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Caracal

A DIFFERENT A GREEN KAFUE

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Caracal

Tuesday 5th June 2018

Lying in bed I listen to the early morning cries of the Fish Eagles reverberating around the lake and reassuring me that I’m back in Africa.

Andrea is to drive us to Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp this morning so after breakfast we get ready to leave. Before leaving I mention to Andrea that I was really impressed with Aaron and think he has an excellent future.

Setting off there are plenty of pukus beside the lake drive but soon on the way to Ngoma there is evidence of the new roadworks everywhere with a churned up track, dust covered bushes and an area where road construction vehicles are stored and sand or gravel quarried. Then we hit the Itezhi-Tezhi  Road. The Zambian Government has contracted a multi million contract with a Chinese company to construct an all weather road from Namwala through Itezhi-Tezhi to Ngoma and on down through Nanzhila to Dundumwezi Gate then on to Kalomo.

My first reaction is one of dismay. On past Ngoma I’m remembering stopping on a narrow sandy track for a large herd of buffalo crossing from the GMA back into Kafue NP. That was in 2011 – now it’s a wide sandy/gravel road with many adjoining bushes and trees bulldozed for its construction and left along the sides together with mounds of earth dug out for the ditches.

As in other places the Chinese have brought in all their own vehicles, machinery and equipment and mostly use their own for the labour.

Andrea comments that he’s worried the road will make it easier for poachers to get into and out of the park. I guess the counter argument is that it will encourage tourism thereby benefiting the Park.

Maybe my first response was an overreaction to the change – if you’re a fishing community on the Lake wanting to get your produce down to Kalomo -or if you’re living a life of subsistence farming in Nanzhila or somewhere similar then this improved road when it’s finished will no doubt create opportunities not there before.

After a while we leave the roadworks and head down to Kalenje Post then turn onto the road to Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp. Wildlife is pretty quiet and then we see something on the track ahead disappearing into the roadside grass. We slow down as we approach and then it moves

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Wow a cheetah – never expected this at this time of the year. Think it’s a young adult female. As we get closer she stops and looks at us

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Then carries on her way 

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and so do we but what a wonderful welcome back to Nanzhila!

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CDL111

Regrettably the Chinese are everywhere in africa, no doubt because of the mineral wealth in the various countries. A large kettle (looked it up) of vultures and a pleasant surprise with the cheetah.

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Ratdcoops

Thanks for the report always love your stuff.

I particularly relate to your words when you refer to your sense of peace, harmony and everything in the world as it should be. This is how I often find myself feeling when in the African bush. There is something that happens to me that I haven’t experienced anywhere else in the world.

 

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Caracal

Thanks for following @CDL111 - I think that last photo, which I took whilst we were driving to camp after leaving the cheetah, might actually be of openbilled storks masquerading as vultures.

 

I'm fascinated by "kettle of vultures" though - that's totally new to me - can't think how it came about unless it equates to steam spiralling out of a kettle.

 

Am sure I'll always remember it thanks to you and hope to be able to use it one day!  

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Caracal

 

Many thanks @Ratdcoops - great to know that those words struck a chord with you.

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Caracal

5th June cont’d

Received a warm welcome from Cindy Smith on arrival. On my previous visits to Nanzhila I’d stayed in the spacious and comfortable chalets but this time I chose to try the smaller tents.

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These are quite secluded on the other side of the boma from the chalets and directly in front of Nangandwe Pool. The June nights may have been cold but the beds proved to be warm and comfortable. However for anyone staying in late August on I would recommend the chalets as I think the tents are inclined to get too hot in the afternoon sun then.

After settling in head back to the boma for a delightful lunch of melon with feta cheese and meatballs & quiche with tomato and avocado.

Later on head off on the afternoon game drive with Caesar & Briton plus Paul & Kathy an Australian couple and two English sisters – all good company. Paul is a vet and he and Kathy both work at Werribee Open Range Zoo near Melbourne, the two sisters were very well travelled.

