Ivanhoe

My Luangwa Valley photo safari

Written, and photographs, by Edward Selfe (Safari guide and photo safari specialist)

I have just finished a photographic safari in South Luangwa with Clive and Sue Ferreira from South Africa who booked their safari with Africa Geographic Travel.

They were looking forward to great wildlife sightings and the remote seclusion offered by the Nsefu Sector, and I believe that Luangwa delivered on both! It was a pleasure to take them on safari and show them round South Luangwa National Park in Zambia.

Here’s what Clive had to say of the trip:

I had a good and instructive time and you certainly have a good eye and know the Canon 1DX well. This was a huge unexpected bonus in addition to you knowing your territory so well and sharing with me your intimate knowledge of the Luangwa bush. I learnt a lot more of my camera and clearly need to practise my fingers with all the new sets of skills. That was a huge bonus and I am eternally grateful.

Here follows a photographic rundown of the safari:
photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Leaving camp on our first morning, I spotted the back end of a large antelope heading away from us in the mopane woodland. Hoping that it might be an eland, I drove the long route around and tried to intercept it! Luckily enough I guessed correctly and it crossed the road right where I stopped the vehicle. I managed one shot of it running with long-legged strides through the forest before it was gone. © Edward Selfe

baboon, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Heading back along the Kauluzi floodplain, I saw that a shaft of light was hitting the edge of a drainage channel, and the nearby baboons were illuminated in a very special way. I suggested to my guests to underexpose heavily and we managed to capture rim-lit primates in an interesting way – these are some of my favourite photos from the trip. © Edward Selfe

bird, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Trying to catch brightly coloured birds when they take flight is always a fun activity on safari. This time around, a lilac-breasted roller cooperated and flew in the right direction, parallel to us. By using a fast shutter speed and a smaller aperture of f8, you will have a better chance of taking a photo that is sharp and in focus. © Edward Selfe

elephant, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

There is nowhere that boasts more elephants in Luangwa than the Nsefu Sector. We found breeding herds and bull groups around almost every corner. Lunga Lagoon is one of the best areas of all, and on this particular afternoon, herds were streaming past and through the lagoon on all sides. This backlit group gave us excellent chances to show off the dust cloud that they made when tossing sand on their backs. © Edward Selfe

elephants, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Surrounded by cattle egrets seeking displaced insects, these two bull elephants met in the middle of Lunga Lagoon. First they greeted with the customary “trunk-in-mouth” gesture and then they playfully chased each other in the shallow water. © Edward Selfe

elephant, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

One of the bulls’ colleagues pursued him down the bank to the water, momentarily framing himself under the branches of a sausage tree. © Edward Selfe

bird, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

One early morning trip to the Nsefu Salt Pans gave us several special encounters, including these two crowned cranes in the soft morning light. © Edward Selfe

zebra, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

And some wary zebra who refused to approach the water while we were watching nearby! © Edward Selfe

bird, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

But the biggest highlight for me was the daily arrival of hundreds of crowned cranes, flocking in from the surrounding grassland to feed on the insects and seeds of the salt pan surroundings. Choosing to turn this shot to a moody monochrome is a new departure for me. © Edward Selfe

impala, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Before heading back to camp after a successful morning I noticed the stripe-like effects made by the vegetation surrounding this lone impala male and we stopped to snap a shot. I had been helping Clive with back-button ‘focus and recompose’ techniques which were useful in this situation, when I had just a moment to snap the shot before the impala dropped his head again. © Edward Selfe

kudu, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Heading out in the area around Zikomo that afternoon, we found a family of greater kudu who looked very striking in the sharp afternoon light. Some animals which have soft contrasting coats can be photographed when the light is bright, for example, a kudu – but this is not possible for an elephant! © Edward Selfe

lion, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

We located the Nsefu lion pride – a group of nine lions found regularly around the southern part of the Nsefu Sector. They were lazing around while it was hot, occasionally raising their heads to look around or make eyes at a passing antelope. © Edward Selfe

lion, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

But as the light fell, they rose, stretched and began to hunt more seriously. As darkness arrived, we followed their hunt (with a red filter on our spotlight) and watched as a female launched herself onto the back of a hippo which had just emerged from the water. The rest of the pride clearly thought she was mad as they made no attempt to join! Later, they fanned out and surrounded a puku but narrowly missed catching it. © Edward Selfe

bird, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Thin clouds on one of the mornings created the perfect conditions for bird photography – bright, low-contrast light. We made full use of it, spending half-an-hour with a flock of white-fronted bee-eaters who were hawking for insects from various perches. © Edward Selfe

warthog, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

We also observed a rarely seen moment of tenderness between a female warthog and her piglet. © Edward Selfe

giraffe, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

The stunning light continued in the afternoon, giving us diffused sunshine for this giraffe under a sausage tree canopy. © Edward Selfe

elephant, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Elephants often cross the river towards Kasikizi Lagoon in the afternoons. The light was poor at this stage, but we managed to get in a good position to watch the crossing and hear the splashing of their legs in the water! © Edward Selfe

leopard, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Clive had been very keen on backlighting from the start – and was very pleased with the baboon encounter earlier in the week – but of course, a backlit leopard would be the holy grail. On our last evening, the opportunity presented itself and we were able to use the spotlight from another vehicle to provide a great rim-light around our subject. © Edward Selfe

elephant, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Our last morning had a couple of nice treats for us. A couple of bull elephants playing on the sand in the pink light… © Edward Selfe

leopard, photographic safari, wildlife photography, Nsefu Sector, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

…And a tree-climbing leopard who momentarily looked out over the bush behind us before climbing down and wandering off into the bush. © Edward Selfe

I will be back in the Nsefu Sector in a couple of weeks’ time running several private photographic safaris with new and returning Africa Geographic Travel clients and once more based out of Zikomo.

It is a privilege and a joy to be able to spend so much time in this magical area, and I am elated to be able offer this unique and affordable photographic safari alternatives to both SADC and international photographers.

To see the other available photographic tours in South Luangwa, have a look at the list of AG Travel photographic tours.

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