(from Dustin again)
Monday morning brought one of the other unique aspects of South Luangwa, a walking safari. Apparently very few other parks offer them, in part because the safari vehicles provide a significant amount of safety (the animals don’t separate the people and the vehicle into different objects), and in part because this mode of safari covers much less ground. The advantage though, is that you do move slowly. That gives the opportunity to see things that are usually missed as you whisk by in a car.
South Luangwa has a long history of walking safaris, due to the first British organizers that operated from here. It is one of the earliest parks, and also innovative as well. The guides are particularly well trained (so we heard), and the companies have a long history of working closely with the local people and chiefs – so that they benefit from the tourism as well (whereas in many other parks the locals are left out, while the European tour companies rake in the cash). Anyway, a special aspect of the walking safaris is an accompanying armed guard – ours was named ‘Super Lucca.’
As expected, we didn’t see a lot of wildlife outside a fair amount of birds – but we were thoroughly educated in animal poo, and all of the behavior it reflects (such as diet, herd organization, etc). At the end of the walk we did happen upon a group of ten zebras, and it was certainly a different feeling to observe them from nearby and on the ground!
Julianna had been quite exhausted by the previous day’s long drive (and some poor sleep, maybe due to the malaria medicine), so she decided to stay back at camp and get some additional rest. As it turned out, she got her own close up experience. When she woke up and exited the tent she found a family of elephants right outside eating their breakfast! So, she took plopped down on the front patio of the tent and got a real front row seat to a morning of elephants.
That wrapped up our quick weekend safari, and we headed back to Chipata for meetings the next day. On the way we stopped by Tribal Textiles, a large shop who’s products we had seen all over Zambia. It is run by a European woman, but she has built the business to provide sustainable wages – and she hopes to eventually turn over ownership to locals who are learning the trades. Via Lonely Planet, we learned that this place provides 150 good jobs, so it probably supports about 1,000 local people via those 150 families. That’s the kind of model we try to support in our travel purchases, not to mention we really liked their products – so we picked up our fair share!