Today was one of those tedious travel days you can’t avoid – but it got better. Cape Town to Joburg to Lusaka in Zambia, each flight two hours; then another half-hour in a little 4-seater with pilot Rajith to deliver us via a bush airstrip to our home for the next three days, Royal Zambezi Lodge.
The stay began well with a family of elephants right on the road as we drove to the lodge in the open-topped LandCruiser with Chris, local man and our guide for the stay. Natalie welcomed us in the open lounge right beside the Zambezi River, the grassy shore dotted with elephants grazing and drinking, and the soundtrack provided by grunting, guffawing hippos in the water. Magic!
There are so many animals around this unfenced property that at night we have to be escorted to and from our suite, just in case. Besides elephants, they saw a leopard come through last night, and there are baboons and hippos. Exciting. And our suite was pretty gorgeous, too: a Presidential one, Frontier, right at the end of the complex, with canvas walls and a thatched roof, mozzie net-draped bed, big copper bath, outside solar-heated shower, private pool, and a day-bed outside for lying in comfort as you watch the elephants, too close to need binoculars.
Back in the public area, we sat at the bar over the water and under a huge sausage tree, lights twinkling across on the Zimbabwe shore, hippos honking, fireflies dancing over head, and ate the best potato crisps ever, home-made and ridiculously moreish considering the delicious 3-course dinner to come. We were served that on the deck beside an open fire, lanterns along the railing, a frog chorus coming out of the darkness, stars above, the air warm. And then there was music – five men energetically singing and dancing along to a drum, quintessentially African and the perfect end to the day.