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Zim Girl

Nick had put our trail cam up by the waterhole in front of the hide.  We didn't get anything too unusual, but here are a couple of low angle pics of two elephants.

(Ignore the date on the cam, we had forgotten to reset it after charging the batteries)

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Jen and Nick had told us about their newly acquired camp dogs and at lunch they let them out to see us.  A boy and a girl and both very mischievous.  Anyone who remembers Chuckles, she is an old lady now and resides with John and Carol.

 

Chessa the girl, sitting nicely for us.

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Although easily distracted by the leaf

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So cute.

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Here is Jen trying to show us how well trained Mac (the boy) is.

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Onto our afternoon drive.

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Very quiet, shhh, don't disturb the animals:ph34r:.  I am hoping I must have been day dreaming and Michael saw the wildlife because I don't have any other pictures!

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Weather is a bit more promising.

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Here was a nice surprise.  John and Carol had put on a champagne sundowner for us all, as a thank you for us visiting them again.

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On our way back to camp we swung by the leopard tree.  She was on the ground under the tree initially but then climbed back up to the impala carcass for a bit.  We waited and she came down again and walked in the direction of the river.

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And there was another nice surprise waiting for us when we returned to camp.  Before we came out I had read that Tafika has a pair of resident wood owls and we were really keen to see them.  The first two nights they were a no show but tonight they were both in the tree above the bar area and Jen and Nick were waiting to point them out to us when we got back.

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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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Peter Connan

Beautiful chameleon and owl!

 

One of your female Bushbuck isn't though...

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pedro maia

I just caught up here, wht a great trip and TR @Zim Girl and @michael-ibk, very nice sightings and photos, difficult to choose some highlights, I´m very enviously looking forward for the rest.

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Zim Girl

For our final drive, we decided to go back to the 'hot springs' area so we could try for the lion cubs again but also to see it in better weather.  It was a lovely, hot sunny morning.

We saw a nicely posing juvenile bateleur eagle on the way through the woodland.

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The hot springs were looking very lush after all that rain the other day.

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We didn't find the lion cubs but Michael spotted a painted snipe in the long grass. (That may have been a better find from his point of view:D).  I will let him post his much better pic of it.

Not content with one, he sees another and he's off and after it.

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We saw some more ground hornbills.

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There were more birds but I don't want to be stealing Michael's thunder:)

 

After a final look round for the lion cubs, which we didn't find, we headed back to the river area.

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Where we stopped for tea break

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and to watch the hippos.

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Oops, I have posted another bird picture:o.    I didn't notice until I looked much later that each of these bee-eaters has an insect in it's mouth.

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Oh look, new guide in training!!

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Carrying on with the drive, we saw an eagle owl fly from a tree and land a short distance away.  However, still in the tree was a juvenile.  We were able to park underneath it. Now if you hadn't already guessed, I am really fond of owls so I was very happy!

 

Uh, oh, strange creatures.  Where has my mum gone?

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Mmm, I can't see her!

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Muummm!!!        Okay, time to leave the poor thing alone now.

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Beautiful scenery.

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And it's goodbye from the Nsefu sector.

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We got back into camp at 10.30 which gave us plenty of time to shower and pack before a final lunch with the Coppingers.

 

Stephen drove us back to Mfuwe airport for our Proflight flight back to Lusaka.  The flight left at 4.40pm with no problems.  It was a full flight and we were back in our masks again.  There were no temperature issues and the transfer driver from Pioneer was ready and waiting for us.  We got to Pioneer at 6.45pm and ordered dinner straight away.

 

Kafue, here we come!

 

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Zim Girl
53 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

Beautiful chameleon and owl!

 

One of your female Bushbuck isn't though...

Oops, absolutely right, Peter.  It is a young male, well spotted. 

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Zim Girl
18 minutes ago, pedro maia said:

I just caught up here, wht a great trip and TR @Zim Girl and @michael-ibk, very nice sightings and photos, difficult to choose some highlights, I´m very enviously looking forward for the rest.

Thank you very much.  Still plenty to go!

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Atravelynn

The night time show continues with the chameleon.

 

I am sure all of the camps were as thrilled to have you as you were to be there.  Every client counts in these times!

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gatoratlarge

Just what I needed!  A vicarious safari!  Thank you---the pics, as always, beautiful!  Love the baby hippo, the leopard lounging above its kill, the carmines, the chameleon!  Thanks for taking us along!

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Great trip report @michael-ibk@Zim GirlSouth Luangwa certainly delivered the goods for you.

 

Fantastic photography and narrative, very much enjoying following along.

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Zim Girl
12 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

The night time show continues with the chameleon.

 

I am sure all of the camps were as thrilled to have you as you were to be there.  Every client counts in these times!

 

All three camps went out of their way to express how thankful they were that we had made the effort to visit them.  Phil Jeffrey at Musekese said on more than one occasion, not to underestimate how grateful himself and the whole team were for our visit.  It was lovely to hear and know that our trip had helped to make a difference.

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Zim Girl
On 12/5/2020 at 11:32 AM, michael-ibk said:

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.

