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Bush dog

Kafue : a first visit

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Bush dog

Last month, I spent 2 weeks in the Kafue.  It had been a long time since I wanted to go there, especially to the Busanga plains. 

 

When I arrived at Lusaka, I stayed at Latitude 15 where I also went for one night on the way back.  I had read, on some specialized sites, some bad reviews, mainly on the service.  As far as I'm concerned, I have no complaints about this hotel.  Everything was like what you would expect from a hotel of this standard.  One can also say that in some ways it looks like an art gallery.

 

To get an excellent price, I chose, for the entirety of the stay (13 nights) in the Kafue, the camps of a single operator, in this case Mukambi Safaris :

Main Lodge : 3 nights

Plains Camp : 7 nights

Fig tree : 3 nights

All the road transfers Lusaka round trip were included in the price.

I had the same guide for the duration of the stay and their best, Powell. During the first 2 days, I shared the vehicle with one person who turned out to be a very pleasant companion and for the rest I ended up alone with Powell.

 

With regard to the description of the camps, I refer you to the excellent report of @LarsS 

Since then, the tents of Busanga Plains Camp have been completely replaced by other larger and more spacious ones, mounted on a cement platform.  Inside, electricity has been installed.  The bucket showers were however maintained.

 

Before I forget it, I would like to thank Robyn and Edjan, the owners, Annekim and Laura, respectively in charge of Plains Camp and Fig Tree, the staff of the 3 camps and finally Powell.  They did a great job.

 

With respect to the park itself, I was told by an informed source that it appears that African Parks is in very advanced negotiation with the Zambian government to manage it.

 

To begin this report, 2 things that caught my eye :

 

-         The touchiness and sometimes the aggressiveness of elephants.

The (mock) charge of a solitary bull.  It stops at less than 10 meters from the car.

 

_N7A1914.jpg.af175c859c0355861b24eb199f944a29.jpg

 

-         The daily bush fires at the border of the plains.  Of the 3 Camps of the   Busanga Plains, Plains Camp is the best placed but also the cheapest.  Of the three, it is also the best protected against bush fires because the only one to be completely surrounded by water in the second part of the dry season.

 

20180919_183052.jpg.07a65a4714b9a48cae61a42e65dc7437.jpg

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michael-ibk

Actually surprised you have never been to Kafue, Mike. Very much looking forward to seeing this great park through your excellent photos.

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ForWildlife

Looking forward to this report!

I think people should not disclose anything about Kafue and AP before any deal is done.

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Bush dog

@michael-ibk

 

Thanks a lot, Michael!  And you might be even more surprised I have never been to Mana Pools as well.:(

 

@ForWildlife

 

Thank you!

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marg

@Bush dog.....I just went through my photos.  We were in the plains mid September and did not see one elephant.  The distant blobs in scenery photos were all buffalo or hippos.

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Bush dog

@marg

 

I was there between the 18th and the 25th.  I only saw my first elephants on the 20st and then non stop until my departure, their number increasing every day.  On the other hand I did not see a lot of buffaloes, only a few dagga boys.

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madaboutcheetah

@Bush dog - Look forward the rest of this report! and i bet you saw lots of Roan in the plains???

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Bush dog
4 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

@Bush dog - Look forward the rest of this report! and i bet you saw lots of Roan in the plains???

 

Yes, Hari, I did indeed!

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CDL111

@Bush dog, the wife and l are looking forward to the remainder of your report as we are looking for a different location to visit. Have watched @LarsS videos and the are also helpful.

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offshorebirder

Hooray - another @Bush dog trip report.   I am very much looking forward to it.

 

 

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Bush dog

@offshorebirder

 

Thanks a lot for your enthusiasm!

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Bush dog

Let’s start with the area between Mukambi and Fig Tree.  There is one major problem there, the tse tse flies :  more than 10 bites per game drive.  You spend part of your time trying to chase them.  Fortunately at Busanga if you stay on the plains and do not venture to the tree line, you will not see one.

