It’s Monday 14th May 2012 and Polly on the Plains

I hope that you had a splendid week and are sitting comfortably to hear the latest news from Liuwa Plain. The season there started only one week ago so, hot off the press, let’s hear from Polly, who has joined the team this year.

It has been said that … ‘you haven’t lived unless you’ve seen a sunset at Liuwa’, so I approached my first with some excitement, and a little bit of apprehension. True enough, the colours are intense – gold, giving way to oranges, reds and pinks, culminating in a deep maroon – but it is the scale of the sunset that makes it so unique. The wide open plains give the benefit of a 360 degree view of the sky, with no interruption – apart from the odd wildebeest kicking up dust and snorting in a halo of fire. And it all disappears in the blink of an eye, which makes you wonder if perhaps you dreamt it …?

getting to Liuwagetting to Liuwa

The landscape at Liuwa Plain is certainly unlike any other; it is completely flat, and at first glance seems like a vast expanse of grass, surrounded by a tree line that is so far away that it could be a mirage. As you move across the plains, however, you stumble on herds of wildebeest, zebra and red lechwe, discovering dark blue pools, speckled with water lilies, teaming with birds, from the elegant crowned cranes performing their mating dance, to whistling ducks, honking spur wing geese and frogs with yellow noses.

laden with goods

Our journey to Liuwa from Luangwa Valley was a four day epic adventure, that improved as we neared our destination – not least from the anticipation! A full day driving where we dodged potholes and juggernauts, followed by a bus ride that took us from the bustle of Lusaka, through the Kafue National Park and into Mongu, a quick stop to stock up on supplies. Then a boat ride courtesy of African Parks from the busy harbour in Kalabo, where we glided through the Zambezi flood plains, watching village life along the banks while snaking through lush green reeds and passing boats laden with goods on their way to Angola. Day four started with an agonising pontoon crossing (two hours to cross a 100 meter stretch of water … technical hitch) and the final drive in through water logged plains. A week earlier and we might not have made it!

Lady Liuwasunset

Matamanene camp is a little oasis set in a small shady woodland that caters for up to six guests at a time. Our efforts in getting there were fully rewarded by discovering on our arrival that Lady Liuwa – the resident lioness – was very much ‘in camp’ … along with two recently introduced male lions, who turned out to have grown to the size of small horses, they do though have a little more time before they become as relaxed as Lady Liuwa with our presence.

I’m getting used to the inquisitive friendliness of the hyenas and lions, and going to sleep to their whoops and roars. But the vast expanse and flatness along with the magnificent magnitude of the sunsets is still a daily treat.

hyenashyenas

Thanks Polly, it certainly does sound absolutely amazing.

Back to the Luangwa – which is also pretty amazing I hasten to add – we are getting ready for our last week before we open Nsefu and Tena Tena for the season. The caterers are coming in, each with their own wide eyed and slightly nervous expressions – most especially when the “operations manual”, an epic document, is thrust into their hands and they are sent off to plough through it before starting their training in earnest. Polly is back from Liuwa mid week and will quickly be whisked up to Nsefu where she will be holding the fort with Daudi and they will both be spinning their magic up there together. Wendy will be replacing her at Liuwa – an old stomping ground for her as she spent a few years working with Africa Parks up there.

So from me and the rest of the team we shall wave you all goodbye for another week, and with great expectation and anticipation will tell you all about the great “camp opening” next Monday.

Cheers

Emily

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