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Zim Girl

Musekese was a camp we had hoped to get to for a number of years, so we were really pleased to be able to include it on this trip.

The rooms are spaced out along the path leading from the central dining area. We had room 4 aka 'Fig'.

 

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The rooms are very comfortable and spacious and open to the lagoon in front.

The various antelope happily wander past.

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It was great to see the two brothers from the Musekese pride that afternoon and we ended the day enjoying another beautiful sunset.

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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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Zim Girl

A similar routine to the other camps in the morning.  Breakfast at 5.30am, ready to be out at 6am.

 

After only 20 minutes we came across the big male from last night.  Walking out from the bush, he came towards us and laid down in front of our vehicle.  The light was picking up nicely and he made a very handsome and co-operative model. 

Which we made the most of :)

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'I will just turn so you can get my other side'.

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We finally tore ourselves away from this handsome beast and carried on with the drive.

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We passed by two elephants having a quiet browse.

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Phil decided to take us down to a favourite spot of his which is not in the main game viewing area.

We drove down one of the anti-poaching unit roads and came to a very large clearing with a lovely big lagoon.  This is an area of the park that Phil and Tyrone and the Musekese Conservation project has worked hard with and is now flourishing with wildlife.  

Admittedly today it was a bit quiet because of the rain there had been recently but there was lots of puku and birds and hippo could be seen in the distance.

 

The end of the track to the lagoon, the clearing extends way beyond and behind the trees to the right.

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African Openbill

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Time for morning tea break

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Phil checking out what's around.

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The pictures really don't do the area justice as the sun had disappeared so it was a bit dull, but it was a very beautiful and serene place to be.

 

As we were travelling back through a wooded area, Phil stopped the vehicle and got out  -  we had a flat!!

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He radioed Gilbert (the other guide) to come and meet us with a jack so he could change the tyre.  No problem waiting, it gave Michael a chance to wander off in search of birds:).

 

We were following the river and watched as two more elephants wandered along the bank.

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We got back into camp at 11.30am with lunch ready at 12.00.

Lunch being prepared.

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View out onto the lagoon.

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Waterbuck shimmering in the sunlight.

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Zim Girl
19 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

This report continues to provide me great joy, thank you @Zim Girland @michael-ibk

Very nice of you to say so, thank you Peter.

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On 12/13/2020 at 8:13 PM, michael-ibk said:

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Schalow´s Turaco is also around.

 

Could a bird be more Zambian? I mean, this is practically a flying flag ;)

 

 

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So great to see the lion brothers again in your TR. Really looking forward to updates from them after the rains. I think they have a good chance of protecting their pride, although you never know what happens ofcourse.

 

The new rooms look stunning, I was there only a year ago, but a good excuse to come back.

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Grasshopper_Club

I just found some time to read your TR, fantastic as always!

 

Thank you so much @Zim Girl& @michael-ibk!!!  For bringing up this TR and and sharing all the sightings with us, so cool you've mad it to Zambia during that crazy CV-year...

 

Great information indeed as well and thanks very much @michael-ibkfor your recommendation of these FFP2 masks in regards of the flights. Good to have that in mind for my planned March trip to Zim/South Africa...fingers crossed. Planning during these times is absolutely awkward, I've seen that information on Emirates as well in regards of the requirement for the transit through Dubai if departing from Lusaka, negative PCR test required even if your final destination doesn't require one. But only hidden in the small details of their explanations in regards of the transit mechanism....All the small details and clarification with airlines and insurance and the never changing flood of new regulations and changes are consuming endless time...

 

But honestly, are u mad showing us all these dozens of Leopard sightings/pictures??:lol::D One better than the other? Absolutely amazing pictures of these Leopards...drinking...daytime....with kills....on the tree.....one better than the other on a tree....I'm jealous I must admit:D

 

Absolutely stellar sightings you had on your trip! The Bateleur pics are my favourites among all these great bird pictures...and of course these Carmines with those stunning backgrounds only Luangwa can deliver...

 

I will keep my eyes peeled for the next posts in your fantasctic TR, keep it going!

 

I've just paid up my deposit last week for a 3 weeks pure Kafue trip next year, June/July @ Musekese/Ntemwa among others naturally..:D This keeps the mood in good spirit, apart from reading your fine TR...

