We went on two game drives in South Luangwa National Park. One in the evening (4-8 pm) and one in the morning (6-10 am). We could have gone on two more but realistically, unless you’re a super hard core tourist one a day is plenty (and we were only there for two days). (By the way, our package at Flatdogs was all-inclusive, which included two game drives a day, any food off the menu any time of day [except drinks], park entrance fees, transport to and from airport, and lodging. It was a pretty good deal.)
Here was our vehicle. Word of advice — if at all possible make sure the vehicle you ride in has a roof or shade. It’s really hot already at 9 am.
The game variety and numbers were fantastic. I thought the game in South Luangwa was better than in the Serengeti, Ngorogoro crater and Masai Mara. The surrounding landscape is not very scenic, especially compared to Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance near Ngorogoro or a drive through the Rift Valley in Kenya on the way to Masai Mara, but honestly, we saw more game up closer compared to these other places. (And, Ngorogoro is like a freeway; if a ranger spots some animals there are soon 20 vehicles there and it really detracts from the “wilderness” experience.) Here in South Luangwa we passed other vehicles, but any game we saw was ours alone.
Here’s a little tour of our safari. First, a giraffe.
Here’s a water buffalo.
As the sun was setting for our evening drive, we happened upon this vast delta area where it was like a scene out of The Lion King. Zebras, elephants, all kinds of antelope, hyenas, warthogs, and more were all grazing peacefully next to each other in the golden light.
Here’s a close-up of a warthog eating. When he ran he looked like a relative of Buddy Big Boy (our Westie-Poo). They have to go down on their knees to eat, as you can see here.
There were several herds of zebra.
The hyena were rolling in the dirt like dogs. If you’ve ever seen a hyena run you know they have this funny little lope with their heads down. Coco runs in a similar way, which makes me wonder if Boerboels have some hyena in them. Though Boerboels started off as Old English Mastiffs when they were brought to South Africa in the 1600s, they were interbred with both domestic and wild dogs until they achieved the breed standard of a Boerboel, so I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in her there was a little bit of hyena DNA.
About half way through the night drive we stopped for cocktails along the river to watch the sunset. Characteristically, I had my eyes closed for all of the photos so what you see is what you get.
The last hour and a half of the evening drive was in the dark. An assistant to the driver shone a powerful light into the bush to show us the nocturnal animals. Right next to the road we came across a pride of lions. They were sleepy and couldn’t be bothered with us. (In the second photo below there’s a male with a big mane on the left. The others are females.)
During the morning drive we saw at least 30 different varieties of birds. We drove up on a bluff and startled some hippos in the mud. They were quite irritated with us. Take a look at this video and see how she turns around a glares at us in disgust for disturbing her morning mud bath.
As usual, herons appeared wherever I went. (I think the heron must be my totem because no matter where I’m at — Michigan or Africa — I see at least one almost every day. Here in Africa I often see two at a time and just this last week one was standing in the field next to our road.)