With 2021 drawing to an end, we are delighted that Southern Africa has been taken off most countries redlists and we sincerely hope everyone in the safari and travel industry can get on with business again in 2022.
In October, I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting the North Luangwa National Park. Even though the heat was rather intense at that time of year, it was a fabulous trip with much excitement along the way. The North Luangwa National Park (NLNP) covers 4,636km2 and has significant wildlife numbers. It is home to Zambia's only black rhino population, which continues to show one of the highest growth rates in Africa. The park is run in conjunction with Zambian National Parks and the Frankfurt Zoological Society.
Our journey began with a 9 hour drive from Kabwe in Zambia to Samala Camp which is located just outside the Mano Gate entrance to the North Luangwa National Park. Samala Camp is run by the Frankfurt Zoological Society in conjunction with the Zambian Wildlife Authority and is nestled on the banks of the Mwaleshi River. It consists of four en suite tents with outdoor shower, basin and toilet and each tent has a stunning view over the river. This section of the Mwaleshi River has beautiful rapids and lovely cool water where one can sit and cool off in the heat of the day. The sound of the rushing water is also very therapeutic.
Samala Camp is a self-catering camp and has a fully equipped kitchen, braai area and fire pit. Two of the tents have solar showers and the other two tents have a Rocket Boiler so there is an abundance of hot water. There were signs of elephant tracks coming down to the waters edge and we also found leopard spoor on one of our trail walks close to camp. We spent the night there and after breakfast the next morning we set off into the park after collecting our guide and scout at the gate.
We then took a three hour drive through the park and the Rhino Sanctuary to Ithuba Camp. This is another self-catering camp run by the Frankfurt Zoological Society in conjunction with the Zambian Wildlife Authority and is situated just across the Luangwa River in the Game Management Area. We spotted quite a few sable, elephant and kudu along the way.
After the three hour game drive we came to the pontoon which was to be our mode of transport across the Luangwa River. We all exited the vehicle apart from the driver who had to carefully drive the land cruiser over a rickety man made bridge and onto the pontoon.
The vehicle was then paddled across the river on a pulley system to the other side by one of the National Park Scouts. The pontoon then came back across the river to fetch the rest of us. Once on the other side, we took a short drive into camp. Ithuba Camp is the same concept as Samala Camp with four en-suite tents with outdoor bathrooms.
Each tent sits on a ridge nestled amongst the Jackalberry and Acacia Albida trees overlooking the magnificent Luangwa River. There is an outside Boma/dining area where we prepared our meals and were able to cool off in the shade.
We spent the next four nights at Ithuba Camp and every morning and afternoon our scout would row us across the river into the National Park in a small tin boat. This was rather exhilarating being under the watchful eye of a pod of resident hippo.
Once on the other side we would then go on a walking safari with our guide and scout which the North Luangwa is famous for. This is the best way to be one with nature as you see every small thing on the ground that one often misses when in a game vehicle.
We came across a few hippo who were relaxing in the shade of the thickets trying to escape the heat of the sun, so this was rather thrilling trying to divert around them unnoticed. Our scout had excellent spotting skills and was able to notice them from far off.
On one occasion whilst eyeing a martial eagle with a poor squirrel in its clutches, a leopard literally 30 meters from us leapt down out of a cool shady sausage tree and high tailed it into the thick undergrowth.
On one of our many game drives we also came across two male lion lying in the shade overlooking the river in search of lunch.
We were also lucky enough to see a hyena cooling off in the shallows.
What a wonderful experience. North Luangwa is one of my absolute favourite parks in Zambia. It is very wild and untouched and definitely one for the bucket list!