Back to the Bush

Trip Start Nov 01, 2011
Trip End Nov 22, 2011

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Where I stayed
Mufue Lodge

Flag of Zambia  , Eastern,
Thursday, November 10, 2011

We were picked up by Duncan & taken to the border crossing. He talked about the bad situation that their country is in because a majority of the farmers have left their country & have gone to Zambia. Duncan said that things are relatively stable here now, unlike in 2005-2007. He said that the borders used to have long queues of women crossing the borders to Zambia & Namibia to purchase necessities like bread & salt. These staples were not available for sale in their own stores. 

After crossing the border he explained that the town of Livingstone, which looks wealthier & has many hotels, lodges, supermarkets, shops, churches, pharmacy, hospital along the way to the airport. We also saw more newer vehicles & road work being done on the way to the airport (the men were using pick axes & shovels to dig along the road). We also saw men & women walking along the side of the road & children in school uniforms. The population here is 350,000, compared to only 45,000 in Vic Falls. Livingstone had been the capital of Zambia until 1935. Lusaka became, & currently still is the capital. 

John picked up our luggage for us & gave us a quick tour & escorted us to the airport fee cashier. We did not have exact change, so for the next hour the gentlemen kept returning to us with little bits of cash until we were finally even, moments prior to our flight.

Before we landed in Lusaka we can see lots of agricultural activity - a tractor with equipment behind, long narrow shed, irrigation, greenhouses, lots of crop circles. This is very different than the view above Zimbabwe. 

James from Wilderness Safaris escorted us to the security screening area & once we passed through & sat down we were greeted by a friendly light grey tabby. An eccentric foreign gentlemen came through security after us & he was questioned about the contents of his carry-on. One item was a fishing net which after some discussion, he took it out of his bag & demonstrated how to use it saying "see, it is just a fishing net", then "I hope you don't make me go through this every time. 

After the noise & commotion, the cat looked alarmed & ran outside. Immediately he was passing along his apologies to the cat. When he finished going through security, the cat returned & he scooped her up, apologized & petted her. I think she has forgiven him!

We boarded a British Aerospace Jetstream 32 for Lusaka. We had a short flight with a half a dozen others. When we landed we were greeted with a sign. James helped us with our bags & the paperwork & payment for the airport tax. A short time later he collected our bags & took them to be checked in. Not to long after that we went through security & then checked in. I don't think we have ever done that before today. We have always checked in prior to security. 

We waited in the lounge & watched BBC for 30 minutes before boarding the same plan to Mfuwe. The plan was about half full & we had a short, uneventful flight. 

We were greeted at the airport by Misheck (sounds like Me Sheck). Also at the airport was a returning employee, Ali. Two other guests from L.A., Bill & Barb joined us on the 45 drive to the Mfuwe Lodge.

Mufue is just at the edge of the South Luangwa reserve area - even though the river is VERY low they have had a couple of heavy rains already and you can really see the difference from Mana Pools or Chobe - everything is starting to become green.

The itinerary here is:
5:30 wake up call
6:00 breakfast, eggs, toast, mini-pancakes, cereal, fruit tea & coffee
6:30 - 10:00 morning game drive
11:00 lunch
3:30 tea & snacks
4:00 - 8:00 evening game drive & sundowner
9:00 dinner

The mammals that we during our stay at Mfuwe were:
large-spotted genet
Thornicroft's giraffe
scrub hare
greater kudu
bushy-tailed mongoose
white-tailed mongoose
slender mongoose
vervet monkey
tree squirrel
Crawshay's zebra

The birds that we saw during our stay at Mfuwe were:
southern carmine bee-eater
white-fronted bee-eater
water thick-knew (Dikkop)
cape turtle dove (ring on back of the neck)
emerald-spotted wood dove (pink on the back of the head)
brown snake eagle
great white egret
African fish-eagle
tawny eagle (mom & youngster)
red-billed francolin (spurfowl)
go-away-bird (heard him, but did not see him)
Egyptian goose
helmeted guineaufowl
grey heron
southern red-billed hornbill
african sacred ibis
hadeda ibis
African jacana
square-tailed nightjar (Mozambique)
Pel's owl
Verreaux's eagle owl
yellow-billed oxpecker
red-billed oxpecker
Lilian's lovebird (a parakeet) 
lilac-breasted roller
double-banded sandgrouse
saddle-billed stork (immature)
yellow-billed stork
African pied wagtail
buffalo weaver
water digger
white-browed sparrow weaver nests 
hooded vulture

The reptiles that we saw during our stay at Mfuwe were:
nile crocodile

We were greeted by Tanya, Dominic, Kim & Ian with cool towels & refreshing juice. We were provided the schedule of events & advised that we had to be very cautious while on the property. It is very common for elephants to walk through the property & they will go right through the lobby. Lately a lion has been napping on the grounds near our cabin! So, in the evenings we have to be escorted by security back to our rooms.

