it’s Monday and and a crazy little thing called love

Well hello there! I do hope that you are well and have had another fabulous weekend. This week Monday as well as next Monday we have a glorious two-part story from Doctors Ginny and Keith who come to the South Luangwa Valley each year to help out in the local clinic and also to provide…

Well hello there! I do hope that you are well and have had another fabulous weekend.

This week Monday as well as next Monday we have a glorious two-part story from Doctors Ginny and Keith who come to the South Luangwa Valley each year to help out in the local clinic and also to provide medical assistance for the lodges in South Luangwa when needed. They are currently back in the UK and are obviously missing us here in the Valley as have sent us this wonderful write up which will cover the next 2 weeks! Keith and Ginny over to you:

“This is the story of how two doctors fall in love with South Luangwa. The story begins just over a decade ago. It’s Monday the 22nd October 2012.

Seeking adventure, Ginny and Keith Birrell naïvely believe that a self-drive safari might unlock the secrets of the Zambian bush. Their roof tent seems to offer them comfort and some style. They find wilderness in Kafue. They certainly find self-reliance and thrill. Their low bar of expectation is met. But the Zambian game stays elusive. And there is something else missing too. Professionals.

Their itinerary snakes through promising lands. The long drive from Kafue to Mfuwe seems endless. The sun tucks itself beneath the Western horizon as the dusty duo pitch their tent and light their barbecue beside the Luangwa River. Baboons and elephants locate the Birrells within minutes. Or at least they locate their food. A daring male baboon grabs a bag of chicken thighs and heads for a nearby tree. Keith’s alpha voice booms. The baboon’s resolve shaken; he surrenders his prize. A tip-toeing mother elephant seems to prefer cooked food. She ventures out of the gloomy bush, calf in tow. Ginny now alpha, commands Keith to beat a hasty retreat to the Land Rover. The food, again surrendered, but fortunately does not pass elephant muster. Mother elephant is seeking greens. The barbecue food is left to the hungry alpha primates.

Our story is about to get to its nub. Keith and Ginny are not totally green to Africa. Voluntary Service in Tanzania in the 1990’s had ignited something of an obsession for them both. Wild Africa holds a fascination. The lure of the African bush smoulders in their hearts and summons them again and again. Twenty years later, South Luangwa offers them the Holy Grail of safari experiences. Untamed bush. The professionalism of the Robin Pope team. Leopard heaven and havens.

After the perils of self-driving, the Birrells opt for a substantial upgrade. A 3 day treat to reward their adventurous spirits. The RPS hub of Nkwali Camp whets Ginny and Keith’s appetites. The prehensile dexterity of an elephant trunk gathering grass in the Nkwali lagoon is spellbinding. Ginny and Keith are instant converts to the Robin Pope experience. Tena Tena delivers the ultimate in opulent comfort and style. A new high bar is set with expert guiding, and wildlife in South Luangwa.

At dusk the Hollywood pride share an aperitif with the off-duty docs. Then one by one the peckish felines yawn and stretch. And stroll off into the darkness. Nyambe suggests that gin and tonic in hand might impede the chase. A quick swig and the glasses are stowed. The pursuit is on. Following the stealthy predators in the gloom is no mean feat. The red search light barely picks them out. Predicting their behaviour is a honed art. Nyambe leaves the bright lights off until the death knell. Then as the lead lioness strikes, the search light pinpoints the gory action. An impala impaled with claw and tooth. Drawn and quartered by ravenous females. But then, the male asserts himself and takes the lion’s share.

Happily sated after their own haute cuisine Ginny and Keith sit with Bertram on the dry riverbed at Tena Tena. Surrounded by darkness. The campfire roars. Their attention, initially focussed on the wealth of experience and knowledge that their host is sharing, is torn away by a different roar. Their chests shake. Is that lion too close? Bertram shakes his head briefly. But the second roar causes the shake to become a nod. In fact, the whole pride chooses to adopt Tena Tena for the night. An extra night drive between the dining area and the sturdy canvas of Tena Tena’s superlative tents keep the apex predators at bay. Two nights at Tena Tena with RPS is stretched to include an extra night at Nsefu Camp. A love story is born…

Ginny and Keith’s’ new love drives their choices over the next 11 years.

ABOUT | Into Africa (keithandginnybirre.wixsite.com)

You can read part two here: Crazy Little Thing Called Love Part 2

Emily