South Luangwa

South Luangwa National Park

Stopped at Track & Trail Camp, mainly because we saw a young Elephant at reception, a half grown bull which we assumed was tame- a big mistake! Emma got out to deal with paperwork at reception,but it was closed,whereupon a head appeared around the corner,a French-man who had been hiding among a few parked up Jeeps asked for a lift because of said Elephant. Bundled the terrified guy in, moved forward a few feet and the “tame” Elephant mock charged the car-ah !! not tame we clicked

Not tame at all – a mock charge at Michael

Despite this, lovely site,only ones here- soon discovered why. Guard introduced himself which we took to be the norm, had a braai, heard/saw a few Bush buck,Emma saw a rather large shape in bushes rather too close for comfort,shining of torch revealed Hippo.

Some of our neighbours crossing the river

a few minutes later in the camp

Fridge packed up (don’t buy a Waeco) Michael decided to tackle the problem,using only his head torch , but then turned on proper torch to find Elephant only eight steps away (measured) both parties equally surprised! Much crashing and grunting from Elephants and Hippo all night…..Emma snored through most of the nights activities.

Went into the park next day,saw many of the usual culprits, but also Thornicroft’s Giraffe, beautiful markings and Crawshay’s Zebra, both of which, only live here,although the Zebra also live on Nyika where we are going. Saw two Hyena’s doing the business (look up their sex life…very strange) stayed in another nice camp on riverside,but too busy for us,back to park the next day,got traffic jammed by Elephants also saw many Crocodiles and Hippo,retuned to original camp,booked in once more, but then were imprisoned by four Elephants who had come to visit,eventually skirted around them, back to the car 30 metres away,when another group appeared on the other side,finally sneaked to shower block and whilst Emma was showering,a bout of Baboon all in wrestling took place,which included a body of a Baboon bouncing off mosquito net window in shower block- much to her obvious delight!!

no swimming loads of them everywhere

Thornicrofts giraffe

 

We love it,but obviously not everyone’s cup of tea ……hence empty camp-site !

 

Elephants galore

 

After finishing the last paragraph we went to bed thence began the night and day of elephants. When we first came across these in Burkina Faso we joked how we seemed to be able to find them easily – well here they they came to find us in droves. Emma woke to see a large white tusk next to our tent window and from then on it was elephants everywhere. Amazing from our point of view but not everyone’s cup of tea as we said. They know you are there and provided you are calm they and we gave each other about 20m leeway all was well. On a few occasions we had to move to be sensible but no threat. Much of the time they were feeding on a fruit tree in the main area and just passed by us on the way there and back. A new Dutch couple appeared, parked up and walked our way with a camp guard, we were chatting, telling them of the elephants ( who at that moment were absent, when we heard a very loud cracking sound, a couple of bull elephants looking for the fruit but finding none had obviously got fed up so one simply broke off a substantial tree say 8inches in diameter so easily you can not believe it – like breaking a match – then they had lunch, at which point the Dutch couple had legged it, saying they had only experienced fenced camps in East Africa and would be retiring to bed very early !) This continued all day. A French family staying in a tree house platform commented later how they had watched elephants,&hippos around us all night – and to think people pay huge sums yet here it was £5 a night I loved it even Emma got keen on the closeness of it all, can’t imagine having a better or closer experience.

shower time – surrounded on all sides

 

We decided to go on a professional tour as they are allowed to do night drives in the park- she can tell of the results.

Over to me….Off we set with lovely French family and had not been in the park 10 minutes ,before we came to a halt having spotted a Leopard,in broad daylight! This one clearly a professional Leopard model,struck all the right poses about 20 metres away as you can see from the photo’s, including jumping a good 4 metres up a tree and landing on branches, once again posed nicely for the camera……although I had a bit of camera shake by this stage. How lucky are we??!!

Beautiful drive with sun setting-fantastic colours, then wonderful starry skies, lots of animals and fortunate enough to spot another Leopard sneaking up on Impala,but she was followed by three Hyena,who do this to chase her off her kill (they do this in this area rather than hunt themselves) so at 30 metres from the Impala ,with them close behind she simply gave up . Two in one evening though, not a bad result.

poser – but rather lovely

slinky little mover

big pussy

good light says the photographer

straight up a tree hanging by one leg for a split second – photographer far to slow

more posing

 

 

Monkey trouble at breakfast (eating Michael’s toast) and off to Malawi.

