It’s Monday 23rd March 2009 and picnic & poker

One of the major benefits … and drawbacks … of living on a 100% natural river is that predicting the future weather/river levels is not very reliable. After a brief one week of high water levels in February the water level has been steadily dropping, causing concern for the River Journey to Nsefu. Of course Simon was very excited about the low water levels as it meant that we would be able to get into the Nsefu Sector early and start opening up the roads and building camps. However there is always the risk of bottoming the boat on the emerging sand banks and becoming stranded. Everyone was chomping at the bit trying to get everything sorted for the beginning of the season – new furnishings are being ordered, the game viewers are being prepped so they are spick and span. It seems we may have jumped the gun a wee bit …

Boating through the flooded ebony grovesBank to bank water

Our predictions were slightly off and we have been hit with some late Emerald Season rains (we thought they were all but over) and the river is back to its bank to bank level and is even spilling over into low lying floodplains. Great news for our Photographic Workshop as they are able to spend a few days at Nsefu exploring the flooded ebony groves and get to the yellow-billed stork colony (we’ll see their stunning photos in the next week or two).

Jo and Robin took the opportunity for a boating excursion yesterday and I’ll hand over to Jo for her story …

The wafwaSpurwing goose

Well – what is a girl to do on a rainy Sunday?

Robin and I had supposedly missed the high river levels as we were in Antarctica in the peak month of February. But as usual Mother Nature has surprised us and decided this year to stay dry in February and rain in March. So the river is brimming and presented the perfect opportunity for a picnic and poker day trip on my day off. But Sunday morning it was drizzling. What to do? After various calls we decided to risk the rains and go for it.

Boating in the wafwaRobin enjoying lunch

Jess and Ade of Flatdogs joined us – and they have recently started calling me the “Celebrity Chef” with my new found enjoyment in the kitchen. This is only possible now that I have bionic knees that allow me to stand for more than 15 minutes. I simply love cooking! So I spent the morning cooking and packing a picnic. And you can go wild with the tupperware when preparing a picnic – great fun (those of you who love the kitchen will understand this rather pathetic sentiment). Robin did the “boys” bit and got the boat ready.

Picnic by the lagoonPlaying poker

We grabbed Matt (Wild Dog leader), packed the boat up and headed off upstream. As planned Jess and Ade were standing on the river’s edge at Flatdogs and hopped in. Off we headed to the wafwa. This is a huge lagoon that is always good for game and rarely dries up – even late in the year (side note: wafwa = dead and is used to describe the ‘dead’ river courses that create the ox-bow lagoons). I have never boated into the wafwa and have always wanted to. This was my chance.

Sunbathing crocWhite fronted bee-eater

With dark clouds all around we boated upstream. As we let the worries and troubles of running a safari operation in the bush drop away, you suddenly realize where you are. On a huge dramatic river in spate, in Central Africa. It is all too easy to have your head buried in the daily detail!

The flooded wafwaPosing egret

On the edge of the wafwa, where we have sundowners in the dry season, there was a small island of land left covered with a group of water birds. Great to see such a diversity of species together. We boated slowly through the lagoon, enjoying the reflections, the odd croc and bird but not much else. Very quiet on the Wafwa front. We managed to get through to the next lagoon and then found a marvelous picnic spot. We had a lovely day – eating, laughing and playing poker. And all the time looking up to see when the heavens would open. But they never did – in fact we all got sunburnt!

And that is what a girl should do on a rainy day.

Cheers

JO

Diversity of water fowl

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