One of Aitch’s list of ‘things to do’ once we knew she had cancer, was to visit her twin sis in Botswana. Janet quickly mustered her network and arranged a trip to Hwange, Zimababwe’s world-class national park. We’d been once before. Her friends Beks and Sarah Ndlovu of African Bush Camps own a concession and run a very special camp at Somalisa in the eastern area, Linkwasha I think they call it.
Beks calls it his Hemingway-style camp. We called it bliss. Unpretentious tents from the outside, luxury inside.
The weather was amazing! Bright sunshine, then huge gathering clouds, then pouring rain and back to sunshine in a few hours. Repeated daily. Enough rain to bring out the bullfrogs – the first time I have seen them, not for lack of looking. They were out for their annual month of ribaldry: Bawdy songs, lewd & lascivious pixicephallic behaviour. Also gluttony. Then back underground for 11 months of regrets.
The rain was spectacular!
We were dry under the Landrover canopy and enjoyed every minute of the downpour. Unbeknown to us, Janet at the back had water pouring down her neck and was getting freezing wet! She didn’t want to spoil the beauty and awesomeness so suffered in silence. But it was all OK in the end: When she told us we roared with laughter as she turned the air blue with choice expletives!
After the rain there’s sunshine, and the bush telegraph page is wiped clean: New spoor becomes clearly evident. Aha! The lions have cubs!
After a good soaking the animals would have to drip-dry. We could get under cover and have hot showers, hot drinks and warm dry clothing.
Hwange has become my favourite of all Africa’s big parks. It is simply fantastic.
Those sand roads are very special, as were the breakfasts out on the pan.
I had dashed off an email to Aitch in February 2009:
Hi Aitch – As ‘they’ so crudely put it, we need to ‘sh*t or get off the pot’ as far as a decision to get to Okavango (and to Beks Ndlovu’s camps) this year. Either soonish (March), or September / October (very hot). We must decide yes or no, and if yes, who could we leave the kids with? Dilemma – K
So glad we stayed on the pot! The kids were fine; We got to Botswana eleven months after that email, in January 2010, then trekked on to Zimbabwe for Aitch’s last – great, unforgettable – Hwange trip.
We’d been before in 1997.