So, for the media launch of Jenny Morris’s book that I’ve been writing about, and will still blog lots about, we were fortunate enough to head out to the Zambezi River in Zambia, staying at the magnificent Royal Chundu Lodge, about 50km west of Livingstone. And that was an unusually long sentence. Even more impressive was that my wife was also with me on this trip, and what followed was a fantastic couple of days in a gem of a spot, and fun in the sun with all the other guests there.
I came to the conclusion in the week running up to our departure that it’s probably preferable to get yellow fever than have the after effects of a yellow fever shot. I’m very glad to know that I won’t have to have it again. 3 days of flu like symptoms was my experience. It seems like some others had the same fate, whereas some had no ill-effects at all.
Jenny and Alan Ford, TV producer, at the Cape Town International Airport. We’re ready to roll. Below is part of the Cape contingent. We picked up some more in Johannesburg. Others like John Maytham are seriously seasoned at checking in and did so on their iPads and was by this time sipping espresso’s at Vida e Caffe, departure lounge-side.
Left to right: my wife Nellie, Siba from Drum Magazine, Carmen from Huisgenoot, Juan-Pierre, writer, Ceri, Jenny’s publisher, Marga, Jenny’s assistant and sous chef and Clay Morar, writer, TV presenter and radio personality.
We were meant to fly Air Zambezi, but the airline got grounded the week we were to leave! Royal Chundu Lodge, get this, out of their own pocket, booked us all onto 1time and made sure we arrived! They were unwilling to let us miss out on this experience. Thank you!
We stayed over in Johannesburg at a hotel of which I can’t recall the name, but it was a typical and efficient business hotel. Fabulous breakfast, though.
From Johannesburg to Livingstone, the next morning, we pretty much owned the plane. Jenny went around dishing out eats, and also supplied each one of us with a goodie back on arrival at the airport, including the magnificent book.
I-pods, eating, catching up and also a few winks, were pretty much the way of the 1 hour flight.
First impression of Zambia? (I make a habit of taking note of the smell and atmosphere in a new place as I get off the plane). Hot. Humid. In Libya my first smell was seaweed. Here it was jet-fuel.
As is the case normally, my wife got to know some of the locals immediately, getting to know their family history, fears, dreams and medical history in the time it takes for me to wipe my nose and pick up my bags. Carmen and Ceri was taking some heat already. Note to self at this point: Zambians are friendly. Zambia is hot.
Transferring to a shuttle for the bumpiest ride ever.
Arrival at Royal Chundu does not occur without a stretch of dirt road that can give any road on the Dakar Rally a run for its money, in terms of difficulty level at least. However, arriving at the lodge makes it all worth it. Nestled on the banks of the mighty Zambezi river is a gem we were all about to discover. We were greeted with a lunch, orientation and a brief massage while seated at the table. Needless to say the massage made everyone very very keen to stay here.
Here we also got assigned our rooms, made our final introductions, tried getting back to Tweeting, making notes, stretching our legs and generally just relaxing after the travel. To some the thought of possibly not getting on Facebook or Twitter was disastrous, while to some, like me, I was looking forward to some social – and general – media down-time. Ironic that I was to spend time with people working in media the whole week!
Bianca (who would end up being the only one to catch a tiger fish the whole week!) and Liezel having their pics taken with Jenny. As the week drew on, I needed to take loads of these to supply to social pages and the like.
To see what Clayton was Tweeting, better check out @claymorar. He is part of the local Twitterati, if ever there was such a thing.
After lunch, we were all dispatched to our different cabins. Jenny and her husband David, and Nellie and I, were to stay on Katombora Island, or the Island Lodge about 15 minutes up-river, while the others stayed at the River Lodge. This caters more for couples and honeymooners, and sports slightly bigger cabins.
To get to the Island Lodge we were transported using a flat-deck catamaran cruising at a leisurely pace, while with every trip the possibility of seeing hippo’s or crocodiles were imminent, and seeing many kinds of bird-life.
Arrival at The Island is the same every time. A huge smile from a impeccably dressed porter, your luggage being taken away on your behalf, and a steep climb to a piece of heaven.
In the next instalment I’ll start showing you the amazing facilities, the gin and tonic sunset cruise, dinners and the like. Also I am editing a video of our stay, so watch this space closely.
I’ll also be talking a bit more about the other guests, anecdotes and the food, the people and my thoughts on travel and the like.