Author: Marden P.
Date of Trip: June 2008
SOUTHERN AFRICA SAFARI June 2008
Jessie, Angie and I flew out of Salt Lake City, on June 8th at 8:30 AM, and arrived at JFK, in New York City, at about 4:00 PM. The flight took longer than anticipated because there was a storm and we had to fly around it, to the north over Maine, and then back south to JFK. There we quickly changed planes, from Delta to South Africa Airways, and set off for Africa. Eight hours later we landed in Dakar, Senegal on the west coast of Africa. We stayed on the plane while it was refueled and then flew another 8 hours to Johannesburg, South Africa. There we met Mike and Lisa, who had flown Delta all the way, and went to pick up our luggage. Everything was there and fine except for Jessie’s bag. It would be ten days before her bag caught up to us in Livingstone. We were met at the airport and taken to the Airport Grand Hotel (which was nice but not GRAND) where we had a buffet supper for 120 Rands (about $21 US) each. It was OK but proved the truth of what Mike said, “Never sleep in a restaurant or eat in a hotel”. We retired but didn’t sleep much. Jessie was worried about her bag and I was just too wound up.
We lost a day in travel so it was now the 10th of June. Mike woke us (the flight finally caught up with us and we were dead to the world) and we took the hotel shuttle back to the airport to fly on to Lusaka, Zambia. When we arrived we stood in line forever to get through immigration (it could have been much worse but we had gotten our visas before leaving the States) and collect our luggage. Then we met Chauntel. She was a 29 year-old South African, of Dutch descent, who has been guiding for four years. She drove us to Pioneer Camp for our first nights stay. We had a nice lodge with two bedrooms, bath, kitchen and commons room. Hot water came from a “donkey” which is a tank enclosed in concrete, to help hold the heat, with a fire pit under it. We walked around the grounds and took pictures of the trees and flowers. There were orange, fig, peach and other trees we didn’t recognize along with beautiful flowers. At 6:00 PM we met with Chauntel and had a planning and orientation meeting. We decided to follow the safari plan except that we would skip Lochinvar NP and drive directly from Kafue to our take-off point on the Zambezi River. Otherwise we would have a very long drive in the very early morning to get to the River on time. We had steak, salad, chips, and vegetables for supper and then to bed. I slept until about 2:30 and then got up and read until 4:00 then slept until 6:00 when we got up to hit the road.
June 11th. Pioneer Camp to Kafue NP.
We drove into Lusaka and bought groceries and clothes to replace what Jessie had in her “lost bag”. She spent about $300 to buy clothing and a new pack (things are very expensive here) but it sounded much worse when you talk in terms of Zambian money. She spent almost TWO MILLION Zambian $ on her purchases and still had to use a pair of Angie’s shoes, my pants and Lisa’s underwear during the next ten days. We left Lusaka at about 11:00 AM and drove to Kafue NP. Along the way Jessie discovered that it is possible to go potty in the brush. She was greatly relieved and the rest of us were greatly amused. The first wildlife we saw were vultures eating a baboon that had been killed on the highway. At the gate to the Park we saw a snake that may have been a Black Mamba although it didn’t stay long enough for a positive ID. As we drove further into the Park, about 20 miles on a dirt road, we saw elephant, roan antelope, puku, waterbucks, impala and zebra. We arrived at Lufupa Camp about 5:30 PM and set up our tents for the first time. There was a lot of construction going on at the camp because, like many places we were to visit, they are moving away from camping to full service lodge type accommodations. We did have shower and toilet facilities even though one of the staff built too much fire under the “donkey” and steam was blowing out all over. When I flushed the toilet boiling water came pouring out and if I had been sitting I would have gotten parboiled. Chauntel cooked a great supper of noodles with a hamburger-onion-tomato-peppercorn sauce and salad, garlic bread and broccoli with mushroom dip. We cleaned up and went to bed on our mats and sleeping bags. The bags were great and kept us toasty warm even with the temperatures in the mid-forties. During the night we heard lions, hyena, hippo, bush-babies and a variety of unidentified sounds. It made Jessie and Lisa a little nervous, especially when Chauntel told them not to go out of the tents without looking around carefully for “eyes in the dark”. She also told us to not leave our shoes outside the tents because the hyenas would chew them up and a short time later Angie and I saw a pair of sneakers that had been torn in two. I don’t know how they got that way but we took a picture and it will make a great story.
June 12th. Kafue NP.
Survived the night and arose at 5:30 AM for hot chocolate (the entire trip we were explaining why we didn’t drink coffee and tea) which became a morning ritual throughout the safari. We set our tents up under a large tree so it would be shaded and this morning we found out that wasn’t such a good idea. The tree had some small fruit that attracted birds by day and bats and bush-babies by night. Then they would mess on our tents and drop sticky seeds so the tents were a real mess. We went for our first game drive and it was a great success. We saw antelope (puku, impala, waterbuck, bushbuck, kudu and steenbok) as well as warthog, hippo, croc, baboon, monkey and many birds. There was a hot sulfur spring in the Lufupa River and the hippos loved lazing around in it. We returned to camp about 11:00 and had a brunch of French toast, cereal and juice. Everyone, except me, then took a nap. I wandered around camp and played with my new camera. I bought it just as we were leaving SLC and so I am still learning how to use it. There was a family of warthogs rooting around the camp so I had live subjects to practice on. The camp is being rebuilt and they have a beautiful dining area over-looking the confluence of the Kafue and Lufupa Rivers. When nap time was over we sat on the deck and watched birds; including cormorants, darters and kingfishers. Went for another game drive and saw more of the same animals but not as many because it was hotter and many of them were shaded up. Returned to camp for a supper of chicken, sweet potatoes (African ones are white but very good), and green salad. At 7:30 PM we set out on a night game drive with local guides in an open vehicle. The driver said his name was J.D. and that stood for John Deere. We had coats and blankets and ponchos but we still nearly froze. We didn’t see much and certainly didn’t get our $35 apiece worth. We saw hares, mongoose, bush-babies, hippos and bushbuck. We spent most of the night looking for a pride of lions that had been reported in the area, but never did see them. Finally we gave up and returned to camp. Just as we were driving into camp we saw a hyena in the road (probably looking for a pair of shoes). It wasn’t a very long look but it was the only one we saw on the entire safari. Went to bed and tried to “warm up”.