We start off with an unsuccessful search for that cheetah seeing along the way a group of waterbuck, chacma baboons with a huge male, this long-crested eagle

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fish eagle and these Open Billed Stork – Caesar explained that when they get too hot they excrete down their legs causing the white legs on some

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then reedbuck, warthog and Paul spotted this monitor lizard

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From then on the drive was pretty quiet and we stopped at Chilenje Pool for sundowners

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It was a cold night drive back with more reedbuck, impala, waterbuck, warthog and a nice sighting of a side-striped jackal.

Steve Smith joined us all for drinks around the firepit and we had a great dinner with the conversation flowing followed by more drinks around the fire before turning in.

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Botswanadreams

@Caracal Thanks very much to bring me back to Kafue. All the places sound so familiar to me. KaingU with it's beautiful peace of river. Konkamoya was just busy to build up the new tents. Nanzhila unfortunately is now without a campsite. Camp Nkwazi was just opened for first guests. Our visit to Kafue was in November 2012.

 

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CDL111

@Caracal, the internet has it’s uses. A group of vultures as follows:

 

Wake = feeding.

Kettle = in flight.

Committee = resting in trees.

 

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Caracal

Vale Peter de Vere Moss

 

 

 

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This plaque is on a memorial bench seat in the boma of Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp overlooking Nangwandwe Pool (photo of plaque from Nanzhila's Facebook).

 

 

This link to Nanzhila’s Facebook page tells you more https://www.nanzhila.com/in-memory-peter-moss/?fbclid=IwAR15dkFMZpSJY1mF7qfhHGnbPWB4aoMQePcfYR7bQJHDTLud4oXClZkxtEk

 

 

Peter was a Safaritalker and for anyone wishing to know more about his contribution to Kafue NP then here is a great interview conducted by @Safaridude   with Peter Moss and Steve Smith

http://safaritalk.net/topic/6133-peter-moss-and-steve-smith-kafue-trust/

 

 

Peter gave some fascinating information about his life and involvement with Kafue here.

http://safaritalk.net/topic/11112-a-visitors-guide-to-kafue-national-park-zambia/?tab=comments#comment-140476

 

 

 

I never met Peter but I treasure my copy of Peter’s Guide to Kafue. It is crammed with great information about the park – its geology and history, vegetation, comprehensive

lists of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, flora and more and it has a great map of the park. It’s a book I will always keep.

 

 

I’ve read that in the 1970s he was involved with the creation of the Cardigan Wildlife Park now the Welsh Wildlife Centre.

 

 

I had not been aware of Peter’s  passing and am not aware of any mention of it on Safaritalk so before I continue further I thought it appropriate to mention it here and to acknowledge a life that made such a valuable contribution to conservation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Caracal

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Caracal

Wednesday 6th June 2018

 

Head of with Caesar and Briton to Mubi Pool. It’s a Swainsons Francolin (Spurfowl? But call me old fashioned!) morning - one with a chick just as we set off

 

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then quite a few more later on, again with chicks.  They seem to have a liking for the tracks.

This Goaway Bird’s nest had a chick but it was reluctant to make its appearance.

 

 

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Then we entered the beautifully green and shimmering mopane forest so different from its stark bareness in September.

 

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A warthog was moseying around and after leaving the forest there were 5 blue wildebeest in a grassy area but they skedaddled off on seeing us much to John’s disappointment as wildebeest rank as one of his favourites.

All was peaceful at the Mubi Pool

 

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 and we watched Spurwinged Geese,

 

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 Crake, Jacana, Pied Kingfishers, Whistling Tern, Hadida Ibis and some others that I haven’t recorded.

We then moved round to the other side of the pool and paused to watch a static monitor lizard trying to get energy from the sun.

 

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As we were watching I suddenly see a flicking tongue appearing out of a hole in the ground behind and out pops a massive monitor which dashes down through the grass to the water. All happened too quickly for a decent photo to show its size.

 

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Starting to head back we pause for these Little Beeeaters

 

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and entering the mopane forest 10 wildebeest sprint across the road ahead of us followed by 5 zebra.

