Its Monday and carnivores and a sleepout

I hope you are well, sitting comfortably after having a wonderful weekend.  Well, here in the Luangwa as I am sure you are aware, it is a little quiet on the guest front. However, let me tell you, the animals are not in the least bit affected and as winter draws to a close and the river slowly dries, we seem to be a magnet for the wildlife. 

The lions have been really showing off and we have had several sightings in and around camp both day and night.  We have had some unknown lion visitors to Nkwali, they parked off just some 200m from our house. They were discovered by one of the staff members as he was off to collect some branches to make a broom; and came running back to camp eyes wide open, somewhat surprised!   Later that day as the sun was setting, the lions decided it was time to explore and so did just that, straight through camp. Let me tell you one thing for free – when a large male lion stands in the middle of Nkwali roaring, the camp acts like a megaphone and I promise you I felt like my bed was shaking.  The baboons freaking out in the ebony trees above our house may have also added to the mayhem but it was quite the cacophony. 

Luangwa Safari House has had its own set of feline visitors who took the day to settle themselves at the staff compound. The poor watchman was somewhat hampered by their presence and stayed very firmly put in the house with the doors locked.    We had no idea that they were there and were enjoying a lovely sundowner on the beach with a very relaxed and curious elephant, when we got a message from ZCP (Zambia Carnivore Project) team letting us know they were at the house. So, off we scooted and enjoyed a fabulous sighting of 3 young males and a female in excellent health languishing in the shade. 

A few days later it was my turn to repay the favour to ZCP as I was driving back into camp and found 2 wild dogs fast asleep on the road at Robin’s Bridge.  Completely taken a-back by the sighting and with Jack (our son) chattering away next to me, we managed to get hold of the team but sadly by the time they arrived the dogs had perked up and disappeared.  From a quick photo that I got with my phone; Johnathan managed to identify them as 2 dogs from the Nsefu Hot Springs pack, which is amazing that they have come all the way down here.  They have been seen a few times since, hunting in front of Robin and Jo’s house, so we will keep our eyes open and keep you all posted.

Scooting up to Nsefu and Tena Tena (yes I know, they are still there even though you haven’t heard from them for a while!) – we decided to take a road trip up to check the camps. Given that we haven’t put any roads into the Nsefu Sector of the park this season, we figured it was going to be a lengthy process so packed the car up and spent the night up there. Looking at the car though, it slightly looked like we were going for a month!   A few hours of back breaking black cotton soil later, we arrived at the Kawaluzi Crossing with a lovely herd of elephants waiting to welcome us into the Nsefu Sector.  From there it didn’t disappoint with a small fishing party starting in Lunga Lagoon, magnificent kudu, zebra and giraffe all dotted around reminding us not to forget about them. 

Given that, for obvious reasons, the camps are closed we decided to pitch our tent on the far side of Tena Tena. With an incredibly over excited 3-year-old, we got to work on our first official sleep out.  It all went very well, until at midnight there was an almighty blast from a passing hyena which woke us all with quite a start. Things soon settled down after that and besides a very early start to the day, it was brilliant fun. 

The sites are looking lovely and the guys up there are enjoying some wonderful sightings of everything from elephant shrews scooting through the Nsefu bar to leopards prowling the riverbank.  The Hyenas up in the Nsefu Sector are going from strength to strength and it’s amazing to see the change in wildlife balance over the years. Lets hope that as we creep into September, we manage to get up and spend more time up there before the rains arrive.

On that note, let me creep away for another week and leave you to it. Hope that you have a fantastic week ahead, with plenty of smiles and laughter; and don’t forget to look after one another!

Emily
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