It’s Monday 19th April 2010 and the transfixing beauty of a first visit to Africa

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the enthusiastic team from Cornell University, New York. Jing, Joy, Karl, three bright students, together with Professor Robert Kwortnik, are studying and developing Zambia’s brand positioning. They are hoping to raise awareness of this secret, beautiful country in Southern Central Africa, worldwide.

Impala, South Luangwa, Zambia

Everyone remembers their first moment in Africa. It’s usually not long before the scales start to slide heavily towards the joyful end of the spectrum and that’s when you know that you no longer have a choice – Africa will get under your skin! Those who return to Africa again and again should learn from those newcomers and look at everything with fresh eyes. They should embrace the old with the new: ever the simple beauty of an impala should be appreciated! Like appreciate the simple beauty of an impala! I asked the Cornell team to share their experiences with us, so over to them…..

It’s been more than a week since we got back to the U.S from the Luangwa Valley and falling back into our routine of deadlines and packed schedules, it’s hard to believe that we were out in the bush, watching wildlife and letting time pass us by not too long ago. Having learnt about Zambia and what it had to offer through literature, online sources and other research materials for our project to develop a destination branding strategy to improve Zambia’s international profile in the tourism sector, it was truly an amazing opportunity for us to experience Zambia, including the Luangwa Valley, in reality. The beautiful lodges, the abundant game, the endless blue skies, the knowledgeable and friendly guides…it’s easy to see how people can fall in love with Zambia.

Nkwali Camp, South Luangwa, Zambia

Arriving in the Valley after 3 days of presentations, we were ready for the safari adventures that we had heard so much about! Little did we know that every transfer in between lodges and locations would be a game drive in itself, as we spotted giraffes, elephants, impalas, baboons and hippos on the way to Jo’s home, which she had graciously opened up to us. Our guide Sebastian must have been highly amused by our childish excitement with every animal we spotted, but where we come from, giraffes don’t saunter by as you sit in your vehicle. That night, we also had a wonderful time at dinner with Kiki and Rita by the river at Nkwali Camp, chatting about our work in Zambia, learning about their experiences and how they came to be at RPS.

giraffe, South Luangwa, Zambiaimpala, South Luangwa, Zambia

The next morning, we set out on an early morning game drive with Sebastian, eager to see some wildlife action. And we were not disappointed. We saw impalas, breeding herds of elephants, zebras, hippos, pukus, and even a herd of two-legged creatures on their walking safari. At one point, there were just so many different animals in one setting that it seemed straight out of a National Geographic collage. We joked that this was all staged and that there were people in the wings saying “cue, giraffe!” or “warthogs, enter stage left!” as the animals roamed in synchrony. That scene will also be in our minds when we think of the Valley.

leopard & impalas, South Luangwa, Zambialeopard, South Luangwa, Zambia

One of the most incredible memories of our trip was watching a leopard stalk a herd of impala about 10 feet from the side of the road on our way to another lodge. We sat in breathless silence as we waited for the attack. 15 minutes passed and then everything happened so quickly it seemed like a blur. The leopard attacked a lone impala separated from the herd twice, only to miss both times. As they leapt onto the road, the leopard turned to look at our vehicle and we managed to compose ourselves in time to get this shot – a powerful image that will remind us of why Zambia is such an enthralling place.

game drive, South Luangwa, Zambia

We’ve had such an amazing experience in Zambia, meeting so many wonderful people who have been so generous in hosting us, and we can only hope that our work to develop a new brand for Zambia will help showcase this beautiful country and allow more people to share the unforgettable experiences we had. We’ll be back!

Jing Li, Karl and Joy

Back to the Luangwa…

Over the last ten years the North Luangwa has been the home of Zambia’s first Black Rhino re-introduction project which is supported by Save the Rhino and has the aim of once again establishing a viable population. At present, there are 22 rhinos in the park with the final five due to arrive on the 26th May this year.

Rod Tether, an operator in the North Luangwa, has chosen to support Save the Rhino by running the London Marathon on April 25th – not only because he dreams of seeing rhino once again roaming through the Luangwa Valley but also because the indirect benefits of Save the rhino’s projects are vast. Protecting the rhino automatically means that huge tracts of wilderness, along with all the other fauna and flora are protected. The project also engages whole communities living around these areas, creating employment and offering education programs. People who historically saw little gain from protecting the wild areas around them are now proud of their heritage and committed to its protection.

He is planning to raise £7,500. Every pound counts towards bringing this awesome pachyderm back from the brink of extinction to the bush that it has roamed through for thousands of years. If you which to support this cause, please click this link to sponsor Rod:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RodTether

Have a wonderful week!

Rhinos, North Luangwa, Zambia

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