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Trip Report Zambia - Bushcamp Company

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I will post a series of journal entries in separate posts in this thread that I recoreded during my recent trip to the South Luangwa National Park from Sept 7-15. The trip included 2 days in the Mfuwe Lodge and 2 nights each at 3 of the Bushcamp Company's bush camps (Chamilandu, Chendeni and Bilimungwe).

This was my first trip to Africa which I am sure quickly becomes apparent to the African veterans out there.

Unfortnuately despite ample warnings and precautions from many here I believe I acquired an African affliction sometime during the course of this trip. Symptoms immediately surfaced on my flight home and they were characterized by: scheming thoughts of how to acquire frequent flier miles for return trip, constant thoughts of what the next itinerary may include, thinking what I will leave behind and what I shall bring that I wish I had this trip, constant day-dreaming of my trip!

September 7, 2004 - Day One arrival a Mfuwe Lodge - South Luangwa National Park

I have unpacked my gear having just arrived at the Mfuwe airport. Sitting outside the Mfuwe Lodge adjacent to the pool pondering the reality of really being in African for the first time. Despite this "Best Western" looking pool next to me I quickly realize as Dorothy of Wizard of Oz fame so aptly stated - "Toto I don't think we are in Kansas anymore"

Spread across the field in front of me feeding on the short grass are several Puku antelope, a mother Elephant and her youngster and a baboon just leisurely strolled across the open plain and disappeared into the woods. A fish eagle just flew over my head and I am in awe as all of this is going on within 100-200 yards from me. I think of how excited and how many hours it sometimes takes to spot a single deer in my native New England. WELCOME TO ZAMBIA!!!

I lean back and close my eyes for a second and images of the ride from the Mfuwe airport to the lodge start to float through my mind. A smiling representative of the Lodge picks me up and I hop aboard an open land rover. Also being picked up at the airport and joining me for the ride is a 75-year-old woman from Lusaka who has lived in Zambia her entire life. She is joining two friends for a holiday for several days at the Lodge. She has not visited this part of Zambia for thirty-five years and her sense of excitement matches mine. She would over the next twenty-four hours treat me like her son and extend the warm friendliness that I would soon learn is a hallmark of the Zambian persona.

The weariness from the two overnight flights from Boston to Mfuwe instantly melts away as I begin to view the rapidly changing images flashing before me as we drive for forty-five minutes down a narrow paved two-lane road:

- Neatly hewn golden domed thatched hut dwellings with a few roosters scurrying around the hard mud entrance
- Women walking down the center of the road balancing every good know to mankind deftly atop their heads
- Families crouched down sitting "Middle-Eastern" style in front of a camp fire next to their thatched dwelling
- Small children waving
- Small children in English style school uniforms
- Small children dressed in torn rags
- Bicyclists heavily laden with goods everywhere
- Young men/teenagers adorned with stocking caps and sun glasses
- Young men/teenagers adorned with western style baseball caps
- Women gathering firewood
- Women hoeing the hard clay land
- Women and men extending casual glances of curiosity as we race by
- Women and children waving
- Groups of 5 -10 people congregating by the roadside every few hundred yards. Exchanging the news of the day.
- Mud constructed "southwestern like US" storefronts with odd signs painted on their front such as "Mfuwe Investment Company" (My driver shrugs his shoulders and just tells me it's a grocery store when I inquire about this "investment house"

We slow down as we approach the Luangwa River, which marks the entrance into the South Luangwa National Park. The driver point to a grove of trees to the right about 100 yards away and my eyes turn to saucers as I see two giraffes, several elephants and a small herd of zebra just off the river bank feeding in the shade. I stifle the intense urge to race out of the vehicle and get closer. We stop for a few seconds and I take my first photos in Africa!! I several times peer into the viewfinder to view the photos I have just taken and then look back at the real thing. The little boy inside has totally taken over and I wonder to myself if this is what I see upon just entering the park, what is it going to be like the rest of this trip!

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    Yes indeed-y the boy is sick with Africa fever!! Isn't it it the best thing in the world!! And when you tell us about your "first time" we all relive ours.
    Maybe that should be a thread: "tell us about your first time".
    Greendrake, please continue!!

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    you may find out you'll never finish this trip report...as a matter of fact, you may discover you really haven't returned just yet...there's a piece of you that may never even come back from this African vacation...dee dee dee dee (Twilight Zone theme...)

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    Journal Entry #2

    Days 1 & 2 September 7,8 2004 - Mfuwe Lodge, Zambia

    A few details about the Mfuwe Lodge - The Lodge consists of 20 individual chalets, each with a thatched roof and brown clay walls. About half overlook a wide meadow on the edge of woodland and the other half surround a large oxbow lagoon. I spotted numerous animals feeding in this field while sitting on my porch (puku, elephants, hippos, waterbuck, baboons and impalas.) Numerous hippos resided in the lagoon. All rooms included ensuite bathrooms and had electricity and ceiling fans.

    Also on the grounds is a small library with a small conference facility. The central dining area is open to the elements on all 4 sides and covered by a thatched roof. It contains the check-in/reception desk; a full bar, sofas and just outside it is a deck with a swimming pool. You could sit in the pool and view wildlife feeding on the grassy meadow just 50-100 yards away. Area elephants are known to come into the central area and walk right up to the bar and reception area as they head to feed on some of their favorite fruit bearing trees located on the lodge grounds. (Some great photos of elephants standing by the bar "ordering" up a drink from a wide-eyed bar tender hang on the wall)

    After being slowly introduced to the safari lifestyle of a late morning full brunch at 11a.m and afternoon tea/coffee and sweets at around 3:30pm I was ready to embark on my first game drive. I had loaded up on several cups of coffee (which I would pay for later) and was alert as can be after 48 hours of little sleep. Five guests including myself hopped into the open land-rover. A middle-aged Dutch couple commanded the first row and I shared the back row with a couple from NYC - both lawyers in the NYC prosecutor's office. We divulged briefly from our surroundings to discuss the state of Yankee-Red Sox baseball and I, with a glint in my eyes, told them the sad news that the Red Sox had pulled within 3 1/2 games of the Yankees.

    Our guide Keenan hopped into the driver's seat and next to him was spotter with a spotlight. Keenan was local native Zambian and he was a walking encyclopedia. I am a fly-fisherman and always marvel at my fellow fly-fisherman that can identify every insect and its related cousins by their Latin names. Keenan could do this with every plant, bird and mammal species. His knowledge did not end there as he was an avid movie fanatic and we later would discuss in detail "Keyser Soyce's" scary antics in the movie the Usual Suspects.

