2018 Trip blog
What an amazing journey this is! Since we have been at the University of Zimbabwe we have travelled +- 1000 km. The night we spent next to the Zambezi was a real treat. We then crossed the border at Chirundu into Zambia. Our first night in Zambia we stayed at Pioneer Camp outside of Lusaka. It was teeming with birds and we started to get a sense of the humidity we can expect up north. This was followed by an extremely long journey all the way to South Luangwa. Here we have visited two charities. The first being Chipembele Wildlife Educational Trust and the second, Conservation South Luangwa. It was amazing to see the great work Chipmbele do, with regards to not only rehabilitation of animals, but also aiding to raise a generation with a heart for wildlife. Conservation South Luangwa was also amazing to see, as it gave insight into how much the people truly care about the wildlife and how human-wildlife interaction can be well managed in order to live in harmony. These are days filled with learning. We are soaking in all the information to see how each and every one of us can help to make the world a safer place for both wildlife and humans.
On day 9 we moved from the splendour of Zambia into Malawi. As we moved through the mountians in Zambia we were met by village after village. The colourful skirts worn by the women in the village seemed to be chosed by each one of them in particular, as the different patterns and bright colours matched the friendly faces. The hospitality at the university definitely confirmed this. We slept in the university residence and where truly blessed with wonderful meals. It was quiet seeing as most of the students have already gone home, but Prof. Melaku was extremely grateful for the books and could not wait to see each and every one of them. We then continued to WAG in the Thuma Forest Reserve. We moved into the mountians slipping and sliding, due the the roads being wet. Meeting the WAG team and seeing the forest was definitely a highlight. As we arrived we hiked into the rolling hills with the scouts that protect the elephants, forest and all the amazing wildlife that call Thuma home. The night we spent with the WAG team and was amazed by the endlest stories of restoring this forest to it's previous splendor. We slept in traditional huts and were met by the rain in the morning, as we left for lake Malawi. Arriving at the lake the vast expance of water was truly enjoyed as the whole team took a moment to soak in every bit of its beauty before we enter Tanzania.
To say it has been an interesting few days would definitely be an understatement. After we had an amazing time at Lake Malawi, we headed towards Tanzania with great hope and excitement. We where planning to go to the Mushroom farm, enjoy the Utengule Coffee farm and go to Consolata Secondary School to deliver the much needed supplies. However, one of our vehicles had another plan. Just before the Malawi/Tanzania border we started to realize there was a problem. From that time till yesterday we where helped by multiple mechanics, obtained help and advice from South Africa, waited long hours, split up to make traveling easier, slept in a place we do not know the name of, ate at a dreamy Italian resturant and drove roads that made our hearts skip a beat.
Through all of this we met people who are extremely kind and who's prayers carried us through, spent a good time at the Coffee farm, dodged Tuk-tuks and were reunited tired, but with smiles on our faces. Sadly we where not able to reach Consolata Secondary School. However, a drop off location was arranged to make sure they obtain the much needed supplies. We do hope to one day meet Stephen, who is very dedicated to the school. At this very moment, we are keeping our spirits high as we are trying to make up time. We travel with a perfect car and loads of support to back us as we head towards Kenya.
Kenya, what a magnificent country! As we entered it, we could see the change of not only the country side, but also the people. People of the Masai tribes could be seen all along the road; walking between the villages and looking after their livestock. It seemed like we where transported to a different world. We saw different wildlife next to the main roads and could see how man and animal lives side by side. However, as we entered Nairobi we where quickly reminded of modern life. There where modern buildings and malls, with Africa still rooted within every aspect of it. We where blessed to spend one night in Nairobi with fellow South Africans. The hospitality was a true blessing and we enjoyed sharing stories of our trip and to hear all the amazing experiences they have had in Kenya. The next day we drove all the way to a tea farm in western Kenya. As the sun was setting on the last day of 2018 the green tea plantations turned to gold and we where ready to welcome a new year.
Uganda our last country! After a great New years Eve on the tea farm in Kenya we set off to enter Uganda. Our home for the next 4 nights would be Explorers River Camp in Jinja, next to the Nile river. We set up camp and were amazed by the Nile river and all its splendor. Jinja is not called the East African adventure capital for nothing. During our stay we heard language from all countries and met different people, who are all soaking in the splendor of Africa. We met locals who took us on a boat trip on the Nile, explaining every aspect of how it has changed over the past couple of years with regards to modern inventions. We also celebrated the half way mark of our trip next to the Nile.
