Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


120 or so km south from Lusaka, then another 50 km or so on dirt roads, the majority of the time on a single track. We drove from Lusaka to Chirundu, on the Zimbabwe border (which is the Zambezi), then turned left and headed off the tarmac.

We crossed the Kafue river on a car ferry, then bounced down the road past more and more remote villages until we got to this sign, which separates one part of a game management area (an area adjacent to the Lower Zambezi National Park) where people live from another section of the GMA where it is just animals, and lodge concessions. The animals seem to know, as well, as the concentration of game is markedly higher the closer you get to the Park. Beautiful drive, though. And fun!

Mvuu lived up to its name. Mvuu means Hippo. Friday night there must have been a hippo convention in our campsite. All night, all over. Loud, crashing, splashing, the low taunting laugh.

They kept us up much of the night. The second night was quieter. The hippos seemed to be taking a more relaxed attitude towards our desire to sleep, but I did hear lions downriver and Diana swears she smelled baboons...

Each morning when we started making breakfast a small group of vervet monkeys would appear out of nowhere and take up positions around our cooking area waiting for an opportunity to steal some food. One small monkey was particularly aggressive (in his attempts to get food, not violent towards us or anything). I was making pancakes, and every time I turned around to deliver a pancake to someone the little guy would be up scraping away at our now cool griddle thingy that I had set aside. He didn't get too much from us, but it wasn't from a lack of trying.

And there were elephants. Lots and lots of elephants. We ran in to a pair of mothers and their babies on the drive in. We weren't too close, maybe about 40 yards or so, but one mother flapped her ears at us, mock charged and let out a tremendous trumpet. Well, the other mother took notice and must have figured that she would look pretty weak if she didn't protect her kid too, so she took a few quick steps towards us, shook her trunk and let out a huge bellow. Katherine started to get nervous and wanted to protect HER kids so we drove away.

That's right elephants...that's what you can do when you have thumbs and combustion engines.

On Saturday we went out on a pontoon and probably saw about 20 more elephants. It never gets old, really.

On the way home today we pulled up behind this truck. I thought it was a bit de-humanizing to the folks crammed in the back...


At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the bid lists for my class are due next week - should I tell my CDO that I want a post like Phil's where I get to play with monkeys and giraffes all day? Just kidding, Lusaka and its environs look amazing.

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Katherine and Phil said...

I don't play with monkeys and giraffes all day. Sometimes I take naps...


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