We spend some nice days around Lake Malawi and now crossed the border into Zambia. We stopped for one night at a nice campsite in the town of Chipata, not far from the border. The next morning we drove a few hours to South Luangwa, where we would spend a few days at the Croc Valley campsite to explore the national park there. We were told campsite gets frequently visited by elephants and hippos at night, and even some lions and leopards had been spotted recently, so we were excited to stay there. The first animals that greeted us were tons of vervet monkeys, a few of them with their tiny little babies holding on to them. The campsite was right next to a river, which was pretty dried out this time of the year but still attracted wildlife. While we were preparing lunch vervet monkeys kept coming closer and tried stealing our food. One was successful and snapped a bag of chips out of our friends hand!
We spent the afternoon relaxing at the pool, chasing some monkeys, and going for a walk around the campsite. We spotted a huge waterbuck and almost got attacked by some nasty baboons that were hanging around some old, run down buildings. They obviously didn’t like us coming into their territory. During the night we could hear the hippos close to the camp, but missed any animal that might have walked through it.
The next morning we headed out at 6am for our morning game drive through South Luangwa National Park in a great open safari car. One drive was $40 plus the park entrance fee of $20, so it was cheaper than some other parks we had been to.
Just after crossing the bridge into the national park we saw tons of hippos in the river and a few big crocodiles laying on the shore. Soon after we saw a big family of elephants, which came very close to our car. Unfortunately some of the elephants looked very thin. We didn’t know it was possible to see their ribs sticking out, but on a few of them it was the case. The whole park was very dry and all the plants were in desperate need of some rain. On the rest of the game drive we saw a couple of lionesses pretty close up and a kind of antelope we hadn’t spotted so far, an eland.
At around 10am we were driven back to the Croc Valley camp, where we relaxed until we went go out on our evening drive. We were picked up at 4pm and headed into the park again. We had about an hour and a half til the sun went down, and in that time we saw the lions again, a lot of different impalas and gazelles, and the same lions we had spotted before. We stopped on the edge of the Luangwa river to have some drinks and watch the sun set over the river valley while some elephants walked passed us. They were crossing the river and moving into a village outside the park in hope of finding food.
By the time we finished our break it head become dark and we continued our game drive with a big spotlight. After a couple of minutes we saw a few hyenas strolling through the darkness. We devoted the rest of the drive to finding a leopard, as we still hadn’t seen one really close. After half an hour or so, we finally spotted one! It was laying – very unusual – on a sandy patch in an opening of the forest. It seemed to be full of food and very tired, it didn’t mind us shining a spotlight on it at all. We stood there amazed watching it for 10 minutes before we had to move on as the park would close its gates overnight. We got back to the camp in a great mood and settled in for another night before driving on in the direction of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. It was quite a far drive and we didn’t make it there in a day, so we spent the night at a nice campsite before moving on in the morning.
After only a short drive we reached our campsite, just outside of Lusaka, the Eureka camp. The campsite was huge and had a very nice pool, but the best part of it were its resident zebras and giraffes. The animals would just stroll through the camp, eating away the nice grass and didn’t mind us getting close too much. We thought about going into town, but having driven through it and read that there is not that much to see, we decided against it. We preferred staying at the nice camp, watching the animals and enjoying some real cheap lunch.
The next day we had a very early start, moving on through Zambia, to Livingstone and the famous Victoria Falls!