What to Expect
What does a typical safari day look like at Track and Trail River Camp?
Imagine a place where you get woken up by the birds, with the first sunbeams coming through the windows… no traffic, no stress… just nature.
Today in early July, we are first going on a walking safari and later on an evening game drive.
As the sun starts rising we will wake up as the birds start their chorus of territorial songs. First a quick shower and then the watchmen will take you to our lime tree restaurant where our staff has prepared for you our quick pre-safari breakfast. Although we want to be in the park as early as possible you can enjoy the first glimpse of the sleepy Luangwa river. You can observe young playing hippos, fish eagles perched in a tree will call from somewhere to show their presence.
Your safari guide will be introduced. Most of the Luangwa safari guides are brought up in the surroundings of the bush. Their fathers and grandfathers were among the last remaining hunters and gatherers in the Zambian bush. They hunted for meat and gathered food and traditional medicine from the bushveld. This knowledge has been passed on to the next generation and the Luangwa guides have a very good reputation for being excellent guides who are anxious to share their knowledge with you.
Although it can get hot later in the day, it will still be a bit chilly in the early morning. Before we head off into the park, a double check for what we might need. A pullover or jacket, sunlotion, a hat, the binoculars and,last but not least, a camera. We always take water and other drinks on our safaris so you don’t need to fill up your bottles.
The reason why we try to be in the park around 06:00 is because our safaris will take 4 hours. If we start off late, it will get too hot which can be uncomfortable. Most animals are also less active during the heat of the day and spend their time hiding from the harsh midday sun.
Track and Trail River Camp is based just 5 minutes away from the main gate of the South Luangwa National Park. We first need to register the car and passengers at the main gate but that won’t take more than 5 minutes at the most. Once we have crossed the bridge across the Luangwa River, which forms one of the natural borders on the eastern side of the park, we soon discover the abundance of wildlife inside the South Luangwa National Park. We will drive, gamedrive speed, to a suitable area where we can park the car. You will be briefed by our professional guide, accompanied by an armed scout, about the rules of the park.
A few of these rules are:
- Remember that the wilderness is to be respected at all times
- Always walk in single file behind the guide or scout
- Never run under whatever circumstances
- Obey your guide at all times
- Don’t touch anything strange unless your guide tells you it is safe
- Don’t damage any plants or leave litter in the park
It is time to explore the bush on foot, which is an adventure on its own. By using all our senses we discover, step by step, a new world of amazing insects, colorful birds and all sizes of animals, all playing their part in the cycle of life.
Being on foot will bring you closer to the heartbeat of the bush and we can pay more attention to the small details like the small five or the green five. We will read tracks and signs, follow trails, listen to alarm calls and slowly become aware of the magic in nature and how we are part of it.
Halfway through the morning walk, we will have a break to enjoy a drink and a small bite.
We will continue our walk until 10.00 when we return to the vehicle and make our way back to the lodge. At the lodge you will have time to refresh yourself and around 11.30 a delicious brunch will be served. After brunch it is time to relax, have a siesta or enjoy the lazy sun bed on the pool deck.
We will meet again for coffee and tea and a delicious homemade cake that our chef has prepared for you.
Your guide will be ready to take you out again for the night drive, this time not with an armed scout but with a spotter. The spotter is a person that will handle a strong spotlight that he will only use after the sun is completely down.
We make our way to the river or a beautiful spot at a lagoon were we will open our bush bar to have a refreshing drink and snack and enjoy the famous Luangwa sunset. The sunset can be amazing and you sometimes can hardly believe your eyes, the sun appearing low on the horizon, casting red and purple rays across the sky.
Once the sun has completely gone down the spotter will take over with his spotlight. From now on we will pay very little attention to diurnal animals as the light will affect their eyes too much. Strangely enough, the same light doesn’t harm the eyesight of the nocturnal animals, so that is what we will be focusing on…. the predators, lion, leopard, hyena, mongoose, owls, civets, bush babies and genets, all animals that have a relatively high sighting rate in the South Luangwa National Park. The spotter will pay attention to the reflection of the eyes: what color gives the reflecting eye, is the eye blinking, are the eyes low to the ground or up…all these things will give an experienced spotter an idea of what kind of animal he is dealing with.
Sometimes it is just nice to switch off the engine, look at the millions of stars and listen to the sounds of the bush. The sounds and sights of the night are very different from what happens during the day. The night is alive with haunting calls, grunts, clicks and whistles. Who knows, perhaps we will come across a hunting leopard, a scavenging hyena or a Pel’s fishing owl that belongs to the more frequent sightings. One thing is for sure, no day is the same in the bush and it is a never ending lecture of information, depending on how far you want to take it.
We have to be out of the park. We return to the lodge to our cozy lounge bar and restaurant on the river and we will have an inviting campfire waiting for you. A 3- course dinner will be served any moment from 20:30. If you have a lot of unanswered questions your guide will be happy to join you for dinner. But you can also have the privacy of a romantic dinner for two. After dessert you can have a cocktail around the campfire or have an early night if you will be joining us again for another adventure in the bush the next morning. Enjoy and relax, that is what it’s all about!