    We for the next several hours drove both on and off -road with frequent stops, as Keenan would take time to describe the interaction of the flora and fauna around us. I am not a birder, but have always had a keen interest in the raptors and appreciated the multitude of songbirds I encounter in New England. This was, however, another world and I truly appreciated Keenan's bird identification skills and his overall bird behavior knowledge. A flash of brilliant green would pass before us and Keenan would quickly identify them as "Lillian-Love Birds", give us their Latin species name and provide a description of their habits and habitat. We would spot numerous puku, impalas, and elephant before stopping on the banks of the Luangwa River for sundowners.

    Now I had received many words of advice to stay hydrated during in the hot Africa sun. I had heeded this advice at afternoon tea and also now during our Sundowners, as I followed my Mosi Beer (the excellent Zambia brewed lager) with several bottles of water. But here is where I made a HUGE mistake!! I, in my jet-lagged daze, did not take the opportunity to relieve myself at this opportune moment. During the next several hours of our bumpy ride in the Zambian bush I would pay dearly for this consumption of coffee, beer and water as I "ached" to spot that "Rest Area - 2 Miles" sign hanging from the stout neck of some hippo. By the time Keenan found an appropriate "safe" spot to stop in the bush and asked if anyone had to "go" I did not care if I jumped into a swarming pod of crocs and I hurdled off the vehicle and raced to the nearest bush!!! I learned my lesson here and would temper the fluid consumption on subsequent drives.

    The evening would end with a magnificent leopard spotting. We discovered a large muscular male sitting in a sphinx like posture under a large Sausage tree. He seemed quite oblivious to the spotlight and posed as the multitude of shutter sounds echoed in the Zambian night. The image of the awesome beauty and power of this cat will stay with me for a lifetime. We would, however, not be able to enjoy this moment very long in solitude as two other vehicles arrived shortly. At about this moment we spotted a puku at the periphery of the spotlights. He was frozen like a statue - well aware of the danger near him. We thought we might spot a kill, but Keenan felt the commotion of vehicles around the leopard now may be disturbing him so we turned off our light and moved on.

    We returned to the Lodge and I had my first dinner under the stars at about 8:30 p.m. The food and drinks were plentiful and the meal was outstanding. A staff member accompanied me to my hut, as guests at night were not allowed to walk the grounds without unescorted. I crept under my mosquito net in the stately looking bed and slept soundly. I was awakened at 6am with a knock on the door and a "Good Morning" by the member of the staff and I remembered to reply in the few words of Nyanga (a Zambian dialect that is an amalgam of the numerous Zambian dialects) I knew - Bwangi (hello), Zikomo - thank you! I had a quick cup of coffee and a muffin and was ready to go out for the morning drive at 6:30am.

    We quickly spotted several hippos, elephants and large red beaked ground hornbills during the first half-hour of the drive. It was now about 8 a.m. and Keenan quickly turned the vehicle off-road about 20 yards and sitting under the shade of a large tree were a pride of six lions. We were now only about 20 yards away and I was in awe being this close to lions!! Keenan explained that this pride consisted of two young males around three to four years old and four females. This pride had recently moved into the area and no doubt a territorial battle would be soon looming with the resident area males. The lioness closest to our vehicle made Keenan nervous. She kept lifting its head to look at us and was flicking her tail in an aggressive menacing manner. Suddenly a single vulture on the horizon began a "dive-bombing" descent at very rapid speed. Each and every member of the pride in unison lifter their heads and turned their ears in the direction of the vulture. This diving vulture was a "meal call" to the pride as it indicated a kill in the area. The lions now got up slowly and began to slowly walk in single file towards to the kill. As the menacing lioness arose, we now could see why she was irritable. She was pregnant and also walked with a slight limp, possibly having a thorn in her paw pad. This combination would make any female a bit "ornery".
    We drove in the direction of the vulture and tried to find the kill. When we arrived we only saw a few bare bones and the lions had already discovered that little was left for them and had already returned to their shady afternoon resting spot.

    We would return to the Lodge for brunch by 10:30 a.m. and I would shortly after this hop into the land rover for a 60 kilometer three hour drive into the bush to the to my first bush camp - Chendeni.

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    uhohbusted,

    Better get to Zambia quick, as it looks like prices are quickly rising. I just received a price from Kaingo for $400 per person per night sharing. That is more than triple the rates I paid this year, although my timing for next year would put me there during their busiest time of the year. Kaingo is outstanding for hippos, elephants, crocodiles and has the best possible birding that I have yet seen. Although I never thought that I would appreciate birds, my last trip definitely changed my opinion on that subject. Both in Lower Zambezi National Park and in the Kaingo area of South Luangwa, I was just overwhelmed at the beauty and differing characteristics of the different bird varieties.

    Seeing the mixed reviews on Singita lately reminds me why I loved Chichele Presidential Lodge so much. At about 45% of the Singita rate, it is so much better, overall. The guiding is second to none, the food fantastic, the location is unparalleled IMO in the South Luangwa and the staff and management is excellent. Plus, guests have the freedom to eat with the group or to be set up with an intimate table for two, and all this in a very open air setting that was not even too cold in mid-June during my last visit.

    Although I would love to see Botswana, I ask myself why I should consider giving up Zambia when I have seen so many people say that Zambia reminds them of the Botswana of 10 years ago (before it was $700 per person per night sharing and the in place).

    Plus, it is entirely possible to do a really nice circuit in Zambia, spending time in the Nsefu Sector of South Luangwa, the Mfuwe Sector of South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi National Park, and if time permits Kafue NP.

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    Your entries are, as the Brit's say "spot on". We just returned from the South Luangwa, and spent three days at Mfuwe Lodge and one at Chamilandu. Unfortunately late bookings met that we were unable to get into the other bush camps. We also had Keenan as our guide, and agree completely with your description. The walking safari at Chamilandu conducted by Freya was amazing. We encountered a couple of cape buffalo, that got our attention. When "dodging" around them, we then encountered two hippo's. We opted for the buffalo, who by then had moved off into the bush. It felt good to have a person with a large gun with us, just in case.
    Looking forward to the rest of your journal.

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    Hey Broadway, I know Freya-- yes she it wonderful. We saw a big herd of buffalo with her too...it was really cool. Loved her birding and plant training too. And she has great eyes too.

