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Musekese, Kafue - A dream come true


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After @BRACQUENE's and @Atravelynn's trip reports to Musekese and Kafue, it was about time to add another one! ;)


But where to start and how to write down my experience? Quite a challenge actually.


Let me start with this picture of 'floppy ear'. I think I read he was mentioned in @Atravelynn's TR and smiled about this lion with his funny ear. Funny to know you've seen exactly the same animal as others.





It all started 6,5 years ago

First, let me take you back to April 2013 when I stayed at Mukambi's main lodge in Kafue National Park. This is where my love for Kafue started. And when the seed was planted to visit Musekese one day. At the end of our stay at Mukambi, we were waiting along the main road for a bus to take us back to Lusaka (love to travel by public transport). Instead, a 4x4 stopped and offered us a ride back to town. The man who was so friendly? Tyrone. During that car ride we had a nice chat and he told us a lot about the camp he was setting up together with Phil. Once at home, I looked them up on facebook and started to follow them. Throughout the years, my desire to visit Musekese became bigger and bigger. And this October, after 6,5 years and a 3rd visit to Zambia, I finally visited the camp I already called my favourite safari camp without even having been there. Is that weird?



Our stay

We stayed at Musekese from 28-31 October, 3 nights in tent 1. Is that short? Yes, way to short! But funds and a plan to also visit South Luangwa a 2nd time made us plan it this way.

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The actual start of this TR

Monday morning we were picked up by car for a 5-7 hour road transfer from Lusaka to Musekese. Departing just before 6am secured us an easy drive out of the capital without any delay of rush hour. Upon arrival Phil greeted us and, as we enjoyed the airco in the car, noticed we had to get used to the heat.

Phil: "At least it's not as bad here as in South Luangwa. It's even worse there."

Me: "Good to know, we're heading there next..."



First things first: lunch! We were quiet hungry as we weren't really into breakfast at 5.30am. As we walked to the table, lunch had to wait a little longer. The view over the dambo was amazing. Puku's everywhere! We positioned ourselves so we could have a lovely lunch and enjoy the views at the same time.


The view on arrival - not the last pictures of the dambo








Wildlife was not only in front of camp, but also in camp. I was surprised the monkeys didn't become a nuisance and just looked for natural food instead of stealing from the kitchen or dinner table.







Time to get to our tent. Phil took us there and again, I couldn't have wished for more. Tent #1 aka Leadwood.




We've all had our towels folded like this probably :) 




The bedroom



And bathroom




Shortly after we installed ourselved in our room, I wanted to get a drink from the bar. Had to wait for this bushbuck to cross the road just in front of me. How I loved being here, in the middle of wildlife.




The welcome ceremony ended with a visit of one of the monitor lizards, right in front of our deck:





(sorry @Galago, realised I missed a few pics and added them - you're so fast to like this post, almost in realtime)

Edited by LarsS
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We decided to go on a boat trip in the afternoon. I didn't actually realise how beautiful the roots of the trees were until I saw @Atravelynn's pictures. Surely a good reason to go back, right?


It didn't take long to spot hippos in the river.






A crocodile, just before it disappeared underneath the surface.




And there were several birds to be seen in the trees and shores. Not sure of all their names though, forgive me. I should have followed another guest's example by writing them down on a list. I think that would be enough for me to remember the right name for the right bird. Feel free to correct me or add the names. (About that list though, she lost it this afternoon... but somebody found it the next morning somewhere in the bush! Lucky her!)


unknown bird 1



Unknown bird 2



A fish eagle enjoying the views from a branch



Pied kingfisher (not very good picture, but the only one)



Saddle billed stork



There was more action inland from here. We saw the car with two other guests from the boat. And we could smell what they were looking for. A hippo carcass was somewhere in a shallow channel. Despite being a few hundred meters away, we could easily smell it though...



Further it was quiet on the banks of the river. The views over the river were beautiful and we enjoyed a lovely sunset from the boat!







This was not all yet... the drive from the boat back to camp, gave us one last sighting...


A leopard!






Blurry pictures, but the only photographic evidence (photographic that is...)

Edited by LarsS
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Isn't it brilliant on the river there in the late afternoon.  Best place for a sundowner!

Unknown bird #1 Open-billed stork; #2 Cattle egret  

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Aha! Just seen your comment about me being quick off the mark there! Just reliving my favourite bush camp :D

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Your dream was 6 and a half years in the making!  How nice to return to Kafue so soon after departing via your report!  Enjoyed the elephant towel art photo, probably the same talented staff member made both yours and mine.

Edited by Atravelynn
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I am an early bird so you can imagine that as with the  @Atravelynn reports from a while ago I can’t ask for a better start of the day then reading this recent news from a marvelous camp ; as you perhaps know I went to South Luangwa first in 2014 but even then was already considering to visit the Kafue one day and it took me five years to get there and enjoy like @Galago did a cool sundowner on the Kafue river .

