The month of October is hot….very hot!! With the rainy season just around the corner this is the time when the Luangwa Valley bakes in the highest temperatures of the year, but if you can stand the heat, then it’s more than worth a little perspiration. As the valley dries out the wildlife concentrates along the riverine area seeking to drink from the shrinking lagoons and the main Luangwa River. Large herds of buffalo shuffle to the water’s edge twice daily, leaving dust clouds, and often hungry lions in their wake.
Elephant herds can be seen slaking their thirst, wallowing in cooling mud baths, wading back and forth across the muddy river…or simply snoozing in the shade of leafy trees. Zebra stallions, bad-tempered in the relentless sun, do battle with snapping teeth and hooves. Hippos jostle for space in overcrowded pools, whilst crocodiles keep watch in the hope of easy pickings. Enormous flocks of seed-eating, red-billed queleas wheel overhead like giant shoals of fish.
And amongst all this there are some seasonal gems. Baby warthogs (wartlets?) trotting faithfully behind mum with tails held high, huge parties of aquatic birds, storks, herons, and pelicans, fishing out the shallow lagoons. Here and there the steep riverbanks are honeycombed with hundreds of holes the nesting sites of the spectacular Carmine Bee eaters that come here each year from East Africa to lay their eggs, raise their chicks, and feed them on the abundant supply of assorted insects brought out by the first rains.
And if that isn’t enough, there are always the Mfuwe Lodge elephants visiting daily for their breakfast, lunch and dinner of wild mangoes…
Definitely worth buying a fan…!!
Photos by Istvan Keller, Johan Elzenga, Ian Salisbury, Chris Hornaman & Nick Garbutt