Big Cat Festival, Bradt Travel Guides, Bushbuck, Camp Nkwazi Lodge, Chacma baboon, finfoot, Fish eagle, Hadeda ibis, hippo, hooded vulture, Jonathan Truss, kudu, Lion in Trafalgar Square, quinine, Reed cormorant, Trumpeter hornbill, village weaver, Zambezi River, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Our final day ended with a ‘sunset cruise’, intended, we were told, less to look for wildlife than to just enjoy the experience of being on the (Zambezi) river for a couple of hours. As I stood beforehand on the terrace of the Camp Nkwazi Lodge…
As people started embarking, I held back to get this picture, and feared that I was therefore condemned to sitting in the full sun of the open top deck. But in fact, given the breeze created by the movement of the boat, it was lovely up there.
It was very pleasant along the river, and, uniquely, sundowners were offered – I had gin and orange, the quinine in tonic not being good for my tinnitus. (Sorry, sufferers.)
We hugged the Zambian bank. I wondered if we would come back that way as well, given that halfway across the river we would be in Zimbabwe.
My geopolitical query was answered when we went well over the invisible dividing line halfway across the river when we turned round. So perhaps this trip should have been advertised as ‘Namibia/Botswana/Zambia/ Zimbabwe’. Though truth to tell, we had only ventured a few miles even into Botswana and Zambia.
We drift back over to the Zambian side.
I tried, not very successfully, to capture photos of birds low-flying back to their roosts.
As we arrived at the lodge, the owners signalled that there was a Finfoot (‘Uncommon resident.. resemble ducks and cormorants but … unrelated to these groups’, and not yet seen by us) on a small island nearby, so we went in search. Some got a reasonable but fleeting view, I saw it for about half a second scrambling up a bank, and some didn’t see it at all. No question of my photographing it.
But we did hear and see some trumpeting Trumpeter hornbills, and saw some more Hadeda ibis.
And could this be bettered as a final view at the end of a most fantastic and privileged trip?
PS. I went, last Saturday, to a Big Cat Festival in London organised by Bradt Travel Guides. There were lots of wonderful photographs, alongside some hard-hitting conservation messages. In Africa, except when we were at sewage works (!), where it was possible to see some wonderful birds, we had been in national parks, which exclude permanent human habitation. I would not like to have given the impression that these three countries are teeming with wildlife. Our visit was only possible because their governments see the value of preserving what remains of the living treasures they house. At the same time they are having to deal with expanding human populations, and drought.
At the Big Cat Festival, I saw this large picture, by Jonathan Truss. He kindly allowed people to take photos of it. (Sadly I only had my tiny phone with me.) If those lions we saw a few weeks ago had been even half the size of this imaginary one, I think that our confidence around them, even protected by our vehicles, would have been somewhat diminished!