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We just wanted to go to Portugal, I swear - so how the heck did we end up in Zambia? In October. 2020 that is. The year which will forever be known as the COVID-year. The annus horribilis horribilissi

So, of course the obvious thing to be doing in the middle of a global pandemic, amidst various states of lockdown and with all travel to Africa under an “all but essential travel” advisory from the UK

Just one or two pictures to add to the morning drive.   Andreas taking that beautiful sunrise shot.   Impala everywhere   We were only an hour into the drive wh

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Zubbie15
7 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

Michael hopped out for a better angle.

 

I was hoping the next shot was of Michael riding a buffalo... 

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Caracal
On 11/29/2020 at 2:19 AM, michael-ibk said:

One of the most common safari birds - Helmeted Guineafowl. Maybe not the prettiest ones but their cackling is just part of a game drive - safari music if you will.

 

I have a fondness for these characters of the African Bush - always busy and on the move - I recall that every night at dusk they would gather in groups on the banks of the Luangwa and then fly back across the river to their roosting spots. That was in the Nsefu area if I recall correctly.

 

And yes a large herd of buffaloes speaks of Africa to me too @michael-ibk.

 

Am loving this report @michael-ibk@Zim Girlwith your narratives,  interactions great sightings and wonderful photos. Particularly find the landscapes evocative. They're making me pine for Africa! Am starting to get jealous but keep on keeping on. More please.

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Peter Connan
9 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

Fed up with all these wings you say? 

 

Not even remotely!

 

Lovely shots of the Bee-eaters killing Butterflies, Kingfishers departing and Skimmers skimming!

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@michael-ibk I love your leopard panning-shot! And absolutely jealous about the Skimmers! I didn't get such nice pics in my whole photographic carrier! need again to travel to Africa ;-) just for Skimmers! ;-)

Enoying your collective report a lot :-)

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Zim Girl
16 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

 

Peter, I don´t think I´ve ever seen one outside Zambia. Interesting why they are so easily seen only here - although they do occur all over.

 

We actually had much better daytime views of elephant shrews in the Matopos hills in Zimbabwe.

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BRACQUENE

@michael-ibk

 

 

16 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

On the way back we also saw a Sharpe´s Grysbok - terrible photo but since they are so rarely seen I´ll put it up anyway.

What you find terrible  still looks ok for me even if it is taken whilst running away ! According to the list of my son Willem , who noted everything whilst his dad took the pictures , I saw three in the Kafue around Musekese in  September 2019 ; one photo is in my TR but it isn't "sharp" at all 

Would have loved to sit around the fire to eat that brai :D with you all 

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On 11/27/2020 at 7:57 PM, michael-ibk said:

 

Sorry @LarsS, somehow overlooked this comment. No, it´s not what you think it is. Never feel guilty, it´s just a fact of a birder´s life that non-birders always see the greatest birds by chance. Just last week some people I know saw four Caipercailies (google them - they are really cool!) on a walk in the forest, a bird I´ve been running after for years now! :)

That's too bad for you, but I hope you get a good sighting in the (near) future! The caipercailies is an interesting bird, looks a bit related to a peacock. It states 'don't live in the Netherlands' so you can be assured I won't beat you for spotting that bird. Good luck chasing it!

 

I can imagine it feels frustrating when others spot the bird you're searching for. I had a colleague that had been on safari only once (may be even just one drive) and told me she had seen wild dogs as the first bigger animal. She didn't think they were that special... It took me quite some safaris to finally find them!

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Zim Girl

So a leopard fest during the pm drive was followed by a meat feast back at the house.  Not a bad way to end our stay here.

 

My favourite picture of the sleeping leopard.

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Tomorrow we are off to the Nsefu sector.

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Zim Girl

After a final breakfast overlooking that stunning waterhole, we were ready to leave at 6am.  Jona will be driving us all the way to Tafika camp in Nsefu.

 

The guys who looked after us so well at Luangwa House lined up to say goodbye.

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We drove back to the main road and after a short while turned off onto a smaller road and made our way through dry riverbeds and farmland, eventually reaching the Milyoti Gate at 7.25am.  This is the entrance to the Nsefu sector and Jona stopped for a few minutes to sort out the paperwork.

 

A prize to whoever can ID the strange 'finger-eared' creature we seem to have picked up in the back of the vehicle :D

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We were on our way and enjoying once again beautiful wide open spaces completely to ourselves.

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This group of lions were already trying to keep out of the heat of the sun.  We didn't stay long not wanting to disturb them.

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Water Thick-knee, cute little birds.

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Up ahead we encountered a road block.  A small herd of elephants had just started to cross.P1290186c.jpg.e548f8dbf297849269cf624bb94fffa9.jpg

 

This young one needed a bit of encouragement...

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by Mum, who wasn't overly pleased to see us and gave us a bit of an ear flap.

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'Hang on a minute, I've got an itchy eye'

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'Now where was I?  Oh yes, ear flapping'

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The baby on the other hand, had overcome it's shyness and was now watching us with interest.

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This one was still not quite convinced...

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giving us the 'hard stare',

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but in the end gave up and allowed them all to cross.

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Bravely holding his ground against the four-wheeled intruder.

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This was our tea break spot next to the riverbank.

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By now we were getting close to camp, but first we came across two male lions guarding a well eaten buffalo kill.

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These guys were still waiting for a look in!

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But these two were way too hot to be going off anywhere soon.

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At 11am we reached Tafika.  For Adrian and myself, this is a return visit.  When we were arranging the trip with Doug, we were really pleased to find out they were open (as many camps were not) and that we would be able to stay there.  We had a fantastic time here, and on a walking safari at their bush camps in 2007 so were very excited to be back.

Jen, John and Carol's daughter, (the owners) and her partner Nick have now taken over the daily running of the camp and along with Stephen Banda, who was to be our guide, welcomed us into camp.   Stephen guided us at the bush camps in 2007 and we had requested him to be our guide on this trip.  

We were to be the only guests in camp for the next three nights.  

 

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There is an undercover toilet to the left of this bathroom area and an outdoor shower with running water to the right.

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View from the sunbeds placed at the riverbank opposite the room.

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The main bar and seating area, where lunch was just beginning to be brought out.

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Another seating area where breakfast is taken overlooking the river.

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Jen and Nick joined us for lunch and we enjoyed some more very tasty, excellent food!

 

Lots of excitement to come later............

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Your combined TR is a joy to read and watch! I really love your storytelling and fabulous photos. It feels a bit unjustified to give only one like to a post that contains so much good stuff. I wish I could give extra likes for each individual photo, but won't go as far as listing them in a reaction, because I probably end up listing all of them.

  

On 11/30/2020 at 7:35 PM, michael-ibk said:

What? Fed up with all these wings you say?

 

And yes, including your bird pictures, so don't worry you put in too much. I just keep enjoying them! :) 

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BRACQUENE

@Zim Girl

 

Your arrival at Tafika Camp brings back all those memories for me from 2014 and at the same time regrets that we didn’t make in in July or October this year like planned and now we should be there in 2022 when we focus on North Luangwa  ; I mailed Jen a few times since last year ; she was already in the team in 2014 and I remember her as extremely open and friendly , I spoke her about safaritalk and even tried to convince her to join but I don’t think she has done that until know ; the place hasn’t changed a bit except for the color of the pillows in the main sitting area ;)

Looking forward to your and @michael-ibkadventures in the area 

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Zim Girl

Thank you @LarsSand @BRACQUENE.

 

The afternoon drive started at 4pm after some very delicious cake.

Nick was joining us as spotter as he had a bit more recent knowledge of the area than Stephen.  It was initially very quiet but then we saw the two male lions with the buffalo kill from yesterday.  They were lying in the riverbank probably still digesting their meal.  As in the Mfuwe part of the Park, the riverbank areas here were very sandy due to the flooding earlier in the year.

 

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There was not much else going on until up ahead a group of Puku were making a huge commotion, jumping around and alarm calling.

 

 

We looked in the direction they were looking and we saw a leopard dragging an impala across the ground, there was one other vehicle present, and it appeared we had just missed the kill.

This is a truly awful picture, but here just to set the scene.

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She dragged the impala into the bush surrounding a huge tree.  Us and the other vehicle managed to get a position in the undergrowth just in time to see her try to pull the impala up into the tree.

 

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She couldn't quite manage it and came back down to take a breather at the bottom.

 

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So she decided she would just have to have dinner on the ground instead.

 

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I apologise in advance, but now comes rather a lot of pictures of a leopard eating an impala!   Warning  -  it gets a bit gory towards the end.

