We visited Lochinvar National Game Park today with the boys. This involved us boarding the school “bus”.

The School Bus. The School Bus

We loaded benches into the back of the truck and were able to fit even more than who you see alongside in. I sat in the back with the boys for the 3 hour drive to the Game Reserve. This was a very bumpy experience but made fun by the close contact and the singing that ensued. The open top though was not the best idea when driving through the thorn trees in the Savannah and offered no shelter for the first rain of my time in Zambia – but that did not seem to bother people.

The Game Reserve is famous for one or two major sights, such as the rocks that sound like drums when you beat them (the boys took great delight in drumming the rock).

Drum Rock. Drum Rock

We also visited the Baobab Tree which has a hollowed out trunk that used to be the night-time hiding place for locals.

Baobab. Baobab

They used to make a fire at the base to ward off the animals. We then went to have lunch and celebrate Mass together at the edge of the water before embarking on some game-viewing – and the animals were the highlight of the park.

Impala (or Lechwe???) Impala (or Lechwe???)

Unfortunately I think we scared away more animals than we could track – with a group of 100 boys bouncing around on the back of a truck and singing, any animal with even some hearing would have left long before we could get near them. There was one memorable exception. To find these animals we took a detour off the main road. This was not as difficult as it might sound since the only thing that defines a road in the park is the faint trace of the tyre tracks before you. There was a herd of impala that we spotted in the plains of the park. Now this was an experience that clearly captured for me that I am in a different country now. As most of you know, in South Africa, when we visit a Game Reserve we are often told, or mostly assume, that we may not leave the vehicle. Not in Zambia. As soon as we noticed the impala (or perhaps they were Lechwe?) we pulled the vehicle to a slow stop in order for us to take some photographs and to allow the boys to take a look. Well, they wanted a closer look – and proceeded to jump out of the bus and then to chase the Impala around the plains. I kid you not. Check out the photographs if you don’t believe me. Unfortunately by the time I’d realised that I could not get the kids back into the bus and thought of taking a photograph the animals had moved off a little bit – but the kids returned having had fun.

The Chase.) The Chase

We also visited a fishing village in the park. By this stage I’d realised that there are no carnivores in this park – mostly it has bird life (420 species or so) – and as it was explained to me “it’s safe for women to walk around” (presumably the inference being that if there were carnivores nearby the women wouldn’t walk around but the men still might). This fishing village is quite famous – apparently it is the source of much of the fish sold in the Southern Province and we could get cheaper prices by buying the fish direct. Somehow for me though – I’m still getting used to buying food that isn’t from Woolworths, or even Shoprite. But it does taste ok – especially when it’s cooked over an open fire.

Fish Market.) Fish Market

Our fishing village detour though had its consequences and because we were still off-road after the sunset – it took a few hours to find our way back through the bush but we eventually returned to the school at 22h30 – all in time for the kids to get to bed and enjoy the National Teachers Day Public holiday the next day.

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