Africa/UK Day 17, home again

The plane, a big double decker A380, left efficiently on time, 22.15, and pretty much full. A fairly uneventful flight with Anne as our aisle companion with whom Peg chatted quite a lot. One passable chicken curry and an underwhelming breakfast, reasonably successful attempt at sleeping and arrival at 7.05 local time, 11 hours flight!

The only formality was passport control, as no tests now needed, for some reason my, new, passport wasn’t recognised by the automatic control but the alternative real person was surprisingly fast and friendly. We, meaning me, made the mistake of not using the train to get to baggage reclaim, so we had the long, blade runner style walk and hop on and off walkways for what felt like a couple of kilometres, more walking than we’ve done for weeks!

We needn’t have hurried as the baggage reclaim was very slow and very random. As Richard was saying I’m not sure how they shuffle the bags but it seems to be a great randomisation, with bags from our group arriving both early and late, but mostly late. We said fond farewells to what had been the nicest of the three groups we’ve travelled with and oozed home. Easy and not crowded tube to St Pancras, where we just had enough time to get coffee and sandwich from Prêt before getting the 10.27. This was 3 hours on a Sunday, again uncrowded, and we waited 20 mins for the bus home and here we are.

Impressions

So glad that we took what was certainly a risk, in going ahead with this. It cost an arm and a leg, plus more body parts for lots of testing, but was easily, easily worth it.

275+ birds on my list, of definitely seen in the binoculars, if not fully identified. We both feel we were much better birders this time compared with Cambodia. Not so overwhelmed, able to pick up birds relatively quickly, get a feel for whether they were new etc. The birds were great and Neil and Jakes were excellent. I’ll add bird photos when uploaded.

The app BirdPro was truly excellent and I’ll miss it.

There was a lot of driving and sitting in the vehicles, 3,000 km in total. We knew this and it’s inevitable when covering the different environments but was quite tiring at times. Getting out isn’t allowed in most of the parks, for safety reasons.

The group dynamic was good, everyone at least rubbed along fine and many friendships were made. This type of holiday is a way of life for many, it seems, and is becoming that way for us, probably more so if we could afford it!

Neil and Jakes were both very good guides with different strengths. Neil is the owner of Safariwise and is quite extrovert and strong minded, Jakes was genuinely very keen to make sure everyone had a good time. They both spotted well for us. Jakes had an interesting background in agriculture.

Despite spending more than two weeks driving through their area, we have ended up with next to no idea of how the local people live. We have no idea what the interior of their houses look like, what they eat, even what they do all day. This is partly because Neil and Jakes also had no idea and it’s an indictment of all of our societies. In the main they look healthy, walk long distances and seem happy, but are they?

We will, hopefully, be on other trips within the year, watch this space.

Africa/UK Day 17, home again

Africa Day 16, the way home

Up at 5 to get fully packed before birds at dawn. Whiled away 45 mins until the finfoot made an appearance briefly, then a short walk picking up the bloody enormous Goliath Heron. Breakfast as usual from the buffet plus eggs as ordered then a couple of hours to while away. This was made memorable by both the appearance of the female finfoot near our lodge, on the bank resplendent with bright red feet, bashing and eating one of the abundant giant millipedes. This was followed shortly by a grandstand appearance of the male disporting in front of the deck as our last real bird.

We were informed of the plan to get us home which consisted of Neil and Jakes taking us to the restaurant near the falls at 10am, then we would be picked up by another company who specialise in border crossings of the less dodgy type. We ate a light meal there, said fond farewells to Jakes who was driving west for two days back home alone and Neil who was driving to Botswana to pick up his 4 clients for the reverse of our journey. They work damn hard and do a great job.

We transferred to a larger air conditioned bus and were driven by Elika who guided us through the three stages of escaping Zambia and entering Zimbabwe, consisting entirely of filling in forms and having our passports stamped multiple times (4 pages full on this journey). Then we transferred to a third vehicle on the Zimbabwe side to get to the airport. Check-in and security were relaxed and efficient affairs and we festered for a couple of hours in a large, pleasant, new and seemingly totally underused airport full of very bored shop staff and others.

The falls from the famous bridge (used for the Rhodesia negotiations)

Flight was timely and efficient and only ⅓ full! Mostly returning Saffers. Johannesburg airport is big and glossy with lots of shops and a good café. We are trying to use up 3 hours or so, eating…

Africa Day 16, the way home

Africa Day 15, the Masked Birder does the Victoria Falls

Can you guess who it is?

