Wednesday, June 23, 2010

close encounters

It's always fun when animals are too close for the camera. (These are baby giraffe knees.)

We've had some intimate experiences in June.....from sharing the road with animals of all shapes and sizes, sharing a camp with hippos and hyenas sharing rides with men carrying large guns, sharing tight quarters (a helicopter) with Mexican football fans (who support their team but not the personal hygiene industry apprently.....), driving through a bush fire at 100kmph, to running over a dude on his bicycle (in my defense, the guy ran into me, not the other way round, and no injuries, thank goodness).

We have seen many 'behind the scenes' operations: the football factory, the coffee plantation and milling operation, an organic farm, a tannery, a tailor's workshop, the 'HOUSE OF CHITENGE,' the wig shop, the Tuesday Market, the salalua second hand market, the sewing studio at the Chikumbuso Women and Orphan's Center, and more.

It's hard to know where to begin with our June show and tell. Here are just a few pictures.

Yes we are out of our vehicle inside the park, 4/5 of our party in flip flops, walking to see Zambia's only 5 white rhinos. the rhinos are under armed guard to protect them from poaching. One horn would fetch $250,000. White Rhinos are not white, it's mis-translated from the dutch "weit" or "wijd" meaning wide, in reference to their mouth phenotype.

We didn't get any nice photos from the Rhino encounter but when there are 3 pregnant females and two males squaring off while you are on foot with a 4 year old on your shoulders, standing upwind...a good photo is not the first thing on your mind.

The above picture was when we were noticed. yikes. There are thought to be around 15,000 Southern White Rhinos, the most of any rhino species. The Northern White Rhino is nearly extinct with their total population holding at 10. Not, 10,000, just 10: 4 in the wild and 6 in captivity.

Rhinos are the second largest land mammal after the elephant but earn the prize for having the MOST CHROMOSOMES of any mammal! Yippee! All Rhinos have 82; the Black Rhino has 84.

Captain Owen at the helm of the Lady Livingstone, a triple-decker dinner cruise/safari boat on the Zambezi River. He is under the supervision of Webster, a birding guide we first met back in 2008 during the grandparents' visit. Finny is on the lower deck hanging out with Miss Zambia Universe and her entourage who was a bit disappointed that the boys were more interested in birds than babes.

This aerial photo gives you some idea of the size of the falls and a few of the 7 gorges. Zambia in the up-river side; where the road comes in from the bottom is Zimbabwe.

We all did a little, very wet, hike across this, the Knife-Point Bridge. The Big kids did the scramble down to the Boiling Pot at the base of the falls where the river raft trips originate. The rafting trips are starting up soon, after the class 6 rapids settle down to class 5. Running a class 5 in a river with hippos and crocs? no thanks. Unlikely as it is that there are crocs or hippos in the rapids, it adds a whole new dimension to such an activity.

I am happy to report that I talked all parties out of the gorge swing, bungee jumping and the 'walk with the loins.' (...this trip at least!)

I leave you with this final 'close encounter' theme photo -- camping in winter at the Lufupa River....two nights sharing a too-small mummy sleeping bag with thing 1 then thing 2 wasn't enough for thing two -- I had to share my puffy coat until breakfast was cooked on the fire.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Traffic and crowds at Kafue NP

A pack of vultures chased two cheetahs off their kill, an impala

Last June we went camping with friends at the confluence of the Lufupa and Kafue River and had such a great time we have been counting the days until the road to camp was passable. The Kafue National Park is approximately the size of Belgium and is the best place to spot Cheetahs (besides the Wildlife Center in Chilenge of course) the entrance is about 3 hours from Lusaka, and the camp is another 60 km off the main road through the bush. They opened for the season June 1 and we initiated Alan to Zambian car camping... complete with Leopard prints leading right to the tent.

Car camping here looks like car-camping anywhere else, with the added threat of getting eaten up if you need to go pee in the middle of the night.

Traffic was brutal leaving town....and the crowds... (puku)

There are several different zebra species -- some with shadow stripes, some with no stripes on their tummies, no stripes on their legs, some more mule-like, some with characteristic rump you know what these beauties are? Brushell's Plains? Cape Mountain?

the road past our campsite leading down to the Lufupa River. we were the only guests in the campground most of the weekend and the staff spoiled us. They have a great set up and we'll look forward to our next trip out! We hope we can make it out to the Busanga plains next hot season.

A rough weekend in zambia....On our way to camp we watched as this lion stalked and chased some zebra and waterbuck. It was kind of a half-hearted chase but exciting nonetheless.

We saw lions, leopard, cheetahs, elephant, crocs, puku, impala, kudu and a few firsts -- WILDEBEAST! and for some reason we all got really excited about this...SQUIRRELS! The park is so beautiful and it's pretty easy access (go through town, left on Lumumbwa Road, right onto Mongu road, drive.....turn right after the Hook Bridge.

The trip home is always too long though and coming back through town, through the light industrial area is always a bit depressing -- a little slap in the face after an idyllic holiday.

we went in search of wild dogs and cheetahs that had been spotted nearby, but this leopard appeared in the road instead. It ambled across the road in front of us and into the brush. gorgeous.,

of course there was some birding done as well..... the ever-present blue helmeted guinea hen
and fish eagle, to name a few....

...and back to town:

....see what I mean.\? It's a bit much after such a beautiful, relaxing, stress-free holiday. There is the 'stress' of hippos, warthogs and hyeanas in your camp wimpering and yowling all night, elephants charging the staff, green mamba snakes, etc. Somehow worrying if a leopard is going to eat it's way through your family in the middle of the night doesn't bother me as much as the pile of laundry, the backlog of projects and the imminent travel days.

guess who's here!

Uncle Alan!

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Here is a friend we have a soft spot for. Meet Kelvin. He's 12 (or so). He and his blind mum used to beg outside of the shops we frequent but in the last year or so have started selling produce. I don't know what kind of good can come of it but we buy whatever they are selling for whatever price they ask and always keep something little in the car to share with him - a little snack or a book or a paper airplane or a picture the kids have drawn. Kelvin is known to a lot of expats and we have not been the only one charmed by him ...charmed into breaking the 'no handouts' rule. I will admit that he is one of the 'at risk' youth I worry about. I wonder what our small contributions add to his life if anything.

breakfast pizza

O and I were on a secret breakfast recipe mission the other morning. Our challenge? To make up a new breakfast recipe. This is the result: broccoli feta mozzarella basil pesto pizza with chile flakes and one egg, sunny side up.


Is this what you think of when you think of Africa?

This is a snap of world cup preparations underway in Johannesburg. This is Nelson Mandela Square taken from the Sandton City Library. It's normally an open air 10,000 square foot brick piazza. For July it's the "nerve centre" for the 2010 FIFA World Cup . Sandton is an "iconic destination boasts an abundance of sophisticated, Afro-cosmopolitan experiences. An energetic hub showcasing the very best South Africa and the world has to offer, from one-of-a-kind South African artworks to the latest shoes from Milan.." There are around over 300 retail shops in Sandton City and another 150 at Mandela Square right next door, executive offices, 4 star lodging, and 11 screen cinema . For a point of reference, Bellevue Square Mall has 180 shops.

Johannesburg is INSANE with football fever right now....easy to catch.