Green Seasonalarm call of a baboon sentinel from above our heads that brought Levy to a stop. The troop was staring intently into a spindly rain tree. We peered through binoculars: a raptor, maybe – or perhaps a python? ‘Kaingo,’ whispered Levy, as a leopard emerged from her hiding place in the branches and slipped sinuously down the trunk, an impala dangling from her jaws. She landed with a soft thump at the base, snarling as the barking baboons reached a crescendo. A few brave youngsters, egged on by the mob, darted forward with teeth bared. Discretion being the better part of valour, the cat withdrew into the bush to finish her meal. We approached cautiously through the thick grass and peered into the deep shadows, hoping to catch a glimpse. But the leopard had melted away, leaving only the telltale signs of her presence: deep claw marks in the bark of the tree and a smear of blood at its base. Ten minutes later, over cups of kawambwa tea (with the customary three sugars each) and thick slabs of banana cake, Levy told us that the baboons had probably not been scared, but angry, and were trying to force the interloper from their midst. ‘They could see she had already caught her prey,’ he explained. ‘I think that’s why they were so brave. No baboon in its right mind would approach a leopard that looked hungry!’ When our feet could take us no further, the river itself provided our transport. For even the most experienced safari buff, a boat trip up the swollen Luangwa is a revelation – a real emerald season treat. We putt-putted slowly downstream, stopping here and there to let a hippo slide out of our path or watch a dazzling malachite kingfisher among the reeds. On one journey, a cacophony of squawking led us to a breeding colony of yellow-billed storks – the tree’s thick coating of white guano giving it a ghostly appearance. Juveniles engaged in bill-clapping squabbles as they jockeyed for position on the thinnest of branches. Meanwhile crocodiles circled below, ready to snap up any hapless individual that lost its footing and plummeted to the water. South Luangwa National Park Camps and lodges Flatdogs (www.flatdogscamp.com): open until mid-Jan Kapani (Norman Carr Safaris: (www.normancarrsafaris.com): open all year; birding safaris; Rivers and Rainbows package Wildlife Camp (www.wildlifecamp-zambia.com): open all year Chichele Lodge (www.sanctuarylodges.com): opens December 2007 Nkwali (Robin Pope Safaris: (www.robinpopesafaris.com): open all year; Rivers and Rainbows package Kafunta River Lodge (www.luangwa.com): open all year Mfuwe Lodge (Bushcamp Company: www.bushcampcompany.com): the only lodge inside the park to remain open all year Bush camps Mchenja (Norman Carr Safaris): combines with Nkwali and Kapani (see above) for ‘River and Rainbows’ green season safari package. For even the most experienced safari buff, a boat trip up the swollen Luangwa is a revelation – a real emerald season treat. Rainy season round-up ‘The cat withdrew into the bush to finish her meal.’ 28 Travel Zambia November 2007 ANNA DEVEREUX BAKER KAFUNTA SAFARIS Conditions during the rainy season vary from one part of Zambia to another. Though some areas become effectively off-limits, many others are not. Certain locations offer their prime attractions only at this time. Here are some top spots in which make the most of the season. ROBIN POPE SAFARIS Left: Zebra foal in green season heaven Below: Lions near Kafunta River Lodge contemplate the rising waters.
Kapamba & Bilimungwe (Bushcamps Company): green season guests . . ...can now walk between these two bushcamps. Kafue National Park Shumba Camp (Wilderness Safaris: www.wilderness-safaris.com): the only camp on Busanga Plains open until January; helicopter transfers, boat trips, outstanding birding. Kaingu Lodge (www.kaingu-lodge.com): drives, walks (depending on conditions) and boat trips. Mukambi Safari Lodge (www.mukambi.com): drives, walks and boat trips. Hippo Lodge (www.hippolodge.com): open, though airstrip is closed. Victoria Falls / Livingstone Most lodges, hotels and camps are open all year round. Some river activities, including rafting, may be restricted by water levels. The Falls are very low from November–December, allowing good visibility and visits to islands on the lip (Livingstone Island). Peak flow is from March, when the thunderous noise and spray are impressive, and aerial viewings spectacular. Lower Zambezi National Park Most camps and lodges in the park are closed November-April, though the park is accessible by boat. Kiambi Lodge (www.kiambi.co.za), in the adjacent Game Management Area, is open all year; access by road and boat transfer. Kasanka / Bangweulu Wasa Lodge, Luwombwa Camp (Kasanka) and Shoebill Island Camp (Bangweulu) are open all year (www.kasanka.com). The green season is arguably the best time to visit: reliable November 2007 Travel Zambia 29 views of shoebills from January; Kasanka bat roost in November/December. Other options Mutinondo (www.mutinondo zambia.com) during the rains offers prolific bird and plant life, plus giant mushrooms. Access is by road; activities include walking, riding and swimming. Shiwa N’gandu (www.shiwangandu.com) is open all year, with walks, riding, game drives and boat trips on the lake. Elephants enjoy the hospitality of Mfuwe Lodge at the start of the rains, when they can’t resist the call of the lodge’s wild mango THE BUSHCAMP COMPANY The woodland kingfisher is among the most colourful and vocal of migrant birds to arrive with the rains. ALEX PAUL