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Caracal

A DIFFERENT A GREEN KAFUE

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Caracal

My previous 5 trips to Kafue had been during the winter months when the bush was drying and thinning out and the miombo and mopane woodland trees were shedding their leaves.

This year I was in England in May and I thought it would be interesting to see my favourite park and the Kafue and Zambezi Rivers in the Green Season just after the rains.

Seemed to me a great reason to have another safari so I booked a short stay on the way back to Australia in early June. In doing so I realised that wildlife would be more scattered and difficult to see through the thicker bush and with water more prevalent so I went without expectations in that regard.

I was keen to see the rivers flowing fast and high and the different look of the bush and woodlands.

Neither the rivers

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kafue

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Zambezi

 

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nor the woodlands

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disappointed and as for the wildlife there were two unexpected sightings that will stay a long time in my memory.

 

My Itinerary was as follows:-

31.5.18   KaingU – 3 nights

03.6.18   Konkamoya – 2 nights

05.6.18   Nanzhila – 3 nights

08.6.18   Waterberry Lodge – 1 night

09.6.18   Camp Nkwazi – 1 night

 

When I made the bookings in February Tessa at Waterberry Lodge said she was fully booked for the second night but if I agreed she could book John and I into the neighbouring Camp Nkwazi for that night and we could have the daily activities and meals at Waterberry with us being driven to Camp Nkwazi after dinner and then being driven to the airport in the morning. We agreed!

 

Now I said our Itinerary was for 3 nights at KaingU.

Well the best laid plans and all that certainly went awry!

Our BA overnight flight from Heathrow to Joburg on 30 May was delayed nearly 3 hours and we missed our connecting BA ComAir flight from Joburg to Livingstone. We’d booked a charter flight from Livingstone to Kafue so that was a no go as well.

 

Courtesy of BA we spent most of 31st May and overnight in the OR Tambo Airport Hotel!

With the assistance of the ever reliable Lynda at KaingU we were able to have our charter flight rescheduled for the next day (at extra cost of course).

Sadly we had lost a day at KaingU but on 1st June we were on our way back to Zambia at last ……………..  

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michael-ibk

I'm looking forward to discovering a green Kafue through your report. Sorry to hear about the delayed flight, I'm always nervous about that. 

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ice

As far as I understand you arrived a day late at your destination? As long as GB is part of the EU, you are entitled to a compensation of 600 € per person. Not sure, though if / how you could be able to make your claim from down under.

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Caracal

Thanks for that info @ice - at the moment I'm waiting to hear re my travel insurance claim. Should know this week.

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Caracal

Friday 1st June

Wake up early to see a thick mist outside but by the time we’d had breakfast in the hotel and got transferred back to the airport the mist had cleared to a sunny morning. Whilst waiting for our flight to Livingstone I was of course compelled to check out Exclusive Books for its excellent Africana collection. The best shop in the airport as far as I’m concerned!

Had a good flight to Livingstone and after getting our visas we were guided through customs and taken out on the tarmac to meet our pilot Gillian. Turns out Gillian’s 93 year old mother in law has lived in Mazabuka since arriving in Northern Rhodesia/Zambia as a 16 year old bride. I told Gillian about my friendship with Sheilah who was brought up in Mazabuka in the 1930s and how I’ve been gathering her stories:-

http://safaritalk.net/topic/15202-a-few-more-historic-photos-1920s-1930s-zambia/?page=3

The flight to Chunga went over Lake Itezhi Tezhi

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I was surprised to see some burning so early in the season

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and shortly before landing we looked down on the Kafue

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We were met at the airstrip by Kaley and Frank. Always good to see Kaley who has a great personality and is an excellent guide whether on land or water. Kaley seemed pleased and surprised when I said “Ah! Avoid porcupine quills.” I’ve mentioned this before I think but on an earlier visit Kaley told me that his real name is Willard Kaleynungwa – Kaleynungwa means Avoid Porcupine Quills- and he’s known as Kaley. Well who’s not going to remember such a great name and how sensible to have names that give good and useful advice!

After waiting to see Gillian safely take off

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we headed down the Spinal Road.

