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WALK THIS WAY

There’s no better way to explore the bush than from ground level. The anticipation felt when listening for telltale signs is intoxicating. Mike Dexter recounts his recent adventure in Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park
An armed scout and a guide lead a group across a river on foot in North Luangwa National Park

Experience Africa on foot

Ancient animal paths carved into the earth by the feet and hooves of countless generations of elephants, hippos and buffalo crisscross the landscape. The rough pads of lions and leopards fall silently on trails, allowing them to patrol their territories and stalk their prey undetected. It is along these paths that we are traversing this untamed wilderness.

Our party of five comes to an abrupt halt. I look around warily, unsure of the reason but certain that the stop is justified. Alex Phiri, our guide, is intrinsically in tune with the environment. He crouches down to examine the path while we hold our breath. He beckons us forward and we gather around. The track is clear; there is no mistaking it. A lioness was here just moments ago. “She turned off the path here,” says Alex. “She must have heard us coming.” We had been walking quietly, with the wind in our favour, so she must have been very, very close to detect us. Further along the trail Alex points to an area of flattened grass in the shade of a small acacia tree where she had been lying. I imagine it’s still warm. Following a lone lioness is unwise as she may have cubs and, in an area as remote as this, you always err on the side of caution. So, staying vigilant, we continue on our way.

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About Travel Africa

12 Great adventures to experience in 2016 • Conquer Kilimanjaro • Paddle the Zambezi • Walking in North Luangwa National Park • Meet a mountain gorilla • Visit a conservancy... get off the beaten track!
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