It’s Monday 25th August 2008 and a suprise birthday

It’s Monday 25th August 2008 and a suprise birthday

Over the past 19 years we have been lucky enough to be visited regularly by Grahame and Anne Cousins. Their son, Simon caught the Luangwa bug from his parents and spent 11 years working for RPS, meeting the lovely Shanie and getting married five years ago. They have since moved to Malawi (just after the Luangwa Safari House was finished and received its first guests). Grahame celebrated a Big Birthday earlier this month and everyone was keen to make this safari extra special. Anne was the leader of the gang, but we were all in on the secret. With so many people involved we were a little worried that the proverbial cat would be let out of the bag, but any slip ups were smoothed over without alerting Grahame’s suspicions.

The Cousins at sundownersImpala and winterthorn pod

Surprise #1

Grahame and Anne spent a few days at Nsefu before nipping down to Nkwali … only to find that they were actually staying at Luangwa Safari House. Simon and Shanie joined them as a small surprise, but as they live relatively close by this was always a possibility. Staying at Luangwa Safari House was especially fun for Simon and Shanie after all their hard work in the months preceding the opening.

Simon, Graham, Anne and KarenBaby elephant

Surprise #2

Grahame thought that it was going to be a small family get together, as his other children (Karen and Sandra) lived too far away. Karen had phoned from the UK, prior to Grahame & Anne’s departure to the Valley, to wish him happy birthday as she was not going to be able to contact him while he was in the bush. Sandra said goodbye to him the weekend before as she was meant to be starting a new job in Qatar on the day that everyone arrived in the valley.

The big surprise was having Sandra, Karen and their partners meet Grahame at sundowners on Chichele hill. There was a tense moment when Keyala and the ‘surprise group’ ended up crossing the pontoon just behind Grahame et al. Everyone focused on keeping Graham’s attention towards the front and luckily he didn’t look behind!

Walking by buffalosLeopard

As Grahame’s vehicle approached Chichele hill, Keyala and the rest of the crew had come in from a different road and were now ahead but clearly visible to Grahame! A quick distraction was needed – luckily Jacob spotted a wooden banana tree and veered off the road, diverting all attention to the tree and incited a search for the pods on the ground. Perfect as the other vehicle drove up the hill.

Kiki and his group hid behind a rock and as Graham, Anne, Simon and Shanie arrived they all stepped out. There was a lot of shock and disbelief that they were there, as the deceit and lying had been so good in the end! Jacob, Emma and Kiki had been fantastic in keeping the whole surprise going.

Egyptian goose and  reflectionMosi by the pool, watching the  elephants

The rest of the holiday went very smoothly with all the Cousins’ being keen beans and getting up before the crack of dawn to experience the Luangwa to the full. They saw all the usual suspects between drives and walks. Of course a few beers were had by the pool of Luangwa Safari House and the elephants cooperated and came to play in the lagoon.

Next year Grahame and Anne will return to celebrate their 20th anniversary of visits to the South Luangwa National Park.



Pied kingfisher and fish

P.S. Would you like to share your African holiday/safari experience? African Safari Journals provides a valuable resource to travellers looking for a new adventure. It’s easy too – just fill in the online form and submit.

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