Travellers' Tales: Adrenalin rush in Zambia's South Luangwa
Sally and David Bevington travelled to Zambia with Audley.
Buffalo and lion in South Luangwa National Park
Both mother and lion pulled at the calf – a life-or-death tussle.David Bevington
Forget bungee jumping and whitewater rafting. For a real adrenalin rush, sit in an open Land Rover in the pitch dark encircled by a pride of hunting lions. Then turn on the headlights and watch with bated breath as a fully grown male and five lionesses pass within touching distance, focused on the buffalo ahead.
This was our first experience of a night drive at Lion Camp in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. We’d arrived in the country two days earlier, and had been staying at the excellent Mfuwe Lodge before heading out to a remoter region of the park. We felt we had perhaps peaked “Both mother and lion pulled at the calf – a life-or-death tussle” too early with this heart-stopping lion encounter – but South Luangwa had a lot more surprises up its sleeve.
Days at the camp fell into an easy routine. A four-hour walking safari or a game drive in the morning, brunch, then some time for relaxation before tea and another game drive at 4pm. This always included a welcome sundowner, sipped as the African sun slipped behind the ebony forests or bathed the river in a pink glow. Then the guides would get out a spotlight and sweep the bush for the reflected eyes of leopard, hyena and lion.
Highlights on our trip came thick and fast – carmine bee-eaters swooping in their hundreds over the river; lagoons bulging with grunting hippo; large herds of elephant wallowing in shrinking waterholes; leopard patrolling the plain at the front of our lodge.
Lion Camp gave us a real taste of raw Africa. Never more so than when we looked up from our brunch one day and realised that the buffalo herd that had been trudging in single file towards the camp had now laagered defensively. We soon realised why: they were encircled by a pride of lions. The meal was abandoned