Zambia – Southern Africa
© Copyright on all photographs – Allan Rufus
Zambia is known as the “Real Africa”. It is a fairly large country and has vast wild life areas. I spend a year living in the bush on the edge of the Kafue National Park, where there were not many other white people for miles, our closest friends were at The Kafue Elephant Orphanage Project which was about 30-40 minutes drive away, depending if there were elephants on the road or not. The village people around the area we were staying in were very friendly and welcoming! (Although we did have a few bad incidences with a few greedy locals who caused us some serious problems, and a bag snatched out of our car in Lusaka, the Capital City. But the locals who saw what happened apprehended the person and preceded to give him a good beating, as they don’t take to kindly to that sort of thing in Zambia, and yes we got the bag back!) Many of the village children had never seen a white man before so they were not sure what to think or do when they saw me, some where very excited, and others burst into tears. I have to admit that I am not sure what I would have thought seeing me either lol. There was no one to impress, except the local hyhena who used to howl at night, but sadly she never presented herself to me!( See last picture below)
The bridge that crosses the gourge from Zimbabwe to Zambia offers a great frontal view of one of the Wonders of the World, the Great Victoria Falls called “Mosi -oa-tunya, the smoke that thunders” by the local people. I have seen this Great Waterfall in its various states, and I have to say that when this waterfall is gushing its load in rainy season, it is something to behold. The sheer amount of water tumbling down is mind blowing, and there is no chance standing anywhere near the falls without being drenched from the spray that it spits upwards due to the volume of water flowing over this magnificent falls! The picture below was taken in the dry season, so was not as I have described above, but still a magnificent site to behold!
The road from Lusaka, the Capital to The Kafue National Park is quite an experience. One has to be wide awake to avoid the truck drivers and donkeys and seriously BIG and DEEP pot holes in the road. But once you get to the park and hit the Itezhi Tezhi dirt road then you are in for a real treat. I was born, and have lived most of my life in Africa, but I have NEVER travelled on a road like this dirt road. It MUST be the WORST dirt road in the world to travel on. Not only can you not go fast due to the pot holes and ridges, you also have to drive with your windows closed as you enter into tsetse fly territory, these flies are big and they bite, and let me tell you when they bite you, it’s not pleasant at all, and if your windows are open you can get up to 20-30 feasting on you lol. It becomes a swatting 5 hour journey full of cries of pain when one does get you!
But in between that you may be very lucky and come across a pack of wild dogs. These dogs where relaxing in the puddles of water in the heat of the day before we disturbed them. I have never seen wild dogs in the wild before, so it was a real great treat to see this mother and her pups right in front of us. You can see the long bad dirt road behind them!
Lake Itezhi Tezhi is massive, and totally wild. It is a great place to see wild life, birds, and is very good to fish in. It’s fantastic to take a boat and travel along the waters edge in the late afternoon to watch the animals come down and drink, and to watch the sunset over the vast waters and to listen to the sounds of the Magestic Fish eagle, whos sound must be one of my all time favourite sounds. I never get tired of hearing its call.
The locals fish everyday and they take their catches back home, or sell them at the local market or to companies that take them to Lusaka to sell to the city folk. The staple diet here is fish and shema (ground maize meal/ ground corn).
This very large elephant was a local at this village, and I do have to say it is a very very large elephant. It is fine to see this elephant at a distance breaking the branches of the trees and eating on them, but it is a very different story when it starts to pay attention to you. It moved into the road we where on, and as we moved forward it started to mock charge us, we were in a land cruiser with an iron bull bar, but wondered how it would have stood up to a charging elephant (I do know the answer to this, and its not pretty). We stood our ground in our vehicle and it relaxed a bit, and started to walk towards our vehicle. My brother said to me stay real still! It started to walk towards the passengers side, which was my side. I whispered back to him “It’s ok for you to say that as it’s not on your side. It came to my side of the vehicle, and of course the window was wide open, because I had been taking pictures of it! I do have to say, I did a quick prayer, and asked my angels to please be with me and over see this delicate encounter. The elephant walked right up to the window and put its trunk into the window and was about 20 cm from my face. I have to admit I was shit scared as this was a wild elephant. I just remember sending it lots and lots of love out my heart centre into its heart centre. It must have smelt me for at least 30 seconds (going on 10 minutes) and as I was looking it deep in the eye trying to relay a message that it was ok, and that I was no threat and in fact full of love for this most magnificent beast, and it must of felt the love, and it lowered its trunk and slowly moved on. Then I relaxed abit. “See nothing to worry about” says my brother, who I must add is very knowledgeable with elephants and wildlife in general, but did not comfort me at the time. I said “Ok for you to say that, as it was not on your side!!” We did smile afterwards!
