I am right now sitting on a lounge chair in what can only be described as an oasis of a campsite. The flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg was long, but uneventful except for the women with very loud voices sitting behind us. They were fine when they went to sleep, but when they were chatting – ohboy. We know all about this woman and her husband Cecil and the various property investments they have. Made their money from RV parks, apparently. Who knew what a lucrative business that was?
Anyway, we arrived in Johannesburg on time, got to our flight to Zimbabwe, and arrived safe and sound at Victoria Falls around noon. There are baboons everywhere. We’d arranged for an airport transfer to the campsite where we’re supposed to meet our safari tour group. They started in Johannesburg on June 2, and are due here sometime this evening. The campsite is in Zambia, which means we had to cross the border and – of course – use up a visa I hadn’t planned on using this soon. But it’s all good, we’ll just get another when we go back to Zimbabwe to see the Falls from the “prettier” side.
Anyway, the Marambu campsite has a lovely little pool that looks like something out of a real estate magazine. It’s decorated with little rocks and a waterfall, and was nice and cold for my very swollen feet. (Well, you try flying for 19 total hours and see how your feet react). So we’ve been sitting here next to the pool for a few hours reading our books. There’s a little lake/pond/swamp behind us with a sign in front of it with a picture of a crocodile. It reads, “Be careful. I live here.” I can’t vouch for the crocodile, but the three hippopotami seem very happy there. The little baby (and I use the term “little” loosely) is cute. I want to call the mom Henrietta, but I’m not sure why. Is there a children’s storybook with Henrietta Hippo somewhere? They’re very lazy. Don’t do much but surface, snort, and go back under. In the past 5 hours, they’ve moved about 10 feet. Maybe that’s what I’ll be in my next lifetime.
Poolside in Zambia!
Our Kiboko Trek Group arrived around 6:30PM. Once the sun goes down, it gets very cold here because we’re still pretty far south – so it’s wintertime. So we were freezing and ready to book our own tent, shower and sleep. But luckily they arrived! We set up our tent in the dark, and got our sleeping bags settled in. There are 17 people on the trek, plus our two guides. Here’s the lowdown on the group:
- 4 crazy Aussie guys – Dennis, Matt, Jason, and Brandon
- 2 girls named Andrea. One is from Prague, the other from Austria
- 1 girl from Amsterdam named Mathilde
- A lawyer named Juliette from Capetown, South Africa
- Kerry from London who smashed her knee moments before we met her and was understandably unhappy.
- A man from France named Didier who owns a chain of hair salons. Oui, oui!
- 4 Russian gentlemen, one of whom was in the Russian arm for 20 years. He (Vladimir) found it notable that “all four superpowers of the world” were represented by our group.
- Susan, an older women from South Africa
- Our two guides: Brandon and Vanessa
Our first sunset in Africa
Vanessa and Brandon made dinner. Apparently, there are two additional people “on duty” each day to assist with cutting veggies, cleaning pots and pans and any other stuff. Jon and I are at the end of the list, but we’ll come up soon.
We socialized for a while and then went (finally) to shower. Technically, this is the first shower either of us has had in two days. The camp showers – while in an enclosed area – is wide open to the air. So the temp is about 45-50 degrees by now, and the air around the shower is cold! I attempted to shave my legs, but the goosebumps caused me to nick myself quite a few times.
We were told to watch out for the hippos in the middle of night as they sometimes get out and walk around. Lovely – be careful on midnight bathroom breaks!