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Zim Girl
On 12/22/2020 at 11:50 AM, BRACQUENE said:

@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 !! 

The boat trips were very special indeed @BRACQUENE.  I can see why you enjoyed them so much.

But I am sure you would also enjoy Mana Pools, which is one of my very favourite parks!

 

On 12/22/2020 at 2:38 PM, Towlersonsafari said:

i am so enjoying this report Merry christmas1 @Zim Girland @michael-ibk

Thank you very much @Towlersonsafariand Merry Christmas and hopefully a happier New Year!

 

On 12/22/2020 at 11:28 PM, Caracal said:

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!

The mornings spent on the lagoons were wonderful.  We were very lucky to have this chance to enjoy Africa this year.

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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

When we arrived at Musekese, we gave Phil our trail camera and he set it up along the path that leads from the main rest area to the small car park where the game vehicles are kept.

This picture of a leopard was taken at 5.14am, so not long before we walked past to go down to breakfast!

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Zim Girl

It was a glorious start to our last full day in the Kafue.  We drove along the edges of the lagoon areas enjoying the beautiful light.

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Exploring the grassland, shimmering in a burnished glow.

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These male puku were indulging in a bit of early morning sparring.

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Then much to Phil's delight we found all 6 cubs of the Musekese pride together.  This was the first time for a few days they had all been seen and he had been a bit worried about them.  You can see in one of the pictures they look quite skinny, but Phil assured us they are looking a lot better than they did and he is pleased with their progress.

 

Bit of a lion cub fest coming up but they were very cute.  This first one also wants to show us his 'scary' face!

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All six cubs can just be seen below.

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Some lovely interaction between the cubs.

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Then one by one they get up and go to join the sub-adult male that is lying a short distance away.

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Leaving these two having a final play before moving off.

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We went back to the lagoon for morning tea.

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Then drove alongside the river for a while.

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We came across a small group of elephants who were quietly browsing among the trees.  They seemed quite relaxed and slowly ambled away after a while.

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But then a few minutes later the female turned and decided she didn't like the idea of us being there anymore and mock charged us.

That puku had to make a quick leap out of the way!

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The whole thing just lasted a few seconds then calm was restored again.  We were to see similar but also more interesting elephant behaviour later in the day.

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Just as we were driving back into camp we saw this Tawny eagle being attacked by some White-crested helmutshrikes. There is one flying in from the top right and another

on the branch to the left of the tawny's head.

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Back at camp we enjoyed a very nice lunch while watching the very chilled resident wildlife in the lagoon.

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BRACQUENE

@Zim Girl

 

Marvelous , as always and  fascinating to witness  how the mood of those elephants can change in the blink of an eye ! 

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Biko

@Zim GirlGreat sightings, lovely “scary” face cub.

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ElenaH

Love your shots, @Zim Girl! Lions, Pukus, Ellies! And stories! 

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Grasshopper_Club

@Zim GirlThanks for sharing these wonderful pictures. Great to see these Lion Cubs and the dambo in full life!

 

Wonderful light you had in October, not to harsh and nice bright blue skies. I assume this had something to do with the rain you've witnessed? As the early mist you had the days earlier was as well most unusual for this time I would suppose. Can't remember having seen that so late in the dry season. Usually in June/July...

 

 

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Zim Girl
22 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

@Zim Girl

 

Marvelous , as always and  fascinating to witness  how the mood of those elephants can change in the blink of an eye ! 

We were to witness more interesting mood changes later in the day.

19 hours ago, Biko said:

@Zim GirlGreat sightings, lovely “scary” face cub.

Thank you.  The lion cubs together were lovely to watch.

13 hours ago, ElenaH said:

Love your shots, @Zim Girl! Lions, Pukus, Ellies! And stories! 

Thank you very much, Elena.

12 hours ago, Grasshopper_Club said:

@Zim GirlThanks for sharing these wonderful pictures. Great to see these Lion Cubs and the dambo in full life!

 

Wonderful light you had in October, not to harsh and nice bright blue skies. I assume this had something to do with the rain you've witnessed? As the early mist you had the days earlier was as well most unusual for this time I would suppose. Can't remember having seen that so late in the dry season. Usually in June/July...

 

 

Thank you, and it was certainly good to see the blue sky after all that rain, which I am sure will have caused the morning mists.

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michael-ibk

Sorry for the long break - got lazy during Christmas.:)

 

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So Angie has already covered our last morning - or actually the start to our last full day to be exact. A few additional birdy snippets:

 

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Levaillant´s Cuckoo (actually sneaked in from the previous afternoon).

 

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Unfortunately this green Snake was much too quick to get a real picture. Phil told us what it was (no Boomslang, no Vine Snake) but I forgot.

 

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 A young Batis - first time I´ve seen one. Even saw the parents feed it but enjoyed watching that too much to take a pictures.

