ZAMBIA: Buffalo Hunting At Mbizi Safaris Game Reserve in Luangwa Valley

liam375

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Dear AH Community:

I've been a viewer of the site for some time and have always appreciated and enjoyed reading the hunt reviews from others. Being this was my first trip to Africa, it was probably the only way for me to really research and compare the various experiences. The number of destinations is simply staggering. Hopefully you find some enjoyment in the read. In short, I had a fantastic trip at Mbizi, led by my PH and outfitter - Michael de Gre-Dejestam. @Mbizi Safaris I undoubtedly experienced the extremes in the highs and lows of a truly remote and wild African hunting trip. It was everything I was looking for and served as a nice vacation away from the gloom of the Covid lockdowns. It's been a few weeks since I've returned home but this trip continues to be relived in my head everyday. I suspect this will carry on for a very long time. I've had the opportunity to hunt my fair share of species in NA including deer, elk and dall sheep but something about Africa is very different...

Skip ahead on the initial travel section if you please, but I felt others may want to hear about how flights went with Covid 19 restrictions in place.

Few background details before I begin:

Hunt Dates - August 3 to August 12, 2020. 8 total hunting days, 1 travel day in, one travel day out.
Target Species - Buffalo, and plains game with a strong preference for Kudu, Warthog and Bushbuck.
Flights - Qatar Airways from USA to Doha, Doha to Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa to Lusaka. 35 hours travel time.
Weapon - Kimber Talkeetna 375 equipped with a Swarovski Z8 1-8x scope (highly recommend this optic)
Ammo - Softs: 350 grain Norma Woodleighs, Solids: 300 grain Federal Trophy Sledgehammers


August 1st - Flying to Lusaka from CA
Where do I begin? I should say that there was a lot of help from this site that prepared me for the modified travel requirements into Zambia. Namely, the Covid 19 test prior to the flight. Big thank you to those that shared updates. I'll skip the details here as I could write an entire essay but if you're traveling to Zambia right now you need to make sure you have your ducks in a row on the testing procedures. Lots of logistics and contingency planning so be prepared for that and do not work off of any assumptions that you'll be given any slack from the airlines, or authorities at transit points/final destination etc. In the end, it wasn't that bad but it's important to follow everything to a T. I was glad I had multiple copies of everything with me as I needed every single piece of paper work along the way and back. I think it's advisable to know alternate flight routes to your final destination as my flight was cancelled the morning of our departure and rescheduling this was incredibly hectic. Instead of JNB, we would now be transiting through Addis Ababa but thankfully I didn't incur any change fees, loss in ticket class or delayed arrival times. TBH I had a feeling the JNB flight would be cancelled anyways due to SAA's bankruptcy issue so I was somewhat ready for this.

We head to the airport and this is where I'm immediately relieved that I have business class tickets as Qatar was super efficient with the check in, firearms handling etc. The line for economy was quite long and I'm certain we would've been late for our flight. I think they advise showing up 3 hours early these days and that definitely seems to be critical during international travel right now. It was sad to see, but there were numerous travelers getting into heated disputes with the Qatar check in counter staff as many of them felt they were not informed of a mandatory Covid 19 test report and subsequently denied from boarding. Lots of people with families and tons of baggage with very defeated looking faces with no idea how they were going to get a PCR test performed before their flights, let alone in the next day or two. What a disaster!

We whisk past the train wreck at the check in counters to clear security and we board our flight with no issues. A big sigh of relief and growing excitement as we settle into our seats and are greeted by the friendly attendants. Rose or the classic brut? I'm not even a champagne guy but why not both... I have to say, Qatar Airways business class is really amazing and if you get a chance to fly with them it's really worth it for the splurge. Absolutely great experience in the Q suite and we had plenty of rest over the next 15 hours as we then land in Doha. It took the edge off knowing my SO was feeling comfortable. We check in for our in-terminal room at the Oryx Hotel to lay down for the 8 hour layover. Highly recommended and it was great to have a place to shower and a change of clothes. I would 100% do this again. Hamad International Airport is fantastic by the way and will have everything you need for meals and/or last minute shopping. Qatar Airways' Al Mourjan business lounge is top notch.

