25 July 2012

Day 7, afternoon and evening at the Royal Zambezi.

Let me tell you about the Royal Zambezi. We are greeted like we are long-lost friends who have just come home. It's isolated and intimate, and right on the Zambezi River. There are only 14 suites at the Royal Zambezi and there are not many other lodges nearby, since the location is a difficult drive or expensive charter flight from Lusaka. During our stay, we never saw the crowds of tourists that we saw in Chobe or at Victoria Falls.

There are a lot of people employed at the lodge, from the extraordinary chef to the manager to the boat and safari drivers to the waiters and room helpers to the grounds staff. We are assigned a "guard" who will escort us from the lodge to our room each evening. This is because elephants and hippos and other animals freely roam the lodge grounds. They weren't kidding! The last evening we were there, an elephant was right outside our tent and surprised several members of our group on the pathway to the tents.

Our "tent" is actually a permanent structure, with concrete floors and half-walls. It has a bathroom and shower in it. The sides are screens with shades to roll down for privacy.

our tent

From the inside, it's kind of like being outside. John and I both love the outdoors, so this suited us to a tee.

looking out of our tent

That first afternoon, we sat in our tent and looked out at a couple elephants on the sandbar.

view from out tent

Our tent is only a short walk from the lodge. The lodge is open to the view, and full of comfy chairs and animal books. Tables on the deck are set with white tablecloths right on the deck in the open air for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each day, we arrange our meal times around our activities.

the lodge

We arrived at the Royal Zambezi in the early afternoon and were served lunch. After we explored our new lodge, we went out on a boat for a "sundowner". This means, we boated around and looked at animals, then pulled over to the bank. We sat on the shore and were served gin and tonics and mini-pizzas. (Can we go back yet?)

I'll share some photos from that first afternoon. First, the elephants on the sandbar outside the lodge.

elephants on sandbar

A crocodile going down to the river.


From the boat, we looked back at our tents. The two elephants are still wandering along the sandbar.

elephants by lodge

Malachite kingfisher:

malachite kingfisher

We watched an elephant for awhile. In the first photo, he is with a white egret in flight.


The elephant came right towards our boat:


Then he came into the water:






He's playing with the water:


Note the hills behind the river. Our previous lodges were on plains.


Simeon (our local guide) brought our boat back to the Royal Zambezi. We walked up from the dock and were greeted with glasses of sherry. Lovely! An hour or so later, we gathered with Tonia and our group for a leisurely, three course gourmet dinner, and drank wine and talked and laughed into the night. Finally we take an escorted walk to our tent.

And soon, the low bellows of hippos lull us to sleep.

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