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    GreenDrake-
    Oh how I love to read that first trip report from someone just venturing into Africa. No matter which country they visit, its that first time excitement that keeps bringing me back to try to re-capture my own excitement as I first ventured out. You never completely re-capture that, but I remember our 1999 trip to Botswana, my 6th trip to Africa. That was so thrilling and our excitement lasted for a couple of years after.
    You put it so well in your trip report. I was pleased to read about the Bushcamp Company camps too. If you get on their mailing list they send you emails with news from their camps, just short one or two liners, but they are always nice for a quick reminder.
    Both my husband and I chuckled at your sense of humor and found the trip report just delightful.
    Your pictures also showed how pretty a country Zambia is, and I thank you. Liz

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    Days 3&4 - Chamilandu, Bushcamp Company, Zambia - September 8 & 9, 2004

    I mistakenly ended my last post by saying I was off to Chendeni bush camp, but in reality I first drove to Chamilandu and then walked to Chendeni two days later.

    On the three-hour drive to Chamilandu from Mfuwe Lodge the wildlife viewing opportunities were plentiful and nary a member of the species - Homo Sapiens were spotted. In fact I would not see another human or vehicle other than those from our camps over the next 6 days. I arrived at the entrance of the camp and was greeted by Abby who offered me a cold grenadilla juice and a moist face cloth to wipe off the dust. Abby is a delightful young British woman who is the manager of the Chamilandu Camp. Her easy relaxed manner fit perfectly into the surroundings and truly enjoyed her company over the next two days. I quickly immersed myself into the bushcamp lifestyle where my daily itinerary here and at the next two bush camps would be:

    05:45
    Staff knocks on your door for your wake-up call. Continental breakfast (tea, coffee, fruit, cereal and toast).

    O6:30
    Morning walk. (Sometimes driving to the spot where we walk from and sometimes walking directly from camp) After a few hours walk the guide chooses a scenic spot where we stop for a break and enjoy a hot or cold drink and some snacks. We continue walking until around 10:00 and then return to camp.

    11:00
    A large brunch is served. Afternoons until 15:30 are free time.

    15:30
    Tea/Coffee snacks - Beer/Wine other ETOH beverages

    16:00
    Evening safari. Similar to the morning safari where we would walk for an hour or so before our guide would find a picturesque spot where we could watch the sunset whilst enjoying some drinks and snacks. Each night we then embarked upon a night- time game drive at about 18:00.

    20:30
    Dinner

    I am working feverishly trying to duplicate this lifestyle into my office back home!!!. In fact I think it is tea time right now as I finish typing this out.

    Abby showed me to my thatched "tree-top" house overlooking the Luangwa River. I plopped down for a moment on the wrought iron bed and looked out at the open porch overlooking the sand colored riverbank. I hopped off the bed and walked into the attached bathroom. The shower/bathroom was open to the skies and several curious vervet monkeys swung branch to branch above my head. Several kelly green bathrobes hung next to the hand painted sink and I could not resist throwing one on for a moment. Here I am deep in the African bush - monkeys swinging overhead - and I have a bathrobe on!! I had to laugh!!

    It was about time for the afternoon bush walk and I strolled down the open thatch covered central dining area / bar / viewing deck. Under the thatched roof stood a deep ebony bar, a small freezer with cold beers and soft drinks, a small wooden bookcase filled with numerous books and field guides focusing on Southern African wildlife, and a viewing deck overlooking the Luangwa river.

    I was introduced to my guide - Derrick Solomon and the fellow guests. Derrick was an outstanding guide, an expert birder and he patiently answered my many questions. Joining me on my first ever bush walk was Jonathan - a British wildlife painter. He had come to paint and was donating 1/2 the proceeds of all his sales to the South Luangwa Conservation Society. (An organization that focuses on anti-poaching endeavors such as training and supplying armed scouts). I was fortunate to be able to watch Jonathan paint the South Luangwa River landscape in front of the camp over the next several days. If you enjoy outstanding wildlife paintings (includes breath taking pieces from East and Southern Africa) you will enjoy viewing his website:

    http://www.jonathantruss.com/

    My other companions were a South African couple now living in London and an American traveling with his own guide. The guide accompanying him was Gavin Ford a native of Zimbabwe who worked out of Maun for A&K. Gavin was just outstanding and added greatly to my bush experience. I never ceased to marvel at how he was in tune with the environment and fully utilized his senses of smell, vision and hearing. Gavin had never been to this area of Zambia. Where after 10 minutes of walking into the bush I would not have the slightest clue as to where we were, Gavin could after several hours point a specific tree a hundred yards away and ask me do you remember walking by that two hours ago? I would shake my head in amazement. He also would be in camp and hear a vehicle approaching about 10 minutes before I ever heard a sound.

    Derrick informed us what the walking protocol would be. The armed ranger would lead, he would follow behind him and we all would proceed in single file behind them. In case there was trouble we were to listen to their instructions and we were not to move until told to do so. We had proceeded no longer than ten minutes when the scout stopped and faced Derrick and started a series of hand motions and pointing in various directions. Derrick responded silently with his own series of hand motions. I looked ahead and I now could see what was causing the pantomime communications. A large bull elephant was about 75 yards in front of us. I would learn quickly that on all our walks we would be extremely careful when encountering elephants. We would give them ample room, assess whether we were up or downwind from the elephants and move in a direction that would avoid contact. Derrick now put his finger up to his lips with the universal "keep quiet" signal and whispered for us to back up slowly. We circled around the big bull and continued on our way. I later asked Derrick if he had thought the elephant had spotted us. Derrick replied no, we were downwind from him but he was quickly moving in our direction and he did not want to surprise him.

    That evening after watching a brilliant African sunset we embarked on a game drive and I spotted my second leopard. Two leopard sitings in two days!!! On the next morning's walk we would spot a third leopard and the Brits were now clinging to my elbow as I had become their good luck charm as they had not spotted any leopards the previous four days prior to my arrival. I pondered whether to exploit my hot streak with a quick flight to Vegas ....Nah!

    It was exhilarating to view this leopard on foot. Gavin, the Zim guide accompanying us, was the first to pick on the audible warning cry emitted by the puku. A herd of about 10 were in an open field and just above them was a small ridge. They had become stiff as statues and were all pointing like hunting dogs towards the top of the ridge. I would soon learn this was the classic sign that a predator had been spotted by the puku. We scanned the ridge trying to see what they had sensed and there crouched upon the small bank was a lithe muscular leopard about 150-200 yards away!!! Three leopards in three days and now the Brits wanted to know what camp I was going to next. On a roll!!

