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BonitaApplebum

South Luangwa Photographic Trip Report

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BonitaApplebum

Hi everyone. :D

 

This past October (flew in 22nd, departed 31st) I visited South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. I split the trip between two locations, Kaingo Camp and Mfuwe Lodge. Kaingo Camp was far and away my favourite, both for the more intimate feel of the camp as well as the best guiding I've ever experienced. The trip was organized by WildEye and was my second time travelling with them (and second time with trip leader Marlon duToit). As expected, it was incredibly hot, dry, and the wildlife acted accordingly. I was beyond satisfied with the quality of the sightings. My hope was to spend lots of time with leopard and due to some exceptional tracking, we saw leopard most every day. 

 

This first batch were shot will staying at Kaingo Camp.

 

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We came across this lion and baby hippo carcass early in the morning, as he rested under some brush in the dry river bed. We knew he'd have to move as the sun came up and the temperature rose so we waited. Sure enough, he showed incredible strength as he hauled the kill up onto the bank and under the shade of a tree. The lion had quite the gash on his rear leg, from what we believed was a tussle with crocs over this prize during the night.

 

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Later we watched the same lion wandering along the river towards a group of hyenas and waited for the interaction. This many hyenas could certainly force the lion across the river; something he would certainly rather avoid. It would depend on how confident he felt and whether he could hold his nerve as the hyenas began to circle.

 

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This young male was no pushover and soon the hyenas were the one losing their nerve.

 

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This might be my favourite photo from the trip. Watching the oxpeckers sit on the neck of this giraffe, we knew eventually he would shake them off and I was hopeful to catch this dance as the birds reacted.

 

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This lion lay in the late day sun in the ebony forest, one of the most beautiful settings I've visited.

 

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Well after dark, we came across a large hippo carcass and a big group of hyenas feeding. The smell was...remarkable. Instead of relying on the ugly light of the spotlight, we set up a torch on a beanbag on one side of the scene and moved over to the other side to shoot some super eery, backlit scenes of hyenas doing what they do. I thought the mood created by this setup was really fitting.

 

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This is one of those "story" photos. It will always remind me of perhaps the most intense one hour of safari I have every experienced. As dusk set upon us, we came across a pack of wild dogs. Shortly after we found them they moved on into the bush where we could not follow. We worked our way around, our guide anticipating where they would emerge. As we got there, we came across two lionesses, walking in the same direction. Our guide accurately predicted that they were going to happen upon those same dogs should the appear where we thought they would, and sure enough, that's exactly what happened. The lions spotted the dogs first, and by the time the dogs noticed, it was too late. They alarmed and scattered, but the closest lion was immediately on one of the pups and scooped it up swiftly. We chased and I managed a couple of grainy photos of the action. The chaos was quickly over and the lioness sat with a dead pup in her jaws, which she soon left in a heap and moved on. The dogs were incredibly stressed, as were we!  It was a solemn moment, and as dark was now falling, we started our way back towards camp. 30 minutes later we spotted the leopard above and within minutes she was on top of this kill. It all happened so fast and this was the only photo I could manage. Suddenly, she lifted the kill and sprinted towards a tree just as a hyena came into view in hot pursuit. I thought she was safe as she lept into the tree, but the hyena managed to grab her by the tail and haul her to the ground where the two skirmished for a few moments. The leopard then scattered and the hyena was left with the prize. This lasted all of 30 seconds before those same two lionesses descended on the hyena and quickly stole the kill! The animals did all the work but I think I was the one short of breath.

 

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Backlit baboons in the ebony forest at sunrise.

 

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The following photos were shot while staying at Mfuwe Lodge.

 

We came across at wild dog kill literally right outside the lodge. Incredible luck. As we convinced out driver to leave earlier than others, we enjoyed it to ourselves for about 45 minutes. In that time two hyenas showed up and tried to pressure the dogs, who were having none of it. 

 

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This lion had been feasting on a buffalo kill and was resting nearby, trying to stay out of the sun.

 

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Standing elephants in South Luangwa! What an amazing surprise this was. I went to Mana Pools looking for this and certainly wasn't expecting it here. Witnessing this will never get old.

 

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Lion after dark. Again, trying to avoid directly using the spotlight, we turned ours off and relied on another vehicle to sidelight it, giving some interesting light. 

 

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We were told if you see a leopard, it's because she allowed it. So, if it looks like she's posing for me here, it's because she is. :D

 

I hope you enjoyed the photos. I very much enjoyed making them! I would recommend this park without reservation. The place is absolutely wild and I very much hope I am able to return one day. Any questions, I will do my best to answer.

