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Bush dog

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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.




-         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.



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

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



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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.








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
















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@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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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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Now, some elephants.












Scared elephants.




Elephants in defensive formation.




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A selection of birds :

Square tailed nightjar.




Striped kingfisher.




Wattled plover.




Emerald-spotted wood dove.




Black-shouldered kite.




Western banded snake eagle.




White-fronted bee-eater.




Water thick-knees.




Yellow-billed storks.






African spoonbill.




Juvenile bateleur shaking itself.




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



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



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

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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.






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




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.




















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. 



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@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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