 

 

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Kitsafari

Musekesee rooms had a huge upgrade! I'm not sure how I would have felt if i had such an open room back in 2017 when the two brothers were practically at my room's doorstep though...... :wacko:

 

I'm curious though  - i recall that Ty and Phil had wanted to keep to the bush vibe, the wild remote feel that they wanted to extend into the rooms, hence the lack of bright lights back then. have they changed their thinking then? the upgrades look quite plush compared with the old rooms which I absolutely loved, not that I would complain if I were there sleeping in the updated very comfy-looking rooms. 

 

The brothers aged very finely - the lion in the morning is so gorgeous. I'm so impressed with Tripod - i had read his story in the FB pages but wasn't sure if it was one of the two males we had seen in 2017. May he and his Bro live long and prosper still.

 

 

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Atravelynn

"He did not really behave in tune with our reverence for his achievements."  He marches to his own tune. 

Nice your fav hoopoe showed up, along with everything else.

 

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michael-ibk

A few more pictures from our first day:

 

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Early in the morning there was some hope that the sun would fight its way through but the weather insisted on remaining decidedly British. Of course I blame Angie and Adrian. :P

 

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But for a short time we had a very nice glow on "Blondie" - that´s what Phil calls him at least.

 

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I confess I am not the biggest Lion fan in the world (especially when they are sluggardly lying around) but these two brothers are such powerful, impressive specimens, I enjoyed seeing them a lot.

 

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"You better pal, or ...!"

 

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Intermediate Egret

 

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Cattle Egret sporting its actually rather nice breeding plumage

 

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Safaritalk´s favourite birds - Cisticolas! Who does not absolutely love them?:rolleyes:

 

When we left the main viewing area to get to "Phil´s Secret Lagoon" it was very noticable how much more skittish most animals became all of a sudden.

 

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Oribi ...

 

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... Waterbuck ...

 

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... or Kudu, everything bolted as soon as we came in sight. But also a sign what difference a camp like Musekese can make. They have more or less secured "their" area, and the animals seem to know - and appreciate - that. It´s fantastic how fast two passionate people can make such a difference and turn a wildlife area around.

 

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This second stay firmly cemented Musekese as my favourite camp. I love the wild, really "out there" feel of the area. And more importantly Phil and Ty have such a passion, such love for their little patch of the Kafue that it´s hard not to get infected. They have done such amazing work - not only the camp itself which is doing wonders for the place. They have also come up with Musekese Conservation. Their goal: "We help to provide resources for conservation projects working across the Musekese-Lumbeya area. Our primary focus is to establish law enforcement and research initiatives that contribute to the preservation of wildlife and communities within the Kafue National Park." And they already have achieved outstanding results: Almost 5000 days of patrol, 137 Traps/Snares and + 1500 kg/Bushmeat recovered, 6500+ km on foot.

 

If you are looking for a good wildlife cause to support for Christmas, New Year and/or afterwards please do consider them:

 

https://www.musekeseconservation.com/support-us

 

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"Uhm, yeah, slightly embarrased by that.":)

 

On 12/14/2020 at 4:41 PM, Zim Girl said:

No problem waiting, it gave Michael a chance to wander off in search of birds:).

 

Not much around actually, will some critter do?

 

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This is one of these insanely loud Bush Cicadas (which sometimes are in the annoying habit of peeing on you.)

 

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Back in the game viewing area - and animals are relaxed again.

 

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Since we´ve only shown massacred Warthogs so far in this report some live ones do have the right to be featured as well.

 

In the afternoon the plan was to go on the boat. But it was raining during our siesta, and it looked even worse when it was time to go. Dark, heavy clouds looming, and so we chickened out and went on another game drive.

 

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We met Tripod again, not far from the place where his brother had been in the morning. Proof of Phil´s claim that he´s mostly half a day behind. Our hearts went out for him, his limping really had become bad again.

 

 

A bird I had long wanted to see - a Racket-Tailed Roller!

 

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But the weather had really become menacing now - Phil decided we had to abort and dashed back to camp. And the heavens really opened in force then, a huge deluge came down on us. It was a cold evening - I was even wearing socks for dinner! And btw, James Bond would instantly have exposed me as a Russian spy - had Red Wine with the (delicious) Fish Curry. :)

Edited by michael-ibk
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michael-ibk

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A very mystical misty morning awaited us the next day.

 

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But hooray, the mist soon dissipated, and it would turn out to become a proper hot and sunny day! :)

 

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Just in case you are missing Puku.

 

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Great Egret hunting on the Lagoon.

 

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Most Elephants had wandered off because of the rains.

 

The lagoon - or dambo - is such a magical, almost fairy-tale like place, I could stay there all day.

