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An emotional return to the "Remote " Safari Camps in Zambia


BRACQUENE
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I . INTRODUCTION : 

 

In september 2014 on our first safari my wife Anne and myself visited South Luangwa NP and the three safari camps of Remote Africa Safaris : Tafika , Chikoko Tree Camp and Crocodile Camp ( replaced by the new Big Lagoon camp this season ) walking between the last two ; a report of that short but intense trip is available in the historical trip reports on safaritalk .

Wa always wanted to return to that first love not in the least to add the remote North Luangwa to the experience ; apart from some camping facilities there are , for the moment at least , only two bush camps in that area : Takwela and Mwaleshi Camp , both belonging to Remote because Buffalo Camp we heard on location has closed since the pandemic.

Initially when I planned this safari late 2019 with Expert Africa just before corona hit us all , we intended to go to another walking camp in South Luangwa , Mapazi owned by the iconic Deb Tittle but this camp sadly didn't reopen after covid which suddenly gave us an unexpected opportunity to go to one of my dream destinations , the Bangweulu Wetlands and the very remote Shoebill Island Camp which in the meantime became also part of the Remote portfolio .

So at the end of 2021 our two weeks safari became an exclusive "Remote" one  starting with Takwela , then Mwaleshi followed by Shoebill Island and ending in Tafika where my safari addiction started eight years ago and which would prove to be a unforgettable return amongst friends !

At Tafika we surprisingly met Chris McIntyre , the managing director of Expert Africa , and his family preparing the 7th edition of the Bradt guide to Zambia which I am happy to tell you should be in the bookshops at the end of this year .

In the next weeks you can all expect a full report of this trip but the scoop will be for one of our members Mike @Bush dog when we meet on the 4th of August in my hometown Dilbeek , our mutual anniversary date by the way . 

In the meantime enjoy some teaser pictures so you will have an idea of what is coming : 

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Sunrise over the confluence of the Mwaleshi and Luangwa River at Takwela

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Fire place for breakfast 

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The arrival of the staff 

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Manager Alex Phiri and guide Stephen Banda enjoying the early morning scenery 

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An early riser : the African Barred Owlet

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A green pigeon warming up 

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 A male kudu on the first walk 

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And a cameleon posing at night 

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Arriving at Mwaleshi camp after a 10 km walk 

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The main area with Anne 

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Ready to walk at 6 30 with guide Ernst 

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Crossing the Mwaleshi River

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A herd of Cookson's Wildebeest

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Protecting the Rhino on bicycle close to Mwaleshi camp

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The mating ( after sunset ) couple

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And the other lovebirds 

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Separated from their mates 

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The resident Elephant in front of our tent across the Mwaleshi River ( he didn't try to do "a Boswell" )

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The Bangweulu Wetlands : an amazing area seen on mokoro most of the time 

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Black Lechwe in the early misty morning 

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Malachite Kingfisher flying away 

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And finding a frog that proved to be too big ! 

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Other early risers 

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A Squacco Heron 

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And one of five sightings of the bird you all know ( not counting the rescued Martin at the Chikuni airstrip ) 

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Wattled Cranes on the plains

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Black Lechwe everywhere

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And the local undertakers

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Approaching Shoebill Island Camp at sunset 

 

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The welcome party at Lukuzi airstrip eight years later  ( in 2014 there were only two boys) close to Tafika 

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The same chalet ( number 6 ) as in 2014 was waiting for us 

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Early Southern Carmine Bee-eater close to Camp

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Baboon in the morning light 

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Great White Pelicans in the tree 

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And Black-headed Heron posing nicely

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And a white-fronted Bee-eater close to the nest 

 

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Buffalo close to the car on a gamedrive

 

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Lions eating a young hippo, killed at night 

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Later in the day a Lappet-faced Vulture arrives

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Makes his move

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And imposes himself !

 

 

 

 

To be continued ...

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madaboutcheetah

Welcome back @BRACQUENE…. Sounds like an amazing time !!! 

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Wow @BRACQUENEWHAT A TEASER!

I'm hooked and will be an avid follower.

I'm already yearning for a return to Zambia. Hopefully next year.

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Alex The Lion

Tafika looks like it hasn't changed a bit!

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A great teaser with excellent photos 

I look forward to the rest!

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Looking forward to this.  The Remote Africa team and camps are one of my favourites in Africa.

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Welcome back! I can't believe your trip is over already. Looks like you've had a great trip and like @CaracalI'm pining to get back to Zambia. 

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WOW @BRACQUENE, with this teaser I will be eagerly watching for MORE! MORE! MORE!    I love the wildebeest photo.  I'd love to see a crop up close of a face.  You were lucky to get so many of them looking straight at you!  I'm hoping for a little of this in Zambia in Sept.  It seems in S.A. they always turn and look away.  Kinda like, "If I can't see you, then you aren't there.":lol:

Edited by TravelMore
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Welcome back! What an incredible opening, so many fantastic photos there. 

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offshorebirder
16 hours ago, BRACQUENE said:

Sunrise over the confluence of the Mwaleshi and Luangwa River at Takwela

 

 

 

Wow!  

 

Congrats on the Shoebill - what a thrilling sight that must have been.

 

 

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looks like you saw plenty and then, more! look forward to reading about one of our most favourite places Tafika, and getting more tempted with NL park. 

Shoebill - YES! 

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What beautiful photos and what a beautiful country it is...

