Our arrival at South Luangwa made the fine a distant memory. We got a campsite at Wildlife Camp right on the river and got there in time to see the most amazing sunset. There were a few overlander groups there so we got to meet some new people and spend the evenings having drinks with them. The next morning we got up early to be at the park as soon as the gates opened. Park fees weren’t cheap and we were going to get our money’s worth. We spent almost 12 hours in the park that day and another 7 the next day. We went in with low expectations, because everyone had told us that you wouldn’t see much in the rainy season. But it was definitely worth the trip. We were the only self drive vehicle in the park both days we went in. This gave us the opportunity to be up close with the animals and spend as long as we wanted with them. And there was no shortage of animals! These parks aren’t as geared up as SA ones for self drive. You don’t have camps to stop and buy stuff, have a skottle breakfast or find a toilet. But this just added to the experience. We found plains with a variety of animals for our lunch stops.
We did one evening’s sundowners with a lion 2m from our car, and nobody else in sight. The first evening we saw a pack of wild dogs. There were plenty elephants and a lot of babies. The zebra were very different to those back home, without the shadow stripe and with more defined markings on their face. In the middle of the day when it got too hot, we’d park under a tree near some water, have a drink and see what wildlife would make an appearance. The elephant were often still very active in the heat. We also popped into one of the 5 star lodges in the park to see how the other half live. Greatly recommended for a clean toilet stop and an ice cold beer, the views were also spectacular. But prices aren’t great!
When we drove into the park we were told to only stick to the gravel roads. The park warden said you’ll see them by where the game drive vehicles go. This was to avoid getting stuck. On the morning game drives, we’d seen plenty vehicles going onto smaller roads so we slowly got more and more adventurous with what Huberta could get through. We’d had a lot of rain in the evenings and roads were pretty muddy. We had a few close encounters where we got to test out the diff lock and 4×4 fr the first time, but it wasn’t until late in the afternoon(obviously after seeing 2 lion!) that we got properly stuck. Cruise Africa 4×4 hire built us some solid steel sandtracks before we left. Thank goodness, because I think the plastic things I’d seen in Outdoor Warehouse would never have survived. We managed to jam the sandtracks under the back wheels. James reversed out of the hole and just kept driving until he got to the dry. Leaving me in lion country to dig the sandtracks out of the mud where they’d now been properly buried by the force of the wheels. We quickly loaded them back up and got into the safety of our car. Huberta was now filthy and in desperate need of a bath!
All in all South Luangwa was an amazing experience and we definitely recommend it.