 

 

 

 

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Caracal

 

Wow - you had amazing sightings and witnessed fascinating interactions @BonitaApplebum - beautifully captured in your wonderful photos.

 

 

 

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Pamshelton3932

Wow!  Not only amazing pictures, but you had some wild experiences too!  I really enjoyed your report.

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BRACQUENE

@BonitaApplebum

 

I will start with those incredible leopard eyes you have captured to perfection in the first photo but that is only the beginning of a wonderful report which reads like a novel or should I say a thriller and the combination of black and white and color pictures is a work of art 

Amazing and congratulations!!

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madaboutcheetah

Superb Photos! Thank You!!!

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Towlersonsafari

what beautiful photos @BonitaApplebum simply stunning!

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ForWildlife

A young male lion alone with a gash on his back leg. Without seeing the actual injury my guess would be that it was from fighting with other lions. What often happens with young male lions is that they fight with other males, at some point one side retreats and the other side chases, lashing at the ones who are running away, often resulting in nasty gashes on the backlegs. There's actually an artely on the inside of the thighs which is pretty vulnerable and from time to time it happens that one gets severed and the lion dies.

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egilio

I don't often post here anymore, but often read. Would you have photos of the dog-lion interaction? I'm sure the Zambian Carnivore Programme would be very interested in documenting it. Date, time and some pictures would be very helpful. Any picture of 1 or more dogs would be helpful to determine the pack, and any picture of the dead pup to determine which one died, or of live pups after it happened. Although they might be able to determine that of the one which went missing. If you don't want to post them here, could you please send me a pm?

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Zubbie15

Some really special sightings, that you caught extremely well! Thanks so much for sharing. 

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AKR1

Truly superb photography, amongst the best ever posted on this board. The picture IQs are exceptional . Evocative narrative brings them to life. Great to see have back here @BonitaApplebum thanks for posting this. 

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Antee

Extraordinary set of photos. 

I can see why you choosed Wild eye with their focusing in photographing.

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TonyQ

Superb photos all round, but I particularly like theHyena backlit by the torch!

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Julian

Fantastic photos.

 

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Kitsafari

great photos of a park I love! you had some fantastic sightings. 

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Shreyas

Fantastic sightings, and awesome photos! Thanks for sharing!

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wilddog

absolutely stunning images

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janzin

Fantastic images. I am intrigued that you went with WildEye...I follow them on Facebook (and I have seen their vehicles in the Mara.) Were you on a private trip or with a group?

 

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BonitaApplebum
1 hour ago, janzin said:

Fantastic images. I am intrigued that you went with WildEye...I follow them on Facebook (and I have seen their vehicles in the Mara.) Were you on a private trip or with a group?

 

 

Hi Janzin,

 

I was with a group. Actually, my two trips with WildEye are the first I've ever gone with a group. Previously I had always gone on private tours. As a photographer, I was always worried that I'd end up with people who's priorities conflicted with my own and the trip would be affected. This is why I would always budget for the private car. That way, if I wanted to spend all morning with one sighting to see what might occur, I was free to. With Wildeye, since they specialize in photographic safaris, my hope was that I would be with like minded people while also getting experienced guiding. That was my experience so I've been confident booking their group tours ever since.

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janzin

thanks for the info. I have considered using them, but (for the reasons you state) we always use a private guide. I know they will do private trips as well, but I'd imagine it is extremely expensive that way! Might look into them for some future trip.

 

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SafariChick

Absolutely stunning photos @BonitaApplebum and what fantastic sightings you had! I still haven't been to South Luangwa and this really made me want to go!

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Alexander33

@BonitaApplebum

 

A wonderful portfolio of your photos from the trip, but even without them, your experiences alone would be most memorable. The lions with the dogs, and then the hyena stealing the leopard kill — that’s one hell of a night drive.  And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lion with a baby hippo kill. Incredible. 
 

Thanks for sharing. 

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BonitaApplebum
On 12/30/2019 at 1:40 AM, egilio said:

I don't often post here anymore, but often read. Would you have photos of the dog-lion interaction? I'm sure the Zambian Carnivore Programme would be very interested in documenting it. Date, time and some pictures would be very helpful. Any picture of 1 or more dogs would be helpful to determine the pack, and any picture of the dead pup to determine which one died, or of live pups after it happened. Although they might be able to determine that of the one which went missing. If you don't want to post them here, could you please send me a pm?

 

Happy to share if it's at all helpful. 

 

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egilio

Thanks, I'll inform them and send them to this topic. Do you happen to know the date?

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BonitaApplebum
2 hours ago, egilio said:

Thanks, I'll inform them and send them to this topic. Do you happen to know the date?

 

October 26, 2019.

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egilio

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