Back to the Bush
Trip Start Nov 01, 2011
20Trip End Nov 22, 2011
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Where I stayed
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)
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
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
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
3:30 tea & snacks
4:00 - 8:00 evening game drive & sundowner
The mammals that we during our stay at Mfuwe were:
The birds that we saw during our stay at Mfuwe were:
southern carmine 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
tawny eagle (mom & youngster)
red-billed francolin (spurfowl)
go-away-bird (heard him, but did not see him)
southern red-billed hornbill
african sacred ibis
square-tailed nightjar (Mozambique)
Verreaux's eagle owl
Lilian's lovebird (a parakeet)
saddle-billed stork (immature)
African pied wagtail
white-browed sparrow weaver nests
The reptiles that we saw during our stay at Mfuwe were:
We were greeted by Tanya, Dominic, Kim & Ian with cool towels & refreshing juice
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
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
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!