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SAFARI 2006, Carolyn and Tom, So. Africa, Zambia, Kenya

SAFARI 2006, Carolyn and Tom, So. Africa, Zambia, Kenya

Oct 10th, 2006, 09:13 PM
  #21  
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Between 7:00 and 7:30am. Sounds kind of late, I know. There is something going on there with time changes maybe. I heard something about the time being moved up an hour. Sort of like our daylight savings change? It still did not feel any later than the drives in Zambia and Kenya that started at 6:30. I don't know, maybe someone else can shed some light on it In my opinion, all camp game drives start an hour too late in the morning.
regard - tom
cary999 is offline  
Oct 10th, 2006, 09:46 PM
  #22  
santharamhari
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Tom,

On my recent visit to Botswana in August, we generally left camp just around 6 15Am every morning. If felt right....i would just hv a quick cup of coffee while the guides get a quick bite of muffins and fruit to get themselves kick-started for their day...then we'd rush off to avoid missing the best morning light.

In the Sabi Sands, in Dulini in August...we set out around 6ish, doing the coffee stop in the bush around 7 30 thereabouts......plus or minus depending on the game that particular morning.....

Hari
 
Oct 11th, 2006, 07:28 AM
  #23  
 
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The 7:30 start is the winter start. In summer it is earlier. You can also request an earlier start, or generally just get moving faster, but you need your own vehicle or like minded people.

As for the radio, it is way less intrusive than Radio Botswana where the guides dont where a headset.

I have never had any issues about the radios at MM, the rangers do not over use them, so there is not an issue of constant chatter. Also remember if you are sitting behind the ranger while the vehicle is moving and you ask a question, it might not be the radio's fault that he doesn't hear.
napamatt is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 09:16 AM
  #24  
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Trip Report
SAFARI 2006, Carolyn and Tom, So. Africa, Zambia, Kenya
Robin Pope camps Nsefu & Tena Tena, Zambia, Part 4 of 5 parts.
Six nights September 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18th.

A few photos at - http://www.kodakgallery.com/tdgraham...sefu_Tena_2006
September 13th. After the morning game drive at Mala we flew to Joburg, a four hour layover and then to Lusaka Zambia getting into Lusaka at 8:10pm. Robin Pope Safaris (and other safari operators) clients are wavered the Zambia visa fee if the operator sends the proper letter. Zambian immigration said they knew nothing about it for us and said we could look through the four huge books of letters for it. We wasted over half an hour looking, did not find it so paid the visa fee of $25 each person. But we do believe the letter was there, somewhere, Robin Pope is good about this. We were spending the night at the Lusaka Holiday Inn. And then the next morning catching an 11:30am flight to Mfuwe airport. The Holiday Inn shuttle was not at the airport so we hired a taxi for $25. This was just the beginning of problems at the Holiday Inn. I don’t care to discuss them all and waste your time. If the Holiday Inn management wishes to contact me, I will tell them all about it. The flight to Mfuwe is one hour and after a coke and beer at the tiny café outside of the airport we were in the Toyota Land Cruiser for the one and one-half hour ride to camp Nsefu. Camp Nsefu is inside the South Luangwa National Park as is Tena Tena. We were greeted at the camp, offered a cold wet hand/face towel and a drink from the bar/lounge. Nsefu does not charge for soft drinks, beer, wine, or liquor and seem to be the no worse off for it. (Perhaps this cost is included in the base rate? Maybe other camps (you listening Mala, Little Governors ?) should do this and not appear so “cheap”). We checked in to hut number 4 and took it easy until tea at 3:45pm.

Nsefu and Tena Tena are very small, 12 guests and 10 guests. Breakfast is outside around a small fire to cook toast, hot and cold cereals are also there, juice, coffee tea. No omelets to order, no eggs Florentine. Lunch is at a large table family style with all guest and camp management. Dinner the same way as lunch. We liked this, it was fun to meet and talk with everyone in camp. The meals were very good but certainly limited in selection compared to the big camps. Again, soda, beer, wine, flowed at your pleasure.