After a quick dawn birdwatch, which included the “interesting” finfoot, and breakfast we set off to the falls, the other side of Livingstone. Livingstone is just what you imagine from a 3rd world town. Slightly chaotic, little uniformity in anything including adverts “A roof without Harveytiles is like a school without the teacher”, “God Given butchers”, Fawlty Towers, ill maintained, vibrant, happy.

As we approached the falls the only indication was a large cloud generated by the plumes. The site was quiet, we were practically the only people there. You walk through paths in the forest, hearing the noise increasing then emerge

To the most amazing sight. We’d been not thinking too much ahead, as over the last decades the amount of water has often not been enough to be very impressive. However this year has been good rains and the last few days also. The falls are really truly spectacular. Really long, must be about a kilometre or more, and high and lots and lots of water. They generate so much spray and more or less artificial rain that you are really fully drenched through in minutes hence the lack of pictures. This seems to vary with time as the vortex eddies around. We walked the full length from the Zambian side to where the outflow gorge marks the boundary and back, picking up a few birds on the way. We spent a total of two hours there then drove back for lunch, of pizza.

At 4pm we had a very relaxed boat trip from the lodge in the small double decker boat, looks very unstable and slightly worrying given that we saw an absolutely massive crocodile and lots of hippo. Gin and tonics and canapés circulated as we watched pelicans, vultures, osprey, fish eagle, bee eater and many others.

A final evening meal chatting to several people we have been making friends with especially Richard, Sian and Sheila and will miss. Tomorrow we have to make a final border crossing to Zimbabwe and fly home via Johannesburg. All our COVID tests were negative but we heard that one of the 5 coming out to do our trip in reverse tested positive and can’t come!

Africa Day 15, the Masked Birder does the Victoria Falls

Africa Day 14, four countries in a day and yet another COVID test

Started day at 4.30am, for a 5.45am drive safari. These holidays are intense! The safari was an added extra run by the hotel and was a driven version of the area we had done by boat. The guide, Maude, turned out to be really good. She was from the Okavango area and took her job really seriously. Although we only saw one new bird and the same other animals, she was full of interesting information and local knowledge plus the lighting and atmosphere were just great and we got some great close views. Altogether a great experience and only about £20 each.

We got back for 9.30 and put our bags outside our doors as usual (after a hiatus when we realised all our keys had been erased) and rushed to the excellent breakfast, today with freshly baked Chelsea buns.

We left about 10.15 to drive to Livingstone in Zambia, our last destination. Easily said but involved a lot of paperwork and waiting under African skies. The border is actually a place, the only place in the world, where four countries meet, Angola and Namibia to the west and Zambia and Zimbabwe. We wanted to enter Zambia and the infrastructure was very new and the officials efficient and friendly. The system itself isn’t very efficient though. It took about 2 hours, most of which was vehicle paperwork during which we watched birds, customs officials demolish the load of a lorry, attractive women casually shouldering AK57s, dodgy currency dealing etc. We paid $50 each for very fancy visas.

We then drove through Livingstone to a restaurant on the river just upstream from the falls and had good food in enormous portions, ours was a very good veggie lasagne. You can see the rising plume of vapour from the falls there but we will visit them properly tomorrow.

Next thing was yet another test, this time to get us into South Africa, and the most expensive yet at about £80 each. Rather run down 3rd world clinic slightly overwhelmed by 11 turning up, especially at 4pm but accepting cards and good enough.

We then drove back to the new lodge which turned out to be a match for all the others. We arrived in the aftermath of a thunderstorm to a “camp”. The reception, bar and deck are exceptionally well located, looking down on a small island in the Zambezi and we were greeted with a drink. The lodges and the main area are a mixture of brick built, wooden frames and canvas with a definite camp feel but luxurious.

We had time for a rest then at dusk Peg, Neil and I managed to see a pelican flypast, then a bat hawk (quite rare, only eats bats, perhaps that’s why) and a nightjar. Excellent dinner, good WiFi which informed us that our local flight has been put back by 3 hours. Actually good for us, longer here and only a 4 hour wait at Jo’burg.

