Zambia

Luangwa

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Enjoy your walk

Enjoy your walk

A lioness oblivious of the vistors behind her
A lioness oblivious of the vistors behind her
YOLANDI SCANES

I had seen lion in the wild before – but from the comfort and safety of a 4x4 safari vehicle. Now, as we tracked them on foot, I was almost hoping we wouldn’t find them!

Our group, including our armed Zambian Wildlife Authority scout, Matthews, and our Sanctuary Zebra Plains guide, Garth, could hear the lions calling each other. It was a surreal experience, with everything in my body telling me not to do this yet at the same time an incredible adrenalin rush as my inquisitive nature forced me to move forward.

It was in this park, the South Luangwa, that walking safaris first made their debut and it is undoubtedly one of the most exciting ways to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the bush. On the plains, zebra, buffalo and puku congregate alongside endemic species such as Thornicroft’s giraffe, Crawshay’s zebra and Cookson’s wildebeest.

Predators such leopard and the elusive wild dog can be seen whilst the rivers and tributaries are teeming with hippo and crocodile. Safari on foot also ensures that one can see many of the 400 species of bird found in the area.

Sanctuary Zebra Plains is perched on a sand bank at the confluence of the Luangwa and Chibembe Rivers, one of the most special places on earth! This camp is a true luxury walking safari camp with just four traditional tents accommodating a maximum of six guests, allowing for an intimate exploration of the park.

The main mess tent has a dining area, although many of the meals are served our in the open, in carefully selected vantage points. The food is amazing considering the camp has no electricity; making use of solar power with an earth oven to bake breads and other pastries, including fresh doughnuts.

The camp is designed to leave the lowest possible carbon footprint and will be packed up completely, with no trace that it was ever there, between seasons.

Finally we found our lions. Garth made it very clear; whatever you do, don’t run! With about 400 meters between them and us, we quietly watched them lying in the tall grass. After a few minutes they stood up and carried on walking, and so did we – in the other direction!

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Luangwa

Read more from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 06, Sept 2011)