The Zambezi river winds its way through this area and both camps are built right on the edge of it. Very beautiful setting. You look out and you see a lot of river and a lot of wilderness. And hippopotamus, lots of them in the river. A couple nights I was woke by a munching /crunching sound and it was a hippo about 20 meters away. The sense of being far away deep in the wilderness is the prime appeal for me for these camps. The old dry river channel is now very flat with short grass and when covered in impala and puku in the morning or late afternoon light has a surreal real enchanting look and feel about it. We met again a couple (also) from California who were there last year. They’ve come to these camps for years because they like the informal, wilderness, quietness of them. (And then they go off to other camps, this year they were going next to Leopard Hills, Sabi Sands). If camps like Mala Mala seem too close to civilization for you, then Nsefu and Tena should be more to your liking.

So it’s 4pm, first day, time for the afternoon/evening game drive, let’s find the lion Nsefu pride. There is one pride in the Nsefu area called the Nsefu pride. The pride has one male, five adult lioness, and five cubs. Two of the cubs are around 3-4 months old and the other two are 5-6 months. We found them, just before dark, they were romping about. Why couldn’t we have found them 30 minutes earlier when there was still some sun light? As is, yes we have photos of the cute cubs but that is all that they are. The light was much too flat and gone. So, we had sundowners. After sundowners we picked the pride up going out on hunt, followed very close to the cubs in back and got some cute little video clips of the cubs. The lioness brought down an impala and a puku and we arrived on the scene very shortly. Three lioness had the impala down and were eating it alive with the poor impala moaning in pain and protest. We wanted to help the impala by killing it quickly somehow. Two nights later we saw much the same scene but with only one puku killed. On that night before we came to the kill we found a porcupine in an open non grassy area and it was very relaxed around the vehicle. I got a good photos of it.

One morning we found a small water/mud hole that was just beautiful. There were a pair of Egyptian geese, couple of storks and best of all a fish eagle. The fish eagle stood on the edge of the big puddle looking for, yes, fish. Two flying passes into the muddy pool yielded nothing but the third it came up with a small (muddy) catfish. It took the fish into a tree where it was quickly joined by its youngster. A family of elephants slowly ate their way towards the pond and it would have been great to see them drink and bathe. But they heard or saw us and meandered away.

Carolyn and another British couple took a morning to visit nearby Kwaza village and school. (I visited last year and opted to stay for the game drive). They give you a nice little tour of the village and a very good tour of the school. It is for grades 1-9. They visited several classrooms and a student assembly. The villagers prepared a simple lunch for them and then performed dances accompanied by drummers. No cost, no charge for this. The kids themselves are worth the visit, they are so friendly and inquisitive.

After four nights at Nsefu we transferred by a 10 minute drive to camp Tena Tena. That is, I “drove”, Carolyn walked over. She really liked that walk and did another one at Tena Tena. But of course one of her hobbies is long distance walking, so no surprise. She did say that unlike the walk in Kruger these walks had a real sense of danger to them. On my drive over to Tena we went by a large pond of water and sunning on the far bank were maybe 50 yellow billed storks, a few pelicans, and Egyptian geese. Another idyllic setting. Tena is a tented camp that is taken down in November and then back up in April (?). It is also by the river and has a look and feel to it that I like more than Nsefu.

At Tena we were again joined by the couple from California and by another couple from the USA. That lady was a talker. I told our guide that on a game drive I expected to hear only him talk and nature “talk”. The rest could wait for the bar or dinner. He agreed and made sure the gal did not sit next to him in the land cruiser. She did not find it interesting to talk to her husband.

The highlight game drive for me at Tena was a den of two very young hyena pups, still all black. We went over after dark and glimpsed the two pups outside the hole. They went down and we waited for them to come back out, then drove over to look inside the den. There they were munching on an impala head mum had left for them. We photographed and waited for mum to come back but she did not.