 

Thanks for sharing 

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michael-ibk

Great start @BRACQUENE- welcome back, I look forward to your report. Lots of birds in that teaser I see - so no more excuses for you, the BY corner is waiting. ;)

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Thanks everybody for reading and@madaboutcheetah @Caracal @Alex The Lion@TonyQ@Zim Girl@dlo@TravelMore @Biko@Toxic @offshorebirder @Kitsafari@JPSfor your appreciation and comments ; @michael-ibkgive me some time to start the BY and a close up of a wildebeest is possible  @JPS😉

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This was only the teaser, WOW!

Already looks like you had a fantastic trip. The photos bring back some good memories of Tafika.

Looking forawrd to reading more!

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II . From Lusaka to North Luangwa : Three nights at Takwela camp 

 

On Sunday the 10th of July we went early to Zaventem airport for our 21. 45 flight to Dubai and checked in quickly ; service on board and food were impeccable and we arrived safely and on time at 6.15 local time looking at the impressive Dubai skyline  ; the next flight to Lusaka ( and continuing to Harare) had some delay but we were in Zambia on time and only had to show our last vaccination results and pay the visa to get in : as in 2019 for the Kafue safari we had chosen Latitude 15 for the night and I must say it was as good as I remember  ; we had a talk around the fire ( it was a cold evening ! ) with an American couple doing a Lower Zambezi , South Luangwa and Kafue Safari ( not the last ones we would meet doing that same kind of trip ) and English lady.

Diner was lovely with a tasty be it rather spicy fish curry and some South-African wine with an unforgettable name : Leopard’s Leap ;)

 

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Zaventem Sunday evening the 10th

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Dubai skyline early morning on the 11 th 

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The entry hall at Latitude 15

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Our room nr 5 

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Next morning after an early breakfast we took the Proflight to Mfuwe airport were we met the Remote pilot Rory we would see again a few times and an English couple Andrea and James ; Rory was a very nice guy and a fantastic pilot , always smiling and optimistic even if he was on a very tight schedule at times :

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Anne on her way to the Proflight 

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The arrival of Rory 

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No tension at all as you can see 

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The Luangwa river from above and below a video of the landing at Mwaleshi airstrip

 

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We received a warm welcome and Steven Banda took us to Takwela Camp whilst Andrea and James went to Mwaleshi with Ernst ; it was a long transfer and the road was bumpy to put it mildly but arriving at the Luangwa river and seeing the camp on the other side at the confluence with the Mwaleshi river was unbelievable and to cross it with an old acquaintance from 2014 manager Alex Phiri a delight : 

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We had a tasty very late lunch with Steven closely followed by teatime and loved the camp from the first moment we saw it !

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The Bar 

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Our Room 3 

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The main area 

 

Takwela may not have been the camp where we saw the most but it will certainly remain in terms of food , guiding and genuine atmosphere one of our all time favorites  ; the first day 4 Germans stayed with us but Alex went with them on drive and we only saw them at dinner whilst on the second day a company of 6 friends in their mid seventies (English and South African ) came over from Tafika on selfdrive which took them eight hours instead of six ( they got lost somewhere and did see only one or two cars to ask the way ! ) but they certainly made us laugh a lot on the next two nights especially when an alarm went off in one of the cars at night :angry:

Instead of giving you a day by day report here are some impressions and I think the pictures will tell you the whole story 

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A goliath heron on the first day

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Relaxing after a walk

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Female puku with young 

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A male Puku

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A male bushbuck 

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A giant kingfisher

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A white-browed coucal 

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Hamerkop

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Hippo in abundance 

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Another picture of the African barred owlet looking into the lens this time ; we saw a Pel's fly away at night but alas no picture 

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Female bushbuck 

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Baboons close to our tent

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And warming up in the early morning sun 

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A female cardinal woodpecker
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Buffalo running with dust , only the second herd of the season at Takwela

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A Meves's starling 

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 Greater Honeyguide

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Crocs in front of camp

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Teatime

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Our ranger looking towards camp

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A Malachite Kingfisher

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A herd of Impala 

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And Kudu just before dusk

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The selfdrive party 

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Early evening reunion 

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The White-fronted Bee-eater

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Male scarlet-chested sunbird

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A blue Waxbill

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A tropical Boubou

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African sacred Ibis

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Yellow -billed Storks

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A lonely Cookson's on a walk 

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Southern Ground Hornbill 

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Flying away 

 

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 The flat tire

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Time to say goodbye 

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To be continued 

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madaboutcheetah

@BRACQUENE- I loved my time with Alex …. I’m sure he took you on a drive through that umbrella acacia forest … stunning part of NOrth park. 

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@BRACQUENEI enjoyed all your photos, but especially the looong landing flight!  I kept thinking, Oh there's the landing strip,  oops, no. Oh there it is!

No, again....and then...down we go! Looking forward to more.

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ForWildlife

Wonderful! I did see a video going viral of two hippo's fighting, which was filmed at Tafika not long ago.

Lovely to see North Luangwa, and looking forward to the Bangweulu section of the report as well!

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Towlersonsafari

hurrah1 @BRACQUENE looking forward to your report- we were lucky enough to stay at rod Tether's camp in North Luangwa and thought it was a brilliant  place for walking and relaxing,

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Just dragged myself away from my TR to catch up, keep it coming :D

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Great start @BRACQUENE, I’ll be looking forward for the next instalments, I would love to go to Zambia but for now I’ll just read reports like your.

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