On the final day in Jinja we journeyed to Kampala, the capital. We visited the Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-security. Here they explained to us how they have grown and showed us the research they are doing, including the much needed labratories they have invested in. They where very grateful for the all the books and equipment and we could see how the sponsorship will help them in the future. We where also able to meet with the Gorilla Doctors at the University.
We where all blown away to see what amazing work that is being done to protect the gorillas, including how much research and hard work has gone into saving a species. With the dediction and will of the individuals at Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-Security and Gorilla Doctora we cannot wait to see what the future holds. As we completed trip in Uganda, it was time to cross the border back into Kenya heading towards Nairobi again. But for today we are next to Mt. Kenya and enjoying every aspect of nature for as long as we can.
As we spent two days next to Mt. Kenya, we had the opportunity to join the Lewa Conservancy team for a day. We where welcomed with open arms and, upon our arrival, informed that a Veterinarian was on his way to treat an injured rhino cow. We went off into the conservancy with the team and were amazed at how efficiently they all work together to protect these amazing animals. We could see that after years of conservation, each and every one took hands with their colleges, including the community to make sure these wonderful animals will be there for generations to come. As the KWS veterinarian said : "I would like my grandchildren to see rhinos." The education, knowledge, research, conservation, efficency and kindness we have seen at Lewa has blown us away!
We enjoyed the last night at Naro Moru River Lodge and headed off for Nairobi. Staying at the Bosch family again was a true blessing. We shared some more stories and prepared ourselves for the university visit. Off to Nairobi University, Veterinary Campus! As the students and staff came together we could see how excited everyone was and how happy they where to have us there. We handed them the equipment and books then set off on a campus tour. The students where extremely happy to tell us all about their camus and country, while asking questions about South Africa. With each question we could see how much they want to learn. They set an example for us all.
The Vet Books for Africa team enjoyed a great time in Nairobi. We where also fortunate to see the amazing Girraffe Centre, where they focus on increasing the dwindling numbers of Rothschild Giraffes. We bid Nairobi farewell and move on to Amboseli to find the very elusive Kilimanjaro and Tim, one of the biggest known tusker in the world.
Amboseli ! As we arrived at Kimana Campsite, Kilimanjaro was hidden behind a blanket of clouds. We immediately started making plans to find Tim. The next morning we woke up early awaiting the arrival of William and Ben, two Masai men that we met the previous night who where on the lookout for Tim. William arrived with news that Tim has been found! With our camera ready and excitement building, we set off to see him. As we spotted every elephant expecting it to be Tim, nothing prepared us for what we saw. He was absolutely magnificent! We followed Tim as he moved through the bush, grazing and taking a sand bath. He was calm and relaxed, his tusks graceously following gravity and curving just before they reach the ground. The Masai are very proud of the wildlife in the area and the make sure to protect it. We followed Ben to the local village were we where met with rain on arrival. As moved to one of the huts the lyrics we have been listening to during our trip was ringing in our ears; "bless the rain down in Africa". The rain stopped and the tribe welcomed us with song and dance. We had the honour of meeting the chief, his people and warriors. They showed us their way of life and explained their history. We spent our last night driving around looking at different animals, including Bat-eared foxes. We ended off staring at the night sky, the stars shining brighter than ever. The next morning we where woken with the news that Kili could be seen. We all dived out of our tents to be met by Kilimanjaro the highest mountian in Africa. It was a beautiful sight and we stared in awe the whole way as we drove to Tanzania.
The University of Tanzania, Faculty of Veterinary Science, was in full swing when we arrived. We explored the campus under the beautiful mountain range that encapsulated us in a world of splendor. First we had the opportunity to meet some of the students, followed by some of the staff members. The students were very eager to speak to us and we had wonderful discussions about animal health, Veterinary Research and our travels. After meeting them for the presentation we went on to meet the lecturers and to officially hand over the books and equipment. Everyone was very excited as they went through the boxes and explained to us how the equipment and books will be put to good use. The staff showed us all their latest developments and labs, explaining the latest research as we went. The work they are doing truly inspired us; they are dedicated and constantly looking towards improving animal health.
