Thursday 7th March, afternoon. We only went a very little way into Zambia, near to the town of Livingstone, formerly capital of Northern Rhodesia. Thebig tourist attraction around there is the Victoria Falls. We went direct to them after lunch.
Here is a model of the Falls before the Zambian entrance. Note the footbridge, within the park, and the road bridge linking Zambia and Zimbabwe. As I learnt later, the model considerably minimises the sheer breadth of the Falls.
A more accurate representation would show, that there is much, much more of them to be seen from the Zimbabwean side. But they were impressive enough from Zambia.
A statue of the great explorer, sometime missionary, scientist and abolitionist, fascinating, stubborn and somewhat disorganised, David Livingstone greets you shortly after the gate. ‘He travelled the African interior to the north between 1852 and 1856, mapping almost the entire course of the Zambezi, and was the first European to see the Mosi-o-Tunya (“the smoke that thunders”) waterfall, which he called Victoria Falls after his monarch.’
I started wandering back.
Back at the entrance, Neil pointed out that it was possible to take a path to see the top of the Falls. On the way I saw this Western three-striped skink.
It was time to move on to nearby Camp Nkwazi Lodge, again on the banks of the Zambezi River, where we were to stay for our last two nights.
All our lodges over the fortnight had been very different from each other.
Thursday 7th March, morning. As mentioned already, Neil and Jakes were not licensed to lead game drives in Botswana, but we had the opportunity to go on an optional (= paying) game drive organised by the lodge, leaving at 6.00 a.m. Most of us decided to do so, but in the event found we very much missed the quality of our own guides. We were again in two vehicles, open ones this time, and with a couple of other people staying at the lodge in each as well.
The guides were clearly not interested/didn’t see birds at all, and it was the German lady in our jeep who spotted these and asked to stop for photos.
The tour laid on by the hotel clearly caters for the general public just passing though, not knowledgeable (well, most of them) fanatics like us! But we did nevertheless see some interesting and new things, before we got back for a hasty breakfast at 9.00 a.m., and departure as soon as possible afterwards. For we were to leave Botswana finally for a brief sojourn in Zambia, before setting off on the long journey back to the UK.
This next was perhaps the most interesting sighting of the game drive. A black-backed jackal came trotting towards us, clearly carrying some very fresh meat. It stopped, dropped the meat, scrabbled a bit, and then moved on – without the meat – and passed behind our jeep. What was going on?
Perhaps this was the reason the jeep was rushing. We found ourselves in a bunch of at least a dozen other vehicles, all straining to catch a sight of…
He was followed by a procession of five or six of his females – I lost count.
But they were a very long way off. On the other hand, had we not had the very good lion sightings earlier on in the trip, we would have been thrilled to see even these.
We turned round, and on the way back for breakfast caught sight of …
Crossing from Botswana into Zambia (the former Northern Rhodesia) was a more complicated affair than nipping between Namibia (the old South West Africa) and Botswana (the old Bechuanaland) had been.
Entering Zambia involved crossing the ‘mighty’ Zambezi River. We hadn’t the time to wait for this bridge, being financed by China, to be completed. [Edit, 12th April 2020. I have discovered, quite by chance today, that this bridge, the Kazungula Bridge, is being financed not by China, but by the Japan International Co-operation Agency and the African Development Bank. How easily we accept that China is behind all development in Africa. And indeed China is financing much of the railway which will use this bridge.]
So we were going to cross by this.
Fortunately it was not too long, once we set off, before we stopped for lunch. Though at one point we all leapt up from table (outdoors of course) to seek out a trumpeting Trumpeter hornbill, of which this was the best photo I could get!
We heard, and indeed saw, plenty of these – very loud – at our next and final lodge.