It’s Monday 15th September 2008 and the season is floating by…

It’s Monday 15th September 2008 and the season is floating by…

This week you will hear from Vanessa – our “Floating Caterer”. She comes from a family that has a ski company in the Alps and so has been training for hosting, organising and generally “making a plan” from an early age. Perfect requirements for becoming a great safari lass! Over to Nessa.

Arriving in the Luangwa Valley at the beginning of May seems like such a long time ago. And what a lot has happened since then. I have learnt far more than I ever learnt in any period of my life! I have met some highly interesting people and made some wonderful friends. It will be such a shame to have to leave it all behind in a matter of weeks, as the dry season comes to an end and therefore so does my stint as the ‘floating caterer’. But next season…..I hope to continue the adventure.

roar? actually a snarl!young Luangwa leopard

My life for the past four and a half months has consisted of short visits to all six of our sites, as the relief for the caterers (hence I “float”). The bonus for me is that I have got to experience all of the camps, both safari houses and the game drives in between – which have been so lucrative it will prove tricky for me to chose which of my 834 photos to include in the next couple of hundred words.

playing elephant in the Luangwa River

It is hard to pinpoint my highlights of the season so far, but amongst them would be my sighting of a young leopard near Nkwali, playing high-jump in the river at Mupamadzi and an unforgettable 20 minutes with a lion just outside Tena Tena. Elephants are part of everyday life whether they are bathing in the river, sleeping under bushes (they snooze lying down when it gets hot!) or wandering through camp. Then we get the action moments – recently 3 lions killed an impala near Nkwali at 0500 and with the noise of the baboons and hyena at full volume we were soon all out in the vehicles watching an amazing scene. And the smaller creatures – the resident scops owl at Nsefu keeping an eye on us.

resting teenager elephantmother watches over

As time has progressed and temperatures have risen, the need for a sense of humour has been ever-growing, and that is one of the most wondrous things about being here. Everyone is laughing, both at and with each other, day in, day out and that is something that will stay with me forever. Whether it is someone mistaking the mark of a bucket in the sand for an elephant footprint or a shortage of aubergines, there is always someone to laugh about it with.

elephant in camplion feed as hyena skulks around

In terms of safari, the Luangwa Valley has exceeded all expectations. During the past few months I have had tea on the deck of Luangwa House with 22 elephants a mere stone’s throw away, breakfast on the beach at Nsefu with 15 lions on the opposite side of the river and a leopard coming to drink from the river below the Nkwali bar during lunch…who needs a game drive! There is something simply awe-inspiring about being woken in the middle of the night to the sounds of an elephant chewing above your head or coming across a genet outside the shower, who, may I add, suffered a fit of bravery (some may call it stupidity) and came right up and sniffed my foot. Every day brings new excitements and adventures, in the words of Forrest Gump, you quite literally ‘never know what you’re gonna get’ and that, to me is why I’m here…for the unknown, the mystery and the sheer wonder that every setting sun leaves behind and beautiful sunrise brings.

scops owl keeing an eye on us at Nsefu CampVanessa driving across the Nkwali pontoonVanessa

I cannot believe that we are almost five months into the season, I reckon I have made the most of the time here so far, but there is still so much to be done, to see and to absorb – I have no idea how you all do it in your short stays with us here, perhaps that is why so many of you make return trips. I would highly recommend a six month stint to all of you, purely to be able to call this place home, I think is reason enough. (ed. hold on there!)

I must now, however, return to duty and absolve the dilemma of a lack of cheddar cheese whilst avoiding direct eye contact with the herd of buffalo lingering nearby. For those of you that I have come into contact with, I feel I must thank you for helping make my Zambian life so truly special, I only hope you feel the connection with the Luangwa Life even half as much as we do here.

Enjoy the week ahead and await next week’s installment with baited breath.

Nessa. The Floating Caterer!

sunset in the South Luangwa

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