Five days in Livingstone checking out all the animals…by elephant, by boat and by Land Rover – we did it all! The most exciting by far – because it really stretched our imagination [ha ha] was the elephant ride. I truly wish we could share the videotape of the ride –with all its ups and downs – with all of you but this bulletin will have to suffice. The bottom line though is that if you ever have the chance to ride an elephant…you must do so!
It was great…you just roll along while feeling the long strides by this huge beast, while riding [extremely] high off the ground [about 15 ft. high]. Though the elephants are well-trained, they often ignore the guides and stop and eat tree branches whenever they want. They are allowed to roam free on the preserve of the Thorn Tree River Lodge, when they are not working. Elephants see better at night than in the daytime and can see long distances. These particular elephants understand commands in Shona and English. One of the trainers was a young lady, about 5’2”, maybe 110 lbs, from Canada. She was trained at the only elephant training school in the United States…outside Little Rock, Arkansas!!!!!!
Joyceann and I rode on Bop, a 31-year old male elephant, while Bernice [our friend visiting from NY] rode on Marsula, a 19-year old female born without tusks. Genetically, 5% of the elephant population is born like this. Big, lumbering beasts, the elephants tear through the terrain, flattening trees and bushes and stripping trees of their bark. They leave the land looking like a tornado swath with uprooted trees all over…and the only reason you know it was the elephants, and not a storm, is that their droppings are everywhere!
After an hour straddling the elephants viewing impalas, giraffes and wild elephants, we gratefully returned and clumsily, 🙂 with help, struggled off their backs…all the while proclaiming this to be a fantastic experience!
It was a great day, we thought later, as we reclined by the pool, soaking up the sun, far too tired to move. 🙂 The Zambezi Sun Hotel was a fabulous 4-star location that offered wonderful amenities, including a herd of zebras that wandered their lawns at any given time. We were frequently reminded that the hotel was situated on the grounds of the National Park…especially when monkeys came down from the roofs and trees and stole food off your plate…as happened to Joyceann. Boy you should’ve seen the shocked look on her face!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
We also spent an evening on the Zambezi River on a river safari. Saw a lot of birds, crocodiles and the most amazing sunset. The real highlight was the midway break for food. We stopped on an island in the middle of the river…it separates Zambia from Zimbabwe…and enjoyed an outstanding repast of Buffalo wings, carrot sticks, and gin & tonic and wine in iced goblets! I kid you not –
To our delight, as we were returning to shore at the base of the Royal Livingstone Hotel, we encountered a herd of wild elephants drinking and eating. There were about 8 truly large wild elephants, just doing their “thing,” while on the other side of a rock strewn pathway [to keep the elephants from going too far] was the cultivated lawn and outside bar of the hotel. Talk about sharp contrasts!
Last, but not least, we set out again the next morning at 6:30 a.m. to embark on a land safari. This trip, covering much of the 1600 acres of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, proved to be the most fruitful of all. We saw impalas [deer’s to us], soaring giraffes that reached the tops of the trees,
Baboons, wild buffalo, monkeys, warthogs, guinea hens and most specially…and I mean almost within touching distance…the only two white rhinoceros in the Park! The rhinos literally crossed our path and we were able to get some marvelous pictures.
A woman from South Africa asked if it didn’t affect the natives too… Gilbert, the guide, politely responded that sometimes the natives did die.
Written by my sister Marilyn on our travels together