We departed Croc Valley on the 16th and left the crowds and rowdy monkeys behind for the peace and tranquility of Zikomo Camp located on the bank of the Luangwa River opposite of South Luangwa NP.
As has happened a few times so far, when we arrived in the early afternoon we found we had the whole camp to ourselves, at least for the first night anyway, so we had the choice of about 8 sites.
The camp was situated a little distance from the Luangwa River but the Puku, Baboons, Elephants and Hippos were plentiful and we had an almost panoramic view of the flatlands and dried ravines that made up the flood plain landscape.
We settled in, set up our site and relaxed and a few hours later I lit a fire to prepare the brai to cook another gastronomical gourmet delight of bbq sausage with foil wrapped snap peas, green beans and squash with butter.
It was dark when we finished eating and as we relaxed beside our fire the Lodge safari truck drove by on the flats with their spotlight arcing left and right over the dry terrain when suddenly they came to a stop not far from our site. They paused for a few minutes and then continued on back to the lodge.
Joyce and I commented that if it was a lion or lions that they spotted then they probably would have stayed at that spot longer and thought it would be great if they came over to our site to let us know lions were in the area.
Well probably 10 minutes later truck lights approach our camp along the campsite access road. A Safari truck pulls up and four men get out. Two are wearing their guide outfits and the other are lodge employees.
We were sitting beside the fire and when they pulled up we told them they were too late for dinner.
They proceeded to tell us there was a male and two female lions right in our vicinity so we grabbed our light and walked about 15 metres to the banks of our site, shone our light and there sat a beautiful large male lion about 25 metres away.
They then told us the females were probably right behind or near us in the bush so best to keep our eyes open. They then proceeded to their truck and off they went, the truck lights fading into the distance allowing the dark to envelope us once again save for our camp fire.
It was very dark outside and the area was littered with dry leaves from the enormous shade trees dotted throughout the camp site. Any whiff of wind would move the leaves and make it impossible to know if it was the wind or lion disturbing the leaves.
We sat near the fire and listened. We were a bit apprehensive. Then……a loud roar followed by guttural grunting. And very close by.
This lion is really close and there are apparently two more near by as well.
Our site was such that you either face towards an area where the banks extend to the flat lands or, you face looking towards bush to the front and left and right of us. We faced the the larger area of view but behind us was the blind spot.
We sat scanning the area with our high-powered flashlight, hair on the backs of our necks bristling, feeling something must be sneaking up behind us. Sitting back-to-back would be the best way to look out for attacks!
It was getting late, around 8:00 pm (ha ha) so we figured it was probably time to go to bed. As we drew our sleeping bags over us another guttural roar but this time further away. They had moved on. That was an exciting evening!
The next day and evening were uneventful but we did have hippos in the evening feeding very close to our site and on the morning of our departure on the 18th had a great close encounter from a visiting elephant.