It’s Monday 29th September 2008 and a Mobile Story

It’s Monday 29th September 2008 and a Mobile Story

So having been gone for almost a month I’ve been having a great time catching up with the goings on in and around camp. Hanne, the mobile caterer, had a few days off and she was subjected to a grilling for all the news from the north.  But before we get on to Hanne’s highlights, Robin has just mentioned a great story from his last mobile:

Robin, back from mobile

“John the tea bearer spotted her first under a reasonably small winterthorn, which was out in the open close to the Mupamadzi River, east of camp four. This was our first confirmed sighting of a lion on this safari and expectations amongst the expeditionaries had been high as we left camp but had begun to wane as the day became hotter. The wind was just right; no other cats in sight to complicate matters and most conveniently an anthill situated itself between our party and the recumbent lioness.

Walking with RobinLazing lion

Like shadows we approached the anthill and from this vantage point were able to sit and watch her for a little while. She was very well fed, her head lying towards us, white tummy in the air and with legs splayed tail flicking from time to time.  As the moment extended and one had time to switch from total transfiction to take in more of the surroundings noticing a herd of buffalo moving away from drinking at the river a bend away and white backed vultures circling across the river. She flopped over onto her side then lifted her head and also took in the peaceful scene … only on her second glance round she noticed an anthill with immobile troops on top of it all who appeared to be holding their breath I am sure.

She faced us on her rather full tummy. Tail began to flick with more purpose and those strange white reflectors beneath her eyes became stretched as her eyes assumed a different shape altogether. From where we sat on the anthill a continuous rumbling could be heard from the direction of the lioness which was not a stomach rumble. In one swift movement she lowered her body so her shoulder blades seemed to be above her back and she gracefully slid away down a small gully and into the matete reeds and we were left with the peaceful scene once more. ”

Lion in the treesBaboon  surveying the scene

Thanks Robin! And now for Hanne’s highlights:

Hanne is used to being on the other side of the fence – as a travel consultant she gets to experience the joys of safari but thought that a longer stint behind the scenes look into safari life would be just up her alley. So Emily packed her off up north with an exceptionally talented mobile team and left her in their hands to start the season. After a temporary feeling of abandonment the mobile team soon made Hanne feel at home and started to impress her with everything that could be done in a ‘basic’ camp. Logistics for running a remote camp presented some challenges (making sure that you have enough fresh supplies to last the week without overfilling the freezer) but Hanne met them with aplomb.

One of her favourite parts of being here for such a long time was appreciating the changing landscape over the months. Sausage trees varied from no leaves, to green sausages and dropping their beautiful flowers to be gobbled up by lots of beasties. The Mupamadzi River started off quite high, fast and freezing and has slowly dropped and as the temperatures have risen has provided a refreshing break to the midday heat. The first time arriving at the river Hanne couldn’t even see it for the reeds, but these have all died back opening up a splendid view.

BuffaloBig herd of buffalo

Early on in the season, Hanne woke up to hear lions calling very nearby. Feeling a little nervous, and barely daring to breath let alone move in her tent she calmed herself with the thought of Rocky and Piela nearby to keep everyone safe. In the morning she discovered that Shadreck had seen two large lions walking in the moonlight through camp. The same night the kitchen was visited by hyenas who explored the vegetable section and although not finding anything to their liking managed to make quite a mess scattering onions and oranges around. Hanne’s favourite days were when everyone joined together to move camp location – giving a great sense of movement and achievement, also helping to work off the hard-to-resist-desserts. Hanne drove the ‘tank’ ahead and got to see lots of game – huge herds of buffalo emerging over a ridge, the rare roan and many more.

Of course things don’t always go quite as smoothly as they might – a couple of weeks ago the big Saml 50 broke down and Jason was called from breakfast to assist with pull starting (it’s far too heavy to push start). The guests, naturally, were curious and investigated behind the scenes and ended up lending a hand. After quadrupling the rope up making it strong enough to drag the Saml it eventually started and the guests departed on their walk.

Moving mobile campPacked to the brim

Hanne wasn’t always kept at camp organising behind the scenes and had some fabulous sights whilst on walks and transfers. While driving down with Robin and his guests they were watching some roan when a guest’s wandering eyes spotted something on the road ahead. After a moment or two they realised that three lionesses were relaxing in the shade. Two quickly scarpered, but one lioness was definitely a curious cat and walked towards them wandering between the long grass and road. Another time Jacob used his keen guiding skills to identify a leopard kill and after repeated visits they spotted the elusive cat as it moved down the tree, relaxed by the road for a few minutes and then disappeared into the long grass. And once more with Robin they found a hyena den and patience (as always) paid off and two pups emerged like naughty school children to play between the two burrows.

Decreasing river levelsLife out doors

However Hanne’s top highlight was spending almost the entire season out of doors (apart from sleeping in her tent at night). It’s going to be a strange return to Denmark next month for her! 




PS – further news from the Mupamdazi – the white impala, now 4 years old, is still alive! 

White Impala


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