Shortly after lighting the dung we spot 4 male sable. They’re quite a way off amongst the trees and we watch with me hoping they might move closer or at least into a more open area. Caesar says they’re the first sable he’s seen of the season. I’m pleased as seeing them meant I’ve kept my record of seeing sable on every visit to Nanzhila. In September there’s a beautiful and healthy herd around the Mfuta Loop and bachelor herds and other sightings spread around.

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These ones don’t cooperate and eventually we move on pausing for these baboons

 

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After that reedbuck and bushbuck and a shiningly attractive Meves Starling.

 

After lunch back at camp and a quiet spell John and I head out again with Caesar and Briton to the Mfuta Loop. As we travel along I’m remembering sightings on previous visits – this is where those roan ran across in front then paused – here’s where that large sable herd were grazing – those nervy eland ran off over there etc but today not to be and relatively quiet but not unexpected so early in the season after later rains than normal. Stately waterbuck, fish eagles, hammerkops, a large basking croc,

 

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and more francolins were our companions. After sundowners we come across some fresh leopard tracks which we attempt to follow but then lose and on the way back we see a Sharpes Grysbok, lesser bushbaby, common duiker and just near camp a spring hare.

 

 

We enjoyed drinks and a lovely dinner with Steve and Cindy. This is not a good photo of them due either to failure to wear my glasses or the wine or a combination of both!

 

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Edited by Caracal

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Caracal

Thursday 7th June 2018

At our early morning cuppa around the fire Steve introduces us to Bruce, a farmer from Choma, his son Paul and Paul’s fiancée Talley who are both rangers at a private game reserve in South Africa.

 

We set off to Chilenje Pool with Caesar and Briton and it’s again a quiet start on a cold morning with a light frost. There was quite a large troop of baboons still in some trees and starting to think of coming down but really it was the birds that took centre stage and remained there. The birding knowledge and enthusiasm of Paul, Talley and Bruce really added to the drive.

Along the way to the pool we saw Lanner falcon, lots of fish eagles, hammerkops and egrets and when stopped at the pool pied kingfishers, malachite, jacana, spurwinged geese, the weird looking knob-billed duck and the handsomely marked African pygmy goose.

On our return from the pool Marsh Harrier, Dickinsons Kestrel, Bateleur, a juvenile Matrial Eagle, vultures, Crested Barbet plus others I haven’t recorded.

This White Fronted Bee-eater was asking for a photo to be taken

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And though somewhat distant I enjoyed seeing these delightful oribi – such beautiful and dainty antelope – always in pairs

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Back at camp we were delighted to catch up with Brad Keast again after 7 years.

Brad and his wife Ruth had been managing Nanzhila when we stayed back in 2010 & 2011.

After that they had managed Maramba River Lodge at Livingstone for some years and Brad told us that he and Ruth were going to run a camp on Lake Iteshi Teshi.

Brad had been helping out with a road transfer for some guests who had just arrived at Nanzhila.

 

Later on we enjoyed a fine dinner and sharing stories and conversations around the firepit both before and after dinner. A great aspect of safari life.

 

I think Steve was worried about the quiet drives from the point of view of mammals and certainly I’ve seen a lot more on my stays in August/September. But one thing I want to stress and what really appeals to me is the remoteness and feeling of being in a wilderness. This was my fifth stay at Nanzhila and I have never seen another game drive vehicle.

That feeling of being the only ones at a sighting in the midst of a vast wilderness much of which is left unexplored is something very special.

 

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Caracal

Friday 8th June 2018

Early start saying goodbye to Cindy and Bruce and leaving with Steve shortly after 6.30am.

Just out of camp we see what we think is a leopard crossing the track ahead but we can’t get a definite ID. It’s then a duiker morning seeing at least 3 common duikers and a bushbuck before we reach the Cordon Road. The Cordon Road to Dundumwezi Gate takes longer than the more direct road which I’m used to but that isn’t open yet this early in the dry season.