The game drives at Nsefu and Tena are hard to describe. The game is sparser/less concentrated than at say Mala. The guides work hard at finding it and sometimes it is outstanding as for example the lion kills and hyena pups. One thing I don’t understand is leopards. We have been at those camps for a total of 10 nights and have seen leopards only twice. “Glimpsed” is a better word than seen, about 30 seconds each time at night by spotlight. I don’t get it about leopards. The guides, vehicle drivers, try very hard to find the cats, elephants and other large animals but except for impala and puke it is again rather thin. Also these native guides are not photographers and thus required a lot of “coaching”. I suggested to camp management that they give the guides a digital camera and every couple of weeks bring their photos up on a PC for fun and comments among the staff.

On the way back to the Mfuwe airport, near Mfuwe, we stopped at the Tribal Textiles, a large crafts shop where locals take plain white fabric, draw patterns on it and paint it then sew it into many different article such has table cloths, hand bags, head scarves. Very interesting and pretty work. They have a web site - http://www.tribaltextiles.co.zm/. We picked up some pillow cases.

If I go back, it will be to Tena Tena, but it may be time try other camps in Zambia.

End of Part 4, Zambia, Nsefu and Tena Tena
Next is Part 5, Kenya, Little Governor’s Camp

cary999 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 11:00 AM
  #25  
 
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Hi Tom,

Wonderful report and pictures. Thanks so very much. One point of clarification, however: I think that South Luangua Nat. Park is on the Luangua River, not the Zambezi which is a different drainage.

We just returned from our most amazing journey to Zambia and our first safari, and visited both regions (just started our trip report on another thread) which are quite different from each other.

We also visited a school (not the same one you did) and had a wonderful time there. We took them pens, pencils, and soccer balls. Not much relative to their needs but they were most appreciative. They do so much with so little. There are some efforts to provide additional funding through donations to help them out. Basics like roofs over the students' heads and chalk boards rather than rough plywood that eats through chalk. Sean and MaryAnn at Luangwa River Lodge where we stayed for 6 nights are helping to organize the effort. I'll post more later about how to help.

Jim
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Oct 13th, 2006, 11:09 AM
  #26  
 
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You have the best shot of an American Eagle Owl that I remember seeing and I love the porcupine and the mock charge!
sundowner is online now  
Oct 13th, 2006, 12:00 PM
  #27  
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My BIG mistake, it is the Luangwa, not Zambezi river. Also I misspelled the village/school, should be Kawaza.

The owl is always there on the road into camp. Just lucky to get a decent photo.
The porcupine was remarkable, they are usually very shy and run into the bush. This one was in an open field area and paid us no attention, it crossed right in front of the vehicle.
The mock charge was fun, a newly wed couple was there in the back seat and she was videoing it but was also screaming and ducking all over. The "chargers" never got very close, they just wanted to see us on our way.
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 04:03 PM
  #28  
 
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Your comments and reactions on Mala Mala and what you saw there were very informative and intriguing.

Hyena cubs, a couple of lion kills and a good look at a porcupine is a wildly successful Zambia stop.
atravelynn is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 05:10 PM
  #29  
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Not sure if you're trying to make a point. But I may know what you're driving at. Firstly, Zambia had its moments, like you say, like I said. But we were also there 6 nights versus 4 at Mala. It's sort of like 10% of the Zambia game drive time was interesting while 30% of the game drive time at Mala was interesting. The guides at Robin Pope spent a lot of time just wandering around, which is ok, it is pretty country. But they do not have the advantage of "scouts", other rangers who are moving about and finding things, e.g. Mala. So, yeah, maybe Zambia was "wildly successful" but if it had not been for those particular sightings I would have considered it close to failure. Like I said, leopards, what leopards? Been there 10 nights and glimpsed leopards twice, at night , in a spotlight. Absolutely no comparison with leopards at Mala. Maybe I'm making more of this than necessary?
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 06:31 PM
  #30  
 
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Honest comparisons help us all in deciding where we want to go so I appreciate your candor.

I've had that experience numerous times where I've thought if not for this or that, it would have been a rather dull game drive. Or if not for that one day, this camp might not have been worth the effort. But those spectacular viewings and experiences seem to crop up at just at the right time to save the day and offer special memorable experience. I think that's what draws me back to Africa.

I can't quite seem to comprehend the bounty at Mala Mala that everyone who goes there is privileged to see. That's why I'm going to check it out!

