First Light Safaris enjoyed 10 incredible days on safari in South Luangwa National Park of Zambia, September 2016. I returned to the area where I spent almost a year living in the bush managing a camp for the Bushcamp Company. Joining me were Mary from Australia and CJ form Texas. Mary has visited South Luangwa on two other occasions, while CJ was embarking on her first Africa safari.
Our stay started with a night at Mfuwe Lodge, followed by two nights at Kuyenda Camp, three nights at Chamilandu Camp, 3 nights at Bilimungwe Camp, and one final night at Mfuwe. Our accommodations were wonderful. The staffs were warm, friendly, personable, and hard working. The guides we had were some of the best in Zambia. The hosts at each camp made sure our stay went off without a hitch.
This safari was truly special. The amount of wildlife we saw was incredible. We saw big cats everyday including an unheard of 14 leopard sightings as well as 20+ lions. Leopards are a favorite for Mary and she was thrilled beyond imagination. CJ enjoyed whatever the bush revealed to us at any given minute. Watching someone experience their first wildlife safari in Africa is truly amazing. I was privileged to have been there to experience it all with two wonderful people.
We took daily hikes everyday with experienced and knowledgeable guides. It is always a treat seeing large animals like elephant on foot. We even had quite a surprise while we entered a shadowy forest above the bank of the Luangwa River. As we were about to enter the forest, a leopard leaped from out of a tree in front of us about 30 meters and quickly disappeared into the shadows of the thickets. A band of mongoose were also startled and took off in all directions. An incredible experience, but we felt guilty of having disturbed the leopard from its shady retreat.
The most memorable sighting for me was during our first game drive of the trip. We came across a very light colored male lion resting with two lionesses. The male got up and approached one of the females with intentions of mating. The lioness wanted nothing to do with it. In a blink of an eye she reared around and slapped the male in the face with her large paws in quick succession; all the while growling her displeasure. The lion backed down, stopped and began to roar. Being so close to a lion roaring is an experience in of itself. You can truly feel the percussion of it through your body. It truly is one of the signature calls of the bush.
Big herds of elephant and buffalo, large pods of hippo, many groups of kudu, impala, waterbuck, zebra and puku, dozens of different birds including large flocks of the crimson colored carmine bee-eaters, shy nocturnal animals, troops of mischievous baboons, and even rare sightings of a roan antelope were all on full display in South Luangwa National Park. It is always such a refreshing feeling stepping back into the wilds of Africa. There is nothing like it anywhere else on Earth. I’ve spent nearly 20 years living and working in and around Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, searched the jungles of India for tiger, and snorkeled one of the world’s great barrier reefs. All pale in comparison to the bush.
I look forward to my next adventure with wonderful clients.