I wrote a few weeks ago about our visit to Kasanka National Park in Zambia. Next on our itinerary was South Luangwa National Park, which we entered from the northern side. This approach presented many challenges, however, with a group of five 4×4 vehicles, it turned out to be a great adventure and we thoroughly enjoyed the 178km drive to the Bridgegate entrance.
The recent rains had made the road very muddy, which resulted in most of the group, except Rob, getting stuck and needing to be towed out. The actual rescue wasn’t too much of a problem, but it became a bit uncomfortable because we were right in Tsetsi fly territory and those little blighters get in everywhere and bite like hell!
Camping on the Luangwa River
Wild Dog Camp, located just outside the park, was our home for the next three nights. Situated on the banks of the Luangwa River, we could watch the birds and animals from our campsite.
They have a very nice hide in the camp and I managed to get a typical hippo photo. Do vets fix teeth? This guy needed some serious dental work! What a beautiful spot to unwind after days of driving.
Our trips into the park offered sightings of a number of animals and birds that we don’t typically see in our part of the world. First up was a Thornicroft’s giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti), which is endemic to the area.
South Luangwa is noted for its leopard population, and we were fortunate enough to have a brilliant sighting shortly after entering the park on our first day. If you’re seeking leopards, it’s advisable to take note of other animals behaving strangely. A lioness that we were watching, rose and walked towards a nearby tree, looking up. There sat a leopard that no-one had seen. Further on, we came across a group of baboons that were going crazy beneath a tree and suspected that something up there was upsetting them. It turned out to be a sleeping leopard but sadly all we were able to see was it’s tail.
What really stole the show for us in South Luangwa were the Southern Carmine Bee-eaters. We found a colony of them nesting in the banks of the river and spent several hours watching them catch insects to take into their nests. They are truly beautiful birds with such amazing plumage.
It was scorching that day, with temperatures over 40C and the poor things were gasping in the heat.
Two full days in this park are not enough, but you take what you can get.