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Published: July 14th 2016
The work is complete and now all but one of our team members will experience something Africa is known for. A photo safari. We organized a non-Habitat sponsored safari extension to Zambia.
We arranged group transport to neighboring Zambia. Presenting paperwork and exchanging money for visas in both directions is part of the formalities of crossing the border from Malawi to Zambia. Once in Zambia, it was noticeable to me that the economic conditions in Zambia are somewhat better than in Malawi. The roads are better, there appears to be more shops, the people you see alongside the road are is less ragged attire than in Malawi. We saw more ‘decent’ housing, but there was no shortage of substandard, traditional mud & thatch huts as well.
Six hours after starting out, we arrived at the Marula Lodge in Mfuwe Zambia. Within minutes of arriving we spotted monkeys, elephants and bush buck walking through the lodge grounds. Our safety briefing provided information on how to behave when the local wildlife was nearby. Quiet and still are the most important and the least intuitive.
After settling into our cabins, eating a lunch that was finally something different then our typical
Malawian fare, we headed out on our first safari drive. We arrived in South Luangwa National Park at around 4 PM. Our safari guide and spotter were immediately on the lookout for the local wildlife. The diversity and abundance of wildlife in this area is amazing. We saw: baboons, birds, crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, Guinea hens, hippos, hyenas, impala, leopards, lions, monkeys, wart hogs, water buffalo, wild dogs, wildebeests, zebras and others I likely forgot. Viewing these creatures in their natural habitats, going about their usual lives was incredible! At dusk we took a break from riding in the open air jeep for cocktails on the savannah. This was quiet the magical experience. Once it was dark, we resumed our safari looking to observe the nightlife of Zambia. Our sightings were limited, but the night sky was a great consolation.
Our evening safari was followed by dinner in the open air restaurant. After a long, but exciting day, we all headed off to an early bedtime because morning safaris start before the crack of dawn. The night time noises and proximity of wildlife are amazing: A hippo outside our window, munching on grass, an early morning elephant and her calf
eating tree branches outside our cabin (trapping us in our room for a while).
Our stay included a total of 3 safari drives before heading out on the third day. On our last morning an elephant came to see us off. The large bull wandered through the entire camp, including an extended stay just outside our breakfast area. What a fabulous way to end our post build R&R.
I believe that mission and service based travel should be peppered with experiences that highlight the rich natural and cultural resources the region you are traveling to has to offer. We want to come home and speak about the need, the people and the beauty of all we seen.
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