    Some miscellaneous thoughts and observations about my stay in Chamilandu over the course of the next several days:

    - Wild Dogs - We did not see any. Derrick said there had been numerous spottings in July and a few lately around Chichele Lodge recently.
    - Power - generator would be kicked in around 4 pm so you could charge camera batteries.
    - Bugs - No mosquitoes in sight and I never had to use repellant. Flies also were sparse and meals were eaten in an almost bug free environment.
    - Poaching - The years of elephant poaching in the park had resulted in smaller elephants and also in numerous "tuskless" males as neither of these characteristics were desired by poachers.
    - Tree Frogs - thought these little 2-inch guys were ornaments in the room until I touched him one and he hopped away.
    - Hunting - Derrick theorized that the lion density of this part of the park was down due to hunting. The Luangwa River forms the boundary of the park and across this river is a game management area where hunting is allowed. Derrick said they were baiting in this area attracting lions from the park over the river. I was extremely sad to hear this!!
    - Crocks - One of my favorite activities when I go fly-fishing is to sit on the riverbank and smoke a cigar. I knew I would not be able to partake in this pleasure here. Just as a reminder on afternoon I strolled down cigar in hand about 20 yards from the bank and was enjoying the view. A large crock splashed in front of me and I managed not swallow my lit cigar.

    Day 4 - Sept. 10 2004 - Off to walk to the next camp - Chendeni (around a10KM walk) -



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    GreenDrake,

    Wow, you probably were the lucky recepient of a few hundred dollars worth of Gavin Ford! ;)

    I have received pricing from GF and a couple other private guides, but considering that many of them do a combo mobile safari / lodge safari, I just cannot justify paying such very high rates for the very reason that I know part of the time will be spent in lodges where private vehicles are not always available.

    Increidble stuff...spotting the leopard while out on the bush walk!

    How about elephants??? Although in a different part of the park, while we were doing a bush walk at Chichele Presidential Lodge, we must have crossed paths with 25 - 30 elephants (we kept our distance according to which direction the wind was blowing...if the wind was blowing away from the elephants, we would get within about 75 yards, if the wind was at our backs blowing our scent towards the elephants, we would stay much further away).

    Time to start thinking about that next trip Green Drake! If you really want an affordable option, take a look at the Emerald Season Special, the best deal ever for a single traveller doing an African safari.

    http://www.robinpopesafaris.net/pages/news/specials/emeraldsllivgross.html

    From what I was told by Derek Shenton, the owner of Kaingo, the Emerald Season is the best time for Wild Dog spottings, and although it wouldn't seem like it, leopard spottings are also frequent. I was told that the animals prefer to stick to the road when everything else around them is soaked, making game viewing not as bad as it would seem, and making for excellent photographs. :)

    TEN NIGHTS split between a choice of the following camps, including your transfer from Lusaka to Mfuwe to Livingstone and back to Lusaka:

    In South Luangwa choose from:

    Mfuwe Lodge
    (Mfuwe Trails)

    Kapani
    (Norman Carr Safaris)

    Nkwali
    (Robin Pope Safaris ? Nov/Dec, & 17-31 March)

    Tafika
    (Remote Africa Safaris - from 10 Feb / 31 March)

    Kafunta River Lodge

    and in Livingstone choose from:

    Islands of Siankaba

    Tongabezi

    Stanley Safari Lodge

    Your air alone is worth half the price of the itinerary, making it as if you are staying each night in the lodges for about $120 per night. NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT!!! Can you feel Zambia pulling you back already?! ;)

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    Now you have done it Roccco!!! Any chance I would be productive today is out the window!!!

    I had not thought of the Green season as an option, as the bush camp experience that I so much enjoyed would not be available. The fact Tafika and Nkwali would be options added to that terrific price without SS has, however, perked my interest. Then you add the wild dog spotting possibilties, leopards and I know there would be great birding!!

    I would imagine there would still be walking options.

    Wonder what the bug situation is like that time of year???

    Thanks for forwarding this information!!!

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    How strange!
    Jonathan was another expert on that Festival in Kenya and I attended 3 of his art safaris. Still can't paint or draw worth a damn but really enjoyed it. Since then I've visited him down in Bournemouth a few times and have also commissioned two pencil sketches based on my own images of animals from the trip. He's a really good bloke isn't he and very talented! Only downside is he seems to take pleasure in subjecting me to the scary contraption that is his motorobike. I keep muttering about how happy I'd be to get a taxi, a lovely sturdy taxi with 4 wheels but... it never works!

    My dad is currently in Zambia in same place. He was scheduled to go this time last year but shortly before the trip he had the accident and couldn't travel for a few months. So it's been a long anticipated trip. I can't wait to hear all about it when he gets home next week!

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    Yes in regards to Gavin Ford the guide I felt very very fortunate to have him along.

    If anyone out there can afford a private guide this guy was OUTSTANDING. Outgoing, knowledgeable tracker, very funny, an excellent birder and a great story teller. On the walks I was fortunate to bring up the rear with him and it was like having my own private guide!! The guy had a wealth of stories!! He told me one where he was canoing on the Zambezi and witnessed a hippo take a chunk out of a canoe. He said the hippos are most ofen more intent on chewing up the canoe than the people inside. The tourist in the canoe in this case was thrown up into the air and landed on the back of the hippo -riding it bareback -cowboy style while the hippo continued to munch on the canoe!! I can only imagine the horror on this woman's face!!

    He also gave me wealth of other African destinations he thought highly of. He was very very keen on Tanzania, particulaly the Selous area. Said it was very wild, beautiful and that if you enjoyed walking the Zambian walking experience could now be replicated there.

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    Wow, GreenDrake -- awesome experience! I am very excited to go to Zambia now, just got my first inquiry about my Wild Dog trip too so things are looking good for next July.

    Can't wait to read the rest.

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    Kavey I can picture Jonahtan on a wild motorbike. This guy is one of the funniest, talented guys I ever met. He had all the guests, guides and trackers in tears laughing.

    He would mimic the radio calls down to the minutest detail and constantly had us thinking it was the real thing with contstant radio calls for lion and leopard spottings. Then he would do dead-on imitations of Woody Allen, Sean Connery and a British stand-up comic I was not familiar with.

    Tashak - laughing at my cat moniker. My lucky streak would soon end as I would separate from my British friends soon at the next camp and they would see all the cats and I would get shut out!!

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    wow greendrake that is awesome. what did you guys do after you saw the leopard? did you walk the other way? try to get closer? i'm always curious about interactions with predators on foot. my wife doesnt find the same fascination. haha. anyway that's really cool.

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    Did he do that bizaare imitation of someone in the boot of the car? That one kills me... he used to be an actor and a musician too amongst the various jobs he held before finally discovering the art thing. If you get any good photos do consider asking him to do a commission for you based on your own work. It's a thrill. But tell him you'll only confirm the commission if he promises not to make you ride the scary contraption!

