Was this my 10th or 11th Emerald Season safari? Either way it was great to be back in my favourite valley at this time of year. Jacob who has an easy going manner, really understands photography and has a deep baritone laugh that seems to echo off the Muchinga Escarpment like a lion’s roar was our guide which was a really great start. Making the trip even more special was the fact that four of the five clients had been on a previous safari with me. Barbara, Ritchie, MJ and Janine met me in Lusaka wearing T-shirt printed with: “Hey, Camera boy, Can you make me look like Brad Pritt”. The memory of the tipsy South African wide boy who challenged me with the question on a previous trip in Botswana left us in stitches. Alexander from Austria also joined the group and he was the most wonderful addition being proficient not only in medical matters (he is a doctor) but also knowing all sorts about computers and how they work.
The highlights for me of this trip was the great light, wonderful giraffe, zebra and elephants — and fantastic leopard. March is supposed to be wet. But this first week was dryer than usual and while this meant that we were able to enjoy sunny days on safari and see unusually large numbers of impala, big herds of giraffe, zebra, buffalo, elephants, waterbuck and myriad birds against the summer green backdrop.
The Emerald Season safari combines a river trip and on day four we headed north for 40 kilometers or so up the wildly meandering Luangwa River passing hippos, lazy crocs and innumerable fish eagles. Eventually we reached Nsefu Camp, the first camp in the valley and my favorite for its wilderness atmosphere. Daudi “the president” took us to the Nsefu stork colony and we stood below bird-laden trees shooting madly as the yellow-billed storks streamed in carrying building material. We also explored up the Mwamba River where yawning hippos and spectacular scenery awaited us.
It was a really great trip — and made even more special by the fact that I was with such great friends.
Back in Cape Town, by the way, it was onto my bike for the 110 kilometer Argus Cycle Tour on a sweltering and still day. It was my 15th ride (but none for 10 years) and I am afraid to say that my cramping legs knew the difference.