Zambia SLNP- fantastic memories ( trip report)

Oct 4th, 2007, 04:45 PM
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Zambia SLNP- fantastic memories ( trip report)

Have been back just over a week from our 16 night safari in the Sth Luangwa Nat Park where we had
a fantastic time with many great experiences and memories that will last forever.
It didn't start out too well with SAA losing or rather deliberately offloading our check-in bag at Lusaka
due to over-selling of the flight, something that is not just common to SAA.
So, the first thing that gets off-loaded is the baggage!
We o'nighted in Lusaka @ the IC Hotel without even a toothbrush! That'll teach us to not at least pack
some toiletries and emergency clothing. However, we were both carrying between us over 18kg of camera
and video gear, so we had our hands full already.
We eventually got our bag 2 days later when we were at Kaingo, so it could have been a lot worse, where
we heard tales of - "You'll never see your bag again!" or "It'll take at least 10 days!"

We spent the next 9 nights @ Kaingo - the first 2 at Kaingo itself, then the next 3 at its bushcamp Mwamba and the
remaining 4 back at Kaingo.
Rather than going through a night by night description, I shall condense it a little.
Both of the camps at Kaingo were fabulous, the staff, owners Derek & Jules were very welcoming and the guiding of Greg and
Patrick- 1st class!
I can't say enough good things about Patrick Njobvu, his knowledge and sense of humor were great, especially his ability with
his animal calls to get a particular species attention, I found this extremely helpful from a photographic point of view.
The location, food and accommodation were spot on, nothing was too much trouble, the drinks flowed full and little things like having dust
covers on the vehicles for your camera & lens were a nice touch. The only small criticism (by my wife) would be to have the lighting
over the mirror, rather than to the side.
The spacing on the vehicles were great, where we had only more than 4 in the vehicle only once in 9 days! And they were nearly fully booked
for most of this time, this was a big plus for me and the large lens I poked around!
The animal sightings were fabulous, especially the birding ( a big difference to the SSGR). The chance to get some great photos from all of the
hides cannot be overlooked, including the Ele tree hide sleepout!!

Apart from the huge variety of birdlife and predator & antelope species, the highlights were seeing and photographing Baboons stealing White-fronted
Bee-eater chicks and eggs from what appeared to be the abandoned Red Carmine nesting holes. Also caught in this same act were a Honey Guider parasitising
on a nest hole and a Monitor Lizard seen poking his head out from another nesting hole. (BTW, have had interest from Africa Geo in regards to these photos, so here's hoping)
A female Leopard on a freshly caught Impala, partially eating it and then leaving it to 4 members of the Hollywood pride who completely missed it from only 50 yds
away due to a strong breeze that was blowing the scent away from the pride.
Watching and photographing Hippos gurgling, burping , farting and fighting just a metre or two away behind in a Hippo hide.
Watching and photographing Carmine Bee-eaters in there hundreds gathering around their nesting holes in beautiful early morning light. 8-)
Following 4 members of the Hollywood pride on a moonless night, stalk and take down an Impala, where you could hear the sound of the thud as one of the females hit
the Impala mid-flight as she lay in waiting in a small gully. And then preceding to devour it live and pulling the poor animal apart in a 4 way split!
Watching hundreds of Storks, Cranes, Ibis, Hammerkop, Kingfishers and Eagles in a fish feeding frenzy on a drying up waterhole.
Watching a Female Leopard getting kicked off her Impala kill and tree by a Male and watching 2 Hyenas below fighting for the scraps.
Going out on a Midday drive with Patrick and finding a most unusual sighting of a pair of Pel's Fishing Owls and it's fledged young in daylight, with the male being
perched out in the open!
Photographing a pair of Fish Eagles in flight and thinking we had spent too much time in that spot and moving on, only to discover a beautiful Female Leopard
walk across the track again in lovely early morning light and take refuge in a tree and watch for Impala coming down to drink, something we would not have
seen had we not spent less time with the Fish Eagles! All this taking place less than 300 metres from our Bush camp.

The next 5 nights were spent at Tafika Lodge with it's lush green lawn housing 6 very spacious Chalets overlooking the dry river plain and a welcoming cold
Mosi to wash down the dust. Once again, the location (even being outside the NP), food and staff, with the owners, husband and wife, John & Carol Coppinger
making for a very relaxed and easy going atmosphere. I wish I could say the same for a few of their guests!
The guiding & tracking were also first class, special mention to Brian Jackson and Naturalist & Birder Rory McDougall whose company we both very much enjoyed.
Perhaps the only small criticism being would be to invest in some newer vehicles to replace the older model Landcruisers which didn't do as good a job of soaking up the bumps as the newer Land Rover Defenders @ Kaingo.