 

The first day, I was very lucky to see 4 cheetahs together.  The estimated population of cheetahs in the Kafue is less than one hundred.  So I saw 4 to 5% of it.  They were a bit skittish but not extremely.  When we were entering their comfort zone, they moved away accordingly.  When they positioned themselves at the top of a large termite mound from which they could easily scan the surroundings, we decided not to try to approach them anymore and left.

 

_U5V2478.jpg.9c94e02138493b23a1ebe44cd0619a2a.jpg

 

_U5V2489.jpg.f7a0a2d1e713480e484ba9650f4cf032.jpg

 

_N7A0661.jpg.2149fdc16615355a06bdbdb78b6dd6b4.jpg

 

There is a large variety of browsers and grazers : greater kudus, pukus, Lichtenstein’s hartebeests, Defassa waterbucks and bushbucks.

 

_U5V3762.jpg.13745daff8744548f43f16b912dd9ed5.jpg

 

_U5V3774.jpg.09e9c1aa453f9eb927e2041d5a560506.jpg

 

_U5V3775.jpg.7feb31ee6273afcbcb1b15223c343df9.jpg

 

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_U5V4106.jpg.c06656b8c4072a6ca82dab9079c08dcb.jpg

 

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CDL111

@Bush dog, do you know if the cheetahs are a coalition of young cheetahs or have they been together for some time? 

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Bush dog
1 hour ago, CDL111 said:

@Bush dog, do you know if the cheetahs are a coalition of young cheetahs or have they been together for some time? 

 

No, they had been seen for the first time in the area the day before and the day after they had disappeared.  

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Bush dog

Now, some elephants.

 

_N7A0652.jpg.2528d4f435e0b7b826dbeaf3308d5160.jpg

 

_N7A0679.jpg.638ad78ca19dd116a02e4a24fdfcfc8f.jpg

 

_U5V2419.jpg.d6a884150ac8a2f4f877ed3479fc24e5.jpg

 

_U5V2438.jpg.2a2c25360fce0c18b7daeab561705237.jpg

 

_U5V2536.jpg.eac03699ee3b1b9a06c8dc9d87338433.jpg

 

Scared elephants.

 

_N7A1873.jpg.14d173a071a7583a02a8edba7eaacfb3.jpg

 

Elephants in defensive formation.

 

_N7A0757.jpg.13a314e69dd56ca1bfaa890743f0227a.jpg

 

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Bush dog

A selection of birds :

Square tailed nightjar.

 

_N7A1841.jpg.66d6bb3a3062f909abdd49d0eb8d1997.jpg

 

Striped kingfisher.

 

_U5V2424.jpg.290973b3cbdd692d6013844cfede294f.jpg

 

Wattled plover.

 

_U5V2468.jpg.9025e8dffd7b8c8a7432db0e15ab1771.jpg

 

Emerald-spotted wood dove.

 

_U5V2507.jpg.9d8b6600f41738b6d9c3f3b6f569cdc3.jpg

 

Black-shouldered kite.

 

_U5V2538.jpg.b8353092c49a2b6c2b5c4a7d87b8efcf.jpg

 

Western banded snake eagle.

 

_U5V2554.jpg.d501693b70a51cc6b05b28cbe85c4884.jpg

 

White-fronted bee-eater.

 

_U5V3852.jpg.8f223e03a2433e4995074ed7b6cf1025.jpg

 

Water thick-knees.

 

_U5V3934.jpg.eab28b708ee62db2c5c30ee26342b02b.jpg

 

Yellow-billed storks.

 

_U5V4002.jpg.9ec66bce573f75f6211f63ba09551572.jpg

 

_U5V4008.jpg.33fd36d795373b20aad45e5e80bab2a5.jpg

 

African spoonbill.

 

_U5V4038.jpg.5f7c5c701cc3c9dd4d3f9f96a7fa254f.jpg

 

Juvenile bateleur shaking itself.

