Wednesday, August 14, 2019 | Malawi – Nkhata Bay District, Kachere Kastle | Petra
SOUTH LUANGWA IS A PARADISE
THE WILD EMPIRE OF ZAMBIA
July 25 – 29, 2019 |Experts value the South Luangwa National Park for its abundance of animals. It makes us curious and so we want to see what Zambia’s most famous wildlife sanctuary is like. There are no camping facilities in the park, that’s why we allow ourselves a stay in one of the renowned lodges. The Lion Camp is located in the northernmost part of the park at the top of the Lion Plains amidst vast grasslands between tall sausage trees and mahogany trees.
CAMPING IN STYLE
For our plan spending a few days inside the national park, we contact Karibu Safaris, the agency we trust. Jessica Sears recommends the Lion Camp, a very nice, exquisite eco-lodge. Less than a week later, we receive a very warm welcome by adorable Dottie at the lodge.
We immediately like the aesthetic of the open architecture built with wood, cement and straw and the distinctive decor of the lodge very much. Each accessory is at the proper place and conjures up this wonderful, African atmosphere. A gentle breeze carries the scent of the grass and the chirping of birds to us. We enjoy the magnificent, clear views of the scenery and observe grazing elephants, bathing hippos, leaping impalas, flapping waterfowl and roving puku.
Our hosts Vicky and Wayne are storybook South Africans – warm, relaxed, funny and charming. Together with their good-humored, attentive team, they pamper their guests in the wilds of Africa. It’s like a dream.
Whether game drives at sunrise and sunset, a morning hike through the wilderness, a relaxing rest on the cosy terrace or delicious food at a candlelight dinner – we enjoy every single moment.
SAUSAGE IN AFRICA
Speaking of food and enjoy: The sausage tree is probably one of the funniest plants in Africa, not only because of its name. Its rock-hard fruits are indeed reminiscent of huge sausages.
They are as big and heavy as a decent piece of firewood. Nobody wants to get such a hard-hitting thing on the head. Decorative they hang from the tree on long plant strings, a beautiful decoration ready for a garden party. Hippos love them. During their extended walks at night, these heavy herbivores nibble the fallen fruit off the ground. Often we drive past those impressive sausage trees on our game drives. I would like to take home some of these sausages as a souvenir and to use it for an interesting decoration.
FIGHT TO SURVIVE
A leopard and her cub are just around the corner, as we learn from our guide Innocent and other avid lodge guests, who’ve already seen them. At our evening game drive we meet the two then and are eyewitnesses of a dramatic confrontation. A hyena creeps about and lurks, while mother and child quench their thirst at a small waterhole. She either wants the Leopard’s prey or, if necessary, the cub.
In this dangerous situation, the leopard courageously launches a sharp attack on the hyena, although she knows that she would have no chance against this powerful predator in the worst case. But as a clever mother, she also knows that with her skilful diversionary tactic, she can give her child a survival advantage. Luckily, the little one does exactly what Mama taught him. It escapes into the safety of a tall tree. The danger seems banished for the time being.
The next morning at sunrise, we visit the two again and still the hyena sneaks around greedily. Mother Leopard lies under a tree completely relaxed, as she knows her cub and the kill in good hands. On a branch high above it hangs, an impala, stonedead. The leopard probably killed it last night. On another branch, the little kitten turns around, cuddles with his mom and then enjoys the view from above again. Morning idyll with family Leopard.
All of a sudden there is some trouble. The mother is on high alert when her cub eats over her in the tree with relish at the prey. If her child or the prey falls, she is ready to jump to bring it back up before the hyena can strike.
Eat and be eaten – the wilderness is fascinating and relentless at the same time.
THE BEAUTY OF WILDERNESS
There are so many beautiful and touching impressions that we are allowed to experience here. Be it the spicy scent of dry grass, sandy dust or sun dried wood. Be it the magical light of the sun or the mysterious haze between the trees. Be it a colorful bird or the lively chirping of a whole flock of birds. Be it a herd of stately buffaloes or a group of silent puku. It is always fascinating or exciting. Win and I now have a bad suspicion. We are probably addicted! Addicted to elephants, leopards, wild animals and safari.
LIONS AND THE JOY OF MOTHERHOOD
On our morning walk Innocent, our guide, discovers lion tracks. Our little group of hikers follows the tracks, but can not spot the lions. Only the next morning, when we roam through the bush again with Innocent in the safari vehicle, he pursues further tracks, thinks and steers the vehicle on searching. A short time later he can spot her – a lioness. And a cub. There are even two cubs! On closer inspection, we count four lionesses and five cubs of different ages. This is an absolute stroke of luck – madness!
Innocent skilfully maneuvers the vehicle through a dried out branch of the river to get as close to the animals as possible. There in front of us they are. The little ones suck on the lioness’ teats, smacking and happily moaning. They scramble about each other, and every lion child tries to get the best position. It does not matter to them which mother belongs to which baby, they suck where they can get milk.
The other three lionesses meanwhile lazily lie around, at such an early hour they are still unresponsive. Only a little later, they rise and lick each other’s head and face. It is their way of maintaining the sense of belonging within the group. The little ones are now full and ready for adventures.
We spend a lot of time and observe extensively the amusing spectacle of nature. It’s just too sweet!
The following evening, we also meet the father of the little lion children, a handsome guy. In the heat of the day the lions were lazy and slept in the tall grass, huddled in a nest. Now, as the sun sets and it gets cooler, they gradually perk up. The little lions expectantly watch their father, who has rested a bit away from them. If he will all them to play with him?
If we should name our favorite animal, it is the beautiful leopard and probably the impressive elephant. we really fall for these huge and at the same time sensitive animals. Watching them fills us with deep joy.
Here in the national park we have plenty of opportunities to meet the pachyderms. Whether as a loner along the way eating leaves, as a herd on the riverbank while bathing, as a caring mother-child group in the meadow or as a silent parade through the forest. Each time it is a special encounter and always a “big” thing, in the truest sense of the word.
As you know, elephants love baths in the mud to protect their skin from sun and parasites. During one of our evening game drives, we experience such a care ritual almost close up. In front of us, a bull elephant showered neatly with mud. Not only does he use a powerful jet out of his trunk. His forefoot also provides valuable services when it comes to covering his best piece well with mud. How much fun the young man has, shows clearly as he lolls with his whole body contentedly in the mud, with his ears flapping and head and trunk tossing lustfully.
Finally, his bath is over and the elephant continues his way purposefully. Exactly on our way in exactly our direction. He steers swiftly towards us. As if spellbound, we watch his leisurely movements and almost stop breathing. Now it’s time to keep our nerves strong, to avoid any noise and to not frighten the newly bathed colossus. I do not even want to press the trigger on the camera, because even the soft click might be too much noise. Innocent whispers urgently, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay!”, to keep Win and me quiet for heaven’s sake. As the giant walks past me noiselessly only ten centimeters from the car, I feel a small splash of mud that lands on my arm. That’s damn close to the wilderness.
All three of us are completely overexcited after this exciting encounter. Innocent admits that a situation like this is always a bit tricky for him as a guide, despite his years of experience, because he never knows how cool the guests will behave. If they would panic, the elephant would panic, and all of a sudden the situation could get dangerously out of hand. Boy oh boy, this is absolutely crazy. Crazy fantastic!
A MILLION THANKS TO YOU
Many, many thanks to all who gave us this happy time and memorable experiences at South Luangwa and Lion Camp. We will always remember and never forget.