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First time in Zambia (September 2020)


ElenaH

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BRACQUENE

@ElenaH

 

On 10/26/2020 at 8:49 PM, ElenaH said:

To re-schedule the second part of the trip and change Mana to Zambia. „Lower Zambezi? It looks like Mana Pools. Let us go where we have never been before and what looks differently!“ So, the idea of Kafue was born.
I read all trip reports about Kafue I found in Safaritalk. You cannot image how helpful it was!! 

 

Sorry I didn't react earlier to this splendid TR and I must admit that in these difficult times every time I read something about Africa and Zambia in particular my heart beats a bit faster thinking of what might have been this year or hopefully will come next summer ! You were very lucky to be there and I can't even imagine how happy I would be to go for a whole month :)

As to the quote above by coincidence I will hopefully be able to combine Mana Pools and the Lower Zambezi in 2021 but I can see the reason why you didn't visit the latter and the Kafue is indeed a dream destination and I am particularly looking forward to that part of your trip with camps I didn't visit ! 

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08.09.2020 - How Hyena and Leopard made a village visit   As the time approached the end of our stay in Croc Valley Camp, I started to take photos of camp's residents with a portrait le

06.09.2020 - 07.09.2020  - Air Display     I love bee-eaters. In Europe not so far from my home we discovered a European Bee-eaters colony and every year I impatiently wait fo

Part One. South Luangwa. - Love is in the Air!   30.08.2020 - 02.09.2020 The Rule Number One   Our flight to Lusaka was OK. My partner Hans got a cold a week before departure 

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@BRACQUENE, thank you very much for nice words. Sometimes reading reports about places you have been before is just like visiting them again. Each picture refreshes your memories and let you live through your trips again. I am happy to get you into Africa at least in your memories and dreams! And I am sure your dreams will come true! And you will tell us what you like more: Mana or Lower Zambezi? Are those two parks really look similar? I am curious to know. The tine will come.

@Biko, thank you for a good rating for my birds photos. Some more comes...

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06.09.2020 - 07.09.2020  - Air Display

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I love bee-eaters. In Europe not so far from my home we discovered a European Bee-eaters colony and every year I impatiently wait for their arrival. Then we visit them again and again, watching them pairing, rising chicks and teaching chicks to fly. And of course, we make a lot of pictures. Somehow it became also a training-your-photo-skills place or testing-your-new-gear place (well, if there is something to test). And they are very difficult to photograph; very fast, erratic, unpredictable.

 

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„Are Carmine Bee-eaters the same?“ I always asked myself. And I started to dream about shooting Carmine Bee-eaters, perhaps even making plans to do a trip … 

As I saw them in South Luangwa it was like a Christmas present I wanted. I flew with them in my mind with my spirit full of happiness! I could photograph them! 

 

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Moreover it was beginning of the breading season, and they made a lot of display, courtship. They danced in the air above South Luangwa river going up and falling down, they kissed or feed each other on the flight. It was just amazing!

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The flying acrobatics was sensational! European Bee-eaters also do such a display, but it was always very short and not with such virtuosity. Here are few photos from Hans:

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I was so excited that I forgot to make an exposure compensation which sometimes could be up to +2 stops for flying birds. Fortunately, it was a nice day, the evening sun lighted small birds and accentuated their red colour. However, I was eager to come again and fix my mistakes.

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a small-talk:

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Especially nice on complimentary colour of foliage:

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Even the mirrorless Nikon Z7 could track them and produce beautiful shots:

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Here you can see how the mirrorless Nikon z7 tracks the bird behind the grass:

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We found one colony in the South and one in the North of the Luangwa bridge. The one in the South was good for the morning light and one in the North for the afternoon light. One day we were on the way to the North colony. But as we were crossing the bridge, I saw a circled tail.

„Leopard!“

We were still on the bridge. It was about half past three. Can you imagine seeing a leopard at half past three in the afternoon in the most frequent road just after the bridge? What is a probability?

„There must a be lot of leopards,“ mentioned Hans, „If we see them crossing the main road during the day…“

„Or maybe it is the same leopard we saw already,“ I thought.

We followed him for a while. Then lost. Tried to drive around and find the other road but didn’t succeed to find him again. At the end we were a bit too late for Bee-eaters, but it was at least a good excuse. I don't have good photos of leopard because it was on the move:

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but I have again some pictures of bee-eaters:

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this time white-fronted.

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and Little Bee-eater:

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no partner?

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Oh, yes! Let's celebrate the life!

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and what would be a chapter of Air Display without that Lilac-breasted Roller:

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or this one:

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or Brown-hooded Kingfisher:

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this Pied Kingfisher seems to have the other problem. When the frog is asking God for help the kingfisher tries to figure out how to swallow it:

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it seems the frog has given up and is ready to go to a paradise. However, I must say he lived in paradise already...

