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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Malawi trip #2 - The Safari

On the good advice of Tom and Janey from Mabuya Camp we pre-booked a safari in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park with Kiboko one of the more upmarket Lilongwe establishments.

Arriving in good time and thinking we were all sorted, we boarded the bus along with another 16 safari-ers (is that a word?). 

Before heading off the driver addressed everyone to make sure we had all the necessary documents for the Malawi-Zambia border. 
Passport, check! $50 for the visa, check! Yellow fever certificate…….uh oh!
The one thing we didn’t have. After the driver consulted briefly with the booking agent, in true Malawian style we decided to try our luck and hope it would be overlooked. In fact what they said was – just have some additional cash ready.
Ah yes, the good ol’ bribe. If in doubt – bribe your way out, a take home message from the holiday.
So off we set on the six hour journey.

At this point we’d only been in Africa two days and the views from the bus were a real eye opener into what life is like for the average Malawian.
Here are a few photos captured from the bus, including some impressive hand painted adverts:
 





































At border control we lined up to have our temperature taken before going on to the office for the admin bit. ‘Sshhh, don’t mention the yellow fever certificate’. Luckily they didn’t ask anyone for this, so got away with it.
We’d actually previously been advised that they don’t often ask for the certificate except in the case of tourist buses like ours, because there’s potential money to be made.

Finally arriving at the camp, a guide showed us around. There we were thinking we’d be roughing it on roll mats & sleeping bags (which we’d brought along), and this place was uber plush - swimming pool, swanky bar overlooking a hippo inhabited river, a library, plus a gym and a spa no less!


















Definitely more glamping than camping and a far cry from the Zambia we’d travelled through, just yards down the road. The tents had electricity and actual beds. Just take a look at their website (checkout that pool)
The lodging was situated in the National Park itself so there were monkeys and baboons roaming around before we even started the drives.


In a serious voice the guide then told us to make sure we had no food especially apples in our tents as
elephants can smell them and will try and get in.
For some reason though I didn’t twig from this pep talk that wild elephants would be strolling round the campsite. And it was only at 3 in the morning after being woken up by some distinctly un-human snuffling from behind the tent followed by the hulk of a giant bull elephant striding a mere five feet from Dave’s head past the canvas, that I caught on. Needless to say I lie there bricking it!
I was just grateful that our campsite wasn’t over the other side of the river where the lions and hyenas were.

Elephants on camp:





































The safari consisted of four drives, which we did with Fred, our very knowledgeable guide and two other Brit couples – Jack and Heather from Edinburgh and Tom and Lyndsey from London.



 














We were there for two days and on each there was a morning drive and an evening one. The downside was that the morning one entailed a 5am rise, ready to ride out for 6.


















Still it was worth it. 

To be continued... 

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