Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Safaridude

Back from Kafue and other places in Zambia

Recommended Posts

Safaridude

Just got back from Zambia. I will write up a full report in due time, but some highlights…

 

While in Johannesburg, I did an afternoon visit to Rietvlei Nature Reserve (about 30 minutes from the airport). If you have time to kill, it is definitely worth it. Good birding, white rhinos, blesbok, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, eland, springbok, etc.

 

I stayed at Chaminuka Lodge in Lusaka, Zambia (about 30 minutes from the Lusaka airport). Expensive but worth it. It is a resort/game farm. Great food, local art collection and quite a bit of game.

 

The highlight of the trip was Nanzhila Plains Camp in Kafue. Not for what it is now (though I was very lucky in sightings) necessarily, but the potential of the place. I have in my possession game count reports from the ‘70s and also in ’94. Nanzhila rivaled Busanga Plain in terms of game (in fact, there used to be scheduled flights into Ngoma – an area 2 hours north of Nanzhila Plains propper – from both Lusaka and Livingstone; the legendary Norman Carr was actually the warden at Kafue before establishing himself in the Luangwa Valley. Kafue used to be “the” place.) Poaching subsequentally wiped out nearly everything, but since the safari camp went in 3 years ago, the area is making a comeback. The area from the Ngoma south to Nanzhila is a botanists’ dream. Where else would you see miombo (spectacular julbernardia trees) next to teak next to mopane next to camelthorn next to protea next to ilala palm? The game was a bit thin, but if you worked hard, the sightings were spectacular, and you can see that with more extended protection, the area would be incredible. Saw 6 herds of sable in 4 days. 3 cheetahs (skittish), 3 lions, serval, roan, eland, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, zebra, wildebeest, lots of kudu, reedbuck, oribi, waterbuck and the endemic black-cheeked lovebirds. Wild dog tracks were everywhere, and finally on our last morning we saw two male dogs drinking from a pool (they are part of a bigger pack – I suspect the pack was denning). In my opinion, the best way to enjoy Nanzhila is to ask for a ZAWA game scout, which we did. The terrain is such (slightly undulating woodlands with narrow dambos – especially on the western side) that you can spot a herd of, say, sable from 500 yards away, park your vehicle, and if the wind direction is right, stalk on foot with the scout along the tree line and emerging out into the dambo. It’s great fun – just like hunting except you are not killing the animal. We got to within 75 yards of sable and hartebeest a few times. Indeed, Nanzhila has figured out a way to combat tsetse flies. They burn (smolder) dried elephant dung in a carefully crafted bucket in the back of the vehicle. It actually smells pleasant (believe it or not) and cuts down on tsetses 90% or more. Incredible!

 

Next was Lufupa Tented Camp in the north of the park. It was my repeat visit. The river cruise provided sightings of the rare Bohm’s bee eater and the African finfoot). There is a pride of 20 lions, and we saw the two big males on a night drive. Good elephant, hippo, puku and impala. Saw a small herd of roan in the Kafwala area. A couple of civets. The Lufupa area is crawling with leopards (I saw two last year), but we were very unlucky this time (everybody eles saw them).

 

Wilderness Safaris was nice enough to allow me to stay one night at Musanza, which is ordinarily only available for groups. But since a group was just departing from there and the staff was in place, they asked if we wanted to spend one night. Since Musanza is right in between Lufupa and Shumba (our next destination on the Busanga Plain), we opted for it. The vegetation is very different – reminiscent of East Africa (Tarangire perhaps). There is acacia robusta and acacia nilotica there. We saw the remains of a wild dog kill (a male puku) and saw dog tracks, as well as leopard and lion tracks, all heading across the river.

 

Next was Shumba Camp on the Busanga Plain. It has been very wet there this year, and the plain is about a month behind in drying out compared to other years. But the sightings did not suffer. We saw the famous Busanga lion pride every day. Since the Busanga pride just about only hunts pukus and lechwes, cubs tend to miss out on meals. Last year’s cubs all starved to death. This year, there are 3 cubs, and the mother is the oldest female in the pride and a special one. She is the best hunter in the pride. She has been seen hunting a puku – leaving it to the other members of the pride – then killing another for the cubs. The cubs are several months old now and look well fed. There are roan antelopes everywhere, especially on the southern and western sides of the plain. Zebras, wildebeests with young calves (oddly, the calving season is September in Busanga), a huge herd of buffalo near the papyrus area on the northern side of the plain, and incredible birdlife. Equipped with smoldering elephant dung, we explored the western and southern treeline with no tsetse problem. Roan, buffalo, hartebeests and lots of warthogs were found there, along with tracks of sable, leopard and cheetah.

 

Finally, Nchila, a private game farm in the extreme northwest of Zambia was a gem. It reminded me of what Lewa Downs in Kenya was like 20 years ago. The owners, Pete and Lynn Fisher, have done great conservation and community work there. Nchila has the largest privately owned sable herds (some 700), and some spectacular specimens were seen. Also roan, eland (huge horns), tsessebe from Bangueulu swamps (much darker), Kafue lechwe from the Kafue flats, Angolan duiker and birds coming in from the Congo.

