It’s Monday 22nd Jan 2007 and the Popes go Flying


It’s Monday 22nd Jan 2007 and the Popes go Flying

Friday was a corker! Robin and I had the chance to spend nearly two hours in a helicopter flying around the Luangwa Valley. Now, you have to understand that this was “work” – we needed to investigate two areas. A new camp on the Mupamadzi, which Robin had tried to do by vehicle last October but failed due to tree stumps, and more investigating of the Mushilashi Palmgrove area for our new bush camping. I needed to go as I am the Marketing Director and always need new photos of the valley, from all angles (oh yes, and all times of the year). So…..for those of you who know the Valley well this will make more sense but I am going to take you on our heli safari.

The first pic is of my lovely Robin and the mean machine.

Robin and the HelocopterMfuwe area, Luangwa Wafwa

Next – the top end of the Mfuwe area, Luangwa Wafwa. Amazing – this is a key lagoon and even in the dry season usually has water to the end but I had no idea that it would so full. You can see that it was the Luangwa River once.

Tena TenaNsefu

We then flew up to Tena Tena – the kitchen is half under water. We had already evacuated the staff two days previously by boat. But Tena Tena is low and this happens every year. Nsefu as expected is fine – higher country (by 2 meters but a very relevant 2 meters).

Mutunda plainMutunda plain

Out towards the east, behind Tena Tena and Nsefu is the Mutunda plain. When you are on the ground it looks like a flat open area with lots of bushes. Here it is now ! The main body of the water you see is the Kaualuzi River – that little dry stream bed you cross to enter the park near Tena. Further north it looks like the river had bursts its banks – water was simply everywhere. But in this northern area of the park it is always like this during peak of the river height. Still……impressive.

Mupamadzi RiverElephants

We turned left/west onto the Mupamadzi River. Higher ground – it was like a different world altogether. Emerald ! Animals around including three herds of elephant. A nicely flowing river but no flooding.

Lundu Plainroan

Those of you who have walked the dry, brown, scratchy Lundu Plain will be surprised by this photo and we were pleased to see some roan.

The Luwithe Mushilashi

The seasonal tributaries of the Luangwa were almost dry. The Luwi had some water but the Mushilashi was only damp! We flew around the palmgrove and planned the coming safaris.

LuangwaNkwali

We were now coming to the end. We flew to Nkwali to take a look. This area is very dear to my heart and it was fantastic to see it full and replenishing. This flooding is essential for the natural way of the ecosystem. And it only happens like this as the river is still uninterrupted by man with any hydro schemes. There are very few major rivers in the world that still experience the extremes levels like the Luangwa.

Of course we had to fit in some play time and fly-bys. We spotted the watchman fishing at the end of the deck. I think he was caught by surprise. And we were close !

ElephantsSunset sky

On the way home – on a tremendous high, we were blocked by this pair of ellys. The big bulls are down from the high ground, their annual trek to seek out the hot chicks who seem to be particularly attractive during these weeks !! The game is all on the high ground where it is dry, and so are the roads! An animal traffic jam is a regular hazard now. And the day ended with a staff boat ride and another amazing sky. What can I say.

Have a wonderful week

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