Zambia and Botswana 2015: South Luangwa

This is a park I’ve wanted to visit for a while and it didn’t disappoint!  We stayed at a camp, Mfuwe, made famous for it’s annual visit from a herd of elephants that come through to eat from the papaya trees in the area.  No doubt many of you have seen photos.  The wildlife was fantastic.  The most memorable thing about this visit was the behavior of the leopards.  Usually, they live up to the description of elusive.  However, here their behavior was strangely different.  Not that anyone minded.  We saw many out in the open, either resting or walking.  There are two brothers who still share territory with their mother although both are grown and capable of striking out on their own.  I have more photos of leopards that I thought possible. 

We watched this bull for quite a while.  He kept reaching higher and higher and it was pretty clear that what he was intent on getting was out of his reach.  We waited around for while and finally were rewarded.  I’ve seen photos of elephants doing this but never got to see it until now.

This was the previous day.  We watched for a while but he never went up.

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Later we did see what we had been waiting for!  Quite a bit of haze in the air so the photos aren’t particularly sharp.

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A couple of uniquely african birds; a hammerkop and a saddle billed stork.  This next series of photos are birds.  So if you aren’t interested in birds you can scroll quickly through the next set.

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African pied wagtail (they really do ‘wag’ their tails!) and crested guinea fowl (I don’t remember ever seeing these before).

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There is nothing good about this photo.. they were too far away and of course quite small.  They are peach faced love birds!!

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Hooded vulture.. one of the smaller species.

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Laughing dove..DPP_12852

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Probably one of the truly ugly birds but they play a critical roll in the health of the ecosystem.

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Probably the most photographed bird in Africa.. the lilac breasted roller.

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fire finch.. cute little bugger.

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Young fish eagle.. hasn’t quite finished molting.

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Little bee eater

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Red billed hornbill.  Hornbills are much like our crows.  Fearless and curious.  And there are so many different species.  I am quite fond of them.  I saw a couple of other species of hornbill, African grey and crowned hornbills but the photos I managed to get were rubbish.

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I think this is the brown hooded kingfisher… it could also be the grey headed kingfisher.  Kind of hard to tell from the photograph.

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Second only to elephants, I think warthogs relish a mud bath more than any others.

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After a roll in the mud the youngsters were full of energy and chased each other, butting heads.

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Then a couple of adults showed up.  I don’t know if they were known to the youngsters but they were so wound up they tried to engage this bigger guy in play.  He (or she) wasn’t thrilled…

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A couple of warthogs in the golden light of the late afternoon.

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Our accommodations sat on the bank of this riverbed so there was a constant source of entertainment.

These baboons are called yellow baboons.  They are smaller and much more slender than their other southern Africa cousins the chacma baboons.  They are the big guys.

I watched the baboons work their way down the riverbed.

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Notice mom’s foot holding off her baby… can’t even get a drink in peace!

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Cheeky vervet monkeys.  This little guy really wanted to cross my deck but it took him a while to muster the courage to cross with me sitting there.

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This is a subspecies of giraffe called Thornicroft found in Zambia.  These young males were ‘necking’.. it’s what the males do when they are fighting.  When the older guys do it in earnest, you can hear the thump of their necks slamming against each other long before you see them.  You can see them bracing their bodies against each other to avoid being knocked over by the power in that swinging neck.  This was gentle in comparison.  I do wish there was less haze and not such harsh light with them in shadow… hard to get a nice sharp photo.

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Some others caught in the ‘golden’ hour.

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Just a few landscape and birds… just cause I like ‘em.

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The elephants here were quite calm and didn’t feel the need to leave even when close to us.  Since I had long lenses on the cameras I didn’t want to take the time to change to a shorter lens so I decided to do some close ups.

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I forget what tree this is but elephants were quite interested in the fruit and branches.

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There was always plenty of elephant activity in the riverbed.

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This youngster seemed to be playing with the water as much as drinking it.

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And a good dusting is always important.

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And playing with the muddy water.

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Several species of antelope spent time in and around the riverbed: puku, impala, water buck, bush buck, and reed buck.

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Always lots of hippos on this trip.

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This little family came to the water to drink.

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Something caught their attention as they left…

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As you can see, it was some buffalo that came to drink.  After a brief stand off, the elephants continued on their way and allowed the buffalo to drink.

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We saw several large herds of buffalo.  Although it is hard to convey through photos, it is a formidable sight.

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The way these guys lined up reminded me of a chorus line.

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Baobobs and elephants, truly the mega fauna and flora of the world.

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Baobobs are not actually trees.  They are made of fiber which explains their ability to survive many of the assaults by elephants and other trauma  that normally affect trees.  Many are over 1000 years old.

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And a few reptiles, of course… crocodiles and water monitor.

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The african sunsets didn’t disappoint.

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Since there were quite a few cat sightings, I’ve decided to put them in another entry.  This one is getting quite cumbersome.

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2 thoughts on “Zambia and Botswana 2015: South Luangwa

  1. Beautiful Nancy. I take it these photos were taken over a couple of days. What an array of wildlife. Just love the photos taken in the golden hour especially of the LBR. The baobabs, the elephants, the birds and the giraffes necking, all great. Looks like you had a veery successful trip in South Luangwa.

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