At Mfuwe Lodge, we enjoyed a civilized buffet brunch before we met Kelvin, our driver and guide for the next two and a half hour drive to our first bush camp. An ambitious young man, Kelvin is aspiring to move from driver to guide. He was able to spot game as well as tell us the native tales about hippos and other wildlife. The time flew by, and soon we arrived at Chindeni bush camp, greeted by the staff with cool wash cloths and fresh juice. Oh yeah, this is the kind of stuff you miss when you self-drive.
We were escorted to our “tent:” a lovely canvas abode overlooking a lagoon on a big wooden platform on stilts. With the sitting area and bathroom area, the tent was spacious enough to permanently live there. We draped ourselves in the two hammocks swaying in the breeze on the deck outside, making the afternoon heat more bearable.
At tea, we met our lodging companions, including two birders from Seattle – the first Americans we’ve seen in weeks! Another couple lived in Ohio, but were not native to the US. Newlyweds from Britain rounded out the company. Our guide, Peter, gathered us all up for the evening’s game drive, highlighted by a relaxed leopard cruising her territory.
We returned to news that monkey business had disrupted the water pump. Assured that the water tank would be recharged by morning, each tent was supplied with a bucket full of water to “flush” the toilet.
In the meantime, we enjoyed a classic braai dinner. “Braai” comes from the Afrikaans word “braaivleis,” meaning “roasted meat.” Indeed, a braai dinner is a carnivore’s delight, with beef, pork, chicken and several kinds of sausage. The evening wind made it hard to keep salads on our plates, but none of the meat went flying off into the night.