June 13th. Lufupa Camp in Kafue NP
Got up and had our hot chocolate and set out for another game drive. We didn’t drive along the river like we had been doing but headed into another area hoping to see different kinds of animals. No such luck! We saw lots of impala, puku, waterbucks, kudu and hippos. Many areas of the park have been burned to remove brush and encourage grass growth. The grazing animals love these areas because there isn’t cover for predators and the new growth makes for good grazing. Over-all the Park seems to have a real scarcity of large grazers and much of the Park has grass several feet high that shows no signs of grazing. We saw a variety of birds, including ground hornbills, bee-eaters, wattled cranes, fish eagles and many small birds. Returned to camp for lunch, took pictures of the birds which were lunching on the fruit above our tents, and then set out for another game drive. Mike has been ill and he opted to stay in camp and sleep. We drove along the river and found a troop of monkeys whose purpose in life seemed to be entertaining us. We spent a long time just watching them interact and play. The young ones are just like kids in the way they tease and play with each other and the adults. We also saw a new antelope that none of us (including Chauntel) had seen before. It is called an ORIBI and is much like an impala but enough different that I knew it was a new species as soon as I saw it. There are a few biting flies here but while the bites hurt at the time there isn’t any lasting effect. No swelling or itching and the bites don’t hurt as bad as our deer fly bites. No mosquitoes! We returned to camp and after supper we watched the sunset on the Kafue River.
June 14th. On the Road Again. Kafue to Zambezi River.
I got up about 4:30 AM and coaxed the fire back to life then sat near it and listened to Africa come to life. Maybe I should say listened to half of Africa come to life, the other half had been alive all night. When the others got up at 5:30 we broke camp, loaded “Injabulo” and set out for the Zambezi River. Injabulo was the name of our truck and it means “Happiness” in one of the local languages. All of Jenman’s trucks are named happiness, just in different languages .On the drive out of the park we saw a sable antelope, and in the distance zebra, hartebeest and gnu. Just outside the Park gate, but still inside the Park, we saw a waterhole with a number of different animal and bird species. We drove back through Lusaka and stopped for fuel and groceries before heading south. I took a lot of pictures, through the windows, as we drove, of the villages and natives. We’ll see if any of them turn out-we were going about 110 KPH and the roads are not exactly smooth. We arrived at Breezers Camp at about 4:00 PM and set up camp. It is right on the banks of the Zambezi River and a very nice area. There is grass to set the tents up on and trees (without fruit) for shade. We can look out our tent door and see the hippos in the river. I hope they don’t use the trail into camp to find grass tonight. I am writing this by lamp light since it is dark and we are waiting for supper to cook. There is a three-legged dog running around camp and the owner says he keeps the dog as a warning to tourists. The fourth leg made a meal for a hungry croc. The moon is nearly full and it is a beautiful night. The hippos are grunting, the frogs are croaking and there are no mosquitoes buzzing. After supper it will be a shower and off to bed. After eight hours on the road I think everyone is ready.
June 15th. Zambezi River.
Arose at 5:30 AM and watched the sunrise as we ate our pancakes and then broke camp. We loaded everything we are not taking on the river in the truck so it will be ready to go when we return. We had an orientation session with our guide T.K., and his apprentice Carlos, then packed the canoes and set out on the mighty Zambezi. There was a good current but also a good headwind and so we had to paddle more than we would have liked. Angie went in one canoe with T.K., Mike and Lisa went in a canoe, Jessie and I in another and Carlos had his own with much of the gear. We saw elephants, bushbuck, hippos, crocs (not as many as I expected and not as large) and a variety of birds. Angie is really good at learning the names of the birds (as well as taking their pictures) and Lisa is writing the names down so when we get home we can identify the various birds in our pictures. We stopped on the Zimbabwe side of the river for a potty break even though we were not supposed to be there without a visa. The Zimbabwe side is a national park so there weren’t any people around while the Zambian side of the river is quite populated. Jessie and I had a hard time working together to get the canoe where we wanted it to be (Probably because she didn’t want it to be where I wanted it to be). She was worried about the hippos and would paddle frantically if we started to get anywhere near one. I told her to “relax” and let me paddle but she just kept “helping me paddle”. She didn’t think I could paddle and take pictures at the same time. Imagine that! We had lunch on an island with the tables and camp stools setting in an inch or two of water. However, the tables were covered with checkered tablecloths and if you didn’t sit too heavy the stools wouldn’t sink completely into the sand. After lunch we continued on until about 4:30 PM when we pulled up on an island and set up camp. We used tents that were smaller than the ones we are used to but we did bring our sleeping pads and bags. The gas stove wouldn’t work so supper was cooked over an open fire and consisted of rice, chicken stew, squash and green salad. Everyone was very tired so we retired early and slept soundly (despite the hippos grazing nearby and the usual chorus of birds and frogs).
June 16th. Zambezi River.
africa elephantsI was up at 5:30 AM and built up the camp fire and watched the sun-rise. Others were up at 6:30 and we had hot chocolate and toast with jam and were on the river by 7:30. Cloudy and windy again today and we had to do a good deal of paddling. We saw elephants, up close and personal, and hippos at a distance (unless you ask Jessie and then they were UP CLOSE and PERSONAL, too). There were lots of water birds: cranes, herons, egrets (both common and cattle), geese (both Egyptian and spur-winged) and smaller ones that were colorful and vocal. We stopped on the Zambian shore and there were elephants and warthogs in a mud hole about 100 yards away. We spent about an hour photographing them and just watching their antics. Several groups of elephants came by during that time and they all spent some time mud-bathing. Later we stopped on the Zimbabwe shore and took a short “nature walk”. We saw vultures, monkeys and lots of tracks but no animals. T.K. dug out an ant lion and showed us one of the “little five”. We resumed our float until it was time for lunch. Everyone took a nap except Angie and me. We were writing in our journals when three elephants came in to water right near us. That got everyone, except Mike, up and taking pictures. Mike is still not feeling well and he spent his time having a “GrandBob” nap. After about 30 minutes the elephants moved on and were soon replaced by five more, including a huge bull. We finally had to get back on the river so we left them. Saw a large group of kudu, including two young ones who were as interested in watching us as we were in watching them, and baboons, bushbuck and birds. We stopped at a permanent camp and filled our water jug and then floated on to our camping island. There was a full moon and it was beautiful. Mike was sitting in a canoe watching the water, fish and moon when the guide told him “It is croc’s feeding time. You should move away from the water”. Needless to say he complied. During the night three elephants swam onto the island and one of them stayed until morning.
