Photo Safari Report: Ken & Sandra | Flatdogs Camp | 5 - 9 Oct 2015

10th October 2015
Here are the images from my recent safari with Ken and Sandra. We had a spectacular week and enjoyed extraordinary sightings on almost every day.

Ken and Sandra wrote some very kind feedback about being on safari with me. I thought I would copy it here on the trip report:

"We have been on many trips to various wildlife destinations - however, our recent trip to Zambia is the first time we have been back to an African camp we’ve visited before. The reason for this return visit was quite simply Ed Selfe.

Of the many guides we’ve had, we have been the most impressed with Ed, due to a combination of his knowledge as a guide and his friendly outgoing personality, with a sense of humour very much in tune with our own! And of course, the clincher - Ed’s expert photographic skills, not only anticipating the best position for any imminent action, but ensuring that the two of us both had the best possible view and lighting.

In summary, as keen wildlife photographers, we consider ourselves fortunate to have crossed paths with Ed - superb guide, great company and expert photographer. And hopefully now friend."

Ken MacLennan-Brown & Sandra Rossi, UK


We started out with a nicely lit situation with a croc and an egret. Balancing the exposure for the dark croc and bright white egret takes care.



A quick drive up north to where I'd left a pride in the morning gave us beautiful lion cubs with golden evening light. They were moving around while the females were out hunting, so we sat quietly with them, moving the vehicle occasionally to give us new angles. As always, the plan was to show the cubs as part of a pride, conveying their social aspect as cooperative cats.





After a beautiful hour with the cats, we headed back towards camp and found ourselves following another vehicle. I hate that, as you are guaranteed to share your sightings with another group, and you end up with grit between your teeth. I took a side road into an area of riverine forest and quickly rooted out a Pel's Fishing Owl, one of the more special of our owl species.



Feeling chuffed that my gamble had paid off, we set off again for camp, and almost immediately we found another owl. But this time, it was not a Pel's, but a Barn Owl! Not necessarily rare by African standards, but not commonly seen in Luangwa, I was very happy to see my first one here! Using the spotlight to achieve focus, my flash illuminated the bird and kept the 'exposure' short to avoid wing blur.



The following morning, we set out early and found hyaenas all over the place. We worked hard to ascertain the source of all their interest and eventually narrowed it down to a thick band of scrub where we had little access. Luckily, one of the hyaenas broke free from the rest and appeared carrying the head and neck of aCape buffalo, struggling under the weight. The vultures were hot on his heels and he soon shot off into the bushes once more.



The light was beginning to get bright, so we focused on some of the nearby subjects before heading back to camp.



That afternoon, we found something new, even for me! Passing a warthog, I spotted two porcupine quills sticking out of its rump. We guessed that the pig had reversed down a burrow the previous night (they reverse to keep the tusks pointed towards danger) and found that a porcupine was still using the burrow that day! They looked deeply embedded, but the pig didn't seem bothered by them1 [Update: we passed a couple of days later and saw the warthog in exactly the same situation.]



Heading to check on a spring in the late evening, we found elephants drinking at the river, side lit by a ray of sunshine. A camera will tend to over expose a scene such as this, so adjustments are required.



We hit the jackpot at the spring, finding a gorgeous little leopard drinking in the early evening. She heard sounds in the distance and led us to a scene where two other leopards were feeding in adjacent trees. 3 leopards and 3 hyaenas were visible in one place, although there were very limited photo opportunities. In cases such as this, we just sit back and watch!



Heading back in the morning to see if we could track any of the spotty cats, we found lots of elephants in the same area, but no cats!!!



We did however, locate a different female in a tree nearby and enjoyed 2 hours with her as she moved in her tree and watched nearby impalas. Impalas did approach her tree to eat the fallen flowers, but never came close enough for an attack!



In the afternoon, we set out with no plan except to photograph some of the antelope. First we played with pukus under trees in the distance - so called long-lens-landscapes - one of my favourite techniques.



We moved on to kudu bulls.....



.....and ended with an impala on a bluff.



After dark, we began to see hyaenas moving in one particular direction. I remember saying "I don't know where they're going, but I want to be there when they arrive!". Lucky we did, because we got there just in time to find a leopard throttling his prey, and to take some shots before the inevitable hyaena take-over of the carcass.



The bloodbath that followed will stay with me for some time. The noise, hot, flowing blood and red faces was almost too much to observe. At one stage, a wind change carried the smell of the kill towards us - fresh blood, stomach contents and adrenaline were all apparent.





Wondering how we could top that, we moved on to small things again, and had a lot of fun with this genet who posed helpfully for a long period.


And returning to camp, we found a familiar lion pride rousing from its slumbers and going through the daily greetings.



We tracked them down the next morning to the river bank and enjoyed them observing elephants crossing the river.......



.......before they settled down to rest in the morning sunshine!



If you like the look of this trip, and would like to see Luangwa for yourself, please get in touch. Even individuals are welcome and might find that it's more affordable than they think!

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