Kafunta Safaris Newsletter June 2017

News Updates from Zambia’s Kafunta Safaris

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Kafunta Safaris
Newsletter June 2017
Dear ATC Readers,


With our May newsletter coming out late, you are spoiled with a second newsletter this month but I made a point of sending this one on time!!

The buzz this past month has still very much been around Three Rivers Camp of course, and now we can share the professional photos taken by Patrick Bentley, a renown Zambian-based wildlife photographer.

But don’t worry this newsletter is not all about Three Rivers, as there’s a lot to cover, and to look at!

A few snapshots of Three Rivers Camp
One of the two river-side tents
Tent interior, with en-suite bathroom, large outside viewing deck looking out at the Luangwa River
Star bed platform: stunning view for a siesta!
And the same but made up for a starry night! Each tent has its own platform, connected to the tent.
Main lounge & dining area, with fire pit deck in the back ground, overlooking the river.

These are only a few of Patrick’s 20 stunning photos – you can see the rest here.

The tents on the lagoon side are just as well located, with views of the busy plains where waterbucks, impalas, elephants, giraffes and more are common residents.

Walking around the lagoon is the first of many walks in the area and near the river banks.
We have also been busy grading new game drive loops, probably close to 50 km of trails so far! Although animals are still a bit skittish of seeing vehicles drive by, with a bit of time, they will relax and allow for longer observation.
Back to Kafunta River Lodge
In the meantime, the game viewing at Kafunta has continued to be exceptional. I’ll share here a few specific sightings along with general wildlife pictures as well.
The Frog and the… Snake – this is not a fable!


Although the frog really tried to appear big, it wasn’t big enough to escape the fangs of this spotted bush snake (harmless to humans).

This was taking place just behind our offices, and was documented by Anna and Ludovic. I came out of my own office hearing the commotion (local staff are not keen on scaly creatures) and when I saw what was exactly like this picture on the left, I never thought the snake would be able to swallow this monstruous frog.


First it got a little agitated at having such an audience, and starting blushing (well, more correctly turning its neck blue – a sign of threat) and carried its prey away from the flat ground. It was amazing.

Spotted bush snakes are excellent climbers, with keeled belly scales and this particular one was determined not to let its prey get away.

It sure kept the audience interested!

And yes… at the end, the dubious such as me had to face the facts. The frog had been swallowed, the poor thing didn’t live to tell the story.
But the Ox did escape!


This time the sighting takes place out in the park and is document by our long term return guest Rene Krayss.

This storry has more of a happy ending, as the buffalos did survive to see another day, at least that one!

The male lion walked right past the vehicle and started chasing the herd of buffalo, but miserably failed as he was moving away from the camera.

Bigger than an ox?


When it comes to exciting sightings, the one witnessed by our guest Olga Kartsvo, sure ranks high as well.

But in a more subtle way, which made me smile.

Olga sent me those pictures a few days ago, and I could not resist showing them despite the slight blur (created by digital zoom).

Have a look at the picture below. What do you see besides two seemingly relaxed lionesses?

Come on look closer, or I should say "further"..

Come on, look again!

What’s lurking in the bushes?

Saw it?

Yep that’s right! Sure enough these two ladies were completely unaware of the giant sneaking through the foliage, and when we know the loathing elephants have towards lions, we can only imagine what the next photo would have been like!


We work in "leopard-land", we know that, but it is not so often that we see leopards near the lodge. We hear them sometimes, or at least we know they are "there" when we hear the rowdy alarm calls of baboons and vervet monkeys! But actually seeing them at the lodge is rare enough.

So when we (staff) have the chance to join our guests on a game drive, we secretly hope to be lucky enough to see some "spots", let alone in a good enough light to photograph!

Lisa, Ludovic, Anna and Sverre were all lucky these past weeks as you can see with these photos!

And then some are even luckier…

There has only been a handful of sightings of leopard cubs so far this season, and Ludovic along with guest Rene Krayss brought us a few pictures back.

I will enviously point out here that this is my 9th year of working in the bush, and NEVER have I seen small leopard cubs… so if you do see them, please respect and treasure the sighting, as it really is a special moment!

"Best leopard ever"


I’ve heard this several time so far this year.

And when I hear it from long term return guest (another one!) Gary MacFadyen, it means a lot! As we will learn later on in the newsletter, Gary and his family have been to Luangwa many times (at least a dozen times), and usually go on safari somewhere else in Africa once if not twice a year.

This is what he had to say about this particular sighting earlier this month:


"Both sightings had great light, and were perhaps the best for photography that I have ever had.

