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First time in Zambia (September 2020)


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Great sightings in Kafue, awesome photos! Yes, that Eagle looks good for Tawny.

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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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19.09.2020 - 20.09.2020 The Golden Horse. (Kasonso Busanga)



The Roan Antelope (Hippotragus equinus) in German language is a Horse-Antelope, „equinus“ derived from Latin „equus“ and means „horse-like“. 



I’ve never seen such relaxed Roans like in Busanga plains! The late sun coloured them in gold. Somehow, they are our gold…



And it looks like they know about it.





For me they look funny and playful. And the ears? "They are, grandmother, to better hear you... "



After a drive from Fig Tree Bush Camp to Kasonso Busanga what took about 4 hours we decided for a game drive. Our curiosity was enormous.



The place was grand. Everywhere were Lechwes, Pukus, Wildebeest...  In large amounts.







A dugga boy showing his dominance:



There were a lot of birds by the water and in the grass. Our guide Ferrison was known as excellent birder. He not only spotted the birds and understood their behaviour, but he could also imitate their songs! This Rosy-throated Longclaw was singing 5 high notes and 1 low note. The last note was in Terzia or Quinta.. Ferrison was whistling and the bird was repeating. Perhaps he secretly trained those birds to sing? 



Wattled cranes:




Saddle-billed stork:



Yellow-billed storks:



Coppery-tailed Coucal:



This mother (left) was feeding a chick (right). Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention and don't know what for birds they are? Red-capped lark? Can somebody help with identification?



Those Crowned Cranes are an interesting pair, aren't they?





Goliath Heron:



This stork has taken care about his dinner:



We had a beautiful sunset and drove to have our dinner as well. Along the way we spotted a porcupine and a cheetah. The cheetah was resting and didn’t want to be disturbed with a spotlight. It was already very late, and we headed to the camp. 







The camp was great! It was very new, comfortable but not such luxury as Fig Tree. The tent was very spacious and there was a writing table where I could download and process my pictures. My review about the camp is here: Kasonso Busanga


Next day we started very early. It was still dark. We drove to the north passing by closed camps. At night we heard the lion roaring this direction and decided to check. We almost drove to the end of the park but didn’t find a cat. We didn’t have time for other sightings because we were looking for that phantom. We saw two carcasses and Ferrison explained that the animals died a natural death. I was wondering where the predators were. Perhaps there are not predators at all? All Pukus, Lechwes and Zebras were grazing very relaxed and in large numbers as I said. Nobody eats them? Well… We saw a cheetah late in the evening the day before.



Fish eagle with juvenile:






Meanwhile, it was already hot and a clock approached midday. The mood was not so good because we were expecting something extraordinary but instead we were just driving around. 

Hans tried to calm himself: „We had high expectations…“ 

I enjoyed landscapes and general game but also asked myself: „Won't we see any lions?“






In the evening drive we met a Roan relative - a Sable antelope. I was watching how a dominant bull went to a hanging by a bush teenagers and brought them to the herd. A strict father. 







The other bull, this time, a Lechwe obviously wanted to be a father and he was chasing a Lechwe-girl. The other Lechwes were looking at them with an interest.





Again a beautiful sunset and a beautiful sunrise. Will a new day be without predators sightings? 








Edited by ElenaH
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Wow what a great trip report @ElenaHyour photography, particularly birds in flight, is simply stunning!


Thanks so much for sharing!

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Oooh those plains, they are so stunning! What a special place to visit. I remember having sort of the same feeling on our first night drive, when we spotted almost nothing where I hoped/expected to find lion or leopard. In the end, we did find some lions. I hope you did too!


But you'd already find a porcupine and a cheetah! That's pretty special. Loved your roan photos too, didn't realize their ears are so big before you pointed it out :) 

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12 hours ago, ElenaH said:

Red-capped lark? Can somebody help with identification?

 Yes, quite right.


Beautiful Roan, and a super Porcupine picture. The few times I do see them they only show me their backsides, and it´s quite surprising how fast they can be.



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@ElenaH I finally read your magnificent trip report in one setting today- you are both an excellent photographer and compelling story teller. Your report would be wonderful at any time but is particularly appealing during this time of the coronavirus when many of us are locked down. SLNP & Kafue look great through your lens. Agree with others that the carmine bee-eater pictures are the amongst the best I have ever seen. But so are very many of your other exceptional pictures. Your detailed descriptions and pictures of the camps will be most helpful to others.  Thank you for taking the time and effort to do this report and sharing with us. 

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On 11/20/2020 at 10:30 PM, michael-ibk said:

and a super Porcupine picture. The few times I do see them they only show me their backsides, and it´s quite surprising how fast they can be.


