Livingstone In Perspective

Probably the last guest blog from Ruth Binney for a while, that’s Ruth with my wife Ireen pictured above in the latest fashion at Victoria Falls!

“Back now in grey and rainy England, my mind is full of memories of Zambian warmth – not just the sunshine but the smiles and generosity of everyone who made my recent visit so enjoyable. Particular thanks must go to Richard and his family, and to all the staff at Chanters Lodge who looked after me so well.

As a ‘regular’ tourist, the highlights were the rhino walk and the one day safari to Chobe (reported in previous blogs), as well as the sunset cruise on the Lady Livingstone and the visit to the Falls which, full of water after the rains, were awesomely powerful – and wet. If you are reading this and anticipating a visit soon believe me (as Richard will undoubtedly tell you) you WILL get soaked. Even with a hired raincoat and the umbrella of my guide, I was wet through. The Knife Edge Bridge was a river and the spray so intense that it was like being in a rainstorm. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

As for everyday experiences, writing this on a Saturday afternoon I am recollecting the gathering around the TV to watch the football last weekend – a great way to share a sporting experience with fellow Arsenal supporters!

Shopping in Livingstone included the new Shoprite supermarket which is well stocked, bright and cheerful, but also visits to the fishmonger, butcher, chemist and stationer. Out with Melinda I also met her friends and members of her family and visited the market packed with stalls selling vegetables and fruit of all kinds. There – and on every street corner – ‘talk time’ for the mobile can be bought. This is definitely the most prized commodity for young and old alike.

To visit the home of Susan, one of Richard’s senior staff, was a privilege and a pleasure. For her, saving means buying cement and having bricks made so that her home can be extended. She is one of many young women acting as sole supporters of their families.

The food at Chanters was as good as ever – I specially recommend the Bean Curry and the Bream. At a family meal I followed Zambian tradition and ate nshima and chicken with my hands – it was delicious! The pool is inviting and warm and the garden carefully tended. As well as the many geckos I was also happy to spot a chameleon fly catching.

The downsides? Very few, but the internet is expensive and sporadic and business wise enterprises such as Richard’s suffer from the monopolies of banking, TV and other utilities in terms of both price and service. It makes some of our complaints seem trivial in retrospect.

Should you visit? Yes certainly – it is an experience that no one should miss and will surely give you a new slant on life. I can’t wait to be back in Livingstone and at Chanters Lodge again.”

Thanks Ruth, it was great to see you!


A Day To Remember

(Another contribution from guest blogger Ruth Binney)

If you’ve ever wanted to see a herd of elephants walk down to the water to drink, cool down and play, watch crocodiles and monitor lizards basking or see more than 25 different species of birds all in the space of a few hours then the place to be is in Chobe National Park in Botswana.

The one day safari from Chanters Lodge begins with a drive to the border on the Zambezi, the only place in the world where four countries meet (Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe), There you quickly realize that the speed boat organized to take you across the river is luxury indeed, On both sides there are lines of trucks a mile or so long waiting to be carried, one at a time, by the three ferries that ply the water, At worst, we learned, it can take more than a week in the queue.

Our party – myself, Richard on a rare day off and his wife Ireen and Henry aged 7 – were transported the short distance to Chobe Safari Lodge for the first and most spectacular part of the day, a 2 1/2 hour boat trip along the river Chobe. What an experience! Botswana’s bird spectacularly on display, best of all being the malachite kingfisher (pictured, lilac breated roller (Botswana’s national bird, fish eagles, maribou storks and lappet faced vultures. Plus the elephants with mothers protecting their young between their legs and many hippos in family groups. A game drive through the park followed lunch, when Henry excelled himself spotting a tortoise and mongoose – neighbours to the many elephants, wart hogs and giraffes.

Altogether an excellently organized day thanks to Bushtracks and their informative guides and our driver Chris who sped us through the form filling needed to cross the borders back and forth. Another outing not to be missed from Chanters and a thrilling day for Henry too!


Chobe National Park

Yesterday my sister Ruth, staying with us from UK, Ireen, Henry and I went on the Chobe 1 day safari that we offer Chanters Lodge Guests at US$150 per person inclusive.