Sorry, replying late to this.

 

I can't believe I forgot to mention this too.  That's the problem with not having a photo and I didn't even have it my notes  -  must have been all the excitement of the leopard sighting!

Huge shame about the rain because I would have loved to have had a better look at it.  Probably just as well though, I would have given Nick and Stephen heart attack when I jumped out to see it:D

 

 

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Zim Girl

Oh, and I have just noticed I have acquired a pith helmet.  

Only taken 8 years but I have finally got there:)

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That chameleon photo is really excellent! And what a timing with all the bee eaters enjoying an insect snack!

 

I've enjoyed the Luangwa/Nsefu part a lot and really look forward to your visit to Kafue.

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BRACQUENE

@Zim Girl

 

Loved everything from your stay at Tafika and what a lovely juvenile eagle owl to finish with : Kafue next so :) paradise is continuing !

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Zim Girl
22 hours ago, LarsS said:

That chameleon photo is really excellent! And what a timing with all the bee eaters enjoying an insect snack!

 

I've enjoyed the Luangwa/Nsefu part a lot and really look forward to your visit to Kafue.

Thank you very much, and those white-fronted bee-eaters were prolific hunters.

18 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

@Zim Girl

 

Loved everything from your stay at Tafika and what a lovely juvenile eagle owl to finish with : Kafue next so :) paradise is continuing !

That juvenile owl was so cute, but he was calling for the adult so we didn't stay too long.

 

8 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

The pith looks lovely on you, @Zim Girl!

Thank you!

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PeterHG

Many lovely photos in your stories! Your Chameleon is really beautiful and I do love your growing Owl collection. That Bee-eater shot with all of them showing their catch is something special! 

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A great trip report. South Luangwa is a wonderful park, and you certainly saw a good number of the star attraction - the leopards (though Michael may pick the Carmines!)

It looks like you had two excellent lodges.

Excellent photos from all of you - and I am sure the company of fellow enthusiasts was very enjoyable (having met all of you, I know the company would be very enjoyable!)

 

It is a treat to be able to read such a report in the current climate. I look forward to the next part!

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michael-ibk

Thank you! @TonyQ, you know I thought of you a couple of times. Still have your fantastic SL report well in mind, and given your avatar picture it was hard not to be reminded of you with all the Puku around. :)

 

Not much to add about Tafika. After the rain storm game density certainly became lower. And about the Hot Springs - well, Stephen told us in advance it´s pretty much an "all or nothing" place. Not much happening there for us. At one point we saw a lot of Crowned Cranes but they were just too far away.

 

So just a few more pictures:

 

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Holub´s Golden Weaver

 

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The Mopane Forest to the Springs.

 

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Blacksmith Lapwing

 

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Jacana

 

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Greater Painted-Snipe - always a good bird to get. Quite the skulker.

 

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Monitor Lizard

 

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Saddle-Billed Stork

 

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Southern Ground Hornbill

 

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White-Fronted Bee-Eater

 

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White-Tailed Mongoose

 

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The Wood Owl in camp - one of my favourite birds this trip. Their call is wonderful.

 

And if you were wondering what bird the "fantastic" photo in my opener was - it´s this one one second later:

 

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Another Elephant Shrew

 

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The young Verreaux´s calling for mum.

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michael-ibk

The hide in camp was not as happening as I hoped but I did sneak in often enough in hope something might.

 

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At one point I got really lucky when an Elephant herd was visiting - a lovely experience.

 

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And that´s it from Tafika, time to head West now. Thanks, Jen, Nick, Stephen, John and Carol!

 

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michael-ibk

We got up early in the morning. Pioneer Camp is on the East of Lusaka, meaning you have to make your way through the city when heading to the Kafue. And traffic, as they say, can be murder there. So crucial to avoid that.We considered choosing an accommodation in the West of the city but apparently there really isn´t something suitable. Our driver arrived perfectly in time, and we departed around 0600 am. And it went well, we were out of the city sooner than expected.

 

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It was a pretty gloomy day, and ever so often it would rain. I dosed off more than once.

 

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If you are wondering why we did not even bother to pull down the window for a photo there´s a simple six-letter-explanation for that: Tse-Tse!

 

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The road to Musekese crosses through an extensive patch of forest, and the bloodsuckers are really bad in here. After a while they are having a party on the car, bzzzing around all the windows, desperately trying to get in and torment you. So a good idea to have a toilet stop before you go in here - I do speak from experience, made that mistake three years ago.

 

But to stress - Tse-Tse are only an issue in the forest. They were no problem at all when gamedriving out from Musekese. Kafue has that reputation as a "Tse-Tse park". That might be warranted in some areas (like the forestline around the Busanga plains) but others like Musekese are perfectly ok. The insects were definitely not worse than in South Luangwa, actually I´d even say less so.

 

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We did not see all that much on our way, I only quickly opened the window for a hasty Hoopoe shot. Later we´d learn we had just missed the Dogs! One guest coming out from Musekese had seen them, so they must have been quite close. Well, this simply was not a Dog trip.