 

PS- one for the girls,everywhere we go we seem to attract a stray dog!

McBrides Camp

Mcbrides camp

Lovely place, very wild,miles from anywhere. Chris and Charlotte,the owner’s/hosts very hospitable, both acknowledged experts on Lions in particular having published several books on Lion behaviour. We also met Roger Burrows and Jan Corlett who coincidentally live in Manaton in South Devon. They have spent manyl years studying Wild dogs in the Serengeti. See www.africawilddogwatch.org if you are interested.Roger again being the foremost authority in his field.

Chris McBride – guide and very bad poet!! Setting camera trap on path used by large male lion

Went for a walking safari with Chris,which was very informative and enjoyable. On the walk we were lucky enough to see a family of Bush-pigs, which was very unusual as they are nocturnal. Also saw a large Bull Elephant,which we gave a wide birth, as they can be a bit temperamental due to years of poaching. Finished the walk near a spring,where Chris’s scout/ranger, who had accompanied us, saw the Elephant approaching the spring,we walked down the road to meet the open topped safari jeep that was to pick us up,got in the jeep and drove back to try and spot Elephant. Suddenly, out of nowhereand 50 metres away from us the Elephant came charging out of the bush ,trumpeting ,ears flapping, dust flying, an awesome sight, he turned briefly away, then charged again,stopping just 20 metres away. Huge and rather scary,got a few photo’s though, before panic set in !! Thankfully we were in a large car, although I’m not sure this would actually have saved us ! Not good for the heart , nervous system ,or indeed underwear but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.

He was huge and angry

Very angry indeed

Back at camp ,saw a pod of Hippo’s, including a baby ahh!

 

The only one’s in camp again, Michael constantly referring to bird books due to the huge numbers and variety, I’m told these include Bohms Bee Eater and a Black backed Barbet which doesn’t appear in South African bird books, as this is the southern limit of it’s range, Michael and Chris seemed to like this ……me, well I’m just worried he’s starting to twitch !

Decided to experiment with The Potjie (traditional Afrikaner, cast iron ,cooking pot) Michael in charge of bread and me a stew,…….extremely hot fire resulted in incinerated loaf in about 20 minutes(he had planned on about 40 mins ,which would have resulted in nuclear fission, however ,I saved the world!

The bread after the nuclear reaction

The stew ,however was marvellous,slow cooked, having adjusted the fire (nuclear reactor) included Brad and Ruth (Nanzhila plains manager’s) secret recipe chill sauce, which we now eat with everything ,thank-you Brad !

Left after two day’s for Lusaka as beer supplies running critically low and fridge battery given up due to lack of movement over past few day’s. Lusaka we like, have stocked up and now off to South Luangwa National Park.

Kafue National Park

Kafue (kafoo eh)

Stocked up, headed North into Kafue park ,which is huge ,the size of Wales ,going to the very remote Nanzhila camp in the south of the park. Lovely drive,proper sandy bush tracks,nearest neighbours three hours away and we are the only ones here. Went for a drive the next day,saw a variety of animals including two sub- species that only exist here ,Lichtenstein’s Haartebeest and a fully white bottomed water buck as opposed to a ring bottomed. Eight pairs of Wattled crane ,of which there are only two thousand in the whole of Africa and two Saddled billed storks, which are four feet tall and again very rare/endangered.

wattled cranes

Animals very skittish, having been heavily poached in the past ,but now hopefully recovering.

Did not see another person or car all day and I drove for a while in some quite deep sand ,until I was quite quickly replaced, by my rather unhappy passenger.(who as my replacement was a rather lousy photographer,it has to be said)

Now heading North,to other area’s which are different again.

