Sara and “Lion Camp”
Off we go!
Leaving Cape Town at 0830 means getting up at about 0530. We board a direct flight to Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe (Zim), a country which we’d never entered before. We went through customs and were charged $50 US each to be in the country for 30 minutes! Well, so be it. Then we find out that our travel agent didn’t include the visa fees in our trip! We then drove about 5 kilometers and left Zim to go to Zambia (Zam). Customs in Zim didn’t have the “special” visa which allows one to visit both Zim and Zam in the same trip for $55 US. Paper shortage was what they said but I didn’t believe it. Zim is now starting into bankruptcy. They also claim they don’t have paper with which to print passports for their citizens to get out. Crazy.
Now, we’re at the visa station in Zam, we literally were pooling our US dollars, Zam kwatcha, Rands, whatever to purchase visas into the country. I think it took all our money.
After paying another $50 US each, we were taken straight to the Royal Livingstone Hotel. Thank the power that there is an ATM at the Livingstone Hotel. Whew! Whilst there saw Chacma or Cape Baboons. Waiting for our rooms to be finished, and after getting our orientation, Sara, Jenny and I walked to the Vic Falls. What a shame for Sara. The falls were barely flowing. The watershed which supplies Vic Falls has had no significant rain for 2 years.
After returning, we hurriedly got ready for a dinner train trip aboard a steam train.
During the cocktail hour, we received an excellent talk about Zam and its history. Dinner was delicious and we got to “hoot” the train whistle!
We returned to the Livingstone Hotel late with a pickup scheduled for 0730 to go to Lion Camp near Mfuwe in the South Luangwa National Park.
Lions Camp Day 1
Rural Zam is the same as everywhere in rural Africa, small shacks and outdoor markets.
We arrived at Lion Camp at about 2:00 PM after a 3 hour drive from the Mfuwe airport.
After having lunch with Innocent, we went to our room to unpack.
Our first game drive was at 4:00 PM. Innocent was our guide for our stay. During our first evening game drive from Lion Camp we saw tons of animals, literally and figuratively. It had taken me about 60 game drives to see an Elephant shrew (Elephantulus rufescens). We saw two that night! Besides the shrew, we saw Yellow Baboons (Papio cynocephalus),
Puku (Kobus vardonii),
Impala (Chevroletis sedanus no really it’s: Aepyceros melampus),
Hippos (Hippopotamus amphibious),Jenny’s favorite- Black-faced vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus),
Nile Crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus),
Saddle-bill stork (Mycteria ibis),
African spoonbills (Platalea alba),
Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta),
African bush elephants (Loxodonta africana),
Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer) [previously posted], Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus),
Orange Beak Hornbills (Tockus leucomelas)
and Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer).
When Sara arrived in Cape Town, she had told us that she wanted to see giraffes. On our drive to Lion Camp, in the South Luangwa National Park, she spotted one about a mile off. It was way too far away to photograph. This morning, we got to see the Thornicroft’s or Rhodesian Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti)
DNA analysis has revealed that it is a totally different species than the other 8 species in Africa. Beautiful animals.
At that point it was time to start back to the lodge for breakfast. As we headed in that direction, we came upon a herd of Cape Buffalo about 100 strong. Suddenly, they started crossing a small stream.
The sight reminded Jen and I of the Great Migration we witnessed in Kenya. One of the females appeared to have either a cataract or a corneal injury. At 100 meters it’s hard to tell even with binoculars.
After lunch we observed several Lions (Panthera leo),
Lilac Breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus),
Red bush squirrels (Paraxerus palliates), Slender Mongoose (Galerella sanguinea),
Cape Turtle Doves (Streptopelia capicola),
a pack of 3 African Painted Wolf (Lycaon pictus) (used to be called Africann wild dogs),
a herd of about 50 zebras (Equus quagga crawshayi)
Notice there are only black and white stripes as opposed to the zebras in South Africa which have a brown stripe between black and white.
and a Large Spotted Genet (Genetta tigrinna)[running too fast]. What a day of animal viewing!
After dark and using a large spotlight, we saw an African Porcupine (Hystrix crostata) (Couldn’t get a photo as it was way too dark.)
The camp has several excellent chefs so meals were always sumptuous. Fortunately, the portion size was manageable so that we didn’t feel like we’d eaten a huge quantity. At dinner that night we saw a Spotted Eagle Owl (Bubo africanus) and another Large Spotted Genet. A short night before a 0530 wake-up call.
Driving out of the camp we saw 3 Large Grey Mongooses (Herpestes ichneumon) and Grey crowned cranes (Balearica regulorum), Yellow Bill Kite (Milvus aegyptius) and FINALLY, a tower then a journey of 11 giraffes.
Sara was ecstatic! In this tower/journey there were 3 youngsters. One of which had an umbilical cord remnant!
We saw a Crested francolin (Dendroperdix sephaena), Banded mongooses (Mungos mungo), Long-tail glossy Starling (Lamprotornis caudatus), and Lillian’s Lovebirds (Agapornis lilianae).
Additionally saw several murmurations of Red-billed Quelea (Quelea quelea), African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus), Tropical Boubou (Laniarius aethiopicus) and two male lions. The lions were on a river bank. After sundowners and after dark, we followed the lions as they moved off for probable hunting. We found an African Civet Cat (Civettictis civetta) and a journey of 13 Giraffe with a hyena intermixed. Innocent said the hyena was trying to get one of the youngsters.
Dinner that night was in the boma and was again excellent. An altogether wonderful day.
At breakfast, we were told that whilst we were in the boma having dinner, a leopard was in our camp and had killed a bushbuck. I wish we’d seen that.
Going back to the Mfume airport, we saw Black Wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou),
a male Leopard, terrapin of some type, more Elephants and Giraffe. By this time, Sara had seen more than 15 giraffe and is so sated that she didn’t even bother to photograph them.
Now, off to Thula Thula.
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