ZAMBIA: Lion Safari With Strang Middleton

JES Adventures

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With the Covid shutdowns disrupting lives, we all realize how quickly events can change and simple things we once enjoyed are now forbidden. I have stayed in contact with my many friends around the globe and times are difficult for those in the hunting business. With countries slowly opening back to tourism, the adventurers are once again pursuing their dreams and traveling.

With hunting season is coming to a close in many countries, unused quotas abound and outfitters are trying to find clients so 2020 is not a total loss.
Strang contacted me a few weeks back about a Lion Safari in the Luangwa Valley so I mentioned it to my wife Debra. She was with me in the Valley in ‘96, right by my side making a video of the hunt. I was Blessed to take an outstanding mature male with my old friend Rory Gellatly. It was a fourteen day Safari for the books, I shot my Lion on day 7 along with the ancillary plains game and Debra took a great Leopard and a 14’+ crocodile. She expressed her interest in hunting a Lion one day and we made a solid attempt in Tanzania in ‘07 but she passed on a middle aged male.

So, the hunt Strang contacted me about sold before I could make arrangements but he made some calls and found another outfitter with Lion left on quota and we booked it. Ironically, the hunt will take place in the same concession where I shot my Lion 24 years ago! The Chanjuzi Concession was an amazing place in ‘96 so we are excited to revisit it again. Funny thing, Debra’s birthday is the 28th and a few days before Strang contacted me I said to her, “sorry but I just don’t have anything special planned for your birthday this year”. Well, that quickly changed!

Steve Turner at Travel with Guns got us booked on Ethiopian (the only carrier that could get us there) and we are off to Dulles today and will overnight. Tomorrow Morning we will board Ethiopian Airways for Addis Ababa and after a 13.5 hour flight, a 1.5 hour layover and a 6.5 hour flight we will be in Lusaka.

We got our Covid test last Friday, results on Monday then put our gear together for the trip. Travel from San Antonio to DC was smooth as there is so little traffic in the airports.

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JES Adventures

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Day 1

We had a comfortable night at the airport Marriott at Dulles and headed to check in with Ethiopian Airways about 9AM.

After hitting duty free for some spirits we boarded the plane for our long flight to Addis. Barring anything unusual we will be in Lusaka Monday afternoon. Ethiopian Airways were very efficient at Check in and we took our seats in business class and had a sip of champagne.

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cpr0312

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Awesome!! Look forward to the report!
 

sierraone

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It looks like you and the wife have crossed all the T's and are on line for a super hunt. It also seems that your connections from Texas to Lusaka are simple too. Good luck on the hunt and stay safe!
 

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Looking forward to your hunt report. Been in contact with Strang to join us on our annual Fallow Deer Rut bow hunt we have among our PH's every year.
 

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I’m so looking forward to this report! Best of luck!
 

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Hope you have a great time over there! Look forward to the report.
 

gillettehunter

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Best of luck to you and the wife. Have a great safari!
Bruce
 

AZDAVE

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Look forward to your report.

May the hunting goddess Dianna smile upon your wife.
 

cls

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Good luck and shoot straight
 

JES Adventures

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Day 2

Travel was a breeze since there are not many people in the airports these days. All the flights were on time and all luggage arrived so my overall experience with Ethiopian Airways was positive. From Dulles to Addis there were 11 passengers in business class out of 32 seats. The crew were very friendly and didn't give us any grief about masks.

Upon arrival in Lusaka, we had to use hand sanitizer, then got in a queue for our Covid test docs and temperature check. The visa's had been organized in advance so we were out of there in short time.

The Safari is with Strang Middleton hunting on Impanga Safaris Concession. The owner Ibi Nkonde met us on arrival in Lusaka and took us to the Radisson Hotel where we settled in for the night. A bit of jet lag and a 4:30AM departure in the morning has us turning in early tonight.

Strang has been in camp since Saturday and doing a bit of scouting. We should be in camp mid morning and plan on hitting the ground running! It's gonna be hot, was 95 degrees in Lusaka today. Almost as anxious as I was 24 years ago but this time, curious to see how the area has changed.
 

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Strang has some zebra waiting for me, so I hope to make it there one day. I love the pictures he sends me from his area and the animals he's taken. Love it when my phone chirps, alerting me that I have a message on my WHATS APP. Good luck and safe travels.
 

enysse

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Excellent news, I hope you have a great trip!
 

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Pretty neat birthday hunt for your wife! Think you probably came through with flying colors. ;)

Have a fantastic hunt. Look forward to reading all about it.
 

JES Adventures

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Day 3

Ibi picked us up at the hotel promptly at 4:30 and we arrived the airport with ample time to have a cup of coffee while we waited for the pilots to arrive. It was the first time in my four previous trips to Zambia that there was no one in the airport other than our group and a few employees. Staravia was our charter company and the pilot and co-pilot were there right at 5:30 and we were in the plane and taking off by 6. It was a beautiful morning and the Beechcraft Baron performed flawlessly for the 2 hour flight up to the valley.

Shortly after we landed a landcruiser arrived to load our baggage and take us to camp. The vehicle was actually from the neighboring concession where we landed as our camp vehicle was stuck in the soft sands of the Luangwa. We crossed the river on a hand ferry which was a new experience. The guys had a tractor on the other sideto pull our cruiser out and ten minutes later we were on the roadagain.

We arrived to camp about 10:30 and ate couple of egg sandwiches then unpacked our bags. Strang showed up shortly thereafter we visited for a while then made a plan to go out this afternoon to look for Buffalo. Strang got into camp a few days ago and promptly got a hippo down and four baits hung. He had sd cards from the baits and one had two Lioness feeding last night and this morning early. That was great news as there is a male out there somewhere and hopefully he will join them for the next feeding.

One of my best memories from the here Safari in ’96 was the Hippo tail soup. It was out starter and it was as amazing as ever. It paired well with a South African Merlot and we had grilled chicken and vegetables for the main course. After a cigar and whiskey it was off to bed as we have an early morning tomorrow.

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JES Adventures

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A few more pics, I am having some issue loading multiple photos thread.

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cpr0312

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@JES Adventures ,

Hippo tail soup was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my visits to several different African countries!
 

Royal27

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@JES Adventures ,

Hippo tail soup was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my visits to several different African countries!

I mean it's not as good as hippo lips but I wouldn't turn it down.
 

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