Of all the wonderful trees in South Luangwa, I love the baobab the most. It stands out amidst the mopani, marula, ebony, mahogany and acacia trees. The bark is smooth, silvery grey. They grow for centuries, storing water in their massive fibrous trunks. Sometimes there are massive scars in the lowest two metres of the trunk, where elephants have gouged into it with their tusks to get some liquid.
When I arrived in April, it had just fruited. Children and animals collect the huge, grey/green, furry seed pods which have fallen to the ground. You can make a drink from the contents which tastes a bit like sherbet and lemonade (if you haven’t had either for a while). The leaves turned yellow and fell before Mayday. Now their branches look stark and bare, some with a shawl of parasitic creeper providing their only greenery.
During the early 20th century, early aviators would plot their route with reference to the baobab trees which they could pick out from the air. “Turn west at the first big baobab you see after the Zambezi, and head for the next one on the horizon,” the directions might have read.
I have taken a few photographs of my favourite baobabs in the Park.
This last selection of photographs is from outside the Park, showing a juvenile marabou stork taking off from its nest, as I approached.