On our way to the bathrooms through the unfenced camp in Lusaka called ‘Eureka Camp’ we had an unexpected encounter. "Niks are you up for a night photo shoot with some Zebras" , "You have got to be kidding!". We were only in Lusaka for a night, but it was well worth it to come across zebra in the campsite less than two meters away from you. I’m sure that if you stayed in that campsite for longer you would encounter many more animals roaming around.
South Luangwe is where you will start to see the real Africa, the Africa you imagine in your mind when watching a David Attenborough documentary. We got a taste of this when went to our next camp called 'Croc Valley Camp'. Locals are out on the street selling all kinds of produce and the children wave to you as you pass by, their smiles bright with excitement.
Zambia is a good place to explore the remote and authentic African wildlife. The country is landlocked and has three great rivers, Kafue, Luangwa and the Zambezi which we were lucky enough to stay next to Luangwa … right next to it to be precise.
B was shaking me awake in the middle of the night. "Nics, be quiet, there’s something big in front of our tent, I think it might be an elephant". Violet was telling us the previous day that they once had an elephant walking around the campsite. We didn’t close our tent that night, just the mozzie net due to the heat. I didn’t have my glasses on (B broke them two days before), but I definitely could see a big shadow in front of the tent. Then it moved closer, B sat up and froze. He turned towards me and gave me a sign to be quite – "It’s a f#@in hippo, he’s meter away and he’s looking straight at us. Don’t move!". I could tell he was scared. He was telling me stories about hippos before we came to Africa, it’s the most dangerous animal on the continent. I had other concerns.
"B, I have to go loo…"
"I really have to go, is he going away?"
X marks the spot… or spots
The hippo was slowly moving around our tent. He was half the size of a truck, but the only noise you could hear was the chewing and ripping out of grass. After a while B said: "Ok Nics, we go out and straight to the toilet. Follow me and be quiet". We couldn’t see him. It seems he vanished just as suddenly as he appeared. Unfortunately he reappeared on our way back, blocking the way to our tent… We spent quite a while on the toilet that night.
South Luangwe is as wild as it gets. Apart from the hippo encounter some guys also came across a cobra right next to the bar. And then there are the blue ball monkeys (look at the photos and try to guess why…). They are everywhere and they have no fear of men. If you want to have a snack someone has to stand guard to keep them away.
The National Park in South Luangwe is also were we saw our first cats in the wild. A pack of lions feasting on a buffalo, and… a leopard. They are usually quite hard to spot, we were lucky. Poor guy, once he was spotted he remained in the spot lights for the rest of the night (it was a night drive).