South Luangwa National Park
Stopped at Track & Trail Camp, mainly because we saw a young Elephant at reception, a half grown bull which we assumed was tame- a big mistake! Emma got out to deal with paperwork at reception,but it was closed,whereupon a head appeared around the corner,a French-man who had been hiding among a few parked up Jeeps asked for a lift because of said Elephant. Bundled the terrified guy in, moved forward a few feet and the “tame” Elephant mock charged the car-ah !! not tame we clicked
Despite this, lovely site,only ones here- soon discovered why. Guard introduced himself which we took to be the norm, had a braai, heard/saw a few Bush buck,Emma saw a rather large shape in bushes rather too close for comfort,shining of torch revealed Hippo.
Fridge packed up (don’t buy a Waeco) Michael decided to tackle the problem,using only his head torch , but then turned on proper torch to find Elephant only eight steps away (measured) both parties equally surprised! Much crashing and grunting from Elephants and Hippo all night…..Emma snored through most of the nights activities.
Went into the park next day,saw many of the usual culprits, but also Thornicroft’s Giraffe, beautiful markings and Crawshay’s Zebra, both of which, only live here,although the Zebra also live on Nyika where we are going. Saw two Hyena’s doing the business (look up their sex life…very strange) stayed in another nice camp on riverside,but too busy for us,back to park the next day,got traffic jammed by Elephants also saw many Crocodiles and Hippo,retuned to original camp,booked in once more, but then were imprisoned by four Elephants who had come to visit,eventually skirted around them, back to the car 30 metres away,when another group appeared on the other side,finally sneaked to shower block and whilst Emma was showering,a bout of Baboon all in wrestling took place,which included a body of a Baboon bouncing off mosquito net window in shower block- much to her obvious delight!!
We love it,but obviously not everyone’s cup of tea ……hence empty camp-site !
After finishing the last paragraph we went to bed thence began the night and day of elephants. When we first came across these in Burkina Faso we joked how we seemed to be able to find them easily – well here they they came to find us in droves. Emma woke to see a large white tusk next to our tent window and from then on it was elephants everywhere. Amazing from our point of view but not everyone’s cup of tea as we said. They know you are there and provided you are calm they and we gave each other about 20m leeway all was well. On a few occasions we had to move to be sensible but no threat. Much of the time they were feeding on a fruit tree in the main area and just passed by us on the way there and back. A new Dutch couple appeared, parked up and walked our way with a camp guard, we were chatting, telling them of the elephants ( who at that moment were absent, when we heard a very loud cracking sound, a couple of bull elephants looking for the fruit but finding none had obviously got fed up so one simply broke off a substantial tree say 8inches in diameter so easily you can not believe it – like breaking a match – then they had lunch, at which point the Dutch couple had legged it, saying they had only experienced fenced camps in East Africa and would be retiring to bed very early !) This continued all day. A French family staying in a tree house platform commented later how they had watched elephants,&hippos around us all night – and to think people pay huge sums yet here it was £5 a night I loved it even Emma got keen on the closeness of it all, can’t imagine having a better or closer experience.
We decided to go on a professional tour as they are allowed to do night drives in the park- she can tell of the results.
Over to me….Off we set with lovely French family and had not been in the park 10 minutes ,before we came to a halt having spotted a Leopard,in broad daylight! This one clearly a professional Leopard model,struck all the right poses about 20 metres away as you can see from the photo’s, including jumping a good 4 metres up a tree and landing on branches, once again posed nicely for the camera……although I had a bit of camera shake by this stage. How lucky are we??!!
Beautiful drive with sun setting-fantastic colours, then wonderful starry skies, lots of animals and fortunate enough to spot another Leopard sneaking up on Impala,but she was followed by three Hyena,who do this to chase her off her kill (they do this in this area rather than hunt themselves) so at 30 metres from the Impala ,with them close behind she simply gave up . Two in one evening though, not a bad result.
Monkey trouble at breakfast (eating Michael’s toast) and off to Malawi.
PS- one for the girls,everywhere we go we seem to attract a stray dog!