South Luangwa, Zambia: (Day 4) Dec-14-2013

It's before noon now and we just finished lunch.  We ate thin crepe pancakes with cucumbers, lunch meat, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, mangos, cantaloupe, and eggs.  I tried to eat a lot since we were not going to eat again until after we after we get back from tonight's game drive, which will be around 8:30 or so.  I'm sitting by the pool and it looks like more people are joining me.

My First Game Drive, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
The Other Vehicle
I didn't sleep too well, but well enough to keep me from getting draggy today.  I woke up around 4:30am, or probably a bit before, and but wasn't able to get ready for the day quite yet.  I heard some noises outside, but I couldn't quite figure its source.  We were warned about animals coming through our camp and if we found any to remain in our tents or to go back inside.  I just laid in bed till 5:20.  I put on my head-torch and packed my bag for the day.  I needed the torch since all my windows/doors were zipped closed and the fly was on.  It is pitch black in there all day long.

Approaching an Elephant
I packed a towel, fleece, rain coat, my monocular, camera, water, and some other stuff I just leave in my bag at all times.  I had a light breakfast and was on the road for our game drive by 6:00am sharp.  We split into 2 trucks and I was with Caralina, The 3 Swedes, and the Aussie family of 3.  We saw animals the entire time.  I was shocked on how densely populated the South Luangwa National Park was/is.  I'm really looking forward to tonight's drive.  The guide said we were extremely lucky because we saw some animals that are not easy to see.  More so, we saw animals that the guide said are usually only seen twice a year.

Fruit from a Sausage Tree (Kigelia)
We came across Hippos, Giraffes, Elephants, Zebras (somewhat hard to find), Impalas (and several similar species like Kudu, Crocodiles, Monkeys, Baboons, Some African Birds, Water Bucks, Hyenas, and Wild Dogs (very rare, and only really found in Zambia).  We, however, did not come across any cats.

Hyenas Devouring a Giraffe
We were able to get so close to the elephants, but they usually walked away after we approached them.  We saw groups as large as 4.  The zebras were grazing in a field.  I believe there were 4 of them too, one being a little one.  Impala, and other similar animals, were all over the park--easily this is the type of large mammal with the largest populations.  I believe one similar species is called a bushbuck.

The hippos were all in the water--one person had counted up to 50 of them.  The giraffes were a bit more skittish and it was hard to get very close to them.  The crocodiles, with the exception of one, were mostly submerged in the water only exposing their back and eyes.  The hyenas were much larger than I had expected them to be, but their behaviors were what I had expected.  They were concentrating on the meat around the giraffe's ribs.  It was extremely graphic, but I really enjoyed it.  Made me a bit hungry...ha!

A Rare Wild Dog Sighting
The park didn't seem that highly visited and the Aussie family had said that the parks in South Africa were much more heavily visited.  It was nice not having a bunch of people around while we got to experience the safari.  There were probably 6 or so 4x4s in the entire park.  Since the wet season hasn't really started the grass height is still quite low...which was perfect because I was a bit scared that we would have trouble seeing some of the wildlife.

A Monkey Holds onto Mother
The guides would stay in communication, via phone, with each other about nearby sittings.  This is how we came across the wild dogs.  Wild dogs are extremely rare and are really only seen in Zambia.  Even then, the guides said they were usually only seen a couple times a year...and when they are seen it usually only in passing.  We got to see a pack of a half dozen wild dogs completely devour a large impala.  It was a fresh kill, but we didn't get to see it.

Luxurious Chalet in the Park
On the way out of the park we saw a couple of crocodiles eating another dead crocodile in a lagoon off of the dirt road.  On the other side of the lagoon were 18 chalets, which are supposed to be very very luxurious.  Our guide said they (or one of them) were/(was) owned by Paul Allen (from Microsoft).

We saw a baby monkey holding onto the belly of its mother and I so badly wanted to snap a photo of it, but just couldn't manage it.  The baby was so tiny, probably weighing only a few pounds.  The way the mother was holding its baby reminding me of the way the the African women hold their babies.

During our drives to Lusaka and Chipata I saw many women working in the fields while hold their babies.  I even saw one women breastfeeding her child while she was picking some type of grain.  Women here also carry things on their heads.  I remember seeing this in books and movies but assumed it wouldn't be so common in eastern Africa.