I'll go ahead and leave out my comments on our flight to and from Addis Ababa to Lusaka. I think we were in the "new" terminal but even then I'm probably going to avoid this airport in the future especially when traveling with firearms. If possible, avoid it, just trust me. I believe Emirates is restoring their route from Dubai to Lusaka shortly, if not already, so this should help future hunters.

It's close to 35 hours of traveling time but we arrive in Lusaka feeling rested and excited. Customs was a breeze and the firearms inspection was fast. Those hunting in Zambia this year should be pleased to know that customs is no longer charging the $4/ammo import tax. Michael is there outside the terminal waiting for us in his new Landcruiser.

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It's great to see him and it's nice to know this trip is really happening now. It's hard to believe we've made it to Zambia! Michael drives us to the Radisson hotel where we will stay for the evening in the city. We have a quick dinner at the hotel bar/grill and I get a chance to try out a few African beers. I think the Namibian was my favorite followed by Castle. The restaurant was pretty sleepy so I was quite surprised at the food quality which turned out to be great. Michael picks us up at 8AM and we head to Mbizi which is about a 5 hour drive away. The drive is not short, but we were plenty occupied with the sights as we leave Lusaka. I get a chance to ask Michael everything about Mbizi and it's nice for everyone to get to know each other. The villages along the way are very interesting to see. Mbizi also has a private airstrip which you can charter a flight 45 minute flight into but he's right, you'll miss out on everything between Lusaka and camp.

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Michael pulling over to pick up a few vegetables and fruits from the market as we towards Mbizi.

We make it into "camp" and are greeted with the line up of the kitchen and grounds keeping staff. Everyone kindly introduces themselves. I forget we are the first guests at Mbizi this year. The property is amazing and the view of the Luangwa is very special to say the least. I can tell my girlfriend is blown away as the pictures on Michael's website don't do this place justice! The grounds are impeccable and it's apparent that the accommodations are super nice.

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View of the dining hall/Hemingway bar, viewing platform and guest chalets.

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A closer look of the chalets.

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View from the deck. I have no clue why this place was such a cocktail magnet?

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Cabana and pool overlooking the Luangwa
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The "pet" warthogs of Mbizi that frequently grazed the lawn. We saw elephant, puku, waterbuck, and bushbuck as well during our stay.

After a quick lunch we head off to the range to check my zero and after three shots between the softs and solids Michael says we are good to go. It's hard to explain, but this is my first time riding in the back of the landcruiser and there is a noticable "perfume" to the air here. I can't tell if its a mix of mopane or brush which grows here but either way, the sights and smells are very special... I'm sure you African hunting vets know what I'm talking about. On the way back to camp Michael tells me the camp/kitchen is actually short on red meat for meals so we're going to go for a quick loop in the truck and he asks that I keep a few spare softs in my pocket. I enthusiastically accept this duty to assist the camp and off we go! Within just a few minutes we bump a herd of impala and Michael and Stephen the tracker jump out of the truck to see if we can cut them off at another end of the thicket. The stalk is on as we can see their silhouettes moving through the brush to our left. They're sensing danger though and the impala are practically flying off the road in front of us and don't give us a shot opportunity. They're just too spooked. We head off to another area near the river bank on the other side of the main camp where Michael says they like to mill around. I take a second to reflect and noticed how loud my Crispi boots were on the packed dirt compared to Michael's and Stephen's footwear... Not something I've ever had to worry about hunting in NA. Something to keep in mind for the next encounter.

We're back in the truck now and as we creep towards an opening facing an entrenchment by the river, I'm noticing how green this alley of grass is and how hidden this meadow is from plain view. Sneaky spot. Stephen is now obviously seeing something slightly behind us in this meadow and taps on the truck frame to get Kenny to stop. He tells us he's spotted impala further back in this meadow and Michael gives the word on getting out of the vehicle. We carefully walk down a muddy slope to the edge of this meadow and I can tell from Stephen's posture that we are about to get a visual on something. I still can't see what they're seeing as I'm the last in line but Michael brings up the sticks and carefully sets them down and looks back at me with a smile. Game on! By the way, I thought I'd be back in camp now with a drink in my hand and here we are actually hunting! Needless to say, I'm completely fine with this change... I must've had an ear-to-ear smile on this stalk as the suspense was high and it was just plain fun.

