Thursday, October 22, 2015

Monday, October 19 2015: Day one at Marula Lodge – Game drive 1 & 2

We were up at 5:00 so we would be ready for breakfast at 5:30 and the game drive at 6:00.  We want to get out early while the animals are active and it is not too hot. Every game drive is different.  You have no idea what to expect.  Right now it is extremely dry in Zambia.  In fact, the river has just one fairly narrow channel of running water.  They really are concerned and hope that the rainy season will come early and be plentiful this year.

After we entered the South Luangwa National Park, we saw lots of impalas – a good food source (leopard McDonald’s), giraffes with several young ones, hippos in the river – over 100 at this one location, next we found a leopard under the tree where he had an impala impaled on the tree branch.  He had eaten until he was full, and was resting under the tree when we came by.  A little farther along we came upon a “new kill”!  9 lions had just killed a buffalo in the past hour or two.  The young lions were full, with bloody faces, resting in the shade while the others were now eating.  They begin with the innards and brains, and those where all eaten by the time we got there.  The vultures (20 of them) were standing around, waiting their chance for a bite. It was an incredible find, even if the buffalo did not make it – it is all part of the food chain. 

Elephants in the Park

A Baby Elephant trying to nurse

The Majestic Giraffes

A baby Giraffe nursing


The King of the Jungle - Bloody face after dining on the buffallo

Lounging after filling their tummy on the buffalo

Stalking it's prey

A Lion cub

We returned feeling like we had a great drive.  By the time we returned (10:00) it was HOT. Cal was concerned since there was still no electricity and we needed to recharge camera batteries.  He used someone’s solar panel charger to do some of the recharging, until the electricity finally was back in use.  It was a reminder of how dependent we are on electricity! 

I took a nap before lunch, we ate lunch, took a dip in the pool, by then the electricity came on, so we could be in the chalet with the fan blowing around the hot air, Cal took his nap and I had another short one before it was tea time and then the evening game drive at 3:30.  Where did the day go? 

The evening game drive took us back to the lions and carcass – the lions were gone and the vultures were having their meals.  Later tonight the hyenas would finish it!  We did find some of the lions later, resting in the shade.  The leopard was back up in the tree resting on a branch when we drove by before dark. After dark he was resting on the ground. 

We found another pride of lions (9) with 2 cubs (about 2 months olds). Cute, Cute, Cute!!  The cubs were so playful.   Part of the Pride was stalking a warthog until a bird gave a warning sign to the warthog and he ran out of the area.  However, we had our bets on the lions - they would take him out later and have a midnight snack. 

One of the many beautiful scenes in the park

One of the many Termite hills

Sundowner at Sunset
At dusk and later the hippos emerge from the river looking for grasses to eat. They continue eating all night returning to the river around dawn.  They are one of the active night time animals. Hippos cannot be in the sun for a period of time.  But if they are out of the water during the day their skin emits a type of suntan lotion (red -ish in color). The Luangwa River has the largest population of hippos than any other river in Africa. Hippos cannot swim so they need a river that is deep enough for their size of body, but not too deep so their feet touch the bottom.  During the rainy season they move to the sides of the river and into lagoons.  

The last part of the night drive took us by the carcass – to see if the hyenas had started their part of the meal.    We saw 3 Hyenas in the area but not at the carcass when we left at 7:30, however, they would soon be moving in for their part of the buffalo! Before leaving the park we found a  2nd leopard, just walking among the bush.

We returned to the lodge for dinner, a shower and hit the bed as we will be up at 5:00 tomorrow morning, for the 6:00 game drive.

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