We love sharing our guests experiences with you all and have been encouraging guests to share their images and stories with us here on the blog. You can view some of the previous guest blogs here but for now, here is Mitch Stringer’s account of his incredible safari experience with us on our annual South Luangwa Photo Safari.
Having just returned from South Luangwa National Park in Zambia I have downloaded my over 12,000 images to multiple back up drives and find myself reflecting on an incredible eight days with Marlon Du Toit and my three fellow guests. Coming into the trip my frame of reference was a photo safari two years ago within Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. While that was a great introduction to the continent and photographing wildlife there it was dwarfed by the near overwhelming volume and quality of sightings in South Luangwa.
After arriving at the Nsefu Camp in Zambia we prepared for an afternoon game drive. Right from the start photo opportunities presented themselves. These took the form of the troops of baboons walking in and around the camp, impala and warthogs. But it was the tracking prowess of Marlon and our guide Chelumba that brought us face to face with a female leopard.
This would be the first of nearly twenty separate leopard sightings during the trip. We spent a good deal of time with her and we were rewarded with many portrait opportunities of this stunning leopard plus photos of her with her cub and they avoided a hostile troop of baboons. It was an incredible few hours just off the short one hour plan ride from Lusaka to Mfuwe. We were all excited about the prospects for the rest of the trip after such an incredible first outing. We joked with Chelumba that the bar had been set pretty high and we “expected” each drive to eclipse the previous one. Little did we know that this would actually be the case!
The Nsefu Camp was amazing. Plain and simple. The manager, Ruth, was so nice and accommodating as was the rest of he staff there. The individual rounded huts or “chalets” as they are known were made of solid walls with a thatched roof and beautiful. They are simply and very nicely furnished. My first reaction to opening the door to my chalet was “this is way too nice for me!” The camp is located at a bend in the Luangwa River where hippos, elephants and other wildlife could be seen grazing or cooling down in the river. Its like being in what one might imagine the Garden of Eden would look like.
My chalet was like a slice of heaven within that garden. Each had its own small but ample porch with a table and chairs where I chose to sit and edit while watching the activity on the river. In short, wow!
As the days went on Marlon and Chelumba amazed me as they would see and read the animal tracks determining the type of animal that had walked by, when it came by and where it likely had gone. That intimate knowledge of the native wildlife was essential in positioning us in locations most likely to encounter the animals.
Each day we were amazed at Marlon’s uncanny ability to locate animals and incredible photo opportunities for the group. Each day really did seem to top if not equal the previous one. When we would see wildlife, Marlon would tell us the name, sometimes scientific name and discuss its habits and behaviors we were likely to see exhibited.
Many times that behavioural knowledge paid off for the group with incredible images that we would not have had if we didn’t wait long enough at certain sightings that took time to develop. A good example are wild dogs. We waiting patiently for almost 90 minutes shooting only portraits here and there before the group began the prepare for a hunt with a frenzy of activity predicted by Marlon an hour earlier. We were not disappointed. The dogs leapt up and began biting each other, chasing one another and preparing to go out for the night’s hunt.
After three nights we moved to Tena Tena Camp which was also a great experience. The accommodations were individual tents. To call them “tents” does not do them justice. They were large with very nice amenities and I liked these every bit as much as the Nsefu Camp. Both were great and I would recommend them both. Moving to the Tena Tena area we encountered different terrain from Nsefu and had the dog encounters and enjoyed many hippo, leopard, hyena and of course lion sightings which we saw near both camps.
In short, I cannot wait to go again and am already looking into the coming year for my next trip with Marlon and Wild Eye. Leaving was tough. The hospitality, food and wildlife were phenomenal. Now comes the fun task of editing through the images and reminiscing about the trip. With 12,000 images, hopefully I’ll get my edits done before it’s time for my next trip!
Join us in South Luangwa
Join us in South Luangwa from 22 to 30 July 2017 for a safari that will transport you back to the way Africa was many years ago, a safari that’s not only exhilarating, but also pure.View Safari Page
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