From Ruaha we went to Mbeya where we spent a night before crossing the border into Malawi. I really enjoyed Tanzania. It is a really beautiful country with vast forested mountain ranges. Traveling through Malawi was a last minute decision but it was worth the trip. We didn’t have much time to explore as we had just a few days to get to Zambia. As a result, we didn’t spend any time in parks and didn’t see much in the way of wildlife. Lake Malawi looks more like an ocean and the surrounding area has a very coastal feel about it. There is also what seems to be good raptor habitat: forested mountains with interspersed cliff. On our drive-through, we saw large groups of Amur Falcons and Eurasian Hobbies, presumably on their way north to Europe after spending the winter further south.
We crossed into Zambia and the rain followed us. We asked the GPS to direct us to South Luangwa National Park and we drove a bumpy three hours to the park. As we approached the gate, we saw vultures and Bateleur Eagles circling high up. We drove over a bridge and looked down to see two elephants playing in the water. It felt good to be back among wildlife! We found our campsite and went into the park early the next morning. It had rained all night and the park was very soggy. We got seriously stuck in mud at one point and had to winch the car out. We decided to stick to the main roads from then on. We saw lots of Pukus and storks and several Fish Eagles. Most surprising to us was how common Banded Snake Eagles seemed to be, having found them uncommon so far on our expedition. We also got our cat fix as we spotted lions lazing in some bushes and a little further on, a leopard sleeping in a tree.
The rain continued through the following night and we decided against going into the park again. Simon did some maintenance on the car and then we went for a small drive around the area on the park boundary, again surprised by a Banded Snake Eagle trying to make itself as small as possible as it hid in a tree with a snake it had caught. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t lend itself to photography, so it wasn’t productive on that score. But it is a beautiful park and I hope I go back at some point, perhaps when it is not so flooded.
We left South Luangwa yesterday and drove part of the way to Lusaka and we completed the journey today. Things were pretty quiet until we happened upon a huge group of raptors flying high. We stopped to get a closer look and realised that the group consisted of over 90 Steppe Buzzards and a few migratory eagles as well. Last time Simon saw a migrating group of Steppe Buzzards that large was over 10 years ago! We are in Lusaka now, the capital of Zambia, and shall be moving southward soon.
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