Sacred Combe Safari III
There are some days when the Valley goes mad. Chucks everything at you all at once, no thought of saving something up for a nice surprise later on. All at once, crossing the wooded savannahs of the Luangwa Valley was like crossing Liverpool Street Station during the rush hour.
We were walking away from the bush camps, which meant leaving my beloved hut at Crocodile Camp, and already, even at this stage, there was an elegiac sense of last days and an urgent need to savour every last moment of this trip.
The elephants had come to survey us while we took breakfast at camp, and then, as we set off, we caught up with them again. I counted 15: a breeding group of mixed ages. Perhaps two related groups come together to socialise, for elephants do love company, the young ones boisterously and the old one gravely.
They were all clearly on good terms with each other, with life and for that matter with us, fanning their ears and continuing that unhurried munch that takes an elephant from one end of the day to the other. And then there were three buffalos. Old male buffs like these are usually seen as the grouch-pots of the bush, but this morning they are all in serenely good temper. There were also a couple of breeding herds of zebra, raising their striped heads to watch us walk by, and just to add the morning’s vision of plenty, a fine upstanding warthog marched past in his skin-tight skin.
Zee the scout left us on a sweetly curving route that gave us good views of our fellow-mammals and yet kept us from disturbing each other and spoiling each other’s morning. So much, and all at once: well, the Valley will keep on doing things like that. Later, when we stopped for a cup of tea, I saw a little sparrowhawk.