We caught a British Airways flight from Joberg to Livingstone, Zambia and then a light 6 seater plane to Chongwe Lodge located at the convergence of the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers. We had one of two expanded "suites", meaning we had a large 8 sided tent that was flanked by an outside dining room/bar area and an outside bathroom. We even had, oh, the decadence of it all, a butler! We quickly learned that since we were there during the dry season (the time you really want to go to Africa) that there were numerous hippo pods on the sand banks in the river. We had our own personal pod right in front of our accommodations and when they made noise, particularly at night, it felt as if they were in bed with you. There isn't any noise only the hippos and lions...Chongwe was a relief from the touristy Etosha National Park. Here, the animals have claim over everything. Nothing is fenced. So, it is not uncommon for hippos or lions or whatever to come sauntering through the camp. In addition to doing the game drives, we were also able to do water safaris using either motorboats or canoes. We opted out of the canoe adventures because of the numerous hippos in the river. Remember, hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal (other than homosapiens). I've posted some videos on YouTube about our Chongwe adventure. Here are the links:
As far as "Martha, what's that noise"? Read more...
Our accommodations were a mere 40 or so feet from the rivers. We had a plunge pool between our tent and the river. About 3am, Martha (me), wakes to all kinds of rustling and tearing and heavy footsteps. I look outside of our tent and low and behold, there were two huge bull elephants eating the shrubbery around our tent. One darn near went into the bathroom. I woke my hubby and we debated whether to turn on the lights, which really would have obliterated any view of the elephants. So, we listened for 20 minutes or so and then I hear it: plop plop plop and then I smell it. It made for a really enjoyable last breakfast at Chongwe. We caught our Caravan flight to Lusaka (the capital of Zambia) and then on to Joberg and the 16 hour flight back on Delta to Atlanta.
Will I go back to Africa? In a heart beat. I began my journeys in 1982 going to Kenya and Tanzania, then to Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa and now to Namibia and Zambia. One of the real joys (and as I said before real negatives) can be the people you meet. Many of our fellow safari travelers had been to Africa many many times. One couple had been 13 times. As for me, I can see getting deeper and into the more "wild" part of the bush. Many of the guests had been to camps on the Upper Zambezi in Zambia and some to Southern Tanzania and talked about the multitude of different animals.
One of the things I learned on this trip that surprised me but really shouldn't have is that in Namibia and Zambia 42-48% of the population is UNDER 17 and only 2-3% OVER age 65. My generation, the baby boom generation, in Africa, was obliterated by AIDS. It is similar with other Sub-Saharan countries. Both of these countries are stable and safe for travel.
Other thoughts: The CDC recommends all kinds of vaccinations and inoculations and updates on this and that. There is some political stuff going on with some of these countries and now it is required to have yellow fever vaccinations. The CDC also recommends Hep A and Hep B inoculations. And, of course, Malarone or any other anti malarial pill is needed. You need to look at all of this advice and do what you think you need to do. The people at the travel clinic sounded like a commercial for some drug on all the bad side effects this can have and that can have. 1-2% have complete organ failure!
Really listen to the advice about baggage weight limits and soft sided bags. At least three couples had to use airline duffel bags to repack their stuff and leave their roller bags or hard luggage at the airport.
I really believe you need to take a nasal rinse to clean out your sinuses and nose after going on a long trip like this one. Every time I get off of a long flight, I flush out my sinuses. Here, it is very useful to clear them out after a very dusty ride on a "souped' up Land Rover. Particularly after the Belgium Lady insisted the guide drive faster in Etosha. Sorry to be gross, but was that almost mud coming out of my nose?
Probiotics. I took one every day and never had an issue with my stomach. My husband didn't take any and did. I'm just saying you're eating food you're not used to i.e. springbock, kudo, oryx etc. Some of the food can be very spicy. And, of course, you've at least had your Hep A...
Plenty and plenty of hand wipes. To be used for all kinds of things and along with those, a handy plastic bag in case you have "to go" behind the termite mound. You don't want to leave any remnants around.
Your tour company or wholesaler will give you a list also but these are some of mine that I think are important. OH OH OH. Two camera batteries! One of the Belgium ladies had just bought a new digital camera and the lady who sold it to her told her the battery would last for months. But the Belgium Lady didn't realize that deleting pics eats up battery. And her battery....died....she saw I also had a Canon and asked if my charger would help her. (This was after she hit me on the back of the head). I tried but my battery pack was bigger.
And last but not least, Africa is not for the feint of heart. There may be better advisers than me on the subject but I wouldn't take a child under 12 on a safari. We had two hippos get in a fight a little further up the Zambezi from us and one ended up laying on the river bank dying, for all to see. One family, a husband and wife from Kent UK and their 15 year old son, saw a water buffalo downed by a pride of lions and the screams of the buffalo, the mother said, were heart rendering. So, beware of the brutality of nature...