What does 2007 look like?
atravelynn is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 06:44 PM
  #31  
santharamhari
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Good point Lynn, but i wouldnt compare Mala Mala with Zambia or Botswana. It can only be compared to other areas in the Sabi Sands.

I think the success of the entire SSGR is due to the whole history of it.....right from the management of road networks in the reserve, to the man-made water holes/dams in every traversing zone, to the early days when the leopards started to relax around the vehicles.....

Hari
 
Oct 13th, 2006, 07:23 PM
  #32  
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Lynn,
So true about those unexpected viewings that take you from the ho hum moment to a life time memory. Draws me back also.
Hari has an interesting way to look at it. In my case, the (relatively few) game drives I've been on in Botswana, Zambia, and Kenya are in one category, those in Mala a different category. And I’m not necessarily saying that Mala’s “category” is better, just a different species.
I know you will be happy to check it out next year (didn’t you say you had plans?). And I’ll be happy to hear how you describe and like it.
As for 2007? Mala? Me? The Mala web site availability calendar is really tight for September 2007. My first inclination is to go there for 5 nights but we haven’t seriously talked about it yet. May be too late already unless we get on a wait list.
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2006, 12:17 AM
  #33  
 
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Tom: Judithlorraine's report from a trip last May was similar to yours for Nsefu/Tena Tena. She has traveled to a number of camps in Zambia and Botswana and her report was the game in that area was sparse, somewhat skitish, and she was disappointed in the competency of the guiding. She also reported hearing gun shots from the neighboring hunting concession and indicated that it may be a problem for the predators, particularly male lions.

This could explain why the leopards in the area are shy. You do need to understand though that leopards in general are considered to be very shy, elusive and were widely considered ghosts meaning two sightings in ten days is ordinarily pretty solid. As Hari mentioned the Sabi Sands is famous for their habituated leopards and it is the premier location to view them. When you consider how many vehicles are in the relatively small area of the Sabi Sands vs. the exposure leopards in South Luangwa receive to vehicles the ability to habituate becomes clear. I know a safari agent who used to guide in Tanzania and has travelled extensively throughout most known safari areas and he was amazed at how in his words 'tame' the Mala Mala leopards were -- he considered it zoo like compared to other areas. As you say the experiences are quite different. I am becoming convinced that for some people once they go to the Sabi Sands anything else is somewhat disappointing while others prefer an experience with a more wild and less touristed landscape and of course others can savor each for their differences.

In light of the other report it may be that the guides at those paricular camps are not top notch and their lack of proper angles etc probably has a lot more to do with insufficient training than being natives who are not photographers. There are many guides who have grown up local to camps who have developed to be very skilled in photo guiding. You also have to consider that with animals that are not as habituated you cannot always move to the ideal angles without them moving off -- I imagine at Sabi Sands the animals will in general be much more tolerant of vehicles shifting around than the Nsefu/Tena.

Looking forward to the rest of the trip report.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Oct 14th, 2006, 01:29 AM
  #34  
 
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Hi Tom,

I am enjoying the trip report. Thanks.

About leopards in South Luangwa, I believe they are best represented in the Chichele area near Puku Ridge and Chichele Presidential Lodge. Nkwali and Kafunta also seem to take advantage of this area for their respective game drives. On one game drive in June 2004 (June NOT being the best month for gameviewing), there were four different leopards spotted on a single gamedrive from Chichele Presidential Lodge in a fellow vehicle...unfortunately, in my own vehicle we only caught up to one of those leopard spottings but it does show how well leopards are represented in the area.

Of course, it is hard to beat the Sabi Sand for photographing leopards since there is probably no other place where they are more accustomed to the safari vehicles, often even using the vehicles to assist in hunting as I saw first hand while at Simbambili last year.
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Oct 14th, 2006, 02:57 AM
  #35  
santharamhari
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To add to what Pred mentioned, in the Western Sabi Sands....all the lodges in the area (Exeter, Ulusaba, Savanna etc etc.,) have a policy where the tracker doesnt EVER get off his tracker seat, regardless of the sighting or the sensitivity of it.....it just makes me lose my respect of the wild for the moment....not real and just didnt feel right!!! Maybe, i'm just used to practices elsewhere, where the tracker jumps in the bk once we locate a lion or whatever....anyway, i guess the animals really are habituated to vehicles.