We're still behind some brush and Michael is whispering directions to me on which impala to take and he says it's the second one on the left. There's some hesitation that this shot might be too far so he tells me if I'm not feeling steady to hold off so we can back out. I get my Talkeetna on the sticks though and settle into the sights and am feeling rock solid. I tell Michael I'm good as I eye down this ram through my scope. He is looking right back at me with some VERY nervous body language. Michael tells me to let him have it when he turns broadside and BANG I squeeze off a round with my reticle on his right shoulder just as he begins to turn away. I'm recovering from the recoil and all I can see through my scope is a large dust cloud from the bullet impact in the background and about 20 or so impala leap through the air and run to our right. We all step out into the open to get a better look at where he went and can't figure out if he moved with the herd or if he went behind a bush. Within a few seconds we realize he's actually flat to the ground and is making some very small movements as he expires before we can get to him. Turns out the 350 grain Woodleigh completely leveled him in an instant (and I mean really nailed him) and the dust from the impact was the bullet from the exit. We look back to where we had set the sticks down and we're ball parking this at about 140 yards. I'm feeling great about the shot, high-fives are had and we get a chance to take a few pictures. I'm thrilled and grateful as I get to lay my hands on my first animal in Africa.
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A young ram and excellent table fare. We'd end up having grilled impala filet that evening which was fantastic. We'd have ground impala crepes, and impala spaghetti bolognese, and Luangwa Valley cheese burgers over the next few days. Despite being better than any other venison I've previously had including mule deer or elk, there would be even better game meat to be had on this trip...but more on that later though.

We're back in camp now and my girlfriend meets us on the viewing deck just as the sun is going down. She can tell both Michael and I are having a complete blast and the mood couldn't be better. The drinks are not going to drink themselves so it's time to get to work...

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The interior dining hall
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Well stocked fridge with sodas and great South African wines. Plenty of liquor and beer available. The "Hemingway Bar"

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Skull of a man-eater male lion.

Dyson has prepared some appetizers for us and lights the mopane fire for the group. The drinks are flowing and we enjoy our first sunset by the Luangwa River. Absolutely magical scenery.

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Smiles all around.
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Michael shares a few details with us on the plan for the next few days. Angeline, who helps with the camp's affairs joins us by the evening fire. There is so much we are learning about Zambia, and the history of the property. The stories are fascinating. The time is just flying and I'm losing track of my gin and tonic count. My girlfriend and I are having an exceptional first night and are feeling extremely grateful to have the ability to be here. For lack of a better description, the mood is just celebratory. Off to bed after a nice candlelit dinner on the deck and boy am I going to feel it tomorrow morning...
 

cpr0312

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Great start! Looking forward to more!

Mbizi is certainly a place I would love to visit someday!
 

wesheltonj

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Can you comment about the other flights too. Some of use are looking. I know the Emirates flight has resumed, but it's not reasonably priced yet.
 

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Great start to your report, those pictures bring back some great memories of August 2017. Can't wait for the rest of the story.
 

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Day 1 - I'm up at 4:30AM to head out with Michael at 5:30AM. As expected, I'm shaking off some serious cobwebs with the jetlag and hangover but thankfully Zambian coffee is strong and I'm thrilled to be up and hunting buffalo. Quick coffee and toast and I'm at the dining hall to load up on the Landcruiser. My girlfriend is joining us today and will be bringing her Sony A3 camera to take a few pics. She gets credit for some of the amazing photos on this trip.

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We see tracks about 15 minutes away from the camp and need to decide which ones we go after. Stephen on the left acts as the lead, and Charles to the right as #2 tracker. Both are amazing to watch.

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Me and the 375. Michael carrying his 470 VC double.

We double back to another set of tracks we first saw and Kenny immediately stops the truck as we round a turn on the road. A herd of buffalo are running across in front of us about 100 yards and into the thickets to our right. They're aware we're there but just calm enough that Michael says to quietly get out so we can take a look. We get to about 40 yards but can't quite see through the brush or get a shot lined up. Michael has his bino's on a bull through a crack but can't quite see if he's a shooter. We can feel the wind hit our backs and within a few moments, the herd takes off. It's quite a sound to hear this when you're up close.

We back out and decide to call it for the morning as the wind picks up when the air gets warmer. We'll come back around 2:30PM and see if we can pick up the tracks then.

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Viewing towers
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Michael has completed a few dams over the years to capture the spring water seeping out of the ground.

