Saturday, November 13, 2004

Nomad investigates new areas of Western Zambia

In November 2004 Diane from our U.K. office, Alan and Oriel from our Zambian office and four adventurous clients who had travelled with us before all set out in two Landrovers. Our intention was to undertake the type of journey that led to the development of our portfolio of guided tours when NOMAD was first established. The area that we had chosen was Liuwa Plains in Western Zambia. At the start of the trip Diane accompanied four of the group to South Luangwa. Here both daytime and nighttime game drives enabled them to see 141 species of birds and 21 species of mammals. The highlights at this time of year included leopard, civet, bushy tailed mongoose, Pel’s fishing owl and huge concentrations of hippo in the Luangwa River.
Alan and Oriel met up with the group in Lusaka, before heading off to Liuwa. Because of the remote location of this National Park it was necessary to take all food, water and equipment with us and two vehicles is certainly advisable. Travelling west from Lusaka we crossed the vast Zambezi flood plain at Mongu. The dirt road over the floodplain has been built up on an embankment, but in places this has been washed away by the river. This resulted in some testing off road driving here, as well as on the return journey. The floodplain is 26km wide between Mongu and Kalabo and the journey took three and a half hours. We stayed a night at Kalabo before travelling on into the park.
The parks attractions at this time of year are the gathering if thousands of wildebeest on the Liuwa Plain to give birth. The open plains are also home to oribi and attracted large groups of crowned and wattled cranes. Waterholes surrounded by yellow flowers held plentiful supplies of barbel which provided food for sacred ibis, yellow billed stork, white pelican and maribu stork, Other birds of note included pink throated longclaw, long tailed widows and black winged pratincoles. Bee-eaters were abundant with varied-olive, European, carmine, little and white throated all being present.
The most numerous carnivores was the spotted hyena and large groups of them were seen here, but we were also fortunate enough to see a lion and two cheetah during our four nights stay. Our return journey followed the western side of the Zambezi. Travelling on at times deeply potholed roads progress was slow, but the road passed through many small homesteads of subsistence farming interspersed with natural forest. A particular landmark of note along this road was the almost unvisited Ngonye Falls at Sioma, which is both dramatic and picturesque.
After a particularly testing journey we were happy to return to the comforts of Liyoyelo Farm. With bush camping the only option, coupled with the uncertainty of the road conditions on this journey, we concluded that Liuwa is definitely a place to visit, but only for those who are willing to accept that things may not always go to plan. It will not therefore make a page in our main brochure, but will remain an option for a tailor made itinerary for the Africa enthusiast who wishes to experience something that is both a little special and quite challenging.