Sunday, 6 November 2011

Dreaming of sunshine in South Luangwa

Since the first time I heard about it, South Luangwa has been one of those dreamy destinations for me. A beautiful old park, far enough from South Africa to add that bit of excitement, and never travelled to by anyone I know. Then I went there last year, and it just confirmed its status in my mind. It is one hell of a park!

Arriving there is enough to get anyone excited- as soon as you step off the plane in Lusaka you are greeted by a wall of hot air, and that busy disorganized feeling so typical of Africa. A few hours in a hot restaurant, drinking barely chilled drinks, and a short flight later and you arrive in Mfuwe airport: dusty, small and on the outskirts of a small, traditional town, with a potholed road full of people on bicycles running through it. This is Africa! The shops are called things like 'Uncle Sams general dealer and Barber' and 'We know your prayers general dealer'. The children on the side of the road all carry smaller children on their backs, and shout out 'Sweeties!' as you drive past. In the middle of the town, there is a 'disco' happening, with some men on stage doing a terrible rendition of dancing. It's just perfect, and before you know it you wind up on the banks of the beautiful Luangwa river at sunset.

Lunch under the trees on the banks of the river.

Well, it would have been sunset, but we had brought the rain queen in all her glory on this trip. Turns out, the first two days we were not to see the sun! I, however, could imagine the sunset, as it had been just over a year since my previous visit, and I can assure you it is magical.

The trip I was now on was with C4images and Safaris, a fantastic photographic company for anyone wanting to travel and photograph with like minded people. This is my third trip with them, and definitely not my last!

Landscaping lessons while the light was bad.

The lodge we stayed at is called Chichele Presidential lodge and is run by Sanctuary Retreats. It is a gracious, timeless looking lodge, and was extremely well managed. Our ranger was named Prince, and if you do go there, I would suggest that you request him. We had five nights in the park, and from the moment we arrived, nothing was too much trouble for him. We even requested a 4.30am wake-up, so that we could be on the go by 5 - and the lodge accommodated that without a hesitation. It may sound strange, but for me that is one of the hallmarks of a good lodge- when requests such as this are not met with resistance, but instead with enthusiasm! It was then just up to us to keep that enthusiasm going even when we started getting tired, and when the clouds refused to lift above the horizon.

Puku- my favourite antelope.

We did see the sun though, on the third day: and it brought the park to life. Puku suddenly became backlit Puku, the river suddenly became a landscaping dream, and my arms suddenly became tanned. And while the sun was out, we did our best to make the absolute most of it! I think we all must have slept like the dead the night we arrived back in Joburg, but we cannot say we didn't make the most of our far- too- short five nights in South Luangwa.


  1. Laura your photos are inspiring, love your story of your trip - I am Ian's sister in Australia, and it is lovely to read about this photographic experience.

  2. The Rain Queen acknowledges your homage and applauds you for a very entertaining rendition of our trip!