Zambia celebrated its 53rd birthday on October 24th, and so did our staff! When that birthday comes along, we know that the end of the peak safari season is close.
Both our bush camps, Island and Three Rivers, will close on November 1st before the real rains start. We’ll say goodbye to our last guests, and the staff will pack up the camps and then head home for a well deserved leave.
In the meantime at Kafunta River Lodge, it’s business as usual with a busy month of November ahead of us!
Another even that was recently celebrated is Luke’s graduation at Mazenod College in Perth, Australia!
A big day for the school, for Luke and for proud parents Anke & Ron Cowan!
So nice to see the family all dressed up in suits, that is quite a change from the usual safari gear! Well done and good luck to you Luke, enjoy the coming months as part of your Gap year, starting with your next visit at Kafunta soon!
The smell of rain
Towards the end of September, and the early days of October, gusty storms and sometimes heavy rains have swept across Zambia, especially in Lusaka, Lower Zambezi and Kafue areas.
We also had some rain in Mfuwe and South Luangwa NP, and we hoped for a drop in temperature. But it was only a teaser…
Although this weather pattern lasted for over a week, it was only a short break from the torrid heat of October. A new episode of rain is taking place as I write this newsletter, but let’s see if it means the start of the emerald season for us!
Kings and Princes
In the last newsletter I talked a little bit about the shifts in prides that we’ve observed this year in South Luangwa. This dynamic is of course never ending, and we never really know what is going to happen next in the lion kingdom!
But our current kings, Ginger and Garlic, better watch out!
Some new kids on the block are more likely to make their life difficult in the next few months, and these young princes are not only looking at the big pride of Mfuwe area, but also the northern prides near Lion Plains with several young males moving to adulthood.
Garlic, Ginger’s brother, better watch his back!
Coming from the South are the Chichele Boys. Three beautiful male lions form a coalition which has been seen south of Chichele Presidential Lodge, and are moving closer to the Big Pride area. They are gorgeous males, in their prime.
Then coming from the North-East, are these three younger males (above – the 3rd one is laying in the grassy background). This coalition is thought to be coming from the Nsefu Sector, maybe even from the Hollywood or Mwamba prides. They are still young but within a couple of years they will probablic rock the park!
These superb pictures of lionesses drinking were taken by our volunteer Madita. It was her first time seeing lions in the park, and what a sighting!
We’re already looking forward to what the rains will bring in terms of changes in territories and prides, and hopefully there will be many more new cubs around too.
Spot the Leopard
From the photos she has been taking in her first month with us, I can see that Madita hasn’t had a single boring game drive! There’s more to come. But first can you spot the leopard in the above and below pictures?
Isn’t it so exciting to drive along, and then just as you turn a corner, there’s a leopard right there, patiently waiting and posing for the camera to roll.
These pictures also remind us how beautiful the trees are here in South Luangwa! When you (eventually) spot the leopards above, you can imagine the size of both those trees!
Here are close ups of both encounters, with the leopards clearly visible.
Madita was again on that recent game drive where a couple of wild dogs were found not far from Kafunta!
Although their numbers are generally on the increase throughout the park, wild dogs remain very elusive and any sighting can be considered a lucky one, especially at this time of the year when lions occupy the riverine areas.
A Walk on the Wild Side – Luambe Camp
In early October, I had the pleasure to visit the newly (re)opened Luambe Camp, in Luambe National Park.
In our April newsletter, I had dropped a few lines on the rebirth of this camp, in the long ignored stretch of National Park separating South and North Luangwa. The camp opened in June, and has been quite busy since. It is a very good stop for those in search of remoteness and especially self-drives heading to North Luangwa.
Luambe Camp is seasonal, and is operated by Luambe Conservation Ltd whose main objective is to primarily conserve the habitat and biodiversity of the National Park, which is part of the Luangwa Valley.
The camp is set up right on the bank of the Luangwa River, where huge pods of hippos can be observed (and heard!) right from the camp.
As expected in an area that has remained untouched for a decade, animals are wild and a bit shy of vehicles.
However, game drives and especially walks, are entertaining and in the 3 days I was there, we did see quite a lot of wildlife, including successful efforts to track down a leopard (always trust a puku alarm calling!!). The birdlife is amazing too.
The landscape alongside the river is similar to what we can find in South Luangwa, but the interior of the park opens up in large grassy savannahs which are very different from what we are used to in the South.
Should you want to combine a stay in South Luangwa with a stop at Luambe Camp, I would be happy to assist you with suggested itineraries. The drive from Kafunta to Luambe is about 3 1/2 hours (in a closed air-conditioned vehicle), and from there it is also possible to use a local airstrip and fly to North Luangwa and stay at Mwaleshi Camp (Remote Africa).