 

Again, I will do a full write-up soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest nyama

Thanks for the preview of your trip report, Safaridude. Some interesting info. I wasn't aware that they have black lechwe at Nchila. Also good to hear some info on Chaminuka; did you have a look at their bush camp? Nanzhila Plains sounds like the right place for me. Bad luck with the Lufupa leopards; were WS offering night drives after dinner? I guess it was too early for lion tree in Busanga. Where is the current location of Musanza - at old Ntemwa site?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Safaridude

Nyama, firstly on the lechwe... Nchila and Chaminuka both have the Kafue lechwe. The Kafue lechwe, ironically, do not occur in Kafue National Park, but rather outside it on the "Kafue Flats" (including Lochinvar National Park and Blue Lagoon). Kafue National Park has the regular red lechwe. The black lechwe only occur in the Bangueulu Swamps (very far away from the places I was visiting).

 

I do recall seeing Chaminuka's bush camp, but that's it... just saw it from afar. I hope you will have as much luck as I had at Nanzhila. Be sure to take a ZAWA scout with you. I did night drives at Lufupa after dinner last year. This time, we just ended the afternoon activities around 7-7:30 so you get a bit of a night drive in. I am sure they would oblige to night drives after dinner. Apparently, the lions had been seen on trees, but we only saw them on the ground. Musanza is 3km northwest of Treetops School. So, it is on the western side of the Lufupa channel. I believe Ntemwa and Moshi were both on the eastern side of the channel. WS is thinking about doing something on the eastern side of the Lufupa channel there. I hear that is wild country.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
madaboutcheetah

Thanks Safaridude, for a well written report! Sounds like you had a great time and a fabulous trip!!!! Write more, when time permits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest nyama
Nyama, firstly on the lechwe...
Sorry, that was some kind of Freudian slip... I read Bangweulu-black-Lechwe and didn't notice that it was about tsessebe.

 

Ntemwa Bush Camp was planned as a sister camp of Musanza, located on the site of an old camp of same name on the west bank of Lufupa River, but the camp never materialised. From what I know WS moved Musanza away from the Plains last season because of too many tsetse at that location and difficult access. So actually "new" Musanza should be called Ntemwa but WS obviously didn't want to change Musanza's name because of marketing reasons. The old Musanza location was right in the Plains, 20 kms NNW of Ntemwa and 6 kms east of Shumba.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Safaridude

Nyama, yes, interestingly, even in September we couldn't get to the old Musanza site on the Busanga Plain because there were still wet channels to cross. Good thing they moved the camp otherwise it would have been virtually impossible to operate it this year. The interesting thing about the hydrology of Busanga plain is that it matters more where it rains elsewhere... Busanga is actually higher in altitude than for example the Lufupa area. So, generally, the Lufupa channel/river drains from Busanga towards Lufupa... but Lufupa meets up with the Kafue River and in the wet season, the Kafue River starts to overflow and backfills the Lufupa channel/river back towards the higher Busanga plain and floods it. Fascinating.

 

I remember Chilongosi Safaris basically went bankrupt before it was operational with Ntemwa Camp. Bad planning indeed!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

Safaridude, welcome back. Sounds like you had an excellent and varied trip. Love the tsetse fly remedy which sounds much better than having to wear bee keepers gear! :o

 

Look forward to the full report which I will have to read with a Zambian map in front of me as these locations are all quite foreign (but very interesting, nonetheless).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Atravelynn

I'm excited about both Rietvlei and Kafue. That's a very special lioness you describe there. Thanks, Safaridude.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest nyama
I remember Chilongosi Safaris basically went bankrupt before it was operational with Ntemwa Camp. Bad planning indeed!
Ntemwa existed long before Chilongozi.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
madaboutcheetah

Safaridude,

 

Were the camps reasonably busy or quiet with not many guests this season? What is their outlook for 2010 if you brought up the topic?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest nyama
Look forward to the full report which I will have to read with a Zambian map in front of me as these locations are all quite foreign (but very interesting, nonetheless).
We'll get you, Twaffle... :o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Game Warden

Safaridude, just moved this post over to Trip Reports. Excellent details, and look forward to reading more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Safaridude

Hari, the camps were generally slow (about half or less filled in general). Nanzhila, ironically, is having the best season ever probably due to their competitive pricing and the self-drive crowd. Wilderness Zambia apparently is some last minute bookings, so they are down but not down and out like they feared earlier in the year.

 

On the same subject, airlines are cutting capacity. My SAA flight from Joburg to New York was cancelled some weeks ago, and I had to re-route through Heathrow -- which is always thrilling. So, SAA is not flying to New York directly every day right now like they used to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
madaboutcheetah

Interesting info about the SAA JFK service.

 

Thanks for the info on Zambia camps. Good for Nanzhila. Yes, I saw their prices on the website - and looks like they haven't fallen for the "sky is the Limit" index like everyone else in Zambia or Bots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest nyama
the camps were generally slow (about half or less filled in general).
Not a big surprise. For most people Kafue isn't the big attraction in Zambia. The situation is slightly different in South Luangwa, at least with the old established players with good client relations. I couldn't get a room at Coppinger or NCS's bush camps for the last week of October, and was happy to find a place at RPS's Nsefu. However, other operators/camps are about to close a week earlier. Maybe they learn something from this...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This topic is quite old. Unless updating a photographic thread with new images, please consider starting a new discussion. Thank you.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy