It’s Monday 3rd June 2013 and a stay at Luangwa River Camp.

This week I have a little bit of a break from writing to you as I have received some lovely photos and some great prose from a guest who recently stayed with us at Luangwa River Camp.

So for this week over to Rob…

“I had a rare occasion that my wife and I had a weekend in Zambia so instead of sitting in Lusaka we decided to make the most of our time and take a trip up to the Luangwa Valley. This was not regretted for one moment.

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A quick transit and the flight up to Mfuwe was smooth, now the trip had begun! We were met at Mfuwe airport by Thomas who was to drive us to the Luangwa River Camp. Thomas was vey proud to have recently passed his guiding exams and was obviously keen to put his knowledge to good use. Even before we’d reached camp we’d seen hippo, crocodiles, impala, zebra and a monitor lizard. Also puku which was already confusing me but my wife helpfully pointed out that impala have a label on their behinds, M for ‘m-pala’. (It works for me, if only water buck had “WB” instead of an “O”.)

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We drove down to the river where we met John who ferried us across to the camp. Here we were welcomed by Polly (brandishing much appreciated cold towels) and immediately it felt like we were welcomed into someone’s home. A fantastic and relaxed set up. We ate a splendid lunch and then were shown to our well appointed cabin where I took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep.

The afternoon drive beckoned though (and afternoon tea!), so we were soon up and about to head off with Yona for our first drive. The other guest on the vehicle (Bette Lynn) with us who, although a keen birder had proved something of a leopard magnet and had already had a spectacular sighting the previous night – as you can imagine this is not something we were going to complain about! One of the first things we saw was a group of five giraffe, two of which were young males already ‘play’ fighting.

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Anyone who saw the BBC Africa series last year will have seen how dramatic these fights are in adults. It seemed very gentle though and one had a technique to lift the others front leg. This provided some interesting poses. After this we headed off further away from the river and saw elephants, a genet and a civet before the (for me) obligatory G&T sun-downer.

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Then Bette Lynn’s magic worked again as we saw our first leopard. I know all the other animals are great but I find it is still very special to see big cats, especially after a previous visit to the Masai Mara where leopards proved wholly elusive. Contented, we started back towards the camp and saw a second leopard! This time laid in a shallow ditch and keeping a very close eye on two puku. Leaving the leopard to its hunting we headed back for dinner. A great meal and a quick nightcap whilst watching the bats flit around outside, ‘pest control’ as we like to call them. Very pretty to see and always a delight if the mosquito population is kept in check.

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06Up again on Sunday morning for a sunrise breakfast on the lawn, toast cooked over the burning coals and fresh honey. I never ceased to be amazed by the quality of meals.

The morning drive gave us plenty of time for spotting all manner of creatures. It was a great drive for the ‘birders’ with so many different species to see both big and small. However it wasn’t long before Yona suddenly diverted as he had spotted some unusual behavior. He proved to be an excellent guide as we rounded a group of impala and after a bit of scanning found a leopard in the long grass. The game was already up for this leopard as the alarm calls continued and he seemed ready for bed. This leopard proved very photogenic! How did people manage before digital cameras? I’d have been through a roll on this cat alone.

He carried on, pausing momentarily to scratch at and mark a tree, while the impala continued keeping an eye on progress. Do they think they are chasing it away? Time for a couple more photos before the leopard disappeared into the bush and the impala now no longer able to see him performed a valiant ‘run away’ maneuver.

We continued after the leopard to be regaled by more birds, eagles, hawks, rollers, bee-eaters, kingfishers and another monitor lizard, which was living in a dead tree. All good things have to come to an end though and it was time to head back to camp and sadly home.

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We had a magical weekend thanks to all at RPS and Luangwa River Camp and hope to return soon. We know you have to be a little lucky but I think we were also lucky to have Yona for seeing such an amazing amount in such a short time.

Now back to sorting those 400-500 photos…”

Thanks so much Rob! A short stay but certainly filled with plenty of excitement. From my side there is very little that can follow from that so I shall bid you all a fond farewell, have a smashing week and chat to you same time, same place next week.

Cheers

emily

 

 

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