June 17th. Zambezi River.
The wind was blowing so hard we couldn’t get on the river. Fortunately we had some entertainment. The elephant was still there and seemed to be willing to stay as long as we did. He just wandered around his end of the island and we watched him from ours. The only problem was the potty tree was on his end. When he moved the cattle egrets walked along beside him and picked up the insects he kicked up. The island was about 250 yards wide and 800 yards long with several large trees and some small bushes and lots of bamboo on the shore lines. There were hippo tracks all over the island but we didn’t see any out of the water. We finally left the island just after noon with the wind still blowing. We got a little wet crossing the river but when we got in near the bank the wind died down and we were able to drift along without much paddling. We often pulled the canoes together and just rafted along with the current. It was easier to talk that way and Jessie felt safer, especially if our canoe was in the middle. Saw lots of elephants in small bunches along the bank. They don’t seem to pay us any mind unless they have calves and then they are very protective and move away as soon as we get near. Mom still won’t let us get close to the hippos. She keeps a sharp look-out and spots them at a good distance (she also spots a few croc-a-logs and rock-o-pottumuses). We decided to not camp on the river another night but went on to the take-out point where the boat will pick us up for the return trip tomorrow. It was a good choice because they have showers and toilets. Angie went to shower first and chased all the lizards out but them when she turned on the shower a frog came out of the drain hole. She yelled at Jessie to “send Dad”. I went and got the poor little guy and took his picture then turned him loose. The showers were cold but after three days on the river we were up for it. As the sun went down we sat on the river bank and watched the hippos come out on the opposite bank (Zimbabwe side). We also saw buffalo, waterbuck and impala all at a considerable distance. T.K. and Carlos sat with us, around the campfire and told us about their lives and families. Carlos had a brother who was eaten by a croc when he was just three years old. T.K. told us some stories about his guiding experiences, including one about a client who didn’t move away from the water at “croc feeding time” and nearly lost his life. We retired to the sounds of lions, hippos and hyenas.
June 18th. Zambezi River to Livingstone.
Arose at 5:30 AM and packed up for the boat ride back to Breezers Camp. We had French toast and our usual hot chocolate and boarded an outboard motor boat for the ride up river. We had floated about 50 miles in the last three days and the return trip was supposed to take about an hour and an half BUT we had some problems. The motor was not running well and was using much more fuel that it should so we had to stop at another camp (run by the same company) and change to another boat. The ride from there on was beautiful and uneventful. We saw a lot of natives out fishing, washing clothes and just enjoying the river in the early morning. At some of the villages they have built a kind of log fence out into the river so they can access the water without becoming breakfast for the crocodiles. We arrived at Breezers a little after 9:00 AM and set out for Livingstone. It was about 250 miles and we made very good time on the first half of the drive. The Chinese government built the highway we were on and it was a very nice one with passing lanes, guard rails and painted line. The fact that they painted the lines by hand with paint brushes didn’t make it any less travelable. We would see gangs of 10 or 12 men sitting along the side of the road just painting away. The road will probably be worn out before they are done but it does provide work. We saw several new wrecks and many old ones. It is like Alaska; they just push the wreck off the road and leave it there. Of course the wrecks are stripped of anything that can be removed. There are a lot of break-downs and instead of flares they cut tree branches and lay them in the road to warn you. The last 50 miles of the trip were truly horrible. The roads, after the Chinese highway, were not great but they were drivable. Then we came to a stretch that was just one huge pothole after another. They were six inch to a foot deep and usually five or six feet wide, although some reached clear across the road. In many places the highway (?) was so bad traffic just drove along side in the barrow-pits. The native kids would stand along the road and throw some dirt or sand in the potholes and then hold out their hands for money. It was kind of creative but didn’t help the road much. That last 50 miles took us well over two hours and we were all well shaken by the time we arrived in Livingstone especially Mom and Angie who were riding in the back seat. We checked into the Zambezi Waterfront and headed to our rooms for a “hot” shower and then a meal on the deck overlooking the river from which we could see the mist rising from Victoria Falls. Later we washed clothes and hung them in Angie’s room. She had a suite with four beds, a tub and a real thatched roof so there was plenty of room and with a fan blowing on them they had plenty of time to dry. All the beds have mosquito netting but I haven’t seen a single mosquito. Jessie said she saw some but then she sees “logadiles” too. Went to bed about 9:15 PM which is late but we had electricity so we could read and write after sundown.
June 19th. Livingstone-Zambia.
Left at 6:30 AM for the Elephant Trails Safari. This is a place where they have taken elephants, that were orphaned, or otherwise left without a home and herd, and trained them to allow people to ride them. There were eight elephants in the program. Two bulls, four cows and two young ones. The youngest was a year old and stole everyone’s heart. We rode two to an elephant plus the handler. Angie and Jessie and Mike and Lisa rode together while I rode with a Mike from Manchester, England. We rode for about an hour through the brush and didn’t see any other game but it was an interesting perspective. We rode out on the river bank and posed for pictures with the Zambezi River in the background. At one point we had to stop so the calf could nurse for a few minutes. The calf’s mother was stolen away by a wild herd and she was gone for 18 months. When she returned, of her own accord, she was pregnant and the calf was born into the project. After the ride we fed the elephants treats and posed with them for pictures. The project made a video of our ride and showed it to us after we had brunch. Just as the video got to the point where Jessie was trying to get on her elephant the power went out and so we didn’t get to see the rest of the video. Jessie was thankful, but we bought a video and when we got home and watched it they had edited out her climb aboard anyway. In the afternoon we went to see Victoria Falls. It is hard to describe how awesome the Falls are. They are one of the Natural Wonders of the Modern World and truly deserve that title. We rented ponchos but still got soaking wet. The mist is so heavy it is like standing in a shower (a cold shower) and it was really hard to take pictures without getting the camera soaked. I managed to get come pictures by putting the camera in the hood of my poncho and shooting blind. Angie is not feeling well today and didn’t enjoy the experience as much as she would have otherwise. After our soaking we went shopping at a market near the Falls and I bought two sets of salt and pepper shakers and a pair of wooden Cape buffalo. We had to negotiate price and it was just like Mexico–“Sell you cheap”–“haven’t sold anything today”–“Make you special deal for US dollars”–“end of day special price”. I don’t enjoy dickering but Jessie seems to have fun doing it. When we got back to the lodge Angie threw up several times and that seemed to help. Chauntel cooked rice, corn, beef stew and salad for supper and we picked up the laundry that the lodge did for us then repacked our bags. Jessie and Chauntel went to the airport and picked up Jessie’s “lost bag” so now she has the rest of her clothes and other essentials. A troop of monkeys came around just before sundown and I spent some time following them around and taking pictures while they posed. There were a number of mosquitoes in our room tonight. These are the first ones we have seen but we had netting over the beds so they didn’t really bother us. I think there are bed bugs here though. Angie and I both had a number of bites, which were not mosquito ones, this morning. Jessie slept in her sleeping bag liner and didn’t have any bites so I think we were victims of bed-bugs or a close relative.
