Working alongside some of the most incredible destinations in the world, the Hawkins team often finds themselves in the midst of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We live and breathe travel, and after a year of hardly traveling at all, our team is back out on the road and we’re taking you with us in a new series titled ‘Hawks on the Ground.’ Most recently, our very own Caroline Keane visited Zambia with The Bushcamp Company. Keep reading to hear all about her travels.
Exploring Africa is not an experience everyone gets to be a part of. What were your first thoughts getting off the plane?
With everything this past year has brought, especially the uncertainty surrounding international travel, I was not confident I was even going to Zambia’s illustrious South Luangwa National Park until I was actually on the plane as I really did not want to get my hopes up — call it managing expectations, if you will. When I arrived at Mfuwe Lodge, The Bushcamp Company’s lodge located just inside the gates of South Luangwa National Park, it all felt so surreal. It was a crisp and cool night and after 30+ hours of travel, why wouldn’t we immediately go on a night game drive?! With the effervescent and knowledgeable Fannuel as our guide, we headed out, and as a safari novice — I had no idea what to expect. I was in awe as we drove alongside elephants, hippos, impala, zebras, and even a leopard high in a sausage tree with her kill. It was quite the start to what would be the most transformative week of my life.
What was one of the most transformative moments of your trip?
The entire trip was transformative. Being around such rare wildlife – painted dogs, lions, leopard, hyenas – and surrounded by vast wilderness regions was just awe-inspiring. It was also incredible to see all the work that The Bushcamp Company does for the surrounding Mfuwe villages. The company’s founder, Andy Hogg, is such an inspiration. He has worked to develop over 140 boreholes delivering clean water to thousands of people each day, in addition to building classrooms, an expansive vegetable farm, and so much more. It’s inspiring to be around Andy: He makes everyone who is lucky enough to meet him want to be a better person and do more for the world.
What was it like being on safari and traveling during this moment?
With wide open spaces and very intimate camp sizes designed for small groups, a safari is socially distant by nature. With tourism to South Luangwa still down from pre-COVID-19 levels, travelers can expect to be pretty much alone with the wildlife, with no other tourists around, making for unbelievable wildlife sightings at very close proximity. With my vaccine and negative COVID-19 tests required to enter Zambia, and with all the staff vaccinated and masked, I felt very safe and well taken care of.
We know seeing wildlife of Africa is a once in a lifetime experience – describe it for us!
I don’t think I will ever find the words to describe just how magical it was seeing lions, leopards, elephants, zebras, painted dogs, and hyenas so close. I couldn’t believe my eyes — and still can’t. Being with The Bushcamp Company in one of the most remote regions of the world, seeing wildlife I had never seen before, was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I can only hope that I am able to return one day.