Friday, 22 July 2011

A true walking mobile safari - special offer

A true mobile safari with the award winning team at Robin Pope safaris .
7 nights Combining some of the best safari camps in Zambia with a five day walking safari which is backed up by a totally mobile camp - a winning combination for those looking to be totally immersed in the bush.
"When I tell guests about this safari I always I just want to book myself on " Tony - Busanga Safaris

The safari begins with a flight from Lusaka to Mfuwe, where you will meet your guide and drive to Nkwali, staying for the first 2 nights, you will have had chance to explore on game drives and night drives (and of course walks), with good photographic opportunities. The safari then heads up to the remote north of the park. This takes you through different country and woodland , passing through a petrified forest and large open pans which attract some unusual species of both birds and antelope (Lichenstien's hartebeest). The party will picnic on the way making the journey very much part of the safari.

For the next 5 days the safari follows the Mupamadzi River - a clear water, major tributary of the Luangwa. The tents are "walk in" that open both ends for good ventilation with camp beds, mattress, sheets and blankets. The shower is under a tree and the loo is a short drop with a wooden throne. The dinning table is under the shadiest tree and the bar is a small table with the glasses and drinks, next to a small gas fridge to keep the beers and wine chilled.

The day starts before dawn, getting up for a quick breakfast around the camp fire. Setting off for the morning walk around six, the morning walk will be from 4 to 6 hours depending on sightings and enthusiasm.
After lunch there is a chance for a rest, read or snooze before afternoon tea. The afternoon walk is gentle, short and often sundowners will be brought to a meeting spot in the bush by vehicle and so there is a short spotlight drive back to camp. Then in the evening a shower and a welcome dinner, Then if you wish drinks around the fire before before heading to your very comfortable bed - weary and happy usually serenaded by the local lion pride or hyena.
The camp is very simple, a row of tents "walk in" that open both ends for good ventilation with camp beds, mattress, sheets and blankets), a shared large bucket shower and two "bush loos". The dinning table is under the shadiest tree and the bar is a small table with the glasses and drinks, next to a small gas fridge to keep the beers and wine chilled. The food is first class and the same standard as the safari camps.
On day that camp moves, the team will break camp, pack the truck and headed off to the next camp site. They arrive, set up camp, cook lunch, If a little late on departure the chef may end up chopping onions on top of the "kitundu" (safari kit)!, and as you walk in hot and no doubt a little tired from your walk - you will be greeted with cold drinks and lunch will be ready.
The walking is varied in difficulty as the terrain changes and the morning walks are from 6 to 10 kilometers. The timing, distance and toughness of the walks is determined by the group but you do need to be "walking fit" and we say that as a guide you should be able to run at least 50 meters (not from an animal of course ).

The area is very different from the Luangwa River. The area is remote and wild, the terrain and habitats varied and the game shy and unused to man. From ants to buffalo, a bird's nest to tracking a lion, you will learn the many facets of the bush. The Mupamadzi is clear and shallow. A tributary of the Luangwa, it rises in the mountainous escarpment within sight. We crossed the river many times - the ritual of taking of the boots and cooling the feet became second nature! There are foothills, open plains, thickets, wooded parklands, reedbeds, forest - amazing how many terrains and habitats you can walk through in one day.

The safari ends with 2 nights at the beautiful Nsefu Camp, where you will stay in a super cottage and enjoy the veryu high standards of care and quality wildlife viewing that the Luanagw and Robin Pope safaris are so well known for.
Contact us now for availability : 01628 621685 or click here for full details

Friday, 15 July 2011

11 Leopards in one week A guests eye view.

The Leopards of South Luangwa

For the 5 years, since I was bitten by the African Safari bug, a leopard sighting has evaded me. Last year in Northern Kafue, a brief glimpse at sunset was exciting but ultimately unsatisfying. South Luangwa is famous for its leopard population so I was filled with high hopes for the trip to Kafunta Lodge at Mfuwe, but previous disappointments had left me cautious.

I needn’t have worried. On my return home, I was asked at work what the highlight of the trip was…. I said, with typical English diffidence, the 11 leopard sightings!

Here are the leopards….