Thanks a lot for these memories !

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Had a look at my photos and was looking for that African open-billed stork and I hope you don't mind some interaction like I had  with @AtravelynnDSCF8936.jpg.c75a457c78a4cea6f03a7c84f8e61aa2.jpg


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11 hours ago, Galago said:

Unknown bird #1 Open-billed stork; #2 Cattle egret

Thanks for identifying these birds! Open-billed stork rings a bell. totally forgotten the cattle egret.


9 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

Your dream was 6 and a half years in the making!

That's the best way to look at it :) 


5 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

I can’t ask for a better start of the day then reading this recent news from a marvelous camp

Not so much an early bird here, Maybe I should try to post late in the evening so you have your daily update available in the morning ;) 

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A beautiful start to your report.

How wonderful to have all of the Puku in front of your tent.

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The next morning breakfast was at 5.30am, gamedrive started at 6am. This turned out to be sleeping in, as other breakfasts were at 5am sharp, departing as soon as possible.


I liked how they asked what time you would like to leave. Together with the other Dutch couple, we opted for the extra early start of the day to get the most out of the morning drive.


The setting for breakfast was great. Frederike, the camp manager, was toasting bread and making tea on a small campfire around which we gathered to enjoy breakfast. This picture of the breakfast area was taken the next day at 5am. As you can see, it was still pretty dark at that time, especially underneath the trees in camp. When we headed out for the drive just before 5.30am it started to get lighter.



Breakfast was interrupted by an exciting sighting in the dambo. My first sighting ever of a bush pig! It was quite far and light was difficult, but my wife’s camera goes up to 60x zoom, so we could capture the bush pig on camera. The camp’s binocular on the deck did an even better job to have a closer look at it. What a start of the day!






Btw, did anybody see Disney's new Lion King movie? There's a scene in which Pumba sings in Hakuna Matata something along the line of 'When I was a small warthog'. Then the movie continues with a shot of a baby bush pig instead of a baby warthog. I was really surprised a production like that makes such a mistake.


Anyway, a first ever sighting of a bush pig and we didn't have to leave camp for it. Where you in some camps don't hesitate to go out on a drive, I did have that feeling at Musekese. There was so much going on around camp, you didn't have to go on an activity to spot wildlife. Later we heard of another guest, that stayed at her tent, she had ellies right next to her tent passing by. Amazing pictures of an elephant just on the other side of the window of the bathroom :) 

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Five dutch speaking people at the same time at Musekese is probably a record ; we were three together with Frederike  ! A Bush Pig in front of camp is not bad either ;  I didn't see the movie yet but I will ask my son if he did ?

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Staying at Musekese at the very end of October meant we were just before/at the start of the rainy season. The bush was very dry, but an occassional shower is normal at this time of year. A perfect time for impalas to drop their ewes. As impalas are synchronous breeders, that means a lot of newborn impalas at the same time. Which we noticed on our gamedrives.


Baby impalas really look like a mini-me of there mother. So cute with their tiny everything, except their big eyes and ears. We found them everywhere. Staying close to their mothers for safety, trying to keep up with their moms when they moved away as the babies were exploring the ground, suckling at their moms or just getting annoyed by a fly on their nose. I keep it chronological, so expect more baby impalas in the coming updates.






Mom? Where are you? (no worries, the others were closeby)




Some pukus also had a baby, but not as much as impalas.








Despite upcoming rains and there for an increase in the availability of food, the bush is not a safe place for newborns. Predators like lions are a constant threat.


In comes Tripod the lion, which we found at the confluence.











But luckily for the impalas, Tripod had been feeding on something else, something a lot bigger.


Two hippos had probably been fighting over the last channel with water in it, resulting in the death of one hippo.


I think the english way of saying it is ‘the loss of one, is the gain for another’. In Dutch we have a similar saying, that’s literally translated to ‘the death of one, is the bread for another’. That really applies here, as the hippo carcass became a feast for many other animals.






Tripod had been feeding on it, as was his brother (is he called Big Boy or did I make that up?). But there was more than they could eat, so scavengers came to the scene to get their share. Many vultures and a few maraboes and yellow kites as well. We got to the scene twice, at first I think there were about 30 vultures on it. When we returned to camp, we made another stop for a vulture count. All 5 of us counted twice and we agreed on 65 vultures on the ground.







The meal didn't turn out to be a feast for everyone. Just behind Tripod there was a crocodile. Probably a victim of Tripod or his brother as he was killed and almost bitten in two. As Gareth told us (and you in my upcoming video), he suspected the croc / a few crocs had pulled the hippo carcass back into the channel, as it was better visible the day before. This probably resulted in a fight, ending badly for the croc below.


What I think was interesting, is that none of the predators and scavengers was interested in the croc. Is it because the hippo was dead longer and therefore the meat was rotting and easier to eat?





You can see the vultures are scavenging in a small channel, in which the carcass stays out of our sight.





