It’s Monday 10th October 2011 and some news from Peter and Jan Thompson

Hi all, hope that the weekend has been good to you all and that those in the UK have enjoyed a weekend of usual autumnal weather as opposed to strange heat waves!  This week we are lucky enough to be able to share with Peter and Jan Thompson some inside info on their trip out here just a couple of weeks ago.

September 22nd to October 1st – Nkwali, Nsefu and Kutandala; Luangwa Valley.

Standing in the shower of a Lusaka hotel, homeward bound, washing the dust of Africa from my hair, I have a huge silly grin on my face. There has been luck combined with the skill of the guides to create results we could not have imagined: A Pelsfishing owl and leopards on the first evening; a lion kill at 40 metres plus we saw a baby elephant which was less than nine hours old, a group of walkers came into camp at breakfast time, later than planned due to witnessing the birth. After all that you would not imagine this level could be maintained, but if you are keen ornithologists like us, then the 100 plus birds we saw over the next few days combined with the rarer wildebeests, giraffes and zebras caused tears of excitement.

Young ElephantLizard Buzzard

Nkwali: Freddie and the dreamers.

Freddie met us at the airstrip at 2:00pm and right from the off we (the dreamers for many years about Africa) jelled with him immediately as he prioritised our outings to maximise our wish list(s), birds and animals, in that order. On the way we nearly ran over a large monitor lizard; and a group of water thick-knees. By 6:00pm we had already seen grumpy hippos, a skimmer, a variety of plovers and ibises, two leopards, impalas and pukus. Then, as the light faded we stopped by a swampy area to find a dead hippo and at its head a Pels fishing owl. Too dark to photograph without a strong flash, it flew up into a far tree. Freddie drove around, as if he was on known roads in a town, to the base of the tree for me to capture some great shots.

Water  Thick-kneesPels  Fishing Owl

Hang on; we’ve only just arrived. I suppose this excitement could be tempered by the fact that it was our first safari, but I would be surprised if anyone has had such a three hour run.

The next day continued with elephants large and small, buffaloes up close and personal, a splendid range of birds, warthogs, giraffe and zebra.  Then another adventure the next day as Freddie drove us to Nsefu. Only 20 kilometres as the crow fly’s but taking over three hours with all the stops for even more sightings.

Bush BuckKudu

Nsefu: Jason and the astronauts.

We are miles above cloud nine by now, and our new guide, Jason, was to be instrumental in some rocket propelled adrenalin. He spotted a female lion lying at the top of a stream gully, with a herd of buffalo, line abreast, staring at it, but the lion seemed disinterested and kept looking about. The herd moved off stage right, and several more lions strolled in from the distance, all flopping behind some bushes, possibly a failed hunt. A young male lion descended into the gully to drink the turgid water. Just then four zebra came into view, right where the buffalo had been, slowly walking into an unprepared trap. They were saved by the returning young lion, who did not see them, but the male zebra froze for a full five minutes, before leading them off stage left. After driving down to another part of the gully where we expected to see the buffalo we returned to the lions. En route we saw a male puku strolling along the gully towards them. A female saw him and started the belly stalk across and down into the gully. Jason parked behind a bush, not wanting to influence the outcome, but poor Mr Puku was swiftly caught. We drove forward to witness its demise – the rest of the pride sauntered over, eventually leaving just a skull and a piece of spine.

Lion & BuffalosLion with Puku Kill

A drive to the hot springs next day was almost as rewarding with flocks of crowned cranes, hyenas lying in the stream and several species of vulture, with a marshal eagle watching over the scene, and then Cooksons wildebeest!!!

After three days we were driven along the river to a remote airstrip, where the terminal building was a straw hut and the ground crew were cutting wood, for our next adventure up at Kutandala. Peviously I had asked Jason if we were likely to see a male lion, and right on cue we spotted one across the river, lazing in the early morning light. Blow me if we didn’t see another one further along the river. This is all too much, we now have three days more left; could it possibly maintain this momentum? Er, yes!!

Kutandala (North Luangwa): Not an RPS camp, but you wouldn’t know.

Just four thatched huts spaced along the river edge, taking only 6 guests, it exudes wild Africa of yesteryear. Over 50 miles from anywhere, and solely walking safaris led by Rod, (looking like he had just stepped of the film ‘Out of Africa’) these are wild isolation walks, where elephants disappear into the long grass. Once he knew our passion for both birds and animals he made each walk an enthralling occasion. With the river so low, we often walked across to start and finish each walk. A screaming pack of Hyenas making a kill in the river late one night enhanced the thrill of being there, except for the poor victim. Elephants drifting past our hut at night, their footsteps more quiet than our own, so close we could hear them brush alongside, the early mornings when dozens of incredibly colourful birds seemed everywhere and the fantastic meals served by Guz made this camp very special too.

If you want air-conditioned luxury, don’t go to these camps; if you want a genuine African safari don’t hesitate to book them.

Pete & Jan Thompson,

Thanks ever so much Pete and Jan it is fabulous to hear about the experience from the other side of the fence.

Project Luangwa

There are many ways that the guests of Robin Pope Safaris have helped us to enable the children of South Luangwa to have access to a good education. Well now there is a way that residents of the USA, Canada and UK can help whilst they shop online. Thousands of online shops have committed to helping charities around the world by donating a small percentage of the amount of money they receive when you shop with them.

If you are resident in the UK then register here . You can even download a toolbar for your browser that will let you know if a site you are visiting is participating in the scheme and how much will be donated to Project Luangwa by shopping there, and if there are any special discounts available.

For residents of the USA and Canada then please visit IGive and register.

These services do not cost you a penny. You can now shop away knowing that you are helping others whilst you shop.

 

So that is all from this side for this week hope that you all have a good one and look forward to catching up with you all next Monday.

Emily

river

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