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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Safari

Last Thursday we set out from Lilongwe with Kiboko Safari Company and headed to Zambia for a 3 night 4 day safari.  Thursday was a day of travel and getting familiar with the camp.  Our campsite was right on the Luangwa River.  We could see hippos and plenty of beautiful birds right out our front door.  Monkeys and Baboons ran freely through the camp as well.  Our accommodations were tents with cots.  Each tent slept two people, but Jake and Jen were each willing to bunk with one of the kids. 



Thank you Auntie Jen for sharing your tent with Jessie.

Thursday night, just after going to bed a huge bull elephant wandered right into our camp.  It choose to snack on the tree right behind Jen and Jessie's tent.  Even with all the noise Jessie slept right through the visit.  Jen on the other hand was a bit worried the elephant was going to sit on the tent as he kept backing up.  He was literally close enough for Jen to reach out and touch if she wanted to.  The elephants stopped in every night.  Wow!  And who knew how loud hippos were.  Every night they would "bark" and "howl"  all night long. (Camping at Cran Hill has nothing on this experience, sorry guys :)  hope you're having fun though)

Friday morning's wake up call came at 5 am.  Breakfast at 5:30 as the sun rose.  Our first game drive started at 6 am.  Right away, before we even make it to the park we were greeted with giraffes.  We saw so many beautiful animals.  Impalas, Kudo, Kuku, Bushbuck, Zebra, Crocodiles, a Leopard, Vultures on a giraffe kill, and a pair of Lions.  Our first game drive was a total success!







 
 
We had the afternoon to relax and gear up for our first evening game drive.  After tea and coffee at 3:30 we loaded up in the Land Rover and got ready to see more.  We enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the river.  While we stopped for a snack we watched a group of fishermen get ready for a night of fishing.  Gondwe, our guide, told us that the river is teeming with crocodiles and that if you fell in and lasted 10 minutes that would be quite something.  So Steve and I decided kayaking was probably out of the question.  We were really hoping that we would see more lions and spot our first hyena once the sun set, but our night drive was less fruitful than our morning.


Saturday morning was another early start.  More amazing and wonderful animals, but no lions.  We were hot on the trail of another leopard, but never got an eye on him.  The kids all enjoyed taking turns riding shotgun.
 
Our last game drive was probably the best.  We were able to see a huge Baobab tree.  These are my most favorite trees in the world, simply amazing.  If you look really closely you'll see Steve standing in the lower left hand corner.  We also saw two 3 leopards, hundreds of Cape Buffalo, and a couple of Hyenas. 

Seeing all of these animals so closely was beyond amazing.  Truly God is a creative, loving and awesome God!
 
But for me, the best part of the entire safari was the people.  We set our from Lilongwe with 7 other tourists.  Carolyn is from Maryland, and artist by trade and a fellow Christian.  Ella and Thomas were from Norway, and very kind.  The MacFarland family is from New Zeeland.  Mr. and Mrs. MacFarland are grandparents.  They have 2 adopted twin daughters who are married with children and living in the states.  The MacFarlands lived in Malawi for several years, and while they were here they adopted Moses and Miriam, now 6 years old, from the Crisis Nursery. 
 
The staff of Kiboko were also very special people.  They treated us like family, answered all of our questions and looked after the kids.  Geertje, a 27 year old art therapist from the Netherlands, is working at Kiboko as the camp manager.  She took the job in June, and is the only European working in the camp.  I really enjoyed talking with her. Her life has been difficult, but her attitude is positive.  She is  thoughtful and caring.  Friday afternoon she took the time to paint the kids faces.  Saturday afternoon Geertje and Carolyn were painting and drawing wildlife, but both women welcomed our watchful eyes.  They both shared their "real" supplies with the kids without hesitation.
 
Throughout our entire stay here in Malawi, meeting the people, sharing life stories; This has been my most favorite experience of all. 

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