Monday, October 7, 2013

Safari Adventures

About a month ago, I was asked to travel to Lusaka, Zambia to conduct a laboratory assessment and provide training to the national syphilis reference laboratory to support efforts to scale up syphilis screening in the country. I spent the latter half of August and the beginning of September frantically putting together training materials, presentations, and packing lab supplies, and I finally had a moment to breathe when I stepped on the plane for my 10 hour flight to Amsterdam. This would be my second trip to Africa, and I was extremely excited and extremely anxious to do a great job. I'm happy to report that while exhausting, the trip went very well, and the laboratory learned quite a bit from us and vice versa. This will definitely be a wonderful partnership going forward. Unfortunately, due to the government shutdown, I am on furlough (more on furlough adventures later) until Congress passes a spending bill. I hate to lose the momentum from this trip, but what can you do?! Hopefully Congress can get their act together before this whole situation becomes even more of a debacle.

 Anyway, while the trip was extremely busy (like 14+ hour days busy) my colleague and I did manage to do some sightseeing on the day of our departure. We decided to visit Chaminuka Lodge, a private wildlife reserve about an hour outside of Lusaka. It was absolutely incredible! For about $80, you received two game drives, a delicious buffet lunch, and access to the lodge's activities (boating, fishing, horseback riding, hiking) and amenities (pool, amazing collection of African artwork). We made it in time for the morning game drive, and I'm so glad we did! It seemed like all of the animals were out and about enjoying the beautiful Zambian weather (nowhere near as hot as Atlanta). I saw plenty of gazelle and antelope, zebras (including a baby!!), wildabeests, buffalo, elephants, and giraffes (my personal favorite- they are so graceful!). Our guide took us by the lions' 20 acre enclosure, and we were able to spot a lion and lioness lounging in the shade. They were absolutely magnificent! Last but certainly not least, we drove by the Cheetah enclosure, and the guide invited us to reach out and pet them through the fence. I cannot even explain how cool it was to scratch a cheetah behind the ears. They are beautiful, awe-inspiring animals!

Osterich running away from the car

Chaminuka Lodge

The logde has an impressive collection of African artwork. This is just one wall from the gameroom.

Ready for the game drive!





Sleepy buffalo

Sable Antelope




My cheetah friends


After the game drive, I went for a ride in the bush! You heard me- I went for a horseback ride in the bush! It was the most incredible experience! The atmosphere was alive with the sounds of birds and cicadas, and we passed elephants and sable antelope as gazelle leaped in the distance. Edward, the steady little horse I rode, was born and raised at Chaminuka, and he knew his way around the reserve like the back of his hand (hoof). It was the perfect way to explore this amazing reserve. I spent the remainder of the afternoon eating a delicious lunch on the deck overlooking the lake and sipping a Mosi while perusing the lodge's art collection. Chaminuka was certainly an experience I will never forget!

Don't forget! Lauren's contest over at SheMovedToTexas to win a Horze winter jacket ends tomorrow!

I wanted to take sweet Edward home with me!