South Luangwa National Park is along the South Luangwa River, currently flooded with the most water in over a decade. Our camp called Croc Valley Camp was located on the river bank across from the national park. Hippos and crocodiles frequented our camp often, so the utmost caution was required at all times. South Luangwa National Park actually boasts the largest concentration of both hippos and crocodiles in Africa.
Zebra stripes are like a fingerprint, unique to each animal. The zebras in South Luangwa National Park are more starkly black and white with stripes that cover their belly, instead of the white belly like the zebras in Tanzania.
We took a game drive early one morning. Our Land Rover was completely open to the air without windows, doors, or even a windshield. We had quite an eventful four hour drive with elephants, giraffes, hippos, wart hogs, impalas, and a pride of lions.
Hippos are notoriously very dangerous, especially if someone stands between them and the water. This baobab tree is thought to be one of the oldest in Africa dating back 500 years.
We noted some interesting features on an elephant spotted during our game drive. She was tuskless. Up to 15% of elephants have a genetic abnormality that causes the lack of tusks. Elephants are known to have long life spans, up to 65 years in the wild. They typically die of starvation once they lose the last of 4 sets of molars. Because elephants try to preserve their molars, they shake the leaves and branches before eating them to shake off any abrasive soil. Usually, lone bull elephants are kicked out of the herd by the dominant females in order to prevent inbreeding. You can tell when an elephant is in musk because they not only get more aggressive, but also have a wet patch between the ear and the eye from a gland. It appears like they are sweating.
We saw a few wart hogs as well. They sleep in burrows at night and use the burrows to hide their piglets.
Yellow baboons are more common here than the olive baboons in Tanzania.
A male impala will stick with a harem of around twenty females. During mating season, he will mate instead of feeding and eventually becomes too weak to go on. At that point, another male impala joins the harem.
We stopped and bought a baobab tree fruit. When cracked, the hard sour seeds are shaken out and eaten.
We stopped at a local market along the Great Zambezi River. Along this drive, we technically crossed into Mozambique briefly.
While in Zambia, we camped for two nights at South Luangwa National Park, one night in Petauke, and one night in Lusaka. Lusaka is the capital of Zambia and is quite westernized and developed. It has had the most economic growth compared to any other sub-Saharan African city since 2002. It has a population of 2 million people. With the crisis in Zimbabwe, many white Africans moved into Zambia and brought with them their farming skills. Zambia is considered the food basket of Africa with a flourishing agricultural economy, as well as a copper belt region in the north. Zambia was once called Northern Rhodesia, one of the six countries owned by Cecil Rhodes. Between 1953 and 1964, it became part of the Central African Federation along with present day Zimbabwe and Malawi and was considered a British protectorate. Zambia gained independence in 1964.