On the way down to the KaingU car park we saw impalas, puku, vervets, tree squirrels and yellow baboons. Kaley spotted this nice Kudu.

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From the car park we took the boat downstream to the Lodge on the opposite bank in the GMA. The river was a lot higher than I was used to and I can never get enough of this section of the Kafue – has to be one of the most beautiful anywhere. I’m not much of a photographer so I don’t do it justice but I’m still going to post quite a few of it!

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Gil and Julia were there to meet us on arrival and it was a real pleasure to see them again.

After catching up with some news and meeting some of the staff we headed for our tented chalet - some rather out of focus vervets on the way

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Then back for pre dinner drinks around the fire and a warm welcome from Lynda.

Drinks and chats around the fire and then John and I had a most enjoyable dinner with Rick and Lynda. The bream was superb and beautifully cooked and presented.

It had been a fairly long day so we headed for bed at 9.30pm.

KaingU is a great spot to settle back into the rhythms of life in Africa.

 

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ForWildlife
On 10/1/2018 at 8:56 AM, Caracal said:

Thanks for that info @ice - at the moment I'm waiting to hear re my travel insurance claim. Should know this week.

 This isn't part of your insurance. If the delay and length of your flight would entitle you to 600 euros if the fault was with BA (technical error for example) and not overhead (storm). It's a pretty straightforward process.

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CDL111

Go onto BA own website to make a claim. Be careful of companies offering to claim on your behalf. Your photographs of the river are quite good and gives an idea of width and flow to people who have never been.

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AfricIan
On 10/2/2018 at 8:05 AM, Caracal said:

I can never get enough of this section of the Kafue – has to be one of the most beautiful anywhere.

 

The section near Musekese isn't bad either ;);)

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KaingU Lodge

Great report Clive.  We are totally staggered that the insurance claim hasn't been resolved yet and really hope that they get it sorted for you as soon as possible.  

 

The last thing I want to do is hijack your report, but I thought I would throw in a few images of the river for those that are not familiar with the section around us here.  The early morning sunrise one with the evaporation fog was a few days before your arrival.  The boulders was a couple of days ago when Julia and I took an afternoon off, a picnic basket, a tripod and a canoe.  

 

Anyway, regards from us all.  

 

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Caracal

Thanks for that info @CDL111

 

 @KaingU Lodge - no highjacking at all Gil those beautiful photos are a most welcome addition.

I have to say I was somewhat dilatory in making my claim to start with but I thought the further info they wanted was a bit unnecessary.

 

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Caracal

Have now received the travel insurance and will get onto BA but continuing this TR…….

Saturday 2nd June 2018

 

I was awake before the 5.00am wake up when hot water is brought to the tent. Heard a few hippos grunting during the night and around 4.00am two whistles – probably puku alarms – but otherwise fairly quiet although always the Kafue is quietly talking in the background.

After cuppas we headed for breakfast at 5.30am. At 6.00am set off up river to the car park with Kaley. Fascinating seeing the river in early morning mists just before sunrise.

Head out of car park and shortly after turning onto the Spinal Road we get a glimpse of a leopard running into bush cover. We spend time quietly waiting and watching and then see it break out and swiftly dart into long grass cover. Not a great or clear sighting but it was still a leopard sighting.

Over the years I’ve been pretty fortunate with leopard sightings – the best of which was on a safari in 2000 when I saw 7 leopards – 3 in Ruaha including one when on a walk then 4 in South Luangwa including one with a kill in a tree.

Soon after we moved on we saw a Bateleur at its nest in the top of a tree then two fine warthogs rootling around (females have one wart on each side of the face, males two) followed by bushbucks then Red-necked Spurfowl.

Next we came across this placid and obliging Giant Kingfisher

 

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OK time to move but I’m not going far!

 

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This shows the luxuriant bush following the rainy season

 

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Next a couple of photos for @panamaleo

 

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We struck up a friendship back in 2005 when we met in Katavi and during that stay of a few days we decided that guinea fowl were underrated characters of the African bush. Always busy doing things. Louise, John and I did ponder setting up a guinea fowl foundation but that foundered due to lack of further membership! We do however have African handcrafted guinea fowl sculptures as reminders!