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We finish lunch and the elephants show up in camp right by the pool. We see somewhere between 15-20 of them.

Quick nap and we're back at it to close the distance on these buff in the afternoon but unfortunately bump them again as the sun is beginning to set. The dry leaves and swirling wind are making it hard to get a shot. This is my girlfriend's first real exposure to hunting though and she's beginning to understanding why this is so exciting. We get a ton of great photos of us pushing through the tall grass and weaving through the thickets.

First day could not have gone better.

Day 2 - We're on some fresh tracks early but are at least 2 or 3 hours behind them. Michael is feeling good about this group as it looks like 3 solitary old bulls. We've done about 5-6 km on foot and have now lost the tracks in the tall grass though. Its looking like they've split up as well. Stephen, Charles and Merriam, our game scout, fan out in a circle and see if they can pick them up again. Michael, my girlfriend and I sit tight in the center and wait for the whistle from one of the trackers. The grass here has to be at least 8 feet or 9 feet high so it's quite thick and we have to rely on audible cues to know where everyone is.

We hear something from Stephen about 30 yards away and we slowly work our way over. These tracks are oddly looping back towards where we came from and yet we didn't see them cross earlier either. It's very thick here and Stephen leads the way with us behind by about 5 yards.

All the sudden, I see a very sharp movement from the corner of my eye as Stephen ducks low and moves to his left almost as if he is getting out of the way of something! It's hard to describe the sound that we heard next but it was probably comparable to hearing a bulldozer smashing the tall grass in front of us out of the blue. A black mass of hide and slick polished horn erupts out of nowhere and is now at eye level with Michael and I about 10 paces away and thundering away to our 3 o'clock. Michael and I are both still trying to get our rifles shouldered as I don't think at this point we were even sure if this bull was coming towards us or away from us! What I would've paid to get a photo of everyone's live reaction here.... Knowing that the danger had now passed I look back to see that my girlfriend is crouching and huddled next to Merriam who is carefully looking after her and calming her to stay still. I don't blame her for a second, it was quite the fright!

We collect ourselves and Stephen's eyes are wide open like an owl as he runs back to Michael and I. What just happened?! We realize this encounter isn't over yet as we can hear this same bull running up a rocky hillside in front of us. We can't quite see him but we can almost triangulate where he is and where he's going to be in a few seconds. We have a clear shot to the upper half of the hill side about 100 yards away and Michael sets up the sticks in a hurry. He tells me to get ready to shoot if he turns broadside but needs to see his bosses first for the final okay. I'm now getting better visibility and tracking the bull with my reticle as it storms up the hill and he gets to the top where I finally have a clear shot.

I'm waiting for the turn and waiting for the turn but it just doesn't come.... He heads straight up over the top and doesn't even give me a look back. For some reason I have this very vivid image in my head of this large bull with his muscles in full contraction it it was hurtling itself over the hill. With the sun shining over his back, his black hide almost had an oil sheen to it with the rear of his horns looking very majestic as he skylines himself. Impressive body mass and big horns. I'm not a buffalo expert but that looked like a damn nice bull! None of us could believe how close we just came to this buffalo. We figure he must've heard us and hunkered down or perhaps fell asleep and we almost stepped on him.

We get on him later in the afternoon but get pinned down and he ultimately busts us in the bamboo forest. He is just moving too fast and we have to call it around 5:30PM.

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Typical dinner setting on the deck again. We have impala stir fried rice this evening and it's delicious.

Day 3- Same program as usual. This time it's just Michael and I though and my girlfriend sleeps in and hangs around camp with her camera. Yesterday's encounter was also probably a little too close.

Michael and I are on the tracks of some buff and are beginning what turned out to be a 20km haul over numerous hills and open areas. We were fresh on the tracks the entire time as the sign was good but we couldn't quite close the gap. We were so close at one point we could smell them in the wind. It was bizarre that they didn't rest once during the day and kept moving but I guess that is hunting. Tough day and I joke with Michael if we are goat hunting or buffalo hunting?! I thought this was Africa, why are there so many hills here?

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Another gorgeous view from the deck.

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One of the things Michael wanted to experiment with was smoking one of the impala hams with mopane wood chips. This is the smoker that he's built next to the kitchen and Dyson is helping to get a good seal on the chamber. The first smoked batch turned out great by the way.

