Excerpt from the Welcome Home Letter written by Expedition Leader Lex Hes from our first-ever October 2010 Zambia expedition.
For me there were a few “lifers” on this trip: no less than three mammal species (oribi, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, and sun squirrel) and four bird species (pennant-winged nightjar, Bohm’s bee-eater, sooty chat, and red-throated twinspot).
The fact that I saw two of these mammal lifers at Busanga highlights the importance of this area for antelope diversity. We saw a total of 10 antelope at Busanga, which compares to a total of 11 antelope that we would see on a typical trip to Botswana that covers five different camps. In addition to the antelope that we saw, there are also two rare antelope, the blue duiker and the yellowbacked duiker. Of all the places that I have been to in Africa, this is far and away the best place that I know of to view roan antelope.
And, of course, the sightings of the lions feeding on the hippo and the cheetah were both real highlights; along with the balloon trip, although it was a pity that the wind direction cut the trip short.
After the open plains of Busanga, it was interesting to get a complete change of scenery with the denser bush of South Luangwa and its magnificent river. There was a general sense of “less wildlife” in South Luangwa, but it is interesting to note the number of species seen at each camp. The camp that was a highlight for all of us was Chiawa, but we only saw 19 species of mammals there. Next best was Busanga where we saw 26 species of mammals and, would you believe, we saw the highest number of different mammals at Kalamu, a total of 28 species as well as hearing leopard and thicktailed bushbaby! It shows you how first impressions can be somewhat misleading. I really believe that, with some time for the animals to get more accustomed to tourist vehicles, Kalamu will develop into one of the best wildlife viewing areas in Zambia. And it has no other tourist traffic, so we have the place to ourselves.
Of course, Chiawa was a great way to end the trip. What a beautiful place! The mighty Zambezi River spreading out in front of camp across to Zimbabwe; the backdrop of the escarpment hills on the Zambian side; the magnificent winterthorn trees; and the thousands of elephants, including our friends in the camp, were all amazing views that I will never forget. It was such a pleasure travelling on quiet waters after the bumping and grinding in landrovers and the sunsets were magnificent, especially when accompanied by lions resting on the bank of the river or elephants feeding on the islands.
And, last but not least, the fact that we saw a leopard on every single night drive was quite remarkable!