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November 2009 Travel Zambia 35 into the bush. We followed and sat in the jeep, very quiet and still, staring into the thicket for an age. And then we spotted her again, fantastically well camoufl aged, just waiting for us to leave. Our Luangwa safari turned out to be probably the most exciting holiday we have ever had. Our initial misgivings about taking children proved to be completely unfounded. The enthusiastic welcome that Flatdogs affords to families, and their fl exibility in constantly allowing us to change plans at the last minute - a must when travelling with children - made sure we got the very best from our trip. Pivotal to this experience was Robbie. As well as being an excellent guide, he also cleverly tailored our safari activities to meet the needs of a family and, in the process, built up an excellent relationship with the children - entertaining them with a constant diet of games and quizzes. " What is the name for a group of zebras?" he asked, during our fi nal drive. " Erm. a dazzle," shot back my eager son. " Very good Jake; 100% for you!" By the end of the trip the children were very sad to say goodbye. Now we are back home watching the nights close in on an English winter and Jake is not the slightest bit interested in watching seagulls. After all, he's seen great white egrets. Alrik Green would like to thank Flatdogs Camp ( www. fl atdogscamp. com) and Profl ight Zambia ( www. profl ight- zambia. com) for their help in organising the safari. Enquire about family- friendly camps when you book your safari. These include: South Luangwa National Park: Flatdogs ( www. fl atdogscamp. com), Wildlife Camp ( www. wildlifecamp- zambia. com), Mfuwe Lodge ( www. bushcampcompany. com), Kapani Lodge ( www. normancarrsafaris. com - from aged 7), Nkwali ( www. robinpopesafaris. net - from aged 7). Kafue National Park: KaingU ( www. kaingu- lodge. com), Lufupa Tented Camp, Shumba Camp, Kapinga Camp ( www. wilderness- safaris. com - from aged 6). Lower Zambezi National Park: Kasaka River Lodge ( www. kasakariverlodge. com), Chongwe ( www. chongwe. com - from aged 7), Chiawa ( www. chiawa. com - from aged 8), Sausage Tree ( www. sausagetreecamp. com - from aged 8). Safari Houses of Zambia ( www. safarihouses. com) offers a collection of upmarket private houses tailor- made for families with children. These comprise Robins' Camp and Luangwa Safari House ( South Luangwa); Chongwe River Safari House ( Lower Zambezi); Tangala ( Livingstone ) and Shiwa Ngandu. CHOOSE YOUR CHILD- FRIENDLY SAFARI The treehouse attracted some curious visitors

African wild dog. Cape hunting dog. Painted wolf. Call it what you will, this elusive predator holds a special fascination for many safari- goers. But with no more than 4000 left across Africa, seeing one is not so easy. Dog devotee Merlith McKendrick visited Zambia's South Luangwa National Park on a unique safari dedicated to this enigmatic animal. Her diary reveals how she got on. Saturday 28 March A very easy fl ight, but too excited to sleep much. This was our fi rst visit in the emerald season and the valley looked so beautiful. Arrived for lunch, followed by siesta until 3pm and then an excellent fi rst game drive. The only thing in short supply was wild dog - last seen over a week ago. Fell exhausted into bed before 9pm so missed the fi rst lecture. Must try harder. Sunday 29 March A long early morning drive with Egil, one of the conservationists, trying to pick up a signal from a dog they'd collared. Travelled through mopane woodland, teeming with tsetse fl y. My language was fruity - and there was no bleep from a dog signal to hide it. Caught some sleep in the afternoon and then spent a wonderful hour on our evening drive watching a leopard stalking guinea fowl. Monday 30 March Drums at 5.15am, but we were already up and ready to go. Drove to another area of the park still trying to pick up a signal, but no luck. It was good to see such different terrain, though. Watched a sleepy lion and some wonderful birds. In the afternoon took a restful river cruise; amazing to see the river so wide and fast- fl owing. Storm clouds were gathering on our way back and by dinner the rain had started. Pelted all night long. Tuesday 31 March Up at 5am to fi nd the room full of froglets. Had they swum in as tadpoles and transformed overnight? Most of our group went off to track dogs, but we opted for an ordinary game drive - a gorgeous leopard and a lovely family of elephants our reward. Our siesta was interrupted by a massive thunderstorm plus a monitor lizard under the bed. By the evening drive, however, the rain had cleared and we saw masses, including a group of hyena on a very old elephant corpse ( whiffy, but fascinating). This time, caught the pre- dinner lecture. Wednesday 1 April ( Dog Day!) Egil decided to drive straight to the top of the escarpment just to see if we could get a signal. I was really cheesed off: I'd given up on dog and just wanted to enjoy a normal game drive. But when we fi nally reached the highest point, he got a strong bleep and started scanning the plain below. I thought at fi rst this was an act to keep our hopes up, but there they were spread out below us. Wild dogs! I'm afraid I started weeping with the emotion of it. I think all the girls did; probably the men too, but they wouldn't admit it - just grit in the eye or something. The dogs disappeared into the scrub, so we drove up the other side of the hill to fi nd them waiting at the top. " We've been tracking you for days," they seemed to be saying. " Where have you been?" DOGDAYS 36 Travel Zambia November 2009 Radar ears help wild dogs to pick up one another's contact calls as they disperse through the bush ROBIN POPE SAFARIS