Yes a super Porcupine picture indeed.You're charmed @ElenaH! I've seen quite a few but like  @michael-ibkthey've always been on a hurried departure so backsides for me too and I've yet to get a good front or side view.

Loving your report.

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Stunning Busanga pictures , needless to say , I should return there for sure and moreover  I am  particularly intrigued by the last but one , showing a  typical beautiful tree island , with if I am not mistaken a fish eagle sitting on a branch ; a déjà vu feeling when I was there in september 2019 ( you can see him in my TR  and a game on safaritalk I am addicted to :lol: ) and who knows it might be the same one ? 

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@ElenaHFantastic trip report. You had some really good sightings and took some superb photos. 


Porcupine! That is really something to capture so well, and the Cheetah at night. 

As a fan of Kafue the landscapes are truly evocative. Thank you so much for sharing. I will be back there in September 2021.


I can only be grateful to all the 2020 travellers who have shared their experiences with us. The TR's are a huge boost to those of us who did not make it this year. 

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On 11/20/2020 at 9:35 AM, LarsS said:

What a special place to visit

Absolutely! The plains are very special and no one place is looking like that! thank you, @LarsS


On 11/20/2020 at 12:30 PM, michael-ibk said:

super Porcupine picture. The few times I do see them they only show me their backsides, and it´s quite surprising how fast they can be

That is true, @michael-ibk! The photo is from Hans, he has a better gear for night photos ;-)


On 11/22/2020 at 5:13 AM, AKR1 said:

you are both an excellent photographer and compelling story teller

@AKR1 , thank you very much for so many nice words! I am really very pleased and happy you like it! :) Sometimes it is difficult to write in English, it is like you are having a black-out and cannot find the right words ;-) I am happy you like my Carmines! I find myself more and more interested in birds. But those are really very special! Very colourful!


On 11/22/2020 at 9:41 AM, Caracal said:

Yes a super Porcupine picture indeed

thank you @Caracalthe picture is from my partner Hans, not from me ;-) 


On 11/22/2020 at 10:21 AM, BRACQUENE said:

a  typical beautiful tree island , with if I am not mistaken a fish eagle

@BRACQUENEyes, I loved those typical tree islands ;-) The landscapes are really unique. And yes, it is the same fish eagle ;-) What the game are you talking about?


On 11/22/2020 at 11:29 AM, wilddog said:

I will be back there in September 2021

I am already envious ;-) where are you staying? looking forward to your report already 

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Peter Connan

Wow wow wow!


Wonderful sightings, beautiful mystic stories and fabulous photography! Thank you Elena!


However, just one correction, your Glossy Ibis is actually a Hadeda. When the light strikes them nicely, they are surprisingly beautiful birds.

Edited by Peter Connan
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7 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

your Glossy Ibis is actually a Hadeda

you are right, @Peter Connan! I knew it already as but haven't corrected it in the post. Thank you for your nice words!

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21.09.2020, Kasonso Busanga. How a leopard-girl stole a steak from eight lions



„Let’s drive to pelicans, I’d like to take some shots,“ said Hans to Ferrison when getting into the car for an afternoon drive.

„No. I decided to the other place,“ answered Ferrison,“a big heard of buffalo was seen in the South.“

„Ohh.. that’s good!“ I smiled. It is known that buffalos are followed by lions.





We were passing some difficult gullies and narrow bridges which were skillfully overcome by Ferrison. I would not be able to cross them as a self-driver. Busanga is not really suitable for self-drivers because of a very difficult terrain and barely visible roads. Then there were fishers places: fences and tables made from dry grass. 


„Oh, there is a leopard.“ I heard Ferrison saying.

A leopard? In Busanga plains? A leopard, really?


„Over there in the grass.“

And yes, it was really a leopard in the high grass.

We drove closer. The leopard disappeared in the grass. Ohhh.. What’s a pity! A big cat but a shy one!




„There are lions,“ said Ferrison very calmly as if it was just absolutely normal to see a leopard and lions from the same place.

Hopefully, the lions are not shy?



We drove to lions. It looked like a resident pride of eight lions killed the buffalo in the morning. Some of them were eating and the others were still chilling in the high grass. The high grass contains the moisture that evaporates later afternoon and acts like a kind of air-condition. 

Lions love to lie there.





I made a video of eating lions because the acoustic was very impressive. 



The pride originated from Papyrus pride which was spliced some time ago. They were absolutely not shy and walked just beside the car. If would you stretch the hand you could stroke them.



„I saw those lions growing up,“ mentioned Ferrison,“as they were small they wanted to step up to the vehicle and I must chase them away.“

It explained why they were so comfortable with us.





„The leopard is out of the grass. It is coming here,“ said Ferrison.


