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It’s sooooo easy for my dearest wife Carolyn to barely mention the tsetse flies. Easy when you have a piece of bait along to attract the flies away from you, my dearest Carolyn!!!
I’m not an Africa expert, but apparently, with the wilds of African wildlife come the flies. But the two parts are important: wilds AND African wildlife. Less wild areas have tsetse fly control, so you can go to less wild areas and not put up with the flies. If there is wildlife and true wilderness, there will likely be tsetse flies. But apparently the flies around wildlife seldom carry sleeping sickness. It’s the flies around cattle that carry the sickness.
Sickness or not, the tsetse flies were a big problem that impacted the pleasure of my trip. If I stepped out of Rover mid-day I was swarmed with literally a hundred big biting flies. My legs were covered with scabs. The itch was really incredible, especially in the middle of the night. Little worked to dissuade the flies other than to travel with the windows rolled up, air conditioner on, and avoid being out of the car other than morning and nights. Long pants and long sleeves helped, but I’m a shorts and flip-flops kinda guy.
Thirty percent DEET did nothing. I think 100-percent DEET did work but as some will know, 100-percent DEET is disgusting and literally melts paint, plastic, and some clothing.
We heard rumor that the Australians had a product that worked. If anyone knows of it, please post or email.
In retrospect: Tsetse flies were never in towns or rural areas. Flies were the worst, by far, in Kafue. Less near rivers. Flies were bad in the woods, less in the open (bad everywhere, except near rivers, in Kafue). They are attracted to black and blue and movement. When we drove along, scores of flies would be attracted to Rover and they would lay in ambush for us to step out.
So the dilemma is: Do you want the WILDS of AFRICAN WILDLIFE, complete with tsetse flies, or do you want the more civilized areas?
If it is any guide to how much the flies will bother you, mosquitoes are also attracted to me, and not to my dear wife Carolyn, who brings me along as BAIT to keep the bugs off her!
In our pre-trip reconnaissance, it became abundantly clear that the better traveled Mfuwe/South Luangwa park area saw many more visitors, and organizations were better organized in getting support for schools, clinics and other projects. The Kafue park, neglected by the government for decades, has fewer facilities within the park. And, the philanthropic efforts supporting people in the area are not as evident on the Internet.
We connected with folks at the Kafue Trust, and offered to bring something small in size, but would still help support a camp endeavor. We also offered to bring something still small, but possibly more expensive, with the understanding that we be reimbursed. After several e-mails back and forth, we agreed to bring an infrared, motion-detecting camera for the Nanzhila Plains camp. (This was just one more item that TSA ignored in our bags.) The camera would catch nocturnal camp visitors on the prowl – often only detected by their tracks the morning after.
We presented the camera to Brad and Ruth. Brad, the gadget guy, couldn’t wait to get it up and running. Rather than be reimbursed in dollars or kwacha, we graciously accepted an offered trade: dinner, and an overnight stay in one of the camp’s chalets. We had a delightful dinner with our hosts, hearing tales of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and the local issues in the Kafue area. Truth be told, I think we got the better end of the bargain.
We reluctantly ended the evening – this was our last night at Nanzhila, with several hours of road, plus a fuel stop, ahead of us to our next camp. The tink tink tink of the reed frogs lulled us to sleep as we wondered what the next day would bring.