 

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The Lion Cubs were this drive´s highlight but Angie already covered that so just two photos.

 

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A bit distant and therefore heavily cropped - but this was our only sighting of a White-Headed Vulture.

 

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A very nicely coloured Tawny Eagle I think - very creamy.

 

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Our familar Grey Heron - still quite a photogenic bird though.

 

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Pied Kingfisher looking for prey

 

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Great Egret passing by

 

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Befor the matriarch got a bit cross with us (see above) the Ele familiy was very relaxed - always a joy watching familiy interactions, especially the little ones.

 

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Playtime is over!

 

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African Wattled Lapwing

 

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A nice Red-Headed Weaver in breeding plumage.

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michael-ibk

My last opportunity to do some camp birding - it´s amazing how much there can be found at Musekese. The close presence of the lions made me double-check every twisting twig. Not only had they been in camp the day before - in the evening the lioness tried to kill Puku and was then walking by our dinner table less than 20 metres out on the dambo. We just saw all the Puku jump jump jump and then Phil interrupted our chatter with a very firm "Everybody stay very still". We did - it was a magnificent moment seeing this alpha predator on the job just next to us while having dinner. A good thing she was not interested in us for dinner. :)

 

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A picture taken from my bed - Bushbuck really appreciate the relative safety camp provides.

 

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Ashy Flycatcher

 

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I stalked the Turacos for quite a while until I found them - fortunately their call is easy to recognize (a bit like a dog).

 

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An arboreal Terrestrial Brownbul

 

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Collared Palm-Thrush

 

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Böhm´s Bee-Eater are a delightful specialty at home around Musekese - but this time they were very shy. Just found one distant bird.

 

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My main target always - the Red-Throated Twinspot. A fantastic looking little chap - I´ve only ever seen them here. They are not too shy but I had to walk up and down and around the kitchen and back and left and right to find them. Last time there was a sizable flock, this time only a pair - or maybe several pairs, not sure about that.

 

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michael-ibk

We debated a bit what to do for our last afternoon - OTOH, we had a bit unlucky with Leopard and considered searching for one again. Others in camp had had terrific sightings - a young girl there with her dad (a camp manager) proudly showed us pitch-perfect Leopard on a Termite Mount pictures she had taken with her mobile in the evening light! Several Leopards have become quite cool about cars in the last years, a big change from when we were first there. And Phil almost felt a bit guilty that he had not found one yet - he had told us "No problem, you´ll see one" at the start.

 

But we had had such good sightings in S. Luangwa that Leopard was not that big a deal. And the boat is such a relaxing, peaceful thing to do that we unanimously decided for the river again. But we could not get there without interruptions.

 

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A young Bateleur drying its wings? You see this kind of things with Herons mainly but I´ve never seen an Eagle do it just like that.

 

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This was a really weird sighting - this Oribi (normally a super-shy Antelope) was just lying in the middle of the road. Even when we stopped it did not flinch. Phil then even got out of the car to check this out and it stayed put. He was standing at hand´s length from it - no reaction. All of a sudden its instincts did kick in and it jumped up and ran. But just for a bit, then it stopped, turned and watched us for minutes.

 

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Obviously this animal was not ok. There were no visible injuries. It just seemed like it was done with the world. Maybe a snake bite? Or maybe it was just very old - unlikely, but I prefer to think that it had a good full Oribi life behind it and was now ready to make its maker. In this state it would not make it very much longer, and I´m sure it´s long gone. Quite a sad sighting.

 

Our adrenaline level kicked into high gear when we passed an Elephant herd again.

 

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These were not the friendly animals we had seen in the last few days. These Elephants were absolutely terrified by our presence - they hated us and made that very clear. There was a lot of grumbling and trumpeting going on, and more than once we faced some mock charges. Unfortunately I always started to video after they were at their most impressive - and a bit scary I have to say.

 

 

Phil was trying to soothe them and talked very gently to them. He mused the herd must have come from outside the relative safety of the corner of Musekese. Remember, the Kafue is a huge park, and in many areas poaching still is a huge issue.

 

 

They were mortified by us, and we really felt guilty about that. But it was not really an option to just drive on before they had settled - this was a big herd, with individuals all around us, and I guess it was not easy for Phil to judge how they would react to the engines and the car moving.

 

 

Then something quite fascinating happened. Another herd arrived at the scene, there was a lot of Elephant Talk going on, that deep grumble that goes right through your body. And after a while the first herd seemed to calm down. What had just happened? Had the "locals" in a way told their kin that we were ok, that there was nothing to be afraid of? Impossible to know of course  - but a really intriguing encounter which (as so often) really makes you think about the extent of Elephants intelligence and capability to communicate.

