Its Monday and a long-awaited return to the Luangwa

Well hello there! I hope you are well and are sitting comfortably ready for this week’s wonderful bush tale from Simon Cousins. As soon as the Malawi/Zambia border was declared open, their bags were packed, and they came to visit. And in true Cousins’ fashion, had some incredible sightings that they have very kindly shared with us. So, Simon for this week its over to you:

“I worked out that, in just over 40 years of either visiting the Luangwa Valley since I was a kid or working in this amazing place, this period was the longest that I had been away from what we, as a family, call our second home. The border between Zambia and Malawi finally opened and we needed no second invitation to head to the Luangwa. The family was itching to get back into the bush and visit old haunts.

On our first morning we were up way before first light, such was the excitement in the family. True to Luangwa Valley form, the bush did not disappoint us…. A large pack of 15 wild dogs was one of the first things we saw! Covered in blood from a recent kill, they were full of energy and actually appeared to be looking for something else to eat. The previous kill was obviously a little on the small side, and with a litter of growing pups to feed as well, they had their work cut out. After a few half-hearted attempts at hunting impala, the oppressive heat that is ever present in November, kicked in and they took to the shade for the day. What an amazing way to start trip!

As a family we are very fortunate that we all enjoy looking at just about everything and this does make for much more interesting outings in the bush. Whilst Luangwa showed us all its wonderful big game in abundance, some of the smaller creatures also put on a great show for us.

We had amazing bird viewing, from wonderful bateleurs to guineafowl in great light, Jacanas fighting, to Lilian’s Lovebirds everywhere.

One of our more interesting sightings was a black mamba hunting mice in a broken limb of a mahogany tree!! I caught sight of the sun glinting off the belly of the snake moving in and out of the loose bark hunting for food. A few moments after this, the kids spotted 2 mice high-tailing it out of the area. I tried to get some photos of the mamba but only succeeded in a rushed shot of its head poking out before it retreated to continue hunting. Coupled with some stern words from the rest of the family about being too close to a mamba, we left the snake to its hunting!

This time of year is great for baby animals as the seasonal breeders have had their young and the park is littered with young impala, warthogs, vervet monkeys and young wild dog as well.

An abundance of young animals also means easy pickings for predators and we saw a fairly grim sight of a baboon with a baby impala. At this time of year, when food can be scarce prior to the rains arriving, baboons are known to take young antelope to supplement their diet.

As always, the trip was over in a flash, but it was amazing to be home again… And we will be back soon!”

Thank you so much Simon, and as always, it was wonderful to see you and the family. We cannot wait to see you back in the valley again soon. In the meantime, this really rather leaves me with very little to say, except that I hope that you all have a wonderful week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

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