 

 

On the Cordon road

 

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Approaching Dundumwezi Gate

 

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At Dundumwezi Gate we are introduced to our driver, also a Steve, who is to take us to Waterberry Lodge and we bid a fond farewell to Steve Smith.

 

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Chatting to Steve I discover that he’s Tonga and was born in a village 4kms from Zimba. In 1997 he attended Zimba Secondary College – the walk to school taking an hour. He now lives in Livingstone and has a Lozi wife. He speaks Lozi so he can communicate with the in-laws when visiting (very sensible!). He also speaks Tonga of course, Bemba, Kaonde, Nyanja and Lovale. Nyanja which is also spoken in Malawi is widely understood and spoken in Zambia (which by the way has 72 languages). He was only taught Tonga and English at school but learnt the other languages so he can speak with friends.

 

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I enjoy road transfers which give glimpses into the local way of life

 

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Have passed Aunt Bees store a number of times now but have never seen Aunt Bee!

I have this mental image of a generously proportioned lady wearing a colourful outfit with matching headdress and a beaming welcoming smile.

 

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Steve said that the owner of the cattle would be wealthy, adding that if a man had 10 to 12 cattle or more and 2 or more wives he is wealthy.

 

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Approaching Kalomo

 

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Kalomo is where we join the main Luasaka to Livingstone Highway

 

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On the way down the highway and approaching Zimba Steve tells me that his uncle continues to live in the village and is now the headman. He has 7 wives 42 children (had 44 but 2 have died) and 27 grandchildren. His uncle is now 72 and sometimes forgets who’s who with the children, needing to be reminded of the name and which wife is the mother. “Not good” says Steve.

Steve tells me weddings are big events with much celebration and cattle killed for a feast.

With funerals it’s the Tonga custom for mourners to attend the deceased’s house and sleep outside for 5 days in all weather. He adds that in a town such as Livingstone it maybe just 2 nights.

Births are a bigger deal if it’s a boy as the boy will stay in the community whereas a girl will “leave the community and go away”.

 

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Livingstone main street

 

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On the road out of Livingstone through NP to Waterberry

 

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Caracal

8th June 2018 cont’d

Always good to return to Waterberry Lodge. After a welcoming refreshment and rundown on our stay, activities and the arrangements for our overnighter at Camp Ngwazi the following night, we are shown to Swallow our room for tonight. Swallow is a lovely cottage right on the banks of the Zambezi. We were the first occupants this season as the previous week the river had still been up and into the cottage.

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After settling in we headed back to the dining decking for lunch.

 

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Later in the afternoon we went on a river cruise with guide Crispin, who combines his knowledge of the river and its life with his happy disposition, an English couple and an American couple. All good company and an enjoyable cruise with the great Zambezi still running high and wide.

 

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The baboons spend the night in this tree overhanging the water. Couldn’t help wondering if crocs hang around underneath looking for the possibility of a fall!

 

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After the cruise we have a splendid dinner of soup, hake fillet and milk tart.

Then to the firepit for drinks and chats with the other guests before retiring for the night.

 

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Caracal

Saturday 9th June 2018

Shortly after breakfast we leave on the boat with Crispen and the American couple for the village trip.

 

 

We head upstream

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When we land at the village we note there is a thorn barrier for protection from crocodiles

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We then start walking through the village stopping often as Crispen explains about village life

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After walking through the village we continue on to the Tukongote Community Project which was founded by Waterberry Lodge in 2009 to improve educational opportunities in the three local villages. See

https://www.waterberrylodge.com/community

https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/b6e849_fd35519adf784ec7be9be8dde8a434cf.pdf

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Crispen in the new library

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David, a trainee teacher

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Older students doing some extra studies and John wanting to relive his teaching days

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Jacob, Head Teacher

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We learnt that at the Study Centre adults are also being taught to read and write so that as parents they are not being left behind their children and will have a better understanding of the education their children are receiving.

 

John and I and Charlie and Ann, the American couple, all agreed as we headed back to Waterberry that our trip had been fascinating and most satisfying to see what has already been achieved and what is planned.

