Northern Rhodesia (Zambia)

Thursday 14 July 1960 - Victoria Falls

I had a lift to the restaurant on the Northern Rhodesian side … and made my way back on foot. Up the broad reaches of the Zambezi to start - grassy, tree drifted banks and a scatter of islands in the fast but smooth flowing water. Some locals making thatch for a roof, others with a big collection of curios ... Across the car park where baboons pestered car owners for titbits to the little anthropological museum. Then slowly across the length of the one mile 100 yard broad falls - from particulars of which see attached dipping down to all possible points, to the Knife Edge, Boiling Pot and Palm Valley on the Northern Rhodesian side (quite damp) then along to a point opposite the gorge where I paused in the shade for lunch - the next hop being wet for sitting. Hosts of birds mostly unidentifiable ... The falls were perhaps at their best this season, not too empty and not so full that they were invisible behind a curtain of spray. The fluctuated between visible and invisible and always there were rainbows - both end - north and south. ... It was a curious sensation to be able to look on the top of the rain from certain points and see blue sky above ... I went upstream a little from the Devil's Contract, past the statue of Livingstone gazing out over the spectacle of the mighty falls which he discovered for the western world.

Off at 3:15 in a Victoria Falls airways bus for the twice weekly "sunset flight" to see the falls and Bechuanaland game from the air; extravagant, but an excellent £5 worth. After circling several times over the falls, in a small plane with five other passengers, we took off west and flew for two hours (240 miles) over Northern Bechuanaland and back low along the upper Zambesi - giving a sensation of skimming along in a speed boat - so close did the startled crocs and hippos seem (Also an abandoned dugout canoe on a sandbank.)

Sable antelope - the most beautiful of all the buck, were much the commonest seen. Again well over a dozen herds and a considerable number of solitary beasts. These were the first creatures we spotted, the males unmistakably lackish and with long handsome back-curved horns.

Wednesday 20 July 1960 - Two day trip to Kafue Game Reserve

The start of one of the most interesting trips I had in Africa - to the Kafue Game Reserve

The North Rhodesian Government, who were paying for my board and lodgings, gave me a brand new Land Rover - large size and Joseph, a local driver.

To Kafue Hook pontoon ferry where we hooted and watched the cumbrous craft chug across. Locals hauled it into shore on wire cables - needing few directions from the engineer in charge.

Our first game was at 3:40 pm when we spotted a group of female kudu still standing in the shade - not yet braving the sun. The road led across frequent dips where we crossed dry tributary streams - on an appalling grey track across river alluvium. There was less rain in the valleys and the country was less heavily bushed - dry dead plains with scattered baobabs (the first for some time) and Euphorbia. The road was full of doves and francolins, with conveys of chicks, and we saw elephant spoors, but no elephants. At 4:20 p.m. more (four) female kudu in the shade and around twelve puku, much the commonest animal here and the counterpart of the Kruger impala - which creature was present but less common here.

We went to Treetops, the enormous baobab tree with hut erected among its branches and rickety ladder in segments leading up to it. After photographing Game Guard Sam at its foot I climbed to the platform under the thatch at the top - surveyed the views along the river and duly signed the visitor's book with the comment, "This indeed, is Africa." A chair, table, hurricane lamp and empty water jug. Huge, dark ground horbill-like ungainly storks floundered around beneath the trees - their "boom boom" call audible for miles. We went to the riverbank on foot in search of finfoots -but saw none, only guinea fowl and noisy francolins under the bushes, a few cormorants’ nests and a screaming fish eagle. There was hyena dung about.

View of the River Kafue from the top of Treetops