Moving on we spotted this bushbuck

 

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Some more puku

 

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White fronted beeeater

 

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This large croc

 

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 as well as fish eagles, more puku, impala and bushbucks, crocs, quite a greenish Nile Monitor Lizard, lizard buzzard and more birds including beautiful beeeaters.

During a morning tea break we had heard a sound a number of times that Kaley thought could be buffalo crossing the Shishamba River or hippos jousting. We went exploring but could never determine the source of the noise. However I love that experience of searching with a purpose in the African bush even if there’s no positive finding. 

A most enjoyable lunch on the riverside decking was awaiting us on our return after which we headed back to our tent for a quiet afternoon……………….

 

 

 

 

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Edited by Caracal

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Caracal

………….Back at our tented chalet I enjoyed a most refreshing outside shower in the warm sunshine. Then I sat out front with my journal and a book but mainly gazing down the river and up in the trees watching vervets and local birdlife and looking out for the bushbuck that spends a lot of time around and about and under the front deck.

 

 

 

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The well known poem Leisure by WH Davies has long been a favourite of mine:-

 

 

                                         What is this life if, full of care,

                                         We have no time to stand and stare?

                                         No time to stand beneath the boughs

                                         And stare as long as sheep or cows.

                                         ……………………………….

                                         A poor life this, if full of care,

                                         We have no time to stand and stare. 

 

 

It was a special time relaxing and soaking in the atmosphere in the warmth of the afternoon sun. Then to the lounge for afternoon tea followed by a beautiful afternoon river cruise during which the Nile Monitor Lizards were out on display (we saw 6) as were crocs, hippos, and rock hyrax.

 

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Can you spot this one?

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Some more river scenes

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A Water Dikkop or Thick-knee

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And more of the Kafue

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At sundowners on the boat Kaley gave me a note with the botanical name of some trees I’d been admiring yesterday and earlier for their attractive trunks. He’d told me the name but I wasn’t getting it right and I was really pleased that he’d taken the time to double check spellings and write it down for me. The name by the way was Isoberlinia Angolensis and I found them very attractive with their striking grey trunks in stands.

The lovely river cruise was followed by an excellent dinner in the company of Gil and Julia. The main course was lamb chops and the wide ranging conversation flowed along with the red wine!

I post the following photo of Gil Julia and John

 

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Doesn’t do the handsome couple justice so apologies but it’s a reminder for me of a great evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Caracal
Correction

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CDL111

Struggled to see the lizards. Pleasant view down the river from your room. The water level markings on the rocks  give the impression that the river is quite low at present.

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dlo

Can't wait to read more @Caracal its always a pleasure to read you're trip reports. You can add my wife to your guinea foul admiration society swelling your ranks to three! Interesting combo you mention of Ruaha and South Luangwa back in 2000, probably my favourite park and in Ruaha my top choice of parks I haven't been to yet. Did you overland on this trip or fly between Tanzania and Zambia? 

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Caracal

 

Good observation @CDL111 - the river was a lot higher than I'm used to but I understand it can get up and over the riverside dining/decking area. Not sure if that's every year @KaingU Lodge could help on that.

 

Thanks @dlo - please extend a warm welcome to your wife. There's no membership fee, no newsletters either but there is a requirement that if guinea fowls are sighted on safari then at least one photo must be included in the subsequent TR!

In that 2000 trip we'd been in Selous, then Ruaha and from Ruaha flew back to Dar and after overnightstay flew to Lilongwe then a short flight to Mfwue.

 

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panamaleo

Thanks for the guinea fowl shots, Clive! Our foundation membership grows!  You know how much I loved being at Kaingu with you two; so wonderful to see photos of that beautiful section of the Kafue River, and  to enjoy the vicarious pleasure of seeing the sights and sounds through your words.

