We love Zambia!!!

Mike and I were meant to be back home in S.A. for Christmas, we were hoping to drive into Cape Town around the 20th Dec. Since we have lingered in certain countries longer than we had expected, we will only be joining our families’ back home in March next year.

Due to this delay we have arrived in Zambia in the rainy season. I love good old African thunderstorms but we certainly have to be more vigilant about malaria now than ever before!!!

Our first stop in Zambia is the very well known South Luangwa National Park. The park had received a hefty shower just days before we arrived so the roads getting to the park as well as in the park were muddier than anything we have seen to date. Thumper took us graciously through all intrepid mud baths and landed up heavily coated in Black cotton soil – Africa’s finest mud that makes you feel like you are in a bumper car as it slides down wheel channels and bounces you from side to side.

We were treated to Lion, Kudu, Ele, Buff and a few massive crocs sunning themselves. The highlight however was the night we embarked on a night drive. About fifteen minutes into our drive we stopped to watch a gigantic Male Ele who was happily enjoying our attention and eating away. He then walked right up to our car and stood right in front of us, just staring at us. It was only at this point that we realized just how enormous he actually was. I felt the size of an ant and not one of us even blinked. Our guide got a little worried that he would lean on the car with one of his enormous tusks and dent the bonnet so he started the car and backed up slightly. The Ele still stood staring at us and then turned to cross the road and disappear into the trees to our right. We all finally took a deep breath and continued down the road.

The treat of the drive didn’t stop there, a few meters down the road we spotted a female Leopard having  a drink from a puddle right by the road. She walked with us down the road for about five minutes before she jumped into the bush trying to flick the tsetse flies away.

We had sunset drinks just on the Luangwa river and I have to just say it one more time, the setting was UNBELIEVABLY beautiful. Every park has something unique about it and each one its own beauty. S. Luangwa is on a different level, it is staggeringly beautiful.

Once the days light had sunk we headed off into the dark and just moments later we spotted a Female Leopard with her daughter. They were both feeding on an Impala high up in the tree. A Hyena stood below watching and waiting for any scraps that might tumble to the ground.

We were lucky enough to have the sighting all to ourselves for just a few moments before we were joined by a huge group of other game vehicles, and so we moved on. Only to be showered on a few moments later, so that was great timing indeed!

In our campsite, we had Hippo and Ele around every night. An Ele attacked the food supply of a vehicle that was just a few meters away  from us and we just stood and watched this couple try and rid themselves of the massive beast that stood with his trunk while emptying out the contents of their boot. He finally backed off and headed towards our car, by then we had packed up everything and were instructed to get in the car and start the engine and rev like hell to scare him off. It worked and our car and food was safe.

S. Luangwa is certainly a park we need to give a second chance in order to see the huge herds of Buff and other delights in the dry season, next time we just have to arrive before the rains, but besides all that, we were treated to a Leopard experience that you don’t see everyday.

 

S Luangwa Lion

Sunset drinks at S Luangwa

Leopards with a kill in S Luangwa

Zambezi Lion feeding on dead Hippo

Zambezi Ele taking some time out from the sun

Lower Zambezi N.P.

We certainly won with our campsite here, we bush camped in a community campsite  right on the Zambezi River, it was a beautiful spot. The drive into the park was very long each time you did a game drive as you cannot camp

inside the park, which is a royal pain but the park had a beauty all of it’s own. This park has water all year round due to the Zambezi river which is its natural boundary so although it may get dry further away from the river there are still water pools everywhere. Not too bad to be a Hippo here. The park was scorched dry in some parts and then luscious and green in wetter areas. It’s not everyday you see a green national park. They truly are gardens of Eden when you see them in this season.

Each night we heard a roaring Male Lion who made us eat up very quickly and scurry up to our tent to watch from our safe abode upstairs. All Mike could think of was the infamous Man eating lions on the other side of the river at Mana pools… positive stuff, he really added to the pace at which we moved when we heard the nightly calls that sounded as if he was only 50 meters away. They never are as close as you think, but safer is better.

The park boasts a huge number of Ele who are not the happiest we have encountered. You can get ambushed by them quite easily in a semi-woodland area of the park where its quite hard to back up and reverse if they go mental, which they did almost everytime we stumbled upon them. Kudu, Waterbuck and all other game run for the hills as soon as they here our car… hunting me thinks

We sat and watched Lion tuck into a Hippo for about an hour and then we treated ourselves to watching the park guides take a bath in the Zambezi river close to a pod of Hippo and who knows how many Crocs, only in Africa.

Beautiful river, great campsite, pitty about the skittish game in the park, but you can’t win em all. Let’s hope Zambia grips this one and the hunting situation gets better and not worse.

 

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