I’m sure I’ll have the chance to write about it fully some time soon, meanwhile check my great photo of a giraffe!


Zambezi Queen

Check this from the New York Times:

Ever since Katharine Hepburn declared “I never dreamed that any mere physical experience could be so stimulating!,” African river boating has been a booming industry.

The Zambezi Queen a new 150-foot-long river boat described by its owner, Tony Stern, as a “five-star floating boutique hotel,” is a far cry from Hepburn’s African Queen. But it does offer a luxurious new way to explore one of the lesser-known waterways of the continent: the Chobe River in Botswana. The mighty river, which runs through Chobe National Park, supports an array of wildlife, including elephants, waterbuck, giraffes, zebras, impalas, wildebeests, kudus, warthogs and giraffes.

The Zambezi Queen bills itself as eco-friendly, with solar-heated water, jet propulsion (instead of propellers) and no air-conditioning. All 14 suites are appointed with private balconies, modern colonial-style decor and plenty of mosquito netting. The ship also has a bar, reading room and plunge pool.

Tours are two or three days, and cover 20 miles of the river, with prices ranging from $800 to $3,600, depending on length, time of year and accommodation.

Looks stunning doesn’t it?


Twitter Types

I like Twitter for lots of different reasons, not least of which is #MusicMonday! This what Guy Kawasaki has to say about Twitter user types!

“1. The Newbie. “What am I doing?” The Newbie signed up for Twitter less than three months ago and thinks it’s all about lifestreaming: “Watching my cat roll over.” These people quickly progress to a different type of use or abandon Twitter when no one pays attention to them. Motivation: curiosity about Twitter. Recommended approach: understand.

2. The Brand. “What can I get away with?” The Brand balances the tension between using Twitter as a marketing tool and socially engaging people so as not to appear to be using Twitter as a marketing tool. Motivation: greater brand awareness. Recommended approach: observe.

3. The Smore. “What’s in it for me?” The Smore (social media whore) sees Twitter primarily as a self-promotion tool to get something from people although a transparent Smore (“Bubbles”) is often a delightful person. The delusional ones are the pains. Motivations: making a buck off and gaining followers. Recommended approach: tolerate.

4. The Bitch. “What can I complain about?” Despite deriving this name from female dogs, this is usually an angry man who envies people who generate content. They can be briefly amusing in a “shock jock” kind of way, but their bark is greater than their bite, and their bite is greater than their insight. Motivation: generating angry reactions. Recommended approach: block.

5. The Maven. “What’s interesting in my niche?” The Maven is an expert in a field such as recruiting, marketing, or web design. If you’re interested in their field, following them is a rich, rewarding, and time-saving experience. Motivation: getting retweeted and recognized as an expert. Recommended approach: follow.

6. The Mensch. “How can I help?” Mensches are few and far between. They lurk in the background until people need help and then they either know, or know how to find, the answer. They are seldom well-known or highly followed, but they save you tons of time and effort when you want to know something like the ideal dimensions of a profile background. Motivation: helping others. Recommended approach: adore.

Now comes the hard part: What kind of Twitter user are you? To make Twitter an effective tool, you need to be a Brand, Maven, or Mensch. To go even further, you need to be able to adopt the roles of Brand, Maven, Mensch, and a touch of the Smore, and that is truly an art.

Truly brilliant. Me? Probably a mix of Maven and Brand! I’d also like to add

7. The Luvvy Swooning and gushing over followers or tweets, perhaps for a #followfriday or a #traveltuesday they often pour out or retweet swooning pieces of advice about love and life. Often have more followers than you’d imagine. Recommended approach: love them back, they’re doing it for a reason!

The photo – one of Kerry de Bruyn’s from her Botswana trip – she’s @AfricanPhoto on Twitter


Botswana Currency

Do you need to know this?

The Bank of Botswana introduced a new family of bank notes in August. The old notes will be exchanged for new ones via Botswana Banking Institutions until 31st December 2009. From 1st January 2010 to 31st December 2014 old notes will only be exchanged at the Bank of Botswana.

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