 

Settling in for the feast ahead.

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'Mmm, this is a bit tough'

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'Maybe if I stretch it this way'

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'Need another breather after that'

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At this point, Nick asks us if we would like to move around for a better, less obstructed view.  We said yes, and they manage to reverse out and drive back in a bit further round.

The light is starting to fade now.

 

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Getting into the juicy bits now.

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Then suddenly she decides she wants to change position and starts dragging it back further into the undergrowth.

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A bit of nifty driving by Stephen and he manages to get us a view.

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Then luckily she moves again and settles down in the clear.

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Looking a bit tired after all that effort!

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Now we could have stayed all night watching this but Nick was already warning us about some very dark rain clouds coming our way.  We hung on for as long as we could then it was a choice of stay and get extremely wet or make the dash back to camp. 

 

We took the sensible option to go, which is just as well, as no sooner had we got the rain ponchos on then it absolutely bucketed down.  We were hunkered down in our seats trying to keep all the camera gear dry while the rain was lashing over us. 

 

Stephen was driving as quick as he could and Nick, to his credit, was stood up and still gamely spotlighting!!  We could hear him giving us a running commentary of what was going on.  Apparently at one point. there was a gang of hyenas playing around on the bank in the rain, which I am sure would have been amazing to see, but we all stayed huddled under the raincoats.

 

We made it back into camp at 7pm where Jen and the team were ready and waiting to help us get back to our rooms to dry off.

The rain certainly didn't dampen our spirits as being able to watch that leopard was a real highlight for us!

 

 

Edited by Zim Girl
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Awesome leopard sighting!

Question: did you do your gamedrives on the other side of the river then camp? And if so, did you cross the river using a boat or bridge?

Curious about this part of your safari and how it's different compared to Mfuwe sector.

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Awesome sightings and photos, @Zim Girl

I thought that the leopard would open a belly of impala to get everything out and to burry the belly-content and then will bring impala up to the tree. But she started to eat. Probably she was evry hungry? ;-)

@LarsS, I think there is only one Bridge - the Luangwa bridge. And it is far away. I assume that tehy drove in Nsefu sector. It is very interesting place itself and is not crowded even in normal times (without Covid). It is very worth to visit.

If you take a boat then I think you need to be back stil before dark. As far as I know it is not possible to drive a boat at night.  Am I right, @Zim Girl?

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Zim Girl
On 12/3/2020 at 1:28 PM, LarsS said:

Awesome leopard sighting!

Question: did you do your gamedrives on the other side of the river then camp? And if so, did you cross the river using a boat or bridge?

Curious about this part of your safari and how it's different compared to Mfuwe sector.

Hi @LarsS, @ElenaHis correct, we drove in the Nsefu sector which is the same side of the river as Tafika, and it is generally much quieter than the Mfuwe sector.  I know that Tafika uses a boat to cross the river to get to their two walking bushcamps, Chikoko and Crocodile.

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2 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

Hi @LarsS, @ElenaHis correct, we drove in the Nsefu sector which is the same side of the river as Tafika, and it is generally much quieter than the Mfuwe sector.  I know that Tafika uses a boat to cross the river to get to their two walking bushcamps, Chikoko and Crocodile.

Thanks @Zim Girland @ElenaHfor explaining. I've had a better look at the map. At first I thought it was the Nsefue Game Reserve which looks pretty small area far away from Tafika and close to the bridge. Therefore I assumed you headed into the park. Now I've had a good look at it, I realize how much more wilderness there is surrounding the park. I'll keep this in mind for future travels.

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michael-ibk

Many thanks for the nice comments and "Likes" everybody.

 

On 11/30/2020 at 11:11 PM, Biko said:

I love the skimmer pics.

 

 Thanks, they are such cool birds, and I was really happy one of them was kind enough to pass by reasonably close and doing their thing.

 

On 11/30/2020 at 11:25 PM, Zubbie15 said:

I was hoping the next shot was of Michael riding a buffalo...

 

Oooh, a challenge! Accepted! That will happen in the next trip report, promise! B)

 

On 12/1/2020 at 2:05 AM, Caracal said:

I have a fondness for these characters of the African Bush - always busy and on the move

 

I´m glad I´m not the only one who quite likes them. I miss them when they are not around. One trip in Savute I´d always ask "Where are the Guineafowl, we haven´t seen any?"

