It’s Monday 11th January 2010 and champagne moments

Funny how it goes. Mid week I worry about having anything to tell you and by Monday I have too much to say! This often happens….so some will have to wait till next week. Jon and Chris sent a lovely email of thanks so I asked them to write about their stay. A couple of unusual experiences…

“This was our third visit to RPS in South Luangwa, but our first for Christmas and the park in the Emerald Season. We experienced the usual high quality guiding and hospitality (and much laughter courtesy of that double act, Kiki and Daudi).

In addition, there were special Christmas events, namely, the carol service on Christmas Eve with the lovely voices of the South Luangwa choir accompanied by champagne and canapés, lunch with turkey and the trimmings on Christmas Day. Then a play performed by a local theatre group on Boxing Day.

Warthogs in South Luangwa, Zambiaimpalas in South Luangwa

But it was the “safari experience” that we had principally come for. We were particularly taken by just how “green” the area becomes when the rains fall. Any anxiety that the weather would adversely affect the game viewing proved groundless. Days were bright and sunny, and any storms tended to be at the end of the day and were spectacular. The newborn animals were a source of much delight, and there were good sightings of the “cats”.

We did have the privilege of witnessing two extraordinary events whilst on game drives:

malachite kingfisher lands on the vehicle……and parades like a catwalk model

One morning Daudi was driving slowly through an area full of grazing impala and zebra when we became aware of a malachite kingfisher attempting to land on the back bar of the vehicle. Daudi stopped the vehicle and with our fellow guests Malcolm and Claudia we sat in awe as this “shy” beautiful bird settled on the vehicle, and proceeded to pose for pictures, turning around like a catwalk model!!!! This was not a momentary happening but the kingfisher stayed for a period of minutes. When it flew off, we just looked at one another and went “wow”. At the tea stop, pictures were enthusiastically viewed and we talked of nothing but our malachite – and this was on Christmas Day!

Our final game drive of our stay then provided another “Champagne Moment”.

snoozy lion with snare

We had sighted a snoozing male lion on the previous day and he was encumbered by a snare, which had got entangled around his neck. Although it did not restrict his movement he seemed bothered. On the morning in question, we came across him resting on a main road. Daudi radioed to contact Matt of the AWDC and the SLCS team, who had already set out with a view finding the lion and removing the snare.

Matt lining up to dart the lion (lying on the left)lion collapses in nearby shade, South Luangwa

We then had a close spectator view of the team and their strategy for darting the lion and removing the snare. Firstly, Matt in his Land Rover, after much manoeuvring fired the dart into the lion’s shoulder. The lion then slowly walked away and then slumped in a shaded area. By this time there were a number of RPS guides and guests eagerly taking a keen view.

Matt calmly explained the procedures and where we could safely view the proceedings. His team regularly took temperature and applied water to cool the animal, whilst he applied an injection of antibiotics, removed the snare and cleaned the wounds. The guides assisted in the task of measuring the lion, and then with the weighing. The scales read 164 kg (which we believe indicates that he is not yet fully grown). I do not know who was more excited – the guides or the guests!

Finally, before the reversal injection, Matt advised us that we should leave. He had been brilliant in involving us as spectators, whilst undertaking what must have been a stressful task.

lion having a “health check”, South Luangwaweighing in the lion, South Luangwa

We will be interested to learn of how the lion fares after his “health check”.

Now we are home in wintry Solihull, England, and have fantastic memories and stories to tell our friends.” Jon & Chris Cox

Many thanks Jon and Chris….I simply cannot believe the malachite story but the pudding proof is here – great photos. It has been very dry here for the last couple of weeks and we were beginning to worry about River Journeys which start in ten days with Nsefu Camp opening. These wonderful boating safaris need a high river and high it is has not been! We have started the process of getting ready and Simon did make it up by boat once but only just. However on Friday, at four in the morning an amazing storm started. And boy did it start raining. Furious rain! And by nine o’clock just over five inches (125 mm) had fallen. Eeek! The river has jumped up over a foot and is rising fast. The lagoons are filling.

Yippeee I say. I love a full Luangwa (although some way to go).

I have so much more to chat about but it will all just have to wait till next week… so until then… take care.

PS If you are a safari lover, interested in improving your photography and would like to join in the Emerald Season I highly recommend a week with David Rogers at Nkwali & Nsefu….his photographic workshops are great fun. You don’t need to be an advanced photographer – just an enthusiast with a digital and a laptop.

lions on the bank spotted by Simon on the way up to Nsefu (boating), South Luangwa

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