Friday, June 1, 2012

Chongwe, hippos, lions,...

Today I met my brother, Marc, and our good friends the Simmons Family from Belvedere (Scooter, Ryan, and Nicki) at the airstrip.  Their flight was delayed when the president of Zambia decided to fly his helicopter and shut down the airport for an hour...

We checked in to Chongwe River Lodge which is set at the confluence of the Chongwe and Zambezi rivers.  A large pod of hippos was there to greet us just across on the far bank.  Our tents look out across the Chongwe towards the mountains and there's a cool breeze blowing all day long. The setting is just gorgeous.

We set out on our first safari drive and within minutes we came across a large make lion with a huge mane.  He was lying on his back with his feet splayed out in happy content after gorging himself on a kill that the females of his pride made last night.  Males get first dibs on food so the females have to wait until he is full...even though they do all the hunting.  Just doesn't seem fair, eh? He meandered down to the river for a drink and politely posed for photos from us paparazzi.

Then we set out in search of his pride which was nearby.  After navigating around river gullets and through thick bush we finally came across the pride just after sunset.  There were 8 lions lounging about but when we arrived two of the cubs got into a crouching attack position and stared us down warily.  Their mothers just lazed about as the cubs showed how brave they were.

The amazing thing about being in a safari vehicle is that you can approach dangerous animals like predatory cats within 15-20 feet and they are not bothered by your presence.  To them the vehicle is just another slow moving noisy animal.  Often times them lions will get up and walk right past the vehicle within touching distance.  This is an incredible and humbling experience.

We finished off our drive with a night safari where the guide turns on a high beamed spotlight and we search for eyes in the night.  They use a filter to diffuse the light so that the nocturnal animals do not suffer damage to their eyes.  There is something very special about moving brought the bush at night under the stars. The activity changes over as small cats like Servil and Civets come out to hunt.  Other night creatures include porcupine, geckos, and birds like the night jar.

We returned to the camp where a roaring fire awaited us and then we sat down to a feast prepared by our master chef including broccoli soup, grilled telapia fish, and chocolate mousse for desert.  Roughing it in the bush!

No comments:

Post a Comment