Ultimate Africa – To Walk with Lions (July/August 2008)
a photographic safari in Botswana and Zimbabwe, Southern Africa
Day 03: Lokuthula Lodge (Tuesday 29 July 2008)
We all met up at 06:00 and walked up to the restaurant for tea, coffee and fresh scones. From the restaurant you can look down into the valley with a great view of the waterhole.
Soon we were on our way to the Victoria Falls. When we got there, Heiko and I went quickly to the eastern cataract. Unfortunately, we didn’t beat the sun and it had risen by the time arrived, illuminating all the mist in a brilliant white. We got drenched of course, it was raining upwards!
We saw a full rainbow and it started at our feet – no pot of gold though, it must have been at the other end of the rainbow!
We headed back, stopping at all the viewing areas on the way, admiring the bright rainbows. We also saw the Livingstone Statue and we had a curious bushbuck follow us. Once back at the lodge we headed over to the Boma for breakfast and shared a table with Nick and Nico. Afterwards, Chris shared some tips for photographing the falls from the helicopter and then off we went. It didn’t take long before we reached the Helipad of Sheerwater and we were straight into the helicopter, all of us with a window seat, and for me an open window! The helicopter made a figure of 8 over the falls; it was amazing to see the falls from above, just amazing. We also saw elephants from above. When we landed back at the helipad we were shown a video of us getting ready for the flight and taking off, and our landing had been filmed too, with a pre-recorded flight video sandwiched in-between.
We arrived back at the lodge around noon and had some time to rest before lunch. Heiko and I headed up to the Restaurant to look out towards the waterhole. As we got there we saw about 50 vultures circling overhead – the staff at the restaurant were putting out meat for the vultures and we watched them all come down and squabble over it. We also saw a couple of crocodiles by the waterhole, and plenty of marabou storks hanging around. After some refreshing cold drinks we headed back to the lodge for some lunch where we found the warthogs hanging around. Nico got up and walked in front of one who then threw up its head and grunted. Nico quickly moved out of the way but it made Mel jump and in doing so spilt her drink.
In the late afternoon we headed off for a sunset cruise along the Zambezi River. We didn’t know which lenses to take so we both took all of them – just in case! Our bags are so heavy! The ride on the pontoon was great and we saw an elephant cross the river, a couple of bushbuck, and some hippos that kept teasing us by surfacing long enough to find them through the viewfinder but not long enough to press the shutter! We’re really starting to wish we’d brought monopods or tripods, or even a bean bag! Kaleel’s 600mm was looking quite nice and sturdy attached to his tripod with a wimbley head, whereas our 500’s were becoming a bit of a struggle to handhold. After sunset we headed back to the shore and then back to the lodge.
Soon after, we were changed and on our way to the Boma for dinner. We were greeted by drums and each of us were given a cloth wrap to wear and a white dot of paint on our face. Inside there was delicious food on the buffet – including warthog, eland and ostrich, of course, I tried all three. Warthog was delicious, if there is an opportunity I will have it again! There was chocolate mousse for dessert so guess who filled up their dishes?! Heiko… ;-) Back at our table there was some mapane worm eating by Kaleel and Peter. Apparently the record for the number eaten was 36, during the course of the evening Kaleel managed to eat 38, therefore breaking the record, and Peter had 21. We didn’t try any; just the thought makes me cringe… all those little legs – yuk!
Heiko and I had more face paint done – Heiko was a “warrior” – honestly, it looked so silly, he had a big black stripe down his nose. I told him it made him look like an owl – no, he said, I’m a Warrior!!! *giggles* We were all given a drum and the singers/dancers taught us how to play along with the ‘band’ and the whole restaurant joined in. Afterwards there was some dancing; Nick was straight up on the dancefloor giving it his all; he was great, and he totally surprised us all! After the dancing Heiko and I went to see the witch doctor to have our fortunes told. We went inside a little hut where the witch doctor was sat on the floor. Heiko and I each had a small stool to sit on. We were giggling so much as the witch doctor threw stones around on the ground and was chanting. Occasionally he would stop and explain what the position of the stones meant. Heiko was told that he enjoys travel, that he will have a boy as the first child, he will have success in business and he is joyful. For me, I am very happy, will have good health, I have one love that is very strong and he is close. I will have children easily, naturally without intervention, and I will have three children. I will have success in business only if I marry because the man will bring me success. We just couldn’t stop laughing!
Back at the table, a group of men came to sing to us and a few of us bought their CD. Then it was time for a nightcap. Someone took a photo of Heiko to show him his face paint – Heiko now realised just how silly his face paint looked and soon started to scrub it off! Kaleel revealed that he and his wife were expecting their third child together and we all congratulated him – he was so excited, he had only heard news from the scan earlier in the evening so now was the first time he could talk about it. After our night caps it was time to head back down to the lodge where we’ve packed our bags and got all our batteries charging – tomorrow we’re off to Botswana and our first game drive!