Associate Photo Editor Krista Rossow shares her first trip to Africa.
A total safari newbie, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I packed my duffel bag to head to the bush in Zambia. So, I tried to have few expectations. Everyone kept asking me what animals I wanted to see, as if it were a menu. I’ll take one of everything, please? I was just looking forward to seeing animals that I’d only seen before in a zoo or circus in their natural element. And, of course, to be in Africa.
On the first truck ride from the airport to camp, I realized why the Abercrombie & Kent tour schedule listed the two-hour ride as a “transfer/game drive.” We had just left the town of Mfuwe and were entering South Luangwa National Park on the way to our camp within the park, Sanctuary Puku Ridge. Just after the sun faded beyond the horizon, our truck rounded a bend and came upon a giraffe in the middle of the road. Our patient guide allowed all of us safari first-timers to have a proper burst of excitement before proceeding forward into the darkening bush. By the time we arrived at our camp, we had spotted even more game….two hippos scampering off in the darkness and the shadowy bulk of a few elephants. Not that I was counting, but I’d already crossed two animals off my Big 5 list. I was already being spoiled by Zambia!
Read more about Krista’s first safari after the jump.
Dinner at Puku Ridge Camp was served in the open air with a view of a wide stretch of floodplain lit by two large spotlights. We could see the eponymous puku antelopes pausing at the watering hole. As we finished up our chocolate tortes, our camp host, Don, casually pointed out hyenas passing in the distance. I can’t say I’ve ever had that kind of dining entertainment before.
After being escorted to my tent (you aren’t allowed to walk without security after dark), my jet lag set in. A seven-hour red-eye flight from Washington, D.C., an entire day in London Heathrow’s Terminal 5, an 11 hour red-eye to Johannesburg, another flight to the Zambian capital of Lusaka, a final small plane to Mfuwe, and a two-hour truck ride put me straight to sleep. But jet lag, lovely beast that it is, woke me up in the middle of a pitch-black night. All was silent except for the chirping of insects that I could hear through my netted tent windows. I could feel the vastness around me. Where was I? (Slight panic!) I’m in the middle of nowhere and there are wild animals out there. At that moment, the thrill of the African bush hit me. Ah, yes, I sighed. There are wild animals out there and I am so happy to be on their turf.
- Nat Geo Expeditions