 

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Hamerkop

 

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Another Painted-Snipe for me - of course a skulker as they all are. I almost fell into the water trying to approach it.

 

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Malachite - a Kingfisher only really possible to get good photos on a boat. Far trickier to approach on foot.

 

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Knob-Billed Duck, the only of the trip. Quite a dull bird in this stage but I do like them a lot when they are breeding - compare with this photo I took in February in Tanzania:

 

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Time to move on - there were Vultures in the sky, and that could only mean predators close by.

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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michael-ibk

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The lions had killed a Puku - somewhere in there. Fortunately they were done with eating for a while. One female was enjoying the sun.

 

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The others preferred the shadows.

 

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We were delighted to meet the cubs. The future of the Musekese pride. If Blondie and Tripod manage to defend their kingdom through the rains they will make it - fingers crossed.

 

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IIRC there were four cubs, two females and a young male. So all together the Musekese Pride number nine lions.

 

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Plain-Backed Pipit. I was a bit reprimanded because I photographed this one instead of the Lions. B)

 

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But everybody wanted a photo of the Lapped-Faceds later. As Vultures go they are seriously cool birds.

 

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Back to the river:

 

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Ashy Flycatcher

 

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Crombec

 

As the Leopard we were searching for wanted nothing to do with us we returned to the dambo.

 

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Several pairs of Wattled Cranes are living here.

 

Since it was such a nice day all the Pukus were just enjoying themselves.

 

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Or maybe they were all practicing for a dancing competition they are having later in the year, I don´t know.

 

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They got the moves!

 

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michael-ibk
On 12/13/2020 at 11:04 PM, BRACQUENE said:

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 ! 

 

Thanks @BRACQUENE, I do hope you will make it back soon! Tafika is a really strong opener for a safari career. :-)

 

On 12/14/2020 at 6:02 PM, Peter Connan said:

This report continues to provide me great joy,

 

Thanks @Peter Connan, almost on the finishing line now unfortunately!

 

On 12/16/2020 at 4:36 PM, LarsS said:

So great to see the lion brothers again in your TR. Really looking forward to updates from them after the rains. I think they have a good chance of protecting their pride, although you never know what happens ofcourse.The new rooms look stunning, I was there only a year ago, but a good excuse to come back.

 

Who needs an excuse to go back? :)

 

On 12/17/2020 at 1:10 AM, Grasshopper_Club said:

All the small details and clarification with airlines and insurance and the never changing flood of new regulations and changes are consuming endless time...

 

Yes, such a challenge, but so much worth it.

 

On 12/17/2020 at 1:10 AM, Grasshopper_Club said:

But honestly, are u mad showing us all these dozens of Leopard sightings/pictures??:lol::D One better than the other? Absolutely amazing pictures of these Leopards...drinking...daytime....with kills....on the tree.....one better than the other on a tree....I'm jealous I must admit

 

Thanks! We were really happy that South Luangwa had fully lived up to its Leopard reputation for us!

 

On 12/17/2020 at 1:10 AM, Grasshopper_Club said:

I've just paid up my deposit last week for a 3 weeks pure Kafue trip next year, June/July @ Musekese/Ntemwa among others naturally..:D This keeps the mood in good spirit, apart from reading your fine TR...

 

Wow, sounds fantastic, I´m already jealous. Phil mentioned you btw, I´m sure they all look forward to seeing you again.

 

On 12/17/2020 at 8:42 AM, Kitsafari said:

Musekesee rooms had a huge upgrade! I'm not sure how I would have felt if i had such an open room back in 2017 when the two brothers were practically at my room's doorstep though...... 

 

You would have felt like we felt! This very afternoon we were informed via the Walkie-Talkies that we should not leave our tents after lunch. The lions were right in camp, by the kitchen. (Not the last time btw as you will see.) I confess I also wondered how we should behave if one or more Lions would happen to walk by. (My solution was just to  freeze and whimper "Help" in the walkie in a tone pitch that would make any soprano proud. ) It happens, and they do stick close to the treeline - so close to the tents. I actually went out with Gilbert to take a look at the lions but when we got there they were barely visible in the middle of the shrubbery behind the kitchen I didn´t even take a picture. Later this afternoon a Leopard also walked right through camp. All of this certainly added a certain spice to my usual afternoon birding strolls in camp.

