It’s Monday 2nd July 2007 and the Jackman’s go camping

It’s Monday 2nd July 2007 and the Jackman’s go camping

We have had a group of eight staying for a week at the Luangwa Safari House – including Brian and Annabelle Jackman. The two stayed to experience the Palmgrove Bush Camping  with Robin. Brian is a well known journalist in the UK and kindly wrote the news for the week and it is well illustrated by Annabelle. Thank you to the Jackmans.

Until next week….have a great time. Jo


It’s Monday and……the Exocet lioness came steaming out of the bush. We had been told there were two male lions hanging around Luangwa Wafwa and had gone to look for them. But instead of males we found two well-fed lionesses with three very small cubs. We watched entranced as the cubs romped and played with their mother’s tail, and then discovered there was a kill not far off. The vultures had given the game away and the marvelous Jacob skillfully drove around us to have a look. What we found was half a dead warthog, now being stripped to the ribs by the swarming vultures, and it was at that moment that one of the lionesses charged out of the bush, launched herself through the air and almost caught one of the rapidly departing scavengers with an overhand smash worthy of a Wimbledon champion.

Lion cubslion cub

Surely nothing could be better than this? But then, game driving near the Luangwa Safari House in late afternoon we came upon a mother leopard crossing the road with two tiny cubs trundling along in her wake. We followed her as best we could but eventually lost her in the thick bush. Luckily, though, we found the cubs where she had left them on a fallen tree. They must have been no more than six weeks old and still had that baby blue-eyed look as they clambered up and down the fallen branches. To see cubs as young as this is a rare and special privilege and even Robin sounded envious when we met him afterwards.

yellow billed storks

Leopard cubs may be hard to spot but it is impossible to miss Chipela Lagoon when the yellow-billed storks are breeding. Every year a thousand pairs of storks nest in the islands of ebony groves marooned in the wet season floodwaters. By June the waters have receded, replaced by green and close-clipped lawns, and most of the young storks have assumed the woolly grey plumage that marks out the juveniles from the black-and-white adults. 

tree, whitewashed with guano

As you can imagine, the trees are heavily whitewashed with guano. The noise is deafening, the air acrid and the sky filled with wheeling birds. This magnificent breeding colony has to be one of the great sights of Africa, and on this scale it happens only in the Luangwa.

Walking at sunsetfollowing tracks

After our South Luangwa big game spectacular we moved on from Luangwa Safari House where we had spent six blissful days and headed up-country with Robin to spend a couple of nights bush-camping at the Palm Grove on the Mushilashi River. So now it was boots-on time and off we went through the miombo woodlands into what Robin likes to call “wild and desperate country”. And wild it was, threaded by elephant trails without which it would have been virtually impassable. At last we came to the Mushilashi, a sand river flanked by a kilometre of elegant hyphaene and borassus palms. Game is shy here, and although the sand river was a maze of lion, leopard and elephant tracks, sightings are still few. We were thrilled to discover that we were the first British clients to stay at The Palmgrove. (The first-ever visitors – two Swiss – had beaten us by a month). What an idyllic campsite it is, wonderfully remote and utterly peaceful, with nothing to disturb the silence but parrots and palm thrushes. At night the whooping of hyenas echoed down the river. The moon was full, outlining the tops of the palms in sharp silhouette and turning the sand to silver – a magical experience.

breakfacteggs on the shovel

On our last morning Robin demonstrated his bush-wise skills by frying eggs and bacon on a shovel. Never has breakfast tasted better!


Brian Jackman

sunset view

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