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.


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