Saturday, October 04, 2008

South Luangwa National Park

I will find it hard to describe just how amazing a place South Luangwa is and how wonderful a time we had there.

Four hours on a nightmare road north of Chipata (a corrugated dirt surface that causes trucks to vibrate and slide - we ourselves skidded off the road once) - an Eden. 9,000 or so square km of Savannah and woodland. The park is shielded by the Luangwa river. In rainy season a wide arching river. Now in the dry season a thinning strip of water filled with an estimated 19,000 hippos and flanked by fat Nile crocs, basking in the baking sun.

Across the thinly wooded plain herds of impala, kudo and water buck. Nervous water buffalo and zebra. Every so often the imposingly lanky, but somehow gracefully goofy presence of a giraffe or four.

Lakes filled with fish and perused by thousands of birds. Herons, ibis, the odd duck. Peering down from above mighty fish eagles with their bright white heads. Baboons sitting on their butts.
Then, out of nowhere a pride of lions. Chewing over the remains of yesterdays buffalo. The huge male sitting nonchalantly. Lionesses stretching. Cubs playing.

At night the atmosphere changes. Lions are on the move. Civets and Jenets climb down from the trees (each creature somewhere between a mongoose and a cat). Hyenas prowl, menacingly. Miniature owls scower the terrain for the odd elephant shrew. And then.... a leopard. With stealth it stalks a warthog, strikes and squeezes the squeaking life out of a youngster. Then chews on the mortal remains from the vantage of a tree.

Quite a place.... and here's some further insight from a lens:

Until next time....

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