October 16th – Day Twenty Two
We were all up and ready to be picked up at 5.30am so we could be at the park entry gate by 6am. Unfortunately there was a mix-up somewhere and we we’re picked up till 6 so there were a few angry words when the drivers arrived. That out of the way we split into two groups, nine of us in the first jeep and the other five in the second with some German tourists. Loaded we drove sedately back out to the main road and on to the entry gate, stopping once to photograph some giraffe at the side of the road.
The early morning light was beautiful and our first few animal encounters were well lit with nice golden side lighting. We saw a large group of hippo from the bridge as we crossed into the park and this was followed by a number of Impala. While stopped for some Impala we also saw two different kinds of Bee-Eater, the more attractive of the two being a brightly coloured Common Bee-Eater with very red plumage. We then saw zebra before quickly heading off to follow a lone spotted hyena. Then it was on to watch some Elephant and then the highlight of the trip, a couple of Puku Antelope fighting over territory by the side of the road. We watched and listened as the two clashed horns and pushed each other from the road into the bordering long grass. They went back and forth before one decided to give up and was chased away by the victor. After that everything else seemed a little tame.
Puku fighting for territory in the South Luangwa National Park
The rest of the morning drive revealed a couple of lazing lions, more elephant, gazelle of various kinds and zebra. We stopped for coffee and had a near close encounter with an elephant before the German tourists got scared and had the driver of their jeep start the engine to scare it off. While having a drink we watched hippos and crocodiles lazing in the small lake adjacent to where we had stopped. We saw the lions another time, some African fish eagles both flying and perched near the road and the last encounter of any note was watching birds sitting on zebra and gazelle picking off bugs for their larger friends. The park was nice and seemed more wild to us Europeans than the Ngorongoro crater but it was disappointing not to see more interesting and active animals.
One of the lions having got up to check us out
Back at camp Joe had prepared a nice brunch of pancakes, bacon, sausages and pasta from the night before. Once everyone had eaten we all did our own thing, waiting for another game drive this evening/night where we hope to see at last a Leopard. Another group on site saw leopard last night and this morning so we’re hopeful.