This week’s dream: A safari on foot in Zambia
Seeing big game from the comfort of a Jeep is one thing, said Patricia Leigh Brown in The Boston Globe. When you actually share the ground with elephants, “you get a humbling sense of their power,” and you smell both the horsey scent of zebras and “the wetness of matted grasses where hippos bed down for the night.” I recently spent four days with my family on safari in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, and learned from wise guides how to track lions without getting eaten and how to identify the trace of a crocodile’s tail in a sandy riverbank. “Little by little, our senses became attuned to the landscape’s nuances, from craggy dripcastle termite mounds worthy of Gaudí to herds of fearsome-looking Cape buffalo with razor-sharp horns.”
There’s always an element of risk in the bush—“and not just from animals.” We learned that sausage trees sometimes cause serious injury when they drop their heavy, bratwurst-size fruit. We proceeded at all times in single file, led by a guide who carried a high-powered rifle but told us he hadn’t needed to shoot it since stopping a charging hippo three years earlier. That comforted me, at least a bit, as we glided by canoe across the languid Luangwa River, surrounded by hippos and crocs.
Reonardo was clutching his rifle with both hands when he showed me the three-lobed paw prints of a lion. Finding a safe vantage point, we crouched quietly, scanning a thicket with binoculars. Before long, we caught sight of a flickering tail, and suddenly I could make out the tawny coats of a mother and two cubs—three of the 13 lions in a local pride. On the day we left our camp, we watched a brigade of guinea fowl put on a master class in slapstick comedy, and as we paddled back across the chocolatebrown Luangwa, “I clung to the feeling of aliveness”—of waking to the song of Cape turtle doves, of impala leaping gracefully through the grasses, of hyenas whooping in the night. “Next time, having conquered lions, I will be ready for a leopard.”
A six-day walking safari with the Africa Adventure Co.africa-adventure.com) costs $3,325 per person, double occupancy.