I wanted to do the Mobile Walking Safari for a long time already and now the day had come. And rest assured I was not disappointed. My experience of touching, seeing and smelling the wilderness of the Luangwa Valley under the most sophisticated guiding presented by Robin Pope Safaris by far surpassed my wildest imaginations and dreams.
We were greeted by our master of the bush, Kanga, in the exclusive environment of the Luangwa Safari House, set in a wildlife rich lagoon of the Luangwa Valley. Kanga, a true Robin Pope Safari guide who takes his profession and the responsibility he carries for his guests and his team very seriously, gave us a superb brief and heads up on what to expect and what to do or not to do during the next 6 days. To ease us in to our „into the wild- safari”, he took us on one of my favourite Luangwa experiences: crossing this mighty and untouched river with the pontoon for an afternoon game drive. Africa, the way I love it! And we did not have to wait long to spot our first lion and leopard.
In the early hours of day one on our Mobile Walking Safari we took a scenic drive with our accompanying vehicle to the far northern and lonely area of the South Luangwa National Park leaving all traces of civilisation behind. After reaching and settling into our comfortable mobile tented camp we went on our first walk. But just before setting out: Kanga never got tired to re-brief the group on each occasion before we started walking or even during our walk, when things got even a bit more exciting and adrenalin was pumping. After all we had three newcomers to Africa amongst us! Our first sundowner we spent in near silence listening to the sounds of the bush and easing into what was ahead of us.
Back in camp we were greeted to a warm bucket shower and tasty three course bush dinner as darkness set in. The camp staff showed true Robin Pope Safari service standards and we learned that our chef Alfred has been part of the mobile team for already an impressive 26 years. Whilst our waiter Jack was happy to start his day even earlier than with most other groups and served fresh hot coffee even before sunrise with a smile.
As soon as we had set of for our morning walk, the A team, took down camp and manoeuvred the camp on a massive truck to its next location, set up camp, got the fire going and served hot bread and fresh salads for lunch when we walked in a few hours later with a hungry stomach and tired feet. This was always followed by a much needed and very welcome siesta. We were so incredibly spoiled throughout our stay.
Into the wild: We read the bush newspaper early each morning only to find out that the lions slept just meters away from camp and the hyenas used buffalo dung as their cushions. Kanga would always say: “Let´s check”, as he took us into our next adventure and taught us to see the wild with his eyes and his senses. He could tell us that the leopard had parked its fresh kill of a baby impala in a tree, literally minutes before we walked past as there was no smell of decay nor flies to be seen.
We walked through ebony tree studded plains, landscapes full of Lala palms, thick bush, high grass only to be treated to just again a new sight of the Mupamadzi River. We rested our feet under the shade of big Winterthorn trees. Had our water bottles refilled and cleaned our binos for the next „Kanga Check“ only to be rewarded by some of the most magnificent sunsets in a way only Africa can say „goodbye till tomorrow“. We fell asleep whilst hyenas sang us into our sweet dreams and we woke up to lions in action at yet another „scene of crime“ which unfolded just metres away from camp during the night.
Any knowledge as to how to run your business, work in a racing computer world and even world politics became so unimportant and trivial. Seven days without connection to the rest of the world: like a dry sponge our body cells soaked up the wilderness knowledge and relaxed as we handed over complete control to our guide and his team. We learned to listen to smell, to interpret and to spot our way into the wild. What a world is out there and only a handful of privileged guests have a chance to dive into this paradise just so precious and so special.
Cooling our feet during a crossing of the Mupamadzi River was just as exciting as seeing the total lunar eclipse, learning about teeth and bones at the „various scenes of crime“ which at times were fresh, fresh, fresh…. Sipping coffee and teas on welcome breaks during our walk, with herds of buffalo looking on. Seeing the elusive breeding herd of roan antelope on foot or listening to the repeated cry of the fish eagle.
The experiences that engraved itself into my brain? Whilst studying the graveyard of an elephant, Kanga suddenly stopped his explanations and said: „The dogs are coming!“ and next minute a desperate Puku crossed the plain in front of us, followed by a pack of 6 dogs which of course subsequently killed the poor Puku right in front of our eyes. A wild dog kill whilst walking! We spent anything close to an hour with the dogs, before we left them to their feast.
Kanga, who learned his profession undergoing the extensive training within the Robin Pope Safari training system takes great pride not only in his profession but also in sharing his knowledge not only with guests but also with young trainee guides as he nowadays plays a key role in the own Robin Pope Safari Guiding academy.
When would I go again? Tomorrow!