Tuesday, 10 September 2013


 We're still at Tafika Camp in the South Luangwa National Park. This park is rich in wildlife and we've been lucky enough to have seen some of the best it has to offer. We've experienced some chilly early mornings from the back of an open topped Land Rover when the wildlife is often most active. We've had microlight flights along the river at 6 am, spotting game as the sun rose above the Luangwa Valley. We've had excitement and at one point downright fear as we did our first walking safari (more of that later). And we've had some incredible sightings on the evening game drives when the cats come out to play. 

 The picture of the Leopard above was taken on one of those evening drives and is without doubt my favourite photo of the whole trip. This is the mother we think, of the young Leopard cub on the previous post. We came across her after dark as she was hunting not too far from our camp. She took absolutely no notice of us as we watched excitedly from the open topped vehicle. Minutes later the whole scene changed when a large lioness suddenly emerged from the scrub on one side and a Hyena (pictured below) appeared from the other side. The Leopard reacted instantly and climbed a large tree incredibly quickly. The last thing she would want is a fight with a Lion, especially if the cub was hers, we had seen it alone again about twenty minutes earlier. In the picture, she is in the safety of the tree, but her eyes are fixed intently on the lioness who padded past and melted into the bush as silently as she had appeared.


 This is the young Leopard seen earlier in the evening who is most likely the offspring of the Leopard in the tree. 

This adult was seen a couple of times quite a distance from the camp. The first time we saw her she had just killed an Impala and was dragging it into the dense scrub. We returned on our way back to camp and could see that she had carried the Impala up a tree and draped it across a branch. We presumed she had hidden it for her cub. We were right. That evening we returned just in time to see the mother and cub turn up to feed on the kill. She bought the antelope down from the tree effortlessly and they both started feeding. Then a Hyena turned up, like they do, and the Impala was taken back up the tree where mother and cub enjoyed their meal in peace. Below are some more pictures of just a few of the hundreds of birds and animals seen at South Luangwa.



A few of the many Crowned Cranes who flew in every morning to feed at the salt pans area of the park. Hot springs rise to the surface here creating great habitat for lots of different species.


Male Kudu above and females below. Our favourite antelopes of the trip.


The Elephant above was having a mud bath in a wallow just alongside the camp

These Elephants were also very close to camp and on this occasion they point blank refused to allow us past on the track. Our guide edged very close to them in the hope that they would move over as they normally do but they wouldn't budge and started getting a bit irate. I for one was mightily relieved when the guide conceded and reversed back. We eventually had to go 'off road' to get past.




I was disappointed not to get a better shot of these lovely birds. The only opportunity was this one from the vehicle below the tree.

This baby Elephant seemed pleased to have found something his own size to practice charging at.

I mentioned earlier about our walking safari. It was great to get out on foot and apart from a very bad tempered bull Hippo who put the fear of God up me and Carol it went very well. Said Hippo didn't want to leave his cool mudhole for one, in an otherwise dry river bed. Our guide tried to persuade it to go quietly but instead it bellowed loudly and ran towards us. PANIC!! Luckily it veered to our right and ran into the scrub behind us. I walked on with my eyes regular checking over my shoulder for quite some time after that, fully expecting it to come back at us but thankfully it didn't.
What we didn't know was that we needed to cross the Luangwa in a canoe during our walk. Carol wasn't best pleased. The Croc above is the one on the island just past the canoe carrying Carol across in the pic below. 

Quite apart from the Crocodiles (the river is teeming with them), the two Hippos below insisted on staying right in front of the canoe landing site. Gallantly, I suggested women and children first was the usual way when danger threatens. So off went Carol while Brian the guide and I bellowed back at the Hippos. They still wouldn't move so Carol, George the tea maker (he made fire to boil the water with two sticks, how good is that), and our armed ranger had to turn back and have a second attempt when the Hippos moved downstream. 

Next time: Chongwe and the mighty Zambezi!


Mike Attwood said...

Wonderful set of pictures Phil, but the first pic of the leopard, it is the best leopard pic that I have ever seen. I would like to see that on my wall along with the pro prints that I have.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
I agree entirely with Mike's comment above , that Leopard shot is absolutely superb , and that's taking nothing away from the other great shots you've posted so far .
You should be very proud of that one .
I can see Carol's white knuckles from here . Would have thought you would have been swimming alongside to protect her .
Glad to see you still have more in the bag , and look forward to the next instalment of your fabulous trip .

Ken. said...

When you told me some time ago that you had bought a new lens mainly for your holiday I was envious then, but can you imagine how envious I am now?
What a holiday of a life time you and Carol had. You might have had to get up early but boy was it worth it, such a diversity of wildlife you saw and photographed.
I agree with all above about the leopard picture,people can wait a life time for a shot like that.
The Carmine BeeEater is a favourite bird with many birders, but the picture of the Saddle Billed Stork is a wonderful looking bird.
Is there a picture of you swinging through the tree's in a leopard skin with a Chimpazee at all?

alan roman said...


Marianne said...

I have to echo everyone else, that first Leopard pic is something really special. One to frame up and put on the wall, I reckon. Glad you survived the Hippo encounter, they are scary beasts!