 

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michael-ibk

 

Ah, the Kafue river. One of my favourite places in Africa, and one of my favourite things to do. Total peace - total tranquility.

 

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African Darter

 

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The black and white roots of the banks are fascinating - @Atravelynnfocused much more on them in her recent report, even making them headliners.

 

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Admittedly I´m also sneaking in some stuff from our first afternoon here. :)

 

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Blacksmith Lapwing

 

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Captain Phil. I´ll say it again. A really top guide - one of the very best IMO.

 

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A heavy crop without light - but an Albino Baby Baboon is so rare it deserves to be shown.

 

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Finfoot is a birder´s treat here on the river - as they mostly do it was finfooting away as soon as it saw us.

 

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I´m often tempted to let my hands glide with the boat in the water on the river - and then I always reconsider. :)

 

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Not everything is friendly in here. This one really does not seem to trust us that much.

 

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Lesser Masked Weaver. I love watching these tiny master architects at work.

 

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Giant Kingfisher - first he played hard to get.

 

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And then all of a sudden decided that he was too lazy to fly off.

 

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Pied Kingfisher

 

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And a repeat of one of the birding crown jewels here - the Half-Collared Kingfisher.

 

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Hughie here is always guarding a shallow part of the river. Phil has to go by very slowly, and he never fails to entertain.

 

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michael-ibk

And as it turned out our decision did not have to be "Leopard or River".

 

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We had Leopard and River! Yeah! They do like to come out and relax by the river when it´s hot (much like the Pantanal´s Jaguars). We did not hold out much hope for that, it was a pretty gloomy afternoon. But there she was. :)

 

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At first she was sceptical about us, got up and we feared the worst - one step farther up and she´d be invisible. But then she relaxed again.

 

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And seemed to say "Hi guys, nice seeing you here, I´ve been waiting for you."

 

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Leopards are such magnificent animals, and what a great farewell present this was from the Kafue for us!

 

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It lasted only a few minutes though, then she had enough of all this attention.

 

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This is Skimmer Island. The birds are breeding here, and when the conditions are right they fly around, often doing their skimming thing. We were not very lucky with them this time, few of them were around, fewer wanted to fly, and if the did they went off the other way.

 

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I was delighted to see a Chick - breeding confirmation. They are a sensitive, declining species so spots like these are super-important for them.

 

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Almost at the end now - Cheers everybody, pleasure sharing this with you all!

 

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(Sorry for omitting @AndMichere - someone´s gotta take the pictures though.)

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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michael-ibk

We had to leave very early next morning - it´s a long drive to the airport and we wanted to be there at noon or a little later for our 1500 flight. No problems getting out of Zambia btw but we were lucky - just a few days afterwards they introduced a new rule (effective immediately) that required a COVID test before departure as well! Phew, bless our timing, this would not have been fun. Lucky again! But as it was our drive to Lusaka was quite smooth - except for the car having a problem, after a while the gear was stuck - in fifth gear! Fortunately that happened out on the main road, and our driver somehow managed. At the outskirts of Lusaka another car was sent to pick us up, so all was good. This is Africa after all - you can always make a plan. :)

 

Our last morning in camp was very exciting - we were all down on the deck when Tony whistled and signalled us. "Phil - the Lions are back in camp. Right here!" Wow! I had broken safari rule Nr. 1 and had already packed my camera. Mistake. Went up to the bar and the Lions walked by really, really close! Coffee is one way to get awake in the morning - let me tell you this is much, much more effective! I was so excited that I even held my mobile the wrong way - shame! (I hope Angie and Adrian have a better video.)

 

 

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And our drive out to the main road was also very pleasant. Yes, lots of TseTse (one in the car had feasted, quite fascinating to see the blood sack it now was carrying) - but also lots of Antelope specials.

 

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Lichtenstein´s Hartebeest

 

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Reedbuck. The broken forest might be a bit scary with all the bloodsuckers but many species prefer this habitat to the more open game viewing areas.

 

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A single Roan. They are common up on the Busanga Plains but much harder to find here - had not seen one last time around Musekese.

 

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The highlight was a Sable herd! Probably my favourite Antelope, and the rich Chestnut-coloured animals here are particularly attractive.

 

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Of course I´ll cross the finish line with a bird. What, what else did you expect from me? :)

 

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And that´s it from me, over and out. I´m sure Angie will add some more. Thanks everybody for reading along, liking and commenting. We were really lucky to do this trip, the stars just aligned the right way. I won´t lie, there were worries before we went - but it was so much worth it. A wonderful safari under very special circumstances, I´m happy we took this chance. Great sightings, great company, great camps - Zambia is Africa at its best, and of course it was a uniqe opportunity to experience S. Luangwa without people. I hope I´ve made it clear how fantastic Musekese is - will certainly be back time and time again.

