Wildlife: Best ever day on safari?

30th July 2013
I've been lucky to enjoy many amazing days on safari in the South Luangwa National Park. But there are still some which are most memorable and stick in the mind above all others. There was the day in August 2009 when I left camp early and soon after found a leopard who had killed an impala and was dragging it across a plain and up into a tree. From there, I found Wild Dogs hunting and then resting in the shade, and later a pride of 16 lions in the afternoon.

Then there was the day in September 2011 when I watched as 102 elephants crossed the river in the late evening.

But Monday 29th July probably beats them all, and because of the way it ended. But first, how it started...

Leaving camp a little later than normal, we saw a small group of elephants crossing the river. We hoped to reach the bank before they finished their crossing, but had to settle for watching them feeding in the bushes after completing their crossing. While we were discussing how well they would fare with the ever-decreasing food supplies in the park, a young bushbuck gave two loud alarm barks and burst out of a nearby thicket and ran straight across in front of us. Hoping to find the source of its fear, we looked over in time to see a male leopard appearing from the grass.

He surveyed his surroundings, before setting off among the thickets to single out a less alert prey target. We followed for a while hoping to be able to get ahead of him and photograph him as he approached, and managed on a couple of occasions.

Later on in the day, we found a pride of lions resting at the side of the road. The longer we stayed there, the more the pride seemed to grow, as more individuals appeared out of the bush. In the end 10 adults including 2 males, and 10 cubs of different ages. We don't know this pride very well as they've been keeping away from the river where 5 young males are patrolling. These 5 males would waste no time in killing any cubs that they could find!

After such a beautiful sighting, we didn't think we would beat it, especially as the cubs who were initially shy, gained confidence and began to play with their siblings and clamber around on the fallen trees.

So we began to head back to camp, and just before we reached the park gate, this odd-looking character appeared in the spotlight right by the road.....

......my first Aardvark!


Photo comment By Kirstie: Wow! Wish I'd been there!
Photo comment By Flavia: What a lucky day! And how cute is the lion cub! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos.

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