June 20th. Livingstone to Chobe.
We left Livingstone about 9:00 AM and drove to the Zambia/Botswana border. There we went through customs and boarded a ferry to cross the Zambezi River into Botswana. It amazes me that we got across so quickly when it often takes trucks several days or even weeks to get across. At most of the border crossings we see trucks lined up for miles waiting to cross. As you can imagine tempers get short and “road rage” takes on a whole new meaning. We just had to fill out some cards, walk through customs, board the ferry, go through customs again and then re-board our truck. The welcome mat was out for us in Botswana and we had to walk across it. In order to prevent the spread of Hoof and Mouth disease they have disinfectant mats that everyone has to walk over and they also spray the truck tires. After a stop in Kasane for groceries we drove to Toro Camp, on the edge of Chobe NP, and set up camp. In the late afternoon we drove to the park and took an evening boat trip on the Chobe River. There were a lot of boats, all filled with tourists, and it reminded me of the Serengeti. Our driver/guide was excellent and kept us out of the worst of the boat jams while still showing us everything. We saw many bird species, kudu, crocs, hippo, waterbucks, impala, buffalo, puku and elephants. Chobe has the greatest concentration of elephants in Africa and we must have seen most of them. At one point we counted upwards of 200 scattered along the river and hillside above it. It is amazing to watch the herds interact and the adults take care of the calves. One calf kept getting stuck in the mud and the adults would pull him out and he would go right back to getting stuck. They play in the water, roll in the mud and even go swimming without paying any attention to the boats. We saw three elephants which were in over their heads, but no problem, they just used their trunks like snorkels and walked on across the river. I don’t know how the area can support so many elephants. It appears that the vegetation is being severely damaged and if they don’t find a way to reduce the elephant numbers there will soon be serious problems. We saw a large herd of buffalo and Jessie’s first observation was “They smell just like cows” and she was right. As the sun was setting our guide put us in a position to photograph some elephants, against the setting sun, and it was spectacular. We then hurried back to camp, and since we were in the open boat and then in an open Park truck we were pretty cold when we got there. We had thought about going again in the morning but tonight was so good and Mom and Mike are not feeling too well so we decided to pass on getting cold again. After supper we sat around the fire and wrote down all the birds we saw on the boat ride. Then it was off to bed in anticipation of the long drive we have tomorrow.
June 21st. Botswana-Toro Camp to Planet Baobab.
Ate breakfast, broke camp and headed south for 300 km and then west another 100 km. The roads were good except for a short stretch. There the potholes were easy to see (if not avoid) because the asphalt was black but the underlying soil was almost pink and the many of the holes had been patched with a white sandy material. So if we saw pink it meant slow down but if we saw white we could drive over it. Stopped at a store in Nada but they couldn’t sell us any chocolate mix because the power was out and the cash registers weren’t working. The restrooms were also off limits because there was no water without power. Mom was happy when the power went out at the elephant rides (so we couldn’t watch the video of her climbing on the elephant) but she was not as happy today. While driving we saw ground hornbill, kudu, elephant and lots of donkeys and cattle. We also saw our first ostrich. We stopped to buy firewood for our campfire but had a hard time finding anyone to pay. The natives gather wood and stack it beside the highway and if you stop they come running from the village to collect the money. This time no one came and finally Chautel had to go off in the bush and find an old man to pay. He didn’t speak English but finally we took wood and he took money and we all took off happy. In mid-afternoon we arrived at Planet Baobab (named after the trees) and set up camp. It is hot and sandy with little shade but does have decent showers and toilets. After lunch we wandered around the camp. They have a reception center that had chairs and stool all covered in cow hide. It looked like a herd of strange Holstein cows and I’m sure Rhett would say that was the best use they could be put to. There was also a chandelier made of empty beer bottles and a swimming pool that was too cold to swim in but just right for soaking feet. This is the hottest day we have had and the temperature is in the mid 80’s. We took pictures of the Baobab trees and then went on a nature walk with a local guide. We learned about many local plants and how they are (or maybe I should say “were”) used by the native people. The Baobab tree is a storage tank for water. It can be “tapped” and water collected like maple sap and also the hollows in the branches and exposed roots collect pools of rain that can be used as “sipping water” by men and animals. Its fruit is eaten and elephants strip away the bark and eat the moisture laden inner fiber. The sickle bush is very thorny and grows on areas that have been over-grazed. The grasses grow up amid the thorns and are protected from grazers and then when the short-lived bush dies there is a patch of well established grass. Its thorns were used as needles in the old days. The leaves of the brandy tree were used to brew a powerful alcoholic drink. We saw a tree whose leaves look like butterflies and another that is so hard that when it dies the stumps will remain solid for more than 50 years. The basil (?) plant has seeds that can be crushed to produce a substance that smells like menthol and is used in a steam bath, or as a drink, to treat colds and breathing problems. I tried some fruit that were about like chokecherries (all pit) except sweet. The guide also told us that we could find our way in the bush by looking a termite mounds. They always lean to the east, away from the prevailing winds. When we told Chauntel about the mounds she said that we might want to check more than one “just to be sure”. After the walk we sat at a waterhole and enjoyed a cold drink and watched the birds come to drink as the sun set. We went back to camp for supper, showers (hot and clean) and then to bed.
June 22nd. Planet Baobab to Camp Mankwe.