Not all vultures survived the meal either. I think on the picture below, you can spot a dead vulture all the way to the right, just below the one thats standing on the right.



All that eating and keeping of others makes hungry apparantly. So Tripod got him self a nice snack.








Relaxing with something to snack.



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We spent over an hour at the confluence. Not only because of the sighting of Tripod and the vultures. As we were standing there watching, some trees behind us started to make some noise. We heard a branch breaking and knew that could only mean one thing: elephants! Four bull elephants came out of the bush and crossed the confluence. A great sighting as the impalas and pukus around made us realize how big they are.


We were told by other guests during diner the first night, that we wouldn't see any elephants. Not sure why they said it, maybe they had been unlucky to miss them. It got me worried a bit, as I always want ellies. Luckily the next morning it turned out to be not the case at all. I think they didn't feel very comfortable close to the car. They came through the bushes not far from us, but decided to go a little further to walk in the open area.





















Ofcourse, seeing elephants walk is great. But seeing elephants doing gymnastics is even better!












Eventually, they headed into the bush on the other side and disappeared out of sight for us.



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Loving this. Really interesting about the croc and all from camp!

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You really are a natural storyteller ; it made me think of Jungle Book when the branches broke and those elephants came out of the woods and some amazing pictures of Tripod and the croc!

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We continued our drive as we were promised to come back to the confluence on the way to camp. I think I could have stayed here all day, what a special place!


A small bird




A fish eagle




And some confusion on the ground. Real confusion, caused by the fish eagle probably. The guinea fowl were running around like crazy, apart from this moment where two of them let us take a picture.




We came across a family of warthogs:







We spotted a few vultures in the air and were curious what was going on. We found more of them on the ground. There was little left of an puku or impala. I still am impressed by the lappet faced vulture. His head looks unappealing and beautiful at the same time.











Then we headed back to the confluence. That view of all those pukus, I think I'll never forget that.




But those pukus didn't pay any attention to us... What did they see?




A huge male lion! Tripod's brother. He was drinking from a channel, just at the edge of the bushes.






And despite his full belly, he looked like he would like to have one of those pukus in front of him...




He looked to be asking himself which one to choose. But he also realised he had been discovered and he should wait for another time.







Edited by LarsS
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8 minutes ago, wilddog said:

Loving this. Really interesting about the croc and all from camp!


7 minutes ago, Hads said:

Great Report so far @LarsS


6 minutes ago, BRACQUENE said:


You really are a natural storyteller ; it made me think of Jungle Book when the branches broke and those elephants came out of the woods and some amazing pictures of Tripod and the croc!


Thanks all of you! I try my best.


Have to give credits to my wife for all the pictures by the way. I took only one or two as I use my camera for another purpose.

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I must admit you saw a lot more action at the confluence end of oktober than we did in september and Tripods brother is impressive ; the lappet-faced vulture is not bad either !


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Before I post my first video, I want to tell you a bit more of the experience at Musekese.


I enjoyed our stay at Musekese a lot. So much, I didn't end up spending as much time filming as I planned to. The vibe in camp, the wildlife on drives and in camp. I was really taking it in. Also, temperatures up to 40C and short nights made me want to rest in camp as well. But mostly, the vibe with staff and other guests. I hardly did any of my usual round-ups after a drive or at the end of the day. I was just having too much fun! :)  We really had a great time with especially Frederike and Gareth, but also the other two Dutch guests, roughly our age as well. They were friends of Frederike and Gareth, but from the moment we met we could get along with them very well. In fact, we shared laughs and stories, making other guests wonder at lunchtime, after only having spent 1 day together, if we were traveling with the four of us as friends. In fact, in the new year we will visit their new house which they moved in recently. :) 



So, without further ado (and turning this into an awkward love story), here's the first of two videos. Hope you like it!





(Feel free to give some feedback - I made this one a little shorter and reduced the amount of footage of wildlife combined with music - some feedback I got from friends&family that said it would be more interesting for non-safari go'ers.)

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5 minutes ago, BRACQUENE said:


I must admit you saw a lot more action at the confluence end of oktober than we did in september and Tripods brother is impressive ; the lappet-faced vulture is not bad either !


Yeah, he's a huge male! Also, he probably had a lot of that hippo, so might have been at his fullest here.


I think at the end of november the bush gets even drier and wildlife gathers at the last areas where there's water around.


(Through your comment I realise I wrote leopard faced instead of lappet. I didn't see the link between the face and a leopard, probably because there is no... Thanks!)

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Great video. Just the right length and mix of commentary/ music. Provides a good feel of the camp and it’s surrounding. Made me feel I was there with you! Thanks. 

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 We had the images before but having the sound ( and the actors) together makes it awesome ; for those who didn’t believe it until now Musekese is a bit like paradise : remember “ the garden of Eden “ but without Adam and Eve😃  


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very good video @LarsS  thank you

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