Day Two PM - Leopard 1
A great night sighting for our first leopard was this male stalking a group of impala. We went over to watch and he settled down to wait. I could hardly believe how slight and beautiful he was and it was brilliant to see him skilful manoeuvring ever closer to the prey. We left her patiently watching them in the moonlight.

Day Three AM - Leopard 2
Morning plans had changed suddenly as we left the camp when we saw a group of elephants moving across the plain in front of us to go to the river. Whilst we watched them drinking, baboons were making alarm calls in the trees on the opposite bank. We raced across the river by pontoon and immediately came across a herd of puku, alert and alarm calling. Josephat, our guide (and who was later christened the Leopard King) told us to start scanning the tree line. I am rather proud to say I spotted our second leopard yards from the landcruiser. The leopard was moving quickly and soon disappeared into the trees but was a brilliant sight for the sheer proximity and clarity of viewing in daylight.

Day Three PM - Leopards 3-7

Our first spot came soon in the afternoon with a leopard moving quickly in the undergrowth. We watched in awe as he walked in front of the car and was gone in the flash of an eye.

The others came at the end of the evening but were all the more interesting as we spotted 2 mating pairs. The first was a male, climbing the rocks to a female waiting high up for him. The second came shortly after when we turned a corner and saw a male with a small, very shy female, just walking down the road towards us.

Back at camp for drinks and dinner and we can’t help a small amount of celebrating – 5 leopards in one evening drive – 6 in total for the day!

Day Four PM – Leopard 8
The briefest but most exciting sighting came tonight. We were tracking a small group of lions (2 female and 1 male) when in the sweep of the night light, we saw a leopard in the middle of the plain drinking from a stream. The 2 lionesses walked towards the leopard, who, with a certain amount of arrogance, casually walked away. Suddenly the lionesses started hunting and the leopard was running for its life. In a moment of almost comic action, the leopard leapt down a gully and then came back up running around a tree, followed quickly by each lioness in turn. After 2 circuits, the leopard shot straight up the tree and left the lionesses watching thoughtfully below. I sat with my heart pounding, willing the leopard to get away – I thought with horror that after 5 years of waiting to see leopards, I was about to watch one being killed!

Day Five AM – Leopard 9
Our fifth day brought us to Alice. A leopard well-known in the area and perhaps the best sighting I will ever have in my life. We came across her sitting in the sunshine, pregnant and resting quietly. She was very calm as we watched her from close by.
The nights had brought full moonlight and therefore poor hunting and while we were watching, Alice clearly decided to take advantage of the relaxed state of the impala and puku nearby.

We followed in fascination as she stalked down a gully through the middle of the herds, moving so carefully and purposefully.

As she rolled in the dust, Josephat explained she was disguising her scent to allow her to get closer to her prey. We stayed for an hour with her and left her hiding in the gully, yards from an impala that was completely oblivious to her presence.

The following days brought a break from our routine as we moved to the Island Bush Camp, a four-hour drive from Kafunta, where the days are spent on walking safari and learning bush craft in a beautiful, remote and rustic environment.

Day Nine PM – Leopards 10 - 11
Our last evening drive with Andrew (we’d left Josephat behind in the Bush Camp) did not disappoint and our luck continued with a brilliant sighting of a leopard sleeping up a tree. I’d seen this in other people’s photos and had always thought it was a great sight to see them totally relaxed, flopped across a branch, legs dangling freely.
Our last sighting came as we were tracking two lionesses and an old male. It was a very dark night and perfect for hunting. We drove ahead of the lions to park on the side of the plain in the direction they were heading in the hope of catching them hunting. As we waited for the lions, we saw a leopard stalking impala down the side of the plain. Suddenly the impala took fright and ran off, calling. The leopard found a spot on a hill nearby and settled down to wait.

For a while we turned the lights off and sat in perfect darkness beside the leopard, waiting for the lions and listening to the sounds of night. I will never forget the feeling of the bush, so alive with the sense of anticipation of something waiting to happen. Of course, for humans, the park closes at night so, too soon, we had to leave, and with a deep pang of regret that this was my last night… until next year and another adventure.