We have joked over the years that we like to see “a leopard in a tree with its tail hanging down”, then added “with a kill” and then “in good morning or evening light”, and this year added “with a dark background”.

This was it!"


I could go on with leopard pictures, by adding those from Rene Krayss by example, but I think you’ve been spoiled enough, and I’ll keep them for later!



Instead I’ve chosen a few other pictures from Rene Krayss, which I would characterize as more unique or creative in the way it illustrates a swift moment on safari.

I love it when we can still find a new angle or composition to depict what may otherwise be described as routine sightings!

I think Rene did just that with the below.

As for this one below, it’s not so much the photo composition that is unusual, it really is the hippo itself! I actually don’t know how to describe this!
Be our guest! The MacFadyen Family


I mentioned Gary MacFadyen earlier (the best leopard ever), and wanted this month to feature the MacFadyen family as our guests of the month. A real special family visiting us every year from California!

Here’s the interview:

When did you take your first trip to Africa? And when was your first trip to South Luangwa?

We visited Africa and the South Luangwa for the first time in 2003. That was also our first visit to Kafunta River Lodge.

How many times have you been to the Kafunta, including this visit?

Our family has been to Kafunta 12 or 13 times, I’ve been a few additional times by myself in April, and Cyndie and I have made several February trips to the South Luangwa when Kafunta is closed.


Why do you come back so often to South Luangwa and to Kafunta?
The wildlife viewing is exceptional with the sheer volume of animals and the frequent sightings. The leopard sightings have become quite common and spectacular over the years. The river is phenomenal, with wonderful hippo and croc activity that is not always seen elsewhere in Africa. Finally, we have become such good friends with the staff at Kafunta, it truly feels like home away from home.


You invited Josephat and Martin (safari guides) to visit you in California. Can you tell us a bit more about that? PS: see photos from their trip

We had become such good friends with Martin and Josephat after several trips that we invited them to visit our home in California.

They were so shocked with disbelief when we first asked them we wondered if we had done something wrong! But they got their visas, and of course I had to suffer through one more visit to Kafunta (haha) to escort them home!

They saw snow (and lots of it since we had a huge winter in 2011), many sights around Sacramento, San Francisco and the Golden Gate bridge and the ocean, and Yosemite. It was great to see Josephat cooking eggs at our stove and Martin reading the morning paper at our table! It truly was a monumental experience for them and for us as we saw these adventures through their eyes.

Martin & Josephat in snowy California in 2011

What do you enjoy the most on a safari vacation?

We really enjoy the entire experience: the game drives where we can totally relax without the need to make travel decisions, the wildlife, the scenery, and spending time with friends. It’s an experience that touches our souls.

What is your favourite animal in South Luangwa, and why?

It’s often difficult to name one particular favourite, but I very much like leopards! Cyndie likes elephants in the water, the boys like leopards, and wild dogs are high on the list as well. Sam gives an honourable mention to the Pangolin, even though he has never seen one. Nor have we seen an aardvark.


What would be your advice to a guest coming on safari for the first time?

Take the time to let game sightings develop, rather than racing around trying to check every animal off the list. Try to stay 7 days or more so you can see lots of animals and absorb the occasional “slow” days of game viewing.

Be patient with game viewing because you will only see what the bush has to offer at any given time. Wishing too much to see one particular animal sometimes seems to jeopardize the chances of doing so.

Movies are a great way to record your guide’s voice and the sounds of the bush. Cell phone and point and shoot cameras are OK, but you really need a good DSLR with something like a 100-400mm zoom (my favorite) for great wildlife photography.

Finally keep a daily journal of your trip to help you remember all that you see and hear, as well as your emotions, and the wonder of the bush.


Anything else you would like to share?

Thank you, Kafunta, for so many wonderful experiences! The view from Kafunta over the large expanse of open ground to the river is unique in the South Luangwa.

Well – thank you Gary, Cyndie, Tom and Sam for being such loyal guests and for your valuable recommendations to future safari-goers! We’re looking forward to your next visit!
Till next month!


That’s it folks!

Next month I hope to show you some photos taken by our other loyal guest, and friend, Stephan Tüngler, of InAfrica, who was with us again leading his 9-nights photographic workshop. By the way thank you Stephan for the soccer supplies! Those are always appreciated.

Here are a couple more pictures of what it is like to be on safari with us (and with Stephan for that matter!) brought to you by our guests.

Remember all to send me your favorite shots, they will find their place in one of our newsletters, or Facebook page or even on Africa Geographic!

Thank you !


Kafunta Safaris

Stephan’s group crossing the pontoon
Stephan’s group on the Kafunta plains
Kafunta Safaris, Box 83, Mfuwe, Zambia