 

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Caracal

9th June cont’d

Shortly after getting back to Waterberry John and I head off to the Falls with driver/guide Bornface who we’d met on previous stays. Our luggage is taken as well, as later on we will be taken to Camp Nkwazi from where we will be picked up later for the sunset cruise and dinner at Waterberry before being returned to Nkwazi for the night.

 

 

Before the actual Falls we walk onto the Bridge.

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What a feat of engineering and construction this amazing bridge was with its design and its components and parts being built at steelworks in England then shipped to Beira, Mozambique and transported overland.

Work was started in 1903 and the arch supporting the two great cantilever sections was joined on 1 April 1905 proving the great accuracy of all calculations and measurements.

The bridge which was part of the planned Cape to Cairo railway was officially opened on 12 September 1905.

 

This young pedestrian on the bridge had spotted my camera and made it obvious he’d like a photo taken. His mother happily approved so I took these which I showed him to his great interest and delight.

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Whilst looking at the view towards the Victoria Falls Hotel and watching the bungee jumping

I found myself chatting to an American lady who was waiting with, I think, a little apprehension for her 2 daughters, aged 21 and 19, to jump.

 

This shows the first of her daughters about to leap

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Bungee jumping wasn’t around in my youth but even if it had been I wouldn’t have been queuing!

 

We then headed to the Falls where the car park and surrounds are popular with baboons as well as people.

 

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Although ponchos were available we didn’t elect to go down too far for the thorough drenching that would have entailed. Been to the Falls many times now but this would have to be the most water we’ve seen going over the Falls since our first visit back in the 1990s on the Zimbabwe side.

 

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Then to Olga’s Italian Restaurant for an enjoyable lunch and drink before going to the Maramba Market. I had prints of photos I’d taken of some stall holders in September 2016.

So I headed first to the Sunrise Restaurant to look for Mavis. No sign of Mavis but instead there was this guy apparently in charge.

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I’m standing there looking through my photos when the adjoining stallholder comes up and I’m showing him the photo of Mavis when he excitedly spots a photo of him which he takes with delight. His name his Humphrey.

 

Humphrey September 2016

 

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Humphrey June 2018

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Mavis and Humphrey 2016

 

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Humphrey then tells me that Mavis still has her stall and the guy there will pass on the photos I have for her. That guy then wants photos taken but he took it very seriously and I could not get him to smile!

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Humphrey’s taking charge of my little photo collection and gathering other nearby stall holders who were in the background so they could get copies from me and join in the next couple of photos.

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I’m then showing Humphrey a photo of David and Clifford at the bicycle repair stall (in a different part of the market quite some alleyways away) and asking if Humphrey knows if they’re still there. To my utter surprise Humphrey says David’s standing right behind me waiting to get some food. I turn around and there he is with a food bowl to get some nshima. David’s amazed -  I give him the photo and he wants me to visit his stall again. Back in 2016 he only reluctantly agreed to have a photo taken – not now!

 

Bornface has been watching all this and helping with interpretation when needed and is now very enthusiastic about our visit saying everyone is so happy. He’s getting involved and looking at my photos he suggests we next head to the nearby fish section which I might add smells far more amenable in early June than in the heat of September!

 

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Then we start heading down some of the alleyways - there are a myriad that look like this

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Note: To anyone visiting Maramba Market wear sturdy shoes it’s a maze of alleyways with rough broken ground.

 

 

Handed out more photos here

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David again at his bicycle stall

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This is now the third time I’ve handed out photos at Maramba Market from previous visits there and if I return to Livingstone I’ll be sure to take prints of the latest photos with me.

 

 

 

 

So time to leave after a very happy and satisfying visit and then we’re dropped off at Camp Nkwazi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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offshorebirder

@Caracal - I think your Maramba Market tradition is fantastic.   Bully for you!

 

 

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Atravelynn

"This is now the third time I’ve handed out photos at Maramba Market from previous visits there and if I return to Livingstone I’ll be sure to take prints of the latest photos with me."

What a great tradition!

