After my micro-light flight of yesterday, I packed a small backpack and crossed the Luangwa River in a large canoe to begin my trek on foot to my next destination. Batwell, the game scout accompanied me to make sure that I didn’t get flattened by any animals and they remained safe from any stupidity on my part. Impressively equipped with some very sturdy boots and a rifle, his calm demeanour and eagle eyes gave me confidence that he would live up to the task. My guide, Isaac, is a 35 year veteran of the Luangwa Valley and his vintage makes him one of the most experienced here. Our little crocodile-formation was brought up by Justin the tea-bearer (they really are called that!) who was really the most important member of the group. We set off a little later than usual and so walked through a fairly warm part of the day. Nevertheless, I was surprised and pleased by the amount we saw. Teak and mahogany lined riverbeds gave onto open vleis and thicker bush, the constantly changing habitats always providing something interesting to ponder on. The bush is quiet but never silent and bird calls, the sharp alarm of puku and honk of hippopotamus was audible all around. We picked our way along routes established by elephant and other animals...literally walking in their footsteps. Walking is just such a pleasure and sights that may be banal from a vehicle take on a new substance when you’re on your own two pegs. Just off the boat, we came across an enormous monitor lizard with fresh injuries caused by a leopard. Later on we startled a small herd of zebra which abruptly fled in panic and suddenly our eyes, ears and noses were filled with pounding hooves, dust and a confusion of stripes as they galloped within a few metres of us. An aroused male puku almost ran us over, so intent was he on the shapely backside of the female he was pursuing, shying wide at the last minute. We had the pleasure of walking quietly onto a young bull elephant drinking in the shade, thrillingly unaware of our presence. Kingfishers, saddle-billed storks, wood-hoopoes, a martial eagle and spoonbills were amongst a true cocktail of birds. With a stop-off for a welcome cup of tea, our walk to the Chikoko Bushcamp took around four hours. The walking is easy and the pace gentle so you don’t have to be a marathon-runner to enjoy it, just reasonably fit with comfortable shoes and a passion for the outdoors. It is a completely different experience from driving, as I am reminded every time I go bipedal, and the best calories ever spent! Click here for a little video tour of my room at the Chikoko Bushcamp.
Posted by: Amanda Mitchell