Wednesday, October 24, 2012


It seems like we have been gone for months! Africa is so much! We just scratched the surface, but in that short time, our senses were overloaded on the colors, the sounds, the smells, the contrasts, the problems and the beauty of the continent we call Africa. The last night, Steve (who was affectionately nick named: Mr. Animal Planet, or Game Drive Boy) went on a night game drive. The group came across two large male lions who had just fed and were resting. The driver made some guttural sounds and the lions ROARED Not, just A roar, but deep,LOUD, freaking primal sounds that actually shook the vehicle they were in. For Steve, it was the frosting on the cake! And he said he will never forget it. I take home so many great memories. Seeing so many animals free and wild that we have only seen in captivity, was the main reason we went to Africa. But there was so much more, from all the people we met and interacted with, to our new knowledge about a country we knew very little about. I will just share some random pictures, and I really hope we will go back. There is much more to see!


This was our last day in South Africa, and we were leaving on the red eye to Dubai, so we filled the whole day with learning about the struggle SA has had with Apartheid. We started out with a tour of Johannesburg, a quick history of the city from our guide, who has called this city her home all her life. We drove to the city of Soweto and were joined by a native of that area named Gubby. Between the two we learned so much about the history of the "coloreds, and the blacks" (different in SA terms) and a very violent long struggle for basic human rights. We ended up at the home of Nelson Mandela and heard more of his history in bringing Apartheid to an end. This was was followed by an afternoon visit to the impressive "Apartheid Museum" in Soweto. One could spend hours in this well thought out museum, and we did. Unfortunately for me, I came down with a. 24 hr. case of T.D. and did not fair so well. The bad part hit as were were being given a tour of Mandela's house, so I guess I spent more time in his tiny bathroom than anywhere else! It was pretty bad, and I was wondering how I could possibly go on. After some time spent in that bathroom , our guide got me some anti-nausea and anti-diarrea pills, and a coke, and I could hobble to the van. As the afternoon went on, I didn't feel great, but the worst was over so I managed to see some of the museum, always keeping a quick detour to the restrooms in mind. I came back to the van early to rest, and the driver who was Afrikaner AND very interested on politics, gave me a lot of his opinions on things on SA, and I can guess, he isn't too happy about his government. Actually, SA has waay bigger problems than the US, and no one sees any way out at the moment. It was quite the afternoon in many respects. I just wish I had been on my game more, cause I like that kind of discussion.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


The owners of RZL help support a very poor African village about an hour upstream from RZL. What a contrast from RZl ,and it makes me very sad, but some traditions are VERY hard to change. We also brought school supplies to the school, and got to spend a couple hours walking around the village and asking questions. Most of us also bought crafts that were made by the women and donated generously to their quest to get a new water pump. We left the RZL well before 6 am, and by 9 am, the temp was 100F in the village. Gifts are NOT given, because they do want the kids to associate visitors with gifts or candy. The problems in these tribal villages are numerous, and we all know that over population, lack of resources, lack of water,AIDS, heavy alcohol use among the men, disease and low life expectancy are just the tip of an iceberg as things that need to be addressed. But, the little kids just LOVED having their pictures taken and seeing them back on a digital camera. Magic!and lots of laughter. They loved Steve because he was so big, tall, white, and had size 14 shoes! He always had at least 3 or 4 boys hanging on to his hands, and comparing their little bare feet with his big feet. The village has put in a couple toilets for "visitors" because they are hoping more people will come and learn about them and thereby help them. But, I did notice, they didn't flush yet. The RZL has employed a few of young men as river guides, and game trackers. It was the 26th birthday of our boat driver, Bbsakasa, and that was his village. Some of the women showed us a traditional dance, and he got up and really worked it with them! I really enjoyed this visit, and will just post some random pictures taken there. The sign is on the local beer joint, and I
Still cannot figure it out. I asked a young man with me(16yrs) how old one has to be to drink, and he said 18, but anyone one younger just as to go in back of the hut, and they can also drink.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Yesterday was really hot! (110F) in between excursions,or in free time, Steve and I were taking advantage of our plunge pool... A lot! We also were using our day bed on private deck to rest, and catch a breeze, and at one point a big herd of elephants came with in 10 feet of our platform on their way to river to drink and cool off. It was quite the thrill! We had showered and were waiting for the drums to sound for lunch, when I noticed a big baboon at our pool. Then some of his friends showed up to party. They brought nuts and were cracking them and eating and drinking water from our pool, and then went over to our day bed and had a grand ol time. Jumping on the bed, tossing the pillows, rolling back and forth like naughty kids. Except these guys were hairy and dirty, and wild! Steve finally had enough and ran them off. We reported the delinquent behavior to the staff, and soon everything was cleaned and back to order. They later told us the baboons LOVE that particular day bed!
Late in the afternoon, some us decided to go canoeing, and the apprentice guides took us up a small tributary of the Zambezi. These guys are all from river villages and tribes, and are chosen for their innate skills and knowledge of the Zambezi. They all speak at least 5 tribal languages of the 73 languages spoken in Zambia, and of course, English. They are fun to be around and careful and conscientious. We only had one dicey moment when a huge hippo surfaced with in feet of the canoes. The canoe trip was relaxing and quiet, and at the turn around point.... Voila.... Ice cold Gin & Tonics!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