Day 4 - Again, I'm hunting with just Michael and we set out for tracks in the AM.
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Morning coffee by the mopane fire.

We're on tracks again but we're having problems with the noise on the ground and brush. We keep making contact about 50 yards in the thick stuff and are experiencing back to back stand-offs with the buffalo. We can't see each other but it's just not going our way and they keep getting spooked. Michael suggests that we take the afternoon off from the buff to let them relax a little bit. We'll do a riverbank hunt working south along the Luangwa instead. Perhaps we'll see some plains game?

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Beautiful terrain along the river sand banks. I had no idea we could hunt like this on the property.
 
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Randy F

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Well written and a great story so far. Keep it coming, can't wait to hear the rest.
 

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Great writing, keep it up :A Popcorn:
 

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Day 4 Afternoon -

So we wrap up lunch and jump in the Landcruiser and head to where we get dropped off for the river hunt. Just as we're about to park, Charles calls out the sighting of a male bushbuck on the hillside hugging the river about a hundred yards away. I don't know why but I want a bushbuck so bad so this has my full attention. We try our best to get out of the vehicle slowly but the baboons hanging out nearby start barking and our stalk is over as quickly as it began. The baboons scurry off as well and we get a chance to hold a quick board meeting once we're off the truck. Michael tells me here that the first part of this route hugs along the hill where it can get a little steep and narrow so pay attention until we get down around the bend.

Not more than 200 yards into our walk from the vehicle and Charles whispers for everyone to get down. I can see him looking towards the sand bar to our right and he's pointing at something. Michael quietly moves over and goes for a look around the dirt mound. He motions for me to come up so I can peek over the mound and look down on the water and sandbank. I can tell they're all excited but in my own head I'm thinking where is the antelope or kudu? Is it a waterbuck or bushbuck that they see? I'm getting frustrated as all I can see is sand sand sand. I must be missing something in plain sight. And then I see it. A croc laying on the edge of the water with his head facing up the river looking away from us.

Michael tells me it looks like a decent one but the sun is shining pretty hard on him and the water. Maybe 10-12 foot long. I'm not going to lie, the thought of a croc was pretty exciting and I didn't need to hold out for a 13-15 footer. I wasn't even expecting a shot opportunity at one of these guys. I was in a good place to laser him with the bino's and he was exactly 70 yards away below us with a pretty steep shooting angle. I bring up the rifle on the top of the mound and get nice and snug.

I'm feeling steady and feel the shot go off. The impact is very fatal and judging from the verbal response I got from the group, no second shot was going to be necessary. The croc shakes its tail once and is completely done. 350 grain Woodleigh really hammers them.

We head down the sandbank to take a look at him. The truck is called in and Derek the skinner and his team arrive with some rope to get him on the truck further up the road. My croc taped 10 feet long when we got back to the skinning shed later in the evening and I was plenty happy with him. I can't help but think this trip is really turning out to be quite an adventure...

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We make sure the team arrives to recover the animal and we continue on wards down the river.
 

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Really enjoying this story. Thanks for taking the time.
 

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Great read thus far!!!! Keep it coming!!!

So – I will be flying out of Dallas on Qatar Airways on Sunday, October 18 to Windhoek Namibia with layover in Doha for about nine hours. A couple questions for you:

1) when you depart of the United States, you had to test within 72 hours prior to departure for the PCR test correct? And I’m guessing that Zambia required proof of the test?

2) In the Doha airport – do you just pay by credit card for the executive lounge or do you have to pre-book that? I know it was probably included in your business select first class airfare. So far, I am writing coach but I may try to upgrade once I’m at the counter at the Dallas airport. Also, did you pre-book and pay for the oryx hotel within the airport? And you don’t have to go outside of the airport, correct? You can leave your luggage that is checked?

Any and all information is greatly appreciated because not only myself but there are others that are going to be flying Qatar Airways very very soon across the pond to get on Safari because everybody is tired of staying home with this whole virus crap
 

liam375

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Great read thus far!!!! Keep it coming!!!

So – I will be flying out of Dallas on Qatar Airways on Sunday, October 18 to Windhoek Namibia with layover in Doha for about nine hours. A couple questions for you:

1) when you depart of the United States, you had to test within 72 hours prior to departure for the PCR test correct? And I’m guessing that Zambia required proof of the test?

