Thursday, 27 February 2014

Safari - not for the faint hearted townie

Last weekend I went to Zambia for a safari.

It actually started in my accommodation in Malawi, when a lizard jumped on me as I moved something on a bookcase, and a large rat flung itself with abandon onto my kitchen surface.

We drove westward for miles, passing open sheds with tobacco leaves hanging to dry from the rafters, past shanty villages, across plains and round mountains.  It was an epic journey.

When we arrived, the 'welcome' sign warned us not to walk outside the camp as we would be eaten.  I thought this was a merry jape.  That was, until the manager gave us an introductory talk while we sipped our welcome drinks on squishy chairs next to the river.  'If a hippopotamus comes out of the water while you are sitting here in the evening, keep still, keep calm and keep quiet'.  I was spluttering on my iced tea at this point, and wondering why I had come.  Sure enough, at 3am, I heard an odd noise.  Looking out of my flimsy chalet window, I saw the world's biggest hippopotamus, grazing mere feet away from my wall.

I also had a bit of animal life in my room.  There were a lot of flapping noises in the night, and when I woke up in the morning, there was a baby bat attached to the inside of my mosquito net.  Although cute, this is a bit worrying as bats carry rabies.  I haven't started foaming at the mouth yet, so think I have avoided that.

We went on four game drives, in an open sided Landrover.  This became rather over-exciting, especially when we parked next to a leopard, lounging on a low branch in a tree.  As if that wasn't scary enough, it soon became worse when a pack of hyenas wandered round to check out the impala he had killed.

We came back to visit the leopard again, and he was sitting next to the track.  If I had stretched out my hand, I could have stroked him.

But I didn't.

This wasn't the moment for the truck to get stuck in the mud, right next to the leopard.  As the vehicle revved wildly and slid back and forth, I noticed the exhaust fumes were belching into the leopard's face.  I muttered a quiet prayer, and eventually we slithered on our way.

The 'fun' didn't stop there.  We approached a dip in the track, where a stream crossed.  In the middle of the stream, right in our path, floated A CROCODILE.  I assumed the driver would turn back.

But he didn't.

He drove straight in AND TURNED THE ENGINE OFF IN THE DEEPEST PART.

I could have reached out and stroked the crocodile.

But I didn't.

I was tightly curled in the foetal position, whimpering.  I had to be coaxed upright to take a photo, with shaky hands.

After that, the safari improved, and we saw loads of giraffe, elephants, impala, buffalo, wart hogs with their funny tusks and all manner of brightly coloured, beautiful birds.  Less beautiful was the flock of vultures, gathering round and starting to pick at a not quite dead impala.  It was a very dramatic scene.

Some of the views were astonishing.  Zambia is an amazing country.

A sobering piece of news we received the next morning was that two men had been killed while we were in the park.  One had been fishing on the bank and a crocodile had come out of the water and attacked him, the other was in a kayak, capsized and was never seen again.

Safaris, not really suitable entertainment for townies!
 Way too close
 Out of the water this time, but still too close
Elephants - bigger teeth but nicer personalities

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG is all I can say. Lovely photos xxxxx

Penny H

444rand said...

Hahahaha so awesome.