luangwa river

Zambia and South Luangwa National Park

Continuing south, we journeyed the 500km to a camp on the bank of the Luangwa River, next to South Luangwa National Park ready for our game drive. Every time we do another game drive, I think I’ve seen it all but there is always something to make me smile!

We changed route because of road constructions and diversions, which would have increased our journey by another 200km. Driving through the last town before the border to Zambia, we saw the Mchinji District Hospital from where Madonna adopted her son.
hospital
As we waited in the truck at the border, local kids made us laugh – prancing around and imitating our dance moves. Then they asked us for sweets and pens – at home kids beg parents for iPads and smartphones; our lives are worlds apart.

Zambia has a population of 11.5mn, with a low density of only 15 per square metre. 80% are Christians, 15% are Muslim and 5% follow traditional African practices. The main crops grown are tea, cotton and sugarcane. Zambia’s capital is Lusaka, and the highlights of this country are Victoria Falls, the Kariba Dam (largest man made dam in the world) and Luangwa National Park.

We arrived at Croc Valley Camp in time to pitch our tents, right next to the Luangwa River with the added drama of nightime visits from Hippos and Crocs!

In the morning, we left the camp in open sided Jeeps to explore South Luangwa National Park, one of the biggest in Zambia. Highlights of this game drive for me included seeing a new type of Giraffe – Bancroft, with white ears and a very cute three day old baby monkey in a tree with Mum and Dad. They were sat in a sausage tree, the big fruit on these trees is used to brew a local beer, and looks like someone has hung a load of sleeping bag liners from the branches!

baby monkey

We spotted three of the Big 5, also a highlight for me. There was a Leopard, doing his best to be inconspicuous concealed by leaves in a tree – a couple of times I saw his bright eyes watching us through a gap in the leaves. A large herd of Buffalo was impossible to miss, extending further than we could see into the undergrowth in both directions, crossing the track in front of us. It was like scenes of the Great Migration! Just when we thought that was our lot, turning back into camp we were delighted to see an Elephant standing at the edge of the track, spraying himself all over with dust to cool down.

Elephant cooling down

We ate lunch at Croc Valley Camp in hot sunshine next to the river before driving to Chipata, stopping at the Great East Mall for (yet more) snacks and drinks. I thought I would lose weight on this trip, but it doesn’t look that way – we are actively encouraged to buy snacks!
croc valley camp view of the river
That night, we stayed at Mama Rula’s Camp nearby and I took the opportunity to use their wi-fi by the campfire. I had a low expectation of keeping in touch with anyone and I’ve been surprised at how many opportunities I’ve had to connect; ‘this is Africa’ after all!

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