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Caracal

A Safari Friendship Renewed - 2014

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Caracal

11 September 2014

 

Breakfast on the terrace at Waterberry is special. Sitting in the morning sunshine watching the Zambezi drifting past on the way to the Falls and looking across to the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe.

 

I chat briefly to an English lady who’s just come back from Nkwali and Nsefu in South Luangwa. She tells me she’s had great game viewing. I ask if Daudi is still with Robin Pope Safaris at Nsefu. She says yes he is. She adds that the previous year was her first visit to Africa. She went to Selous and found game viewing limited there by problems with poaching. Sad to hear. Game viewing was good when I was there in 2000.

 

After breakfast we are driven into Lusaka by Bornface. Bornface drops the three of us off at the Livingstone Museum saying he’ll be back in two hours and he then heads off to the Falls with Janice and John the English couple.

 

John and I have visited the museum before but it’s still worth a return visit.

 

Not sure why they appeal but two pieces of information that have stayed in my mind are:-

 

A human skeleton that was exhibited. It was found buried on its side in a foetal position with the knees drawn up to the chin. It was thought to be a male as it was facing east. In the Tonga tradition males were buried facing east as they go out at sunrise to hunt and provide food for the family. Females are buried facing west as when the sun sets they are at the hearth cooking for the family.

 

Regarding the hunter gatherers in Zambia it was a tradition that if you met one on your travels and are asked ‘From where did you see him?” you are compelled to say :- “ I saw you from very far away””.

If you say “I saw you just there” he might attack thinking you’re mocking his short stature.

 

 

In the museum I was starting to walk up a sloping passage to the Natural History section when two young African boys aged about 6 or 7 came running down towards me hand in hand. They were excited, smiling and chattering. They stopped in front of me, one grabbed my hand and it was clear I was to follow them. They hurried back into the Natural History section looking back to make sure I was following. They ran straight to one diorama and excitedly pointed to the object of their attention. It was an African Rock Python that to my eyes was rather tired looking and far from lifelike. To theirs it was amazing and full of fascination. My attention was then drawn to a Puff Adder in a corner of the scene. The mammals in that diorama were obviously secondary to the reptiles for these boys. Once they were satisfied that I was mightily impressed with what they’d shown me they ran off hand in hand to admire another diorama where a lechwe held centre stage and was the object of their attention.

I wandered off in another direction but I felt strangely honoured and privileged that for a short time I’d been invited into their world.

 

On strolling further around the museum I felt encouraged to notice there were a number of Zambian families with young children enjoying the museum’s facilities and hopefully forging in young minds an appreciation of Zambia’s history, heritage and wildlife.

My strolling included a return visit to the David Livingstone room which holds so much of interest including the ability to read so many of his original letters.

 

Before we knew it the two hours had passed and Bornface was there to drive us to Maramba Market. I had with me prints of the following three photos I’d taken back in 2011.

 

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The first task therefore was to head to the vegetable section and see if those two stallholders were still there. I could not see either of them but on enquiry of a stallholder Bornface was told that the first one was no longer at the market but the second one whilst not there that day was still a stallholder. We were told that her relatives were right there at the grandly named Sunshine Restaurant opposite. We stepped across and with Bornface explaining handed them the photos. Suffice to say they were amazed, fascinated and delighted.

 

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Soon more people were joining in the viewing some of whom identified themselves or others in the background of the photos. There were many smiles.

Bornface told us they were saying many people take photos but we were the first to return and give them photos and they were all very happy.

 

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We left them with the photos and with a great feeling of bonhomie all round.

 

Wandering on through another part of the sprawling market Louise paused to study the innovative homemade guitar of this aspiring musician.

 

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He then proceeded to play his “guitar” and sing for us and we were impressed.

 

After the market we headed to the Falls where we had a picnic lunch and then wandered around for 2 hours. The Falls were the lowest I’d seen.

 

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I found the following sign interesting.

 

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An each way bet!

 

Back to the lodge – quiet afternoon spell – enjoyable dinner then chat around the fire with other guests.

