It’s Monday 8th July 2013 and Liuwa rainbows.

Hi, there! I hope that you have had a fabulous weekend and that you are ready for yet another It’s Monday, the most of which was not written by me!! This week we get to hear from Neil Andrews about his recent trip to Liuwa Plain.

“I have holidayed in Africa at least once a year since 1996, tending not to follow the crowds, so how appropriate would a sojourn to Liuwa Plain be. I chose the November/December option as I hoped to experience big and angry African skies. I was not disappointed. I must admit, that however seasoned an Africa traveller I might consider myself, I was somewhat in awe when I discovered at Lusaka airport that Robin Pope himself would be one of our guides. This said his passion is so disarming that combined with Jason Alfonsi they added to the shared wonder of Liuwa Plain.

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This is difficult. How do I tell you all about Liuwa Plain without having you all immediately book trips to a place I’d like to keep secret! Okay, I must not be so selfish … there is space for all of us at Liuwa Plain. Space. The biggest African skies you can imagine. Horizons that do not end.

Have you ever seen two rainbow ends? At Liuwa Plain you can. I got my big sky experience every day, with no two days the same. But the stand out day was the day of the rainbows.

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It had been a generally damp day (Scottish-like drizzle) as we found and then followed Lady Liuwa and the younger lioness on their abortive wildebeest hunts; and in the afternoon Jason was doing a grand job at avoiding the more ominous storm clouds as the rainbows appeared. Rainbows – as initially some were just patches of the spectrum mid-sky, followed by a rainbow curtain, then the main event. And thank goodness the prospect of the big skies had induced me to take my fish-eye lens. It was needed to capture the endless rainbow, and how wondrous that there should be a paler double above it. You don’t need game viewing when nature provides such visual entertainment as the skies of Liuwa Plain.

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Mention must be made of the legend that is Lady Liuwa, and to have her do her famous roll in front of our vehicle was indeed another special moment, apart from the mere fact of seeing her contentment now that she has other lions as company

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Expect the unexpected in Africa and Liuwa Plain proved no exception. Robin and Jason’s vehicles were parked on one side of a stretch of water, with the wild dogs we had caught up with opposite and the ever attendant hyenas to our right. I was watching and taking photos of the extensive bird life as a herd of wildebeest approached beyond the outstretched hyenas. Three adults and a calf veered off from the main herd, galloping towards the now alert wild dogs but still dozing hyenas. So as not to influence events we stayed put … not quite idle bystanders … binoculars and zoom lenses primed. Whilst I believe all of us initially reacted as follows ‘we are about to see some action’ it almost as immediately turned into an ‘oh no, please no’ reaction.

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The three adults and calf had now seen the wild dogs, so they diverted their run to the right with the dogs in pursuit. For some reason, an alerted lone bull wildebeest, beyond and to the left, decided to joined the four others as they came to a stop and formed a mobile wildebeest shield around the very vulnerable calf. What ensued, and how I wish I’d thought of timing it, was an amazing ballet. A dance macabre, but with a happy ending! For every dart the adult wild dogs made to try and extricate the calf from its guards the wildebeest responded with deft movements to keep the youngster safe. What amazed me, even whilst still thinking the inevitable would eventually happen, was how did the calf know the dance step? Its survival dependant on it being in tune with its mother and three strangers’ movements. In step it was and to our amazement the dogs tired emotionally before the wildebeest calf did physically. Again, amazingly, the three adults and calf slowly walked off towards the endless horizon, leaving the solitary bull and the now crouched wild dogs behind.

Our stay was completed by Alfred’s bush supper on the edge of a mirror like pond that pristinely reflected the sheer natural beauty of Liuwa Plain.

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I hope to return next year so see you there…

Wow – amazing. Thanks ever so much for sharing that with us and I am sure that we will all be leaping onto the next plane there.

I think that there is very little that can follow from this story so for this week so long and have a good one.

Cheers

emily

 

 

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