2) In the Doha airport – do you just pay by credit card for the executive lounge or do you have to pre-book that? I know it was probably included in your business select first class airfare. So far, I am writing coach but I may try to upgrade once I’m at the counter at the Dallas airport. Also, did you pre-book and pay for the oryx hotel within the airport? And you don’t have to go outside of the airport, correct? You can leave your luggage that is checked?

Any and all information is greatly appreciated because not only myself but there are others that are going to be flying Qatar Airways very very soon across the pond to get on Safari because everybody is tired of staying home with this whole virus crap
Hi there, happy to help with this and I do plan on responding to others in this thread. Thanks for your feedback just trying to get through the review. Let me give you my thoughts on the below.

1. Yes needed a written copy of a negative PCR test. Needs to spell out PCR test too. Many clinics gave me a wishy washy response time of 2-5 days so this was where the bulk of the issue was. You also need to be clear that they tell you the results will be delivered in writing and NOT over the phone. Some cannot deliver results over email due to HEPA laws as they did not have encrypted delivery? You just need to get a very precise answer from people and make sure you calculate backwards from your arrival time so that the 72 hours is ample from your testing time. I am seeing that some say 72 hours before departure and others like Zambia I think required 72 hours from your arrival. Big difference when your travel is 35 hours long. I had about 6 copies of this on me, and in my gun case just in case I needed a spare. This is also Qatar airlines policy and they will ask you for it when you check in. Oryx hotel asked me for a copy of my test result as well.

2. Regarding the lounge in Doha,I would assume you can pay with card. When we were checking in at the Oryx hotel, we noticed a few walk-ins waiting in line and sitting in the lobby hoping for a room to free up. I would 100% make sure you have a confirmed reservation with them. If I were to guess, I think a lot of people think they can hack the 9-13 hour layover in the lounge (find out they can only use it for 3-4 hours before they get kicked out and then are dying to pay $200 for the room). And no, I did not have to leave the airport and Qatar Airways was great about escorting us through security to Oryx and then picking us up 8 hours later at the hotel lobby to take us to the gate. Bags remained checked the whole time and I had no issues with the firearms and ammo.

Hope this helps and you get a chance to enjoy your safari. I totally hear you on getting out of the house and actually hunting.
 

liam375

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Day 4 River Hunting Continued -

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We probably do another 5km down the river and spot numerous waterbuck and kudu. We use the cover of the rocks on the sand to see if we can identify any shooters but no luck. The baboons are also very loud from the trees next to the river and I think are acting as sentries for the other wildlife. We bump into a few other crocs along the way and they are very fast to swim into the river.

Kenny meets us with the truck as the evening is getting dark and we head back to camp which is about a 30 minute drive.

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Michael asks me how I feel about trying some the croc meat as he says he's had some good experiences with it before. I tell him I'm up for the dare and he asks Mr. Benson to carve off a steak from the tail portion and do his fried Luangwa croc appetizer. This turned out to be amazing and Michael and I probably eat half of the plate ourselves. Like chicken, but more tender and no fishy taste to it whatsoever. I've had gator on a stick in NoLa before and this beat it by a mile! Good job by Mr. Benson.

More drinks and a nice dinner followed. We reset and resume our search for the buffalo tomorrow morning.
 

liam375

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Day 5 - Today begins just like the rest and we work to find tracks.

We come across a good set and Michael says it's about as good a play as anything else. We're off the truck and begin tracking. Again, we make contact this morning but we split the buff up in their haste to escape from us. It's just hard to close the distance for a clean shot. Michael tells me to stay positive as eventually they will make a break for an opening and my moment will come. Back to camp for lunch.

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Mr. Benson serving up a very creative and tasty impala meat sauce crepe with vegetables grown from Mbizi's garden.

Shortly after lunch we're back out to try again. We revisit the tracks and get into probably some of the thickest stuff I've seen on this entire hunt. We're getting snagged left and right and we get no contact this afternoon. I recall hearing an up close bark from a bushbuck and it's really surprising that they can produce this kind of sound. To those of you who know what I mean it can be a little alarming.

We take it easy back in camp for a few sundowners and enjoy the wildlife surrounding us.
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A very young and handsome puku. He made a few appearances throughout our trip and we would later watch him escape near death from the river below us.

