Lilongwe was a nice place to restock, but there was no reason to stick around. It was a hot day on the road (45 degrees) and we found the Zambia border to be unfriendly and corrupt. We had to pay our visa fees, but the foreign exchange wouldn't buy Malawi kwacha and our fees had to be paid in Zambian kwacha... Very inconvenient. So we're forced to wheel and deal with the guys hanging around changing money for the black-market.... great. Hours later, we finally get some money and hope we didn't get totally ripped off. We cross into Zambia with a bad taste in our mouths – but there's cold beer in the fridge, the road ahead is clear, and the Landie arrives at South Luangwa's Croc Valley Camp just after dark. A nice spot right on the river, complete with bar, small pool, and billiards. During the day we sat at the campsite watching elephants, hippos, crocs, and plenty of birds visit the river to drink. One night we took a game drive into S. Luangwa National Park to look for leopard and pangolin. It was our first game drive with a commercial vehicle, and I felt like a true tourist. The park had zebra, a few small giraffe, some antelope... but the real thrill came just before sunset when we pull up beside 2 male lion. I'm about 5 feet away from those piercing eyes and deadly paws, and I'm terrified. Frozen in my seat. But our guides are chatting, and seem quite at ease. Guess this is another day in the park for them, but I still think a healthy fear is good! After a moment we restart the engine and drive to the riverbed, and I peer down to see at least 10 more lions lazing by the water. Incredible. An older male, females, and even adorable cubs. Two females are also right on our tail – a few feet from the back of the car – and they do not take their eyes off of us. We sit for a while though, and the lions go about their business. The sun begins to set, and it's beautiful – we even see an African Skimmer flitting about. No leopards or pangolin, but the lion sighting was amazing.
We arrive back at camp to find the trailer moved and dented. An inspection reveals elephant tracks and droppings ... we've had visitors! Chuck Norris fended them off, though, and is still in tact. Those elephants better find another trailer to mess with! The sound of braying hippos lulled me to sleep, but an Australian whisper shouting 'Maggie! Maggie!' wakes me up shortly after. I open my eyes and just outside my tent is the biggest elephant I've ever seen – or maybe that's because it's almost sitting on me! There are two, and the Aussie is also eyeing one in it's giant behind. They are back, and enjoying our shade trees. Not quite sure what to do, I sit still and hope they wander off. Just as they begin to go, campsite security decides to come clamoring over shouting and waving their wind-up flashlights... grrreat. Now there are 2 angry elephants within stomping distance! The elephants are not happy, but luckily they storm off in the opposite direction and miss us on their way out after the guard. Phew! An angry German wakes me the next morning, complaining to the guards about the elephant droppings near their car. Guess they don't realize these are the wild elephants they came to see, and they should be thankful they didn't stomp them in the night or dent their precious rental! I'm grateful to have all my limbs, but am ready to head to Lusaka!
Combining a passion for travel, the desire to make a difference & a love of maps, MaggieMaps was born.
Unless otherwise noted, all prose, poetry, maps and photography posted on this blog are Copyright 2013 Maggie Maps
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