Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Creole Nature Trail! At Last!

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We were all ready to hit this trail once before, but weather forecasts for the week we had it planned were full of thunderous storms and lots of rain, so we postponed.

This time, circumstances all came together fortuitously. AdventureMan had a conference in nearby Baton Rouge, and the temperature and humidity dropped dramatically. We had clear skies, no mosquitos, and glorious weather. As we left the Coffee Call in Baton Rouge, we were grinning from ear to ear.

You gotta love these smart phones. Better than a map for letting you know where you are and where you can turn off to get where you want to go. We wanted the Creole Nature Trail, which is a loop, Louisiana Road 27.

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Shortly after we started down LA 27, we came to a US Fish and Wildlife Station, and there we met Sarah, who was a Student Conservation Associate, working for several months at the site. She had all kinds of good information, and was delighted to share with us. We laughed; she told us she was from “the other LA”, Los Angeles, and she had experienced culture shock coming to the backroads of Louisiana, but she had adjusted, learned a lot, and she loves the place.

This is their website: Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

We started at Cameron Prairie, which had a three mile drive and a stop with a one mile boardwalk. The boardwalk was gorgeous, and beautifully kept.

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As AdventureMan focused on some alligators, I enjoyed the birds, and the colors:

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We don’t know what this bird might be. It was huge. Maybe a Red Shouldered Hawk.

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We had the park entirely to ourselves, except for one car that came – and left! We could have spent hours, but it was after lunch time when we left, and we were hungry!

October 29, 2014 Posted by | Beauty, Birds, Customer Service, Education, Environment, Exercise, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chongwe River Camp, Zambezi, Zambia

I used to be such an organized person. I had a responsible job where I juggled many important things. I had meetings and messages, and events and proposal deadlines, and somehow, I did it all, and I did it well.

Now that I have somewhat less to handle, I don’t handle it as well. I am too relaxed. I don’t obsess about details, I don’t wake up in the middle of the night gasping about something I may have forgotten, I don’t even keep a notepad by the side of my bed to write things down that wake me in the night.

When I was making arrangements for this trip, AdventureMan said to add on a few days at the Chongwe River Lodge, so I told the travel guy at Robin Pope Safaris to book us at the Chongwe River Lodge. Then, I just paid what the invoice said and never thought about it again. If you go to the RPS page, it will show you Chongwe River HOUSE, and that is where we thought we were staying. When we arrived, we were a little disconcerted to discover we were at the Chongwe River Camp, not the house, but our tent/cabin faced a pod of hippos, and we were immediately enchanted, and sometimes things happen for a reason, you know? We knew we were there for a reason, and just relaxed and enjoyed what the camp had to offer.

And oh, WOW, what the camp had to offer. First, every tent is situated to have a fabulous view, and the front of the tent is all clear net, you CAN close it if you want to, but you don’t have to, you have absolute privacy with on one looking in. They have a wide range of activities, lots of water sports, fishing, kayaking, hiking, fly camping . . . so much to do! Or . . . you can do nothing at all, too.

Our view overlooked a pod of hippos. All day and all night long, we could hear hippos. In the middle of the night, a hippo mom and a baby hippo were grazing two feet from the entrance to our tent – when I got up to watch, they quickly slipped back into the water.

That might disturb some people, but it totally enchants me! I was told some people get grumpy because they can’t sleep, that they request earplugs . . . I cannot imagine. I love the sounds, and somehow, it makes me feel safer inside knowing wild things are roaming around at night. I’ve always felt human beings were the far more dangerous threat than the animals.

So I will bore you with a bunch of photos, and you will see the things I love – details of the tents and lounge and dining areas, and photos that I wish had sound attached so you could be lulled to sleep by the laughter of the hippos.

This is the Chongwe River airport:

This is the airstrip we flew into – you can see elephant dung all over the strip, but there were no elephants on the strip when we flew in:

Zambia was experiencing a huge airplane fuel crisis while we were there, so flights were being consolidated. One night, there was NO fuel at any of the major airfields. Here us the fuel storage at Chongwe:

This is my idea of camping – king size bed, good sheets, a great bathroom and a great view of hippos:

The bathroom! Can you see why I enjoy camping so much? The shower has a European style flash heater – so practical, and you get hot water in a heartbeat without burning a lot of trees.

Storage/clothing shelves in the bedroom. Rooms come with flashlights, insect repellant sprays, and a whistle in case you feel in danger:

Dining in the bush – and the food was great. Because it is the middle of winter in Zambia, nights can be chilly, and we had charcoal braziers between diners at night to keep us from shivering. It was toasty warm! When we would get back to our tents, there would be hot water bottles warming our beds, so we could just jump in.

The coffee/tea/hot chocolate bar, with French press Zambian coffee, yummmmm:

This is how the camp would look at night when we would come back from a game drive or a boating trip – purely magic, with all the twinkling candles. The camp offers fishing, hiking, game drives, kayaking, all kinds of activities, or . . . just chilling:

This is the lounge area and library in the daytime:

These are “my” hippos – oh, this just made my time at Chongwe River Camp, hearing their laughter, hearing their arguements. Just up the river all the animals would come down to drink at dusk. I could sit and take photos and never intrude on them – warthogs, impala, elephant, waterbuck, geese, heron, egret, ibis . . . and lots of baboon.

We saw everything on our game drives, but I will start with the great Kudu, because finding a male kudu not shyly running away is a great treat:

I think this lion finds tourists boring – he and his wives endured our presence for about 45 minutes before ambling off to another shady glen:

This was a great thrill for me – an elephant swimming to one of the Zambezi islands. Don’t worry, I was using my great telephoto, I was not that close. We did not bother the elephant, we kept our distance.

Here is the big guy safely on his island:

And just look at this guy! He was a big as a HUMMER! Our guide said he had seen even bigger on the Zambezi. (gulp!)

June 28, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Travel, Weather, Zambia | , , , , , | 16 Comments