„It is coming where?“ I couldn’t believe it,“to lions??“

I looked through the 600mm lens. The leopard was moving towards us. Well... towards where we were staying. 



„What it is doing?“ we all started to talk like if we were watching a football match,“there is a male lion just behind!“

„And to the left.“

„And to the right.“

„Oh, no, not there, please.“

„Doesn’t he see them?“

„Is it crazy?“

„To the left!“

„Now the lion will chase him!“

„Oh, no!“

„To the right!“

We were so involved in that match that only a few shots were taken and no video. Can you see the lion behind the leopard here?

„Ohh.. it is a very brave leopard!“ noted Ferrison,“and it is a female!“

Bravo! A female! Who else?


Can you see the lion behind the leopard here?



Here she is looking behind. Note the tree-island.



The same tree-island the lion is passing by:



The lions are coming:







Meanwhile, the leopard got to the neighbouring tree-island. And it seemed the lions didn’t spot her. Or they were just interested in something else. And this something was a good steak!



The sun started to get to the horizon painting all in red colours. The big heard of buffalos stretched in the west. 





We drove to make some shots of buffalos-sunset and bumped into the Mozhi pride. The six lions were lying on the mound. It was perhaps 300m from the other eight. 

„Two days without lions and now you show us 14,“ I smirked to Ferrison. He smiled back,“But those are not skilled enough to kill the buffalo.“


Apropos buffalo. We were so engaged in taking sunset picture that we didn’t realised like the Mozhi pride stood up and walked away. I managed to snap the last three lions going.



We saw the lights of our camp on the west.

On the way back I pictured three Crowned cranes prepared for the night.



We checked the lions. They were happily having their dinner.



The leopard was not invited to the party and patiently waited in her hotel-room.




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22.09.2020 How a leopard-girl stole a steak from eight lions (continue)





In the morning we drove straight to the kill. Nobody was there. A few vultures gathered on the plain. As we approached the spare-ribs, I noticed a movement. It was only a movement of the bush where the spare-ribs lay. Like a wind-blow. Hmm... Was someone there? 



The lions were scattered across the plain: some were to the east by the water and some to the west. But they were about 1 or 2 km away. We drove to them to take some photos. 





They started moving to the kill and on the way they were playing.















„I think, the leopard is there,“ said Ferrison after the while.

„Oh! I also think so!“ confirmed I and remembered the bush movement above the spare ribs I noticed before. But cats could have seen the leopard because they can smell and see better…

And there they were already running to the bush. The next moment we heard a loud growl and the black dots sprinting up to the tree.


Can you spot the leopard?





I could almost hear what the lions were saying:

„Did you see that Pardus-girl? A gall-girl?“

„So a cheeky-thing! She stole our steak! We shall show her who is the boss here! Do you go up the tree?“

„Do I look like I can? You go, bro!“

„Oh, no, I ate too many steaks… They are so heavy…“

„Then we need to wait, buddy.“

„Hey, brothers, what is going on here? I can smell a Pardus-girl!“

„Yes, she stole our steak and is up the tree. You will watch over there.“

„Look, look! She is running! Run, brother, run!“

„Bro, you need to train more!“

„And you need to eat less, buddy!“

„She is gone again.“

„Oh, look, our gals are coming!“

„Let’s go and toss them a bit!“

„Yes, it is better than sitting here and guarding that Pardus-girl!“




Can you spot the leopard in the picture above? She is on the left.


Here she is running to the other tree-island:



And two heavy lions behind:



We drove to lions coming from the other side and spent some time with them.











Afterwards we checked the leopard. She was still there on the tree of a neighbouring tree island.


This shot is made by Nikon Z7 (46MP):



And here is a crop of it:



This image is taken with consumer-gear (Nikon d7200 plus Sigma 150-600mm):



and the same with professional gear (Nikon D850 plus Nikkor 400mm/2.8):





I think that the leopard-girl was more afraid of vehicle than of eight lions ;-)


In the afternoon we drove to check the stage again. All eight were sleeping:



After some time they started to wake up and play. It is always a pleasure to watch the cats enjoying life. I also love to watch domestic cats playing with relish. I learn from them how to relax and enjoy the moment and I charge my energy when I see them so happy.









I tried to film but did struggle with my Nikon Z7. Need to practice more ;-)




It is like a relationship-scene.

"Where have you been?"



"Oh, darling, sorry, I didn't mean it like that. Will you give me a kiss?"



And the happy end:



And the end of my stay in Kasonso. Next stop - KaingU on the banks of Kafue river.

I missed boat cruises a lot already.





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Superb sightings beautifully captured, filmed and described and I love those atmospheric landscapes that make me recall my visit to Busanga.