 

 

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Caracal

12 September 2014

 

We have an early morning wake up with tea and also delivered is an invitation to attend cocktails for Guineafowl Foundation members at 6.30pm Louise’s chalet that evening.

 

At 6.30am we head off with Webbie Sitawal and an English couple who were on their very first day in Africa. After Waterberry they were heading to Namibia for a self drive.

 

The first part of the morning is bird watching and we head to the Livingstone Sewerage Ponds where we see green and ruff sandpipers, black crowned heron, egrets, jacana, purple and lesser gallinule and Webbie was delighted to spot an African rail and lesser jacana which he said were both rare.

 

A section of fencing to the adjoining National Park had been broken by elephants which get into the ponds as do buffalo. The occasional elderly hippo takes up residence sometimes. There are houses close by the first pond and baboons were visiting the area by the ponds and the houses.

 

We then drive to Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. We’re there specifically to see the Old Drift Cemetery – this was something I’d learnt about from Sheilah.

 

When talking about my forthcoming safari Sheilah was naturally interested to know where in Zambia we were heading. When I explained about Waterberry Lodge she said it must be close to the Old Drift. She then explained the Old Drift was the original settlement north of the Zambezi at a point where the crossings of the river occurred before the advent of the bridge. However the site was found to be unhealthy with rampant malaria and blackwater fever taking a heavy toll on the first settlers. This led to the establishment of Livingstone which, being inland from the river and higher, was considered a healthier choice.

 

The Old Drift Cemetery remains and there is also a marker where the crossing of the river occurred. Armed with this knowledge a visit to the site was in order.

 

On the way to the cemetery we saw the following:-

 

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This I presume is the marker showing the old river crossing point but unfortunately the plaque is missing.

 

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The Old Drift Cemetery

 

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Whilst having a picnic breakfast this vervet on a nearby table tried to hide.

 

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There are islands in the river here.

 

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We get back to Waterberry around 11.30am and after lunch relax.

 

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I was sitting with a book but mainly gazing

 

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These guineafowl are going to the wrong lodge. They should have been heading to Louise's place for evening cocktails!

 

 

We have evening drinks and nibbles sitting outside Louise’s room. All Louise’s idea. She’d organised it all with the co-operative staff. The three of us chat about the whole experience, highlights etc. As this is our last night there is a tinge of sadness but still room for laughs and a consensus that we’d all had a wonderful time.

 

After this lovely interlude we head to the terrace for dinner. Dining is interrupted to watch Humphrey when he makes an appearance having decided to do some lawn mowing.

 

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After dinner we find that Humphrey has wandered around towards our rooms and we have to extend drinking time around the fire to allow for him to move on. We then turn in for the night.

 

 

13 September 2014

 

After an early morning cuppa I walk around the pond area and watch some vervets.

 

Then after breakfast we leave Waterberry for the airport. The new terminal at Livingstone was a pleasant surprise and a big improvement. With luggage checked through to Sydney and boarding passes to Melbourne things travel wise were a lot easier than sometimes in the past.

Once we got to Joburg we said goodbye to Louise. Louise had a long wait for her flight to Sao Paulo so she’d booked a room at the transit hotel. Best for all if the goodbyes are kept short rather than drawn out.

 

After that sad farewell a stop in the bookshop, a while in the lounge and then 11 ½ hour flight to Sydney. Short flight to Melbourne – overnight there – then back home next day after a wonderful safari.

 

If anyone's got this far I hope they'll indulge me a little further:-

 

Musings At Home

 

As I sit at the computer I hear quail calling in the paddocks all around the house.

Harbingers of summer just as the fantailed cuckoos with their downward trills are the harbingers of spring.

I don’t often see the quail but occasionally we flush one up from the roadside when walking the dog. This is the road from outside the house.

 

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There’s a river about 1km down the road. There’s a bridge over the river and the road goes up the hill to a farm. There are platypus in the river but they’re very secretive and shy. Best chance of seeing them is near dawn or dusk when the days are short. Last time we saw one was about 18 months ago when the river was flooding. It was coming down on the water towards the bridge and appeared to be battling and struggling with the current or else it was just enjoying the surfing. As it went under the little bridge I was hoping the latter.

