Nia Sees First-hand How the “Circle of Life” Works

Foreign Service LifeTravel
November 14, 2017

Hi everyone – Sorry for the break in posting. We’ve been busy showing my parents the best of Africa. Of course, no trip to Africa would be complete without a safari, so after a few days in Lilongwe, that’s exactly where we took them. We took them to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia for a 3 night safari (with six – 4 hour game drives). It’s dry season, which means that vegetation is sparse and animals congregate at the watering holes. Both of these things make for great game viewing! We really lucked out, seeing some sightings that were even new to our family (leopards!!).

We went with a safari operator that we used last November in Malawi. The operator is called Robin Pope and it’s top notch in terms of food, accommodations and guiding. We were fortunate to book Robin’s House, a private house that can hold up to 5 people. This property is ideal for families because you’re allocated your own safari car and guide and eat your meals as a group on your schedule. This worked great for us because if it got too hot or Nia got tired we’d just head back a little early. It was absolutely perfect for our needs. And the mini plunge pool was a huge hit with Nia in the middle of the day when we were between safaris. Here are the 4 staff members that took care of us during our stay.

Because it was ridiculously hot (highs near 100 degrees), we went out early and late in the day. Our wake-up call came at 5 AM and we had until 5:30 to get ready. Breakfast was served from 5:30 to 6 AM. The best part is that is was cooked over an open fire – so cool!

After breakfast it was off to our safari car, which was already loaded and ready to roll. The morning safari went from 6-10 AM each day, with a 30 minute tea stop somewhere along the way.

Our afternoon safari went from 4-8 PM and included 2 hours of night viewing with a high-powered spotlight. TheĀ in-between hours were mostly spent eating, swimming and napping. Turns out safari-ing is hard work!

As I mentioned earlier, we saw a lot of amazing sights. However, we were fortunate enough to glimpse one of the rarest animals in the park. And not only did we glimpse it, we got to watch it kill another animal. Which animal was it? Nope, not a lion. It was a Wild Dog pack.

They look sweet, but man oh man are they ferocious. We came upon a large pack of 20 of them. About half were adults, half babies. They chilled for awhile and then just before sunset (exactly as our guide predicted), they took off to make a few kills to tide them over til the morning. The adults broke out into 3 groups and took off at lightning speed after some impalas. Each group managed to kill an impala. We drove like mad to stay with one group and got there just as the kill was happening. This poor impala happened to be a pregnant mama (hard to move fast when you’re running for 2!). The fetus immediately got ripped out of the impala and taken back to the baby dogs. The adults then went to work on mama.

It was incredible how fast they tore her apart. Check out all the blood on their heads!

They continued to pull her apart bit by bit…

until they were down to pretty much just the bones.

The whole process took no more than 15 minutes. It was so mind-blowing to watch. When the eating had finished, the adults ran back up to the babies. We followed, of course! Then the craziest thing started to happen. The babies let out this high-pitched whine and the adults regurgitated some of the meat for the babies. It was disgusting but oh-so-cool to see! Nature is amazing!

I imagine you’re wondering how Nia did with all this. Well, fear not, she was totally enthralled. So enthralled, in fact, that she thought we should get out of the vehicle right by the dogs and enjoy our morning snack. I looked at her and said, “Nia, did you not just see those dogs rip that impala to shreds? If we get out of the car, WE’LL be the next snack”. This managed to change her mind (thank the Lord). She was a great little mini-safari-er. Our guide even commented about how engaged and inquisitive she was. Mom and Dad were real proud of her. :)

I leave you with one final cool anecdote that just blew my mind and perfectly illustrates the beautiful synchronicity of nature. In the picture above you see a ravine. That ravine was made by a hippo who wandered to and from the water each day on the EXACT same path. Over time, he wore down the ground, creating a ravine. That ravine is capitalized on by the leopard, who sneaks down into the crevice undetected and pops out right by her prey (the poor impalas again). Isn’t that cool?

If you’re really into this safari stuff and want to see all my photos, you can head on over to SMUGMUG. I hope to get a post up about our week in Cape Town in the next few days. Stay tuned!

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