 

On 12/17/2020 at 8:42 AM, Kitsafari said:

I'm curious though  - i recall that Ty and Phil had wanted to keep to the bush vibe, the wild remote feel that they wanted to extend into the rooms, hence the lack of bright lights back then. have they changed their thinking then? the upgrades look quite plush compared with the old rooms which I absolutely loved, not that I would complain if I were there sleeping in the updated very comfy-looking rooms. 

 

No, not at all. I really think they´ve done a great job. Camp feels as authentic and wild as ever, just a bit bigger and more comfortable. And the view is of course much better all open like this. And since they completely zip it down at night I felt just as safe as in the old ones. And it´s not like they have full electric light now. Just one constant bulb in the bathroom, and a few portable solars, that´s it.

 

On 12/17/2020 at 5:06 PM, Atravelynn said:

Nice your fav hoopoe showed up, along with everything else.

 

Thanks Lynn, everything did its very best to keep us in a good mood.

 

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BRACQUENE

The return to Tafika twice postponed is now scheduled  if all goes well for July 2022 together with some serious walking in both North and South Luangwa NP

Thanks @michael-ibk

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AfricIan
18 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

The lagoon - or dambo - is such a magical, almost fairy-tale like place, I could stay there all day.

 

Musekese at dawn, can anywhere be better?  Such evocative photos

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TravelMore
On 11/19/2020 at 9:02 PM, AKR1 said:

@michael-ibkWhat a fantastic teaser- with your usual stunning photograph. But it’s not about that. It’s all about actually doing an African safari in 2020- this awful year. It takes guts to actually do it. You absolutely deserve the pristine parks to yourselves, devoid of tourists, for only the truly brave ( or insane:o) Safaritalkers would undertake going deep into the bush in these terrible times. Look forward to virtually accompanying you. Thanks for sharing your experiences with the rest of us poor folks in some form of lockdown. 

ok, so I'm R e a l l y late to this party.  Had I known a group of you were going, I might have been willing to pull a mysterious leave absence from work!!! OMG I am GREEN with envy but super happy for all of you.  Ok, I'm only at the beginning but BRAVO, the introduction!  Again BRAVO the first photos.  and BRAVO what everyone has commented so far!

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TravelMore
On 11/25/2020 at 8:24 AM, Zim Girl said:

Just one or two pictures to add to the morning drive.

 

Andreas taking that beautiful sunrise shot.

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Impala everywhere

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We were only an hour into the drive when Adrian called out “leopard”.  Wow, already? Surely we can’t be that lucky!!  Unluckily, he wasn’t hanging around, I hoped this wasn't going to be my only picture of a leopard.

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This elephant was walking up from his morning mud bath for a nice back rub against the tree.

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Lot and lots of hippo lounging in the river

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Morning tea break was at 8.30am next to the river.

Michael can always find a bird somewhere to take a picture of.  If you look carefully you can see that single vehicle we came across in the top RH corner.

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I think I have spotted a bird Michael has missed :D

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Finally a couple more shots of that beautiful scenery.

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We got back to the house at 11.00am and this time we had giraffe waiting to welcome us.

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I found myself a monitor lizard crawling out from under the deck.

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Round the side of the house the resident gardener was keeping the lawn in check.

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After lunch we spotted the elephant family coming back to see us.

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I had to wake this one up to watch!!  (This is what happens when you are too well fed in hot weather)

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The elephants were after a good old wallow in the mud.

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Later, after the ele's had finished having fun, the giraffe came back to see us.

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An assortment of sizes here.

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Adrian caught myself and Michael trying to creep down the deck to get a closer look.

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Oops, spotted!

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On with the afternoon drive and first we stopped off at the carmine bee-eater colony on the riverbank.

So now Michael is in his element:).   He will no doubt regale you with a raft of stunning shots so I won't linger too long with mine.

 

It was a lovely setting and you wouldn't know from this picture, but there are dozens of carmines flying round behind me with a very happy Austrian chasing them!

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"Please take my picture too, these pesky birds get all the attention"

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Another day, another sunset!

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So now we were into the night drive.

 

During the afternoon I had asked Michael for a few tips on night photography.  I have never taken a decent night shot in my life and I was determined to rectify this. 

 

So, change to spot metering and (rather counter-intuitively, I thought), UNDEREXPOSE.  Mmm, really?, oh, because of the spotlight, I see!!  Well, hopefully my little bridge camera will manage that.

 

We saw civet and we saw porcupine.  No, you are not seeing my attempts at those!  Not going well this, must do better!

