August is usually the busiest month of the safari calendar with many choosing to take time out to visit us. But before I start on back-to-back safaris, I wanted to write up an epic trip that I lead last week for Maria-Luisa, Miguel, Sebastian and Rosita, a lovely group of 4 from Chile.

All four had travelled in Africa before, and were knowledgeable about safari and wildlife in general. (In fact, it was great hearing about the diversity of wildlife and habitats from their own country too.) So it was my mission to share with them the highlights of Lunagwa, those which separate this region from others on the continent.

I’m going to use 12 images and videos to bring this safari to life, using stills and clips of the highlights. I hope you enjoy the ride.

A large male hippo is caught out of the water in the early morning; he runs to the river for safety in Lunagwa.
We found this hippo out of the water quite late in the morning. At this time of year, food is scarce so those that feel comfortable doing so – mostly males – return to the river later in the morning. By quickly closing the aperture and dropping the ISO, we were able to make panning blurs……….of a hippo! Not something I thought I would ever say. Shot at 1/40sec, f9 at ISO 100.
Eventually, he returned to the river, his flanks showing spots of dampness from glands which secrete a substance known to repel bacteria and protect the skin.
Following the calls of baboons from way in the distance, we tracked down two young leopards who were loitering around an Ebony grove. One of them soon lead us to a tree where he had stashed the remains of his impala kill. Hyaenas were scavenging underneath waiting for scraps, and the second leopard soon moved off to seek other opportunities. We watched and filmed the remaining leopard for nearly an hour, hoping that he might drop a scrap for the hyaenas, but also hoping he’d keep it for himself! As we left, a female leopard joined the fray, momentarily jumping into the tree to claim a share of the spoils, before being told to “move on” by the possessive male!

3 Wild Dogs from the South Luangwas Manchesa pack feed on a freshly-killed bushbuck.
As we left camp one morning, 3 dogs raced across our front. Knowing they were on the hunt, I moved to intercept them in some thickets where I hoped they would find impalas or bushbucks. Indeed, as we caught up, baboons’ alarm calls intensified alerting me to the dogs’ kill. We arrived 20 seconds after they’d dragged down the antelope….within 15 minutes, there was nothing left and they’d moved on!

A sub-adult male leopard rests elegantly on a mature vine in South Luangwa National Park.
On the day that we left from Flatdogs and moved to Tafika, we found two male leopards in a Leadwood tree. One of them was resting on a beautiful twisted vine, while the other jealously guarded an impala carcass above. Both had blood around their mouths, suggesting that perhaps the larger male had stolen the kill from the younger sub-adult.

A dominant bull hippo eyes us defiantly from his muddy wallow in South Luangwa.
Our time at Tafika was short – due to unfortunate flight changes later on in their trip – but we still enjoyed this hippo in one of the muddy dambos near the camp. The water dripping off his chin added an interesting detail, and the clear light illuminates every fold in his thick skin.

Photographing the sunset in South Luangwa National Park.
This was a spectacular sunset, and we all spent time composing a variety of shots using different focal lengths and exposures.

A large group of buffalo resting in the grass near the pan - the soft, side-light brings out the shape of every individual.
The last afternoon drive was spectacular: we visited a salt spring where hot, salty water rises from the ground inland from the river. This provides a water-point for game which can still find forage in the dry scrub around the pan. We started with a large group of buffalo resting in the grass near the pan – the soft, side-light brings out the shape of every individual.
Very soon after, a lonely young elephant bull appeared and seemed to want to interact with the buffalo…..but wasn’t sure how. He ended in a gentle face-off before moving on to the spring to drink.

A young bull elephant drinks from a natural spring in South Luangwa National Park.
The elephant quenched his thirst at the spring, next to the raised mound caused by the upwelling of hot, pressurized water.

In the pink light of late evening, we phootgraph Cape Buffalo in South Luangwa National Park.
As the light improved and softened, we enjoyed the herd drinking in the pink light and splashing through the shallow water. Buffalo in large groups are tricky to photograph so it’s often most effective to choose a small group and isolate them with a longer lens.

Photographing buffalo herd against the sunset in South Luangwa National Park.
Finally, we moved around behind them with the intention of capturing their large, bulky forms against the dusty sunset. In this case, it’s crucial to wait for some horns and ears to appear in your silhouette, or the mass of black bovids will be mostly unrecognisable.

Edward Selfe with his group of Chilean Photographers in South Luangwa National Park.
I really enjoyed the time I spent with Miguel, Maria-Luisa, Rosita and Sebastian!

I hope to see Miguel and co back in the Luangwa one day. They brought good luck with them and enjoyed many of Luangwa’s highlights. If you would like to join one of my bespoke Lunagwa private safaris where you enjoy the benefit of a photographer who has nearly 10 years’ experience in the Luangwa, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.