Since I arrived back in Africa on January 18th, I have spent the majority of my time working from a desk. Not my ideal office. This was primarily because the project I was working on involved a lot of video editing. But that project is nearly done, which is great because I am now going to spend more of my time out in the bush, photographing and filming nature and wildlife, something I truly love!!! (and also because who doesn't love completing a project!)
The past week I was able to get away to a lodge in the Lower Zambezi (see map). This is a beautiful part of Africa, along the Zambezi river dividing southern Zambia and northern Zimbabwe. The landscape on the Zambian side is extremely dense, particularly this time of year, with consistent rains nourishing the various plant life.
Half my time was spent photographing the lodge and its accommodations, and the other half photographing the wildlife. Although I am not an architectural photographer by trade, this was a treat as each one of the fifteen suites offered breathtaking views, amenities and welcoming feel, making it a pleasure to shoot.
The lodge itself is located just outside the Lower Zambezi National Park, in the Game Management Area. Both are fully wild, the main difference being that there are small communities living in the GMA whereas no human settlements are permitted in a NP.
Game drives and other wildlife viewing is permitted in the NP, but access is more difficult this time of year as the channel that divides the two is too high for a vehicle to cross (should be accessible in a few months).
Our game viewing by truck was restricted to the GMA. Not a problem at all. This area is home to lions, leopards, hyena, wild dog, zebra, kudu, impala, waterbuck, elephant, buffalo just to name a few.
I was fortunate enough to see a pride of 5 lions, herds of elephant including what looked like 2x 6 month old calves, waterbuck, impala, crocodiles, hippos and numerous bird species. Other guests saw a leopard but I was not out on that drive unfortunately.
One of the highlights was an aerial survey. A few kilometres from the lodge is a organization called Conservation Lower Zambezi. They are involved in lots of conservation projects including wildlife education, elephant mitigation techniques (such as planting of chilli plants) and anti-poaching. One of the ways to combat poaching is by doing aerial patrols to look for carcasses of animals already poached, ash from fires or small campsites where poachers may have setup, etc. We flew in a small Cessna, with the doors removed and quite low to the ground to be able to spot individual game. It allowed me to begin to appreciate the expanse of the Game Management Area and the National Park, and how lush and dense the forest becomes during these months, creating a velvety green carpet that slopes into the hills.
This week has given me a glimpse into another one of Africa's gems, and now that reoccurring and increasingly familiar crossroads stands in front of me: return and explore the same area a little further, or begin a new set of tracks into the unknown? Lets try both!