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A group of roan antelopes in the mopane-dotted plains area right next to the Nanzhila River.  The roan here are shyer than those on the Busanga Plains, but with patience, they are still approachable.



There are many southern reedbucks in the area.  This is a huge specimen.



Long-crested eagle



This fellow couldn't give a damn about us



Night drives can be very productive at Nanzhila



Not a brilliant photo of a black-cheeked lovebird (left).  Black-cheeked lovebirds tend to favor mopane and Acacia sieberiana.  Along the Nanzhila River, and better yet in an area called Chilenje, they

can be seen fairly easily.  They are twitchy, however, and good photographs are hard to come by, at least for this photographer.



Lions killing a warthog in 2018.  Back in 2009 when I first visited the area, there were only tracks and glimpses of lions.



The lioness in the very back had the most piercing yellow eyes I had ever seen.



Looks can indeed kill



She was the most intense and watchful one in the pride






Gentler eyes of Stephen, one of the DNPW rangers


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Lilian's lovebirds from the Mwamba hide   A line of Cookson's wildebeests       This zebra was hanging out close to Mwamba in 2018.  That's Benson and Sly.

Kudus and impalas from the Mwamba camp hide   Zebras from the same hide   Panicked Cookson's wildebeests   A pair of buffalos   This buffalo

To echo the sentiment of  @Wild Dogger, coronavirus madness leads me to yet another trip report.   I know this much… twice is twice as good as once.  So good was my 2016 safari to Zambia, as

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Steve and Cindy Smith.  Much of the conservation success of the southern end of Kafue can be attributed to their hard work for the past decade-plus.



Warthogs in a hurry



Nanzhila is the best place in Africa to see Lichtenstein's hartebeest.



Part of the big group of cheetahs seen in 2018









A pond in the Chilenje area.  In the dry season, the Nanzhila River nearly dries up.  Leftover pools on the Nanzhila and ponds such as this one become the only source of water for the animals.






A lone bull roan in an area called Mafuta.  When re-growth after a proper burn occurs on Mafuta, the area is a magnate for wildlife.



A fiery-necked nightjar.  This mostly nocturnal bird is rarely seen during the day because of its camouflage.  Steve and Benson had to direct me for about a minute before I could make it out,

even though it was merely 40 feet from me.



A view from the mess deck



A kudu feeding on one of the termite islands on the plain.



Nanzhila is a great place to observe serval






Sausage tree near camp




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Brings back a lot of memories for me as you might know from my report on my Trans Kafue Sa





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My emotions made me react to quickly : Brings indeed a lot of memories back from my altogether memorable Trans Kafue Safari in september 2019  : Nanzilha was a special place indeed  like being part of a family with Steve and Cindy and Shawn their son ; the cheetah " kill "  in the early morning  ; the honeybadger  by day ( I don't know if it is the same one ?) ; the porcupine at night !! and the Sable on the Busanga Plains 

If heaven would exist ! Thanks a lot 

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Thank you.  Agree on all fronts regarding Nanzhila Plains.  I did read your TR just now.  I am surprised you did not see sable or roan at Nanzhila.  Anyhow, it's one of those places that delivers something special if one is willing to work hard.  Many self-drivers who move fairly quickly through the area don't seem to see much.  It's a place you really need to spend some time at... then you get richly rewarded.

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@BRACQUENE I will undoubtedly make another visit to Kafue and will include 3 or 4 nights at Nanzilha Plaiins Camp as well as another stay at Musekese Camp

and it's satellite camp. 

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Thank  you ; I must be honest : the extreme drought in 2019 made sightings not always easy and we were indeed not very lucky at the time  , although in variety we saw a lot ( see my report )  but not in numbers , not even in Busanga ( only two lonely male Sable ) or Musekese where if you read @LarsS or @Atravelynn a month later they had  amazing sightings of lions in front of the camp  : so next time I will return in the suicide month that's for sure  !

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1 hour ago, Safaridude said:

Nanzhila Plains Camp is one of the few places where the owners (Steve and Cindy Smith) actually host.  This adds an extra homey touch to the place, and indeed for me and Benson the camp has become somewhat of a home away from home.


Loving this @Safaridude - after five visits Nanzhila feels like "a home away from home" to me too. Steve and Cindy were due to open a small tented camp this year near the lake and Musa River and I had hopes of returning next year and including that as well. Have to see what happens now. In the meantime I'm so enjoying this return through your superb photos.

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One of the few good things about this bad situation is you putting out the reports of these two trips. Amazing photos @safaridude.  I haven’t been to Zambia yet but Kafue on the list. 

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Another truly exceptional trip report. As others said, this is one of the few true treats - virtually going back to the bush- during these difficult times. Thanks very much for doing this, K. Keep safe. 

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Would gladly join you both there enjoying the view of the waterhole , reading a book of the library and observing the domestic fruit bat hanging on the ceiling !