Broke camp and drove three hours to Maun. On the way we saw some steenbok, zebra, donkeys and cattle. Many areas are severely over-grazed and the livestock will be mighty hungry by the next rains. We shopped for groceries and fuel and then drove on to the original Mankwe Lodge and stopped for lunch. Then we drove on to the brand new Camp Mankwe where we stayed in really nice permanent tents with attached shower and toilet facilities. The road into camp was gravel for about 20 miles and was very dusty and there was quite a bit of traffic. We were constantly rolling windows up and down to keep the dust out and let the breeze in. Most of the vehicles were from South Africa and Chauntel said that it was school break time there so many families were on vacation here. The last five miles were just ruts in the sand. The sand was so loose and deep that we had to let some air out of the trailer tires so we could pull it. On the drive in we saw wildebeest and bushbuck. There were also lion and elephant tracks, but the lion tracks were as close as we got to actually seeing the big cats. The tents were spacious and very comfortable but we were the first people to stay in them and there were lots of “bugs”. I got an empty juice bottle and caught spiders and other critters in it for about an hour before Jessie felt comfortable in the tent. There was a waterhole right in front of our tent and I watched birds and an impala come in while I tried to write in my journal. (Just a note about the toilets here. They all flush on the “wrong” side just like people drive on the “wrong” side of the road. ) Jessie and I couldn’t get our shower to put out hot water. They have propane heaters but they are pressure regulated and ours wasn’t set right so it would be hot for a few seconds and then go cold. At dark we set out for our second night game drive and the best thing I can say about it is that it was not as cold as the first one we did in Kafue. We saw hippos, a jackal, a wild cat and some shadows in the trees. That’s it!!!
June 23rd. Game drive from Mankwe.
“Mankwe means “mother leopard” so we took that as a good omen as we set out for our game drive. No leopards and no lions but a very nice day. This was the best game drive we had on our safari. It didn’t start out too well because we tried to cross a small river and got stuck. There was a vehicle stuck when we got there but Chauntel thought she could cross by the side of it. Didn’t work. We were just getting the jack out and preparing to go to work when the guys the other truck belonged to showed up. They had gotten stuck the night before and were now back with a truck and a road grader to pull their truck out. They pulled us out first and we were on our way. We were driving along a small river and many animals came into drink. We had several groups of bull elephants come in and literally mill around the truck as they drank. We also saw giraffes but they were not as close as we would have liked and most of our watching was done with binoculars. There were lots of bird including a huge saddle-billed stork and many birds of prey. The road was just a sandy track but it is the main route south through Chobe NP to Maun and we saw about thirty vehicles during the day. We stopped for lunch under a large tree along the river and while we ate we watched hippos, crocs, and birds in the river and monkeys, zebra and impala on the other side of the road. Resuming our drive we saw mongoose, squirrels, steenbok, elephants, baboons and the ever-present impala. The guides call impala “McDonald” antelope because they have a black “M” on their rumps and because they are the “fast food of the plains”. At one point we saw elephants, baboons and impala drinking side-by-side not thirty yards from the truck. On the way back to camp we saw vultures circling and thought about driving over to them and seeing if there might be lions. However, it was getting late and we still had to get across the river where we had gotten stuck so decided to push on. Unfortunately we found out the next day that there were indeed lions there and they were on a kill. Fortunately we found another way to reach camp without crossing the ford so we reached camp without incident. We had asked a native woman, on the camp staff, to wash some clothes for us today. We told her the clothes were in a bag on the bed. Well when we got back to camp there were our “garments” flapping on the clothesline and the bag of dirty clothes was still on the bed. Supper, a shower (the maintenance man showed us how to get the shower to stay hot and so tonight we enjoyed it much more) and bed.
June 24th. Moremi Reserve.
Since we were going into a game reserve Chauntel couldn’t take us so we had a local driver and truck. In Botswana it is required that you have a guide and vehicle licensed in the country to drive in national parks or reserves. Mike, our driver, picked us up at 6:30 AM and we set out for the Moremi Game Reserve. It took about one and a half hour to get there and we were in an open-sided truck so it was a cold ride and we were very glad to see the sun come up, or rather, to feel the sun come up. Mike took a short cut and we went though some very dense cover and in the middle was a huge bull elephant. He had tusks that must have been eight feet long and very thick. Mike said that if he strayed a few miles in either direction he would probably be shot. There are hunting areas all around here and the bull would make a great trophy. We also saw giraffe and zebra on our drive into the reserve. Once in the reserve we didn’t see any game for quite a long time but finally the animals showed. We saw elephant, kudu, zebra, impala, warthogs and two species of antelope, the Tsessebe (a kind of Topi) and the Red Lechwe (similar to a Puku) which were new to us. There were blue netted boxes along the road and we were told they were traps for tsetse flies. They are used to determine density of the flies so that spraying can be pin pointed. We entered the reserve by the south gate and had lunch on the edge of the Okavango Delta then exited by the north gate. When we were having lunch there were a number of interesting and colorful birds and we took lots of pictures. There was also an observation platform that over-looked the Delta and we climbed it but didn’t stay long because it swayed with every little move we made. At the north gate we had a flat tire and then had to cross a log bridge to exit the reserve. We came home on the same route that we covered on our game drive yesterday. It was great, again!! We saw the largest herd of waterbuck that I have ever seen. There were lots of elephants including a breeding herd with several young calves. It was nearly dark and we couldn’t get good pictures but we did watch them for a time. Like all herds with calves they were nervous and didn’t stay around for long. We finally got back to camp about 7:30 PM. after a long 13 hour day during which we covered about 75 miles, most of it on sand roads, and took a few thousand pictures. At least it seemed like that many. We had just started supper when Mike radioed that he had seen a leopard just a few hundred yards from camp on the road we had just driven in on. We jumped in the truck and drove out but the leopard was gone by the time we arrived. That was the closest we came to seeing a leopard on the whole safari. The big selling point for Botswana has been “unspoiled”, “uncrowded” and “a taste of Africa as it used to be” and yet we saw more tourists in the last two days than Angie and I ever saw in East Africa-even on the Serengeti- and here things are far less organized and far more chaotic. Even the main roads are often deeply potholed and resemble two ruts in 6-8 inch deep sand. If a tree falls across the road no one moves it they just drive around it and “presto” a new road is born. We have also found that instead of saying “Stop for a minute while we take a picture” we can say “Stop for an African second” and that will give us all the time we need and then some. Africans operate on their own time and it is a whole lot slower than we are used to.
June 25th. Lazy day in Audi.
I got up at 6:30 AM and wandered around camp taking pictures until breakfast at 8:00 and then we headed for Maun. We shopped and fueled up and Mike went to the airport and talked to some local pilots about flying over the Delta. We decided not to do it and so drove on to Audi. It is a camp that caters to campers on their way to somewhere, since there isn’t much to see or do there, but they do have four luxury chalets with showers and baths attached. We were booked into these and it was very nice. We had the afternoon to just lie around and ??? I showered, shaved (well trimmed my new beard), read, wrote in my journal, took pictures and even napped a little. We retired early because we want to get to our next camp before it gets hot tomorrow. When the sand gets hot it is much harder driving and the chances of getting stuck go ‘way up.