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and not to forget about flying jumbos:

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We met them later on the elephant carcass. White-backed and Lapped-faced vultures in celebration of death:

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and to crown the Air Display chapter a beautiful Fish Eagle calling:

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Well... almost forgot to mention that there were lions sleeping by the Bee-eaters colony. Perhaps they also belong to this chapter. Somebody is interested in Air Display and somebody is not ;-)

 

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@ElenaHI truely admire your flight pictures, sensational Christmas present, and nice to have it at this time of the year!

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Wow!! Terrific pictures of all those birds in flight! Beautiful and interesting to see their behaviour and acrobatic skills :) 

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BRACQUENE

Absolutely awesome pictures @ElenaH; I don’t remember seeing much better than those on safaritalk!!

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michael-ibk

I also love the Carmines, terrific pictures! Is the European colony you´re visiting the one in Weiden?

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Dave Williams

Some superb sightings and you got the memories perfectly recorded in camera to go with them too. 

I see you escaped Austria at just the right time before you too are locked down although maybe not quite as severe as it is here in Wales at the moment!

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@Biko, @LarsS, @BRACQUENE, @michael-ibk, @Dave Williams, thank you for your comments!

@BRACQUENE, I think there are a lot of good photographers in ST! Perhaps they still need to write some TRs and show us their best photos. Actually, I used consumer lens (Sigma 150-600) on D500 and 300/4 on Nikon Z7 known as a camera that will not bring any decent wildlife photos ;-) Maybe I need to open a topic of photographing birds in ST Phototalk? We could collect some tips and tricks from other photographers as well.

@michael-ibk, no, the colony in not in Weiden. It is near Hollabrunn. I think our colony is better. If you are interested to visit it then please PN. Bee-eaters will come around 15th of May.

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Wow wow and wow again ElenaH!!! Breathtakingly beautiful photos of those Bee-eaters and what superb shots of the Lilac-breasted roller.

Truly magnificent. 

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08.09.2020 - How Hyena and Leopard made a village visit

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As the time approached the end of our stay in Croc Valley Camp, I started to take photos of camp's residents with a portrait lens. 

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I tried to come as close as possible. After all these animals are used to humans. 

The fur-pattern of bushbuck is especially adorable:

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As well as this baby and his mom:

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I watched them a while. As soon as baby baboon felt uncomfortable with my presence he went to his mother and she hugged him without asking any questions like that: „What do you want again? Let me be. There is nothing to fear. Go and play….“ Each time she hugged him. Each time. There was nothing more important for this mother. Even not feeding.

 

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Apart from animals I love to take photos of landscapes. And here, in South Luangwa I would be happy just photographing landscapes with birds and occasional hippos or antelopes.

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One morning we stopped in front of a beautiful lagoon with two herons. 

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Suddenly a hyena appeared and walked straight toward us. He had one eye. I assume, it was a male because males suffer attacks of siblings more than females. I made a portrait of his better side. We will meet him again later.

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We also came across those two waterbucks whose fight rather looked like a cuddle. Or perhaps just like a game. Maybe this is why the animals are Game. Or their life is a game? Between the hunter and the hunted…

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We saw also those fighting hippos when we were on a game drive with Simon last day:

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And elephants in a file after they visited a Shoe Store:

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A Rhodesian or Thornicroft’s giraffe has also kind of shoes with heels:

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Zebras have rather slipped socks:

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But they want to be photographed also when hair lack was not strong enough:

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here lack is strong and they pose beautifully:

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We told Simon about the leopard we saw a day before and drove in the bridge vicinity in hope to find him. Suddenly he stoped. 

„There is a leopard,“ he drove back. 

„Where?“ I still couldn’t see him. 

It took me a while to distinguish that good camouflaged cat. Hans went by himself earlier to bee-eaters and as I wrote him on In-Reach he came and passed the leopard as well. :lol:

We decided to spend the rest of the day with this leopard. Hans dropped the car at the gate, and we came back to it. We were only the vehicle on sighting. 

A very comfortable nap:

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A handsome male leopard which probably was the one who greeted us the very first day. As it got darker, the leopard started to yawn.

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It was awakened after a small genet (but large spotted) came and plucked the leopard’s tail. The leopard sat straight and genet run away.

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Meanwhile, it was dark. The leopard stood up and stared walking towards the bridge with full determination. Obviously he had a mission. We followed him. 

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As he arrived the bridge, we lost him. We were staying in the bridge as we saw hyena coming on the road. Our one-eye friend we saw already a day before (the world is small!). Then Simon spotted a leopard who was sitting at the edge of the road watching Hyena.

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Then the leopard went to hyena and pulled his leg. He was clearly teasing hyena. 

