The police are friendly and the children all wave. A woman holds the highest office, President. Billboards proudly proclaim vast areas “Open Defecation Free” and others demand the end to child trafficking. It seems like a country that is doing the right things.
Then the rains that had driven us out of Tanzania caught up to us. Eventually Zambia, South Luangwa in particular, lured us away from Malawi’s pristine beaches and good, cheap gin. But not before our chance meeting with some very cool overlanders, Kirsty and Gareth. I adore them.
Kirsty and Gareth are a year into an expedition from Australia to London in a 1989 Toyota Landcruiser. Not as old as our Landy but charming nonetheless and in much better shape. Kirsty and I discovered we shared the same birthday, happening the very next day. We hugged. We cried. We were home sick. If you are planning an Africa overland trip, their blog is the best of the bunch. Here's Kirsty's post about Malawi and when we met. http://aussieoverlanders.com.au/zambia-malawi/
We listen to their rhythmic chomp chomp chomp throughout the night. In the morning I sit on the bank of the Luangwa River, one of my favorite spots on earth, and watch as sunrise turns the colors of the opposite bank from glowing orange to the color of weak hot chocolate. I am in Heaven.
I want them to see a leopard in the classic pose, draped over a tree limb with full belly and be lucky enough to see one of the few remaining rhino in the wild. I want them to experience the cold hard stare of a Cape Buffalo.
Then I want them to go on a walk in the bush so they can come to know the Little Five – the ant lion, leopard tortoise, elephant shrew, rhinoceros beetle, and buffalo weaver bird. I want them to learn about all the bushes and trees and bark that provide traditional healing.
If they are really lucky, they’ll see a painted dog or spot a chameleon clinging to a leaf.
Hippos will come to us when we sit around the campfire at night. Chomp chomp chomp, closer and closer until the night watchman shines his torch in their eyes encouraging them to dine further down the bank.
-"What's that smell?"