On 12/1/2020 at 10:07 AM, ElenaH said:

I love your leopard panning-shot!

 

Thank you, it´s not something I do a lot, so I was happy one or two shots worked out ok.

 

On 12/1/2020 at 12:35 PM, BRACQUENE said:

According to the list of my son Willem , who noted everything whilst his dad took the pictures , I saw three in the Kafue around Musekese in  September 2019

 

Interesting, don´t think I´ve ever seen them there. Only in Mana Pools and Lake Itethi-Tezhi.

 

On 12/1/2020 at 12:35 PM, BRACQUENE said:

Would have loved to sit around the fire to eat that brai :D with you all 

 

You´d been welcome - all of you here on ST of course! And there would have been enough food for all of us, the guys at Luangwa House were very generous.

 

On 12/1/2020 at 2:27 PM, LarsS said:

I can imagine it feels frustrating when others spot the bird you're searching for. I had a colleague that had been on safari only once (may be even just one drive) and told me she had seen wild dogs as the first bigger animal. She didn't think they were that special... It took me quite some safaris to finally find them!

 

A bit, yes, but it´s not that bad. One always needs an incentive to go back ... and back ... and back. About firsttimers: One guide in the Kalahari told me they had guests on their very first trip to Africa, on their very first gamedrive. Late afternoon they saw a friggin´ Aardvark!!! They were not impressed at all and asked to move on. He really begged them to stay and explained the significance of the sighting but the just shrugged and said. "It´s a really ugly animal. Please go find some Lions." :)

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michael-ibk

It´s not every day you see a Leopard making a kill, so allow me to add some photos and videos on that fantastic welcome sighting to Tafika.

 

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Timing, timing ... had we not spent one or two minutes with this White-Browed Coucal we might have arrived a bit earlier and could have seen the actual attack.

 

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But no complaints! I am sorry we all apparently haven´t taken photos showing this but there were a lot of Impala and Puku around, all shrieking and barking at the Leopard, and actually approaching the killer. Very interesting behaviour! But I´ve seen that before, they prefer to know exactly where their enemy is.

 

 

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The Leopard was careful, eating for a short while, then getting her head up, listening. With good reason, we could hear Hyena not too far away and were wondering if they´d come in to steal her prize! But this evening the Spotted Cat was lucky, she was not made.

 

 

Here and in the following videos you can hear all the birds in this little forest were absolutely going nuts! That was, however, not because of the Leopard. A Scops Owl was close to us. We could not locate it but clearly hear it. Birds absolutely hate Scops, and they did not calm down for quite a while.

 

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There´s something sad about this kill I only realized at home, and I guess it´s very noticable in this video. That Impala was obviously heavily pregnant. So the Leopard killed two animals here. Just nature, I know, but I´m glad I did not notice at the sighting itself. And I´m very much ok with the fact that we did not see the Leopard pulling the unborn baby out. Must have happened at some point after we left.

 

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On 12/2/2020 at 6:37 PM, Zim Girl said:

We took the sensible option to go, which is just as well, as no sooner had we got the rain ponchos on then it absolutely bucketed down.  We were hunkered down in our seats trying to keep all the camera gear dry while the rain was lashing over us. 

 

Stephen was driving as quick as he could and Nick, to his credit, was stood up and still gamely spotlighting!!  We could hear him giving us a running commentary of what was going on.  Apparently at one point. there was a gang of hyenas playing around on the bank in the rain, which I am sure would have been amazing to see, but we all stayed huddled under the raincoats.

 

I´m not sure we were all that sensible. Nick asked half an hour before we left if we would not like to leave before the rains, and we were: "Nah, What´s a little rain to us, we´ll stay." B) The deluge was really impressive, I thought I´d keep my head out and just get wet, no problem. But it was raining so hard the raindrops were actually hurting, so I always retreated under my poncho again.

 

And I can´t believe @Zim Girlas our Nr. 1 trip snake cuddler forgot to mention a very exciting sighting on the way back home! Stephen hit the brakes hard just after the gate, and was startled. It soon became clear why: A Black Mamba was slowly crossing the street, right in front of us. It was a huge snake, very impressive - and a bit scary. I actually considered getting my camera out, I´ve never had a good Black Mamba sighting before, but it was just too wet for that.

