Friday, June 8
The sun rises on our first morning in Nsefu, we eat our porridge, and we head off on a game drive with our old friend Daudi.
Our friends are off to visit Kawazaa village, warning us NOT to find lion without them, and we take off – of course, we are looking for lion! We are always looking for lion! We don’t find lion, but we find lots of raptors, the biggest eagle, cranes and herons, we watch hippos, and once back in camp, we spend hours watching the elephant families crossing the Luangwa.
As you might guess, it feels like we are eating all the time, but when we get back, we haven’t gained an ounce. I think it is because we are doing a lot of active riding; the roads are bumpy and you have to steady yourself, you are climbing in and out of the game vehicles, and there are a lot of crossings where the guide says “Hold on!” Here is Daudi, taking us across one of those river crossings:
As you can see, not every game drive stars lion, or leopard, but there are thrilling moments with birds, elephant, hippo – or crossing the river.
This is a Lillian’s Lovebird, one of my favorite birds in the world. The camps are full of them, but they are fleeting and flitting, and very difficult to capture in photos.
Morning tea at a hippo pond – you know how I love hippo:
Back at camp, it seems to be elephant river crossing day. One group will gather, and cross, while another group waits across the river. They meet and greet, and then head on their way, while another group crosses.
This group has a baby. The baby can actually walk most of the way, but when it is too deep, there is always a barrier of larger elephants on the downstream side of the baby elephant, who is holding on to Mama’s tail, and is supported from behind by another elephant.
At one point, something spooks the elephants crossing close to the dozing hippo, they start running and splashing, maybe an elephant accidentally steps on a hippo, and a loud ruckus breaks out. Elephants trumpet, hippos scold loudly. Fortunately, it is all show and no go, no real fight and no bloodshed, the elephants continue on and the hippos go back to slumber.
Our friends came back just in time for tea, and begged off the afternoon drive, saying the mating lions they had seen on the way to the village would have to be enough. They’ve been to the Kawazaa school, and to the village for lunch, visiting the clinic and even helping kill the chicken for lunch. It’s been so much fun, but also very stimulating, and they want to take a break.
Mating lions?! You saw mating lions? Let’s go see the mating lions!
Jonah found the mating lions in no time, which was a thrill, except that they had mated with such great vigor that now they were lying in sated stupor. We took some photos, but how many photos can you take of exhausted sleeping lions?
We started back, but on the river road, saw an unusual sight – lions on the river banks across the river, and a lion climbing up the bank we were on.
He wasn’t wet, but he was calling to the lion damsels across the river, and had clearly made them some promises he intended to keep.
We tracked him for a while at a distance as he gauged his chances for a safe crossing here and there, and finally, we left him with our best wishes for a safe passage to lion nirvana.
At dinner we finalized plans with Jonah for an early departure for another trip to the Chichele hot springs with hopes of finding that dark maned (older) lion Madolyn was able to photograph with her iPhone, with breakfast at the hot springs and back at Nsefu Camp noonish.