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Caracal

Sunday 3rd June 2018

No early start today as we have the transfer to Konkamoya this morning so no rush to get up before dawn. Lying in bed I realise that it was 45years ago to the day when I first set foot in Africa. Coincidentally I had been scheduled to fly into Nairobi on 2nd June 1973 but, guess what, I arrived at Heathrow to be told my morning East African Airways flight had been cancelled! Spent the day in an airport hotel then caught an evening flight arriving in Nairobi early morning 3rd June 1973. Bit of a sense of déjà vu!

After a lovely breakfast in the warm morning sunshine it was time to leave KaingU. It was of course disappointing that we had missed out on a full day – I would have liked to have done a drive south on the Spinal Road to check the loops Gil had created, a walk etc but not to be – the best laid plans and all that!

To anyone looking at staying at KaingU I would recommend a minimum of 3 nights giving time for river cruises, game drives and walks.

Short as it was it was great to be back in KaingU. As good as ever. Great accommodation, great food, great guiding and great company with Lynda, Rick, Gil, Julia and their lovely staff.

After fond farewells Gil boated Rick, John and I up river to the car park. Rick then drove us down the Spinal Road to Konkamoya and we chatted freely the whole way. Wildlife scattered scarcely along the way consisted of kudus, impalas, pukus and warthogs.

The rounded dark object on the skyline in this photo is Lubulanzuku Hill and there is the similar Kaindabaila Hill nearby.

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Both are dark granite hills looming out of the landscape that look foreboding and have an air of mystery. I recall reading that they were important to the Ila people and were places for sacrifices and appeals to the Spirits. When passing close by I could quite understand. They had a dominating and dark presence.

At Konkamoya we were met and welcomed by Andrea and some of his staff. We were the first guests of the season. After an enjoyable lunch in the dining area overlooking the Lake Rick left to head back to KaingU.

Our accommodation consisted of a spacious lakeside tent with a double bed, 2 single beds, a lounge/sitting area and an outside under cover bathroom with shower, toilet, hand basins etc. The decking out front faced the lake.

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All very different from our previous visits in 2010 and 2011 when there were fairly simple chalets.

Watched some local fishermen

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Following afternoon tea we set off on a game drive with Andrea driving, Noah the guide and Aaron a trainee guide.

We soon stop when a large croc catches something in the swampy area beside the road. The lake water is high at the moment. We then pause to watch 2 jacana who then unabashedly decide to mate. Next blacksmith plovers, who I recall liking this particular stretch of road on previous visits, then 2 African Hoopoes. Impala and puku are common near the lake – the pukus coats are much smoother at this time of year whereas by September they can be rather shaggy.

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We then see warthog and Fish Eagle – the latter are plentiful around the lake-

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followed by this nice sighting of a smallish group of elephants quietly grazing in the shallow lakeside that will soon change back to grassland.

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We head down to a spot for sundowners that Andrea explains is favoured by bushpigs.

We see zebra and waterbuck but not the bushpigs Andrea was hoping for although we could see where there had been digging and rootling.

The night drive back was quiet with a couple of spring hares but little else.

Pumpkin soup followed by beautifully cooked roast beef accompanied by wine rounded off the evening nicely and following dessert and coffee it was time to hit the sack.

 

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CDL111

Great view from your room, missed the opportunity to catch that nights evening meal!

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Big_Dog

Quite beautiful indeed! Shame about the no bushpigs. but fingers crossed for future drives!

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Caracal

'Fraid no luck with the bushpigs this time @Big_Dog but I have seen them twice before in Kafue so I can't complain.

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Caracal

Monday 4th June 2018

 

When I did happen to wake during a good night’s sleep the sound of hippos grunting ensured that I knew I was back in Africa. Those special night sounds are part of the whole experience. Sunrise as we set off on a game drive.

 

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See zebra, waterbuck and puku of course, including this smart fellow.

 

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We pause for this Lizard Buzzard

 

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And shortly after we admire a beautiful Coqui Francolin.

 

A bit of road clearance on our way

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We cross the Chinese roadworks into the Nkala GMA spotting a Gymnogene and then Aaron spots a pair of reedbuck way in the distance. Even with binoculars it takes me a while to spot them!

Then Wattled Crane, such elegant birds

 

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And I admired this yellow Cassia Abbreviata.

