December 2, 2013

Safari Day!!!!

Poelman Family HANDS Team:

Today was Safari day!! We left Lundazi at 7:30 am after saying goodbye to the people there: the kitchen staff, Dorothy and Christabel, and the project manager Moffat who we have had lots of fun with. We rode in a bigger van to the safari camp, it felt like luxury not having to squeeze ourselves in the tiny van anymore! The road to the safari camp was mostly paved and it was a beautiful drive, going through mountainous areas and seeing more of rural Zambia.


On our way into the safari camp we caught a few glimpses of elephants so the excitement began! We got to ride in these awesome jeeps - really high off the ground with three rows of comfy seats. We were separated into 2 jeeps by age according to the wishes of Lindsey. The jeeps went on different routes and unfortunately the "young" jeep got to see a few more animals close up than the "old" jeep.

 The safari was in South Luangwa Park, and on the way into the park we crossed a big river where we could literally see hundreds of hippos. It was so cool to see so many and hear their calls and watch them yawn with their ginormous mouths! We also saw a couple crocodiles in the river, and some of them were pretty big. We saw alot alot of wildlife in the park, and fortunately it was all right by the road, so we got amazing pictures of the animals. The giraffes were awesome with their heads up in the trees. They really are amazingly huge animals and entertaining to watch! We saw wharthogs, they actually walk around on their front knees to be close enough to the ground to eat (I'm not certain that Pumba does this!).

We only saw one zebra, and unfortunately the young jeep got to see lots of it, while the old jeep just saw its hind end walking away! There were lots of elephants in the park, and one of the coolest sightings was when a mother and 2 (or 3) babies of different sizes crossed right in front of the Jeeps! The baby elephants were so adorable. There were tons of Baboons everywhere, even by the lodges we were staying in. There were really cute baby ones that were clinging to their mother's stomachs and bouncing around on vines. Just as the sun was setting, we got to experience a torrential african downpour while in an open sided jeep! They provided us with ponchos, but it was pouring in from the sides and we got fairly drenched despite the ponchos. After the downpour we were slowly driving along, and suddenly we saw a Leopard! They use a big spot light for the night drives, and a leopard is a rare sighting. It was within 20 feet of the jeeps so we got some awesome pictures, and got to watch it try to catch an impala. It was definitely very exciting and surreal!

The hippos walk around at night on hippo highways, and the old jeep almost hit one! Shockingly enough, on the way back to the safari camp, which is outside of the park, we saw another Leopard only 50 yards from our lodges (to Lindsey's dismay haha!). Unfortunately we didnt get to see Lions, but we saw lots of other animals including crowned cranes, a civet, impalas, several types of antelope/deer, Egyptian ducks, bee eaters, lots of beautiful colorful birds, a monitor lizard. At the camp (and on the whole trip really), we saw alot of cool bugs too! Dung beetles, squealing cicadas, jumping spiders, praying mantises, scorpions, huge hornets, big ground beetles, fireflies, antlions, and so many more!

 We got back from our drive around 7:30 and had supper which Misozi had kindly prepared in our absence. Then we all walked/were driven carefully back to our lodges because of fear of the nearby leopard! The safari camp had really nice facilities so we were very thankful for our first hot shower of the trip!


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