June 26th. Audi to Guma Camp.
We ate breakfast and were on the road by 7:00 AM. We drove back through Maun, then west for about 75 miles and then turned north. We were now on the west side of the Okavango Delta and drove north another 75 miles and fueled up before turning off the pavement and heading east to Guma Camp. The road was deep sand and it took us over an hour to go 15 miles. On the way we passed a native village that was built to house refugees from the Angola civil war. There were a series of these camps built and then when the war ended most of the refugees went back to Angola and the camps only house a fraction of the people they once did. Many of the huts in these villages are built of adobe brick rather than thatch and the villages have a more permanent look than the typical villages we have seen. There is very little game in this area because there are many scattered villages with the usual cattle and goats. We did see some elephant tracks crossing the road but never did see their makers. The camp turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It is located on a large lagoon and the vegetation is stunning. It is landscaped and maintained better than anywhere we have been. There are flowers, bushes, trees and grass. After setting up the tents Mike, Lisa and I walked to an airstrip that is a half mile from camp. The strip has a three thousand foot runway and after we walked it, from end to end, we still had to walk back to camp in the sand. It was a pretty good work-out. While walking we saw horses (a rarity), cattle, dogs and goats. Mom and Angie did laundry and Mike and Lisa napped while I wrote in my journal. There was another Jenman group out on the Delta today and they returned very happy with their experience. The camp has fishing gear for rent but the manager said that it is the wrong time of year to catch anything. The water is too high and cold. By cold I mean about like Bear Lake but these are warm water fish so they are not very active now. The water in the Delta comes from the mountains in Angola and it takes about six months to get here which means high water is in the middle of the dry season or right about now. When the water is low the animals move about easily and there is a good bit of dry land but now there are only a few scattered islands (well that’s not exactly true-there are thousands of islands) and the animals that are still around pretty much stick to their island. There are a lot of beautiful birds around the camp. One of them kept perching on the outside mirror of our truck and admiring himself (or more probably, herself). She would change angles and even lean over, from the top of the mirror, so she could get an upside down look.
June 27th. Okavango Delta.
After breakfast we boarded a power boat and headed into the Delta. It was very much like Mud Lake, except instead of cattails there was papyrus grass 10 to 15 feet tall and bamboo 15 to 20 feet tall, but the islands and channels and over-all feel was much the same. We even saw a flock of geese (spur-winged) flying over. The water that wasn’t covered by bamboo and papyrus was covered by lily pads. There are “day” lilies and “night” lilies. The flowers are much the same but the pads are different. Night lilies have a larger pad and the edges are serrated, or jagged, while the day lilies have round pads with smooth edges. The tops of the pads are green but if they are turned over they are a dark red. Our guide pulled up a lily-pod and we all had a taste, except Mom, of the nutty, mild pulp. We sat in shallow draught dugouts. The ones were rode in were synthetic material but they looked like real wood. Each canoe was about 16 feet long and the poler stood in the back and pushed with a 12 foot pole. The Makoros, as they are called, had flat bottoms and were quite stable but occasionally a pole would get stuck in the mud and nearly pull the poler into the water. We rode two to a canoe (plus the guide/poler) except for Angie who had her very own. We poled for about an hour and a half stopping to look at monkeys, birds and plants and to take pictures. Then we went for short walks on two islands. Each one was about five acres and had a variety of brush and trees. On the first island we saw monkeys and a warthog. We crept up on the warthog and watched him for about 10 minutes without him knowing we were there. Then the monkeys saw us and sounded the alarm. The warthog’s tail went up and away he went. A bushbuck that we hadn’t even seen also took flight. We saw a baobab tree that elephants had been feeding on. They tear the bark off and then loosen the fibrous interior with their tusks and eat it. It is about 80% water and they seem to really enjoy it. The trees recover and don’t seem any worse for the experience. Found an aardvark hole, in a termite mound, but nobody was home. On the second island we saw three elephants feeding on trees. They would pull branches off and eat leaves, twigs and stems. We got to watch them for a half hour from less than a hundred yards. Ate our lunch and watched more monkeys and warthogs. The water is very high now and most of the animals have moved south to the edges of the delta. Those that are left are pretty much stuck on the island they are on until the water level goes down. The elephants are the exception because they can wade, or swim, from island to island. We would sometimes see the smashed reeds and grasses that marked their passage. We poled slowly back to meet the powerboat and took dozens of picture of the lilies and other flowers. We discovered a dead croc and stopped to get a closer look (as close as the smell would allow). Mike asked our guides to pry its mouth open so we could see the teeth. One guide wanted no part of it but another stuck his pole in the mouth and tried to open it. The mouth didn’t open but a tooth broke off and he stuck it on the end of his pole and showed it to us. It was a serious weapon! After covering about 6 miles we arrived back at the power boat. Then we flew home. Racing through narrow channels with bamboo and papyrus lining the edges was exciting and a perfect ending to the day. The water was so clear we could see things on the bottom in 20 feet of water, not at all what I expected, and the guides drank right out of the channels. The guide stopped once and pulled up a night lily pad and made Jessie a hat. Very stylish! Back in camp there is a tree that has thorn-like projections all over the trunk. Some of them are larger than my thumb and have a hook-like point. They don’t look too dangerous but can do serious damage if you bump into them-as Jessie found out when she did. We used them to hang laundry on and they worked very well. There were also little red pepper bushes all over the camp. The showers are great-you can get hot water and regulate it- but they are pretty open and as soon as the sun goes down it gets pretty cold in them. Sunrise is about 7:00AM and sunset is about 6:00 PM. Of course, we just passed the shortest day of the year here and it does make for long nights if you only sleep 6 or 7 hours like I do. None of the camps have electricity after about 9:00 PM and many of them don’t have it at all outside the main building and some don’t have it period. So anything we do after sunset has to be done by the light from the campfire or our headlamps.
June 28th. Delta to Tsodilo Hills.
