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Athene

Shumba Camp

 

A young man from Robin Pope Safaris took us to Mfuwe airport. He waited until our Proflight flight took off, which was on time, before he left.

 

At Lusaka airport we were picked up by the Wilderness pilot who flew us to the Busanga Plains. I remember his name was Kyle. The plane was the smallest I have ever been in. It was just a 4-seater and everything had to be balanced out evenly. We were four guests on the plane, a couple from California who stayed in BBC camp and us.

As I was the shortest, Kyle placed me on the back seat together with part of the luggage. The BBC couple sat in front of me and OH next to Kyle.

Everything was so cramped that even though I am only 5ft 3 , there was not much room for my legs left.

Kyle told us the flight was going to be a bit bumpy because of the thermal situation and he urged us not to be sick on his plane. And if need be, there was a little paper bag in front of us.

Usually I am not concerned in small planes but his announcement made me a bit nervous.

I didn‘t dare to look down, I kept looking at the horizon and I was ok when we landed after a little bit more than an hour.

 

There was a TseTse attack on us when we left the plane. Fortunately Kyle had warned us and we had put on the bush fly nets from our trip to Western Australia earlier last year. Kyle changed his pilot uniform into a more casual outfit and looked totally different in shorts and Hawaii shirt. He didn‘t fly back and stayed for 3 nights at BBC camp to take us back to Lusaka afterwards.

 

We were picked up by our Shumba guide. Normally I am not too bad with names but I forgot his name. I remember it was an ordinary english name, nothing fancy.

I will post a picture below, maybe @Marg knows him.

 

 

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On our way to the camp our first sighting

 

Sable

 

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Baby Sable suckling

 

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Scene from Busanga Plains...

 

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Scarface, the remaining dominant male of the Papyrus Pride.

His coalition partner Nervous had been killed outside the park earlier in the year

 

 

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He was on his own lying in the papyrus grass

 

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a disheveled mane

 

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Shumba camp

 

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Shumba is a rather posh camp. The tent has glass sliding doors.

The room is a good size with a comfortable bed, a sofa, hot shower and other amenities.

 

It was rather cold in the morning when we got up. The room heated up during the day due to the glass front. In the evening it was nice and cool just right for a good sleep.

 

We didn‘t book a private vehicle here but we were lucky, there were not many guests except travel agents from South Africa and the U.S. and we had the vehicle for ourselves again.

 

Our first full day at Shumba

 

Appartently a leopard was in camp last night. The guides thought he could still be in the high grass in front of the camp. We couldn‘t find him and carried on to look for the Papyrus pride.

 

Part of the pride we saw during our time at Shumba were Queen, Princess, Killing Machine, four male sub-adult cubs about eight months old, one female about the same age and the Little Prince, Queen‘s youngest cub of about three months old.

 

Princess came out of the grass in the golden morning light. She is a big and strong lioness, a daughter of Queen and she was very photogenic. As far as I remember she is about three years old.

 

 

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The young male cubs

 

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The young males were constantly running around, playing and testing their strength.

Three of them were mostly together. One was a bit of an outsider, he didn‘t join in the play fights very often

 

They had not been given names yet. Our guide told us that when the season is over at the end of October the guides would meet and name them. They were all sons of Princess and Killing Machine, fathered by Scarface and Nervous.

 

 

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I very much like to watch lions especially when they move around and play. Our guide told us the story of the Papyrus Pride, unfortunately I didn‘t take notes, so these remarks are from my memory and I might be wrong on some details.

 

After we had left the lions we found a pretty little bird in the grass -

a rosy-breasted longclaw

 

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and another one in the greenery

 

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Bushbuck right next to the vehicle

 

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Male Puku

 

 

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Female Puku with baby

 

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That was our morning game drive.

 

In general, the sightings were scarcer and we had to try harder to find the animals than in South Luangwa. Additionally, some animals seemed to be more cautious around vehicles than in other parks.

 

 

In the afternoon:

 

Wildebeest

 

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Buffalos

 

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The elephants were not relaxed at all as @bush dog already mentioned in his trip report from the Kafue last year. We did not see many. Here is a breeding herd in a defensive formation.

 

 

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A very poorly looking Roan antelope

 

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Hooded vulture

 

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LBR

 

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Sequence of an African Marsh Harrier eating a frog

 

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Hippos in a small pool

 

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It was getting dark

 

Fish eagle in the distance

 

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We found this leopard close to camp just starting to hunt. There were Pukus around. As he or she had not had a kill for a while our guide didn‘t want to spoil the hunt and we left. Just a quick snapshot.

