It’s Monday 4th December 2006 and the long farewell

It’s Monday 4th December 2006 and the long farewell

My alarm woke me at 4.45, just as the first light was peeping thorough the curtains. Groan – did I really need this; it seemed such a good idea when we were discussing an early start the day before. Now, as I trudge to the kitchen to boil the kettle for the flasks, I am not so sure. I arrive to find Douglas, our trusty kitchen porter there ahead of me. He greets me with a huge grin, kettle already boiling on the fire – the day is instantly better.

As some of you know, I am leaving Robin Pope Safaris at the end of December, after four and half years with the company. It is going to be quite a wrench to leave such a beautiful place, wonderful bosses, amazing staff and true friends in the valley. I am now trying to fit all of the things I meant to do during the last 4 years into my last month!

lagoon The early start is for a drive up to the top of a ridge to see what the view will be like for those guests who will be coming to stay at our new Palmgrove Bush Camp next year. The camp itself will be in a dry river bed but the guests will be dropped off on the top of a ridge for morning tea and then walk down to the valley floor during the course of a morning. I was dying to see the view from the top and so Robin offered to take Jo, Geno and myself along with Boston, the scout, to see for ourselves.  As you will all know, Robin Pope Safaris never does anything by halves and we travelled with the makings of a full breakfast for consumption on arrival at our destination.

the cool boxes - ready to go The cooler boxes were packed the night before, my check list was all ticked and finally the hot water added to the pile of kit that was going with us. Robin and I are both quite heavy packers and I am sure that between us we would have had enough food, water, first aid kit etc for us all to survive a week out in the bush – Jo and Geno sensibly arrived with just their bino’s and a camera!

The drive was glorious, the brown earth now covered with young grass, baby elephants seem to be everywhere as well as cute nurseries of impala. I love impala – it is a shame that they are common in a way.  They are so graceful and pretty and I feel sorry that every passing game drive does not exclaim at their beauty. They do, however, get their fair share of attention at this time of year as everyone loves to stop and wonder at the fragile young, teetering around on their spindly legs. (As I did not take a photo of the impala I have put one here of a chameleon which I spotted outside of the office yesterday).

baby elephantchameleon

Boston - the scout Robin had put the road in last week which took us almost to the top of the ridge. Rather than lug all the kit up, Boston and Robin did a quick recce and decided it was fine to drive up the last few hundred metres. “Hang on to everything – up we go”. Geno literally hung on for dear life but we soon popped out on top and were greeted with the most amazing view across the valley.  It is easy for us to concentrate on the riverine section of the park and forget what a vast expanse of land we live in. It was a truly breathtaking to see the river snaking along under the shadow of the Chindeni Hills in one direction and the distant escarpment in another. “Miles and miles of Africa” – and everyone one of those miles will remain imprinted in my memory.  Zambia, and particularly the South Luangwa, was my first experience of Africa and as with all first loves, will always have a special place in my heart – tucked away but never forgotten. Anyway, that is quite enough romantic prose – back to the food!

view from the ridgeJo relaxing

Robin tucks in First off tea all round. I defy anyone to make me a cup of tea that tastes better then Tanganda, made with smoky water, drunk for an old enamel mug!  We unloaded the firewood and made a small fire on which to cook our breakfast.  What more could anyone want that to sit on top of the world with a cholesterol packed plate of yummy fried food – the perfect morning.

One more to tick off my list of must dos – and to anyone who is coming on the RPS bush camping next year, be prepared to be bowled over with the shear beauty of this spot. Definitely a safari for the soul – and strong legs!!

Stay well and have a great week.

PS from JO – A big thank you to all who sent donations for the re-roofing of Kawaza School. I completely underestimated the costs but your overwhelming generosity has meant that we have now covered all necessary expenditure for the repairs – thank you, thank you, thank you, from me and all of the teachers and pupils at the school.


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