Trip Report: South Luangwa Photo Safari 1-8 October 2018

Johan van Zyl All Authors, Johan Leave a Comment

As nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts we are constantly looking for new adventures and destinations.  Destinations that will take your breath away.  Places that are wild, undisturbed and still fairly unspoilt and exclusive.  South Luangwa is one of those places.

During the first week of October, three guests and myself travelled to South Luangwa, spending the first three nights at Tena Tena Camp and then the next four nights at Nsefu Camp, both in the private Nsefu sector.

South Luangwa has been documented as having some of the highest densities of predators in Africa, so naturally this was going to be our main focus during this safari.

After landing at Mfuwe airstrip, we started our road transfer to Tena Tena Camp which started off through the local villages before entering the game management areas and eventually into South Luangwa National Park.

Eager to explore the beauty of South Luangwa, we briefly stopped at our Camp before heading out on our first afternoon game drive.

We could not have asked for a better start to our Safari as a few minutes into the drive we came across a pack of Wild Dogs, causally resting in the shade of a big Mahogany tree.

The days in the Luangwa Valley during October are very hot, with temperatures ranging between late 30 degrees Celsius and early 40’s but this is also some of the best time for game viewing, with the seasonal water sources having dried up, forcing the majority of the game towards the Luangwa River.

Our three nights at Tena Tena offered everything you’ve heard of and almost come to expect from South Luangwa.  We enjoyed multiple Wild Dog and Leopard sightings as well as big prides of Lion and the every tricky to photograph Carmine Bee Eaters.  The standout sighting however, happened on our second morning at Tena Tena…

After a fairly quiet morning and with the October sun starting to make its presence known, we started to make our way towards Camp when we came across four Lions staring at about five or six Dagga Boys (old Buffalo Bulls).  With perfect cover between the Lions and the Buffalo and with the Lions showing keen interest, we decided to stick around to see what will unfold.  To our amazement a single Lioness that appeared from nowhere started walking straight toward the Buffalo, out in the open with no cover whatsoever.  Game over I thought to myself, she has just given their presence away, and our “dream” of seeing Lions take down a Buffalo was gone, or was it…?

As the Lioness kept on approaching the small group of Buffalo Bulls, they eventually panicked and started running through some fairly thick bush.  Naturally this triggered “hunting mode” for the four Lions who had been waiting patiently, and before we knew it we were in pursuit of witnessing something special.

It only took a few hundred meters and what unfolded in front of us is without a doubt one of the most amazing scenes I have ever witnessed.  Five Lions in a standoff with one of Africa’s most feared animals.  It was eventually the strength, endurance and sheer numbers of the Lions that proved too much for the Buffalo to handle as they took it down right in front of us.  Suddenly Lions appeared everywhere and within a space of a few minutes, we were surrounding by sixteen Lions gathering for a feast.

After an incredible three nights at Tena Tena it was hard to imagine how we could possibly top what we have seen, but yet again Nsefu did not disappoint…

We heard rumours of a Female Leopard with a Cub that was hanging around the Nsefu area, so we decided to head out to try and catch a glimpse of the two of them.

We found the Female Leopard by herself on a few occasions, patrolling the surroundings of Nsefu, looking for a potential meal.  She had stashed the Cub away as she went about her business, leaving us puzzled as to where this much sought after Cub could be.

On our second to last morning we again headed out, hoping to find this Leopard and Cub that we have invested so much time in.  It was the sound of a troop of baboons as well as Vervet Monkeys that alarmed us that there must be a predator in the area.  Finally our hard work paid off as we found the Female Leopard and her Cub with a fresh Impala Kill in a Sausage tree.  Again what unfolded was to date one of the best Leopard sighings I have ever had.  We spent the entire morning as well as the afternoon with the two of them, giving us incredible photographic opportunities.  From feeding on the kill, to playing on the ground, it had EVERYTHING!

During the afternoon they had moved their kill from a Sausage Tree to a nearby Fig Tree and provided us with endless entertainment.  The young cub, eager to get it’s paws, jaws and claws into the prized kill, was still very inexperienced in the art of feeding and dropped the kill from the Fig Tree on numerous occasions…  Three times to be exact!  It was a sighting that neither my guests or I will forget anytime soon.

Apart from incredible predator densities, South Luangwa is also known for being home to the Migratory Carmine Bee Eaters who nest in the banks of the Luangwa River.  We had the luxury of having access to a nearby hide and although these incredibly fast moving birds proved to be a challenge to photograph, they provided us with endless entertainment and thoroughly tested our photographic skills.

Everything you read about South Luangwa and all the fuss that is made of this incredible destination is true.  It certainly has stolen my heart and I cannot wait to return in 2019.

If you love Predators, if you’re looking for diversity, and if you want to experience a wild, undisturbed destination, then click here and join me in 2019 for what will be another amazing experience.

Click here to watch the full video of our amazing trip.

Thank you South Luangwa, it was an absolute treat!

Johan

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Johan van Zyl

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The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.

 

 

 

 

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