Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Camp, animals, whatnot

Sunset from the deck the evening we arrived.

So the park is lousy with elephants. They are everywhere. While we only really went out once on a game-drive like outing to "check the quality of the safari roads/tracks," we saw plenty on the drive in...

...and while on the river. Elephants are cool. Elephants swimming are very cool.

Also on the river...Hippos. All I could think of was Madagascar II: Back to Africa. I blame my 3-year old. "Girl you huge"

We did go out, as I said, to check out the quality of the safari tracks. During the rainy season the grass and shrubs grow tall, the rudimentary tracks that the vehicles use during the season provide an easy path for animals. But in the rain, the ground turns soft, muddy even in places. Elephants are heavy, so are buffalo. They leave deep footprints. When the mud begins to dry out it gets hard as a rock, especially a type of soil called black cotton soil.

Anyway, thousands of elephant and buffalo tracks = very bumpy road.

We went out just a bit before sundown and bounced around for a while. We saw a few elephants and then came upon about 120 buffalo. Later, we ran into a herd of about 500 impala. I'm told they don't generally gather in such numbers.

Again, with the low light and the point and shoot, not so much with the awesome wildlife pictures.

With the sun gone, we stopped to have a drink and listen to the night sounds -- The night birds. The bark of a troop of baboons warning the night that a leopard was on the move. The low rumble of lions calling to each other, gathering to start the hunt for the night. And, of course, the low, guttural laugh of a hippo.

On the way back to camp we went through a small river. It was only about 35 feet wide, but it was deeper than we thought.

You can see a bit of the water that poured over the hood and into the driver's seat coming over as we headed in. We made it safely out, if just a little bit wet.

Sunday afternoon the camp managers planned to meet up with other lodge managers from up and down the river and the head of Conservation Lower Zambezi, a conservation and anti-poaching effort supported by the lodges.

We all met at a random spot along the river and had a picnic. It was pretty cool to just sit and listen to the stories and whatnot of a group of people that spend their lives in the Safari world.

Kerry, who runs Conservation Lower Zambezi, brought her 1 1/2 year old Scottish Terrier Scotch, seen below.

The dog is living on borrowed time. During the afternoon, Kerry told stories of Scotch fighting three cobras (and killing one), going after a leopard, biting the heels of passing baboons, falling into the river and being swept away. By the time Kerry got into her boat and caught up to him he was more than a kilometer downstream. He also tends to nip at passing branches as he rides in her truck with the window open. More than once she has noticed his sudden absence only to notice him in the rear view mirror hanging from a branch by his teeth.

Some friends have suggested that she make a kids' corner to the CLZ website and make Scotch the mascot. She is resisting, though, as she would rather not write the entry detailing Scotch's eventual demise.

After two days in camp, no kids, no loving, caring wives, we were pretty wiped out. Long days, long nights. On the way back to civilization, Jason took the opportunity to get a bit of shut eye.

I kept my eyes glued to the shoreline, spotting a few last elephants, hippos and crocs. When we got to where civilization generally overtakes wildlife, I may have nodded off a bit too.

Tomorrow we are all headed to Mukambi with a big group of friends, and a week from tomorrow Diana arrives. We're going to take her to the Zambezi in a few weeks to go to Mvuu Lodge. With the end of the rainy season, it's time to get out more.


At 3:01 PM, Blogger TeamJacobson said...

LOTM is back! Love this episode Phil. Sounds so amazing. What an opportunity. I can't wait to figure out how to get down there.

At 10:06 PM, Blogger A Daring Adventure said...

It's Friday, and that means that the Fifth Weekly State Department Blog Roundup is up - and you're on it!

Here is the link:

(If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me.)



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