Its Monday and a beautiful morning in Luangwa

Well, hello there! I hope that you are well and have had a lovely weekend. Here in the Luangwa, we have just had a rather frantic week of watching the water levels… ‘is it up or down?’, ‘how quickly is it going up’? Oh no, is it going to rain? Phew! the storm is in the south… Despite all of that, it has been magnificent; and it turns out that island life isn’t so different to life over the last year, except that it’s a little soggier!

Up until two weeks ago, we were staring down the barrel of a potential drought with rainfall massively down on what we would expect annually. But don’t worry, things have changed dramatically and with a few days of enormous downpours; each with some 50mm of rain in just a few hours, combined with monumental rain up in the North Luangwa and in Chipata (both our catchment areas) the river finally started to come up, and then up and up and up. First port of call was getting the cars across Robin’s Bridge as otherwise we really are stranded. Second port of call pack up Luangwa Safari House, most especially the underground kitchen. Third port of call was Robin’s House and Nkwali to be packed up. After everything was pretty much under control, we then had the small matter of a car on the other side of the river needing to be brought back around. We decided that we would take on the challenge. Given that school (having finally re-opened) had to close again because it was pretty much flooded all around so not necessarily a safe environment for small children. We packed Jack up along with lots of coffee for us, and water and snacks for him, and off we went. First off crossing the river into Wakumba – straight over the bank wherever that may be, over the game drive loops which are very well hidden and straight across to the main road. We leapt out the boat, checked the car and waved off Samuel before we started on our morning’s adventure.

I realise that we live out here so we should be taking advantage of the situation, but this was our first time out into the park this year, so we decided to take our time and enjoy the views and sightings. There is only so much birding that a 3-and-a-half-year-old will enjoy; but top of the list were definitely the crowned cranes dancing around each other, the Jacarna’s because “wow, they can walk on water” and then the yellow billed storks because “euw mama, is it eating a frog”. Sadly, there was a misunderstanding at the introduction of a Great White Egret when I was asked if it was really called a “great white idiot”, children do come up with the best interpretations of things!

Along with the countless bird species we saw, we also enjoyed all the usual plains game with some wonderful sightings of zebra who very reluctantly got off the road to let us pass, as they didn’t want to wander into the wet grass. The elephants feasting on the complete abundance of food, and of course impala gracefully leaping across puddles and into clearings.

After leaving the Park, it was time to see if we could cross Robin’s Bridge to get back to camp. It turns out that we were lucky to be able to get across, however by the end of the day we were completely cut off. Since then, it’s been all about getting around by boat and getting boats in the right places, with some real treats, as we managed to boat all the way to Luangwa Safari House to check up on Edward who is looking after the house. Then up to Robin’s Bridge where we have parked a boat so that we can easily get in and out of camp. Boating through the flooded ebony forests is a truly magical experience, as well as popping in and out of the swollen lagoons. Let us face it, not a bad way to spend half term.

With the water levels having stabilised and the rain becoming a little more patchy, we are all touching wood that we are in the clear. We do continue to keep a very beady eye on the situation, but at the same time are now truly able to enjoy the magnificence of it all.

Maybe on that note, I should leave you to your week and go and sit at Nkwali bar to watch yet another tree float down the river and another storm build up on the horizon. I hope that you all have the most wonderful week ahead, with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

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