It’s Monday 2nd November 2009 and the Nsefu sector

Rob and I had some good friends over to stay a couple of weeks ago so what better place to spend our holiday than Nsefu and Pumulani. This Monday however we are going to give you the details our 3 day safari up at Nsefu – you are all going to have to wait until next Monday to hear about Pumulani….

Rob, Emily & Grahamcurious giraffe

Having been friends with Graham for over 12 years, he being the person who introduced me to Africa for the first time I thought it only fitting and fair to thank him for this life change, with a trip to Zambia to see where we are now living. His wife Emily however, was here for the first time – how amazing it would have been to see this beautiful country through her eyes with all its magic for the first time.

It really is amazingly quick to get here – between taking off from London Heathrow and seeing your first elephants in the South Luangwa National Park is only some 16hours – most of which is spent sleeping on the plane!!!

lazy lionlion, what a big boy!

Arriving to all the new sensations, smells, aesthetics and also let’s not forget the heat we enjoy this time of year is somewhat of a bombardment. However, no sooner had Graham and Emily settled in at our house at Nkwali were they whisked away through the park to Nsefu. This time of year with the river being so low we are able to do the entire transfer from Nkwali to Nsefu through the National Park driving across the river just south of Tena. What a game drive – 6 hours of seeing some stunning kudu, large herds of elephants and a veritable journey of giraffes we arrived at Nsefu only to have a pride of lions relaxing opposite camp on the beach. What an entrance, Rob and I obviously feeling particularly chuffed that Daudi and his team in camp had been able to organize such a fantastic welcome, show offs!! The lions then treated us to an incredible bed time lullaby as they began the deep bellows just as everyone had finished dinner and headed to bed.

cute lion cubslion cub

Monday morning we opted to follow the regular morning routine. Heading out after breakfast for a morning drive, aiming to be back in camp by 10.30 – time to relax before lunch, this section of relaxation is obviously very important as it gears you up for your afternoon siesta before delicious tea time cake and a game drive in the evening. The morning drive was quite spectacular the light hitting the trees gradually moving to the ground and the sounds of everything waking up and breathing a sigh as they prepare themselves for another long warm day. Baboons sitting on the ground snuffling through the various elephant deposits finding undigested fruits, warthogs digging around and uprooting tubers, giraffes munching on some young green sausage fruit then all of a sudden impalas snorting. A sure sign that there is someone skulking around that they are not particularly comfortable with. Engine off and listen – where is that sound coming from? Where are the impalas looking? Then all of a sudden a large fury head pops up from a gully as a large male lion saunters across an open plain with his 3 offspring bounding along behind him, and what is best they are heading straight towards us. Emily at this point is starting to get slightly nervous with some 500meters or so between us and the lions so we parked off in a nice shady spot, quietly sitting, watching and waiting. Mum then appears with dad crossing the gully between us but obviously the kids did not want to comply as chasing Egyptian Geese was far more fun than sitting in the shade with mum and dad!! They eventually got a little too hot and mums gentle calls persuaded them that she knew best so they popped up out of the gully and pursued their day of lazing around in the shade.

Well how can you beat that! We then headed back to camp and enjoyed the views down the river from Nsefu waiting out the warmest part of the day.

newly born elephany calf

The afternoon drive we thought, was going to be no where near as exciting so we decided to concentrate on birds and smaller game – that was until we came around the corner and found a heard of elephants slightly agitated, we looked further into the scrub that they were hiding in and lo and behold there was a brand new calf. Not even able to stand up, we must have missed the birth by a matter of minutes. We backed off so as not to disturb the elephants and sat watching from a distance as the little one struggled to stand up and find its balance and then tried to feed but wasn’t tall enough so mum having been through a rather stressful afternoon started to lower herself to help. Then comes this very strange trunk thing and how on earth does that work!! We did however decide to leave them to it as we didn’t want to cause distress and harm to the little one so we turned round and enjoyed a sundowner before heading back to camp.

zebrahippo cooling off from the sun

The following day we all went out – taking a picnic with us and leaving camp before sunrise to head up to Changwa channel. Rob and I try to go up every year as it really is an incredible spot not only very beautiful but such a vast concentration of hippo it can not fail to impress.

porcupine hiding under a log..but still visible

Heading up there was supposed to be a quick drive but obviously we became distracted by what the Nsefu Sector had to offer. A couple of large male lions loping across the plains in front of us (we found them later in the afternoon on the way back). Porcupine, caught unaware and out and about after sunrise trying to hide under a log that really was not big enough but it would appear that he had other impressions about his size! Then Hippo galore at Changwa channel we estimated probably over 1000 along the 1 ½ kilometer stretch of river that attracts them to the area every year. The day was spent relaxing on the beach with the hippos under a nice shady tree waiting out the warmth and enjoying the sounds.

Leaving the magic of the Nsefu sector is always a wrench but at least we knew we were going on to another pocket of magic at Pumulani.

More next week…..

Rob & Emily


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