It was so hot that we opened both front windows for the car journey back to Kapani, regardless of the effect the wind would have on our hairdos. When we arrived, we looked at each other and smiled. At times we both thought that the wedding would never take place. But the marriage certificate was safe in a brown envelope on the back seat.
We showered and changed into comfortable clothing suitable for the bush. Andy at Mfuwe Lodge had very generously offered to let us stay there for the first night of our marriage. We had tea, then changed back into our wedding suits for a photoshoot. Ian S took the pictures, by the lagoon and around the lodge, when the light improved. We changed back into bush gear and drove down to the Luangwa River bank for “golden hour” photographs, followed by dinner at the lodge.
The next morning, Anne went on an early morning safari drive, followed by breakfast in the bush. Afterwards, she had a relaxing massage and pedicure at the Bush Spa, overlooking the lagoon. Meanwhile, I went off to work at health centre and doing a community children’s clinic. I collected Anne in the early afternoon and we drove back to the doctor’s house. Later that afternoon, we held a reception in the bush, at Kalawani Salt Pan, for drinks at sundown, observing social distancing, of course.
The following morning, we met Fil at the Park gate at 6am and did some serious birding for three and a half hours in her open Land Rover. We were very lucky to see a pair of crowned eagles at Elephant Loop. We had Fil’s muffins for breakfast at Norman Carr’s memorial in the ebony grove by the river. He set up the first national parks in Zambia (Kafue and South Luangwa in 1960) and built a camp on the east bank of the Luangwa River for tourists at Kapani. This is where I have lived for the past three trips volunteering here. Glenn, the present manager of Time and Tide, offered us a night at Chinzombo, another luxury resort just a few kilometres down the river from Kapani.
Many thanks to Andy and Glenn for their generosity, we really appreciated it.
The term “glamping” – glamorous camping – is a perfect description of Chinzombo. There are just half a dozen chalets, each with their own swimming pool, overlooking the river. One massive tent contains a double bed, armchairs, writing desk and voluminous mosquito netting, the other contains a stand-alone bath, shower, toilet, handbasins and storage area for clothing, with leather straps and pouches in the style of a safari tent a century ago. The walls of the dining area and bar are decorated with fascinating photographs of Norman Carr’s life at Kapani.
After crossing the river in a boat, we had an evening game drive with Arron guiding. He showed us three leopards and a pride of lions. We could have followed the lions as they set off to hunt, but we felt it was better to leave them alone to kill their supper, as ours was waiting back at Chinzombo. We ate on our private deck, beside the pool, with hippos grunting and hyenas wailing in the bush around us. It was a magical, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The following day, I took Anne to visit the Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust, half an hour’s drive away. En route, we stopped off to see a grey crowned crane colony surrounded by mopani forest. Anna and Steve welcomed us but we almost didn’t get to see the education centre as a herd of elephants were already visiting. We looked round the impressive centre when the elephants moved off before taking gin and tonics to the river bank for sundowners, accompanied by baby vervet monkey and two small baboons. Anna and Steve rescue animals and return them to the wild.
My replacement, Dr Zoe, arrived at the end of the week, ending our honeymoon. Four days later, we drove to Lusaka for the flight back to England (and fourteen days of quarantine).