What do safari camp owners do on their day off? We go on safari of course!

 

Last Friday afternoon we decided to take advantage of a rare night without guests, and set off to Nkonzi Camp for our very own safari camp out!

The South Luangwa National Park really is incredible; on our way in to camp we drove past a leopard eyeballing us from a tree, and beautiful herds of elephants all along the O5 Road.

We arrived in the late afternoon, got a fire going and mixed ice cold G&Ts as the sun sank below the savannah.

Nkonzi Camp sunset

The sun sets behind the Mushilashi River bed

Before long a classic camp fire meal of South African boerwors with grilled tomato and onion relish was sizzling away in our trusty cast iron pot, and camp fire story telling was in full swing! This is what African evenings are all about; warming your toes by a flickering fire, reminiscing, and planning your next big adventures.

July nights can be cold in Zambia, although the Luangwa Valley is on average around 7 degrees centigrade warmer than Lusaka. Our thermometer dropped to 17 degrees centigrade overnight at Nkonzi, which was actually the perfect temperature for snuggling up underneath a warm duvet.

All night we heard the sound of lions calling close by, and by morning I’m sure we’d all dreamed many lion-inspired dreams.

A new young male lion has appeared in the area surrounding Nkonzi Camp this year, and his presence is very unsettling for the main pride. Noisy nights are inevitable, as the established group and the interloper roar their territorial claims across the landscape.

Morning found us warming ourselves around the camp fire once more, large enamel mugs of hot coffee in hand. Peter, our armed scout, then took the lead as we walked out of camp through the incredible morning light.

 

South Luangwa walking safari from Nkonzi Camp

Walking safaris in South Luangwa are all accompanied by a wildlife scout

We strolled through the tall grass tinged dusty pink by the dawn rays before arriving at a natural spring site on the Mushilashi. Here we found evidence of leopard drinking in the night, along with visits by herds of buffalo and elephant the day before.

Popping up onto the river bank, Peter spotted a group of elephant in the distance on their way to the waterhole. We crouched and watched them through binoculars ambling almost silently through the bush.

Further on we sighted a rare racket tailed roller in the forest canopy.

Walking back across the Mushilashi we found hyena tracks in the sand, and after turning for home, we heard a lion calling not 100 metres behind us! If we’d kept walking we would have been eye to eye with him in a matter of minutes.

 

Buffalo South Luangwa safari

Cape buffalo occur in large herds in the South Luangwa National Park

Later, driving out of the national park, a large herd of buffalo temporarily blocked our path before heading on to pastures new.

What an incredible reminder of how special this corner of Africa is, and how lucky we are to have a beautiful little safari camp in it.

 

What are your experiences of walking in the South Luangwa National Park?  Leave your comments below and inspire us!

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