    I love having pics that relate to my Africa pics up on my walls.

    Would this be a good time to plug (again) the prints I'm selling to raise funds for DSWF charity? Jonathan is a strong supporter of DSWF and has been associated with it for years. Watching him and David Shepherd tease each other is like attending a comedy show... Anyway, do have a look at http://kavey.dpcprints.com - all prints with DSWF in the title are being sold for the charity.

    So... how did your photos come out? AND WHEN WILL YOU BE GOING BACK TO AFRICA?!

    :D

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    bigcountry - when we spotted the leopard we were in a wooded area looking down on a large open field. Tis field was were the puku were grazing. The leopard was across the field on a wooded ridge. I don't believe the leopard ever spotted us and we would have had to cross down into the field to get closer which was not an option.

    We watched him for several minutes thinking we may actually see a kill. We saw him twice dart on the ridge very fast from one spot to another and just lay down. In hindsight - Gavin the guide said that this really was not stalking behavior and his quick movements were quite unusual. He eventually got up and disappeared into the woods.

    Kavey - please plug away for this worthwhile cause. Yes Jonahtan spoke highly of David Shepherd. (I believe I have several photos of Jonathan in my ofoto linked photos.) I don't recall him doing the boot of the car imitation. I can easily see him being an actor. I actually got to play camera man for a short shot he was doing for a television show he was airing in the UK. It was a show about doing wildlife painting in the UK (stags in particular) and he wanted to do a short 30 second piece from the banks of the South Luangwa for the piece. Quite comical as he is continually swatting away sweat bees while trying to remain serious.

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    Journal Entry #4

    September 10, 2004 - Chendeni Bushcamp, Zambia

    I am sitting on the deck of my new home- Chendeni, Bushcamp and I am trying to recount the previous night's game drive at Chendeni before heading out on foot here this morning. The mysterious cat of the night graced us with another appearance. The 4th beautiful leopard I have seen since this trip began. We had spotted a field full of puku in their "hunting dog pointing position" and heard their warning cries and so we knew a predator was nearby. We all scanned the field up and down and finally our guide spots the leopard on a ridge. We killed the lights and shut off the engine and sat silently in the blackness of the night and waited to hear the sounds of a kill. The night sky is full of stars and the night eerily quiet. We wait for about 15-20 minutes but do not hear any sounds of a kill and when we turn back on the spotlight the leopard has disappeared.

    We would later spot several more denizens of the night - a civet pose in the middle of the road for us as we all admired its rich lavish coat of fur and several solitary white-tailed mongoose would also stop briefly to say "hello". Gavin, the Zimbabwean guide, towards the end of the drive directs the spotter to position his spot light over a broad field to our right. Gavin is an expert on insects and wants to show us one of his favorite treasures of the night. The spotlight reveals hundreds of small shimmering reflections across the field. It appeared as if someone had sprinkled small gemstones across the savannah. These "gemstones" were actually the eyes of hundreds of predator funnel spiders that were waiting for their prey to enter their "killing field".

    The Chendeni camp has 4 raised tents that sit overlooking a fairly large lagoon. I will be here for the next two days after having walked completed a morning walk of about 9KM from the Chamilandu Bushcamp. It is about noon and we have just had a great morning brunch and I am observing the lagoon and I am wondering what caused the formation of these two very large dark mud piles that extend out of the mossy lagoon. I look closer and these mud piles have pinkish ears and realized I will have some hippo friends serenading me during my stay. For those of you that have never heard the sounds of hippos exercising their vocal chords, they sound exactly like several gas powered lawn mowers on full throttle!!!

    The morning walk to Chendeni was superb. We see numerous elephants a few kudu and have some great raptor sightings. A couple of tawny eagles fly overhead protecting their territory from a Batoleur eagle that had invaded their airspace. Derrick (our guide) was fascinated that the Tawny eagles were nudging the intruding Batoleur eagle off in a "gentlemanly" fashion instead of outright attacking it. The Batoleur eagle is truly a large beautiful eagle. Looking it up in my field guide I learn the word Batoleur is French and it refers to the way a tight rope artist balances himself while walking a tightrope. That is the flying pattern of these eagles as they tip back and forth as if flying on a tightrope.

    Our leisurely tea stop on the walk is abruptly interrupted as the scout motioned for all of us to get up and start moving. A bull elephant was rapidly approaching the shady spot under a large acacia tree that we have chosen for our morning break. We hurriedly get up and moved away about 30 yards and in no time "our" tea spot is now claimed by three elephants munching way. The elephants had not spotted us up to that point, but the wind suddenly shifts and they catch our scent. They raise their trunks and all three in unison run quickly in the opposite direction from where we are standing.

    I believe this group of three were the only elephants of the numerous ones we saw that morning that actually spotted us. Gavin tells me they that they have very good senses of smell and decent hearing but only fair vision acuity. Thus, we always try to stay down wind in our elephant encounters. He added that they could easily pick up our scent, especially if anyone wore aftershave, perfumes or other scented products. He really caused me to pause later on our walk as he relays a particular "chilling" encounter with one angry elephant. He witnessed this upset elephant charge and chase after a guided group of 5 people. The group successfully had run off and hidden. The elephant then tried to use his superior sense of smell to actually track down the hidden group by placing his trunk on the ground and following their scent!!

    Our morning walk the next day produces an "unusual" lion escapade. We are scouring a ridge about 400 yards away with out binoculars when one of the guests thinks he sees a lion. He directs our vision to what appears to be a log, but this log has a long tail and is swatting away flies. It is a male lion and he gets up and races along the ridge a short distance and picks up something in his mouth. We think maybe he has a small kill in his jaws. He shakes his head and now we see he actually has a fisherman's net rolled up into a ball and is playing with as if he were a housecat with a catnip toy.

    We arrive back to camp and while eating brunch on the veranda I spot my first large herd of cape water buffalo in the distance off the edge of the lagoon. A herd of about 100 are gathered and nearby are several waterbucks, puku and a few elephants. That's enough for me to cancel any plans of an afternoon nap and I spend the next few hours observing them.

    On our evening drive we encounter a teenaged elephant that is a bit unsure to what to make of us. We spot him feeding in the bush next to the road and observe him for a minute or two. He looks towards us and he sways his head back and forth for a moment, but makes no other menacing moves. We decide to drive away and only when we pull away does he trumpet and make a very short charge after us before breaking off is chase. Gavin comments that the young teenagers will often make this charge when you are leaving to show a bit of "safe" bravado. We end the night by spotting a huge porcupine sitting amongst a herd of puku and I get a brilliant shot of him - well almost brilliant as I neglect one small detail. It helps to remove your lens cap!! My colleagues put me on a Mosi restricted diet (Zambian beers) for all subsequent night drives!!