Africa Day 14, four countries in a day and yet another COVID test

Africa Day 13, two boat safaris and a COVID test

Although boat safari sounds like an oxymoron, we discovered they exist and are a lovely way to see wildlife. Up and out at 6 for a short walk in the grounds, dodging the myriad warthog/lawn mowers, ticking off birds. Then breakfast, very nice buffet, and onto the boat for a 3 hour trip up the Chobe River, a medium sized river in a truly stunning unspoiled floodplain, grazed and graced by loads of animals (and birds). Double decker boat with just the 11 of us plus Jacques, Neil, Isaac the boatman, plenty of room and shelter from sun and rain.

The latter was needed for most of the trip as we had the first real rain we have experienced. Mostly quite heavy/torrential with one lightning strike within a few hundred metres, quite atmospheric! We saw hippos aplenty, including a very playful youngster, a herd of about 20 elephants including 2 very young calves, crocodiles and lots of birds considering the weather.

On return we queued for a very efficient PCR test, the first of two in two days, in the improbably named Room 101. Then lunch and short siesta before a repeat cruise, this time in lovely weather and light. This time we saw some rare semi aquatic antelope called pukuk, a massive crocodile blocking the view to the lovely rosy throated longclaw. It was a really beautiful time, good to be alive.

Returned at about 6, both cruises being about 3 hours, to negative tests for all, so we can go to Zambia tomorrow, braving up to 5 hour queues to do so! Checklist and dinner, good here too! Settled bill and here I am!

Africa Day 13, two boat safaris and a COVID test

Africa Day 12, new country, new birds

Had a very successful pre-breakfast birding session including the target Schalow’s turaco, a pretty amazing bright green bird with a very cheeky crest, red eyes and flamboyant red wing patches and trumpeter hornbill. Sorry, all my bird photos are both pretty ropey and on my camera’s SD card so you will have to Google!

We then drive, or Neil and Jacques did, to the Botswana border. The usual rigmarole with leaving Namibia for the last time 🥲 and entering Botswana, this time with proof of vaccination and dousing all footwear, worn and unworn, with disinfectant (FMD?), plus a barred owlet and massive baobabs. Officious but friendly police at the border almost fined Neil for faulty headlights and did fine Jacques for trailer lights not working. Then a couple more hours of driving, searching assiduously but unsuccessfully for the massive turkey-like ground hornbill.

Botswana seems more prosperous and organised than Namibia to us but of course the Namibian guides don’t agree. Anyway the Chobe Safari Lodge is probably the nicest place we’ve stayed, friendly, efficient, riverfront, nice rooms and good food. We went on a local “Safari” to the tip and sewage works, as us birders are won’t to do and saw loads of Maribou stork and Sacred Ibis plus others. Then a delightful hour or so in evening light watching an elephant family round a pool with some great birds.

Back to the lodge and an excellent meal, 2 or 3 courses and a bottle of wine, for the first time, as we are both feeling healthy again, yeah! Home past the “beware crocodile” notice, tripping over warthogs.

Africa Day 12, new country, new birds

Africa Day 11, travel to the Zambezi

Another day of predominantly travel eastwards to the Zambezi River and the Zambian border, started as often with a pre-breakfast birdwatch through the gardens and on the river then a total surprise of the usual elaborate German breakfast on the boat during a 90 mins cruise. Of course this meant interruptions from hippos, but what can you do? Was definitely a good experience, eating on the bottom deck, watching from the top, including a humorous exchange with some people on the next lodge, a more backpackers type camp, whose shower and loo faces onto the river with no screens…

We then got in the vans and after a slow start looking at a few birds and a rare variant mole snake, hit the road. Basically took from 10 till 6 with a 2 hour lunch break. The lunch was nothing to write home about but the position and lodge were, so I am. We bought a present for Mari and took a selfie with it under a massive baobab tree. Saw a few good birds, two of which were spotted by Sian who is really on the ball. She is also the youngest so maybe no coincidence! We also saw the very rare cervil cat, unfortunately flattened on the road 😒

Once again the lives of the people were the most interesting and thought provoking. Kids walking miles by the sides of the roads to and from school; families fetching water each carrying a container as big as they can again along roads for long distances; butchers which consisted of lumps of meat hanging under the shade of trees all day; cultivation of unirrigated millet in field completely by hand with hoes and mattocks and no sprays or fertilizers; people sitting in groups chatting in the shade in the palisade compounds; mud huts, thatches.

It’s all unbelievably different from our lives. Several of us are thinking, which is right? They are the sustainable ones, if we live like them the planet wouldn’t be dying. Some improvements would be great but do they inevitably lead “up” to what we have, killing the planet?

