I have always said that to travel into Africa and experience the beauty and harshness of this continent, is to start a romance with Africa, to last a lifetime. I stand by this. Regardless of our problems in Mother Africa, hardships, wars, ethnic cleansings, drought, food shortages, corruption within our Governments and many other problems, I am still in love with Africa.
I chose to celebrate my 50th birthday in South Luangwa Zambia and the rest of the time on a houseboat on Lake Kariba on the Zimbabwean side. It would be our second visit to Zambia, and my first to Zimbabwe. I must say, though to get to South Luangwa from South Africa and if you are flying like we did, it can cost one a lot of money. The flights from Johannesburg to Lusaka is reasonable, but the flight on a smaller aircraft from Lusaka to Mfuwe to get to South Luangwa National Park, was extremely expensive. Although we had the option to drive, this would have taken us at least 10 hours. And we decided against that.
I must admit I loved the feeling of flying away from civilization into un spoilt wilderness. And that is what South Luangwa National Park is: un spoilt . We arrived late, due to a wait at the Lusaka Intl for a connecting flight, but the nice surprise was that as we enter our camp where we stayed, elephants were hanging around.
The accommodation looked great, but we did have a few hiccups with various amenities and at the time, it was irritating and we were not happy, but in thinking back…well, it was also not the end of the world. And we survived.
Although it is quite expensive for park fees into the park (for South Africans at least) – K105 and we basically have to double that amount with our bad exchange rate, it was worth it. Every single drive, and we went on a morning and late afternoon drive, we saw something special. Not only the beauty of the park, and endless vistas, but animals a plenty. Lions, leopards, hyena’s , big herds of buffalo, giraffe, and all the buck, etc.
A special evening was when we saw a pride of at least 17 lions and 5 of the females decided to make a hunt into a huge herd of buffalo. The sounds of this scuffle, with lions roaring and the sound of their immense power when they chose their target, was something I will never forget. And each one of those females knew what to do. And of course when we left the sighting, a male was sauntering down the road towards the kill. The Females hunted and did the hard work and now it was the turn of the king to eat.
The following morning, after a night of hyenas continuous calling, we found 2 buffalo which got stuck in the mud during the night and obviously drowned. The hyenas were waiting for the vultures to come and open the carcasses for them to also feed. And when this happened, with at least a hundred vultures arriving, well, all I can say, these hyenas had very fat bellies.
Special sightings for us were of course the Pels Fishing Owl, a Pennant Winged Night Jar in flight (if you ever see this, you will be amazed at the beauty of it, African Skimmer skimming on the water and a White Browed Coucal.
Not so comfortable feeling though was for our game viewing vehicle to have had mechanical problems and we had to, on the 1st evening have a battery charge from another passing vehicle (lucky for us) in the pitch darkness of the African bush with a pride of lions not far away from us and the last night, once again the same faulty vehicle, other half and friend had to push start the vehicle with a leopard passing at the back of them into the grass. Well, at the least,the other game vehicles who came to see the leopard sightings had a good laugh at us and threw us a few choice comments. But all ended well and truth be told, it is just one of the many memories which in the end of the day, make any holiday special to me.
My romance with Afirca is not over by far. And I am looking forward to my next destination.