The highlights here were every bit as good as Kaingo.
Such as the staff being decently charged by a large Ele inside the grounds (see my pics, it's somewhere in there) and having to duck behind a chalet.
Watching and photographing Carmine Bee-eaters (in early light, of course) diving and tussling over the river and getting some shots of them drinking.
Numerous encounters of Leopards, including a very special occasion where we spent nearly an hour with a very relaxed Female and her 2 cubs in good daylight, watching them play and suckle from mum, ............ very special indeed. 8-)
My wife, Rossana and I taking a Microlight flight over the Luangwa, scaring the s..t out of big crocs laying by the river bank and coming across a big pride of Lions
relaxing by a Buffalo carcass they had taken down, we had heard this action taking place the evening before from (unfortunately) the other side of the river.
Watching Crown Cranes by their hundreds coming in to land on the salt pan, great timing by Brian for that one! And whilst we were there seeing a Grey Heron trying to scoff down a full sized Scrub Hare, being successful on it's fifth attempt (see photo)......amazing!
Following circling and descending Vultures on a Impala kill that was most likely not too well hidden by a Leopard the night before. I managed to get some very classy
shots of one of them pecking the eye out from this poor beast! ;-)
Getting decently charged by an old female Ele who didn't appreciate our presence and having to gun the pedal to get outta there! I just couldn't understand how my wife
couldn't get a video shot of this.
And to top off the last night drive, finding 2 Cervals (one, very cooperative) on the salt pan, as promised and well done by Brian!

You can check out the images here, these were just some of the 34GB ( + 5500) that were taken.
Equipment used were 2 Nikons- D2Xs & D2Hs and 300 f/2.8 VR, 70-200 f/2.8 VR, 17-55 f/2.8 and 12-24 f/4.

africaddict is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 05:08 PM
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Many thanks for excellent trip report. One of my vivid memories at Nsefu camp Zambia was seeing at night lions take done a puku and eat it while still alive and crying out.

LOTS of good photos. Wish my percentage of keepers were as high as yours. I've been trying and trying to get a lilac breasted roller in flight series like you have. Have you tried replacing the gray sky with a light blue one?
Interesting to see the Nikon kit you used. Any one lens you used a lot? Also, we should note that your longest lens is 300mm because the question of how long is enough comes up a lot. FWIW, I'm very impressed with the Nikkor 70-300 ED VR.
Thanks again.
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 05:30 PM
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I've been awaiting your report, Marc, and it certainly hasn't disappointed me...I'm even more toey now about Mwamba and Kaingo next year. Wonderful photos!

Did you do an on-ground sleepout?

afrigalah is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 06:04 PM
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Stunning photos! We were in South Luangwa (Robin Pope camps) in early July last year and didn't see what you did. Time of year obviously plays a big role when visiting there.
raelond is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 06:52 PM
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My apologies this link has the more
highlighted version, inc the Baboons
which aren't in the other category.

africaddict is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 07:06 PM
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Marc! Welcome back. I've been wondering about you and how things went. So glad to hear you had such a fabulous trip, although I knew you would!

Off to look at your photos now!

cooncat3 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 07:14 PM
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I'm speechless. The photos are just stunning.
cooncat3 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 08:12 PM
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Hi Marc,

Welcome back! Great report and very nice pictures!!! You certainly had plenty of highlights on the trip ...

HariS is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 08:18 PM
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The baby ele - was it in distress in any way, or just tired, since in one picture it is lying down? And the leopard cubs are adorable!
Momliz is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 06:08 AM
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Many thanks everyone for the positive comments.

I used the 300 VR approx 70% of the time and with the D2Xs in HSC (High Speed Crop) giving me a 2X crop factor, making it a 600 f/2.8. I had the 17-55 on the D2Hs and that was used for people/landscapes. A few things I learned was that I wouldn't take my monopod again (didn't use it) and the 12-24 got very limited use.
I take your point re. blue sky for some of the inflight shots and will do so on some of them. I just wanted to get a few images out first, it's taken me nearly a week to weed out and edit in PS over 34GB of images.

I'm quite sure the baby Ele is OK, just a little tired, very cute nontheless.

The sleepout we did was at the Ele river crossing hide which is 10 metres up in the fork of a tree. Highly recommended.

africaddict is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 06:10 AM
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have you submitted your trip report yet & pics?
Just wondering if the term RAW, will be used. ;-)
africaddict is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 06:16 AM
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Unbelievably beautiful photos Marc. The bird pictures are fabulous.
QueenofDaNile is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 06:41 AM
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Wow! Truly incredible photos along with a wonderful variety of composition. Good stuff! =D>
divewop is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 08:57 AM
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Marc, I'm just starting to work on my trip report. Give me two more weeks (I hope). Did I shoot RAW? No, I shot light. BTW, if you try adding a sky to the rollers, try to use a real picture of sky. Sky is usually not exactly the same blue all over.
Again great report and photos.
regards - tom
ps - my excuse for slow trip report - been helping Carolyn and my sister with their digital photos, did a PC upgrade, and "time flies". Been back two weeks ago today and the safari seems so far far in the past now.
cary999 is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 12:08 PM
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I really enjoyed some of your pictures.
Oct 5th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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Darn, now I have to add South Luangwa to my wish list! Great report and fabulous photos. Kaingo and Tafika both sound great. You definitely had wonderful sightings at both.
Dana_M is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 12:48 PM
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Enjoyed the photos, thanks for posting.

Really enjoyed the carmine beeeaters Gotta find me some of those some day.

Bill_H is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 03:09 AM
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These are absolutely superb photos Marc, some of the best I've seen from this forum.
Your composition and action sequences, especially of birds in flight are as good as I've seen from any wildlife magazine.
Good luck on getting those images published from Africa Geo on the Baboons preying on the Bee-eaters nesting site also.
gotogo is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 12:03 PM
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Really nice photos,i enjoyed them.

Kaingo always looked attractive to me but after going trough your gallery is a must.

Thanks for posting your great collection.

PacoAhedo is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 04:14 PM
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You captured the spirit and essence of the South Luangwa beautifully in your photos.
GreenDrake is offline  

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