 

We have koalas and today traffic stopped in the highway through our small town for a koala that was crossing the highway. It’s mating season at the moment so they’re quite active. It also means a lot of loud nighttime grunting from the males who are vying to attract the females.

I spotted this koala one morning last month when we were walking the dog down the road.

 

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Crimson rosellas are daily garden visitors – don’t feed them but always keep the bird baths filled up for them and all the others.

 

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This King Parrot is a fairly rare but most welcome visitor to the garden. This is one of a pair that visited soon after we got back from our safari

 

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A couple of photos of the garden this November.

 

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Won’t be this green for long. Summer is my least favourite time. The garden scorches and the bushfire threat is present.

 

That’s it. No wait a moment. One more thing. I have a glass of wine which I’m raising now…..........

 

 

Here’s to Louise

Here’s to safaris

Here’s to safari friendships

 

 

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panamaleo

Cup of coffee raised in a toast (It's only 9:30AM here in Panama!) to the best of travel companions and true friends, Clive and John!

 

Louise

Member, Guinea Fowl Foundation

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Marks

A magnificent sunset indeed.

Returning to the market with your photos was such a good idea! It must have been fun to get such a positive reception of them. While you may miss Africa, you also have such a lovely home to return to!

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Kitsafari

How lucky you are to return to more wildlife, though certainly unlike Africa's, but just as endemic and special!

 

thank you for taking us on a lovely safari. I thoroughly enjoyed the wildlife game drives as much as the city drives. the museum moment with the child was very endearing!

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michael-ibk

Thanks for this report, Caracal, I very much enjoyed your distinct style with the strong emphasis on culture, history and people, not only animals. Not that you had any shortings on animals, I was really impressed with your good sightings of Roan and Sable especially. The Koala ending was unexpected but very nice - you really have a beautiful place at home.

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graceland

Caracel, I love your writings, musings, photos and the Koala! I must come to Oz to see for myself. And yes your home landscape is beautiful. I'd hate to leave!

 

Lovely to take pics with you. I sent some pics to a guide of ours from 2010 and now I am his FB photo LOL.

 

What a wonderful time youall had together; and it was nice to also hear from @@panamaleo. She was either born July/Aug (I am a leo) or she loves lions!

 

Thanks for sharing,

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panamaleo

Indeed, I am a Leo (July 29), and LEO are my initials too! Lions are wonderful, but love elephants the most. Reading with interest the TR's re: Zimbabwe, as that will likely be my next safari. This is a great forum with such terrific advice from really experienced safari enthusiasts and photographers.

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Caracal

@@Marks,@@Kitsafari,@@michael-ibk,@@graceland - thanks for your positive comments.

 

Yes Marks and Kitsafari the market and museum visits were memorable and Michael you'll have gathered I'm a Nanzhila fan - a great place for sable and roan.

 

I know the ending of my report was somewhat unorthodox and I wasn't sure how it would be received. I was sitting at the computer wondering how to finish the TR when the quails persistent calling gave me the idea.

Coincidentally when walking the dog this morning there was a wombat out and about in a paddock by the river.It was an object of much interest to the Hereford cattle. No idea what it was doing out at 8.00am as they're nocturnal. Perhaps looking for a new home. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me.

 

@@panamaleo - I guess at 9.30am a toast with coffee is acceptable. A toast at that time with anything stronger would be troublesome!

 

@@graceland - you'll see Louise's birthday is July 29. We met in 2005 in Katavi and on her birthday we had a most memorable sighting and incident. @@panamaleo you might consider posting a report somewhere on that memorable birthday! A special day.