 

 

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Moon over the Busanga Plains

 

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Caracal

Those photos from the deck really show the wide open spaces of the Plains.

Great to see Sable, Puku and Wildebeest all with young. That poor looking Roan is covered with Oxpeckers!

Really enjoying following this.

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madaboutcheetah

Superb Rosy throated Longclaw - those are hard to photograph!!! 

 

Love the report, Thank You for the continuation.

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BRACQUENE

@madaboutcheetah

 

On my Kafue trip last September I saw one in my first hour in the Busanga Plains ( picture in my TR but without a good sight of the rosy throat ) but I agree that’s a stroke of luck !

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Ginny

@Athene     Love the picture of the moon...and the second one of Princess.....that is just her head.  It's terrific!

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Athene

@Caracal thank you for following and your kind words. This was the first time we had seen Roan. We didn't see many, just one small group. We saw a good number of Sable when driving from the airstrip to camp.
 

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Athene

@madaboutcheetah @BRACQUENE many thanks. OH agrees it was tricky to focus on the Rosy throated longclaw in the vegetation.

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Athene

@Ginny thank you very much. Have you visited recently? I really loved watching the Papyrus pride.

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Athene

Next morning - Sunrise on the Busanga Plains

 

The view from Shumba‘s deck was just beautiful, the time was 6.03 a.m.

 

 

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Twenty minutes later we found the Papyrus pride. This time Queen and the little prince were also present.

 

Queen

 

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Little Prince

 

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Princess

 

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Killing Machine with on of her sons

 

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This older female cub was called Diana; I can‘t remember why she had a name and her male cousins didn‘t. I think she is a daughter of Maggie, another daughter of Queen, who was not here.

 

 

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Most of the time she was together with the Little Prince, the guide said she loves and adores him and looks after him when Queen is not around.

 

Now an overload of photos with Diana and Little Prince playing together

 

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practising the tricks of the trade

 

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More sightings on our morning drive

 

Lechwe

 

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Fish eagle

 

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Nile monitor

 

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African jacana

 

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Hippo

 

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Roan

 

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Crowned crane

 

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Before we returned to camp we had an encounter with a bull elephant in musth. He had been following either us or the BBC vehicle for a while and we couldn‘t get rid of him. Eventually he charged our vehicle and only stopped a few metres before us. He really gave me a fright.

 

Just a few photos before the charge:

 

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That was a bit of a scary experience for me as this had not happened before. OH would have loved to take photos from the actual charge, but I was pressing our guide to move away…..

 

 

 

In the afternoon we were looking for the lions again. We found them further south at the little stream.

 

Queen was still at the papyrus island

 

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Little Prince

 

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Two of the young males

 

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A hippo rushed out of the water, feeling threatend by the lions.

 

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Another jumping sequence

 

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Quenching their thirst and Little Prince jumping

 

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Princess again

 

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Another beautiful moon

 

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That was our last day on the Busanga Plains.

 

The next morning we were taken to the airstrip and Kyle, the pilot now in his uniform again, took us back to Lusaka. From here we flew via Johannesburg back to Frankfurt.

 

A few more subjective thoughts about the camps:

 

Luangwa River Camp

The setting inside an ebony grove, the view of the Luangwa River, the good food and atmosphere, the people who worked there and the people we met there made this our favourite camp of the trip.

 

Tena Tena

Being a small tented camp - you could see the hippos walk by when you had a shower - gave me the most authentic bush feeling which I liked a lot. I still recall the sounds of the night with animals walking through camp. Braston was our favourite guide on this trip.

 

Shumba Camp

A rather luxurious camp. The food was the best we had, almost like a top restaurant. The feeling was not as authentic as in the other camps, for example the dining was on separate tables, although you could have a chat and a drink with the other guests before dinner outside on the beautiful deck. The staff were friendly and attentive.

 

Concluding thoughts

 

It was one of the best safari experiences we had so far. Overall, the sightings were excellent and for the first time we took more interest in birds.

 

It is hard to compare the parks, they are very different and we only stayed three nights at Kafue National Park. For me the Busanga Plains felt wild and raw. I loved the view from the camp onto the wide open plains. Game was harder to find. What I liked most was our time with the Papyrus Pride. I very much hope they survived the rains and are still alive and well. From what I have heard there was a lot of unrest and also a fight which resulted in a separtation of the pride in two.

