Carnivore and Carmines – A Unique Safari in Zambia

Matt Armstrong All Authors, Matt 1 Comment

My self and Johan will be hosting a very special safari from the 1st-8th of November. As the name suggests, there are two particular focus points (see what I did there) on this safari.

Carnivores and Carmines.

Before I get into the two specific points of interest on this safari and why this will be a truly unique wildlife experience. I am going to talk to you about the area in which this safari will be taking place.

The South Luangwa National Park

Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, is without doubt my favourite safari destination. Why is that? I hear you ask. Well, maybe I’m a little bias as I spent two years working as a guide in this true wilderness of Africa. But that aside, I have yet to find anywhere else in Africa that offers unprecedented wildlife viewing in a pristine wilderness with very few other people there to disturb your sighting. In other words, great sightings in a truly remote part of Africa without anyone else there apart from yourself.

The South Luangwa National Park is named after the mighty Luangwa river. The park covers an area just over 9,000 square kilometres with the Luangwa river, which flows in a southerly direction until it meets the mighty Zambezi, forming the eastern boundary.

Rough 60km to the west is the Muchinga escarpment that acts as the western most point of the park.  In between the two is natural boundaries is 9000km2 of untouched, pristine wild Africa. Home to 110 recorded species of mammals and over 470 species of birds.

The ever-changing course of The Luangwa River is what makes this such a rich environment. As the river cuts away at its banks, its creates ox bow lagoons which build up with highly nutritional alluvial soil as the water level rises and falls with the seasonal floods. The highly fertile soil within these lagoons provides wonderful grazing for a whole host of pray species, such as impala and Puku, which in turn attract the predators, in huge numbers.

The Camp

The camp that will be hosting us for this safari is Shenton Safaris Kaingo Camp. A camp I know quite well, as it was here, along with its sister camp, Mwamba that I spend my time in Luangwa as a guide. This beautiful camp is situated on the banks of the Luangwa river, in and amongst the riverine woodland that grown along its banks. I will stop there and let the video and pictures,certisy of Shenton Safaris,  give you a better idea of the camp, as my words will not do it justice.

Oh, and by the way.

We will have it all to ourselves.

As well as a stunning setting and beautiful rooms. Kaingo has a few other tricks up its sleeve. Its hides. Which we will have full and exclusive access to over the course of our stay. The Hippo hide, Elephant hide, Carmine hide (more on this later) and the various mobile hides add a whole different dimension to your safari experience.

The Carnivores

As I mentioned, The South Luangwa National Park is home to 110 recorded species of mammals, including the carnivores. The Lunagwa Valley is known as the Valley of the Leopards, and for very good reason. It is said that there is one leopard for every three kilometres squared, take that over the area of 9000 square kilometres and that gives one huge leopard population. In my time as a guide at Kaingo, I came to know 10 individual leopards, that I would see with my guests on a very regular basis and i am sure on this safari we will bump into some of my old friends. Click here and here for my previous blog posts on the leopards of the Luangwa.

As well as the leopards, a very healthy lion population exists within the park. Three prides occupy territories that surround the camp. The Hollywood pride, The Mwamba Kaingo pride and the Mwamba Kapanda pride, all call this remote part of the park home and you have to be extremely unlucky not to bump into one of them. Not only is this a great place to view the most sociable of the big cats, but it is a fantastic place to witness them in action. As the video blow shoes.  Click here , here, here and here for all my previous blogs on these different Lion prides.

The cats are not the only carnivores that call this area home. Wild Dog and Hyena also account for a large number of predator sightings in this part of the park. Throughout my time as a guide in this area I have had a number of very special encounters with one of Africa’s most endangered carnivore. Click here to read my account when I became part of the pack.

The Carmine Bee-Eater

There is no doubt that the predators are the stars of the show in this part of Africa. But there is one particular species of bird that this safari will focus on. The Carmine Bee Eater. This beautiful bird migrates to this part of Africa to nest. Gathering in huge colonies, numbering in their thousands, on the banks of the river.

They pair up and frantically go about drilling their nests, up to two meters into the soft bank of the river.  Viewing these highly colourful and energetic birds is not always easy and will usually be done from the opposite bank or directly about the colony itself causing great disturbance and limited viewing.

On this safari, the viewing of the birds will be done from a highly specialized hide that has been modified from a boat which is anchored in the river directly in front of a colony. Providing unparalleled opportunity to photograph these birds.

Due to the position of the hide, it will give you the unique advantage of being able to constantly photograph birds at eye level as well as giving you time to try a number of different techniques to come away with a  umber of different shots of these spectacular birds. In my opinion this hide, makes this camp the best place to photograph carmines anywhere in Africa.

The Hides

As a touched on earlier, there are a number of hides that we will have available to us on an exclusive basis. The Kaingo Hippo hide is famous for offering a unique eye to eye view of the many hippo the inhabit the Lunagwa river. Build into the side of the bank the hide takes your right down to the water’s edge beside a well-used hippo highway leading to and from the river. A great chance to see these beasts close up, out of the water as the return from their nightly feed.

The Mwamba Last Water Hole Hide. Which, as the name suggests is situated at Mwamba bush camp, 6km inland from Kaingo camp and was made famous by this remarkable sighting that I played whiteness to a few years ago.

As you can see, this safari is not your average two game drives a day experience. On this trip you have a number of different opportunities to use a whole range of techniques to take a wide range of images, all made possible by exclusive use of a beautiful camp with its unique photographic hides. Unrivalled viewing of carnivores in action and a chance to photograph Africa’s most beautiful bird from a unique perspective that you will not find anywhere else.

Sound like something that might interest you?

Then click here for more details and booking information.  I would love to share this amazing safari with you!


About the Author

Matt Armstrong

A deep love of nature and the great expanse of the wilderness drew me to Africa at a young age and has captivated me ever since. I truly believe that my experience and passion will ensure that you to leave your Wild Eye safari with images you can be proud of and memories that will last a life time.

Do you want to photograph carmines and carnivores?

Click here for more information or to secure your spot on this new Wild Eye safari!

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