 

Then,  all of a sudden,  in the dark,  (just trying to ratchet up the tension here),  we saw it!    (Well, Jona saw it, but that's just detail).

 

Sitting in front of us, the golden spotted beauty of my dreams:wub:

 

Ok, so I have built that up, lets hope I can do it justice.

It was the male leopard from this morning with the wound on his neck, obviously feeling guilty he ran off without giving us a good picture and now he was going to make up for it.

 

Aren't I beautiful?  Not my best side at the moment though.

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Is that a bit better?

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Hello!!  What's going on here then!

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Just that irritating hyena getting in my space again!    He obviously hasn't read the rules on social distancing!

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Well, I know when I'm not welcome.

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Do you want my picture too?

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Now he's gone I can get a bit of kip!

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But hang on, there's something I need to do first.

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Can't go to bed without a final drink.

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Now, have you all got your pictures??

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Well, I had just died and gone to heaven!  The best leopard sighting we have ever had!

 

I will pass it over to Michael to show you some proper night photography but I was pleased enough!

 

 

I would have died and gone to heaven!  Your pics are fantastic!

 

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Zim Girl
On 12/19/2020 at 8:16 PM, michael-ibk said:

Safaritalk´s favourite birds - Cisticolas! Who does not absolutely love them?:rolleyes:

You sneaked that in, I thought there was a ban on you looking for them!! :D

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Zim Girl

That morning was utterly gorgeous with the golden light bathing the grazing puku .......

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...... and the low lying mist hugging the lagoon.

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Such a gloriously peaceful place!

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Soon the mist cleared and we got our beautiful blue sky day.  See, we are good weather omens after all @michael-ibk:).

 

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It was lovely to run into the Musekese pride, laying just by the roadside.  Phil is a self-confessed 'lion man', and is massively passionate about this pride. 

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Sub-adult male

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One of the cubs, approx 8 mths old.

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We spent our tea break at the lagoon which was teeming with puku - can't keep away from the place.

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Then before getting back to camp, we came across the Musekese pride again.

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One of the cubs looking like butter wouldn't melt

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Or maybe not!!!

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Zim Girl

Finally this afternoon with the weather being much better, we could take our first boat trip along the river.

One of the boats is moored just a short drive from camp.

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Plenty of room to spread out with just the four of us and Phil steering at the back.

So we all had different objectives.  I wanted monitor lizards and leopards.  Michael was looking forward to skimmers.  Andreas desperately wanted to find the half-collared kingfisher he missed seeing on his last visit, and Adrian just likes being on boats.

 

We set off, carefully searching the riverbank.

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Up first was a couple of elephants out for an afternoon stroll.

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"Mmm, surprising what you can find floating in the river"

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A bit more searching .....

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..... produced my monitor lizard.  I am a bit of a herp fan and could actually watch them all day even if they aren't moving :), but we had a kingfisher to find.

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Not this!!

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But eventually after a bit of a chase we finally caught up with one.  Andreas was very happy indeed.  Michael will show you a better version, but for now ....

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We reached Skimmer Island.  This is where we stop and have sundowners.  Unfortunately there wasn't much skimmer activity and the few actually on the island were a bit far away for me but I am sure Michael will have something to show you.

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A highlight of the afternoon was the beautiful sunset on the way back up river.  P1300719c.jpg.36ce43e72e4cdcd5b50fd6b7aa22bc24.jpg

 

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A lovely way to end the day!

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BRACQUENE

@Zim Girl

 

Those boat trips (or boat safaris) at Musekese with Phil as captain remain  for me the high point in my two weeks Kafue ; as I  said elsewhere the Kafue is not and probably never will be about sheer numbers of animals but for diversity ( also in flora ) it is one of the most rewarding in Africa ( especially for those who love Antilopes like Ruaha NP in Tanzania  ) and you only realise how beautiful and huge it is when going by landrover from north to south like we did  ; only yesterday we discussed safari at the dinner table which we do a lot since Covid-19 changed our lives  and for my son Willem who went to Ruaha and the Kafue with us , the latter was the one he preferred be it slightly ; All could change of course if we make it in July 2021 to Mana Pools:rolleyes: and visit that iconic NP amongst safaritalkers !! 

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Caracal

Loving it all of course but I'm specially drawn to those photos from both of you with the misty morn, elephant with attendant cattle egret and peacefully grazing puku.

 

Oh for a dawn and a new day in Africa!

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AfricIan
10 hours ago, Caracal said:

Oh for a dawn and a new day in Africa!

 

And so say all of us!!!

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