September is a stunning time in the Luangwa. The lagoons are all dry, the river is the only source of water and the game is abundant along the remaining waterways. Dusty conditions filter the light leaving soft golden sunshine in the morning and evening, and the nights are still cool enough to sleep. Next month, the temperatures really build up and become uncomfortable sometimes, but September is a good compromise between great sightings and tolerable temperatures.

I have had my parents visiting for a couple of weeks (mostly to see my daughter I think!!) but we have enjoyed some epic game viewing at the same time. Here is a selection of the treats that Luangwa has given us over the last 10 days. There are more to come but I am only just wading through the reams of images that I took.

Alerted by a couple of baboons barking in the distance, these puku momentarily took their eyes off us and gazed into the distance to locate the sound. Of all antelope, puku are the most perceptive when it comes to predators; not only acutely sensitive themselves to predators’ presence, they are brilliant at reading the behaviour of other animals and interpreting their anti-predator behaviour.

The drying leaves of mopane trees offer a beautiful red backdrop to zebras feeding in the grassy glades among the larger trees.

Soft light and amusing behaviour always makes baboons a treat to photograph.

I’m all ears….

Alerted by the calls of puku and impala, we found this leopard late one afternoon. It turned into one of the sightings of the year as she patrolled her territory and wandered around in the golden sunlight. As a photographer, you dream of sightings such as this and then have to make sure you don’t mess up the opportunity!

Here she crosses an open area, observed closely by a puku. There is no real danger to antelope from a leopard that they can see….being an ambush predator, they need to approach within 5-6m of prey before attacking. Antelopes’ best response it to keep the leopard in sight until it leaves the area.

Since hunting is hard in the daylight hours, active leopards take time to patrol their territories and scent mark, asserting their claim to the patch and assessing the competition. This female showed considerable interest in several of the scent marks, suggesting she is on the lookout for a mate. She had a cub last season, so is due another over this rains.

Approaching us over open ground, there is almost nothing more beautiful.

Here she sat upright to get a closer sniff of a particularly delicious smell!

After some time in the main game viewing area, we set out for Zikomo Safaris, a beautiful camp along the Luangwa with access to both the main park and the Nsefu Sector. Here is was an elephant bonanza with bulls, cows and calves performing and giving us wonderful sightings.

Elephants coming to drink at Lunga Lagoon against the backdrop of sidelit forestry.

A young calf plays with a rhino thistle.

Before tucking up beside mother for security.

A fish eagle passed us by along the riverbank one morning.

And a large bull elephant couldn’t resist covering himself in sand after crossing the shallow Luangwa.