Apparently there have been many unsuccessful attempts to improve their lives but they haven’t succeeded or they aren’t interested. I only have the hearsay of our guides who while certainly not overtly racist live very much across the divide. I really don’t know but I’ve never been made to think about it so forcefully.

We arrived at the Zambezi River lodge, in Katima Mulilo, a border town at the end of the Caprivi Strip. Though a Marriott hotel, in an impressive position on the river, with warnings to watch for hippos and crocs when walking to your room, it’s seen better days and the food was idiosyncratic.

Africa Day 11, travel to the Zambezi

Africa Day 9 and 10 (2 to 8 are all in one post, sorry!)

Day 9

As predicted my day consisted of fitful sleep and the four walls of an admittedly very attractive thatched lodge. Not actively sick or diarrhea but knackered and not well. Peg went on two safari drives through the local park, and reportedly saw an elephant, many different antelope including the fastest on the planet, giraffe and a black stork using it’s wings to create shade to fish under, like an umbrella. Not things we see in our local park. I also dipped out of dinner which is apparently elaborately laid out and very good, in Germanic style, as the owners are German. The night was much better than yesterday though I was still not really well

Day 10 boat up the Okavango River

I decided that though it was risky to do a boat trip, with no loo and indeed no roof, I was feeling well enough to take the chance and was glad I did. We first had to contend with going into Botswana. Had to fill in forms to leave Namibia and forms to enter Botswana, show COVID negative tests etc. but it was handled relatively well and efficiently despite being a quiet border post on a sleepy, hot (35°) Sunday morning at 9am.

Botswana had a similar but different vibe, a bit more crowded with hedges and ploughed fields, thousands of donkeys, kids playing football despite the heat. We drove to Drotsky’s Lodge which was amazing. After 20 miles of increasingly rough dirt roads or roads with potholes (it’s not rabbit eyes you see reflecting back up the road in Botswana is a giraffe in a pothole!) to find a lovely wooden built massive lodge in green gardens, running down to the river was quite surreal.

It was run by a cultured matriarchal type, Eileen Drotsky, who normally lives in the Seychelles but her manager was marooned in South Africa after a holiday as he refused vaccination and Botswana insist on them. The Drotskys arrived in South Africa a hundred years ago from Russia

We embarked on an open canoe like boat, 3 abreast, driven by Otto who had local knowledge. The Okavango drains into the Okavango Delta, not the sea but we went went upstream for about 90 mins. We saw the very rare and elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl, which was the main target, and returned to a beautifully cooked lunch buffet. Then drove home, same border rigmarole (or Namibian Boarder, as the official large green road sign had it)

Africa Day 9 and 10 (2 to 8 are all in one post, sorry!)

Africa Day 2, mostly travelling

So, “soon” turned out not to be. We were on board an hour late, then a further hour waiting for luggage, Storm Eunice was affecting travel after all. The only real problem with this was that we had a connection leaving 2 hours 45 minutes after we landed, so it looked like we would miss it, and our first day. However, we were paying a fortune for other people to worry for us and settled into a good flight with BA, with some fitful sleep. Set off about 8.15pm and arrived 10.15am local time, about 12 hours.

NatureTrek had arranged local support of Mzi and we were rushed very fast through the COVID paperwork, passport control etc. and straight onto our flight with minutes to spare. Luggage would follow on the next flight tomorrow, apparently…. Simple fight of about 2 hours, to 1pm, directly back the way we had come, directly over Windhoek, several hours ago! Arrived on time, careful preparation with uploading COVID PCR tests to official sites etc. paid off and we were soon in the small airport. We were met by Neil and Jacques, our guides, filled in forms to reclaim our luggage and we were on our way.

11 people, all between about late 50s and mid 70s and so far seem an easy bunch to get on with. Two vehicles, built for safaris, with lots of opening windows and a pop-up roof, high up but also able to do the long distances on the trip. We split 7 and 4 but will circulate. We are initially with another couple and Jacques. We drove to a small petrol station, used the ATM to get Namibian dollars (about 20 to the £), and drove on, on pretty empty good roads.