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Part II – the North


The air is thicker and more moist up north on the Busanga Plains.  Amongst a sea of grass, there are burnt patches giving off a sweet and spicy scent of torched swards.  The more north you go the wetter, with red lechwes, pukus, hippos and various waterfowl in abundance.  Whether it’s the layer of ground fog partially obscuring the morning lechwes or the hazy “Zambian” sunsets, the place just grabs you.  Lion sightings are always good, provided the plains are dry enough (usually from August on) for you to get to them.  Elephants are more visible and less cheeky than in the past.  Crowned and wattled cranes are guarantees.  With hard work, specialties such as rosy-throated or Fullerborn’s longclaws can be spotted.  Roan antelopes form unusually big breeding herds on the plains and are highly accommodating.  For sable, you need to get a bit lucky – the airstrip area or the tsetse-ridden road toward Lushimba are best – unless they come out to the edge of the plains (late in the season) to drink.  Leopard sightings are surprisingly frequent for such an open landscape (leopards like the sparse palm islands on the plains).  Cheetahs and wild dogs keep to the woodland and make occasional hunting forays onto the plains, trying best to avoid the lions.


I find Busanga Bush Camp (“BBC”) to be just right.  In fact in 2018, the place was humming – as well-managed as any camp in Africa, with great food and thoughtful, neither overbearing nor subservient, service.  Untamed wilderness and the well-run camps to match.  That's Zambia.



On cool mornings, a layer of fog envelopes the Busanga Plains



Busanga (as well as Nanzhila) is one area where you can count on seeing the endangered wattled crane



There are hippos in the channels that still contain water in the dry season.  This bull was not too happy with our presence.



And he lets us know



When the park was gazetted in 1950, there were fewer than 100 red lechwes counted (due to meat poaching).  Today, there are several thousand, all concentrated on the

Busanga Plains.



A young ram chasing a ewe.



A puku watching a lion watching the balloonists.



This young male was seen in 2016






There is usually one big herd of several hundred buffalos on the plains.






The outdoor dining area at Busanga Bush Camp

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One of the privileges of staying at Busanga Bush Camp (or Shumba Camp, also operated by Wilderness Safaris) is the balloon ride.  The staff fires up the balloon at dawn.



A nice pod of hippos as the sun rises






Flying over a dense woodland in the middle of the plains called Kapinga.  Elephants like to spend the daylight hours in Kapinga.



The morning balloon ride normally ends near the western end of the plains.  In both 2016 and 2018, we continued on west toward Lushimba to look for sable.  This herd was found in 2016.



The herd seen in 2018 in the same area (toward Lushimba)



Rosy-throated longclaw



Fullerborn's longclaw



Some elephants remain cheeky.  This cow gave us an enthusiastic mock-charge.









A typical dry season sunset




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Busanga continues to produce the tamest roan antelopes on the continent.



Kafue lions grow healthy manes






Crowned cranes



A scavenging yellow-billed kite



Camp bushbuck



A group of bachelor red lechwes



A bush fire raging in the night






Leopard seen at night



It turned out she had a cub



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Bush dog



Great!  As you know, I was there just a few days after you left.  I think that young male lion was still there.  Indeed I saw two young males and their mother close to the balloon camp.  It was said to me that they were coming from the western part, somewhere in the area of the rangers station.

Sables can also be seen along the road to the western boundary of the park.

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A drive toward Ntemwa produced a rare sighting... a Ross's turaco out in the open



A long roan bull



A sable bull.  This bull was associated with a breeding herd of 60+ that hung out near the airstrip.  One morning, perhaps two breeding herds temporarily came together, as Benson counted

101 (!) in the herd.



A side view of the same bull



A red lechwe ram



A bachelor group



Two cubs playing with their food



Benson at breakfast



A lion found at dusk



Another cheeky elephant



Leopard cub at night



And that's Zambia for you

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@Bush dog


Another Zambiaphile I need to have a Mosi with...


I think we may be talking about the same road... the western boundary road or Lushimba Road.  The woodland there in the dry season (with the various colors) is absolutely stunning.

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thank you for the stunning photos, as always. So many awesome shots, but many of them so atmospheric and magical. South Luangwa will always be for me one of the most magical of places, and we so long want to return there, and probably combine North luangwa when we do. 


Kafue though had did not hold such great memories for me (except for the great time at Musekese), and is a place I would hesitate to return to. But your portraits of the place present such a marvellous side of Kafue that, maybe, I could be persuaded to change my mind.


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Bush dog



Thanks, Ken, to make things clear.  Indeed, we are talking of the same road where it's also easy to see oribis.  I would certainly like to have a Mosi with you.  Perhaps, one day?

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As always, fascinating photos and a wealth knowledge.


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@Safaridude...I must have been following you.  We were at Shumba Sept. 16 - 20 and @Bush dog was in the area at the same time.  Girls like Mosi too!

Edited by marg
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@Safaridude - was that Honey Badger close to camp? I recall Sir Charles who used to make nightly incursions around and sometimes into the lounge/dining area.


Sharing a Mosi at Nanzhila is a great thought.

I've only visited Busanga once -  in 2007 when I stayed at Kapinga but I can readily relate to your atmospheric photos . Don't recall seeing Sable when I was there but I well remember splendid Roans in golden light, and the misty mornings and..........        Thanks.


PS For anyone reading this thread who wants to learn more about the history of Kafue NP there is an excellent interview that @Safaridude conducted with Steve Smith and the late @Peter de Vere Moss here!-


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The visitor’ s guide to Kafue National Park Zambia Peter de Vere Moss wrote published by the Kafue Trust in 2013 is still the Bible for a visitor to the Park ( even if there has been a change in some camps that are discussed in detail ) not easy to obtain nowadays but I found it on amazon and it has a special place in my heart and my library !

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Yes it's a permanent part of my Africana collection.

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