reminded us that not only was it a full moon but it was a really special evening as there was going to be a total lunar eclipse – that would begin very shortly and become total by the time we returned to camp.

 

The sky was completely clear and with near zero light pollution the stars looked amazing. We had already been shown some days ago how clearly recognisable Venus, Mars and Jupiter are in this part of the southern hemisphere. However while we were having a drink and waiting for the meal to be ready Simon gave us a short astronomy talk. To point out certain starts or constellations he had a great visual aid, a laser pointer which appeared to ‘draw’ a straight line to whichever star or planet he was talking about. 

 

The meal, a hot buffet, consisted of a range of dishes including some traditional Zambian food and was excellent. A couple of hours later we were back in the camp sitting in one of the open lounge areas watching the eclipse and taking a few photos. It had been a really nice surprise final evening at Chiawa.

 

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Final morning at Chiawa

 

For our final morning drive our guide was Moses.

 

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It wasn’t long before he found us some lions which were the five we saw feeding on a porcupine previously. They were just sitting around but then decided to get up and walk off. We followed them but they did not go far before they decided to stop and just mooch around for a while before beginning to settle down.

 

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A couple of them had walked close to our vehicle before settling down, one of them being so close it was almost within touching distance. One of them started calling briefly and then another one called.

 

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However they were obviously not going anywhere as they were starting to fall asleep in the bright morning sunshine and rapidly rising temperature.

The other vehicle with the six UK guests had also joined us to watch the lions.

 

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The two guides decided they would try and find us a leopard with each vehicle taking a different route.  However after about twenty minutes we had a call on the radio from the other guide to say they had a puncture and were having problems with the jack, and asked us to help them.

When we met up it soon became apparent that the jack on our vehicle was no better and so they had to radio the camp and ask them to bring a jack that worked. In the meantime as we were all standing around having a leg stretch and waiting we decided we should have our morning coffee/tea break.

 

By a strange coincidence we noticed that one of our vehicles tyres was deflating rapidly, so there were now two tyres to be changed. It was about half an hour before another guide arrived from camp with a jack that actually worked....... eventually. (In the meantime my mind was playing the question – how many safari guides does it take to change a wheel?)

 

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When we set off again the guides were still hopeful that we would find a leopard, preferably the one with cubs, but we were out of luck. We did see some more wildlife though before it was time to go back to the camp for lunch.

 

We came across some marabou storks at an almost dried out marshy area with a very small stream, where one of the storks managed to catch a good size catfish.

 

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The remaining wildlife that showed up were in a swampy area and included some buffalo, egrets and a few crocodile, and when we were nearly back at camp a final  close-up view of a warthog.

 

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Later we also watched some elephants in camp when we went back at our room after lunch to shower. The elephants being the final wildlife viewing seemed a good way to say farewell to Zambia.

 

The other six guests were also leaving but the empty camp would be completely full by the following day, and before we left one new group of guests had arrived.

 

We said our farewells to the camp staff and all eight of us departed by boat at around 2.30pm. Most of the transfer to Royal airstrip was on the water but following that a small section was by road. Our short flight to Lusaka was on time and 24 hours after we left Chiawa camp we were back in the UK. 

 

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We had really enjoyed our time at Chiawa, the water activities and surprises adding something a bit different to the safari experience, and although the wildlife viewing overall was not as good as at Old Mondoro, the lions successfully hunting the buffalo was probably the best wildlife viewing of the whole safari.

 

Having finally completed this trip report, containing over 16000 words and around 1200 photos, two years have passed by and we have obviously had plenty of time for reflection. This was our first Zambia trip and we would definitely not hesitate to go back again- to both South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi. However, having said that, there are so many more places we would still like to travel to experience on safari.

 

Our next planned trip is in September 2021, if coronavirus allows, to Uganda and Zimbabwe.

 

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Thank you @Julian. An excellent report with great photos.

I am glad you took the time to finish it.

Fingers crossed for your 2021 trip!

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Zubbie15

Thanks for sharing @Julian... I actually dreamed the other night about witnessing a lion hint, I can only imagine it was inspired by your report.  An enjoyable report all around. 

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michael-ibk

Also from me a big Bravo and thank you Julian! Great report, it helped me make some travel decisions. Uganda and Zimbabwe is an interesting combo, where are you going?

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And another one from me.

I've enjoyed every aspect of this report with the details of the camps, great descriptions, and lovely photos of the landscapes and the splendid variety of wildlife.

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BRACQUENE

@Julian

 

My turn to thank you again for this TR  especially because it anticipates my next two planned safaris in 2021 and 2022 and your next one is another option for me in the near future ! 

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@TonyQ , @Zubbie15, @michael-ibk, @marg, @Caracal, @BRACQUENE

Thanks for all your very appreciative comments.

Very pleased you all liked it, and that some of you have found it helpful for making future plans.

Having now completed three trip reports on here from our three most recent safaris it will obviously be a year or more before I have a new safari trip report to do.

However I may even be tempted to post a (shorter) report and (far fewer) photos from one of our past safaris, possibly Botswana 2009 or India 2006, or maybe Kenya 1990.    

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18 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

...... Uganda and Zimbabwe is an interesting combo, where are you going?

@michael-ibk

Uganda for a first time to see the mountain gorillas (Rwanda far too expensive - 2 Rwandan treks for the two of us would cost $3200 extra), then on to Zimbabwe as its one of the top African safari countries we have not visited - Hwange (Camp Hwange) and Mana Pools (Goliath Camp).

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michael-ibk

A very cool itinerary! 

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8 hours ago, Julian said:

However I may even be tempted to post a (shorter) report and (far fewer) photos from one of our past safaris, possibly Botswana 2009 or India 2006, or maybe Kenya 1990.  

 

Well @Julianrather than one I think you should be tempted to post a report on all three starting with Kenya 1990!

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On 9/11/2020 at 10:39 PM, Caracal said:

 

Well @Julianrather than one I think you should be tempted to post a report on all three starting with Kenya 1990!

@Caracalif I had the time I would, and two other trips that I didn’t include above Northern Tanzania and Kenya 2001, and Kenya 2004. However there are  other things that I like to do , and too many other things that I have to do.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Excellent trip report, @Julian!  Thank you for sharing.

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Julian
3 hours ago, ElenaH said:

Excellent trip report, @Julian!  Thank you for sharing.

 

Thank you @ElenaH

 

 

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Kitsafari

A late thank you for finishing this report since I finally caught up . Makes a good case for Lower zembezi for sure.

 

Looking forward to your Kenya 1990 to see how different or similar then is to now.  

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@Kitsafari

Thank you, I think it may be a while before I get round to producing the Kenya 1990 report as we have two new kittens arriving in ten days time, which will return us to our normal complement of a three cat household ( we currently only have one 17 year old female cat).

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