Chongwe Safaris
Porcupines Galore
19 October 2017 // Kelsea Lee

For many safarists, sighting the elusive nocturnal species presents the greatest sense of satisfaction. It’s the luck of the draw, but there’s a real sense of accomplishment when you happen to cross paths with one of these denizens of the dark. As your guide’s spotlight passes over those telltale porcupine quills or the elongated snout of an aardvark, it’s thrilling in a way that a daytime sighting just isn’t. They’re not creatures of the same world as you. They thrive in the inky blackness of night and find no pleasure in stretching out in the sunshine for a midday nap. They’d much rather greet the day long after the sun has sunk below the horizon and the colour has faded from the land. 

Part of the challenge with spotting nocturnal wildlife is that we’re asleep during their most active hours. But what if there was a way to see these mysterious creatures without having to stay up ridiculously late or without even having to go on a game drive? Look no further than the new Chongwe wildlife hide.

Overlooking a naturally created waterhole, the hide is the perfect place to wait for some once-in-a-lifetime nocturnal sightings. After finishing dessert, head over to the hide and settle onto one of the comfortable stools – don’t forget to adjust your camera settings. You peer into the darkness, listening to the impossibly loud croaking frogs and chirping insects. From beneath the cacophony, a shuffling, grunting noise emerges. Something is out there. But what? It’s pitch black and you can’t see anything. Get ready, your guide will tell. You steady your camera, aiming it into the wall of darkness outside the hide.

He quickly flicks on the powerful spotlight, flooding the waterhole with yellowy light and illuminating the owner of the shuffling grunts.

It’s a porcupine!

No, wait – it’s two porcupines!

And they’re fending off a hyaena!

They face each other, their snouts nearly touching so their black and white quills form a protective barrier. They rotate in a tight circle, constantly maneuvering to fend of the hyaena’s advances. The porcupines grunt indignantly and the hyaena has a bemused look on his face. What a sighting! Cameras click and flashes go off, capturing each rare moment in time. Afterward you flip through them, choosing your favorites and commending your fellow photographers on their snaps.

The daytime sightings have been fantastic too. Big herds of elephants regularly stop by for an afternoon drink, and there’s no end of antics with the warthog, impala, waterbuck and baboons that hang around. Designed to look like a termite mound, it is spacious and comfortable inside. Soft lounge chairs are available for downtime between sightings, or for those less inclined who just want to relax with a drink in hand while their companions photograph.

Though it’s brand new, the Chongwe hide is already proving itself a worthy part of any safari experience. Nearly every night there have been porcupine sightings – who knows what else the bush will serve up next. 

Hyaena & porcupine image by Will Burrard-Lucas


Kelsea Lee // Time + Tide

Other articles by this author:  Flight of the Bumble Bee-Eaters  //  Tales of Lady Liuwa: Remembering a Legend  //  Gone, but Not Lost: Liuwa after Sepo  //  Fly Camp Luxury  //  20/20 Vision  //  ​Photo Series: A New Generation  //  Photo Series: Island Style at Miavana  //  Safaris Awards 2018 Winners  //  Lower Zambezi: 20 Wanderlust Worthy Photos  //  A Safari Christmas  //  A Little Inspiration for 2019  //  The Bush Olympics  //  NY Times: Liuwa Plain a Must-Go Destination for 2018  //  Women Helping Women  //  Life Through the Lens: Madagascar Special  //  Life Through the Lens: Andrew Macdonald  //  Life Through the Lens: Matt Armstrong  //  Life Through the Lens: Heinrich van den Berg  //  With the Elephants  //  The Kuomboka Procession  //  When Lions Visit...  //  Redefining Bush Gourmet  //  The All New Time + Tide Kakuli  //  Keep It Fresh  //  World Lion Day  //  Time + Tide Miavana Through A Family's Eyes  //  10 Reasons Zambia is Perfect for your Family Safari  //  On a Treasure Hunt with Chris  //  Top 10 Time + Tide Miavana Adventure Experiences  //  The Cabinet des Curiosities  //  7 Amazing Facts about Carmine Bee-Eaters  //  A Crowd-Free Great Migration  //  Visitors from Antarctica  //  Not Your Average Fishing Trip  //  Developing like a Fine Wine  //  The Kakumbi Cricket Club  //  Three Newborn Lemurs: A Conservation Story  //  A Year in the Bush  //  Liuwa Plain: The Inspiring Tale of a Modern Wetland  //  Anatomy of a Thornicroft Giraffe  //  Time + Tide: Our Heritage and Name