 

And I sincerely, truly hope that the situation will be much different for the 2021 season - so much depends on it. Not in the next two or three months obviously, but all my fingers crossed that we all can soon enjoy trips at least in the later part of the year again.

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BRACQUENE
1 hour ago, michael-ibk said:

Ah, the Kafue river. One of my favourite places in Africa, and one of my favourite things to do. Total peace - total tranquility.

I couldn’t agree more ; and at Musekese it's the river safaris I will remember most even more than the morning walks and the drives .

 

1 hour ago, michael-ibk said:

 

Captain Phil. I´ll say it again. A really top guide - one of the very best IMO.

I have been very lucky until now with guiding on safari but Phil is definitely in a league of his own ; the gentle but at the same time passionate way in which he communicated us his immense knowledge was unforgettable ; and as captain the new mustache suits him well 😊

 

Many thanks  @michael-ibkfor this memorable TR ! 

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LarsS

What a great ending of your stay at Musekese. Lots of lovely photos again. But that lion video. I hold my breath watching it. What an amazing experience!

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Caracal
6 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

this Oribi (normally a super-shy Antelope)

Strange you've found that @michael-ibkas I've not thought of Oribi as shy antelopes. They're quite common in pairs down on Nanzhila Plains where I've often had them just stand and stare at our vehicle.

Never seen anything like that young Tawny Eagle drying its wings. So much to enjoy throughout.

Many thanks @michael-ibk@Zim Girlfor taking me on a vicarious return to Luangwa & Kafue with this special report.

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pedro maia

Amazing stuff, those lions inside the camp, I don´t know how confortable I would be in such a situation.

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Zim Girl

The elephant encounter in the afternoon was really interesting to watch.  The second group certainly appeared to calm down the very agitated ones.  Here are some more pics from when we first saw them peering at us through the trees to them lining up to charge.

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Phil was very calm throughout and also said another reason he didn't want to move away from them was that he wanted them to get used to the vehicles, he wanted them not to feel like this every time they came across one, so even though we were obviously spooking them now, in the future it would become easier for them.

 

I felt very sad for this little oribi, there was obviously something not right with it.  You can see Phil's arm in this picture showing how close he was to it.

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As Michael showed with his final set of boat pictures these trips were a real highlight and it was a massive bonus to be treated to a wonderful final leopard.  This is my favourite picture.  

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We were certainly blessed with amazing leopard sightings and behaviour on this trip and this last 'leopard from the boat' was the icing on the cake.

 

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Zim Girl

The trail cam was still to produce a couple of surprises.  Later that evening it caught the two female lions from the Musekese pride walking through camp. (Collared then uncollared behind).  We had either just gone back to the tent to go to bed or were about to go, so it just shows you are never too far away from a lion here!!

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Then the next morning it caught the big male walking in.

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Zim Girl

The Musekese pride walking through camp on the last morning was a wonderful goodbye present.  All of them walked past us watching from the dining area and across the main camp path and out onto the lagoon area.  After Adrian moves away with his phone through the room they can be seen in the top right walking across the path.

 

 

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Zim Girl

As Michael said, as it turned out, we were very lucky to fit this safari in, between lockdowns and subsequent travel restrictions.  We all enjoyed it very much and were glad we made the effort to arrange it.  From mine and Adrian's point of view the company was excellent (we knew it would be) and all the camps and guides and staff were amazing.

We were very impressed by Phil's guiding in particular, so much so, that we have just booked another 10 nights with him Sept/Oct this year visiting Musekese and their other camp Ntemwa.

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BRACQUENE

@Zim Girl

 

Memories... Memories  ! Ntemwa as you will see is someting completely different and the Busanga Plains a bit more to the north a must of course : as for the Musekese pride walking through camp what a departure ( in my topic on the lions in the Kafue  I mention  by the way that we didn't see lions at all in september 2019 )

Finally, thank you again for this TR , a real ode to the  Zambian bush !!

 

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LarsS

Watched the videos now, those ellies are impressive. Must have been a nerve wracking experience! Unforgettable moments and behaviour. In addition to the videos, I really like yout photo where they are ligned up in the bush. A bit of a scary sight with their presence and flapping their ears. You don't want those giants coming after you for real.

 

Already love the prospect of another TR at the end of this year! :) 

 

Can I ask, what kind of camera trap do you use? Really wonderful to see those photos at night/morning in camp. Really shows the wild side of the camp. Lions in camp when you're about to get back to your tent or getting up. Amazing!

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AfricIan

What a fantastic end to your trip, so many great experiences and, of course, fabulous photographs all round!

 

A huge thank you to all 4 of you for letting us share the journey with you.

 

@Zim Girl Another 10 days with Phil to come - we spent 8 with him back in 2015 and could easily have stayed longer. Do our paths cross at Musekese, we're due there 23-27th Sept? 

 

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