South Luangwa offers some of the best animal viewing opportunities in Africa – it’s wild and remote and the game is densely populated. The landscapes are also breathtaking; ranging from ebony forests to open plains punctuated only by the occasional baobab, to a number of oxbow lagoons, making it a photographer’s dream destination.
Here are the top 11 shots taken by guides at Track and Trail River Camp of the area’s illustrious wildlife:
1. An elephant in its natural surroundings, on the edge of a drying up lagoon, with dark barked ebony trees growing alongside.
2. Hippos are exceedingly numerous in the Luangwa Valley and adjacent lagoons. They are grazers and come out of the river after dawn in search of food. Early mornings you can still find them en route back to the safety of the water.
3. Buffalos are abundant and widespread throughout the valley. Towards the end of the dry season, when many of the lagoons have dried up, buffalos tend to temporarily gather together to form a larger herd which can add up to over a thousand individuals.
4. The Thornicroft’s giraffe is unique to South Luangwa and occurs nowhere else in Africa.
5. Ebony groove and its inhabitants. A bushbuck is drinking from the little water that is left in the lagoon. Baboons love to sleep in the tall ebony trees far out of reach of leopards.
6. Waterbuck graze in open woodland during the dry season. They are easily recognised by the white circle on their buttocks.
7. Thornicroft’s giraffes blending into their surroundings. Giraffes are gregarious but are not loyal to a family group. The individuals within the group can change day to day.
8. This bull elephant was seen wandering around the leadwood basin of the national park. Elephants are doing well in Luangwa; the population is estimated at around 20,000 in the Luangwa Valley, of which more then 50% live in South Luangwa.
9. You will find hippos everywhere along the banks of the Luangwa River with an estimated number of 50 hippos per kilometre of river, excluding lagoons. This makes South Luangwa home to the highest concentration of hippos in Africa.
10. Hippos have a strict territorial system and bulls are constantly fighting for dominance. Lower ranked or unsuccessful bulls are chased off and live in solitude for a part of their life, until they become stronger and can challenge the higher ranking bull again.
11. A mother elephant with her family members by the lagoon in the dry season. Elephants need to drink on a daily basis, meaning that they will generally stay around the Luangwa River or any of the oxbow lagoons that still contain water.