Chapter 6 – Into The Wilderness

Chris Blok

Dear Diary,

We had to wake up early for the game drive.  At 05:30 were to eat a quick breakfast and by 06:00 we had to be in the safari car ready for the game drive.  This camp really is run like a soldier camp.  Anyhow, everything is done for the love of animals.  I just hope Serena thinks all this is worth the sacrifice of seeing these lovely animals in their natural habitat.  It is one thing I really love about Zambia.  The country has about 20 national parks and is the only African country with a green party.’

I had a funny little encounter with nature this morning even before we were on the drive.  Serena and I were done with eating pretty early because neither of us are big eaters in the morning, especially at an hour as early as this.  After our meal I went back to our chalet to fetch my goggles and my phone to be used as camera.  On the way to the car where everyone was waiting I stumbled across a female pumba (warthog).  Unfortunately for me she had her young with her and since I startled her by waking by too close she went on the attack.  My word these animals are fast!  I jumped aside and had to dash to the car whilst being chased by this creature.  You should’ve seen the commotion I caused and I don’t think I’ve been this fast in ages.  Everyone was already seated in the cars and they couldn’t help but giggle as they saw me run towards them screaming at the top of my lungs whilst being chased.

Luckily for me I managed to get inside the car and the warthog relinquished her chase.  After some consolation hugs from Serena and being smacked on the back by the fellow tourists in the car we drove off.  It was quite chilly so we had blankets with us and insect spray to keep the mosquitos as far away as possible.  Somehow they did not seem to perturbed by the spray and I noticed a couple of bites as the sun was rising.

The landscape was beautiful and the animals gave us a real treat. We saw a lot of birds and since we were with German tourists, the guide stopped by every bird that was in a tree since these people want to snap every animal they see.  The guide was a funny guy with anecdotes of rendezvous with elephants, cheetahs, leopards and hippos.  Luckily for us, we saw a pride of lions with cubs playing in the early morning sun.  We saw a lot of pukus and impalas as well.  There were a few zebras as well and we found ourselves in the middle of a herd of buffalo.  The tourists were quite chatty though and this distracted Serena and I from some of the sightings.  But all in all it was a fantastic drive.

In the afternoon we had a quick lunch which was nothing special.  There was some bread with different kinds of jam and some cheese.  We quickly gobbled this up and had another game drive in the afternoon.  This time we were with an American couple.  The man was a former diplomat and ambassador and seemed to have been stationed somewhere in West Africa.  The lady it seems was his mistress or someone he met whilst on a business trip.  There was also a Zambian family with a kid around 9 years old.  It was quite a nice company of people.

At one point we heard a sound coming from the distance.  The ambassador turned to his girlfriend and said: can you hear that sound?  That’s a lion.  The lady seemed very intrigued by that and answered in oohs and aahs.  Unfortunately for the ambassador, the young kid shouted out loud as young kids do and said: no you idiot, that’s a hippo!  Oh man, diary you have no idea how much I had to hold a chuckle back and Serena knew this very well so she made sure to pinch me to keep quiet.  That was the highlight of my afternoon.  We did not see any animals that we hadn’t seen in the morning so that was a shame.

Back at the lodge we had some dinner.  There was a delicious soup prepared as starter and as a main course there was a nice steak that came from an impala.  The owners of the lodge had a small chat with us as well and told us that a villager was killed by an enraged elephant that morning whilst looking for fire wood.  Poor Serena was visibly shaken by the story and asked me to get back to the chalet with her.  I bought a bottle of wine and some crackers and we decided to sit on the porch watching the Luangwa River as we sat and talked.  I convinced Serena to go with me on a walking safari tomorrow morning.  Let’s see what that brings us.  Good night.

—————————————————-

Serena Shirazi

This is something about me that will never change. I love watching the sun rise, but I hate getting up early. We’ve been getting up early for a number of days now. I mean we woke up at around 4.45am today! Is that even a time? Chris had his bath, I had mine and then we went off for breakfast and then for the game drive. Yeah, I hate waking up early, but it isn’t every day that I go for a game drive, so I’m not complaining!

Well remember what I had said in my last post about everyone laughing at me? Today I had a good time laughing at Chris. Bwahahahaha, payback! He was chased by a warthog for a bit. You should have seen Chris running – boy that guy can run! He was also screaming like a little kid. So yeah I did laugh a lot right after he got into the car unscathed, though I have to say I wasn’t laughing when he was being chased. I was extremely worried and frightened. Imagine what could have happened if Chris hadn’t made it back safely! He was visibly shaken (and rightly so), so I just had to stop laughing. Instead I kept hugging him until he felt better. I was really glad he was safe. What are best friends for?

Nothing can really prepare you for the countless types of insects on a game drive. Luckily it wasn’t hot so we were all huddled up in blankets and that kept away many insects. I remember back in school, we had a trip to Kasanka National Park. We were taken on a drive one morning and it was hot. So we were wearing sweaters and stuff, but that didn’t seem to affect the number of tsetse flies hovering around. Tsetse flies sting like mosquitoes but look like (and are the size of) bees. Tsetse flies do not easily give up. Keep shaking and dancing as much as you want, but they don’t give up. Funnily we had a forest guard sitting behind us in Kasanka, and every now and then he’d whack us on our backs to kill the tsetse flies. Of course when you’re happily looking at animals on the way and when you least expect it, you get this huge hit on your back, it does make for some unforgettable memories.

I love Zambia. Wherever you go, there is this beautiful blue sky to stare at, and you can see the horizon so clearly. I’ve never seen anything quite like that in life. On this particular game drive I could smell the clear air, the wondrous feeling of being one with nature. It was great to be with Chris in this wilderness, but yeah there were a few people who got on my nerves.

Have you ever seen these quintessential tourists with digital cameras? They love taking photographs of everything. We had a bunch of people like that on this drive. They wanted to stop and photograph every unusual blade of grass, every bird that flew or was perched on a tree. Our guide really made sure they got their wish fulfilled. I wonder what these tourists do on every trip they go. So say there was a crow in the bush, I’m sure they’d have gone ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ and taken a number of photographs of it in different poses. Worst of all, they kept talking forever. When you’re in the wilderness, the last thing you want to do is hear people yapping forever behind you.

Thankfully, though our guide was chatty, he had these great stories to share of the bush. That kept us entertained. Then as we went further ahead, we saw the highlight of our drive: a pride of lions with their cubs. That was just breathtaking. Chris and I felt like those quintessential tourists here. I think I must have taken about 30 or more photos, just of the lions. But they’re lions in the wild! How often do you get to see them anyway?

We saw other animals as well, and all in all, it was a great morning.

After lunch, we went on another game drive, this time with a different set of people. Why this was funny was because during the drive, an American man (who seemed to think he knew a lot) told his mistress that a sound we all heard was definitely a lion. However, a kid seemed to know this better than him and said it was a hippo! So there we go. Never say anything until you’re sure. The man was so embarrassed that he kept quiet during the whole trip. I was going to burst out laughing but had to bite my lip. Chris on the other hand was just this close to bursting out into laughter. I gave him one firm pinch otherwise I know we’re both capable of giggling like little children if one of us starts to laugh. Phew, that was a close one!

The drive was over and I was rather unimpressed with this one since we did not see anything much. We had dinner and I got to know something very saddening. A woman had been killed by an elephant on a rampage this morning. That kind of ruined my day. Chris knows I can be sensitive to such stories so he sat a while with me in our chalet. He asked me if I’d want to go on a safari walk tomorrow. Another early morning, but again, I’m not complaining!

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