 

_U5V4056.jpg.24cdaa658895e5735433676efbe8a0c6.jpg

 

White-fronted bee-eater with a cicada in its beak.

 

_U5V4162.jpg.2f61ba919d79952de818f4670b8d7c53.jpg

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offshorebirder

Nice shots @Bush dog - particularly the Yellow-billed Stork, Bee-eater with Cicada and the elephants in defensive formation.

Edited by offshorebirder

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TonyQ

@Bush dog lovely photos -  especially like the elephants and the beeeater

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Bush dog

@offshorebirder @TonyQ

 

Thank you!  The "elephants in defensive formation" is my best shot on this trip and in my personal top ten all safaris taken together.

It shows very well how elephants create a defensive block around the younger ones in the presence of something they regard as a potential threat.  I've seen similar behaviours all along this trip and several times a day which brings me to seriously think that, in this park, intensive poaching is still taken part in.   

 

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Game Warden

Some stunning well composed images there @Bush dog. I really like the perspective of the lone elephant trudging up into the tree line.

 

Matt

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Towlersonsafari

lovely photos and as you say the "elephants in defensive formation" is stunning @Bush dog

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Bush dog

@Game Warden

 

Thanks!  For that picture, I think I was inspired by @Safaridude.  It's his style of photography.

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Bush dog

@Towlersonsafari

 

Thank you very much for your kind words!

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Bush dog

The night following the sighting of those two young lions, I heard them roaring all night long.  At about 5:30, one of them was in the camp (Fig Tree) nearby the staff quarter.  The other guide even came almost face to face with it.  It was about to charge him but eventually did not do it.  Certainly because the guide adopted the appropriate behaviour to have in this kind of situation.

 

_N7A1772.jpg.dda28b6fedc68bcdb6ebbf3c9d9e1733.jpg

 

_N7A1803.jpg.06445d7dd6b8fffe6b32e348854d9740.jpg

 

This is how termite mounds are looking like in the Kafue.  It sometimes makes me think to one of those old graveyards.

 

_N7A1849.jpg.c25c6bd111fdbe23fefb35b6507cfe92.jpg

 

This elephant seemed to want to pass quietly.  Two seconds later, it charged the car.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this report, it stopped at less than ten meters from it.  During the ten seconds the charge lasted, I made forty shots.

 

_N7A1901.jpg.915c6efcdc9050d508fb934e708cb8fa.jpg

 

_N7A1909.jpg.cd19f1161befd3fed64a77bf6564aa69.jpg

 

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_N7A1931.jpg.9779eb728d664b47205d165b59ad6a7b.jpg

 

_N7A1938.jpg.f2ab6f6fa3ee7c33d98b228074408e17.jpg

 

Warthog.

 

_U5V3758.jpg.8bf73d83c6348cb2283bb815550422ce.jpg

 

Vervet.

 

_U5V4075.jpg.9b642abc88b9f82102a11c0c313ffa51.jpg

 

I was not very happy with leopards, only two in two weeks :  a young one (on the picture) and an old male.  Mukambi lodge is located along the Kafue River outside the park.  Game drives are made in the park on the other side where the vehicles are parked.  I was on the point as well as others to climb in several vehicles when, nearby, the vervets began to make a hell of a racket.  Powell said :  that must be a leopard.  I said : you are absolutely right, it is just walking twenty meters behind you.  It was an old male, whipping the air with its tail, very frustrated to have been spotted stalking a male puku.  While whistling, the puku jumped on the spot as if it were mounted on springs.  We then rushed into the vehicles. This scared the leopard who quickly left to disappear in the tall grass. 

 

_U5V4148.jpg.410f16153318461b8931d18ef774445a.jpg

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CDL111

@Bush dog, to take 40 shots of the elephant is for me impressive, l certainly need some practice, but more important was that Powell did not drive away. Possibly the adrenaline was pumping a little.

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