Lovely drive on proper African style tracks,serious dust, so fine it blows up before you get to it and you’ve got to stop before you can see again. Drove to Hippo Bay(Konkamoya lodge)which was being refurbished ,but stayed in magnificent location on Lake Itezhi-tezhi. the Italian owner Andrei was charming,

a hippo – emmas arty shot

well it is called hippo camp

left the following morning for Kaingu camp were we are currently residing, by the Kafue river, very picturesque,rapids, granite boulders,the only campers here,once more part owned and run by a lovely Aussie couple ,who were relieved we had spare loo rolls for their lodge guests, as it’s five hours to nearest shop and supplies are low !

On the way had a monetary exchange problem,bought a few goods in local shop, offered a few notes in Kwacha which was received with shrieks of laughter,I misunderstood the situation and thought she didn’t have enough change,so added more goods to the pile ,then Michael commented that I’d only offered to pay her one penny,for the lot, I should have learnt because the previous day ,I’d argued with a guy over 500 Kwacha per Banana,when Michael said don’t argue, it’s only seven pennies….it just seems such a lot and what with me being a complete dimwit and all !

The camp here is wonderful, once more on the banks of the river, this evening whilst cooking our nosh,a couple of Bush buck casually wandered up,amusing us for some time,Michael very excited about going fishing tomorrow,with a local guy and we are going on a boat/canoe trip up the river. It is so beautifully wild and unrestricted here,with no- one around, Michael in his element,it really is Africa as you hoped it would be.

A lady bushbuck – regular visitor

All the people we’ve met here in Zambia have been extremely well mannered, polite and charming ,even though they have so little,it really is a fantastic place to be. We love it !

 

Kafue river- boat trip

Set off, joined by two lovely female Dutch bird watching fanatics ,which proved very useful from Michael’s prospective!As a result with them and a guide we saw amongst other things, Finfoot,Thick knees and a Purple crested Turcao (spectacular colours, but impossible to photograph)which got the bird ladies very excited,me,slightly bemused to say the least.

Surreal scenery ,with granite boulders, channels etc,also saw plenty of Hippo’s and Crocs elusive and camera shy! Lucky enough to see a Water Monitor at least a metre long(big lizard )many Antelope on the banks of river-yet another fantastic place.

the river – loads of channels all different

happy hippos

Off tomorrow to local town, a few hours drive ,to re-fuel/supply,then to Mcbrides camp in the North of the park.

 

Rhino Walk

Got up early,arrived in good time ,being keen, but not sure what we would see. Met with guide ,the only other person was a young guy from Ecuador, based in Cyprus but his business was in Africa ?! A nice guy. Off we went ,walked for some time ,examining shit as we went,including Giraffe’s which is made into necklaces in some places as it’s hard and looks likes beans- but apparently not to be worn in the shower or swimming pool !

White Rhino’s oxidises black in colour ,similar in size to Elephants,(instead of brown) and looks like grass clippings as opposed to Elephant stuff,which is twiggy ,much rougher and contains fruit, seeds, etc.

Saw several other beasts and eventually came across Rhino,saw one at first then two and realised three ,a mother ,her “sixteenth month baby” and the senior male of the area ,who was huge and had survived being shot several years before hand. Dad was playing with his son Mum not too happy !! grunting and pushing him so he lay down.

 

Happy Family

Eventually we got within thirty feet ,looking down from a bank on the trio. Dad gave up after some grunting from Mother,she moved a few feet away and laid down so the baby could suckle, which at this age is the only way, with the baby’s horn that they can do it.

Baby rhino

We were right there ,hearts racing,it was truly amazing, a once in a lifetime experience,which I believe can only be done here,worth all the miles and hassle alone.Thanks to Nathan ,the scout and Mauren the guide.

the intrepid photoghrapher

Zambia – Victoria falls

Having rather rushed through Namibia and Botswana,both of which were fantastic(we shall be returning later for more) we are now in Zambia. Border crossing at Kasungula no problem,in fact very efficient and have found a rather special place to stay called Bushbuck river House on the banks of Zambezi,have decided to stay as it’s so beautiful,peaceful and relaxing !(well, for two or three nights anyway)

Played tourists today and went to Victoria Falls,attacked by Baboons in the car park,Michael drove off with one still on the roof, whilst trying to make off with the wing mirror! ( I refused to get in )

The Falls were quite spectacular,but impossible to get good photo’s of with my rather novice camera skills,however not as many tourists as we were expecting, managed to get suitably wet,a small bridge we walked across, with serious drop on either side,gave me the weebie-jeebies…..I was not happy !!

