It’s Monday 16th March 2009 and don’t forget your rain coat

Two weeks ago Jo wrote a fabulous story on her holiday of a lifetime to Antarctica, the presentation didn’t work for everyone so here is a new fool-proof link to the 5mb photo slide show.

Usually I write It’s Monday from behind my desk after asking a few people what’s been going … living life vicariously through everyone else’s experiences! However this weekend was a little different as my mum came to visit and so I skipped out of office mode and into a game viewer … almost. While mum was packing she asked what she needed to bring with her … it has hardly rained in the past few weeks and my famous last words were … ‘No raincoat needed’.

Sunset cruiseDark stormy skies

The plane arrives quite late on a Friday so we all jumped in the boat for sunset cruise with Kiki the boatman and Jacob the driver who kept us well supplied with wine and G&Ts, while entertaining us by pointing out all manner of interesting sights – a lone skimmer, snorting hippos about to start their nightly grazing and the spectacular Luangwa tree line. The sky darkened and the lightning began – all very dramatic with the moody sky and dark thunderclouds being lit up against the fading daylight.

Coulourful textiles at TribalBaboon

By the time the 5.30 am wake up call had swung around the much needed rain returned as a deluge. Oh well, we thought it would abate by about 7ish and then everyone would head out. No such luck. This rain was, as the Scots say, ‘settled’. It wasn’t going anywhere and simply varied in its intensity. We hadn’t seen rain like that since the beginning of the season. (No rain jackets needed – will I ever live that one down?). As an alternative to the morning drive Kiki sent everyone off to Tribal Textiles – Africa’s magic captured on textiles. Everyone admired the abundance of beautiful fabrics created by local artists. The sheer volume of rain had turned the roads into rivers and every low water bridge was a gushing torrent. The undulations in the roads filled full and the land cruiser steamed through them, spraying waves of water with a big whoosh!

Lazy lionElephant

The rain eventually tailed off around lunchtime and we met the rest of the camp guests who arrived that morning from Lusaka, England and Canada. To make the most of the afternoon we left early for our drive. Jacob held our interest throughout, noticing everything large and small and providing such riveting information. We found a yellow bellied sand snake retreating from the soggy ground into the bushes to keep warm and dry, a colony of bats residing in the hollow of an ancient baobab, and a few elephants with their feet sucking at the mud leaving behind great craters that will stay until next year’s rains. A young male lion sprawled out in the grass by a lagoon raised the level of excitement. He looked a little hungry, but was too lazy to do much about it other than open one eye and check us out. With his eagle eyes, Jacob also found the most adorable African jacana chicks following their parents across the lily pads only a few metres from the sleeping lion. It’s great fun going on a game drive with first timers – their excitement in everything from baboons to guinea fowl is contagious and reawakens one’s appreciation of the diversity Luangwa has to offer.

Yellow bellied sand snakeGiant eagle owl

Of course my favourite part of the game drive was when we found fresh leopard tracks and followed the elusive predator to some thickets where the guinea fowl were making a huge racket, the impala coughing in warning and the puku whistling in alarm. However the leopard remained hidden and refused to blow his cover. While searching for the leopard Jacob sighted a giant eagle owl surveying the scene from a dead leadwood. Just then the puku started to alarm, alerting Jacob to ‘something’ further along the lagoon and off we went to investigate. A pride of satiated lions were sprawled across the road blocking everyone’s path. After sunset they slowly awakened, amusing us all with their very domestic cat-like stretching and greeting.

Road block of lionsGuinea fowl

It was lovely to be back at Nkwali meeting so many people from different walks of life who come to RPS and to remember how enriching the experience is for everybody.

Cheers
Fiona

P.S. Thanks to Kathy Richardson for some of the photos!

African jacana

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