201403_Luangwa_493

hippos snorting in the Mwamba channel

This was my 10th year of Emerald Season Workshops (and more than twice as many visits to the valley) and our group of 5 photo stars were blessed with sweet light, action-filled game drives and a full river that enabled us to explore by boat deep into the Luangwa River ‘s swollen lagoons.

With 2 nights at Luangwa River Camp, 2 nights at Nsefu and 2 nights at Nkwali we visited three diverse areas at this extraordinarily green time of the year. The 40-kilometre river journey to and from Nsefu was my personal highlight.  I felt sure that the three fine lions that eyed our progress from the remote Nsefu Sector had not seen another person for months.

Stunning sunset light

Stunning sunset light

For John and Liz Atkins, on their fifth visit to Robin Pope Safaris, the pack of six wild dogs  that we found hunting puku beside the avenue of dead leadwoods on the road to Luangwa River Camp on our first afternoon was their first sighting. “Or was the highlight the lions we saw this morning,” John added. We had spotted them near Chichele and watched the lioness come within a claw of a zebra.

“The workshop was relaxed,” said John. “David was always there to answer questions and give sensible advice.  And he was always patient – except when we were late for departures!  I learned about how to compose and put animals in their environment. Before I was focusing in on the animal. Now I am getting much more of a sense of place. I am appreciating landscapes more.”

“Robin Pope Safaris looked after us so well,” Liz added. “They were so caring for our needs. Jacob was able to position the vehicle so that we got the best light and the best angles. He was so sensitive about what photographers need. “

201403_Luangwa_622

The historic camp of Nsefu

“I was very pleased with my photographs,” said Maggie Beveridge. “It was the first time that I’ve managed to get out of the vehicle and lie on the ground and get different angles of animals.  For me another highlight was the 12 lions we saw near Mfuwe — the largest pride I have seen in Zambia. “

It is one of the largest prides I have seen to — and its clear that the ban on hunting is having a positive effect on lions in the valley with many more sightings than in previous years. Thank you Zambia — lets keep up the great work on this front.

201403_Luangwa_431

Seeing lions from the river

 

“The elephant calves, the hippos that popped out of the river and, that vervet monkey that peed on me and watched my reaction, — those were my highlights,” said Darcy De Moss as she reflected on the Emerald Season Photographic Workshop held in the first week of March 2014.  Darcy starred in Friday 13th and other horror movies, and you can be sure that the vervet’s sure aim onto the head of our good-natured Hollywood “scream queen” elicited a very theatrical performance.

For me, it’s always wonderful returning to the valley and seeing Jacob, Kiki, Braston, Nyambe and other members of the wonderful Robin Pope Safaris team. I also met Christabel, the charming hostess at Nkwali who was warm and welcoming and, best of all, laughed at my jokes!

I will be back again with the RPS team for another Emerald Season Trip in March 2015. It would be great if you could be there?

201403_Luangwa_897

The 2014 team

Elephant and ground hornbill

Elephant and ground hornbill