He said it so quietly that I almost missed it. I was leaning out the side of the safari truck, gazing at the night sky spilling over with stars. The gurgle of the engine and the constant rocking had almost lulled me to sleep. It had been about 30 minutes since we had seen an animal of note, and that was the fleeting vision of a hyena taking cover in the bushes.
“There’s a leopard up ahead,” said our safari guide, with no fanfare at all. He quickly maneuvered the truck off the road and tried to get closer.
“Wait! What? NO. Really?”
I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t losing his mind! A leopard was like seeing a unicorn. At this point on Intrepid’s Cape Town to Zanzibar trip, I had already been on safaris at Etosha in Namibia, Chobe in Botswana and Matobo in Zimbabwe. Every time we met our guides, they asked us what we were hoping to see and we would always chime in with “Leopards!” The guide would then shake his head and dismiss the possibility because they are so elusive. I went to the place that has the densest population of leopards on the planet, Matobo Park, and there wasn’t even the hint of a leopard in the vicinity.
But now, I was in Zambia, in South Luangwa Park, on the last game drive before crossing in to Malawi.
I leaned forward, and squinted into the distance, following the beam of light that they were shining from the hood of the truck. Sure enough, there was a cat on the horizon. He had changed direction and was walking directly toward the truck.
“Leopard!”, I whispered, to no-one in particular.
Click here to read the article in full on Intrepid Travel: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/zambia-travel-safari/