It’s Monday 13th June 2016 and from the Luangwa to Bangwuelu

I hope that you are all well and have had a fabulous weekend! Here well things are as always absolutely fabulous and we are all having some amazing sightings and that even includes myself and Rob as we sat eating dinner on Tuesday night only to have a visitor. A male lion walked down the drive past our bedroom window heading towards the riverbank then back around the other side of the house – calling the entire time. Needless to say we were thrilled by the sighting – our cats not so much they puffed up in an attempt to look a little bigger but quickly realized that they should instead just hide!

Anyways you are not wanting to hear about our little snippet of game viewing you need to move on to bigger and better things like the recent safari that Jacob lead starting here in the valley and then heading up to the swamps to see the Shoebills.

Lets not kid ourselves the Shoebills are going to be the star of this show but we are going to chat about the few days they had here at Nkwali as there is a lot to be said about amazing elephant and giraffe sightings. Leopards dragging kills across roads and not to mention a huge male lion walking along the river bank straight into the stunning sunset light straight towards the car so preoccupied with – well I am sure that you can guess – that he didn’t give two hoots about the car and the guests the way.

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I mean lets be fair here – absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But like I said at the beginning the trip to the swamps is the highlight and certainly Jacob and the guests had a spectacular arrival as they flew low over the escarpment enjoying some quite simply spectacular landscapes.

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Coming into land they were welcomed by thousands of Black Lechwe surrounding the airstrip and almost as far as the eyes could see. Needless to say the guests fell in love with the place. Having landed all bags and guests were packed into canoes for the short paddle to camp one the way being completely spoilt with some amazing bird sightings including Blue Breasted Bee-Eaters, Swamp Fly catchers and plenty of Lesser Jacanas.

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The following day everyone woke up with a sense of nervous excitement – are we going to find these post box sized prehistoric birds? The canoes were packed for an all day excursion and after 3 hours of incredible birding and wonderful landscapes a huge shadow loomed overhead as a Shoebill ( I mean how they manage to fly is a question in its self) flew over them. A fleeting glimpse but certainly a cause for celebration and so it wasn’t long before a perfect shady island in the middle of the swamps was found and picnic lunch was set up. Whilst everything was being set up there was also an incredibly rare sighting of elephants as the only 4 elephants in the park (all females) waded across the swamps not too far off. Let me also add at the point that I am lead to believe that there are plans to bring in a bull elephant to keep the ladies company and hopefully expand the population. The day continued with some stunning landscapes and marvelous birding before heading back to camp for a well earned sundowners.

Day 2 dawned and it was major mission Shoebill and there was absolutely no disappointment. After only an hour on the water the team got out of the canoe and started walking along the edge of the papyrus and before long they came around the corner and only a few meters a way there it was – a huge Shoebill making the surrounding Spur-winged geese, egrets and other water birds look like miniatures. As if this sighting was not enough suddenly out of nowhere and with surprising grace another Shoebill came in to land next to its chum. The perfect way to end the safari. Well that and the fact that they had to chase the Lechwes off the airstrip before they took off to head back to Lusaka!

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So there you have it a must for any keen birder but not even that just the landscapes and the peace and quiet is an all encompassing parcel of magic. However before I drift off into reams of romantic writing I shall bid you all a very fond farewell for this week. Next week we are going to be back in the Luangwa as there is quite simply far too much going on here for you not to be kept in the loop. In the meantime have a fabulous week and don’t forget to keep on smiling.

Ems

 

 

BOTTOM

 

 

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