 

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When leaving the GMA we see 3 Ground Hornbill ahead of us on the road. One flies up so here is the above ground Ground Hornbill!

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I find them intriguing birds. They are long lived and being cooperative breeders, helpers assist the dominant breeding pair with the rearing of the chick.

Things were still quiet after our tea break. Some waterbuck behind this pool

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A slender mongoose dashes across the road and just as we’re on the last stretch of road to the lodge there is a large herd of impala mixed with Kinda Baboons in the bush before the grassy clearing.

A bit later when sitting on our deck we discover that the baboons want to pass between our tent and the next to get to the lake. Presumably for a drink. They know we’re there so there’s a peep around the bush to check the all clear then a dash across the path – this goes on repeatedly

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although there is the odd one with a more casual and confident air!

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This fellow had been to the lake and was on his way back when he realised he was heading our way and did a quick reverse!

 

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I call them Kinda Baboons but I stand to be corrected if anyone says they’re Yellow Baboons as I really can’t tell the difference.

A short time later Noah called round to say the Banded Mongoose were at the kitchen. Due to michael-ibk's excellent report on Kafue I knew that a troop visited the kitchen. I gather this daily ritual started by chance quite some time back when the mongoose were delighted to chance upon some crayfish shells that were ditched outside the kitchen. So to the kitchen we headed.

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Edited by Caracal

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Caracal

4th June cont'd
View from the lounge area where I was sitting before the afternoon game drive.

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I watched a small Nile Monitor Lizard dash down to the lake and soon after we set off on the afternoon game drive joined by a French couple and their French Zambian driver.
This Tawny Eagle

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was followed by impala and this relaxed puku

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more baboons then this grey heron

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Next this Jacana on the nest

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And when she moved off the nest I was surprised by the size of the Jacana's egg.

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Some warthogs and then things seemed fairly quiet till we came upon this dambo with elephants and what a treat!
The following photo is looking at a herd on the treeline of the eastern side of the dambo and Andrea has his binoculars fixed on a similar sized group at the treeline on the northern side.

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And some more photos

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The more we looked the more we saw with many in amongst the trees and bushes.

I was totally captivated by the sight and the atmosphere at that dambo in the golden light of the afternoon sun. A sense of peace, harmony and the world as it should be.

 

Eventually we moved down to lakeside passing some touchy bull elephants in bushes on our left.
Following sundowners

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we turned around to return past the dambo and found all the herds were now in bushes on our right beside the track. We put on seat belts and with the engine noise and headlights on the track ahead seemingly upsetting them there was much loud trumpeting and protesting as we proceeded on.


We had a productive night drive stopping to listen to lions roaring - they were pretty close - then seeing genet, lesser bushbaby, 3 whitetailed mongoose. 2 thick-knees, Southern Whitefaced Owl and this Barred Owl.

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An enjoyable dinner of crayfish spaghetti, chicken and vegetables completed what had turned out to be a memorable afternoon. One I will think of often.
 

 

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Big_Dog

Looks like a blast so far, what an enchanting little mongoose encounter too.

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KaingU Lodge
On 10/8/2018 at 6:34 AM, Caracal said:

 

Good observation @CDL111 - the river was a lot higher than I'm used to but I understand it can get up and over the riverside dining/decking area. Not sure if that's every year @KaingU Lodge could help on that.

 

 

 

Hi Clive, 

Regarding river height - yes, it has (twice) gone over the level of the deck.  I have pictures of Julia canoeing round the fire pit and Phil Jeffrey wading around the bar ankle deep in water...  Oh and we had 7 fly in guests in camp.  The  water stopped about 5cm from the lowest tent deck.  

 

At the moment it is higher than normal for this time of year (late and heavy rains this year) and rains started falling yesterday.  In March between the lodge and the car park we could not see a single rock.  Not one.  

 

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Caracal

Thanks @Big_Dog - those mongoose in the photos were the front runners - the whole group/colony? - were I'd guess about 30. Delightful characters.

 

@KaingU Lodge Wow Gil, hard for me to imagine no rocks visible in March! 

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