Once we got off the main road, turning to Waterberg plateau, we were able to stop and look at stuff. The highlight to non-birders was a giraffe, I won’t bore everyone with birds. The road ended up as a well made dirt track as we rose up to the resort up beneath the Waterberg crags. They are pretty amazing at least 10 miles of unbroken, about 100m high red, hard sandstone edge, with woods below. At the moment everything is green in wet season, which has been very wet. Jacques recounted how locals love rain and have beach BBQ to celebrate rivers running wet into the ocean. We were warned about baboons being very keen to enter rooms and indeed saw many squabbling ones around the place. The resort has 50 or so lodges, nice but not really luxurious, and a restaurant complex with a pool. The ambience and architecture was hard to place until we realised it had been a German colonial police station! The food was good hearty stuff, lots of meat and some veg. Beer was cheap at only about £1.50 a bottle, food was all included. Everyone was knackered do headed to bed quickly. I discovered the adaptor I had brought didn’t fit (too small, maybe Indian?), several others made the same mistake. No immediate problem. Unlike many we had planned well and had a change of clothes and enough other stuff to last a while. Bed!

Africa Day 3, to Etosha

Up for the usual pre-breakfast walk, after lending binoculars to Richard. Up a fairly rough track, with boulders, which had many struggling. Great views of the crags in the dawn light, two endemic species spotted, not too hot at this time. Walked down to breakfast past fighting baboons, and mongoose. Breakfast was a choice of three sorts of eggs, with bacon and beef sausage automatically! Plus a few more continental places. Apparently these first two lodges are government run and not as fancy as those following but they are fine with us. Back to the vans and off for two long drives North. The first was entirely on a major road, so no stopping except a couple of roadblocks where we pretended to wear masks. In general COVID isn’t being made a big thing of, though masks are being worn here and there.

Had lunch in a bakery at Ojuta? Which was good. Very large portions, Peg had a very meaty Caesar’s salad and I had a spinach and feta tremazzini very heavy on cheese.

Another long drive and entered the Etosha National Park, a very famous one. Stopped at the first lodge/campsite briefly. Dry but green, a few South African caravans and campers but basically empty. COVID plus low season. Saw and amazing sociable weaver bird nest. They start small then build and build year by year and only abandon when they collapse, at about 5-10 metres! Many birds in each. Drove on getting progressively more and more amazed. Massive plains, varying vegetation at the moment predominantly green at the end of the best wet season for ages. Not actually so good for Safari because animals and birds have abundant water and food and don’t congregate at the known spots. We saw three black rhino on the way in, unusually many, two very well, pretty spectacular plus many birds.

Arrived at the lodge about 7pm. Our luggage arrived intact a bit later, someone having picked them up from Windhoek on the next days flight and driven all the way. He bribed the rangers to allow him to drive out again in the dark as he had a job the next day!

We had another hearty meal, lamb chops and veggies and slept well in good lodges with air conditioning! The weather is hot and fairly humid but no worse than some British summer weather.

Africa Day 4, exploring the park.

Up for checklist ticking at 6.30, then walked around the lodge site, seeing 2 endemics and an owl. Breakfast at 7 as yesterday but added continental options. Then a safari drive which included a magnificent male lion plus a lot of birds, back and a short drive up the campsite waterhole. Peg and I elected to walk back on our own. It’s utterly peaceful, miles and miles from any roads, planes, agriculture anything. Quite moving to be in such large expanses of untouched land. Lunch was pork schnitzel, then a siesta till 4pm. Another Safari drive, this time the highlight was a very large white rhino and a really cute scrub hare with massive red ears. Back for checklist, dinner, a short trip to the waterhole where we saw a barn owl and nightjar in the floodlit area.

Day 5, moving on to luxury

An early start, leaving at 7am to get to the next lodge before lunch. The previous accommodation, whilst perfectly fine, was relatively basic and we were promised luxury in the next.

We took a fairly roundabout way and had a great morning for sights. These included cheetahs, jackals chasing a honey badger to relieve it of its prey, hyaenas, giraffes and many assorted antelope, zebras and wildebeest in very photogenic herds grazing the currently verdant grasses. Of course many birds were also seen and duly noted!

Highlight of the environment was a visit to the vast salt pan of Etosha. It spreads as far as the eye can see and is dead flat. You kind of feel the sea should come in but in fact you are at nearly 1200m here, and only 18deg below the equator. Orion was on its side last night and Sirius almost at the zenith! We actually went there just to see the chestnut banded plover, an endemic, of course.

The hotel is fantastic, probably the best we’ve been too. Very luxurious rooms in lodges around a really well kept large garden, teeming with wild life, swimming pool, bar and restaurant. Really paradisiacal.