 

I am sure you had a lot of time to "stand and stare" at the green landscapes and flowing rivers during this beautiful time in Kafue.  I recognized the furnishings and areas surrounding Konkamoya.  Glad you saw the mongoose that live there.  And the cheetah.

 

Thanks for sharing your green season travels.  Lovely!

 

 

 

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marg

@Caracal...thanks for the scenes of local places and people.  It is a place that we travelers to Africa too often do not experience.

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KaingU Lodge
8 hours ago, offshorebirder said:

@Caracal - I think your Maramba Market tradition is fantastic.   Bully for you!

 

 

 

Fully agreed.   Really good to see how passionate Clive and John are about local culture and genuinely interested in local life.  

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dlo

That was a great post @Caracal and I'm sure those visits are some of you're most treasured memories. Now maybe to make you're falls trips complete on the next trip we can finally see you doing some bungee jumping or maybe a gorge swing like my wife did! 

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Treepol

@Caracal thanks for this Kafue TR. Kaingu Lodge must have one of the most scenic locations in Africa above the river.

 

What a lovely idea to visit the market and take photos from your earlier trip to give away.

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Caracal

Many thanks @offshorebirder @Atravelynn @marg @KaingU Lodge @dlo and @Treepol

 

and yes @dlo they are treasured memories but whilst I'm most impressed that your wife, a member of the Guinea Fowl Foundation, took a gorge swing, it is certainly not a requirement of membership that she do so!

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Caracal

9th June cont’d & 10th June 2018

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On arrival at Camp Nkwazi we are shown to our chalet – photography is not something in the forefront of my mind so, as is often the case, I don’t think about taking photos of accommodation until it’s too late and the room is messed up! These photos were taken the next day – the chalet was quite spacious and had a pleasant decking area out front.

 

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After we settled in we wandered back to the bar/ dining decking area and I had a chat with Jim an American from Ohio who told me that he and his wife Cindy were leading a birding tour. They have a company with the cute name Cheepers! Birding on a Budget

When Jim picked up on my Australian accent he asked me if I knew Waratah in Victoria. I said I sure did as I live in a small country town about 30 mins drive away. Jim then asked if I knew Waratah House and I said I’d had dinner there way back when the Thompsons owned it. He then told me that he and Cindy had got married there back in 1995! Apparently Jim had emailed the owners saying he wanted to get married there and would they be able to organise a local Marriage Celebrant for them. And Yes I know the celebrant who married them! What a small world!

Around 4.30pm the boat from Waterberry arrived as scheduled. Crispen was in charge again and we joined two English couples. Another relaxing and enjoyable sunset cruise. Hippos, crocs, and monitor lizards plus this Giant Kingfisher and other birds including an Eagle Owl perched high up in a tree whose photos came out too blurry with the rocking of the boat.

 

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I was pleased to see this giraffe ambling along and there were others keeping more hidden behind trees and bushes.

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Again fascinated to see the baboons taking their positions for the night above the Zambezi.

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After an excellent dinner at Waterberry we were driven back to Camp Nkwazi.

 

Heard hippos grunting throughout the night and not long before dawn heard hyenas whooping and sounding quite close. Wander up to the dining area and have breakfast overlooking the Zambezi.

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Salome, the manageress, tells us the camp is open all year round and is busiest in January/February with birding groups. We wander around the grounds and numerous camping sites all beautifully maintained.

Julius from Waterberry picks us up at 11.00am to drive us to the airport. Along the way we see baboons and then whilst driving along the section of the highway within Mosi-oa-Tunya NP to our surprise we see a nice small family group of elephants strolling along parallel to the road.

Couldn’t ask for a better farewell to our brief safari.

 

Thanks very much for following this report.

 

Closing now with that last couplet from my favourite poem:-

 

A poor life this, if full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

 

 

 

 

 

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dlo

Nice report @Caracal I'm very envious of you're being able to do these short trips but the long flights from Canada just kill me so longer trips every few years have to suffice. Hope you get to go back soon and give us another report.

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Atravelynn

Poetic in every respect!

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