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We reversed. And then they stood on the bridge, leopard and hyena and looked at us, waiting. They both wanted to cross. And they were firmly determined. 

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Five or more minutes passed. The vehicle with Mfuwe lodge stuff came to the bridge and our two heroes were blocked. We drove to the side and let the vehicle pass. Then the leopard got courage and passed by our car at about half a meter. 

He stepped down on the village side. Hyena stayed in the park.

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It was an incredible experience and I can describe it also like this.

 

„Hi, Leopard, how are you?“

„You, again, Hyena… I am fine. I don’t have anything for you.“

„No, no, I mean… it is not about the bones..!

„You – and not about the bones? Haha, Hyena, I saw you by the Mfuwe lodge a few days ago. It didn’t look like you wanted to share the bones with your sister…“

„No, it is about those big stinking animals which used to come from the village … Did you notice that they didn't come anymore? I saw only one yesterday in the park. Perhaps they became extinct?“

„Haha, Hyena, no, they do not! A few still come from the village... Maybe they are just sick or found the other place.“

„Oh, yes, I know, Leopard, what can be better place than the village? You go into the village every night. You must have known, of course! So, smart animal like you …“

„You are stalking me, Hyena! You need to hunt by yourself! What do you actually want?“

„Yes, yes, Leopard, I will do… But can you take me into the village? The smell of chicken is so gooood… I am sure I can find something there.“

„Oh, Hyena, you will spoil any hunt with your jokes and laughing and will be spotted!“

„Hahahaha, Leopard, I am already spotted! And you are spotted, as well!“

„Huh.. it is not possible to talk to you seriously, Hyena… Ok, when it will be dark come to the bridge.“

 

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„Hey, Leopard, where have you been so long?“

„Hey, Hyena, you don’t follow the hiding rules! How can you dare to walk on the road? Now we have that stinking big animal here and it doesn’t let us go into the village!“

„I have only one eye, Leopard. I am excused and can walk on he road! But I was so happy to see that stinking animal again! And it is not so stinking… I love to chew its legs!“

„I am sure you would love to chew any one‘s legs, Hyena! And now we have a problem! Did you pay the entry fee to the village?“

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„And you, Leopard?“

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„I did, Hyena! And I can go… Folks, I will go here on the side, ok? Please, keep an eye on Hyena and don’t let her follow me! Bye, Hyena!“

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„Leopard, bring me something from the village! Next time I will have more courage and go with you!“

„Pay your fees, Hyena!“

 

 

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Love your interpretation of the Leopard and Hyena dialog :-)

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Woow |Elena very nice pictures and what amazing experiences with the leopard a hyena.

Great job and thanks for sharing

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thank you, @MartinDTand @JPS! It was indeed very funny to watch those two. We didn't know what would come next, how they behave. I don't spend a lot of time with wild animals like guides do so, I cannot predict. It was very funny and very interesting. According to our guide Simon that leopard visiting the other side not the first time. And it looked also like he knew what he was doing. They both didn't move from the place and waited for us to move :lol: It was really funny. Looks like many animals crossing to the village in the evening and back to the park in the morning. The elephants do cross the river. And we had also a lion in the camp. Probably he crossed using the bridge.

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wow, fantastic interaction of the leopard and hyena! It seems like they knew each other :D

 

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Caracal

Your beautiful landscapes revive special memories of past Luangwa safaris.

I thought the genet leopard interaction was fascinating but then it was followed by the hyena and leopard!

You'll always remember that night drive @ElenaH

 

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@janzin@Caracal, thank you. Yes, I will definitely remember that night drive! The good side of writing reports is also that I do it not only for ST members or guests but also for myself. And it is good to make it right after the trip when memories are still so fresh.

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That's a great leopard-hyena conversation! I like stupid jokes so laughed out loud about the spotted joke :D very interesting sighting and photos of that encounter. But also that little genet had quite some courage to walk to a leopard and play with its tail. Despite being way bigger than a genet, I wouldn't dare to do so.

 

Your landscape photos are beautiful as well. South Luangwa is very interesting. Some scenerys there remind me more of forests here at home in the Netherlands than of African national parks. South Luangwa is so divers, love it.

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2 hours ago, LarsS said:

Despite being way bigger than a genet, I wouldn't dare to do so.

 

@LarsSI wouldn't dare, too :lol: 

South Luangwa is dverse but so Kafue! Sometimes Kafue reminded me Eropean forersts even more than SLNP. I saw there a tree which looked like a beech tree! I need to find out what for trees are there, I always wanted to know more about the trees!

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09.09.2020-11.09.2020 SLNP Nsefu Sector - Landscapes!

