Get in touch…
- +27 (0)21-813-5950
It was amazing arriving at the beautiful camp in the evening to a male lion calling outside Room 5! Shumba means lion in the local language and it certainly lived up to its’ name. Kafue NP is home to a variety of antelope species and especially in the northern part of the park in and around Busanga Plains. Large herds of roan, sable and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest were some of the highlights.
We spent a lot of time with the resident pride of lions, made up of 3 adult lionesses, 6 sub-adults and one tiny 6 week old addition to the pride. We were greeted by the male lion of the pride on the first evening but with the presence of 2 new males in the area he kept a very low profile over the rest of our stay. A shift in pride dynamics is imminent.
A must do whilst staying at the camps in Busanga Plains is a sunrise hot air balloon ride. The perspective it gives and absolute sense of space and wilderness is a feeling to be savored. From being from 10 feet above hippo heads to 1000 feet above the ground overlooking large herds of red lechwe. The camp set up an amazing sundowner spot on the edge of the drying Lufupa river where we chatted about our safari experiences around a small campfire and said goodbye to the setting Zambian sunset – an amber fireball that seemed to be suspended over the horizon forever!
From Kafue we flew in a small aircraft directly south for an hour and half to the town of Livingstone – a small town focusing on tourism in and around The Victoria Falls. Here we focused our time being on the waters of the Mighty Zambezi River. Birding took a front seat here where we notched up some great specials for the region such as Collared Palm Thrush, Narina Trogon, African Finfoot, Rock Pratincole and African skimmer.
We also visited a local village where we were introduced to how the local people live on the outskirts of the national park, facing daily challenges such as elephants and baboons raiding their subsistence crops. Fascinating to see methods such as bee keeping and chilli-farming being used to keep these animals out of their crops – a beneficial sustainable project that will aid in curbing people/wildlife conflict. We visited the Zambian side of the falls as well as the Zimbabwean side. The water level is very low at the moment so it was mostly rocks to be seen on the Zambian side with the majority of the water going over in the Zimbabwe side. Fascinating to be able to the geology of the area though which is hidden under a curtain of water in the peak of the flow (Feb- April).
On arrival in Hwange in the dry season you are immediately made aware of the abundance of elephants in the region. With more that 40 000 individuals they almost appear to be part of the landscape wherever you look. Hwange is known for manually pumping waterholes which supplies the animals with water as there are no natural water sources in the area. With some patience, shade and a cooler-box filled with refreshing treats, sitting at these waterholes can be unbelievably productive. The ideally located waterhole in front of Linkwasha provided us with over a dozen different mammal species during the siesta time of the day, and the ability to get into a dug in-eye level bunker gives you fantastic photographic opportunities – especially of our giant friends, the elephants of Hwange.
Hwange also gives you the opportunity to explore the area on foot with a professional walking guide. Walking amongst giant acacia trees and being provided the opportunity to view potentially dangerous game on foot at close quarters has to be one of the best safari experiences on the continent. Sometimes things do not go to plan in the bush – one morning we were on our way to an area to do a walk when we heard baboons alarm calling close by. Upon investigating the loud bark and direction they seemed to be looking in, we found a pride of lions enjoying themselves in the beautiful morning light. Wanting to carry on with our walk, we left them and continued across the large open area… only to be interrupted by 2 wild dogs on the hunt! Needless to say, our walk that morning started a little later than scheduled! TIA! (This is Africa – not Thanks in advance!)
Another interesting delay that we had due to wildlife was when were leaving Hwange for our flight to Mana Pools. We heard an alarmed voice over the radio asking for immediate assistance at the airstrip. As we arrived there, we found a very pale pilot and staff member sitting on a vehicle surrounded by lions that were having a fantastic time opening their luggage! The pilot had gone to do his pre-checks on the plane that morning and had put the luggage close by to the plane. To his extreme surprise he found a whole pride of lions had made their way to the bags unbeknownst to him! A quick dash to the vehicle meant they were safe but as for the belongings in their bag – not so lucky! The staff member flying out was heading to Zambia and desperately needed his passport, thankfully this remained untouched! As for his mobile phone, deodorant and some clothing – they now have lion canine punctures covered in saliva! After some gentle coaxing of the lions to try and get them away from the belongings and proximity of the plane, we were on our way to the next destination for more adventures! Overheard from pilot speaking to the tower “Golf November Uniform 1 hour delayed due to lion attack” 🙂
The location of Little Ruckomechi on the Zambezi in Mana Pools is absolutely sublime. With the river being very low at the moment, hordes of animals graze on the new shoots of grass on the now dry floodplain in front of camp. Mana pools has always been synonymous with its elephant populations, and with the camp built under large Ana trees that provide a protein rich pod in the driest months of the year – perfect elephant fodder!
Mana pools provided us great sightings of different mammal species, including: a large male lion with his pride of 11, 2 leopard sightings, hundreds of hippos, eland and buffalo. The nocturnal critters were out to play too and we were very grateful to watch 2 Honey Badgers prowling around, several African Wild Cats, African Civet, Large-Spotted Genet, Porcupine, Large Grey Mongoose, White Tailed Mongoose and even a rare sighting of a Tree Dassie!
We witnessed 6 lionesses feeding on a warthog moments after they had caught it. The noise of them fighting over a relatively small meal quickly attracted the cubs hidden close by, and shortly after that the dominant male. Unusually he did not feed off the warthog and only chased the females off, letting only the cubs feed.
Being on the water at Mana pools in a pontoon or canoe also affords you the opportunity to get close to swimming elephants and large pods of hippo, as well as incredible perspectives of the carmine bee-eater colonies nesting in the steep banks along the Zambezi at this time of year. Known as one of the best regions for walking on the continent, we made sure not to miss out! Although we had great encounters with large game, it’s always special to look at the small tracks and signs that are easily overlooked when on a safari vehicle.
“Just over a week into my safari and I wonder how I’ve changed, if at all. Certainly the experiences I’ve had and things I’ve seen have shaped me in someway. But then, as if by some ancient, unspeakable memory, I remember… it’s in my blood.”