The third country we are in is Zambia, which used to be Northern Rhodesia. We are at the RZL(Royal Zambezi Lodge), which is located in a remote spot on the Zambezi River. It is best described as rustic luxury! They only take up to 30 guests and each guest or couple has their own tent. Our tent has a big sleeping area, a dressing area with a huge copper tub, a bathroom with an extra outdoor shower, a massive deck overlooking the river.. AND we have our own private pool, and day bed on and extended deck for animal viewing and privacy. There are no locks, clocks, tv,etc. but there is a phone to call the main lodge and ask for an escort to walk us to the main lodge area at night. We are just right in the middle of all kinds of wild animals ALL THE TIME! The philosophy of the RZL is tolerance and do not disturb. Last night we were walking back from dinner with another fellow, and a big hippo was munching at his door area. Daytime is ok to walk to the lodge, but we can't go off the path area. We have massive elephants that have carte blanc run of the place, and when they show up anywhere, we just wait for them to leave at their leisure. Baboons are numerous and pesky, but fun to watch. They will take any opportunity to get into our tents and open suitcases, pill bottles, whatever, so we never leave a door open. It is so hot right now, that Steve and I have made a lot of use of then"plunge pool". We have no Ac,so a cool dip is welcome. Of course, there are all sorts of bugs, lizards, geckos, that inhabit our tents. But they just leave us alone. The staff attends to every need, leaving us huge thermoses of ice water, netting our beds at night, and waiting on us hand and foot. The food is wonderful, and all meals are eaten on a lovely deck with formal settings, except we are in tank tops and shorts. It is a magical place that pampers the guest while plopping us down in one of the most remote and wildest places in Africa. We have to leave tomorrow, and while the heat has been oppressive, the rugged beauty and the staff of the RZL is unforgettable! We are loving it!


This is dedicated to my grandson, Mickey, who loves to fish!
No clocks or alarms here; they just come to your tent and gently knock to wake you, with coffee, if requested! Our wake up call was 5 am, and after a light continental breakfast, I got in a boat with 3 others and off we went to fish for the Tiger Fish. Steve had elected to do a walk in the bush with a game guy and hopefully see something new.
The first thing we did was fish for the bait. I caught a couple of small fish, and off we went for the big ones. The Zambezi River is just teeming with hippos and crocodiles... Both very dangerous. It flow FAST in some areas, and is very shallow in others. We had a trained boat and fishing guide to help us navigate, and he was great., and had to multitask so much with 4 bumbling fishermen, a moving boat, baiting, watching out for real danger, and teaching me how to cast properly. Well, I never did get it right, but guess the fish didn't care, as I caught the biggest and most fish of the morning. My first Tiger fish got away while netting, my second catch was well over 10 lbs, and I accidentally hooked a hippo. He got even by taking all my line and the hooks too. One other guy in our boat got a smaller fish. The Tiger Fish puts up a big fight, leaping into the air and twisting.... It was much harder than I thought, but I hung on. I had an African massage scheduled for the am, but I am giving it up to go fishing again! Everyone wants to be in my boat.... Beginners luck and all that!