We encountered Tse Tse flys only at the airstrip, afterward they were no bother for us.

 

The South Luangwa was much more scenic with the meandering Luangwa river, the lagoons and the ebony forests. Animals were easier to find. The carmine bee eater colonies were one highlight - and of course the leopards.

 

My husband liked the South Luangwa better, I am not so sure myself, I would have liked to stay a little bit longer at Kafue and had time to explore more of the park. I have been reading trip reports from other safari talkers. Most of them have seen the south part of Kafue with the Kafue river. One day I would like to see that part as well.

 

Finally I would like to thank all the safari talkers who have been following our report and also the ones who liked my husband‘s pictures. I enjoyed writing this report.

 

From my own position living in a rich country with a good health system I follow the Corona situation in Africa on Safari Talk and in the news and see how the people are struggling to cope with it and think how fortunate I am. I hope the situation will not get worse and that there will be some positive news soon. We had booked trips to Botswana and Tanzania which have been postponed to unspecified dates and I hope to write about them sometime.

 

 

 

 

 

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BRACQUENE

@Athene

 

I agree with your conclusion: South Luangwa might be more scenic and the sightings a bit more easy to find (if you are keen on walking it is a dream ) but the Kafue gets into your blood especially when you visit it from north to south ( don’t miss Musekese and Nanzilha ) thanks 😊 for your TR!

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Athene

@BRACQUENE Thank you very much for following my trip report and your kind comments:).

I am sure we will return to Zambia and visit all the other places and parks we haven't seen yet.

 

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AKR1

@Athene

Thanks again for your superb trip report- I know it takes significant effort to do a comprehensive one like yours. Your concluding remarks and details on the camps will help others planning a Zambian trip in the future. 

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marg

@Athene    I must tell you how much I have enjoyed your trip report.  Thirteen years we took our first trip to Africa and Tena Tena was our first camp.  Bertram was our guide.  We did return some years later and had Bertram again.  It was so enjoyable to reconnect with him.  Braxton was also there the second time.  Our last trip was two years ago and our last camp was Shumba.  I do not recognize your guide.  You did not mention the balloon ride, maybe next time.  We were scheduled to have five nights there this summer but have moved the trip to next year.  This area is so different from from the places we usually go to.  We think that it is beautiful.  And, agree that the game is not as easy to find.  But, we think worth the search..  Unlike @BRACQUENE's comments the only place where we have been truly disappointed in the game viewing is Musekese.  South Luangwa and Busanga Plains are a great combination in terms of  landscape and sighting experiences.  So different.  Have fun planning your next adventure!

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Athene

@AKR1 Thanks for following the report and for your encouragement. You are right, writing a report and even just sorting the pictures takes much longer than you think at the beginning. For myself, reading other peoples reports helps me a lot with my planning.

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Athene

@marg Thank you again for your kind words. I read your report about the South Luangwa valley and Kafue and enjoyed it very much. We found Bertram laid back and easy going even after his encounter with the lions he was pretty cool:). When we were there he was busy with the photographer Dana Allen (maybe you know of him, he does a lot of photography for Wilderness Safaris). We didn't do a balloon ride, as we only had two days and OH was a bit disappointed with the last one we did in the Masai Mara. Hope you have a good time next year in Botswana and Kafue. Say hello to the Papyrus pride for me!

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Biko
Posted (edited)

@Athene I very much enjoyed your trip report and your husbands photographs. They help to keep me dreaming of SLNP, because I have to wait another year before I go to South Luangwa, as I have postponed my trip to Luangwa River Camp and Nsefu camp. I also appreciate your comments on camps and parks, it is very useful to read the different experiences people had. 

Edited by Biko

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Athene

@Biko Thank you very much for following our trip report and your kind comments. South Luangwa is a beautiful a park with an abundance of animals. We loved the game drives along the river. I hope you will like the Luangwa River Camp as much as we did.

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Atravelynn
Posted (edited)

Through page 3, you have fabulous shots!  You mentioned the softer, better lighting at night at your first camp.  Well, you had great light all day long too. It shone just right on the Pel's Fishing Owl!  Even the birthing bushbuck's newborn that was delivered on your doorstep is bathed in beautiful light.  What more can you ask for?  Maybe wonderful lion cub activity in Busanga Plains!

 

What a trip!

Edited by Atravelynn

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Athene

@Atravelynn glad you're enjoying the report. Wishing I could be in Africa now!

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