16.09.2010 - 23.09.2010
- We literally had to pull ourselves off the island of Likoma…..we either had to get on the next ferry or wait another week. Since we have just bought our tickets back to the States for November 10th, we are no longer feeling like we have an endless amount of time. The Ilala didn’t disappoint with her excessive tardiness, chaotic loading and being stuffed to the gills.
Headed south we would again overnight and arrive at sunrise at our port town. Again no jetty, so we pushed and climbed our way on to a boat for the shore. The boat didn’t quite make it all the way to the shore, so wearing jeans we jumped into thigh high water and carried our backpacks on our heads!
The rest of the day we found ourselves on a marathon of travel taking overcrowded minibuses and taxis through Malawi and into to Zambia to the border city of Chipata: gate way to South Luangwa National Park. This is Zambia’s premier game park and one of very few National Parks in all of Southern Africa accessible by public transportation. Limited to the private transportation or hiring taxies, most of the big parks of Africa have been unfeasible for us, either by cost or distance. Traveling in a local minibus, that found us after 2 hours of waiting at an intersection for any type of ride, took us over 5 hours to cover 100km of incredibly rough, washboard, and bumpy road.
My view for the five hour ride
With our butts numb, teeth chattering, and covered head to toe in orange dust we finally arrived and were warmly welcomed by a South African man who ran a camping/bungalow resort just outside the park along a hippo and croc infested river. After a quick briefing about the hippo and elephant in the area we where welcomed to set up our tent in their extensive grounds.
After a quick dinner and a much needed beer for Peter, G and T for Meghan, we cozzied up in our tent and where out quickly after such an exhausting two days of road travel. Sometime after midnight we where both awoken to a loud chomping noise that at first was really hard to place. After contemplation, it dawned on us that it was the hippos grazing on the grass right our side our tent! Neither of us wanted to move and we stayed awake for some time wishing for the 3 ton animals to move on their way. (We where advised that while in the tent, provided you don’t have a food with in, they hippos regard it as a big rock or bush and move quite gracefully around them) Reassuring but still quite scary.
The next day after an early morning trip into town for a bit of internet and provision shopping, we waited the day away reading, completing bucket laundry and elephant dodging.
A naughty group of three ladies and a young adolescent have become a bit friendly and not afraid of walking through the grounds of the local lodges. We have raccoons and squirrels, Africa has elephants and baboons! Imagine the worlds largest land mammal walking through every day to sample your garden offerings or thatch roof fodder. Needless to say the local village people and Lodge owners are a bit fed up. For the tourist it is complete entertainment and a wonderful experience.
Ellies cruising by the Chalets
Ellies making our tent look small
Ellies chilin by the pool
Ellies looking for a lift
As if we even needed to go on a game drive given our experience in camp, we really wanted to see Leopard (Africa's most prolific cat but most difficult to spot) we anteed up and went out for a night Safari and again the next morning. No leopard, but we saw many more lion, hippo, giraffe, elephant, impala, kudo. The highlight this time was the pride of lion devouring a cape buffalo carcass. Not much was left by the time we arrived and most of the lions where laying around in the shade stuffed to the gills. Their abdomens where completely distend and if they wore pants, the top button would certainly have popped by now!
The pride at the kill
I am Stuffed…We were informed that this was an albino Lion. Notice the lighter Coloration, about the color of Etnie, my parents cat!
We have witnessed lions sleeping, playing, hunting, eating and well, now, mating. The mating ritual is a three day marathon of constant copulation every half hour. We shared notes back at the campsite and everyone we had met got in on the peep show that day.
First the foreplay
Then a quick mating
Followed by a big yawn
And back to sleep
From South Luangwa National Park we traveled to Livingstone. Gateway to Victoria Falls, Livingstone has grown into a must do stop on the southern Africa circuit. Arriving late we made our way to one of the local backpacker places and again found our selves back in the typical scene.
Victoria falls is shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Much like Niagara falls, each side offers it advantages and disadvantages for viewing. Because we had already ponied up money for the Zambia visa we elected to stay on this side and take the falls in from Zambia’s view. It is currently dry season so the Zambezi river is running low. The falls while not as furious at low water then high, still were quite beautiful and it was a great way to spend the day.
The biggest advantage of staying on the Zambia side and visiting during the low season is one can hope and skip across the river to several different points that looked right down over the falls 100+ meter drop. There was a wonderful little swimming hole complete with waterfall jump that we visited. Local guys hang around and offer their service as tour guide to direct you to these spots.