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First time in Zambia (September 2020)


ElenaH

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PeterHG

Every word you write and every photo you are showing us breathes love for the wildlife and your enjoy,ent of the trip! Amazing photos again of the bee-eaters, leopard, hyenaS and many more!

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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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thank you, @PeterHGit is a very nice comment :) 

1 hour ago, PeterHG said:

breathes love for the wildlife

I hope so! :) however sometimes it is difficult to find the right words in the other than mother language. That is why we take pictures! :)

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13.09.2020 The most beautiful animal?

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We were back to the Croc Valley camp, and it was like getting home. I was really happy to put my Mac on the familiar kitchenette, make a cup of tea, meet the stuff and swim in a huge swimming pool! 

The resident bushbuck came to greet, of course:

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What a wonderful coloration of a simple "general game" just by the door of our chalet.

 

As soon as we came from Nsefu we immediately drove to Bee-eaters. How many photos of Bee-eaters is enough? I don’t know … I just wanted to see them again and the shutter just fired by itself. 

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Buffalos on the way back to the camp:

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We wanted also to see Simon again and booked game drives with him for the next day. 

„Ohh, how are you? Where have you been?“ His face stretched in big smile. 

The elephants were again in the village and in the morning were crossing back to the park. Like during our very first game drive with Simon we drove to meet them. 

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We drove to the south, saw some lion tracks but there was nothing especially interesting except the resting hippo:

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and Verreaux's Eagle-Owl (also resting):

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Some storks interacting. "Jump!" says one to the other:

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„Lions!“ Simon stopped. 

„Where?“ I would pass them definitely. 

Three female and a male were resting in grass. It was a resident group who took down the buffalo few days ago. 

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After a while they start to be nervous, looked in one direction and even stood up. But we didn’t see and didn’t hear anything. As cats they have of course better hearing. It turned alter that they heard leopards mating! 

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We saw that honeymoon couple, too but the male was shy and they were always in the bush. I don't have a good picture of them The vocal was terrific! 

 

In the evening we met the lions again. The were enjoying sunset on the river bank. Pukus grazed on the other side of the river.

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Normally we don’t have coffee break or sundowner but that last day we stopped by the river edge to have some snacks and beer. We were out of the car as I saw a hyena running towards us. 

A hyena had one ear, and I assume it was a male. I thought that he would stop and run away as he saw us. But he continued to run towards us. I could’t believe my eyes! Of course, I had a beer in my hand instead of the camera, but I just didn’t expect something like this. That hyena-boy was in an excellent mood. He wagged his tail enthusiastically and looked like being very happy. He passed us about a few meters, run to the water, jumped there like he was getting a salary-increase or winning a lottery, rolled in the sand making dust clouds with the wagging tail. I took the camera and went to him. 

 

The spirit of that animal was not only extraordinary optimistic, cheerful and bright but also contagious! I couldn't stop smiling! He was beautiful, that hyena-boy! With only one ear, some strange coloration but with such a charisma! It makes sense to return to South Luangwa just to see a that hyena again! Was it for me the most beautiful animal? If the beauty comes from inside then yes… definitely.

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@ElenaHThanks again for your cheerful TR and beautiful pictures. I loved each and everyone of them. It was a very good appetizer for my planned trip to Nsefu Camp in June.

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@Biko, you will be having an amazing trip to Nsefu! The location of the camp is spectacular!

Edited by ElenaH
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Kitsafari

Oh love that one-earred hyena and his lopsided grin. 

 

Stunning shots of the carmine bee-eaters! fantastic acrobatic moves from those beautiful birds. Looking forward to Kafue next.

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thank you @Kitsafari!

Edited by ElenaH
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Soouth Luangwa Summary

 

That’s true there are a lot of leopards in South Luangwa. During our 8 guided game drives in SLNP we saw eight individuals and two on self-drives. In Nsefu sector we saw two individuals. Of course, it is easier to see big cats during the dark ours because of shining eyes and we saw a leopard or two on each guided night drive. My expectation was to see one leopard on the tree but unfortunately we didn’t see one. All of them were on the ground. 

 

The lions are also present in this area and were seen almost on each guided game drive and twice on the self-drives.

It is a very scenic park with a lot of general game and birds, interesting sightings, easy to drive. If you are self-drives I recommend to book guided drives, especially night drives to increase your chances to see predators, kills and other actions. 

 

The budget camps near the bridge are fine, have good guides and reasonable prices. You need to change money and buy food in Lusaka because the dollars are not accepted and the small shops in Kakumbi village have only basic products. The part of the park near the bridge can be very crowded during the high season. In contrary, Nsefu Sector is not crowded and offers the same quality sightings. You can camp in Zikomo.

