South Luangwa National Park is well known for its abundance of wildlife and therefore a ‘must see’ destination for animal lovers and birdwatchers. In 1904 the Luwanga Valley was declared a National Reserve because of the poaching,
Elephants recovered too well in this area populated by more and more humans. So well that so-called ‘white hunters’ were employed, to shoot aggressive and dangerous elephants. Norman Carr was one of these hunters. After his retirement in the 1960’s, he became the leading force as a conservationist, to protect and care for this special land. In the 1970’s, Carr convinced ‘Chief Nsefu’ to relocate the villages from this sector, to join as part of the ‘Luangwa National Park’.
A pioneer in many ways, Carr started the first wildlife camp and wildlife safaris in Zambia controversially. Walking safaris were something unheard of and disputed then. Now they are a popular and exciting part of many safari companies. Unlike other National Parks that I have visited, Zambia’s Parks don’t have fences. Animals can freely roam outside the park, just like humans.
It isn’t uncommon for herds of elephants or hippos occupying a camp, or for lions and leopards exploring neighbouring communities. An exciting thought for me, frightening for most. Night guards are on high alert, electric wire surrounds the campsite. Large numbers of baboons pass through the campground every morning, scouring for food. One needs to be on high alert and have their cars or rooms closed. They are quick opportunists.
As are the ‘meercats’, or velvet monkeys. I was the only camper at ‘Track and Trail River Camp/Lodge’, all other visitors preferred the comfy chalets. A romantic, more expensive option to soak in this well run and friendly river paradise.
After a remote drive through the ‘Nsefu’ Sector’ yesterday, busy tourism resumed at the ‘Mfuwe Sector’. But despite a small early morning rush at the gate, I hardly came across any other vehicles. Hundreds and hundreds of kilometers dirt road tracks layer out throughout this vast land, I often felt like being the only one in this arid landscape. Me, Zimba and plenty of wildlife.
One of the major drawcards to ‘Luangwa National Park’ is the high population of leopards. Four times as many populate ‘Luangwa National Park’ in comparison to South Africa’s ‘Kruger National Park’.
Driving through dense bushland and open high grass savanna, it becomes obvious why this stealth hunter thrives here.
On the flip side of the coin, it makes them even harder to spot.
Driving, spotting and taking photos by myself didn’t get easier. Despite all my efforts spending hours looking for this elusive hunter, I didn’t get to see one.
The Luangwa River is the only flowing water here in the dry season.
Overlooking the river, one can see the immense power of flood waters.
Washed out trees scatter the river and sandbanks,
giving perfect resting points for birds
and surprisingly hippos as well.
Fishing is a big part here as well, early morning fishermen paddle out in their banana boats to lay out nets.
With lots of hippos and crocodiles lining these shores, a certain risk is involved.
All other riverbeds have run dry.
There are quite a few Baobab trees along the dusty plains, seems like most are used as elephant scratch.
Some are immense in size, adding character to this dry land.
Cloudy days were welcomed for the fact that it wasn’t as hot as being exposed to direct sun rays.
Particularly for sunrise or sunset, it looked spectacular over dusty savanna.
I realised very early that with so much wildlife, birdlife and remarkable landscapes, I could update hourly.
From Baobab trees in open space to river scenes along the Luangwa River, there was always a photo opportunity and a story to tell.
Elephants in thick bush, crossing rivers, play fighting or little ones having fun.
Hippos on land, water or mud.
Zebras just looking cool.
Buffalo in sheer quantity.
Lions stalking the open plains or just resting in the shade. And all other animals and birds. There was always a small difference from previous photos. Small things that make the big difference. I just couldn’t get my finger off the button. Simply outstanding. The only problem now is to select stories and photos to use for this blog. I am in trouble. Therefore, I will do a post on each animal or species and some combined. Stay tuned, first up are the zebras.