It’s Monday 14th January 2008 and let’s go up river

It’s Monday 14th January 2008 and let’s go up river

Porridge and PeopleEdward and Laurette were with us for eight days. They are very keen bush lovers and Edward sports an amazing Canon. On Wednesday they went up the river for a day’s outing. What did they expect?

“I never expect anything” says Edward, “ – then everything is a bonus.”

Well there were plenty of bonuses. It was a dry day that started out with “porridge and people” at breakfast. Then, captained by Daudi and accompanied by their guide Paul and the scout Boston, they set off loaded with drinks and a picnic. I had thought they would get to the Wafwa do some walking and get back after lunch. I had no idea that Daudi had full intention of reaching Nsefu – his dry season home.

Their first sighting was a “tusker” bull elephant, silhouetted on the bank, and soon after a waterbuck – looking beautiful. Then they heard the baboons barking. And slowing down they watched carefully. The barking went on and on. Paul finally spotted the white tip of a leopard’s tail. And then the leopard was seen by everyone, one by one except Edward, who I am now teasing about not only being deaf but blind. He could not see the leopard and he was the one holding the camera. They slowly followed the creature up the bank for 150 meters until finally the camera shutter went! Only three shots and the leopard disappeared.

Big TuskerLeopard

Onward upriver they continued. Past closed lodges, derelict camps and with the bank falling away, the trees newly fallen in the river, it was clearly a time of nature’s clear up. Throughout the journey there were hippo pods to the left and right. Quite a few were seen up on the bank – sunning themselves or feeding. One family was in the process of struggling up the steep bank, the path being slippery and slidey. There was a young trailing behind. But just as it managed to climb over the edge the boat disturbed the adults who were running back to the water. Poor wee soul was virtually trampled and looked very bewildered.

Hippo rushMale Lion on bank

Next was a male lion – spotted by Boston. Again – Edward in his words, took half an hour to see it.

FishermenLaurette was surprised by how many fisherman they saw, both in the water with nets and close to the edge. This was particularly surprising as a few days before a fisherman was taken near Nkwali by a particularly large crocodile. It happens from time to time and especially this time of year. Parks had come down to the area to find and shoot the croc but it was not easy. Firstly they found every time they got near a croc it quickly slipped away into the water. So it was decided that bait was needed and a baboon was shot. A croc was shot but when opened there was only hippo meat in the stomach. The search was abandoned. This is very hard on the family who traditionally need to bury the body.

But off the gruesome croc story and back to the lovely day on the river. The first stop was Tena Tena where the four watchmen were delighted to have visitors. It is a remote place and totally isolated in the rains. And there is quite a long period when we cannot drive in on the wet roads but the river is too low to boat up. Edward was amazed by the set up. The catfish were smoking on the fire, the camp was basic and the croc and hippo skulls were leaning against a tree. It could have been a scene from 30 years ago.

Smoking fishLunch at nsefu

CuckooThe final stop was Nsefu – again with a team of four safeguarding the camp. Daudi, the manager of Nsefu, proudly gave Edward and Laurette the history of the camp. It was first opened in 1951 and the original rondavels, kitchen and old ablution blocks still stand. Edward found this very emotional.

The wildlife treat here was ….wait for this as I find this exceptional…..a red chested cuckoo chick, sitting in the nest of the host, a pair of heuglin robins – mouth open and being fed by the robins. The staff said the cuckoo parents were visiting the chick – probably to check the feeding program was on course. By the size of it – I would say it was!

And so….after a picnic lunch, table cloth and all……the afternoon cruise back to Nkwali was quiet. However, with such an eventful morning that was not a problem.

crusing on the river

Yes, written by Jo on Thursday but I could not resist this one. What a corker.
Many thanks to everyone who emailed to say “good luck”.
I really am now out of contact !!

Sunset on the river

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