It’s Monday 9th July 2018 and the first Mobiles of the year!

I do hope that you are well and have had a truly wonderful weekend with all the fun and games that weekends are for. Here in the Luangwa, Mobiles has opened with a major bang and a roar with some incredible sightings and lots of fun, so for this week with great excitement I am taking you all up to the Mupamadzi courtesy of Miranda and David Jollie — Miranda over to you:

“It’s been five years since our last visit to South Luangwa — far too long. Our last trip had been combined with visiting Liuwa Plain where we had met both Kanga (who guided us there) and Jason, so we’d been promising ourselves that next time we’d see if we could do the Mobiles — and the date that worked also happened to be the first trip of the season

Setting off for five days in the bush with a group of people you only met yesterday is always an adventure, but being the first group of the year felt especially intrepid. As the seven of us (six guests plus Jason) climbed into the Land Cruiser, there was a real feeling of going out into the wilds. Jason showed us a map on the tea stop and we realised just how much far beyond any other camp the mobile camps were. We would be the first tourists any animals had seen for more than half a year. Along with a comprehensive run-down of the Valley’s history, geography, ecology and geography, Jason explained that one of the fascinating things about visiting the Mupamadzi area is seeing how animals react to you — on foot, you’re part of their world, rather than an alien presence in a vehicle.

First group of the year, you might expect a few teething problems in the set up and running of the camps. You would be disappointed. Camp One was ready and waiting and Michael had the beer cold when we arrived. All the good things about conventional safaris were there — sundowners, afternoon cakes, great food, hot showers — but the cakes were baked in a hole in the ground and the shower came out of a bucket. It’s difficult to pick out individual staff members because everyone was so good, but one person we were particularly pleased to see was Jeffrey, who we recognised and turned out to have been a waiter when we were at Liuwa. He’s now an eagle-eyed trainee guide, who joined us on every walk and as far as we can tell didn’t sleep, as he was always able to give us a rundown on where the lions had been calling while we were asleep!

Walking in this remote area brings all sorts of safari experiences you just couldn’t get anywhere else. Jason taught us how to recognise the Stone Age tools which you can find in most gullies and stony areas — seems there were more people around then than there are now! We heard leopards mating and lions roaring over sundowners. We heard the swishing noise which was the only sound as elephants moved through the grass just a few metres away. We waded the river and walked up to the even more remote Chifungwe Plains where we broke for tea on a little ridge, and saw a herd of elephants heading down for a drink and wallow on the river. Suddenly they all turned and ran back the way they had come — and we realised they’d caught our scent where we’d been walking earlier. The really fascinating moment came next, as they continued back across the plains, and came to another path we had taken that day. The matriarch at the head of the column paused this time, and you could almost see the thought-process as she assessed the potential threat. This time she was less worried, and then carried on. The learning and adjustment to our presence was happening before our eyes. Later on that same walk, super-spotter Jeffrey, at the back of our group, called out “Lions!” A pride were on a ridge a few metres away. They melted into the bush fairly quickly, but not before Jason noticed they were a pride he had been following last year, which he’d been concerned about, as they had cubs but no adult male — he’d been worried that one of the pride-less males in the area might move in and kill the cubs. Not only were the females together, the cubs were still there. We were the first people to see they’d made it through the rains.

But it’s not just the wildlife that makes Mobiles special — being away from TV, internet and all the usual things we rely on for entertainment, it’s a place where good company and storytelling come into their own. Sitting around the fire or watching the sun go down over the river, the group that had been strangers became best of friends. I’ve never had a holiday where I laughed so much.”

Wow thanks so much Miranda and David and just a small addition we have this fab map that Jason put together of their trip of the routes that they covered and the sightings that they had.

So to be frank from my side there really is very little else that I can follow up with as Miranda has beautifully surmised the magic of The Mobile Walking Safaris with that complete removal from modern technologies which we are so attached to combined with great company, stunning scenery and wonderful wildlife — can it get much better than that?

Have an amazing week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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