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To find the camp was a bit tricky because the google position was not correct but I could see the camp on my offline satellite map. We use offline hybrid or satellite maps in Oruxmaps application for navigation and orientation._DSC7023-Bearbeitet.jpg.3d7934580bdeeb95072e8407bc17f25a.jpg

 

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On our way to the camp, we saw Crowned Cranes but they flew away when we tried to approach them. This place is also marked in google maps as a feeding place for them. We turned towards Luangwa river, saw some general game, drove around and came to the camp. We didn’t meet any game drive vehicle.

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We were the first guests in that season and the only guests during our stay. The stuff was extremely happy and impatient to go for a drive.

The camp review is here: Safari Explorers Camp

 

The view from the camp:

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The next whole day we had game drives with Masumba who was the guide and the manager and John, the tracker. We drove to the hot springs to search lionesses with cubs. They must have been hiding somewhere in this area in the bush. We couldn’t find them. The filming crew who were staying in Tafika camp couldn’t find them as well. However, they had a drone. But lions are very good camouflaged, you could pass a meter from them and didn’t see them. I guess, it is difficult to spot them from above as well, if they don’t move.

The general game is also nice:

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We saw hyenas, pukus, zebras, giraffes, elephants and of course, birds on our drives.

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One from the ugly five. But really ugly?

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what about this hyena? Is it ugly?

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I think, this one looks very nice.

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The driving itself was more difficult than in SLNP and required good 4x4 skills. The landscapes were just stunning.

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Four Brothers:

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And black-and-white attempt:

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The next day we did a morning drive by ourselves. Masumba showed us a Bee-eaters colony where Kaingo camp has a hide. We were just on the other side of the river. We spent some time there when we were on a self-drive.

Of course, again shoot some Bee-eaters:

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and somebody who was interested in Bee-eaters...

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more birds interested in catching a Bee-Eater:

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and a teacher who teach to catch:

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There was also a Glossy Ibis flying with Bee-Eaters:

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the colony in the evening:

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here are some herons, we always passed them when we were driving along the river.

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Croc who is displaying in hope to find a mate:

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Hippos are not interested in croc-display:

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and no the elephants:

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a monitor lizard is warming in the sun (very good camouflaged):

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What looks like mating here is probably not. Apparently elephants are males (just training):

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What would you do if you have 500mm on your crop-camera and Kudus are close? Right. You shoot them as a panorama and stick the pictures later in post. Panoramas are not only for landscapes and wide-angle lens but also for tele-lens. Here is a pano:

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Here is an impala on the painterly background. I love to include a habitat of animals:

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During the first evening drive we saw two different leopards. One of them, a female was hunting geese but she was not successful and walked away.

 

We started the second evening drive earlier and Masumba showed us a Nsefu Camp where he started his career. The camp was closed. Surrounding landscapes and the whole scenery looked for me even better than around Safari Explorers camp. I’d like to come to Nsefu again to photograph landscapes and small scenes.

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We met some giraffes:

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We were looking for a group of nine lions near Nsefu camp. Somebody has reported to see them a day or two before.  But we were not successful again.

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At the end of our stay in Nsefu, we decided to come back to Croc Valley Camp for the next two nights which were not booked. We drove from Croc Valley to Lusaka where we spent a night in our known Wild Dogs Lodge. From there we headed to Kafue.

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12.09.2020 Nsefu - Am I a crane?

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The last morning in Nsefu we decided to spend with Crowned Cranes.

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But this time I decided to change the strategy and do it slowly. We stopped and waited in vehicle, then out of vehicle and I used calls from Robert’s Birds on my phone. The cranes listened. They were relaxed.

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I came closer and closer… At the end I was at about 10-20m and could go further because there was water. The cranes didn’t fly away. They let me come close.

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I asked myself: „Perhaps, I am a crane?“ Who knows… At least they took me as such.

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f you are on a self-drive you can spend as much time as you want with your subject. I was taking pictures of those beautiful birds but I didn’t like the sharpness. Then I changed the lens and did it all again with the other lens.

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Caracal
On 11/4/2020 at 8:24 AM, ElenaH said:

We started the second evening drive earlier and Masumba showed us a Nsefu Camp where he started his career. The camp was closed. Surrounding landscapes and the whole scenery looked for me even better than around Safari Explorers camp.

Are you referring to Robin Pope's Nsefu Camp which consists of rondavels on a beautiful bend of the river? It was the first Safari camp there built in the early 1950's. I've had three memorable stays there (not in the early 50's!)

Much looking forward to your take on Kafue.

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madaboutcheetah

@ElenaH- Thank you for taking the time to write up this trip report and show us your amazing photography!!!  Love every post!

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thank you @madaboutcheetahand @Caracal!

@Caracalyes, the first camp in Nsefu! Masumba mentioned that it was the first one! The location is stunning. All landscapes are from that part of the park, near that camp. The camp was closed and empty :-(

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