Luambe Camp offers game drives and walks, and is opened from June to October.
Hippo fights are frequently seen from camp
This Pel’s Fishing Owl doesn’t mind us new comers!
Beautiful savannah at sunrise
Walks are a great way to explore this remote part of the Luangwa Valley
Be our guest! Sabine Häring
This year was Sabine’s third visit to South Luangwa and Kafunta Safaris. Already with us in 2015 and 2016, I thought that it was about time to feature Sabine as one of our special guests when she returned for her 3rd year in a row.
Sabine doesn’t take safaris lightly! Her trips are carefully planned and she prefers to stay long in one place to maximise sightings and truly enjoy the area. Sabine stayed with us 14 nights this year, before heading North to Luambe Camp for a few nights. She focuses on video filming but happily shared with us a few of her still shots. I asked Sabine a few questions…
Where are you visiting us from?
I live in the southern part of Germany in a small village called Reichenbach (near Stuttgart).
When was your first trip to Africa, and where was it?
My first trip to Africa was Kenya in 1993 where I visited several National Parcs (Tsavo West, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara). At this time I lost my heart to Africa and a lot of trips to Africa followed (Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Mocambique, Simbabwe, Sambia).
When was your first visit to Kafunta River Lodge?
My first visit to Kafunta River Lodge was in 2015 and it lasted 16 days. I also visited Island Bush Camp, a beautiful and very special place where you can get connected to nature and wilderness.
How did you hear about Kafunta Safaris?
Kafunta was recommended to me from Mr. Dieter Mueller of DUMA in Germany. He told me, Kafunta Safaris would be the best option for taking videos, my special interest and great passion.
How was your experience on your last visit?
This past visit at Kafunta Lodge and both bush camps was great just like the other two trips before. Of course again leopards, my favorites, where seen many times, but there where also a lot of special surprises like 3-days old warthog babies, mating of Little Bee Eaters and a great sighting of a martial eagle feeding on an Crowned Crane (see further below). Also there were very special sightings around Island Bushcamp such as two mail lions feeding on a dead Hippo , a big group of Roan antelopes and also a sighting of a breeding herd of rare Lichtensteins Hartebeest.
Tell us more about your involvment in nature conservation in Germany
I am volunteering in a non-profit organization called NABU (Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union). Main subject of my work is wildlife conservation of large carnivores in Germany, especially wolfes. After being demonised for centuries and hunted to extinction, wolves were returning to Germany on their own paws. Since the year 2000 when first wolf pups were born in the German wild, population has increased to nearly 450 wolfes. But there are some fears of people, farmers and shepherds and hunters and there are also problems with poaching. My work for the wolfes is mainly public relation such as lectures, press relations.
Tell us more about your new carreer path you are currently undertaking
Three years ago I started an attempt to switch my big passion of filmmaking from hobby to profession and I produced my first 60 minutes nature documentary about a famous wetland conservation area in Germany and its wildlife, which was screened on German television and is also available in DVD.
Due to great recognition by press, television and viewers I decided to leave my current job and focus on making nature documentaries or short films about nature and wildlife. Of course I would love to find some clients in Africa and combine my big passions of travelling to Africa, filming and wildlife conservation.
We’re looking forward to Sabine’s next video on Luangwa!
This was quite a sighing that Sabine and our guide Andrew came across on one of their game drives near Kafunta River Lodge.
This Martial Eagle, one of Africa’s largest eagles, had taken down a Crowned Crane – one of the largest cranes. The wingspan of either of those birds can reach 2 meters wide if not more.
In the Spotlight… Andy Richardson
Andy visited us mid-September, and you would have already seen some of his pictures in our last newsletter.
Andy shared some additional photos, and I couldn’t help but feature them at length here as they are so beautiful!
I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Make sure to share your own photos, so I can add them to our newlsetters and social media!
Rare sighting of a grysbok (actually 2, one is behind)
Male Thornicroft Giraffe and some Red-Billed Oxpeckers
Stunning Southern Carmine Bee-Eater
End of season wrap-up
That’s it for now folks.
It’s hard to believe that in two days we’ll pack up the bush camps and get the lodge ready for the rainy season.
As for me, I’ve started my migration North again, but with a few detours this time. After a stopover in Western Cape (SA), I’m heading to Australia for a bit of marketing, and will then be working remotely from Belgium until next March.
But we’ll chat again in November! In the meantime make sure to follow us on Facebook, with daily posts and stories.
ATCNews : Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome is the publisher of ATCNews, Eastern Africa’s leading aviation, tourism and conservation news blog of its kind. Wolfgang has over 45 years of experience in the tourism, aviation and conservation fields in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, covering all aspects of safari operations, hotel operations and air operations. Since 1992 he resides in Uganda, previously living for 17 years in Kenya.