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    Thanks for letting me promote the prints again. So far have raised about US$299 but sales have now slowed to a halt as I am not really getting new people to view the prints. I'm getting some traffic but generally not from Africaphiles and animal lovers. Ah well... I'll keep pushing.

    Looked through your photos again. Last time I used the album summary and expanded the ones that intrigued me. This time I looked through all of them and did indeed notice Monsieur Truss in a few.

    So do you think you might commission something from him? Pencil sketches are great value for those of us who can't afford his paintings!

    I wish I had a trip to Africa in the pipeline. I can't complain but after the big 2 monther earlier this year we really can't afford many trips next year and also we want to look at some of our non-Africa wishlist destinations which have been pushed aside for too long.

    But I still yearn for Africa...

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    Greendrake,

    This is a wonderful trip report, I'm living every sentence. I have actually copied it into word &, once complete, will present it to my BH in the hope that it will persuade him to consider this trip for next year.

    However I know his concern will be around the walking part. So would you mind describing this in a bit more detail - How long did it take to walk 9km, how hard going is the terrain and how fit do you think you need to be etc etc.
    Thanks, Ruth

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    Kavey -I thought a full oil painting reproduction of any of my photos would be out of my price range, but you bring up a great idea of a pencil sketch. I bet that would fall into my budget. Now deciding which one!!!

    I would encourage all those that have not seen Kavey photos to take a look. They are excellent!!

    Ruthie - The Bushcamp Company did not screen me in terms of physical ability before embarking on the walks and after doing the trip I can now see why.

    The walks are really were quite easy and done at a very relaxed pace. You would stop quite often as the guide would explain various aspects of flora and fauna. The morning walks would just be ending as the heat of the day started to build up and there would be frequent stops to drink tea/coffe or have a cold beverage.

    The terrain would vary between human and animal created footpaths and in some places be rocky and uneven, but no substantial elevation changes.

    On the walks between camps a vehicle would transport your luggage and all you really needed to carry were your binocs and camera. I would say unless you have a physical handicap that inhibits you to walk several hours or possibly a cardiac condition that most people would do fine on these walks.

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    GreenDrake,

    I love your report! But, would you please stop before everyone abandons Botswana all at once!!! ;)

    I do think we are facing the last year or two that Zambia has reasonable pricing, as I think the secret is getting out. Already, I have been quoted $400 pppns for Kaingo! I enjoyed my time at Kaingo, but I don't think I will visit again, at least not at those rates.

    You really capture the essence of a Zambian safari, and you do it so well, I believe, because with your trip focusing on walking safaris, I really think you were able to make a connection that few visitors to Africa will ever make by just going on game drives.

    Now, if you want to take it to the next step, you should really consider adding Lower Zambezi NP to your next trip. Canoeing down the Zambezi River, dodging hippos, crocs and elephants is an amazing adventure.

    Just imagine seeing a wall of hippos a hundred yards ahead of you...in a narrow channel...there is no stopping...your expert guide rows you closer and closer...100 yards quickly becomes 50 yards...50 yards quickly becomes 25 yards...the hippos are not moving, just snorting and daring you to come closer...15 yards and the hippos finally part, mostly...there is that one stubborn hippo that you see go down right in the middle of your path...your guide reasons that the hippo can only hold his breath for five minutes and that it may be best to wait it out...two minutes pass as you sit there, surrounded by hippos and crocs, and just to get your heart racing further, once in a while a duo or trio of waterbuck will sprint through the shallow water nearby...you ask yourself if the current is actually current or the submerged hippo coming closer to introduce itself...four minutes pass and still no hippo...a couple of terrapins jump into the water just a few yards away but you don't realize they are just terrapins (turtles) until after they have scared you silly with their plop into the nearby water...six minutes and still NO HIPPO...your trustworthy guide at that point says, "well, let's make a run for it", before he paddles for dear life and you plot your escape route to the shore that you will surely need after the submerged hippo surely comes up and tips over the canoe!!!

    Then, after you successfully escape unscathed, you go through this routine, oh, another half dozen times during your three hour canoeing trip! :)

    Really, I am finding it hard to justify anyplace BUT Zambia right now. There is something for everyone, from the bush camps that you so much enjoyed to the very luxurious game lodges that will appeal to the Singita / Wilderness Safari clientele, if they could only convince themselves to be bold enough to go beyond South Africa or Botswana.

    Here is my next trip, at least for the next five minutes:

    Lunga River Lodge, Kafue NP, 2 nights

    Busanga Bush Camp, Kafue NP, 3 nights (tree climbing lions, cheetah and the largest assortment of antelope in all of Africa)

    Kasaka River Lodge or Chiawa Camp, Lower Zambezi NP, 4 nights

    Tena Tena or Tafika (for its microlighting opportunities), South Luangwa NP (Nsefu Sector), 3 nights

    Puku Ridge, South Luangwa NP (Mfuwe Sector bordering its sister lodge Chichele but with a lot more game viewing from the lodge possible as it overlooks a wonderful plain), 3 nights

    Westcliff Hotel or Michelangelo Hotel in Joburg, 2 nights

    Simbambili, SSGR, 4 nights

    Anyway, GreenDrake, you are doing an amazing job with sharing your experiences. Thank you.

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    Greendake, I am sure it would. I love mine!
    When you email Jonathan send him that picture of the three of you on the trip or any other nice ones with him in. I'm sure he'd appreciate it!

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    Roccco - Thanks for the kinds words. It has been fun reliving the trip as write up my journal notes. As you, I truly appreciated the warmth extended to me from all the Zambians I encountered and I will return and really want to spend some time in S.A. on my next trip.

    Your hippo canoing description has me sold on the Lower Zambezi. I was hoping to get there this trip.

    I must say I really like the itinerary you have drafted. In addition to the Lower Zambezi, the Kafue area intrigues me. One of the groups I stayed with on my Zambia trip had a similar itinerary excluding the S.A. portion. They started at Puku Ridge (they had an excellent young Zimbawean guide there that Gavin Ford knew) , then did a few nights at the Bushcamp company- Bilimungwe, moved on to Chiawa on the Lower Zambezi and they were ending their trip in the Kafue National Park(can't recall where).