 

Driving from/to Lusaka takes 9,5-10 hours with breaks. The small town Peetauke lies on a half-way and has tree lodges for the stopover if you don’t want to drive the entire distance. The Old Petauke Road is much shorter (170km) but is not tarred and sometimes requires 4x4 skills. Don’t drive it during the rainy season. The driving time from Petauke through Chipata or through Old Petauke Road is the same (4,5 - 5 hours). 

 

Apart from leopards I loved Carmine Bee-eaters. There are a few colonies along the river, and every bird-photographer will get great shots. Actually, there are a lot of excellent bird-sightings.

People are extremely friendly, hardworking and tactful. 

Will I come again? Yes, I will. Perhaps, I will spend more time in the Nsefu sector if I will be travelling during the high season.

Next part - Kafue.

Edited by ElenaH
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I am so happy to have found your happy and uplifting trip report. Your pictures are truly works of art and I can feel through them your love for each individual animal. What a gift you have. With your art you are giving us a wonderful gift. I love your work and the way you present each animal in its natural setting and in great light. 
very enjoyable and creative writing as well. Wish I could have gone on safari... hoping for next year...

Many thanks for sharing your work!

Liebe Grüße aus Florida von Katrin

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ForWildlife

Very nice tripreport, and so nice to read a tripreport from 2020 from one of my favorite parks!

I think the 3 female and 1 male lion were actually 2 females and 2 males. It seems both boys and 1 one of the females are subadults, all about the same age, possibly a mother with her 3 offspring. One male has a bit more of a developed mane, but you can see it on the other one too, and his head a bigger too.

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safarigirl.se

Thank you @ElenaHfor sharing this amazing trip report! I have had so much fun reading it and dreaming back of our trip to SLNP last year! Such a wonderful place! I love, love, love hyenas and I definitely agree with you about the most beautiful animal, it's all about the spirit! You are such a good photographer, loving every pic! Really looking forward to the next part and I will keep up reading the TR this time. 

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@KaliCAdear Katrin, I am so pleased to read your comment! :-) Thank you very much. Sometimes I need to take a break when I am writing a report because I feel like being out of words and ideas. But your comment getting me back to work! :) it is inspiring!

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@ForWildlife thank you for pointing on male subadult lions!  I didn't notice the mane of the other one and didn't look under the tail :P You are an excellent observer! Probably because you are a researcher. 

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safarigirl.se
9 hours ago, ElenaH said:

oh, thank you, @safarigirl.se! Do you have a TR about your SLNP adventure? 

 

Not yet! But it's coming :) now I'm writing a TR about our self-drive through the Kalahari in feb 2020 :)

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Part Two. Kafue National Park. What a surprise!

15.09.2020 - 16.09.2020 The missing image (Fig Tree Bush Camp of Mukambi Safaris, Kafue)

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We left Wild Dogs Lodge at 6:00 and in half an hour we were already on the other side of Lusaka. The city was waking up; the street markets filled with tomatoes, minibuses with people and streets with traffic. But we were on our way to Kafue and let all that chaos behind us.

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As self-drivers sometimes we have the other kind of sighting: roads. And somehow they belong to this report as well.

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A small pothole:

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The Luangwa Bridge:

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It took 30-45 minutes to make all necessary papers and payments because the officer, a friendly lady, needed to find the books where the visitors records were… and swipe the dust from them.

Well... obviously there were not many self-drivers during the last half-a-year in Kafue.

 

The park looked somehow scraggy and empty. Some places were burned and naked trees looked like a black-and-white graphic. The Fig Tree camp was an Oasis island, a coloured patch in this boring landscape. I step up to a hidden in a Fig Tree tent and as our housekeeper opened a zip I couldn’t believe my eyes: the red, blue and yellow patters jumped and danced around! I turned back to terrace: there were all tones of green along the Shishamba River. Just above my head the Trumpeter Hornbill was crying: „Ohhh, ohhh, I cannot bear that paradise!“ Perhaps, I was blind as I entered Kafue?

 

Our guide and camp manager Brendon went to meet us in Mukambi Safari Lodge. He thought we drove there first. We went to main area and enjoyed this beautiful camp. I saw it in LarsS video, but it was better to see it myself! The camp was awesome. So, that was positive. We didn’t expect much from Kafue. We have never been here, and what we heard about Kafue was poaching, problems and no animals.

It was Safaritalk where I read different stories.

