It’s Monday 17th June 2013 and lovely Liuwa.

I hope that the weekend went well and that we are not about to make you too jealous as we hear from Mervyn Wingfield about his latest trip to Liuwa. If it’s any consolation I have also turned a little green with envy!!

So for this week over to Mervyn:

“Being very experienced safari goers, my wife and I were immediately interested when we saw details of the RPS Liuwa Plain Safaris, as they promised a different and unique experience in an area that is not commonly visited. We were not disappointed. What an amazing five days it turned out to be!

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Liuwa Plain is like nowhere else we have ever been in Africa. It is flat and open with 360 degree views, which often include only grasslands in all directions, are wonderful to behold. And then, when traversing across the plain one comes across these beautiful stretches of water that the guides call “lagoons”. These often have coverings of gorgeous water lilies, are frequented by varied collections of birds, and on many occasions also have animals nearby. Common sights on the plain are herds of wildebeest and zebra of various sizes, and elegant crowned and wattled cranes strutting and feeding in the areas around the lagoons.

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There are also small areas of woodland bordering the grasslands, and these are worth exploring as they provide shade for animals and perches for some of the local birds. One woodland copse in particular houses a heronry where large numbers of egrets and herons nest, watched over by a pair of my favourite birds, African fish eagles. This provided great views in the late afternoon of the noisy goings on as arriving birds were welcomed, especially parents bringing food for their young. The frequent but irregular arrivals and departures from all directions would seem to be an air traffic control nightmare, but surprisingly few serious mishaps occurred.

Our guides, Jason and Kanga both proved to be extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the area, and the birds and animals that we had come to see. Being keen on birds, we were delighted to see more than ninety different species, thanks to their help. They also allowed us to be very flexible about what we did, and how long we spent when there was something we wanted to continue doing.

For example, for the first two days we spent long periods watching and following a group of three cheetahs. On the first day one of them caught a scrub hare, a snack that she was not prepared to share with her sisters. On the second day a long hunt took place across the plain, with occasional oribi being chased in vain. Finally an oribi kill was made and we were able to see them happily sharing their meal, before surrendering the leftovers to a noisy crowd of vultures.

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On another morning we hurried across to see a pack of wild dogs that had been spotted by one of the Carnivore Project scouts. They were resting in the heat of the day by a lagoon, and taking occasional dips in the water to cool off. Being a wild dog lover, my wife requested that we stay with them as long as we could. Fortunately all the other guests agreed, so that is where we spent the rest of the day, waiting for some action. At this point Wendy and the rest of the camp staff came up trumps. Not only did they bring a splendid lunch out onto the plain for us, but they also brought books from next to our beds so that we could read with one eye, and watch wild dogs with the other. The dogs finally got hunting after the sun had set, and sadly we lost them in the dark. They spread out and took off at some considerable speed; the yelp of a hyena in the distance gave us the only clue to their direction of travel.

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On the following evening after a heronry visit and sundowners, just as we turned for home we witnessed something extraordinary. Even Kanga could not believe what he was seeing. He said he had heard about hyenas hiding their food underwater, but had never seen it happen. What we witnessed by the light of the full moon in a lagoon near the hyena den, was not one but two hyenas going into the water. They went heads down below the surface looking for scraps of food; this type of behaviour is something I am sure we will all remember. The hyena den also provided some great viewing, as the occupants fearlessly came up very close to the vehicles. We were also able to see some scraps being shared outside the den by a group that included a cub or two.

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One cannot come away from Liuwa Plain without a mention of Lady Liuwa, the film star “last lioness”. She did not disappoint us. On the first morning at breakfast she came into the camp with her young lioness companion to say hello to the new guests. They were both clearly visible in the trees nearby. The male lion was also seen and heard during our visit, but the ultimate experience happened on our final morning as we were trying to leave the camp on our way back to the airport. Both lionesses came to say goodbye.

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Initially they came very close to where the vehicles were parked, and we could see and talk to them over the bathroom wall as we cleaned our teeth. Jason tried to make them keep their distance, but as a finale they walked right through the camp between the tents and towards the breakfast area where the young lioness had a sniff of the porridge before they wandered further off. What a send-off!”

Wow – thanks ever so much Mervyn what an incredible trip, thank you so very much for sharing it with us all. As for me there is nothing with which I am going to be able to follow these stories with so I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and until next week stay safe and have fun.

Cheers

emily

 

 

 

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