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panamaleo

Well, I will relate this incident (no photos unfortunately) on July 29, 2005. There were the 3 of us, Clive, John and I, and a professional photographer from Fox Safaris that morning. The guide/driver seemed a bit lost right from the get-go, and drove us about 2 km. onto the vast dry lakebed so as to view 6 lions at 2 carcasses (hippos?). Suddenly the black cotton lake bed gave way, and we were stuck up to the axel and NOT going anywhere anytime soon. The vehicle was at an odd angle, wedged in the cotton. Ok, we will watch the lions, and be patient while the guide(up to his hips in mud) tried to secure a rope (a rope?!) to the axel. Watching the lions, from a safe distance outside the Cruiser; taking pics; pretty relaxed...whoa! What's that?! A herd of about 1500 buffalo appeared on the horizon moving steadily towards the lions...and US! The lions were getting agitated; the buffaloes steadily pushing them towards our position. We are now definitely back inside the tilted Cruiser, wondering how this will ensue. The lions held their ground; the pro photographer is taking lots of photos...and for about 20 minutes it seemed like it might be the most interesting birthday ever, or possibly the last.

 

The stand-off was resolved, but we had 2 hours before the camp staff managed to get a rescue vehicle to haul us out. My last photo was of a hyena eyeing the leather seats of our abandoned Cruiser with a lustful eye.

 

That evening, the photographer had made each of us a CD of his shots that morning, and the surprise in the photos (that none of us saw at the time) was a tiny lion cub tossed in the air during the scuffle between the lions and the buffs! A memorable birthday indeed!

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graceland

Well, I will relate this incident (no photos unfortunately) on July 29, 2005. There were the 3 of us, Clive, John and I, and a professional photographer from Fox Safaris that morning. The guide/driver seemed a bit lost right from the get-go, and drove us about 2 km. onto the vast dry lakebed so as to view 6 lions at 2 carcasses (hippos?). Suddenly the black cotton lake bed gave way, and we were stuck up to the axel and NOT going anywhere anytime soon. The vehicle was at an odd angle, wedged in the cotton. Ok, we will watch the lions, and be patient while the guide(up to his hips in mud) tried to secure a rope (a rope?!) to the axel. Watching the lions, from a safe distance outside the Cruiser; taking pics; pretty relaxed...whoa! What's that?! A herd of about 1500 buffalo appeared on the horizon moving steadily towards the lions...and US! The lions were getting agitated; the buffaloes steadily pushing them towards our position. We are now definitely back inside the tilted Cruiser, wondering how this will ensue. The lions held their ground; the pro photographer is taking lots of photos...and for about 20 minutes it seemed like it might be the most interesting birthday ever, or possibly the last.

 

The stand-off was resolved, but we had 2 hours before the camp staff managed to get a rescue vehicle to haul us out. My last photo was of a hyena eyeing the leather seats of our abandoned Cruiser with a lustful eye.

 

That evening, the photographer had made each of us a CD of his shots that morning, and the surprise in the photos (that none of us saw at the time) was a tiny lion cub tossed in the air during the scuffle between the lions and the buffs! A memorable birthday indeed!

@@panamaleo

 

Wow and thanks for the report . Something never to forget...would love to see the scuffle - and most of all the cub tossing about in the air!

 

BTW. I am July 27....so will toast to you in approx. 7 months. Leos ARE special :D We love animals. ALOT.

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Caracal

@@panamaleo,@@graceland - great description panamaleo - just dug out and scanned some old photos which aren't very good. My fault that we're getting off topic and now in a different country!

BTW you two do I sense a Safaritalk Leo's club starting up?!

 

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graceland

@@panamaleo,@@graceland - great description panamaleo - just dug out and scanned some old photos which aren't very good. My fault that we're getting off topic and now in a different country!

BTW you two do I sense a Safaritalk Leo's club starting up?! BTW the jeep is indeed in a scary position....I see no humans though :blink:

 

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@@panamaleo,@@graceland - great description panamaleo - just dug out and scanned some old photos which aren't very good. My fault that we're getting off topic and now in a different country!

BTW you two do I sense a Safaritalk Leo's club starting up?!

 

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Great remembrance! Yes I think all Leos should meet in Africa and find their namesakes....who is game for that one??? :o

 

I believe I'd have a great time with your group, as others would as well...and thanks for the memories!

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