It’s Monday 16th June 2008 and we’re off to the wilderness


It’s Monday 16th June 2008 and we’re off to the wilderness

A few weeks ago we were approached by some local Lusaka thrill seekers looking for sponsorship to help them get to Kenya to participate in the annual Rhino Charge. This is a grueling 4×4 expedition across the rugged Kenyan terrain all to raise money for Rhino Ark. They successfully raised US$10,000 and were one of only 19 vehicles to finish the race! Well done chaps – especially as they were faced with many challenges including punctures, an engine fire, non-performing front locking differential, broken brakes and electrical problems, and finally the complete failure of their four wheel drive mechanism. The boys plan to set up a similar event in Zambia to raise money for wildlife projects.

Rhino Charge TeamRhino Charging

While we are on the topic of adventures and wilderness expeditions – we have just opened up our Walking Mobiles this week. With much excitement, and a little trepidation, Emily, Hanne (the new caterer) and the exceptionally experienced and capable mobile team went up, not knowing exactly what they would find. Every October we leave the Mupamadzi with a tear in our eye and hand her back to nature for safe keeping. For the duration of the Emerald Season no one enters the area (except maybe a quick flyover by Jo and Robin to check things), and it is only when the sod busters open up the road in May that we have inkling of nature’s effects – has the Mupamadzi changed course? What effect did the high water levels have on the flood plain?

Flying over the Mupamadzi in the Emerald SeasonElephants on Lundu Plain

Opening up the road is always a challenge – the National Parks’ equipment is not new and is under a lot of pressure from all the camps to open up the dry season loops. The Mupamadzi road is often a home grown effort. It takes one front end loader, grader and 20 men to open the road (elephants, hippos and damp black cotton soil do not make for smooth ground). This year the front end loader broke during the process, so the bumps are possibly more exaggerated than previous years (sports bras definitely required!). Jo was chatting with the first group of intrepid explorers before they left Nkwali and faced with the prospect of less than tarmac smooth roads were very excited – and believed that it added value to the adventure (they really felt like pioneers into remote Africa).

Pushing the Samil 50 through the Luwi RiverThe road - going through the  Mopane woodland

It’s not just the guests and management who look forward to the walking season – Jo also ran into Piela the ZAWA Game Scout who accompanies all walks, who was positively jumping with joy at his imminent departure. We always miss the Mobiles’ team from June, as they are such fabulous people to work with, but they relish the return to wilderness.

But back to Emily and their expedition … it was, as always, an adventure. A convoy of 2 pick ups plus the Samil 50 truck all loaded to the gunnels with people, bags, supplies and an array of other essentials set off, only to be held up by a puncture that took 45 minutes to change. Six hours later they arrived on the Lundu Plains which was looking stunning with golden grass and rolling hills in the distance. They descended towards the river through dry mopane scrubland meeting a belt of green filled with puku impala, buffalo and zebra.

Road blockReplacing the flat  tyre into the Samil 50

The roads has changed a lot due to erosion caused by rains and high water. On arrival at Camp two the team got to work setting everything up. There wasn’t enough time to rig up the shower, so Emily and Hanne braved the icy Mupamadzi – fabulous in October, but with the evening chill the girls stood up to their ankles doing a lovely impression of a bird bath. A G&T was called for sitting in front of the fire to warm up. With an early night everyone was lulled to sleep by whooping of hyenas and feet thumping by elephant shrews (who were most puzzled at the new obstacles in their territories).

The Mobile Super TeamElephant shrew

Hope you all have a fabulous week
Cheers
Fiona
PS Although this was not meant to sell Mobiles (honest!) – if your interest has been caught we do have a few last minute places available with discounted rates. Please contact your usual travel agent for more details.
Enjoying a sundowner in the Mupamadzi

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