African Safari - the magic of a vanishing wilderness
Through an accident of employment I had the opportunity to promote - and experience first hand - African Safaris.
Safari is simply a Swahili word for travel, but it has come to mean wild adventure travel - particularly African adventure.
I represented a company featuring game viewing in the little known game reserves of Zambia (known in colonial times as Northern Rhodesia). Two of the finest game reserves in all of Africa can be found here - the Luangwa Valley and Kafue National Parks.
Both are vast tracts of primal wilderness, areas that have remained wild and remote - lucky for any latter day traveler fortunate enough to discover their riches.
On my very first visit, in the Kafue National Park, I was with a group of Americans on two vehicles out for an afternoon gamedrive. We came upon a mating pair of lions.
Being novices of the wild game experience, we were fascinated, and we stayed around photographing a little too long.
Suddenly the female lion had had enough of the intrusion. She mock charged our vehicles. We were standing on the back of a kind of pickup truck with a railing around the back. Not much protection against wild animals if they chose to attack.
When the male lion saw the female charge, though it was a mock charge, he followed through. Unfortunately for this animal in the prime of life, the guard in our party had no choice but to shoot.
He was responsible for protecting the tourists. And scared as we were, we were still devastated with the sadness of having killed the magnificent cat.
Etched in my memory is the sight of the male lion lying dead as we drove away.
Returning to camp, members of the party drowned their sadness in "sundowners". I am sure you know that this is an African term for drinks. We were all shook up from the experience.
It remains to be said that I never had anything quite so dramatic happen on any of the many subsequent safaris. Zambia is that wonderful country so little known to us in North America.
I admit to having received many blank stares when bringing up the topic of Zambia's rich wildlife and its gameparks. The conventional view of safari brings associations with Kenya or Tanzania, but seldom with Zambia.
Zambia retains the secret of what Norman Carr called "the enchanted valley," South Luangwa National Park. Norman raised two lions to maturity here before anyone had ever heard of "Born Free".
Below you will find some links to more information regarding Luangwa Valley and Norman Carr. Norman Carr's family can be found operating the lodge at Kapani, built by Norman himself. It is a destination highly recommended to anyone looking for the authentic African safari.