Hermann Buchen visited South Luangwa in September on a private safari with me from Marula Lodge. We enjoyed some wonderful sightings. The best of these happened on our first afternoon in the park…but I’ll let Hermann tell you about it:

Meetings with leopards and lions in South Luangwa – Hermann Buchen

There are still places in Africa, where nature can be found protected from mankind as far as possible. South Luangwa is one of those places where you still can experience the wilderness of Africa, but to get more decent photo opportunities than from a crowded car one should have a guide who really understands the needs of an enthusiastic photographer. Luckily I made an arrangement with Ed. So he picked me up at the airport and after a stop at the accommodation we set off immediately on an afternoon safari. The attached pictures are proof that the following story really happened, and a tribute to the Ed’s skill and experience.

First of all, you should know that it seems nature rewards those who have an eye for all animals and the beauty of environment more than those with a very special motive such as leopards hunting in morning light. We just stopped to make some pictures of a very ordinary group of Impalas in front of a beautiful forest. Suddenly we heard the leopard warning call of a baboon. Baboons have different calls and Ed’s eyes brightened at the prospect of the chance for a leopard sighting on the first day.

So we drove through an area full of ditches, drains and thick vegetation towards the calling baboon, only to discover nothing. So slightly dissatisfied we made our way back. There were a lot of good hides that leopards love and finding paw prints on the bottom of a drain, we were assured that there was a leopard about and it had passed us undiscovered. Well, recalling all the other animals we had seen in the afternoon; the colourful birds, giraffes, hippos, pukus, impalas and sleepy lions, we supposed the amazing sunset was an adequate reward despite such a near miss.

Suddenly, the shrieking noise from a presumably successful hunt caused us to jump to the vehicle and drive towards the noise. There, down in a ditch we found the leopard with his dying prey. The leopard began his meal as fast as he could. Being busy to capture the scene I only half realized that a lion was passing the car at arm’s length. The leopard paid more attention to matters in hand and quickly disappeared into the dark of the oncoming night. Within minutes the remains of the Impala were shared between six roaring lions, each fighting for a decent cut. Thanks to Ed’s advice to recheck and adjust camera settings, and despite shaking with excitement, I was rewarded with bunch of great pictures and an unforgettable impression of the peck order among top carnivores.

Throughout the remaining days of this safari Ed had an eye for the background, for the best possible angle and at the right moments, all the while gently reminding me to keep an eye on the camera settings. His empathy with the needs of the photographer was much appreciated. Among other things, Ed always put the question whether we should spend the next day in already explored territory revisiting the wildlife already encountered in the hope of better photos or whether we should push ahead to new areas with the risk of no sights but the chance to detect something new. The result was an amazing collection of great wildlife pictures and memories of joyful discoveries in the wilderness.


Thank you, Hermann, for taking the time to write-up your experience in the South Luangwa. It was a great safari, and I hope to welcome you back again some day.