„Well... perhaps we can see lions. At least once in our 4-nights stay in Fig Tree“ I thought. I remembered LarsS sightings and hoped.

 

I decided to outsource camp photos and review in Lodge Reviews sub-forum to keep TR shorter. Here is a review: Fig Tree Bush Camp

 

Brendon was a young enthusiastic man with great ideas. When he spoke his eyes shone and one could see that he was totally taken by the subject, he was in his world and this wold was wilderness and its inhabitants. We immediately liked him.

After lunch which was fantastic and a break we set off to explore Kafue. We were only the guests, alone in the vehicle with Brendon and a tracker (I don’t remember his name.)

Here is Brendon on the left:

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Everywhere were Pukus.

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We saw African Finfoot on the bank of Shishamba River but the bird immediately disappeared.

„I saw the vultures as I drove from Mukambi.“ Brendon showed us big birds. We decided to go a bit off road and check.

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A nice-looking hyena lied in the grass. It wagged its tail and went down to the river.

„There is a leopard!“ said our tracker.

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And there he was! A leopard on the tree in Kafue! The picture I wished, I hoped to have from South Luangwa. My missing image! In Kafue! The place I have it less expected!

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But this is life: sometimes we don’t get something where everybody gets, and it is known as such and then we get something extraordinary where we don’t expect it at all. Maybe we shall never expect something from nature and just trust it and love it like religious people do. Maybe we put nature in stress with expectations? And ourselves as well because we are a part of it…

I felt myself rewarded.

 

A beautiful male blinked through the leaves. He had prepared his dinner. Hyena was waiting for some share. The leopard climbed down the tree, went to the water and posed for us as if he was aware about his beauty.

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We spent some time with him and as it was getting dark we hit the road back to camp. After few minutes Brendon spotted the other leopard. It was a female. There were some Pukus around. I asked to switch off the engine and light and wait. After all we had a lot of nice pictures already and I didn’t like photos taken at night so, we hoped that leopard will hunt. But she vanished. Instead, we saw a serval a few meters away as we switched on the light. He was coming from the other side.

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Wow! That was a day! A first game drive in Kafue! Next day we checked our leopard again and made a few nice shots. One if which was sent to Mukambi office and was published in Mukambi newsletter and Facebook page.

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"Well.. Enough photos!" said the leopard.

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Great leopard shoot @ElenaH! Was the leopard with the tongue sticking out your picture? I remember that one on mukambi's social media.

 

That serval is a really nice sighting!

 

I really hope you did find some lions there and you have become a member of the Kafue fan club. Looking forward to find out more of your trip.

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no, @LarsSthe photo with a tongue is from my partner Hans and this photo was in Mukambi FB site and in newsletter.

And yes, it looks like I belong to Kafue fan club! :D

 

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BRACQUENE
11 hours ago, ElenaH said:

We didn’t expect much from Kafue. We have never been here, and what we heard about Kafue was poaching, problems and no animals.

It was Safaritalk where I read different stories.

I am glad safaritalk changed your vision @ElenaH and I think the Kafue NP is a very rewarding place but it delivers mostly only slowly and as I said before  the diversity in fauna ( the antelopes !) and flora ( when driving from north to south  ) is second to none ( don't expect a lion around every corner ) and in the end it blew me  away as I was very lucky with some sightings ( even if the drought had a negative influence on the numbers last year ! ) 

Great to see you joining the club :)

 

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AfricIan
16 hours ago, ElenaH said:

A leopard on the tree in Kafue!

 

Such a great sighting @ElenaHand welcome to the Safaritalk Kafue Fan Club :D

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@BRACQUENEKafue blew me away absolutely... with wildlife sightings, with diversity in flora and landscapes and with its wild nature. It is huge, still underdeveloped and full of secrets. If not a lion at every corner then it is something else ;-) I can imagine to spend a few years there and explore ;-) Safaritalk changed opinion not only regarding Kafue but also regarding Kenya, Tanzania and what else it will come :-)

5 hours ago, AfricIan said:

welcome to the Safaritalk Kafue Fan Club

thank you, Ian!

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Kitsafari

awesome leopard and serval sightings!

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17.09.2020 - 19.09.2020  Falling in love with Kafue

On 11/13/2020 at 8:32 AM, BRACQUENE said:

don't expect a lion around every corner

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Meanwhile, I fall in love in Kafue trees. Some of them looked like in Europe, and some were very African. Many of them had a treetop looking like a lace skirt upside down.

Solo birds completed the patterns.

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Some trees were like real sculptures; stumps and brunches turned into birds and animals. Many of trees were adorned with yellow and white flowers.

