June 11: South Luangwa National Park – ZAMBIA
It’s an adventure just to get to Africa – especially when British Airways is on strike. After much anxiety and creative re-routing, the group I was leading made it to Lusaka- exhausted but relieved. A short plane ride later, we arrived at South Luangwa National Park on June 11- one day later than planned. Seeing familiar faces at Mfuwe Lodge (www.mfuwelodge.com) was welcome indeed after our travel ordeal!
The excitement overtook the exhaustion and the first evening game drive was not disappointing at all! For those who have kids, please cover their eyes at this point…
It is MATING season in the Luangwa Valley!! Within thirty minutes, we saw a small pride of lionesses snoozing. About a hundred yards away, there was a fully-maned lion “in the act” with his favorite lioness (a wild guess). While we all giggled, it was quite a spectacular and rare sight to see a complete pride with the dominant male.
During our two-hour evening drive, we also witnessed a full grown bull elephant, tons of impala and puku, as well as a spectacular sunset.
June 12: South Luangwa National Park – ZAMBIA
It is early morning now at our chalet and off we go again. This is one of the best times to see a variety of bird species. Jason (our guide) did not skip his ornithology class and he knew all his bird names, while Betsy (one of the group members), an avid birder, competed with him.
We had prearranged a surprise bush breakfast, which was set up on a dry river bed complete with fresh eggs and juice. Bush breakfasts are a lasting memory, especially if there is game around you. In our case, an energetic baby elephant, and his anxious mother trying to keep up with him, were the highlights.
After a much deserved afternoon siesta, the evening game drive was a true winner- two leopard sightings, a 200 strong buffalo herd, a dozen elephants, a civet cat (can anyone figure out how many different types of markings it has!?) and variety of puku, impala, and waterbuck all in a span of three hours! The leopard sightings were incredible and unusual considering this cat is extremely elusive.
Safari Wisdom: While on an African safari, it is always important to pace one’s self. Take a break when tired and snooze when there is time. You have to enjoy the tranquility and serenity of your surroundings and absorb what is around you, a luxury to most of us leading a fast paced life style, but a necessity when you are in Africa. For the next few days, the adrenaline will begin to wear off as you take in what nature has to offer – “going nowhere slowly.”
About the author: Rumit Mehta is the founder of Immersion Journeys, an award winning specialty boutique tour company, focusing on customized leisure, adventure and academic tours to Africa and South Asia. He is also a guest blogger for Africa.com.