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32 Travel Zambia May 2009 40,000 by the end of 2008, and the spring gathering is once again starting to show defi nite seasonal movement. " Wildebeest movements will revert to their full extent," explains Craig Reid, project manager for APN, " as the numbers of wildebeest and zebra expand and pressure on natural resources drives the migration." But Liuwa offers considerably more than just lots of wildebeest and zebra. We found red lechwe congregating around the natural pans on the fl oodplains and herds of tsessebe on the western plains. Diminutive oribi and steenbok sought shelter in grass tussocks on the open plains, while common duiker dashed for cover in the woodland. Eland, recently reintroduced, have grown in number to 56 and taken up residence on the park's eastern boundary. Meanwhile the eight- hectare reintroduction boma currently houses a small breeding herd of buffalo, and there are plans to build up this population, before also bringing back locally- extinct Lichtenstein's hartebeest and roan antelope. Another exciting plan for 2009 involves the relocation of a male lion from Kafue National Park to provide Lady Liuwa with some much- needed company. Otherwise, with the exception of leopard, it appears that most predator populations are healthy or recovering naturally. We saw plentiful side- striped jackal, usually trotting past in pairs, while the den sites of the numerous spotted hyena clans were easy to locate on the open plains, allowing superb viewing of cubs and social interactions. A pack of ten wild dogs is often sighted on the edge of the southern woodlands, while two female cheetahs ( both with cubs) have recently taken up residence further north. During 2008 a paltry 358 people embraced Above: Lady Liuwa continues her lonely vigil, often entering Matamanene camp ( inset) in search of company. Opposite page: The rainy season carpets the grasslands with lilies, while crowned cranes ( inset) are among countless birds that fl ock to the wetlands and Burchell's zebra ( below) enjoy the rich grazing. Below: The park's numerous spotted hyena are unusually approachable and allow for outstanding photographic opportunities. Zambia undiscovered ALL PICTURES BY STEPHEN CUNLIFFE

May 2009 Travel Zambia 33 the challenge of Liuwa, braving the poor roads to venture into the Park. I was one of the lucky few who accompanied the Zambian guiding legend Robin Pope on his fi rst safari back to Liuwa in 12 years. The great news for prospective visitors is that the return of Robin Pope Safaris to Liuwa means that an experienced and professional operator is once again offering regular safaris during both the peak migration season ( December) and prime bird- watching months ( May/ June). Liuwa is unique: a truly remote and spectacular wilderness that resembles a cross between Tanzania's Serengeti and Botswana's Okavango Delta. And, best of all, it is devoid of crowds: there will be no intrusions upon your once- in- a- lifetime safari experience - except perhaps a lonely lioness in need of a little company. When to visit: The park is at its driest during September and October, when wildebeest begin to mass on the plains. It is scenically most spectacular after the fi rst rains in November. Extensive fl ooding means it is closed to self- drive vehicles from 1 December- 15 July. Getting there: The recommended route leaves the tar road at Mongu to cross the Zambezi fl oodplain on a rutted dirt track to Kalabo ( the last 20km are tarred), where many sandy tracks wind north into the Park. This route closes during the wet season ( December to mid- June) when the Lului Pontoon moves downstream. Where to stay: Matamanene Camp is a tented, self- catering camp at the heart of Liuwa, with four permanent en suite safari tents. It is administered by APN and is the base camp for RPS. Overlanders and self- drive visitors can use four well- maintained community campsites, which have fresh- water wells, showers, toilets and fi replaces. Park fees: US$ 40.00 per person per day. Fuel and supplies: Jerry cans are essential. Most supplies and fuel must be purchased before departing Mongu, although some basic goods can be acquired in Kalabo. Nothing is available within the park. Health and safety: Liuwa Plain is a malaria area, so the usual precautions apply. Consult your doctor. Find out more: www. african- parks. org or www. robinpopesafaris. net ( follow the links for Liuwa Plain National Park). LIUWA LOW- DOWN N TZ Kalabo Zambezi River Luanginga River Luambimba River Matamanene Camp Main Entrance Gate LIUWA PLAIN NATIONAL PARK