...are amazing! We arrived here yesterday (6 Jan) from Lusaka after 2 nights in the Flight Service guesthouse there. The flight from Kalene was pretty smooth until the last 45 mins - I was ok but poor Fi suffered again. Flying for all those hours over what is actually a very small part of the African plains, let alone Africa, makes the Canterbury plains seem like a small backyard!
Our bus journey from Lusaka to Livingstone was in a different league from the previous experience. We met up with charlie again at the guesthouse - on his way back from Harare - and he organised us onto a business class bus - no chooks, nobody sitting down the aisle, no breakdowns and we started the journey with a prayer! Initially that was a tad worrying but no - it's standard practice. The conductor asked for a volunteer to pray but nobody stepped up so the relief driver obliged. Nobody heeded the second part of "Conveniences on board include a toilet at the rear. The toilet is not to be used" either unfortunately!! But the occasional aroma from there and the 20km of rough detour just before Livingstone were nothing!
It's now Sat 10 and we're about to spend our last night in our tent. It hasn't rained for 2 days which makes things very hot but it's nice to have a dry tent! It was a trifle damp earlier. We are going to Botswana for the day tomorrow and then back to a nice hotel for 3 nights. It was going to be a 7/1 split but the ratio seems to have shifted! They can't quite work us out here - I don't think people stay more than 2 nights. Every time we come back from an excursion someone, usually the lady with the hideous wig (a fashion statement), says 'You back again?' Well duh yeah - stuff's still here and we haven't paid or anything.... But the young man who puts the flaps down if it rains when we're out and brings in our washing before dusk and putzi flies is delightful!
On Thu we rafted the Zambezi - well some of it!! It was amazing - really exhilarating and so much fun. The guides were hilarious - especially when telling us what to do if our "laft fripped"!! Our laft only almost fripped once - much to Fi's disappointment but the almost flip was enough to lose one of our members overboard. (We got him back)The other rafts went over frequently and we were involved in a couple of rescues. One trio parted company with their raft, went down a set of 3 rapids under their own steam and were a trifle stressed when we picked them up. "Schwim! Ve are schwimming - vot do you sink ve are doink? Haffing a party???"
Yesterday we went into Livingstone to try and book a bus ticket back for 14/1 but oh no it can only be done the day before travel. Grrr. We went to the Museum which was very good but the combination of not enough sleep the night before (for me - SO hot)and the heat meant that all i wanted to do was lie down on the observation bench in a gallery and sleep. When in the bathroom dunking my face in tepid water the solution came to me and I subsequently enjoyed the Museum whilst participating in a private wet t-shirt competition! It worked a treat and no it wasn't see-through :-)By the time we'd done a few messages, stopped for numerous cold drinks, fought off the attentions of many taxi drivers and walked quite a long way we were melting into the ground and I was ready for another competition!
There is so much more i could write about but this post is long enough already. Suffice to say that this am we went on an early morning 3hr walking safari and this evening a sunset cruise and between the 2 have seen, amongst other things, warthogs, crocs, hippos, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, heaps of birds including a vulture and a hornbill (Zazu!)many baboons (but not the Big one Andrew!) dung beetles doing what dung beetles do best, a velvet mite (looks and feels like red velvet)and more impala than you can shake a stick at. The baboons, warthogs and crocodiles aren't enough to keep the numbers down so they are thinking of introducing cheetahs to the Park. Someone asked 'Will you still have walking safaris?' 'Oh yes,' replied the guide thoughtfully, ' but we will rename them running safaris' ;-) Incidentally we had a fully armed escort with us.