We had a small snack of sandwiches, apples & oranges to tide us over until the 3:30 tea. After our short break Dominic escorted us to our room, the Warthog  Room & gave us a tour. The rooms are amazing. The mosquito netting with be turned down in the evening & all the shutters will be closed to avoid attracting the animals to our balcony or our room. At night we have to keep the patio shutters closed to avoid an unexpected visitor through the screen. The washroom has a lovely shower with a glass door & a view of the river bed, a double sink, then a toilet with another sink. I think we can manage all right here! While getting the tour 3 warthogs greeted us off the balcony by rolling in the shallow water & mud! We also saw a few elephants wander by…

We only had a few minutes to settle in, then headed back to the lodge for spanikopita, jelly donuts (like timbits, but larger), tea, coffee & iced tea.  We then departed on our first drive with Misheck & Philip our spotter. We were joined by Bill & Barb from L.A., Clare who is a fourth year resident in Boston (from AZ), Ryanke from the Netherlands & her boyfriend from Sweden. 

The safari vehicles here are noisier & the overhead canvas wraps around so you can not see animals & birds out of both sides of the vehicle, but it is still pretty good. 

Again, we saw many animals & birds. We saw the nest of white-browed sparrow weaver nests - they are quite a few of them. The weaving quality of the nest is not very good, the weaving refers more to the pattern of their flight. A short while into our journey we saw a new animal, Puku, which is the same colour as an impala, but is a bit larger, has no white or black on the bum, has a bit more fur & the horns. We saw a hammerkop (Kop means head, so it is hammer like headed bird).

Just as the sun was getting really low we spotted the animal that we all wanted to see the most, a leopard. She was lying on the ground & appeared to be eating something. When she got up & walked to us we could see a youngster lying on the ground behind her. We could also see a large gash on her side. She may have been injured by a hyena. 

We packed up the drinks & snacks, then Philip turned on the spotlight & began to look for animals & birds. We were very fortunate to see a genet. Originally this animals was classified as a cat because it has large ears, cat eyes & a long pointy nose, but it does not have canine teeth & it eats insects & rodents, so now it is classified as a mongoose. The genet is really neat looking. It has a long slender body that is covered with spots & a long striped tail. We ended up seeing 4 of them! We also saw a bushy-tailed mongoose & a white-tailed mongoose. I am guessing that you can imagine what those look like. 

We saw a couple of scrub hares dart across our path, they pretty much look like the rabbits that you see in Essex County. We heard and saw a water thick-knee (dikkop). His nickname is "low-battery" because he starts off with a high pitch, then ends in a low pitch

We were thrice lucky, in the dark at the end of our drive we saw another leopard walking through the grass! One of the last animals we saw was a hippo walking through the trees. When he noticed the light he ducked his head behind a small bare shrub. He thinks that if he cannot see us, then we cannot see him. Silly hippo!! 

Back at the lodge we headed straight to dinner. I am too tired to go back to freshen up. We were served creamy tomato soup, beef with potato wedges, green beans, pumpkin puree & tiramisu. Everything was very delicious. After dinner I had a black tea & Miceck laughed. He said a previous guest had ordered "naked" tea because it has nothing on. So, from now on, I am only having naked tea!

Bill & I were escorted back to the room. Immediately I said to Bill, "there is something out there", while peeking through the shutters. I could only see the screen of our balcony, but I could hear branches breaking. I immediately thought two things could happen - I suddenly see a big eye looking back at me or it is like the horror movies where the person who goes to check out the noise is always the one killed first. So, I closed the shutters & moved to the centre of the cabin. A few minutes later I could hear that the animal moved to the front of the cabin so I peaked out the shutters of the front door & could see a young elephant eating & strolling along. 

We crawled into bed & I am thrilled to be able to hear the sounds of all the night-time creatures once again!
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Kat on

Fabulous guys! We wish we were there!!

theresabill on

It is amazing! You would love it!

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