A Photo Taken during a Tea Break
We are leaving early tomorrow morning--6:00am--to head back to Chipata.  From there we go to Malawi for three nights and then onto Tanzania, where we will remain for the remainder of out trip (not counting our last day/night in Nairobi, Kenya).'s 10:10 right now and I just got to bed.  I first came to bed at 9:45, but it was like a sauna in here.  The tent has plastic flaps over the mesh windows/doors.  This coupled with the rainfly completely traps in all heat and humidity.  Actually, all my clothing inside my tent are damp because of this.  Before I left for the night game drive at 4:00pm I swam in the pool with Beth and Sophie...both Aussies.  We were talking about salaries, medical systems, and universities in our respective countries.  It seems as though Aussies are paid very well.  Waitresses don't receive tips and are on salary.  The 21 year old receives $20/hr and she was telling me her friend, who is also 21, makes $25/hr as a paralegal a paralegal.

Part of Our Campground at the South Luangwa NP, Zambia

I just got out of my tent and moved the entire thing to the pool area.  I moved some of the pool chairs out of the way to make some room.  Now I have cover so I removed the fly sheet and opened the windows/door.  I feel a little breeze but am still boiling.  I tried to go into the pool, but there are too many bugs lurking around which kind of out.  I had huge beetles and other insects crawling all over my feet/legs the second I walked outside.  I both moved my tent and brushed my teeth while in my boxers and had to run and shake constantly to keep the crawly animals off of me.

I really hope the temperature drops within the next half hour.

A Monkey with Her Baby
Tonight's game drive was good, though it couldn't compare with this morning's.  My guide was horrible compared to the other group's.  We saw more of the same plus a few smaller animals.  We also were able to see some Hippos out of the water.  One elephant walked directly towards us and crossed the road less than 5m in front of us.  During the morning drive we stopped to get out of the 4x4 for tea/biscuits--in the evening drive we met the other 4x4 and had a beer while watching the sunset.  It was amazing.  I recorded the sunset for 20 minutes on my camera in HD 60p so that Kelly can experience it with me.  By this time it's been 6 days since I have been in any contact with my parents and 3 or 4 days since I contacted Kelly.  It's tough because I want to speak with people, but I just don't have service of any type.

Hyena at Night
About this evening's drive:  we ran across some newborn (<1mo) baboons still clinging to their mothers.  And when they weren't attached to their mother's stomach they were being heavily protected by their fathers.  There was one instance when a young one was trying to climb upwards on the branch of a shrub and the mother and father kept pulling the baby down.  It was funny because the small baboon was trying to hard to get away but no matter how hard it tried the adults just pulled it down.

We were most interested in finding some cats...lions/...leopards.  I really disliked our guide.  He was not friendly, didn't really explain much about the animals, kept circling the same places (with no success) and was too aggressive on the driving.  It seemed he cared more about driving fast over bumps and off roading that he did anything else.  The other group had seen a porcupine and leopard.  Their guide even went back to the giraffe carcass from this morning.

The Weathered Ground
Apparently there were almost 2 dozen giraffes that were 'giving their respects' for their fallen brethren.  There was still meat on the body and hyenas were still at it.  Whereas when they went back to the impala that the wild dogs had chased down and eaten the group had found that there was not one spec of meat left.  It had looked as if it had decayed there years ago and only bones had remained.

A Lone Tree Awaits the Sunset
After the sunset we continued to drive around the park, but this time we had a 'spotter'.  A 'spotter' is someone who just shines a light and looks for reflections.  The reflections would simply indicate the back of an animals eyes which helps to track down animals during nighttime.  We did this for 1.5 hours, which was 1.5 too many.  It was just very buggy and I had to go to the bathroom pretty badly.  We didn't see anything, really.  A couple of small animals, a tree filled with birds, but that was about it.'s 10:32 and I'm still boiling.  I'm in my boxers and I'm dripping buckets in here.  This is the part I hate most!  I don't mind that I haven't showered in 3 days, or that I can't go to the bathroom whenever I want because I'm too scared of the animals lurking in the bathroom.  But this sweating when trying to go to bed is horrible.

Anyways, dinner was good tonight.  It was served in three large pots:  pasta, chicken, and vegetables.

Tomorrow we're leaving at 6:00am sharp, which means I have to get up near 5:00 to pack my bag(s), tent, and rainfly...then I have to get some breakfast.  Getting up at 5:00 hasn't been a problem though.  Tomorrow we leave back for Chipata, get supplies, and then make our journey to Malawi.  Godfrey has warned us about what not to wear at the border, how to act and behave (e.g. taking picture), and reminded us that we need our Yellow Fever vaccination certificate.  Further, he told us of the mandatory 15 year minimum prison sentence for possession of Malawi Gold.  We first thought he meant that if we bought gold from Malawi it was illegal because the country didn't allow its gold to be mined.  I had some clarifying comments and we soon understood that Malawi is known for having very good Marijuana (for the area) and that it's a 15 year minimum jail sentence for possession of pot.  Yikes!

Ok, 10:40...signing off, Cheers!