It’s Monday 22nd August 2011 and some news from Mobiles

Hope that everyone is well and, surprise to you all, here I am again for a second week running… Unfortunately/fortunately I have been pipped to the post by Mary Ann LaMantian who spent a lovely 5 days up on the Mupamadzi River experiencing our most remote and “truly African” safari experience. So I shall take a back seat again this week and pass you all over to Mary Ann for a taster of her experience up on Mobiles.

“Chauffeured by our guide, Jason Alfonsi, four hot, dusty and tsetse-fly pestered women arrived at Mobile Camp after an 8-hour drive up the park’s bumpy “highway-to-the-north”. Waiting for us was Claire, the camp’s hostess, and Geoffrey, one of the camp’s wonderful staff. Claire was waiting for us with cold, wet cloths to wipe away the dust and wake us up after our long drive… a very welcome treat. Miraculously, Geoffrey appeared with ice-cold drinks that tasted like nectar from the gods. Within a few minutes, we were in our tents with two hours to rest or take a shower before meeting again for tea at 4:00pm, followed by our first game drive at the Camp.

JasonClaire

When I told Claire that I’d love a shower, she had staff fill the bucket in the shower tent with hot water. Stepping into that outdoor shower and pulling the chain on the bucket’s shower head, was a heavenly delight, one which I enjoyed every afternoon that I was at Camp. By 4:00pm, I was looking forward to a cup of hot tea so I was surprised to see a freshly-baked cake on the table, a cake that was still warm from the in-ground, wood heated oven. The desserts at Mobile Camp were made daily by Simon, a fabulous baker, who managed to produce perfection every afternoon. His breads, served every morning, were equally wonderful.

There was something special about our evening game drives with Jason and one of the Camp’s staff serving as a spotter. The air was soft where it touched our skin and the sunlight was warm as it cast ever-widening shadows on the park and its animals. To stop for a few minutes and watch the sun set over the river or the plains will remain forever as snapshots in my mind. While we saw many animals in their native habitat, the experience I’ll most remember happened while we were finishing dinner one evening. We heard lion taking down an antelope (probably an impala). Their kill happened so close to our camp that we could hear the lions eating their dinner. Then, just as we got into our tents for the night, a pack of hyena attempted to take the kill away from the lions. Of course, the lions strongly objected… resulting in a cacophony of barks, growls, yips and roars that shook the tents… scary and thrilling at the same time.

Toothy grinsLioness roaring

In the mornings, we set off on foot at 6:00am to walk in the park and seek out animals as they went about their daily routines. Leading the hike was Dulla, our scout, followed by Jason and the four of us. Sweeping along behind us each morning was Jonathan, our tea-bearer, and Piyella, another more-experienced scout. Both scouts carried weapons; Jonathan carried our mid-morning tea as well as light snacks and extra water. As I often lagged behind the others, I found myself in the back-of-the-pack with Jonathan and Piyella, sharing Werther’s butterscotch candies every morning while the others in my group moved on. We also shared many laughs as I stumbled along on the rough terrain… we quickly became buddies.

The team and the scoutSundowners

On our second morning walk, I knew that I couldn’t walk through the heat of the day again as I’d done the day before. So Jason arranged for Claire and Geoffrey to meet us around 11:00am and drive me (and anyone else in my group) back to Camp. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in Camp that morning and reading my book. All too soon, I watched the others wade across the river for lunch around 1:00pm. It was nice to have the Camp to myself for a few hours… nice to watch the birds as they filled the Camp’s trees with their songs… nice to feel the Camp staff go quietly about their daily routines.

While we were on our walks, James and Shadreck made our beds, straightened up our tents and generally put the Camp back into order. While meeting the additional challenge of making vegetarian meals for the others in my group, Alfred, the Camp’s chef, managed to make fresh, delicious meals for us every day. No matter how many times I ate each day (and it seemed as if I was constantly eating), I always looked forward to Alfred’s meals and Simon’s desserts. Justin and Geoffrey were always attentive to our every need during meals; they helped make camp dining a 5-star experience. Claire was an ever-present, quiet force who insured that each of us had a memorable time while we were at camp. She and I quickly became friends as sometimes happens. She’s a special lady surrounded by special staff. My heartfelt “thanks” to Claire and all of the staff at Mobile Camp. I had a wonderful time!”

The Mobiles TeamPacking up

Thanks Mary Ann – well I don’t know about you guys but this certainly sounds fabulous. This week the boxing gloves were off as we fought it out to see who would be doing the supply run up to mobiles but Ruben won it this time and Rob and I are holding out for the next one – will keep you posted!

I shall leave you with a final note of a great sighting had by Chilumba up at Nsefu this last week as he sat and took some time to enjoy the sights and sounds of life on Lunga lagoon, when all of a sudden a Saddle-billed Stork plucked a fish out of the lagoon and was happily reveling in his feast when a Fish Eagle swooped down and tried to steal it – well amazingly the much larger and heavier Stork outmaneuvered the Fish Eagle and managed to keep and enjoy the success of his hunt.

Hope that you all have a good week and catch up again next Monday

Cheers

Emily

Emily

Chilumba

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