Broke camp and drove back out the sand road. We stopped in the “refugee village” to put air in the tires and the native children came to watch. There was a group of boys who came close to the truck and one of them was mimicking everything that Mike did. They had toys made of smashed tin cans and wires that they rolled across the ground. Angie took some pictures with her digital cameras and I showed them to the boys. They loved it! Also took pictures of two little girls, who poised for us, and of the houses and older natives who didn’t pose. We took the road north and drove for about an hour and then took a gravel road west and south to the Tsodilo Hill. The hills are amazing. They just rise up, out of nowhere, in the middle of the plains, and it is easy to see why they inspired awe and worship in the natives. The rocks are amazing colors because of the minerals in them. Pinks, greens, reds, blacks and grays are all mixed in amazing combinations. There are three hills and the natives called them “Male, Female and Child”. People have lived here for almost 200,000 years. There are lots of rock paintings, mostly of animals, done in two distinct styles. The older paintings are done in red and are about 3000 years old, while the newer ones are done in white and are only about 800 to 1000 years old. We went for a hike with a local guide and saw paintings of many animals including: hippo, giraffe, elephant, eland, kudu and warthogs. There were also geometric figures and a few human images. The Tsodilo Hills have evidence of the earliest iron working in Africa. We saw deep grooves that were worn into the rocks when iron tools were sharpened and saw the area where the ore was mined and smelted. A number of different peoples lived here over the centuries. There are springs and seeps scattered over the hills that allowed people to live here permanently. The hills are probably 1500 to 2000 feet high and we climbed to a ridge about 800 feet above the plains. The route up was easy but the route down was just a steep gully filled with huge boulders. It was hard for the ladies but they did really well. Back at camp the showers were “OK”. The water here is solar heated and there are large tanks so there is enough to take a good shower. The plumbing is weird though. Under the sinks there are no drain pipes. Instead the water just drops into a cement groove and runs out thru the wall. The camp is very sandy with no grass at all. Jenman used to stop here on a regular basis but many people didn’t like it so it was dropped from their itinerary. I suspect other companies have done the same because the road in was in bad shape and the camp is not maintained very well. There are a lot of tree squirrels and Francolins around and they entertained us when we were eating or just sitting around camp.
June 29th. Tsodilo Hills to Mahangu Lodge, Namibia.
I got up at first light (6:30 AM) and went for a solo walk in the hills. It was a real treat to be alone and move at my own pace for a change. I found several pieces of rock art that the guide didn’t show us and took pictures. The light was much better than yesterday afternoon. I also found a number of seeps that animals (and, I suppose, early people) use. I can understand why many people don’t find it very interesting here but for me it was one of the highlights of our safari. We had breakfast, broke camp and drove north into Namibia. The crossing into Namibia was very different than any border crossings we have made up to this time. There were no long lines or crowds and the custom officials were actually smiling and friendly (perhaps the former had something to do with the latter). The border station was interesting as well. Outside there was a display of animal skulls including elephant, kudu, hippo, impala and many other species and inside there was a beautiful carved wood mural of many of the same species. The road in Namibia was gravel but it was very well maintained and better than many paved ones we have been on. On the drive to camp we saw both sable and roan antelope. Mahangu Lodge is a very nice camp. It is right on the river and there is grass everywhere. The grounds are landscaped and well tended and there are little signs and sayings all over welcoming you. There is an observation tower (twenty or twenty-five feet tall) that looks out over the river and, unlike the one in Moremi, it was very solid and stable. The reception center had a large zebra skin rug and we found ourselves walking around it instead of on it. There was also a carving of a hippo that must have been three feet tall and four feet long. It was beautiful. The showers and toilets are the best since leaving home. Went for an afternoon game drive and saw lots of animals but still no big cats. Roan, sable, impala, reedbuck, tsessebe, lechwe, bush buck, baboons, monkeys, hippo, elephants and giraffe all were out to welcome us. We returned to camp for showers and dinner and to talk around the campfire. I bought a set of carved lion salt &pepper shakers at the camp office. The natives get their water from two large above ground tanks and then carry it back to their individual homes. Most were carrying it on their heads but some had donkey drawn carts and oxen drawn sleds that carried large containers. It amazes me how few donkeys and horses we saw being actually used. There are donkeys everywhere but it is only occasionally that you see them doing anything useful. We have only seen one horseback rider in the whole time we have been here.
June 30th. Mahangu Lodge to Kwando Camp.
Last night was the coldest night we have had. This morning there was fog everywhere and I am sure the temperature was in the mid 30’s. We went out, right after breakfast, on a game drive. Saw a lot of roan antelope and baboons. The baboons are so fun to watch and so much like people, especially the little ones. The very young ride hanging under their mothers and the slightly older ones ride piggy back. We saw bushbuck (best look so far), zebra, reedbuck, impala and warthog but no cats. Returned to camp for breakfast and then packed up and hit the road. We drove through the Caprivi Strip for most of the day and saw no game. This area was poached out during the Angola civil war and the game still hasn’t recovered. Chauntel stopped on the road and ran back and picked up a lizard for us to see. I don’t know how she sees things like that when she is driving 110 KPH. She put it on her arm and it just sat there and stared back at us until she released it. We arrived at Kwando Camp about 2:30 PM, set up camp and ate then went on a game drive in Mudumu NP. There were no animals!! In two hours we saw 4 zebra, 2 impala and 1 buffalo. The sunset was great though. We parked on the bank of a river and took pictures and gawked until dark. There is a large bush fire in the area and the smoke made the sunset even more spectacular than usual. We took pictures of the group and enjoyed the next-to-last night we will have together in camp. Tomorrow we are here and then it is back to Livingstone and then home.
July 1st. Kwando Camp and Mudumu NP.