 

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We arrived in camp at 11:45 (just one quick stop at the petrol station, so I´d say almost 5 1/2 hours of driving.) A hearty welcome by Phil Jeffrey and staff - it was wonderful to be back again. We had loved Musekese back in 2017 when we visited with @Atravelynnand @Kitsafari(TR here), and so were very eager to return.

 

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Camp is right at the edge of an extensive dambo, so there´s always something going on.

 

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Bushbuck appreciate the cover camp provides. I wouldn´t say it´s exactly safe here for them - you will see why later.

 

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Puku are always present and sometimes amble by very closely to the tents.

 

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Yes, it was raining a couple of times. :)

 

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Camp is also excellent for birding - I spent a lot of time walking all around camp. African Barred Owlet was one of my best finds.

 

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Schalow´s Turaco is also around.

 

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Tawny-Flanked Prinia

 

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And my favourites, the Red-Throated Twinspots. Gorgeous little birds.

 

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Phil and Ty (who only arrived in camp on our last evening because he was sick) have been busy - completely new tents (five of them now), and I have to say they are absolutely awesome.

 

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Completely open now (but zipped down at night), so you can lie on your bed and just watch life on the dambo. It´s as close to paradise as one can get IMO.

 

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Very spacious and comfortable, and they also added some lights (the only criticism I had the last time). Pretty much perfect.

 

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The bar and sitting area. The great thing about Musekese was it really felt like a very "normal" safari. Camp was busy! Well, busy might be an exxageration, but Ty´s Dad Tony McKeith was there with another international visitor from the UK, and quite a few Zambian residents would pop in and out during our stay. Some very nice people, and it was great having lively dinners with interesting conversations - just as if COVID did not exist.

 

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As it turned out Phil would guide us (always privately, just the four of us) - so great luck again. So, off to the first game drive. Leopards were the Lords of Luangwa, so now it´s time to meet the Kings!

Edited by michael-ibk
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AfricIan

Great shots of those eles @michael-ibk, so much better when you can get that low down. 

Musekese is looking even better than before, so looking forward to experiencing it again in September - such a long time to wait:(

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michael-ibk

It was raining on and off during the afternoon, and we resigned to the fact that we would not see the sun again this day. But even so we soon found something really good - the Musekese Pride Brothers!

 

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These two have been holding on to their kingdom for about three years now.

 

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"My, what big teeth you have."

 

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There was a really breath-takingly disgusting stench in the air. But the boys were not the culprits - after a while Phil noticed it was a dead Honey Badger!

 

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Not exactly the kind of Badger sighting I had been hoping for! :)

 

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I have some history with these lions so it was great to see the Boys again. As Phil pointed out we had been among the very first visitors to see them last time - they had just taken over.

 

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While we certainly appreciated them back then the feeling was not mutual. When I was out of the car to take a low-angle shot the Big Guy really did not approve of that and made that very clear:

 

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The real reason why we all wear Khaki shorts on safari. :)

 

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It was not a completely happy reunion. My heart broke for the big guy. Notice the red stump of a leg?

 

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"Tripod", as he is now called, was snared during the rains in 2017 and lost a leg!

 

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But incredibly he managed to hold on! His brother seems to support him, and together they are still a force to be reckoned with. Sometimes they separate but never for long. Phil said wherever his brother turns up chances are high Tripod (as the slower one) will follow about half a day later. And often enough he waits for him - still two inseparable brothers.

 

As sad it was to see a grand animal like him with such a terrible, man-inflicted wound it really makes for an incredible story of endurance - a snared Lion holding on to a kingdom like Musekese, fencing off possible intruders, and protecting an entire Pride. Fingers crossed they will manage to defend their territory through the rains now! I am confident they will - if Tripod has manged to get by and thrive for three years, surely there must be more for him in the future?

 

He did not really behave in tune with our reverence for his achievements.

 

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We ended the day with G&Ts by the river - so good to be back at Musekese!

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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BRACQUENE

@michael-ibk

Great to witness your departure from Tafika , my first safari camp ever , and your arrival in “The Garden of Eden” with Tripod in the spotlights ; by the way I knew Tony was there because on the 12 th of October he mailed me about and in preparation of my next trip to Mana Pools and the Lower Zambezi and told me that he was in Musekese that the Bush looked beautiful and that he had some amazing sightings ; and I could add some good company as well ;); would have loved to hear the daily stories around the fireplace ! 

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Zim Girl
16 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

@michael-ibk

Great to witness your departure from Tafika , my first safari camp ever , and your arrival in “The Garden of Eden” with Tripod in the spotlights ; by the way I knew Tony was there because on the 12 th of October he mailed me about and in preparation of my next trip to Mana Pools and the Lower Zambezi and told me that he was in Musekese that the Bush looked beautiful and that he had some amazing sightings ; and I could add some good company as well ;); would have loved to hear the daily stories around the fireplace ! 

 

Hi @BRACQUENE, Tony was indeed a very good storyteller.  We found out that Adrian used to stay over and work in the area that Tony grew up and so that produced a lot of banter and 'memories' from the old days etc, etc.

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