My Favourite Busanga Moments

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Annabelle Venter was fortunate enough to visit the Busanga Plains at the beginning of June, enjoying the highlights of the first days of the season. She loved the remoteness of the area and marvelled at the abundance of life to be seen all around. Enjoy her roundup of her favourite ‘Busanga Moments’ below.

The birdlife has to be number one in June! Huge flocks of pratincoles on the floodplains in front of Shumba camp.

Seeing my first ‘lifer’ of the trip (in ‘birder-speak’ that means the first sighting of a particular bird!) –a rosy-throated longclaw!

My second ‘lifer’ of the trip! Grey-crowned cranes or mahems. Mahem is exactly the sound of their eerie call.

Watching the dawn break from the deck of our tent. The endless floodplain and outside seating was magnificent. Being treated to a private dinner on our deck one night was a definite highlight.

Assistant Manager Muwamba, barman Fred, waiter Charles, GM Ondyne, Shumba guide Newton, head waiter Chrispin, Assistant Manager Mutale and Busanga Guide Sam.

The staff at Shumba and Busanga are genuinely wonderful people. Full of fun amongst themselves and so good to spend time with, they make an amazing team. One of my favourite memories is sitting at the fire with guides Newton and Sam under a quiet full moon after the other guests had gone to bed. We were telling stories of our favourite encounters with big cats.

Sunset on the Lufupa River with Newton, on one of the days where we were the only guests between the two camps. This is Long Palm Island but apparently the palm is no more.

The Busanga hippos are legendary. They appear quite fearsome and like to follow the boats, but seem non-confrontational! Well that must be a first for Africa!

Leaping lechwe! Every time we pulled out of Shumba Camp in our boat, the red lechwe started running back to the mainland from the island in front of the camp. It was fun to try and catch them as they leapt through the channel!

Busanga in the dry time usually focuses on the lion activity. We were lucky to see this lioness attempting a (failed) hunt under very watery conditions.

Returning late to camp one evening we came upon this side-striped jackal looking for dinner on the floodplains. Only the second time I have seen one, it was a special sighting.

What would Busanga be without the morning mist? It evaded us for four mornings and on the fifth and final, this was our reward.

On our first day when Newton asked what was on our wish list, top of mine was painted reed frogs. As we were about to leave on our final morning he grabbed my hand and said ‘Come, I have something for you’. I followed him down to the boats and he opened his hand to put this little fellow on the grass. What a wonderful gift that he had found in his tent that morning! Thank you Newton – you are the best!

Words and images Annabelle Venter

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