Friday, October 19, 2012


Did I ever say it was hot! Well, today was practically a heat stroke day! After many legs of a travel day, we finally landed on the airstrip of the Royal Zambezi. The airport in Zimbabwe was hot crowded, small, and antiquated. The plane seemed newish, clean, and they served potato chips and Africa's version of coke, so I guess it was ok. The driver that met us on the tarmac said it was 45 C ( that is at least 110F! ) And I was believing him! Note to Bruce: "how hot was it?"
We took a short ride to our next destination. This place is crazy unbelievable, and I will dedicate a whole post to it soon. We were greeted by cool refreshing apricot coolers and a big elephant in the doorway! Since this place definitely believes in living one with whatever nature's creatures show up, we just waited about 1/2 an hour before the crew could take us to our tents. The elephant was browsing in the coffee area and playing with MY suitcase. Everyone just takes it all in stride here.
After shedding our travel clothes and gear, we all piled into a few boats and off we went to capture the sunset on the river. We pulled over on a piece of ground that didn't have hippos or crocs on it, and the great RZ crew had set up a cocktail bar for our enjoyment! Gin and Tonics, munchies and great conversations..a beautiful sunset and more fun tomorrow. I am going fishing for a big ol mean fighting fish, called the Tiger Fish. Big teeth and stripes. We had a wonderful candlelight dinner on the deck overlooking the river, and after we were escorted (yes! More on that later) to our tent, all the mosquito netting was fixed, and our bed turned down.... And we slept like babies!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Our last night in Botswana, we decided to do one more game drive and a "proper wine time" out on the savanna. We piled into our open jeep in temps over 100 degrees. Lots of animals seeking the little shade on this treeless expanse. After a very hot and very bumpy ride, we found a little shade and Chis, our great driver started dragging out the wine and beer. Well, as when one is having a good time, we overstayed our welcome. This close to the equator, the sun sets fast! The drivers have to be out of the park by dark or they get heavy fines, and can lose their guide privileges. Botswana also has a very stringent and tough "anti poaching" law and units dedicated to going after these brainless idiots, that poach at night. We were going pretty fast to get to the gate by sundown, when Steve spotted a huge female lion stalking a herd of impalas. Of course, we had to side track and observe this sight, which put us even later. That is when Chris showed us he could rival any Indy car driver out there, except we were in 4 wheel drive in deep sand and rutted roads. I have never held on so tight as were were literally raised from our seats over and over. We came across a jeep stuck in the sand, but there were others helping to maneuver it out. We didn't want to be late, so Chis cranked the jeep in low gear and we climbed a big sandy scrub hill. It was like a sand dune ride at the OR coast! I tried to take pictures, but could not let go of the grab bar, or I would have tumbled out. We were bumpy flying! We made it with ONE minute to spare, reported the stuck jeep, and hit the showers to get rid of all the dust and dirt. It was a workout to balance and hold on.
This morning we are leaving Botswana and "Precious Ramotswe" land(Ladies Detective Agency).
We drive to Kazangula border, then take a ferry to Zambia. We then drive again to Livingston Airport and catch a small flight to the airstrip by our new lodge, THE ROYAL ZAMBEZI, where we will be sleeping in tents. We should be floating down the Zambezi River by "wine time".


We are nestled near the Chobe National Park on the Chobe River. Just a couple hours spent on the river and we see tons of Hippos, Crocs, Elephants,Baboons, Impalas,Kudus,CapeBuffalo,Warthogs, Zebras and many birds and more! We get up at 5 and go on game drives for a few hours, then in late afternoon we cruise down the Chobe River for "wine time" and are never disappointed in what we see. Botswana has the largest herds of Elephants and while majestic and wonderful, they have increased in population here and have literally destroyed every bit of land around them. No fences can hold them back. I was shocked to see how the land is barren and torn up from their constant eating all vegetation. Elephants just walk out on the
roads too. It is a problem here. I am just going to post some random animal pictures that I have taken in the last 2 days, and a picture of what the land looks like from Elephant damage. This damage goes on for miles and miles and miles, in fact all of Botswana, even in neighbor hoods.