 

Made a brief visit to Livingstone, Michael drew out 2,million from bank (Kwacha) we’re in the money again!! if only….

Planning our tour of Zambia ,whilst relaxing in such lovely surroundings,Hippo grunting around the roof tent last night…..well I think that’s what the strange noises were !! Big croc on opposite side of local channel of Zambezi, Previous owner of the house here was eaten by one which was captured and is now in local reptile park – named Bismark. Current owners have lost a dog to one as well. Local buffalo visit us at  night, plus Bush buck and waterbuck.

Booked a rhino walk for the morning we are on the edge of a small NP – Known to be 5 white rhinos there 3 of which have young inc one tiddler which we are dying to see. Some Americans who went this morning loved it so much they are going again this PM – got up to 30m away which would be nice to do. They have an armed guard because poachers killed most of  last lot and wounded one who has sired the 3 new ones  so he’s recovered well.


Northern Namibia, Caprivi Strip into Chobe Park Botswana

Chobe National Park

Spent the night in Katima- North Caprivi strip by the Zambezi, with Hippo’s as sleeping companions….very nice. Next morning headed south ,into Botswana and straight into Chobe,in the next 15 minutes saw more game than you can imagine,big herds of Buffalo,Roan,and lots, lots more

Don’t even think about it sonny

very sandy track along North bank of river to campsite,booked in, very wild ,no fences here ,a few well spaced plots,evicted Giraffes from ours and went on afternoon drive,only managed 4 km because there’s so much to see. Huge herds of everything,Elephant in particular, with some crossing just in front of us. Birds,Stoats, Monkeys, Antelope galore,this place is just ridiculous!!!

Its a baby – ahhhh!

Finished the afternoon watching a male Lion digesting a few feet from our camp, so hopefully we shall be safe tonight!

After dinner

Returned to base to find a couple of hundred Impala 30 meters away taking no notice, Hippo’s grunting in the distance and monkey’s in the trees above…..David Attenborough& BBC eat your heart out !

 

Chobe 2

 

Nice little breakfast overlooking the Chobe flood plain All sorts of grunts, growls, howls roars trumpets throughout the night – I have told emma about her sleeptalking before.

 

Emma refused to go to the loo- coward! I was brave and manly – well as close as the nearby bush anyway.

 

Took a slow drive to Kasane nearest town along river valley edge saw Roan Antelope, lots of Sable Antelope, Waterbuck and more hippo, elephants giraffe, buffalo, kudu, implala etc than you could count – it really is fantastic, its what the park is famed for at this time of year but you still don’t realise that it actually exists for real – if you get my drift. One elephant herd must have numbered getting on for a thousand. Another walked calmly past our landy inc young ones very close – hope to get Piccies up soon also maybe little video – So sweet I am told!

 

Sable Antelope

Chobe3

Left the park in a site near kasane trying to do admin before Zambia. Hoping internet works so we can update photos as well. I think coms in Zambia are not good but will try to get skype lined up for 4th see text I sent as to connection etc.

 

Lilac breasted roller – common as muck here

Southern Ground Hornbills – huge and rare we are told about size of a turkey

Windhoek to Caprivi

Then headed north to Caprivi strip aiming for Chobe NP in Botswana. , 5 countries meet a the end so all a bit confusing. Loads of big rivers.

Dropped in at Cheetah consevation trust lovely to see them so close

cheetah sanctuary

Stayed at a well known campsite Ngepi, on banks of Okavango river – hippos to lull you to sleep, Emm says I sound quite like them.

Ngepi elephants on opposite bank hippos in between tricky to photograph

Us posing

Drove length of Caprivi through National park spent night in Katima Mulilo again hippos for company and Zambia across Zambezi river – huge even this far from the east coast. Hopefully Chobe reserve tomorrow for a few days before Zambia and Malawi for quick visit.

So will not be heard of for a while we think no idea what to expect really – go past Victoria Falls on the way so may get quick update in there.