David Rogers has been visiting Zambia for over 20 years and describes South Luangwa as ‘his home away from home’. With over two decades of hands on experience, it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about getting to the right places at the right time to photograph Africa’s most prized wilderness areas.
In November you’ll find him in the South Luangwa with Robin Pope Safaris and 5 eager guests with their cameras in hand, ready to snap away!
Here are David’s 5 reasons why November in Luangwa is a photographer’s delight:
There is no bad time to visit Luangwa. July to September is peak season for game viewing in most places in Africa and this is true for South Luangwa too. But I am a big fan of other times of the year which are less busy and often more beautiful and productive. June and July, for example, are months with cool nights and the landscape is pristine. February to March, often neglected by safari goers is also amazing for birds, predators and scenery. On a recent photographic trip to Luangwa I was reminded of the highlights of visiting in November when the clouds are building and so is the heat.
- The Valley is quiet
With the promise of rains, all of the temporary camps are packed away at this time of year. There are fewer people about, which means you have the delight of having this spectacular area more or less to yourself.
- The start of life
Even before the first rains, green shoots are appearing on the towering mopane trees and the bright yellow sausage tree flowers are dropping to the ground providing a much needed feast for impala. The first newborn impala are coming into the world too. Now and then the clouds deliver a downpour but it’s soon sucked up by the sun.
- The game
During this time of year hippo crowd the shallow and shrinking lagoons. This is the time for predators too. We saw 11 different leopards in the six nights we were there. Lions are plentiful and large herds of elephants cross the river every day.
Most of the best landscape photographs have cloudy skies and in November the skies are at their most dramatic. With the meandering river, towering baobabs and photogenic giraffe, it’s impossible not to find a fantastic foreground.
- The birds
Most summer migrants have yet to arrive, but the brightly coloured carmine bee-eaters that nest in Luangwa’s muddy banks provide an extraordinary spectacle for photographers.
The downside of this time of year is that it’s hot. The days swelter up to 40 degrees or more, so you need to be mentally prepared. I suggest that you wake up by 04h30 for the early light and then get back to camp by 09h00 at which time the light is flat and the sun is hot. Make sure you stay in a camp that has a fan or air-conditioning. Nsefu, which is a favourite camp of mine in Luangwa, has cunning evening breeze air-conditioners that operate inside the mosquito nets. On our afternoon drives we wet kikoyis and covered our heads.
Robin Pope Safaris offer the best combination of guides and camp staff I have experienced anywhere in Africa. Having worked with them for many years I can vouch for their classic comforts and great hospitality. My man on the ground is Jacob Shawa who has been finding me“sweet light” leopards aplenty for more than 12 years.
A good reason to travel with Robin Pope Safaris during the shoulder season is that they are the biggest operator in the valley and if it does start to rain, they are more likely than others to keep you dry.
See you there for next year’s photographic safari!