South Luangwa

Bridge camp Luangwa rivereAfter 4 nights in Lusaka we were finally able to move on. The city is crazy, and full of life however still a city so it was good to move back into the bush. Our destination this time South Luangwa Park. There’s a convenient stop over at Changa Changa Bridge camp, situated on the Luangwa River. Interesting place run by a chap called Will who tends to be quite morose but he livened up in the evening. During rainy season it seems to be quite green, however when we were there everything was dry and dusty. The campsite is right next to the road that leads to Luangwa town. We had heard that Kinsley Holgate was in the area, and here we met up with some of his support team. Kingsley is boating down the Zambezi River from its’ source in Northern Zambia on a boat made from pontoons and aluminum square tubing. Each time they hit an obstacle like Victoria Falls or a Dam wall, they dismantle it and drive around, put it back together and carry on.

Holgate support team
So we took a drive down to Luangwa town about 90kms away mainly through rural villages and passed a very smart Girls High School which we discovered later is where the elite from Lusaka send their girls to school to keep them out of trouble! The town is the meeting point of three countries, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique all by water and very casual as there doesn’t seem to be any Customs set up.

Three countries Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia
Three countries Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia

Next morning we set off early for Chipata on the Malawi border. The rainy season has just finished here so some of the back routes are still impassable therefore we had to stick to the main road. This road is undergoing major renovation and some parts were lovely and others dusty detours, which were not bad but slow going. I have officially mastered the peeing on the side of the road which to quote a friend “Is my African heritage and right!” Brought back many, many memories of my childhood! Chipata is a lively, friendly town and was fun to pass through on the way to South Luangwa. It used to be called Fort Jameson.

New and old Chipata Chipata
Finally South Luangwa was in sight and we arrived at a campsite set on another part of the Luangwa River overlooking the park- Wildlife Camp. Bliss. 9 hours of driving and no fuel leaks! Once again we have been serenaded to the sound of hippos in the river, elephants strolling casually around and the campsite monkeys who sneak around trying to steal what they can. There are no park fences here only natural boundaries like the river, mountains etc so the game move around quite freely. The local village is very close and the people very respectful of the wildlife. One of the night watchmen is a chap called Overt- who checks up on us at night. He told us that the locals have been educated as to the value of the game, hopefully this means limited poaching! Yesterday we had another fellow come to sell vegetables at the campsite – eggplant, onions, herbs and lemons. So lovely!!!
In the park we have had some great sightings, lion at a kill, a leopard just waking up at dusk, porcupines, elephant family groups, giraffes etc… A baby elephant stood in the road and mock charged us while crossing, looked just like Dumbo – all gangly – we were watching mom too and she was not perturbed so we were not too close. It’s the first time we’ve seen Puku, a buck that looks like an impala but is much more fluffy and sturdy. We saw the lions both during the day and on a night drive. There were six in the group, and they had killed a buffalo. When we saw them in the evening they were lying around looking too full to move, rather like Al after a good meal!

in the evening lion 2m from the car Lion2ZebraMock charge baby elephant Curious giraffe
The other campers are an interesting mix. Two Germans on our right hand side who have been travelling camping for about 6/7 years. Very interesting to chat to with lovely senses of humor. On our left a British couple from Malawi have been very helpful in planning our Malawi trip and also very friendly. We had decided to go back to Lusaka as due to the rains some of the roads to North Luangwa we’ve been told are not yet passable. Then this morning we met a couple of South Africans who are here to do conservation training. They are also going from here to North Luangwa, and think it’s doable. We’ll catch up with them later and see.
Frogs in showers are a feature of camp life. However yesterday I had to laugh. First there was the spider hiding in the toilet roll, one of those flat big spiders, then as I flushed the loo, I saw this thing hanging on for dear life! There was a frog under the toilet seat!! Needless to say I now check both.

One Reply to “South Luangwa”

  1. Incredible wildlife sightings! How amazing to be so close to them with no game reserve barriers. At the same time, you watch those puddy cats you hear? The one that fancied the Fiesta had also been sleeping!

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