Zambia - South Luangwa

Trip Start Feb 26, 2006
Trip End Nov 28, 2006

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Sunday, April 9, 2006

We spent the last couple days doing game drives in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park. Just before we arrived at the park, we decided to visit a batik textile factory for a tour and some shopping. Our tour leader figured it might also be a good place to have lunch so we parked among some trees on the property. Unfortunately, we set up our lunch table near some African honey bees who weren't too pleased with our presence (apparently, our truck had disturbed their territory and they also don't like the smell of diesel gas). Our truck and the surrounding area was swarmed with bees and half of our group was stung! As the remaining people in our group began to retreat to the gift shop (a few others had already run off screaming), Amy was stung three times and I was stung once on my head. Our guides and a few of the factory's employees had to make a fire and smoke the bees away before we were able to retrieve our truck, but they didn't get away unscathed either - one of our guides had almost 10 stings on his head! Once we recovered from the bee stings, the tour went very well and it was interesting to see how they made the beautiful fabrics and colourful designs.

Of course, we had to pick up a few things to remember the experience!

We stayed at a campsite just outside the park. Since the campsite is not fenced off, animals such as elephants and hippos often enter the campsite during the night. There were a few tree platforms for people to retreat to in case they needed to get away from animals, and we thought it would be fun to set up a 'treehouse' for our stay! It turned out to be a good idea as the last night in camp a lioness was seen wandering around camp and everyone needed to be escorted around camp. Sleeping in the tree gave us a little extra peace of mind that night!

The night we arrived, we did our first-ever evening game drive. Again, we left the overland truck in favour of 4x4 jeeps which could access the rougher parts of the park.

We saw quite a few animals as the sun went down, including lots of elephants and waterbuck, which are a really large antelope and something we hadn't previously seen.

After the sun set, we pulled out a spotlight and looked for nocturnal animals. We saw hippos coming out of the river to feed as well as a pair of bachelor lions. The lions were trying to stalk some zebras for almost an hour! It was a really cool experience, but unfortunately, the lions weren't successful and we didn't get a chance to see a kill. Nonetheless, it was very exciting to see them trying to sneak up close before the zebras gave out a warning call and all the animals ran away.

The next morning, we went on another game drive since we were having so much fun.

We had a second sighting of buffalo (the first was a very close encounter on foot in the Okavango Delta in Botswana). Now that we were in jeeps, it was a much more relaxing experience, and we enjoyed it without worrying if there were any nearby trees to climb in case the buffalos charged!

We also learned where African babies come from as we saw the colourful Saddle-billed Stork.

This park also had many hippo pools, lots of elephants and we saw a young lion just sitting around enjoying the sun. The lion didn't flinch at all and we were able to drive up right beside it while it just lay there totally oblivious to us clicking away on our cameras.
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