• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

South Luangwa Awaiting the Rains – Part 3

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As I am writing this the first showers are arriving bringing hope to all the animals in South Luangwa, many of whom are on the edge of starvation. This has triggered the impala to start dropping their young.

Just 10 days ago I was in the South Luangwa National Park witnessing the drama of the wildlife on the edge. We did see the first of the baby impala standing on shaky legs and heading for the shade and its mother’s protection. The warthogs had also had their young and watching a family group running off in to the scant bush with their tales up, like car aerials of old, always brings a smile to your face.

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We had spent the night at Luwi Camp, one of the remotest in the Park and woken to hippo crossing in front of the campsite. At the early breakfast, 05.30, the 6 guest compared notes of what had been heard during the night. All had listened to the hyenas and hippo calls and most had heard the distant lion roar. This led to a discussion of how far away they were and which direction to head in.

The two of us set forth with Simon as our guide and driver. Before long we came across a freshly killed female impala but no predator. The most likely answer was that a leopard had killed it but we just could not find it anywhere. Shortly afterwards we came across the 5 wild dogs in the riverbed and on our side of the river. We spent time watching these very rare and entertaining animals. As we approached our next camp, we drove down in to the river bed to a pool with at least 200 hippo, numerous crocs many of whom were feeding on 4 dead hippo and a host of different birds. There was a colony of carmine bee eaters nesting in the bank and the air was filled with their calls and flashes of colour as they dived in and out of the holes in the bank.

Kakuli Camp is situated on the top of the bank looking down on the river and a pool claimed by a few hippo. After an excellent lunch we rested in the shade watching elephant and giraffe coming down to drink in the heat of the afternoon. After tea, with a lovely orange and chocolate cake, we set off with Simon again and we were joined by another couple on the drive. We headed back to the hippo pool, particularly as one of the others was a very keen birder. We then drove further down the river and just as the sun was setting we found a male lion with 9 females and cubs on a kill on the far bank of the river. Sipping a sundowner and watching the pride through the fast closing darkness has to be one of the best ways to end the day.

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Nor was it all over. As we drove back in the dark with our spotlight working, Simon and the ranger found a leopard on an extremely fresh puku kill. It let us watch as it first dragged the animal in to the bush and then started eating its haunches. More about this leopard later.

Finally back to camp for a much wanted shower, dinner and earlyish to bed.

For a full account or to make your own bespoke tailor made holiday to this fantastic place then please give Peter a call on 01323 446550 or email peter@experienceholidays.co.uk

Photos by Peter Ellis

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