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Animals were not very shy and looked at us with a big interest.

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The next day we met two male lions. But they were on the move. It was in the morning. It looked like one lion chased the other.

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In the afternoon we found a lion pride feeding on a Kudu kill. We missed the kill for about 5 minutes. The lions we saw in the morning were not there. It was a different pride.

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In the evening I decided to put my trap-camera on the road and asked Brendon to escort me because Hans had a teleconference with a colleague.

We walked along the path to the road as Brendon spotted the eyes about 20m away.

"It is a hyena. I saw tracks today near the swimming pool,“ I said.

"Nooo... it is not a hyena. The way how it is moving it must be a lion,“ answered Brendon.

"A lion?? Eh... then we would better go back to the camp,“ I turned and started to walk back.

"Yes, it is better. We will take a vehicle,“ agreed Brendon.

The last few meters I run and jumped steps up to the lounge:

"Lions!“

In this very moment a load roar thundered through the camp. Hans was still talking to his colleague via Skype, and I head him saying:

"Noise? Ah... there are lions!“

Obviously his colleague has asked him what for the noise it is and got that answer like if it was the most normal thing you can hear during the teleconference. His colleague didn’t ask anything else. :lol:

 

It was very exciting. But it was not all. At night the resident leopard came and roared under our tent. I had a feeling it was inside. The lions definitely were on the way to the kill and either they joined or chased the others away. The leopard announced that the camp was his place.

The lion roar within 1m distance has a volume of 114 Dezibel. It is like a flying by aircraft. I don't know about the leopard but it was also very impressive.

 

Unfortunately I got only dark pictured on my trap-cam because the batteries of flash got empty. But there were a lot of dark frames. They will be a secret forever. Do I want to know all Kafue secrets right away? No.

 

In the morning we found two lion males not far away from Kudu kill. It was probably our visitors.

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Especially one lion was very handsome.

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Nervous Pukus:

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During our evening drive we met a male and a female who were obviously from the pride which made a kill because they had full belies but moved towards a huge buffalo herd like shepherd follows his sheep.

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I am not a good film-maker but you can hear alarm calls of Pukus:

 

The next morning was our last game drive before leaving to Busanga and we decided to make it easy and do some birding. We found a Bateleur

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and Tawny Eagle (or Brown Snake Eagle? who can help with identification?).

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Then Brendon spotted a female leopard, but she went to the bush. We tried to come closer but didn’t find her anymore. It was the third individual in 4 days. And to crown it all we found a Hook Bridge Pride resting in a shade of trees.

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But it was not the same pride which made a kill. The members of this one looked very different like for example, this cub who had a very light-coloured eyes:

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The colour of the eyes comes from the father:

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I read about a lion Shy who walked from Busanga to the Hook Bridge area and took over a pride. Perhaps, this lion was Shy?

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This lioness has an amber colour of eyes:

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and so the other two cubs:

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It was a great experience in the Fig Tree Bush camp. Every day we had great sightings. Every game drive we saw lions or leopard or both. The birdlife was great and general game - in abundance. Brendon said we had luck. Maybe was is because we didn’t stress the nature with our expectations ;-)

"Busanga is an amazing place!! You will see yourself! It is much better than here!“ ensured us Brendon when we were leaving.

"What can be better?“ I thought.

But I know what I can tell to @BRACQUENE  : "The lions were almost at every corner.“ :)

 

 

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safarigirl.se

As a catlover, Kafue seems to deliver greatly! :wub: so nice to se a serval, i love their slender body shape and small heads! 

I would be great fun to have a conference call with lions roaring in the background, haha! We are actually thinking of instead of "working from home" to "working from the bush" but i guess it would be tough to keep the concentration on work ;)

 

Looking forward to Bushanga :) great TR so far! 

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18 hours ago, ElenaH said:

In this very moment a load roar thundered through the camp. Hans was still talking to his colleague via Skype, and I head him saying:

"Noise? Ah... there are lions!“

This put a big smile on my face! I totally pictured myself being Hans talking to a friend or colleague over skype.

 

 

I think there's nothing wrong with your video, in fact, there's a lot going on! In a short clip you've captured pukus calling, showed how well the lion blends in the colors of the bush, caught the lion sneezing and ended it with the pukus watching the lion from the distance, a lovely shot.

 

What an amazing experience to have had lion and leopard in camp the same night. And to see so much lions overall. The last pic of the cub is my favourite, so cute with it's eyes popping up from behind a fallen tree.

 

And I really like the panorama of trees with the hornbill on top.

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