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Bush baby monkeys
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A monitor lizard startles us as it scampers down the tree next to us

Another great evening on the deck. Mentally, the stakes are getting higher and higher though as my trip gets closer to its end. 3 more hunting days and I'm feeling a healthy but measurable sense of pressure.

Day 6 - We're up early again and we hit the road to find tracks. This morning, we notice no crossings from any buff and collectively agree how eerie it is to not see any other animals at all. I don't think we find any fresh tracks and so we're shooting in the dark on the buff. We drive around further back to where we were on Day 2 where we encountered Frank the Tank and still nothing. Back to camp we go and we regroup for lunch.

Afternoon rolls around and we head back out again. I can tell Stephen and Charles are extra focused on this outing and they're noticeably quieter than the previous. Everybody just wants to pick up on a feint hint of something so that we can progress and begin a stalk. We bump into a herd of Impala to our left and Michael says there is a Lichtenstein Hartebeest towards the rear walking towards the herd. He's a decent bull but Michael and I agree it's better to keep our focus rather letting the gunfire ring through the area. I didn't want to let the Hartebeest go but I knew it was right thing to do. We check a salt lick where we've seen tracks before and still no fresh sign of buff. Where are they?!

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Stephen is up front on the hood of the truck looking for tracks. This was a recent burn area and the smoke was still hovering. Perhaps the softer ash would make for quieter tracking and allow us to close the distance a little bit better. With the grass gone, maybe I get a shooting lane now....

We come around a corner and start coming over a hill and the car comes to a halt. Everybody except for me sees the kudu about 100 yards away from us on a hillside with a few cows. The cows immediately take off but the bull stays bedded and continues to stare at us. I don't dare move now as I don't want to startle him. Michael gently moves to his binoculars and he says this is a pretty good bull and while possible, I'm going to struggle to find something better over the next two days. He's a shooter and I should take him. Stephen and Charles stay in the back but Michael and I slowly pile out the truck with the sticks. This is absolutely too much action for the bull and he decides its time to get out of there. I track him through my scope and he reaches the edge of the hill where he makes the mistake of stopping and looking back at us for just one second. There is no time to hesitate, I feel confident in my rest and touch off a round. Even though I'm behind the gun I can hear the WHACK of the impact. I'm back on my scope and can see he is reacting very very hard to the shot and is having a really hard time with his foot placement. He rounds the corner over the hill and we lose sight of him.

We give him a few minutes and Michael asks me how I felt about the shot. I told him I was confident about it and it should've been square on the shoulder. Seemingly in agreement with what he saw, he nods and we begin walking over as the bull should be nearing his end. We come to the top of the hill where we lost him and immediately see bright pink splashes over the rocks. It's lung blood and I'm relieved to see it as this was a fast shot. Charles takes a few more steps over a boulder and tells us he spots him down the hill. We see the spiral horns move for one final time and he is down for the count. My first kudu bull. I'm thrilled but I immediately feel a tinge of sadness as I begin to take in how beautiful he is. Michael remarks on how healthy he looks for an old bull and I notice how smooth and refined his coat looks. Everything about him was perfect. If I had to admit to myself, this kudu alone was probably worth the entire trip to Zambia. He's that amazing to me and he's definitely going to get numero uno placement somewhere in my house. He did not come easy and I'm grateful to cross paths with him.

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We get the bull off the hill and make a clearing below so that Kenny can drive in. After a few awkward 1-2-3's, he's loaded up on the truck and we're on way back to camp! There's a little more levity with the group now and we're all feeling good about connecting with this kudu. We get to the skinning shed and fire up the cold room as Michael wants this bull to hang for a bit. The meat is going to get a chance to age properly but we'll still have some kudu tenderloin for the evening. My girlfriend comes up to take a look and is equally amazed at the bull. At some point, I find out he tapes 50 inches on the dot and that's plenty fine by me.

Michael informs us that we're going to have a proper braii of the kudu tonight and we're going to do the tenderloins over some hot mopane coals.
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Dyson, the braii expert at Mbizi getting ready to set the tenderloins over the coals. If only I could describe the smell to all of you...

Tomorrow is Day 7 and its time to make it count on the buff. We want to be ready so off to bed we go. The mood was much lighter this evening and I'm feeling a lot better about my luck.
 

cpr0312

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Beautiful kudu, congrats!
 

