leopard in south luangwa national park

Kenya vs. Zambia

Many people ask me, “What’s my favorite trip?”

To a degree, that is hard to answer, but in the end, I prefer trips with wildlife.  As a result, I have now been on three safaris. My first was to Tanzania over ten years ago. 

At the time, as much as I wanted to go to Africa, I was frozen like a deer in headlights.  I asked everyone I knew that had been on safari about their experience and where they went.  Each said, “It was the best!  You have to go to ____.”  Fill in the blank: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa.  I couldn’t pick, and I was so afraid I’d be disappointed with my high expectations and wish to see a kill.

GO ON SAFARI!

South Luangwa National Park

For my third safari, I scheduled a trip with friends to Zambia.  We spent a week in South Luangwa National Park.

South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa Natioinal Park is located in Eastern Zambia, with the closest airport being in Mfuwe.  Known to locals as “the South Park” it was established in 1904 as Luangwa Game Park.  It was converted to a game reserve in 1938 and declared a national park in 1972.

South Luangwa National Park is approximately 9,000 square kilometers, and its natural borders include the Luangwa River and the Muchinga Escarpment.  Inside the park, the topography varies from grassy plains to mature woodlands.

WATCH THE WILDLIFE!

Flatdogs

Some of my readers may be wondering what the heck is a flatdog?  A squished mutt? Others that have been Zambia, however, may know that it is the local nickname for crocodiles.  Both the protective dogs and crocodiles in Zambia can be aggressive, and of course, crocodiles are relatively flat, thus the name.

GO ON SAFARI

Getting to Africa During COVID!

To my readers, I’m making this post about international travel to Africa because I found myself anxious and reluctant to travel based on all the chaos the politicians and media create around COVID.  If it weren’t for my friend Ruth who organized the trip and was bound to go, I wouldn’t have ended up on a fantastic safari in 2021.  Anyone who is on the fence about international travel with connecting flights and long distances because they don’t know what to expect, this post if for you. I hope I can provide some clarity.

AFRICA BOUND!
sunset cruise on the zambezi

Things to Do in Livingstone, Zambia

History of Zambia

Zambia was once known as Northern Rhodesia and was an English Colony.  It gained its independence in 1964 and struggled through single-party rule for many years.  After 20 years of unrest, a new constitution was written, multiple parties were established, and elections were held.

While Zambia now operates more democratically, its economy still struggles.  A new president was elected while we visited in August of 2021 and celebrations could be heard nightly for a week!  It will be interesting to see what the future holds in Zambia.

While in Zambia, we spent a few days in Livingstone and then went on safari in South Luangwa National Park.  While in Livingstone, though slightly unorganized, we found a variety of activities.

FIND OUT MORE!
victoria falls

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is located on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia in the Victoria Falls National Park and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.  Listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Victoria Falls is a site to see.

The falls were discovered by Scottish missionary and explore, David Livingstone, who named them after Queen Victoria. It’s local name from the Sotho Language is Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning the smoke that thunders.  The World Heritage List recognizes both names.

EXPLORE!

Safari in the Masai Mara – Day 3

Morning Game Drive

On our third day in the Masai Mara National Reserve, we arose for another sunrise game drive with breakfast scheduled upon our return.  Always in need of food, I grabbed a hard-boiled egg for the 2-hour ride which could be longer if we stumbled across something cool.

GO ON SAFARI
mama and baby leopard in the Masai Mara

Safari in the Masai Mara – Day 2

On our second day in the Masai Mara, our wake-up call, complete with coffee delivered to our rooms, came early.  It was still dark as we walked toward the jeep, thus the night watchman escorted us from our tents.  I asked if he saw any wild animals overnight, and he said he chased away some elephants.  Hmm, I don’t think I’d like that job. Hey enraged elephant and lurking leopard, shoo!  It was hard enough to keep the monkeys from visiting our tents.  More on that later.

GO ON SAFARI
cub playing with mama's tail in the Masai Mara

Safari in the Masai Mara – Day 1

So nine years ago, almost to the day, I went on a safari in Tanzania with some friends.  It had always been on my bucket list, but I would never sign up to go because I was afraid it wouldn’t meet my expectations if I didn’t see everything I’d hoped to see.

Our trip included driving from Arusha to Tarangire to Manyara to Ngorongoro Crater and to the Serengeti.  We literally saw just about all Africa had to offer: A cheetah kill an impala, a lion hunt, the wildebeest cross the river, the big five including the rare black rhino, and even three of the small five (which I didn’t know there was such a thing).

It was such an amazing experience that I have turned down Rootie’s invites to go on safaris ever since as I didn’t think it could be topped.  Then I realized, the safari in Tanzania was my all-time favorite trip, so why not go back.  And go back I did, this time to the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya with Mike, Rootie, Rozy, Jake, and Martha.

GO ON SAFARI
elephant with sandy face

Orphan Elephants at Umani Springs

About Umani Springs

In a previous post about Nairobi, I mentioned the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust whose mission is to promote the conservation, preservation, and protection of wildlife and habitats across Kenya.  It is best known for its work with elephants by operating the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust houses the orphans at four locations: Nairobi Nursery, Ithumba Reintigration Unit, Voi Reintigration Unit, and Umani Springs Reintigration Unit.  It is possible to stay at the units.  As such, our group of six; Mike, Rootie, Rozy, Jake, Marty and I rented out Umani Springs for two days.

VISIT ELEPHANTS …