We had lunch, we chose good salads, then a siesta till 4pm. Another game drive, we swap cars every so often. You aren’t allowed to get out of vehicles anywhere in the park but you get used to viewing from the mobile hide. No further mammals, some good birds and lovely lighting from the setting sun. Lovely

Back for lists and dinner which was buffet, chose elan steak, then later chicken with salad and great desserts, including something closely approximating school sponge pudding but better. Then bed.

Africa Day 6, game safaris

Woke up to Peg, unfortunately, feeling/being sick, though no other symptoms. I went to breakfast and we decided I’d go on the safari alone and leave her to relax. It’s a hotel with lots of staff and help on hand. Jacques took pictures of all passports to organise PCR tests for later. We are going into Botswana, which no longer requires tests but returning to Namibia which does!

The 4 hour trip turned out to be one of the best for mammals, which luckily Peg is less bothered about but the majority of others had it as a major aim. We went past one distant lioness to another much closer with two grown cubs. Just as we were photographing her a cheetah with 3 cubs walked past. The lioness walked purposefully after them… Then just as we thought all was clear, two hyaenas appeared and successfully caught one cub. While devouring it, jackals also appeared. All very “nature red in tooth and claw”! We later got a very close up look at a male black rhino, seemed to be deciding whether to charge at one point! Some great birds also seen. Got back to Peg at lunch who was feeling somewhat better, not actively sick but doubtful for the rest of the day.

I had a stroll around the really extensive gardens in the just past midday sun, feeling like an Englishman. The weather is hot here but actually perfectly bearable as long as you take it easy. Peg definitely not up to a drive, so I went and had a back seat to myself, with Ian and Sian and Christine and Anne. We saw very impressive kudu immediately very stripey then zebras and giraffes together, stripey and spotty! A large number of birds not yet seen and then a single adult male elephant pretty close. Later, after another fruitless search for leopards we came across a large and fairly awe-inspiring male lion.

Back to the lodge, Peg still not great. Somewhat better but still feeling sick and only taking small amounts of water. Not a lot I can do except fill in the checklist for her and go to dinner. This time a different place and more BBQ style. Still a great selection of good meat, salads, stews from which I selected mostly kudu and a sort of cowboy damper.

Back to the lodge, washed shirts and underwear and wrote this!

Africa Day 7, mostly travelling… Less birds, more ethnography.

Peg was feeling somewhat better after a good night’s sleep and not being sick! So we both got up for the 6am walk around the grounds. This started with a view of 4 Angolan epauletted fruit bats in the dark. The grounds are amazing and basically are part of the park since the barrier fence isn’t maintained. We packed bags and were off by just gone 8am for the 400km drive north east to the Angolan border and Cubango River. Predictably Neil, our guide and great bloke, screamed to a halt at regular intervals to point out or search for, often fruitlessly, birds. We did do long stints on the well made and maintained but always only 2 lane roads with very, very light traffic. We went through Grootfontein, whose caves feature in One Strange Rock and Tsumeb, an industrial mining town.

We had lunch at Roy’s camp, a campsite, lodge and restaurant with a lovely quirky, post apocalyptic, backpacker vibe. Their electricity was out but they did us a great Oryx steak and chips, followed by the inevitable, yes you guessed, birdwatch

The final drive took us over the “redline”. This has been variously advertised by the guides as separating 1st world Africa from 3rd world Africa, civilized from uncivilised, a formal line over which you may not bring meat or animals (for fear of foot and mouth disease and a ban on exports), and, I suspect the white dominated from the black. The change is fucking startling. Before this the towns looked pretty much Australian/Mediterranean with clear investment, housing in the main good quality. Suddenly, no cars, houses were thatched round mud huts or corrugated iron shacks. People walked beside the road in groups or alone, loads on heads at times. Cattle herded on the verge, markets every few miles with lots of people standing and sitting. Schools as you see them on the tele etc. Seemed to be a lot of sitting around in the shade. The startling contrast between our privilege and their lives gives pause for thought…

Arrived at the lodge 4.30pm, not quite as luxurious as the last but in a fantastic setting on the river, with all rooms overlooking the river. After an hour’s rest we gathered for tick list then a drive to a river bank location. Incredibly atmospheric as birds came in to roost over the reed beds, thunder clouds and sunset. Back home in the dark picking out a nightjar with a spotlight. Burger, beer and bed.

Africa Day 2, mostly travelling