 

Edited by michael-ibk
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The black mamba sighting brings back a memory about a walk Imade with a female guide in Namibia. We were climbing a rocky hill in the early morning sun and suddenly she stops and screams “mamba”. I think she was more frightened than I was, as I did not know anything about this particular snake at that time. Mamba was pretty scared too and disappeared quickly. Haven’t seen one ever since.

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michael-ibk

@BikoWhen Guides are frightened you know you have a problem.:)

 

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A few complementary snippets from this day:

 

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Grey Go-Away-Bird

 

I confess I became a bit uneasy once we entered Nsefu - for about an hour or so game was awefully sparse. But fortunately that changed once we approached the Luangwa again.

 

378_IMG_5901.JPG.b0439071a2d32e3a4da66beffa203101.JPG

 

1147443468_377_Zambia_1215_Hippo(Flupferd).JPG.2233d381e3def2e3bf06d08fc05d8a43.JPG

 

174445574_Zambia_1213_LiliansLovebird(Erdbeerkpfchen).jpg.777b31ab68901a0db50970b2bf692f27.jpg

 

Another try at the enemy - Lilian´s Lovebird.

 

372_Zambia_1208_Elefant.JPG.773bbc2924cdffa0f9f2a9e6394dd1dd.JPG

 

I really enjoyed the Elephant sighting on the way. It was a very peaceful, serene encounter. Great to be in such close proximity with them.

 

 

Mobile video

 

1682823205_381_Zambia_1216_GiantKingfisher(Riesenfischer).JPG.a782a2116ef58c8e2dda387d27e9f2f4.JPG

 

We made an effort for this Giant Kingfisher - I spotted if far away downriver so we drove there to get a better look. We even got out and tried to crawl through the thorny bushes to get close but of course it flew.

 

1730778718_382_Zambia_1226_HoodedVulture(Kappengeier).JPG.ad1aade53a35f98d3d68572e85685511.JPG

 

Birder´s priorities. B)

 

383_IMG_8050.JPG.f144442775de222d5537c7e1ab359eba.JPG

 

White-Backed Vultures waiting for some Buffalo scraps.

 

393_IMG_5923.JPG.81dc620985dd0776794c064f0d9e8b9f.JPG

 

Tafika Camp is wonderful. What a great location by the river. I really liked the chalets - very comfortable and airy but not over the top. Food was excellent, and I really enjoyed chatting with all the members of the Coppinger familiy who took turns at hosting meals.

 

1888909933_Zambia_1268_Orange-BreastedBushshrike(Orangebrustwrger).jpg.92c6095ebd51e939a9d0d39426eba211.jpg

 

And they have some nice birds in camp - Sulphur-Breasted Bushshrike

 

1806742404_Zambia_1267_CardinalWoodpecker(Kardinalspecht).jpg.2618d6c2854b8a983fc06d14ff97d755.jpg

 

1149735963_Zambia_1279_CardinalWoodpecker(Kardinalspecht).jpg.0ca4c46578986ce6a87ed3647342c6af.jpg

 

Cardinal Woodpecker

 

406a_IMG_5933.jpg.147fe833c65e0e2df1a0b4bd266afa22.jpg

 

A beautiful, almost autumn-like leaf carpet

 

1444890408_Zambia_1284_Bushbuck(Buschbock).jpg.2c50d07088a5e2da9b9bd075b0b9a334.jpg

 

Nice male Bushbuck a few hundred metres outside camp

 

 

 

 

Edited by michael-ibk
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2 minutes ago, michael-ibk said:

Tafika camp is wonderful

What- no full-size pool in a bungalow in the midst of pristine bush in deep Africa with four staff to cater to the four of you - strike off the list as that’s an absolute minimum requirement to go on safari now :P

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michael-ibk

@AKR1Standards fall, it´s the way of the universe. :)

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BRACQUENE

@michael-ibk

 

8 minutes ago, michael-ibk said:

Food was excellent, and I really enjoyed chatting with all the members of the Coppinger familiy who took turns at hosting meals.

Tafilka and their camps , as you might know , have a sort of Holy Grail Status for me , call it nostalgia or first safari love or whatever you want but those meals by the river in the garden with at least one member of the family are forever in my memory  and those night photos taken in Tafika and the walking camps have since then a special place in my heart !

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