After our visit we drove to Crocodile camp site where we spent the night. It was a beautiful setting, next to a river flowing though the mountains. The next day we drove to the Utengule Coffee farm to spend one night there. We enjoyed the familiar surroundings and a cup of coffee, before setting off to the hot springs the following day. Driving to the springs we entered an enchanted forest seeing different small farms with old European type buildings, wildlife and livestock. It was lush and the river flowing past the camp site was moving at a tremendous speed. No one could wait to get into the hot springs. As we moved down to the springs away from the campsite, everything calmed down to a serine storybook-like setting between the giant trees. The water was clear with white sand at the bottom. Steam rose from the water surface to disappear between the leaves above. Our feet sank into the sand, bubbles rising up as the water was overflowing from the ground below. With warm hearts, we recalled all the wondeful, blessed moments we have enjoyed and all the amazing people we have met along our way.
Mixed emotions were felt on the morning of our last university visit. As we drove along the lawns past the buildings to the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Zambia, the excitement started to build. Our last visit was truly a wondeful ending. The students received us with open arms; excited to show us their wonderful faculty. There was a true sense of teamwork between the lecturers and students. They greeted and spoke to each other with an open mind and heart. It was a wonderful sight. The students could not wait so see the books and tell us about how they use their different teaching tools to further their own knowledge. We have to admit they are indivuduals that can make a plan. While we all waited for lunch together a quick game of Veterinary Cherades was organized and laughter echoed through the halls. Our visit also included everyone singing Happy birthday to Janco, we all joined in to celebrate his birthday in Zambian style.
We ended off our last visit on a high note and spend the night at Eureka camp site, surrounded by Girraffes, Zebras and a couple of house cats who decided to make new friends. The following morning we headed off to Livingstone, where we stayed at Livingstone Backpackers for two nights. We had an opportunity to have a day off and explore this wonderful town on the edge of the Zambezi River. On our day off our members experienced different aspects of the area. Some spent the day on the river, white river rafting. They took in the beauty first hand and could get a glimpse of how magnificently powerful the Victoria Falls are. Others explored the town, Vic falls from the Zambian side and the Livingstone Museum. The Museum showed different aspects of nature, animals and the people who call Zambia home. It was amazing to see all the different aspects and also to see the different aspects of Dr. Livingstone's travels and especially the letters he wrote about his journey and experiences. His life is a truly amazing and exciting life. Making a difference and building friendships where ever he went. He will remain a prominent figure to learn from. It will remind us to truly make a difference where ever we go and to build long-lasting connections with the individuals we meet along the way.
On day 39 we woke up early to view the Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side. We walked throught the border and started to get a glimpse of the falls as we went over the bridge. It was quiet and peaceful with a hint of the amazing view to come. We walked thought the trees and could hear the thundering noise of the water. As we saw the falls we where plummeted back to the time Livingstone first set eyes on it and could only imagine what a discovery it must havebeen. It was truly amazing to see the mass of water speeding to the edge and dropping into the valley below. We spent a couple of hours soaking in the splendor, while becoming soaking wet due to the water mist spray. It was difficult to leave the falls, but we needed to move on to our next destination. We then headed to the Zambia/Botswana border. Due to the current situation in Zimbabwe we needed to take a different route home. This disicion was made with a very heavy heart. However, we realised it was for the best.
The border was quite exciting as we needed to take a ferry across the river. Huge trucks were being hauled across. It was very interesting to see the skills of the officials, making sure we all crossed savely. In Botswana we slept at Chobe Safari Lodge on the first night. We had the privilege of experiencing the river first hand, while watching different animals enjoying the river. We also saw a herd of elephants come down to drink and bath in the river, as we all enjoyed the last bit of sunlight. The following day we headed to Chobe reserve, and spent the night at Ihaha Camp site. What a magnificent place! During the afternoon and morning we spent there some of the animals we saw there: lions feeding on an elephant carcass, a leopard enjoying and afternoon strole and nap in a tree, a honeybager carrying its pup across the road and too many elephants to count. We would have loved to stay longer, but one day, Chobe will see us again. We then headed to Elephant Sands, where we got up close and personal with a few elephants and enjoyed the sounds of Botswana's night life before we headed for the border. We crossed into South Africa and were home after 41 days on the road! We spend our first night back in South Africa in Alldays enjoying a great evening of sharing stories of our trip. The following morning we headed back to Onderstepoort. We are back and ready to make sure this amazing outreach will continue for generations to come. What an experience, adventure and journey!