Liuwa Plains

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
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Flag of Zambia  , Western,
Saturday, August 11, 2012

Liuwa at long last!!

Another successful ferry, or should I say pontoon crossing. This one hand operated by one man, and any of the locals that cared to give a hand while hitching a ride to the other side.  The alternative was a boat taxi which they had to pay for. We saw the boat taxi taking an ox cart across amongst other things.  These boats are built locally. Another kind of taxi (without a windshield) made many trips to and from the river.  It is a vibrant spot complete with a shebeen on one side with lovely African music to set the mood.  Freshly caught fish and dried fish for sale, mats and baskets and you name it.  Christine even bought vetkoek.

 The sand bank on the other side, needed some negotiating leaving the ferry as it was deep sand and uphill.  We asked the locals to stand back as Carlos would have to put foot to climb out with Lynxi in tow.

It is approximately 50 km to the camp site in Liuwa.  Peter warned us that there are some hairy stretches of deep sand driving before one makes is to harder ground.  So it was.  We had to go in front as we had to keep to a higher speed than Mike to make it through.  Not only deep sand, but sharp turns and dongas every now and again.  Tuna's consumption was going to be poor after this stretch of road. Flat country with high temperatures. We soon swooped our boots and socks for slopes.

Liuwa has become somewhat of a "destination" after being featured in the Get-a-way magazine.  We had above average high expectations for Liuwa. We heard of “Lady Liuwa” the lioness, the man that filmed and documented her life for two year, the fast numbers of Blouwildebees and hyena known to be seen here.

What we got was vast open planes with beautiful golden grass and tree islands, and an abundance of bird life (Storks, heron, hammerkop, plovers, ducks, pelicans, crowned cranes etc). The only other wildlife is Blouwildebees, zebra, oribi, hyena and rabbits. One could almost be disappointed at the amount of animals as they are spread out and seem few in number.

Liuwa is a park without fences and one is allowed to walk about (at own risk).  At the water holes, meadows of veld flowers in pink, yellow and purple sway in the breeze.   The “new - fresh greens” around the pools made for stunning color contrast with the dark blues of the water.  We could get out and have a pic nick, sit for hours reading or taking photos. Wildebees would come to the water for a drink and Fish Eagles hung around. The birds kept their distance but did not seem to mind us very much.

The afternoons were extremely hot and were best spent at camp.  A camp without water – so to speak.  The water tank was empty and so water had to be pulled up from a well with a leaking bucket.   Fortunately Lynxi carries 160 L of water so we could cook and clean and even have a hot shower. For the best part of our stay we did not see any other vehicles in Liuwa, it was only toward the end that we saw others in the park.

Liuwa, being a community base park, have all fees payable before one crosses the pontoon.  One can only speculate as to how the monies work its way back to the community. Two thousand people live within the park.  Although one hardly see them.  They must live off the land, (animals and fish), this is a bit of a concern. The community was not active at the camp site itself, it was not serviced by anyone during the 3 days that we spent there. 

All and all we loved being in Liuwa.  The bird life was definitely a highlight. The open country has a very real charm.  We would love to come back for the migration some day.

After breaking up camp, the hectic road back to the pontoon awaited us.  Just before the pontoon we got stuck in the deep sand and Mike had to tow us out with Carlos’ magic tow rope.  Being Sunday we were happy to see Mr. Pontoon ready to take us safely across.  He loved having his photo taken with us and become somewhat of a friend.  He asked us to bring him one of three possible gifts when next we come. A water pump, generator or a camera.  We can choose.  LOL
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