And now to KaingU - one of my favourite camps - looking forward to your impressions and experiences there.

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  • 4 weeks later...

23.09.2020 Is really South Luangwa a park of many leopards?

We left Kasonso very early because it was not clear for us how long we would actually drive. We estimated a 4 hours drive to M9. We left Busanga Plains and drove along Lufupa river. The scenery was stunning. I wander why there are no camps around. Not only the landscapes and the river were beautiful, but there were leopard-tracks on the road. Sometimes it was a single track and sometimes like mother and a cub. The tracks disappeared and then again were on the road. The road was quite used by those cats!


„We are already following so long those tracks, Hans! Perhaps we will see whom they belong to.“ I said to Hans and asked him to keep the eyes open. But I again didn’t follow the rule number one and prepare my camera. Didn’t I believe in my own words? And there was it! A leopard on the road! Cameras packed in the backpack! He jumped over the road and went to the tree where he sat and looked at us. 


„Elena! When I am driving you need to be prepared!“ Said Hans and he was right. I was still starring at the cat trying to figure out if I can manage to open the backpack, get my camera, open an objective, check the settings and make a shot before the leopard will vanish. He was still there. I turned, opened backpack, grabbed the camera and … „Well, you are too slow!“ Said the leopard and vanished. I managed only to make a snapshot of his behind showing that it was a male leopard. When will I learn to follow the rules?



The leopard was definitely male:



It showed that the area between Shumba Scout camp and Moshi road is abounded of leopards.. Here the first waypoint was made as wee saw the tracks and the second way point is leopard:



We reached M9 and took the way which was suggested by google. According to the google there was a road from Pinnon Lodge toward the South along the Kafue river. We drove a bit but the road just disappeared… We were searching for it on foot but without any success. Only tsetse flies were happy to make a few bites. 

It looks like it was a road there but it wasn't. So, don't take it ;-)



We drove back to M9 and then around on D769 and then to KaingU. The road to King was good labeled. From D769 it took us about an hour to get to the lodge. So it was the right drive:


It looks like a long drive around but it is correct.


We were met by Julia, a co-owner: „We have covid-prices if you’d like to take a tent.“ Firstly we checked a Chiefs Campsite. The campsite was just a dream!! It makes sense to visit KaingU just for that campsite! My review and photos you can see here: KaingU Lodge


The only drawback was that the campsite didn’t have electricity. Laziness and comfort won over the stunning view and we moved to the tent. Oh, And what a beautiful tent it was!! Everywhere were small beautiful things made of natural materials. Even light switches were something special. I immediately fall in love with that beautiful lodge and felt very comfortable.

For the next day we booked a game drive in the morning and a boat cruise in the afternoon.








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24.09.2020 - 25.09.2020 Birds, birds, birds!



It was nice early in the morning to float in the river. The river was still sleeping… Or perhaps, not. The hippos were coming into the water. Huge stones decorated the shores and stunning landscapes reflected in the smooth water mirror.





We changed to the vehicle and drove along the main road named also Spinal road. The road was in a very good condition. Lately we turned to some loops. This part of the park looked somehow empty at the first sight. Later Kudus, pukus, impalas and Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest greeted us. We checked some waterholes but they were empty.





Little bee-eater:



Beautiful flowers of two colours. Unfortunately I don't know the name of the tree:



It was not an extraordinary drive but very pleasant one.


The boat cruise brought high-key, low-key and sunset shots of birds.

African Wattled Lapwing:



and here is a breeding pair:



and here is a pair of bee-eaters:



A beautiful Kafue scenery. Hmm.. or rather absolutely ordinary Kafue scenery you see every day:





a few Low-Key photos of White-breasted Cormorant:







And African Darter:



Or high-key:



Or high-key of Half-Collared King-Fisher:



Or the other Kingfisher. Malachite:



The feather of Hadeda Ibis shine on the sun:



The the father of African Darter must be dried:



But with the setting sun it looks even better:





More bee-eaters:





This Cormorant wanted to stop us:



here is an Egret in breeding plumage:



and here is a bird I am not sure about the identification. Rock Pranticola?









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I need to post one picture from Nsefu sector again. This time modified! 


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Peter Connan

Thank you amd to you!

Those bird photos are beautiful. Especially the Darter against the yellow and the Hadida!

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Beautiful! Indeed, that's a a Rock Pratincole, great bird to see. Merry Christmas! 

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Lovely bird pictures! I've never seen an African Darter with that blue color, stunning!


Merry christmas to you too!

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18 hours ago, ElenaH said:

A beautiful Kafue scenery. Hmm.. or rather absolutely ordinary Kafue scenery you see every day:


Exactly, and so well captured in your photos.


Thanks so much for taking us along and a very Merry Christmas to you as well

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