It’s Monday 22nd November 2010 and family memories

In early July 2010, a fifteen strong family group arrived at Nkwali from San Diego, San Francisco and Chicago, to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Judy and Alex McDonald. Having been touched by Zambia several years earlier, Judy and Alex wanted to share the experience with their four girls and their families, including seven grandchildren ages 5 to fifteen. In 4 days, the staff members of Nkwali provided the family with a lifetime of memories, which will always mark the occasion. Moreover, Judy and Alex’s desire to expose young and old to an expanded world outlook was accomplished, and will forever shape the thoughts and behaviours of those on the trip, especially the children.

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Peter (age 5)

“I liked it when we went on the airplane at the airport and we were all excited about the sunlight coming through the airplane windows and we said “that is a beautiful African sunrise.” Then we landed in Lusaka and we were so happy. Then we took another little plane to Mfuwe and we rode a long way to Nkwali.

We met Georgie and Tigger when we got off the truck. They gave us special towels to clean our hands and face. We were excited to see our rooms.

Limbi helped us with our stuff. One time Limbi even heard me crying when I woke up from a nap and made me feel better.

I liked when I saw the crocodile and the big huge family of baboons on the rocky hills by the beach.

My favorite part of staying at Nkwali was meeting all of the new nice and friendly people who worked there.”

Dictated to Peter’s mother Liz.

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Katie (age 7)

“One of my favorite memories from Nkwali was playing parachute with Georgie and Tigger. We had lots and lots of fun. I also remember in Robin’s House playing World Walker with Georgie and Tigger.

My favorite memory was every night going see lots of pretty animals and having popcorn during sundowners.

Now that I’ve been back from Africa for a few months I think about my time in Zambia all of the time and makes me feel happy because I like Africa, Zambia, and Robin Pope Safaris.”

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Kelley (age 10)

“My favorite memory of Africa is also my first impression of Africa. After landing in a small plane at Mfuwe Airport and climbing into the very comfortable seats of the Land Cruiser driven by Kanga, we drove through the villages along the main road to Nkwali. The air was filled with scents of jasmine, sage, basil and other natural smells. My brother and I sat up front in the open car and waved to every Zambian we saw. Never will I forget seeing the African trees and landscape, and the smiles of the eager children and families and their happy faces. Within moments of arriving in Zambia, I felt at home.”

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Mike (age 12)

“We were woken at 5 am by the sound of beating drums. I wondered why someone would be playing drums so early in the morning. The hippos in the river echoed my thoughts with a loud snort. Then I remembered that the drums meant that breakfast was ready. When I jumped out of bed, after much groaning about the early wake-up call, I noticed the hot water bottle that had been put in my bed the night before, filled with hot water to fight the brisk African winter air. Half an hour later, after a great breakfast over the fire, we were on our way to see the animals that were the icon of Africa.

The first wildlife, besides the hippos outside our rooms, was a family of Thornicroft giraffe, indigenous to the South Luangwa Valley. Then a troop of fifty or so baboons crossed the road in front of us. After tea, we saw the famed elephants and the leopards. Then for our sundowners, we saw lions! One might think that you can go to a zoo to experience this, but you cannot! Having nothing stand between you and one of the most feared predators on the whole continent is exhilarating.

Two days later, it was time to leave. We said teary and heartfelt goodbyes to Obi, Kanga, Prince, Kiki, Tigger, Georgie and the entire gang, and departed for the Chongwe River House. We’ll be back!!”

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Sarah (age 13)

“I loved our trip to Africa. One memory is going to the school. I was amazed by the school. Everyone was so nice. They were as interested in us as we were in them. When we first arrived in the school area, the kids were all quiet and unsure. Then we all started asking questions. I felt like I could really get to know them. They would ask for our names and age and then we would do the same. It was amazing. We got to hear the kids sing when we were there. When they sang it was really moving. They sang a poem about AIDS and HIV.

I loved to see the school and I will always remember it. When we were driving to the school we saw kids all on the road. When we passed by they waved and said hi. When we came home and went out I saw how nice and happy everyone in Zambia is. People in America could learn from them.”

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Jack (age 14)

“As we sat around the breakfast fire every morning at Nkwali Camp, we would be sure to ask Kanga for World Cup updates. Being in Africa during the World Cup was so exciting that my cousins and I had an itch to play soccer ourselves. We asked Kiki if there was an extra ball around camp, and sure enough he brought out a beautiful one with the World Cup logo. Each day, my cousins and I would play. We would invite some of the staff join in, and daily our game would grow.

On our last full day, as we were returning from a game drive, we received an unbelievable surprise. A picnic was waiting for us to enjoy along the river. As we jumped out of the Land Cruisers in disbelief, a couple of guys challenged us to a game. A football match in the bush! We started to play using chairs as goalposts. We knew this was something special. We could see impala running in the distance and zebra grazing under trees. It was just a pickup soccer game, but playing with loved ones and new friends in the middle of the bush in Africa made it a magical experience.”

Hannah (age 15)

“I remember crossing the bridge into Nkwali and entering my home to be for the following four days. I crossed that bridge, and by doing so left behind my ignorant assumptions and entered an environment of mystery, and I was prepared to prove my assumptions wrong. Here, I was going to learn about people who are happy with their lives, and their relationship with their untouched and unbelievably beautiful environment around them.

After crossing that bridge, the first thing I heard was the low, grumbling groan from the gut of the hippopotamus. I ran to the river’s edge, grasping the hand of my cousin Peter while the other six rushed to catch up. As I stood there with my family on the wooden deck over the water, I watched baboons scamper through the grass, flirting with the water’s edge while balancing their babies on their backs. I watched the herd of impala gallop alongside the numerous puku and thought to myself how it was a miracle these animals could live in such peaceful harmony. I thought it was amazing how such elementary animals are capable of so much peace. We could take a lesson.

Nkwali could not have been a more ideal spot to begin our trip. The Luangwa River was a place of so much life, and now holds a special place in my heart. It is a place of happiness and peace, and I value my chance to share this special place with my family. This chance was created by my grandparents, and I thank them for that.

The McDonald family would like to express a heartfelt thanks to everyone at the Nkwali Camp. While the setting alone is magnificent, it is the people of Robin Pope Safaris who have moved and inspired us, and to whom we will forever be grateful.”

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It is delightful to see the world through the eyes of children and teens. It was a pleasure to have you with us and thank you very much for the exciting description of your experience in South Luangwa.

Have a wonderful week.



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