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Anything but plain

In the far west of Zambia lies a vast land of golden savannah, flower-filled lagoons and plentiful wildlife: Liuwa Plain National Park. Sue Watt reports on this conservation success story
Apex predators. There are about 700 spotted hyenas at Liuwa Plain, living in clans of up to 50.
PHOTOGRAPH BY WILL BURRARD-LUCAS / NORMAN CARR SAFARIS

In the afternoon heat we found Lady resting in the shade of shrub. She raised her battle-scarred head, gazed sleepily in our direction with amber eyes full of leonine wisdom, then promptly lay down again, oblivious to our hushed excitement. Lady is a legend in Liuwa. For nine years she was the only lion in this vast national park. Today, she heads a pride of five, but in those lonely years she showed no desire to leave and who could blame her? She must have realised what a special place this is.

This secret wilderness has long been fêted by safari connoisseurs, but despite this publicity welcomes few visitors. It’s remote and raw, taking time and effort to get here. Our journey involved a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Lusaka to Kalabo, a pontoon across the Luanginga River and a two-hour drive to our camp, Matamanene, the only one in the park (for now). But it was well worth the ride: Liuwa is a land of surprises.

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