Saturday!!! No work today, but time to play :). So you get a very different kind of blog today! We left the Palmwood Lodge around 9:30 am with Sammy who turned out to be Alfred’s wife’s uncle. He drove us to Chaminuka, which took a little under 1 hour. We passed the Lusaka airport and after that we were on a unpaved road for probably about 15 km until we reached the park.
Unpaved road with dust clouds:
Going to town to sell wood (walk several miles):
We saw a herd of deer soon after we entered the park (impala).
A stroke of luck!! We hopped out of the vehicle and a safari was just leaving. The front desk said our room was not quite ready but we could go on the safari – so we hopped into the jeep with some folks from Australia and went on a 2-hour safari with John the guide, Moses his trainee and Abraham the driver! There is a pride of 4 lions in the park and they are in a restricted area. We saw them through a fence, but the scrub was too tall and we did not get a good view. We also saw a hyena, again in a restricted area, who posed for us quite nicely!
As our guide John pointed out to us, we saw some Homo sapiens next! 🙂
We saw a herd of zebras from afar – quite clearly since the white and black was easy to spot among the brush – BUT they were very skittish and quickly disappeared before we could get any closer :(. We also saw a water monitor lizard which looked like a long iguana-like reptile scurry across the path in front of us.
And then we came upon 3 giraffes having a “bachelor party”! They looked so serene munching away happily and did not mind our being there at all! There are 17 giraffes in the park and a bit later on in the drive we spotted about 4 more of them.
We saw several kinds of antelopes including tsessebe, impala, bushbuck, blue wildebeest, Lichtenstein hartebeest etc. I’m sure some of these names are not accurate – BUT I did not make notes during the safari as I have been doing at all our meetings this past week!! We were really glad to sit back and enjoy the ride and not have to take notes!
We saw more deer and there are also 300 species of birds in the park and we spotted a few. There is a family of three elephants in the park (mom, dad and baby who is 6 years old). They are semi-tame and therefore we called the keeper to see where they are and then found them – eating of course! An elephant eats 150 kg of leaves each day and then leaves droppings of about 100 kg – i.e. a very ineffective digestive system someone commented in the jeep!
End of safari: with John, our guide, Abraham, the driver and Moses the trainee park ranger.
Back to the lodge and we checked in: the reception area had a great African art collection – some for sale.
Our room – the Mwenge (which is the name of a tree). Each room has a name rather than number and there was the Eland room, Bushbuck room etc. The pic does not do justice to it! The rooms are scattered around the grounds like little bungalows…
Interesting art work around the grounds:
The rooms are very nice and we were told lunch was at 1:00 so we arrived promptly! It was a beautiful buffet by the swimming pool with lots of varieties of vegetables and salad – it put Colombia to shame!! There was a great cauliflower dish, one with eggplant, a slaw with local greens, and of course dessert as well as various cheeses made in the park at the cheese factory there.
After lunch we arranged to go on a bush walk. John was our guide again and we took a 1-hour walk through the scrub. He pointed out various spoor to us, as well as interesting trees and bird calls which he reproduced very well!!
Water monitor lizard spoor:
The path we walked:
We saw a giant nest of a hammerkopf (spelling?), spoor of water monitors, as well as giraffe and elephant etc., and lots and lots of termite mounds. It was a lovely walk!
With John, our bush walk guide:
After the walk we visited the cheese factory within the park. They have 160 cows, 43 of them milking currently, and although we were disappointed that we did not get to tour the factory to see the cheese being made, we got to do some serious cheese tasting with wine! There were various kinds of cheeses for us to taste (feta, gouda, Cheshire, Swiss, and our favorite: gouda with cumin). This is the only cheese factory in Zambia I think.
The Kaposhi cheese “cave” (Isaac helped us with the cheese tasting):
One of the cows waiting to be milked (the cows were brought over from Holland!):
Jenn was happy to be able to go out for a run around the park (she has been using the treadmill at Palmwood, unable to run outside), while I decided to work on the blog! This is certainly restful after the very hectic three days we have had!
We saw a beautiful orange sky as the sun set behind our room.
After a bit of relaxation reading about Chaminuka in our room, we went to dinner. So, it is a 10,000 acre park which belongs to Andrew and Danae Sardanis. It was their home from 1978 – 1998, before they decided to open it to the public. The grounds are beautiful, the lodge full of African art and artifacts, and they set up the game reserve by bringing in some of the animals (e.g. the deer and antelope existed there, but they brought in giraffe and elephants). Anyway, it is a gorgeous place, and outshines many museums with the very large collection on display throughout.
Dinner was indoors since the evening was chilly, and next to our table sat an older couple whom we had also seen being served at lunch time. He asked us how long we were staying and when we asked him the same he responded “I live here; I’m the owner”! Of course since we had just read about him we jumped up and chatted with them for a bit and they were so gracious and took a picture with us! Mr. Sardanis came to Zambia in the1950s and was involved in the country’s independence from the British. For more about his story see http://www.travelzambiamag.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2428&Itemid=47
Tomorrow we have more fun to come – hope you will be back to read tomorrow’s adventures! And we would love to hear from you – so please post your comments – we really look forward to them!