Well, hello there. I hope you are superbly well after another thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Here in the Luangwa temperatures continue to remain rather nippy and a few hot water bottles have made it out on game drives as well as plenty of blankets, but it has been worthwhile. Guests have been treated to lots of wonderful sightings including lion cubs bugging the heck out of their parents and aunties and wild dogs having various failed but highly dramatic hunting attempts.
But for this week and in fact next week we have something a little different. We are hearing from Kevin Macaulay, the man behind Wingman Films, who was with us at the end of last year for a period hosting a wildlife documentary film crew. So, a little behind the scenes insight for you all:
“It’s still dark when I leave my room in South Luangwa’s Nkwali Camp. The smell of fresh coffee draws me to the main area and the sound of hippos coming back to the river after being out feeding for the night is a precursor to the day ahead. The rest of the crew arrives soon after me, thanks to their wake-up call from the camp staff. We have a cup of coffee and grab a rusk, knowing that we’ve got a packed breakfast and lunch already in the vehicle, along with loads of water and plenty of soft drinks.
The sky lightens as we leave camp but it’s a while before sunrise, so we hope to find lions to film before we lose the golden filming light. Thankfully, the Luangwa Valley is one of Africa’s great lion strongholds and it’s not long before we find a pride strolling along the riverbank, still on the lookout for prey. This pride is well known for being adept buffalo hunters and that’s what we’re hoping to film – lions hunting buffalo. Positioning the vehicle so that the lions are backlit provides an opportunity to get some beautiful footage. If you think that housecats are aloof, wait until you spend time with lions. They’ve gotten so used to being viewed in Luangwa that they just ignore the vehicles and go about their business, a tribute to the skilled guiding community here and this enables the crew to get natural animal behaviour on camera.
An unwary puku, grazing in a clearing doesn’t realise the danger he’s in until it’s almost too late but one of the sub-adult lions has clumsily messed up his mum’s stalk and the puku whistles off to safety. Looking around in dismay, the lioness flops down in the shade and promptly nods off for a catnap, must’ve been a hard night.
The rest of the pride follow suit and are out for the count in minutes. We pull the vehicles back from the pride and settle in to wait for something to stumble across the lions. While we wait, we see other vehicles viewing the lions and the guides will often bring their guests over to us for a chat. It’s such a pleasure to see how excited guests are about being part of a story we’re making. Showcasing an area through natural history filmmaking is a fantastic marketing tool and it brings the Luangwa Valley into the living rooms of millions of people.
The lions may have missed out on their breakfast, but we don’t have to! The chefs in camp have arranged a delicious, packed breakfast and we’re quick to tuck in. Sipping a steaming mug of Zambian coffee while the lions are dreaming of things, they haven’t eaten yet is an idyllic way to spend a morning.
Most of the game drive vehicles have gone back to their respective camps for brunch and we pretty much have the lions to ourselves for now (not that they look like they plan on doing anything) so we settle in for the long haul and do a spot of birding while listening to the sounds of impala rutting in the distance, rumbling elephants and alarm calling squirrels.
Our patience was about to pay off…”
On that note, I shall have to leave you all hanging until next week Monday… when we’ll hear more about what unfolds next. There is a lot of time and patience goes into making the incredible documentaries that we get to watch on TV. The film crews will be out for months, sometimes even years to capture these incredible wildlife sequences.
So, for today I shall bid you a very fond farewell and hope that you have a fabulous week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.