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Hi there, happy to help with this and I do plan on responding to others in this thread. Thanks for your feedback just trying to get through the review. Let me give you my thoughts on the below.

1. Yes needed a written copy of a negative PCR test. Needs to spell out PCR test too. Many clinics gave me a wishy washy response time of 2-5 days so this was where the bulk of the issue was. You also need to be clear that they tell you the results will be delivered in writing and NOT over the phone. Some cannot deliver results over email due to HEPA laws as they did not have encrypted delivery? You just need to get a very precise answer from people and make sure you calculate backwards from your arrival time so that the 72 hours is ample from your testing time. I am seeing that some say 72 hours before departure and others like Zambia I think required 72 hours from your arrival. Big difference when your travel is 35 hours long. I had about 6 copies of this on me, and in my gun case just in case I needed a spare. This is also Qatar airlines policy and they will ask you for it when you check in. Oryx hotel asked me for a copy of my test result as well.

2. Regarding the lounge in Doha,I would assume you can pay with card. When we were checking in at the Oryx hotel, we noticed a few walk-ins waiting in line and sitting in the lobby hoping for a room to free up. I would 100% make sure you have a confirmed reservation with them. If I were to guess, I think a lot of people think they can hack the 9-13 hour layover in the lounge (find out they can only use it for 3-4 hours before they get kicked out and then are dying to pay $200 for the room). And no, I did not have to leave the airport and Qatar Airways was great about escorting us through security to Oryx and then picking us up 8 hours later at the hotel lobby to take us to the gate. Bags remained checked the whole time and I had no issues with the firearms and ammo.

Hope this helps and you get a chance to enjoy your safari. I totally hear you on getting out of the house and actually hunting.

Thank you so much for your timely response! So I have already been on the phone with the lab at the hospital that I work at to make sure that I will take both the swab test within 72 hours prior to my departure from my hometown airport as well as another virus PCR test that takes one hour to get the test results back so that I can take that one the late afternoon just prior to when I leave my hometown airport to make sure that I am negative within 72 hours prior to arrival at Windhoek Namibia airport. That way I am covered both ways. But it’s honestly like playing Russian roulette because currently the best estimate is that 40% of people testing positive are completely asymptomatic of the virus. And for those that test positive – they are taking up to 5 to 6 weeks to test negative since the test is actually picking up dead virus particles still present in your body. So if that’s the case and I test positive – I will have to push back the trip until November most likely. It’s all just such a crazy mess! And I think that many countries across the world are going completely bankrupt because of this situation. It absolutely blows my mind!

I also appreciate the advice on staying in the oryx hotel – I have already emailed Lori at Travel Express to make sure that I am reserved to stay there in the orcs hotel both ways going to and from since I have a nine hour layover in Doha going to Namibia and then a six hour layover coming back. It sounds so much better than staying for four hours in the lounge and then getting kicked out!
 

machinistbutler

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Did you get rushed into the dungeon in Addis Ababa to check your firearms and papers in the dark, with a bunch of guys wanting to look at your rifle? I had it coming and going from there, having to run while everyone on the plane is waiting . Getting pulled off the last row to.go.check them. Did add a bit of excitement to the trip.
 

liam375

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Did you get rushed into the dungeon in Addis Ababa to check your firearms and papers in the dark, with a bunch of guys wanting to look at your rifle? I had it coming and going from there, having to run while everyone on the plane is waiting . Getting pulled off the last row to.go.check them. Did add a bit of excitement to the trip.
Its funny you use the term dungeon as several PM's have come my way asking about Addis Ababa and this is the exact same word I used to describe the environment. That cargo holding area is terrible and yes it was very "exciting" to have to have run back and forth with no time left. Having to clear security twice was a total pain but I'm glad my flight waited for me.
 

CAustin

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Excellent report sir! Thank you for sharing the adventure.
 

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Hello...could you please pm me regarding what species available on this fly-camp offer....can cape buffalo be taken for instance..? Trophy prices..?
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Kevin,
Played rookie league for the Yankees in Paintsville after winning the College World Series at Fullerton State, in1979. All I could think about was the movie “Deliverance”- lived up in a hollow with some other players. Refused to go on a moonshine run because it was a dry county-no way. Met some of the nicest people on the planet there! Van Lear the home of Loretta Lynn was highlight of summer LOL.
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i will knock off 10% off each deal if you take 2 so $18000 per package

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