November is a fascinating time to be on a photographic workshop in South Luangwa. It’s the end of the dry season and the impressive clouds that rise above the winding river created amazing photographic backdrops for the action that unfolds.  We had  amazing photographic opportunities in the Nkwali and Nsefu areas. Our final drive at Nsefu was particularly notable. It began with an early morning encounter with a male lion as he wandered down the Crocodile River looking for his cubs. Then the alarm call of puku led us to a leopard and its cubs. We caught our breath in the carmine and hippo hides before driving back to camp past 5 wild dogs and two mating lions! This sort of action is not unusual at this time of the year. On our first two drives we notched up 22 wild dogs and 5 leopards.

November is not only a time for great predators. The first rains had fallen a week before our trip.  A green flush covered the trees and the songs of woodland kingfishers and cuckoos announced the arrivals of early migrants. We could sense the relief of the coming rains and there were plenty of newborn impalas, giraffe and warthog. What a great bounty for photographers. But it was still a tough time for many species. The puku always look desperate at this time of year and so do the hippos. They jostled and skirmished in the shallow river and many had succumbed and were being feasted upon by crocodiles.

We massive clouds of red-billed queleas massed and swirled and we also photographed carmine bee-eaters which nest by the thousands at this time of year. Photographing carmines is a bit like skeet shooting and depend up quick hand eye coordination and sometimes a bit of luck.

It was a first photographic safari for Chris Mwale and having worked very closely with the Zambian Carnivore Program on the Robin Pope Safaris Predator Trips he added a great deal of value to the trip. Armed with his camera he also enthusiastic and keen to learn about angles, light and creating images.

Photographer Maria was on her 11th trip to Robin Pope Safaris and she was hugged and warmly greeted at all the camps  This was Ryker (a retired professional photographer) and Linda’s third visit to Luangwa and we had travelled together previously on other photographic trips.

It’s more than 15 years since I led my first photographic safari at Robin Pope Safaris and I often reflect on the great experiences that I have had with this company.  Although Robin and Jo Pope sold the company some years ago, it is ably managed by Rob and Emily and its always good to see the new improvements and additions. Congratulations on the new hippo and carmine bee-eater hides — they are awesome — and even more  congrats on the birth of your son.  I look forward to getting to meeting (and photographing) him when I return in February for our Luangwa Emerald Season Safari. These river trips, when when we journey by boat from Nkwali to Nsefu, offer a totally different experience of this river.

Find our more about our upcoming workshops or let us help you plan a private trip.

The images contained in this post were taken with a Nikon D810 and a selection of lenses including the excellent F5.6 Nikon 200 – 500

 

 

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