What did I learn on safari in Zambia? Rather a lot as it happens…

I’d wanted to Safari in Zambia (not to be confused with Trump’s Nambia!)  for a while. This year I got the chance when another trip had to be cancelled, so I decided to go all out and book a 7-night safari.

I travelled with Robin Pope Safaris who are well-known operator involved with creating amazing memories in Zambia since the 1970s. I’d say the variety of different lodges are in the mid to high-end range, but most importantly for me don’t charge single supplements. Whilst it’s still an expensive trip, they offer seriously good value in terms of accommodation, service, food, drink, guiding and experience.

I’ve been to Africa several times in the past, but this was probably the most authentic and close to nature safari I’ve been on. I learnt a great deal…. you can find out what in the  “I learnt” sections below.

I’d genuinely be delighted if you’d take the time to share this post with your friends on social media. Thank you.

My Itinerary

Two nights at River Camp

Luangwa River Camp

The lovely setting at Luangwa River Camp

I learnt  

Hippos can hold their breaths under water for about 6 minutes, Crocodiles can hold their breaths upwards of 30 minutes depending on their size

The Ant Lion is neither a Lion or an Ant

Mahogany Tree flowers smell very sweet

The bush is anything but quiet

Birds that eat snakes, for example a Ground Hornbill, have a plastic-like coating on their legs, that the snake’s teeth are unable to penetrate

Hippos sound like they’re honking…or laughing

Leopards mate every 3 minutes (I timed them) for about 48 hours. Towards the end of this time, they tend to increase each interval before each mating as they’re so exhausted! Each “episode” only takes about 20 seconds

A very tired leopard

A very tired leopard

Safari in Zambia

Crocodile near River Camp

Elephants crossing the Luangwa

Elephants crossing the Luangwa at River Camp

Mating Leopards

Mating pair…looking exhausted

Two nights at Tena Tena

Tena Tena

The amazing tented rooms at Tena Tena….most comfortable bed ever!

I learnt

Every slight movement guests spot on a game drive is likely to be a squirrel

You’re just as likely to see a Penguin in Zambia, as you are a Pangolin! 

Bee-eaters tap a bee several times against a branch to make it fire it’s sting……. they also do this with other insects (just in case?)

An Elephant Shrew spends hours clearing the leaves from patches of ground next to their territory, so they can jump silently from patch to patch to avoid predators….Very “shrewd”

Elephants do not like Wild Dogs, but Wild Dog’s like to tease Elephants (as seen in the video below)

Wild Dog

Wild Dog near Tena Tena

Two nights on a mobile walking safari at Luangwa Bush Camp

Luangwa Bush Camp

One of the mobile camping sites, facing the river

I learnt

Iron wood trees can stand 100’s of years after they’ve died, as the wood is so strong it doesn’t rot

Lions will allow you to get pretty close on foot…for me, this was 40ish metres

A moth lays its eggs in the skull of a dead Buffalo, the larvae then feed on the calcium in the bones

A collective of Giraffes is known as a Journey when they’re walking, but a Tower, when they’re all stood still

Elephants have an excellent sense of smell. If they can smell your scent, stay still as any movement will attract their attention further; and then their eyes will focus in on the movement

An elephant has 6 sets of teeth in its lifetime, each lasting about 10 years

The Harvester Ant keeps stores of grass in its burrow to eat during wet season

How to tell the difference between Lion, Hyena, Baboon and Leopard tracks

Walking Safari heading towards my sundowner

lions in luangwa

I didn’t get quite THIS close…..

Lovely lady giraffe

Safari in Zambia

The elephants on route to the river

And a final night at Nsefu

Nsefu Camp

The chalets at Nsefu….later surrounded by elephants 🙂

I learnt  

A young male Baboon trying to enter another troop, will pick up a baby baboon and care for it to show what a great dude he is, and to protect himself from other males wanting to fight him. As soon as he puts down the baby, they’ll attack him, they’ll also fight amongst themselves with a “but look he’s great with kids” angle….this will go on for a while. Eventually, he’ll be seen off or accepted

Someone in your vehicle will spot an “Orangutan” (Baboon) or “Jaguar” (Leopard)

If you have high blood pressure, consider mixing elephant dung with a little water, strain and drink…it’s known to lower blood pressure

Impalas love to eat the flowers of the Sausage Tree….so Leopards will lay in wait in the branches ready to pounce on unsuspecting Impala, dragging their kill straight back up the tree to protect it from being poached by other predators

Baboon in South Luangwa

I love the way this baboon is sitting

Elephant shower

A small group of elephants decided to come and eat the trees right outside my chalet!

A safari is a journey

I had some incredible experiences during what felt like a very long 7 days.

Moving from place to place always makes a trip feel longer and I was really happy with every camp I stayed at.  Robin Pope offer extremely good guiding and limit vehicles to 4 passengers.  I was actually the only guest in two of the camps, which meant a personal guide and the ability to stay as long as I wanted at sightings; and stop for photographs for the things I wanted to capture without feeling that other guests may not want to.

All in all it was an incredible trip. Check out my spot list below to find out which animals and birds I was lucky to see.

Saddle-billed stork

Saddle-billed stork

Spot List

(*) depicts plural except where plural noun used

Lion(*) (39 in 8 sightings)Bateleur Eagle
Leopard(*) (4 in 3 sightings, including mating pair)African Fish Eagle(*)
Elephant(*) (tons)Tawny Eagle
Buffalo(*) (huge herds)African Goshawk (in mating display)
Cooksons’ Wildebeest(*)Brown Snake Eagle
Greater Kudu(*)Hooded Vulture(*)
WaterbuckCattle Egret(*)
Impala(*)Great White Egret(*)
Puku(*)Egyptian Geese(*)
BushbucksSpur-winged Geese(*)
Wild Dog (12 in 3 sightings, including being chased by angry Eles)Hamerkop(*)
Hippos (so many)Black-headed Heron
Crocodiles (so many)Green-backed Heron
Spotted Hyena(*)Grey Heron(*)
Large Spotted Genet(*)Sacred Ibis(*)
Crawshay’s Zebra(*) (endemic to area)Hadeda Ibis(*)
Thornicroft’s Giraffe(*) (endemic to area)Openbill Stork(*)
Four Toed Elephant Shrew(*)Marabou Stork(*)
Tree Squirrel(*)Saddle-billed Stork(*)
Scrub Hare(*)Yellow-billed Stork(*)
Porcupine(*)Three-banded Courser(*)
Bushy-tailed Mongoose (mating)African Jacana(*)
Slender Mongoose(*)Blacksmith Plover (Lapwing)
Banded Mongoose(*) (no bites!)Crowned Plover (Lapwing)
Warthogs(*)White-crowned Plover (Lapwing)
Thick-tailed Bush BabyBlack-winged Stilt
Yellow Baboon(*)Grey Southern Crowned Crane(*)
Vervet Monkey(*)Francolin(*)
Praying Mantis
Harvester Ant(*)
Army Ant(*)
Black Striped Sand Snake
Ant Lion

My very early morning self at the bush camp

Hope you enjoyed finding out more about Zambia and the animals. I’d love you to share this post with your friends on social media, thanks Karen