    Kavey - yes I must send the "mad professor" the several photos I have of him. Only wish I had brought a tape recorded to capture some of his imitations!!

    He really had the poor guide spinning his head several times in the vehicle. Jonahtan would be doing his fake radio calls spotting big cats and the guide would turn to the radio and try to tune in the call!! Then the private guide along on our trip would be in the back with - his partner in crime Jonathan -and he would mimic to perfection various bird calls. These were so realistic that our guide driving up front would instantly announce the bird and start searching the tree lines for the "phantom bird". James- the native Zambian -guide discovered the ruse and in his good natured Zambian way just would shake his head and laugh!!

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    September 12-15, 2004 - Bilimungwe Bushcamp and Mfuwe Lodge Zambia

    This journal entry marks the end of my Zambia narrative and covers my visit to one more bushcamp - Bilimungwe-and a return to the Mfuwe Lodge before departing home.

    I go out on my last evening game drive at the Chendeni Bushcamp before embarking on foot to the Bilimungwe Bushcamp in the morning. As night falls our expectations rise as our guide stops the vehicle suddenly. I hear a dog like barking sound in the bushes. I had up to this point in the trip not heard this sound and our guide James tells me these are "warning" call barks from baboons. He points out the puku frozen in their tracks in the adjacent field and now I also hear the puku's distinctive warning calls. James decides to go off road to follow the baboon barking calls and try to find the predator. A fallen log blocks our path and several of us jump off the vehicle and lift the log out of the way and off we go into the bush. We, however, never discover the big cat causing all the commotion.

    For the second evening in a row we spot a giant eagle owl on the ground. The eagle owl hops a short distance and we see him grab a gerbil with his talons. He takes flight and with one silent flap of his large wings he disappears with his prey into the trees. I had heard owls my entire life, but up until this trip had never spotted one and I am thrilled at spotting these mysterious birds. The guide tells me they viewed with great trepidation in the local villages.

    At the break of dawn we quietly sipped some coffee and then embark on short 6KM walk to the Bilimungwe - Bushcamp. Bilimungwe means chameleon and it is a very fitting description of the four small thatched chalets that blend in perfectly into surrounding bush. A very small lagoon sits about 15 yards from the central thatch covered dining area. We are not there more that 15 minutes when a large bull elephant comes through the underbrush and enters into the lagoon, lowers his trunk into the mud and starts throwing mud onto his back. This small lagoon would be a true treasure as over the course of the next two days I would spend much time sitting on the central deck areas observing the water high jinks of other elephants, warthogs, impala, puku, waterbucks and baboons. A single hippo one afternoon tromps down several hundred yards from his home in the Luangwa river and slowly plops himself right in the middle of the small lagoon - this created a comical scene that was somewhat akin to watching a 250 pound man plopping himself down into a small two-year olds rubber wading pool.

    Later that afternoon I would return to my thatched hut and right next to me at my neighbor's doorway stood a large tusked elephant stripping bark off the tree. After several days bush walks it has now been ingrained into me to be very careful of elephants and here was one now about 25 yards away and no one else around. I ducked in and out of my hut and would periodically take a photo and duck back in. He kept munching away and was oblivious to me. Still I knew he could just trample my humble abode in case he got upset with my photo taking antics. I wondered for a moment if this was the "camp elephant" - meaning a frequent visitor known to the staff. I would learn later the staff had never seen this elephant before and he would later prevent my neighbor from entering her hut for almost the entire afternoon.

    The next morning we all decide it would be nice to catch the sunrise out on our bush walk so we rose at 5am. It was well worth getting up that early as the sunrise was spectacular and the wildlife was quite active. I only wish now that we had done that each morning. At about 6am I hear another unfamiliar loud call and our guide - Manda - whispers to me that it is the call of a hyena summoning the rest of the pack. I had only seen solitary hyena up until that point and I had not seen any in the daytime. Manda tells us this sound is a hyena's call to arms and usually means a confrontation over a kill is happening or about to occur with something big - most likely lion. We stood dead still and listened to pick up the direction of the call, but unfortunately we would not hear it again.

    We later spot a fish eagle posing on a barren branch. He let us approach within 20 yards before taking flight. The morning walk would also produce several Cape buffalo sightings and an up- close view of a regal giraffe.

    Manda, our guide, made a point of engaging the scout and support staff on all the walks. He wisely said this kept them full engaged and preventing them from getting bored with the same old routine. He would ask their advice and tap their knowledge about the local plants and animals. He had them point out some of the plants they used in the local villages for medicinal purposes including the Zambian wild plant version of Viagra. (No this is not the only reason I want to return ASAP).

    Manda once stopped under a Sausage Tree and encouraged one of the scouts to tell us about how important the Sausage tree is to young male adolescents in the local villages. In local lore the sausage tree fruit can affect the size of one's manhood. The sausage tree produces huge melon like fruits - fruit so large and hard in fact that small children are warned sternly to stay clear away from standing under the tree as the large hard fruit would cause serious damage to one's noggin if one were fall upon you. When boys reach age 12 or 13 in the villages they will find a sausage tree and identify a young un-ripened fruit and take a clipping from this fruit. They will make an infusion from this fruit and drink it daily. They will also visit this tree daily and when the fruit reaches the size they would like their manhood to be, they climb the tree, cut the fruit, being careful when they cut it that its falls straight and vertically to the ground!!

    Now before you guys all start racing to Zambia to find a sausage tree - Manda winked at me and said of course this will only "works" for young growing boys who happen to be at that special age in life where mother nature assists in this process with a few natural born hormones!!

    I would leave Bilimungwe the next day and drive 3 hours back to the Mfuwe Lodge. I would have one last game drive before sadly leaving this incredible place. This game drive was magical. Up until this point I had only seen solitary giraffe, but that evening right at sunset we encountered groups of 3-5 giraffes galloping towards us from the horizon. As soon as one group would disappear we would be treated to another! The evening drive would end with one more leopard sighting. We spotted him in a tree and watched him very slowly climb down from a branch. You could see every muscle move with each lithe, graceful step. He slowly walked away from us and into the woods. At the base of the tree we saw a single hunch backed spotted hyena tearing away at the remains of a kill. He had apparently stolen the kill from the now vanishing leopard.

    I would enjoy my last dinner at the lodge under the stars and below us in a gully not more than 40 yards away a hippo also was grazing away enjoying the beginning of his night long meal. Oh Africa what have you done to me!!! I could feel the addiction racing through my veins!!



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    GreenDrake,

    Forgive me...I spent a few minutes going over your report and I cannot find which camp of the bunch that you declared your favorite.