It was another cold night, not as bad as last night however, and noisy. There were a lot of birds and some critter in the garbage can behind our tent. Whatever it was liked the salad we threw away except for the peppers which it left in a little pile at the side of the can. Got up at 6:30 AM and went for another game (?) drive in Mudumu. What a bust! This was not the place to finish our trip. We did see a few buffalo, zebra and roan antelope but they were few and far between. If I had the trip to do again we would skip the big loop to the south through Planet Baobab and this area and spend the extra time in Chobe NP. We walked around camp while lunch was being prepared. They have some very nice permanent tents here but they are all flooded. There were monstrous rains here this year and the rivers are still very high. The toilet facilities here are housed in circular bamboo huts with thatched roof and a piece of rope that can be tied across the doorway to show they are occupied. The camp was very crowded and showers were at a premium. However the camp is building a new addition just for Jenman and they hurried and finished the shower for us. Lisa was the first person to ever use it. A real claim to fame, HUH! In the afternoon we visited a traditional native village. It is set up to show tourist how the natives live, or maybe more accurately, how they used to live. The village had four thatched huts, surrounded by an upright pole fence (like the OLD WEST forts) and a number of small structures. At the grandmother’s hut we were shown how mullet is stored in huge woven baskets with a thatched roof built over them and set up off the ground to keep pests out. If the pests do come there are dead-fall traps to smash them. The women demonstrated how the mullet is trashed and pounded into a meal. At grandfather’s hut we saw a fish trap, bow and arrows and a hippo call (a kind of drum with one end open and a reed attached that can be rubbed, with a wet hand, to produce a very realistic hippo noise. They also showed us a chicken-coop where the chickens are kept at night to keep them safe from predators. It is a little thatched hut built on a platform about six feet off the ground and it has a “ladder” that the chickens climb up and that is then removed for the night. We were shown iron working techniques involving a billow made from cow skin and sticks. The medicine man showed his hut and how he tends to the ill. He looked into his magic horn (a piece of glass set into the large end of a cow horn) and told us we were all well and that we would enjoy our stay in his country. The natives then demonstrated their musical instruments and did some dances for us. Lisa and I both were invited to join in for a few steps. Even the very small children participated in the dances and our girls loved their girls. As we left the village we got a look at how things are changing. One hut had a satellite dish and another had a solar panel that was used to charge batteries. We returned to camp and spent some time photographing the beautiful birds that abound. There were some bee-eaters that were catching a variety of large wasp, in mid-air, and then beating them on a limb to kill them before eating. We played cards for a bit and then ate, showered and retired for our last night in the tents.
July 2nd. Kwando Camp to Livingstone, Zambia.
We broke camp and packed the tents for the last time. We always sweep the tents out and try to keep them clean but we made a special effort this time. Chauntel will be picking up a new group in a couple of days and we don’t want them to think we were slobs. Drove all morning, passing through custom at Namibia/Zambia border, and reached Livingstone, where we checked into the Waterfront again. We went to the downtown marketplace where we traded all our extra hats, jackets, shoes, bandanas, towels and etc. for curios. Jessie is a pretty shrewd bargainer and I am a real push-over. We got several soapstone figures and a number of carved animals that I hope we can get home in one piece. They are quite fragile, especially the soapstone. Jessie also got some jewelry and cloth and etc. We had our final supper with Chauntel at the lodge. She had a gift for each of us. Angie had wanted a Jenman T-shirt but Jenman doesn’t sell them, they are only for the guides, so Chauntel gave one of hers to Angie. She gave Mike a little airplane made out of tin cans. Jessie received a giraffe-hair bracelet and I got a beaded lizard. Lisa was given a small carved doll called a “traveler”. When you are traveling you give it to someone special that you meet and then they give it to someone they meet on their next trip and so on. At dinner we tried an African delicacy, some fried emperor moth caterpillars, or MOPANE worms. Jessie managed to get about half of one down and I ate a couple but they will never make my favorite foods list. They tasted much like very bad jerky.
July 3rd. Livingstone to Johannesburg.
lion encounter south africaArose at 5:30 AM, complete with the same bites I got here the last time, and left for the lion encounter at 6:30. We crossed the border into Zimbabwe and drove 6 or 8 miles to the reserve where they are working to breed lions that can be re-introduced into the wild. The program is a four step one that starts with orphaned cubs, or other young lions that come from a variety of places. These cubs are raised in a natural environment but they have a lot of interaction with humans for the first couple of years. Then they are moved to an area where there is natural game and encouraged to hunt. Most of their food is still provided by keepers but as they learn to hunt they are gradually weaned away from it. There are other lions in the enclosure area and the older ones teach the younger ones. Gradually the lions form natural prides and stake out territories. Then the prides are moved, intact, into a new area where they are the only lions but there are other predators and a good supply of game animals (this is usually a park or game reserve) but where they can be monitored and kept away from human contact. When cubs are born into these prides they will be wild lions and will have no contact with humans. At adulthood these cubs can be allowed to form prides that can then be reintroduced into areas that have lost their lion populations. This is an oversimplified account but it gives an idea of what the research center is trying to do. We got to walk and interact with two lions that were 13 months old. They weighed about 150 -170 pounds and were two and a half feet tall at the shoulder. We walked through the brush with them and watched them play with each other and with the staff. There were a number of photo opportunities of both the lions in natural settings and of them poised with us. It was hard to remember that these are not pets and could be deadly. The staff was very careful to keep us out of dangerous situations. We then had breakfast and returned to the Zambia border where Chauntel met us and drove us to the airport. Although we didn’t experience any problems we found out that the U.S. State Department had advised citizens not to go into Zimbabwe. The political situation is very tense and many people have been seeking asylum at the U.S. embassy. Inflation is unbelievable and Mike bought two 15 billion (Zimbabwe $) bills for $2 U.S. and would be able to buy one loaf of bread with them. The money even has an expiration date printed on it. Our driver was very critical of the government and said it wouldn’t get better until god took the president away. Our flight to Johannesburg took 2 hours and then we checked into the Airport Grand. After long showers and/or baths we walked across the intersection and had supper. It was an excellent buffet and the total bill was 300 Rand or about $55 U.S. for the five of us. Retired early-it has been a long day.
July 4th. Johannesburg to home (??).
Checked out of the hotel and went to the airport at 11:00AM. Jessie and Angie went to settle with South Africa Air on the bag that didn’t arrive with us. The airline was very good and paid Jessie $340 U.S. which pretty much covered the clothes and other things she had to buy. Then we had lunch at a little café in the airport. A waitress remembered Angie from when we ate there almost a month ago. We were eating when a group of missionaries walked in. There were two native missionaries, who had completed their missions and were flying home, two Elders from the U.S. and the mission president and his wife. Jessie got the names and numbers of the Elders mothers so she could call them when we get home and asked if we could call anyone for the President. He said “No, thank you, we have only been here a week”. We shopped and just killed time until 7:00 PM when we boarded our plane. After flying for 8 hours we stopped to refuel (stayed on the plane) and then flew another 8 hours to JFK. We arrived in New York at 7:00 AM Eastern Daylight time after having been on the plane for nearly 17 hours. We then checked Angie in for her flight to Phoenix and Mom and I wandered around JFK until our flight boarded at 4:00 PM. Arrived in Salt Lake City and Katie picked us up and took us to her home for a night’s sleep. So ends the great adventure.