Hari
 
Oct 14th, 2006, 05:54 AM
  #36  
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Hari,
I don't know about the camps you mentioned, do the trackers set on the hood/bonnet of the vehicle? But I would agree, would not feel right. At Mala the tracker sets in the very back of the vehicle on the highest seat. (A guest may sit back there also). See one of my photos, he is the one in back with the white cap. That is where he stays. Seems like the best place for a tracker. High up, for best view. I have never been on a game drive, at any camp, where the tracker sits on the hood/bonnet. Maybe by his staying high up and back it adds to the sense of danger Maybe that is why some of the SSGR camps are so expensive, they have to pay the tracker a whole lot $$$ to set out there on front.
regards - tom
ps - I hope you are impressed by my use of hood/bonnet. Although I'm USA my personal transportation is Jaguar
cary999 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2006, 06:54 AM
  #37  
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FWIW, in looking again at the Nsefu Tena photos I realized I'd left out the one of the hyena pups in den, bummer. So added that one, 17th in from start. Also added one of the landscape, 7th in.
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2006, 06:54 AM
  #38  
santharamhari
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Tom,

yep, most camps including those that have trackers outside the Sabi Sands (like Kwando for example in Bots) have trackers sitting on the hood/bonnet. Their job is to find the spoor/foot prints in the mud so that tracking is possible. Most places, the tracker gets into the back seat once they locate a lion or a leopard or whatever in a safe location away from the animal....however, in the Western Sabi sands they just stay put in the front "tracker seat".

I have been at CCA camps like Phinda in SA and all the Kwando camps in Botswanathat follow the above mentioned system.

I actually hope all camps use a "tracker". It is creating more jobs in the community and also gives IMO a great safari experience to the guests.

Hari
 
Oct 18th, 2006, 05:39 PM
  #39  
 
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Hi Tom

Knowing that you now have the D200, I was wondering what lenses you used on your recent safari (esp Zambia)?
My wife and I are off to Kaingo/Mwamba + Puku Ridge for 12 nights Sept '07.
I'm taking (at the moment) my D2Hs with the 70-200 VR f/2.8 + 1.7 TC conv, giving 510mm with crop factor and the 17-55 f/2.8.
Just how close did you get to your "glimpes" of Leopards and also those wonderful Carmine Bee Eaters?
Have been thinking about getting the 300 VR f/2.8 prime, but of course baulking at the cost!

Cheers
Marc
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Oct 18th, 2006, 07:48 PM
  #40  
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Hi Marc,
On my D200 I took only one lens, the new Nikon 18-200mm zoom. (In fact, I have only one other lens for it, Tokina 12-24mm). I do not like to carry 18 lbs of lenses with me, just lazy. And then there can be the problem of sensor dust when changing lens. So the 18-200mm zoom just stayed on the D200, much like a P&S super zoom camera.
If I decided to take TWO lenses, one would be the 70-200 VR 2.8 like you have, and one widesh zoom like a 18-70mm, or yours 17-55mm, even better.
Most, 90%, of the photos I'm posting in this report (part 5, last part, coming real soon) are with it, 18-200mm. The remaining few are from a Canon S2.
I think the lenses you now have will be great. If I had it to do over, I would get the same combo you have. Might do it anyway . Of course, bird photos can use double that mm length.
I did not shoot RAW, did fine, very mild jpgs. Sooooo, EVERY photo needs Photoshop work before "serious" viewing, publishing, or printing. Yes, Every one of the photos here was PhotoShop-ed. This is fun if you enjoy it, as I do.
How close? To the Carmine Bee Eaters about 20 yards. To the glimpse of the leopard also about 20 yards. But the light on the leopard was so bad, night, and it was walking that I did not even try a shot. I hope you have better luck wiht leopards in Zambia than I have had.
regards - tom
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