    I have some serious decisions to make in the next couple months and I am leaving no stone unturned. Well, I will probably leave Norman Carr's stones unturned, as those camps just do nothing for me. But, I am open to Bushcamp Company, Robin Pope Safaris, Star of Africa, Kafunta and even Tafika.

    I will probably also not return to Kaingo now that they have raised their rates to higher than what I can get Robin Pope Safaris and Puku Ridge. While Kaingo is a very high quality camp, I do think they should offer past guests (especially guests whose referals have led to other bookings) a better than rack rate, but that is not the case with Kaingo.

    I am not even too proud to consider staying at Flatdogs Camp, especially in the event that my better half takes me up on my offer of sending her and a guest on a two week tour of Europe, while I go off on safari (why force someone to do something they are not passionate about?).

    If I stayed at Flatdogs, I would likely spend about 4 nights at Flatdogs, 3 nights at Kafunta Island Bush Camp, and then go down to Kafue NP for another 7 nights, mostly in the Busanga Plains. It would be SOOOO inexpensive.

    Flatdogs in my own private chalet with everything included (they charge separate for everything here) would only cost me about $160 per night ($60 per night for the chalet, $45 per day for two game activities, $20 per day for park entry fees, $25 per day for food and drinks, and maybe $10 per day for other incidentals such as laundry).

    Therefore, a four night stay at Flatdogs would only run me $640 USD + $360 USD for my return flight from Lusaka to Mfuwe. Then I would also add 3 nights at Kafunta Island Bush Camp, and that would run me another $750 USD.

    Seven high season nights in South Luangwa including air from Lusaka for only $1,750 USD.

    Next, I would spend my 7 nights with Busanga Trails divided between their three camps (Kafwala Rapids, Lufupa Lodge and Shumba Bush Camp). I was quoted a price of only $1,750 per person for a 6 night stay for two persons sharing, so I imagine that a 7 night stay for a single may be as low as $2,500 including my transfer from Lusaka.

    I would definitely spend 5 nights in Busanga Plains (3 at Shumba Bush Camp and 2 at Lufupa, while spending 2 nights at Kafwala Rapids).

    In the end, a 14 night Zambian safari in high season would only cost $4,250 USD. Even if I were to substitute my four nights at Flatdogs with a nicer lodge, I would probably only be looking at an extra $750, and still get a 14 night Zambian safari for $5,000 USD.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble, it just all comes out of my head. If you are still with me, please tell me your favorite Bushcamp Company camp, and if you also really liked the others, let me know, as well.

    Thanks.

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    For the record, in Kafue NP, Experience Africa's camps, Lunga River Lodge and Busanga Bush Camp, are a lot more expensive than Busanga Trails camps. I would say they are 50% more expensive, and, in all honesty, they are really not that much nicer.

    www.busangatrails.com
    www.experienceafrica.com

    There is one more camp that really interests me, and it is called Hippo Lodge. It is the only one, I believe, that offers fishing excursions to its guests. If for no other reason, click on this link to see the most amazing hippo photo that I have yet come across! (and my new wallpaper on my computer)

    http://www.hippolodge.co.uk/

    I could imagine either focusing entirely on Kafue NP, or at least spending 9 nights in Kafue NP and 4 nights in Lower Zambezi. 4 nights is too few to spend in South Luangwa, in my opinion.

    The only drawback is that Lunga River Lodge appears to be the only camp offering canoeing, but maybe it is because it is too dangerous in these parts (just as you will not find canoeing possible in South Luangwa, although the canoeing I did in the hippo and croc infested Lower Zambezi was enough to make a grown man (nearly) cry (me!).

    The Busanga Plains are said to be very similar to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, and for this reason, I will not pass it by on my next trip. Despite Kafue NP being the largest NP in all of Africa, I would be very surprised if there were more than 150 beds for photosafaris in the entire park. It is more than twice the size of Chobe NP in Botswana, for example, so there is a very high level of exclusivity offered here, even if the lodges/camps are still pretty basic.

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    Roccco - now that is one great hippo shot!! I remember you also got some great yawning shots out of the blind at Kaingo. I could watch these guys all day.

    Speaking of Zambia and desktop wallpaper. Here is the one I use:

    http://seabed.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/wallpaper.tmpl?issue_id=20040801

    Its the second shot listed on the page and was taken in the Liuwa Plains National Park, Zambia.

    Your travel ideas are very similar to my next planned trip to Zambia. I also plan on going to S.Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue NP. Have not gotten down to detailed planning and will utilize some of your research.

    As to my favorite Bushcamp Company camp that is a tough one. If "a gun was placed to my head" and had to choose I guess I would say Bilimungwe. This primarily because I really liked the setting on this very small lagoon which attracted a lot of wildlife.

    A brief summary of the 3 I visited:
    (All 3 can be described as away from it all- no other people or vehicles from other camps around)

    Chamilandu - probably the nicest physical accomodations. Thathed tree top house overlooking the S.Luangwa River. Beautiful vistas with elephants often crossing the river and marching across the horizon. Nice porch with rocking chair.

    Chendeni - Raised tent accomodations on a large lagoon. Hippo heaven!!! Nice porch overlooking the lagoon.

    Bilimungwe - Thatched huts. Inside accomodations similar to the other 2 and very nice. Porch view here not nearly as nice as other 2 camps. I, however, spent my afternoons hanging arond the central deck area adjacent to the small lagoon and really enjoyed the abundant wildlife coming to the lagoon to sip water.(puku, waterbucks, warthogs, elles, baboons, elles) (Only 4 chalets in the camp)

    In case you have not viewed them I have a separate album on Ofoto that has strictly accomodation shots of the 3 camps.

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    GreenDrake, thy name is indeed, as tashak said, Cat-Man!

    Do you write for a living? This report made me feel as if I were there. The worst part of it is, my husband WILL be there next week, without me! (He's doing some volunteer work in Malawi right now, and some of the people in the group will spend 3 days at Mfuwe Lodge when they finish in Malawi.) I don't know whether to dance for joy that he will most likely be seeing leopards, or gnash my teeth that I won't be seeing leopards!

    Roccco's enthusiasm for Zambia has made me consider it for our next trip, and this thread has clinched it. Your wonderfully evocative descriptions have just enchanted me, and brought back all the thrills of past safaris for me.

    Thank you!

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    Celia thanks for the kind words!! No, writing does not pay the bills for me.

    Your husband will have an outstanding couple of days at the Mfuwe Lodge. You have every right to be envious and full of joy!! Sounds like a bit of schizophrenic teeth gnashing dancing is in order!!

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