I love nature and wild life, and I am always ready to pick up something. I spotted this chameleon in a bush and it went to catch it, normally they are very still on a branch, but this one was moving quite quickly along the branch, and I never realized why it was moving very fast until I put my hand into the bush, and in the corner of my eyes, I saw a snake moving quickly to catch it. The snake saw me, but still went after the chameloen, and it was a race to see who got it first, so I snatched the chameloen as quickly as I could and moved back a bit, it was not impressed that I had taken its lunch! Then I decided I wanted to catch the snake as well, but it turned and raced away from me into thicker bushes, so I decided to leave it!
While in the bush I caught many snakes in the areas we were working in and released them back into the wild a few hundred meters from our tents. The locals killed the snakes very quickly, but I asked them not to, and to call me and I would catch them and move them away, unless it was a black mamba, who I would not dare play around with! I used to walk aroung with a stick that was forked at one end to pin the snakes head down so I could grab hold of them behind the head without hurting them. I had to be careful, as the nearest hospital was very very far away, so no room for error!
One night I was asleep in my flimsy tent when I hear a lot of noise, the noise was a herd of buffalo running fast crashing through the thicket of the bushes very near where we were sleeping. We had heard lions early on in the evening roaring, so I guess the lions were on a hunt for food and the buffalo where on the menu! The crashing went of for hours, and again I did a prayer and asked the angels to make sure the buffalo did not make a turn towards my tent which was placed under a nice tall tree, but in the open and would be easily run over in a stamped. I never got much sleep that night! Wonder why? The next day we went looking to see what had happened and we found these lions 50 meters from our tents. Hmmm, at least we never features in the events of that evening. I have had some very close and scary encounters with lions in Botswana a few years before this. They are not called the King of the Jungle for nothing, as when they ROAR, the sound goes right through you, and you start to shake like all the other animals, especially when there is only a piece of tent canvas between you and its jaws!
Now to a bit of sad news! The baby elephant below was an orphaned elephant who was very sick when it was found and taken to the Kafue Elephant Orphanage Project. Its name was Zama, and I had an amazing encounter with this baby elephant. As I stood in front of it, it put its trunk around me and gave me the most incredible hug I have ever had. I have never experienced anything like this before with an elephant and it filled me with such joy, love, happiness and sadness all at the same time. Its mother had been shot for her tusks and Zama was left to fend for its self. Luckily Zama was found and taken to The Kafue Elephant Orphanage Project to be looked after, but unfortunately Zama did not live long due to a disease that the vets could not cure in time.
I cried when I received the news that this wonderful loving mammal had passed on. It is something that I will never ever forget, that hug Zama gave me!
I call on you “the readers” who read this blog to spread the word about the Kafue Elephant Orphanage Project, who are doing a great job under the very sad circumstances, and they are really in need of financial support to help them feed the ever increasing number of baby elephant orphans they receive monthly. ( https://www.facebook.com/ElephantOrphanageProject ) Please help if you are in a position to and support these wonderful people who are trying to save the orphaned elephants in Zambia.
Then getting back to me, this was my bush look! Nobody to impress and nobody to see, except the wild animals of Kafue! 🙂 What a great time I had, and it was a really great experience that I will not forget!
Loads more to come, so please join me along my journey….
Also – The Master’s Sacred Knowledge by Allan Rufus. An inner journey of self discovery to the heart!