We had a beautiful last breakfast at Chinzombo Camp and heard a lot of elephant trumpeting across the river. There was really a lot of trumpeting, and we saw later that there was a small herd with two very young elephants whose mamas were, no doubt, protecting them from the two young male lions we’d seen yesterday.
Shaddy and Jamie, the spotter, drove us to the Mfuwe International Airport, and we picked up our pilot, Sebastian, along the way. The drive takes a little over an hour, and we saw many roadside villages or settlements with very poor conditions. People were lined up at one water hand-pump with their five or ten gallon plastic buckets, and there was obviously no electricity.
I asked Shaddy about school, and he said the children go for free to school through seventh grade, but the parents have to buy books and writing supplies. He also started telling me about Rosie, a female guide he’d greeted before we left the South Luangwa River park. I commented that this year was the first time we’d ever seen female guides, both at the Maasai Mara and here. He said that Rosie was his student. She originally was working in housekeeping at camp, but she wanted to be a guide. After failing twice at her examinations, Shaddy offered to take her on as an assistant and teach her what she needed to know. He told her she must work, she must pass the test so that she could break the barrier for other women to be guides. She worked with him at a bush camp for two or three months, carrying his things when they went on the walking safaris, etc., and the next time she took her test, she passed! He is obviously very proud of her.
At the airport we said our goodbyes and boarded our tiny four-seater plane with Sebastian at the helm. After two hours, we landed in Lusaka, got our boarding passes at an electronic kiosk, handed over our luggage, and boarded a commercial South African Airlines plane for Johannesburg. Soon after we got our seats, Barry realized the ticket taker didn’t attach our luggage claim receipts to our tickets. We didn’t know what this would mean when we reach South Africa - would we have to find our bags and go through customs and then haul our bags to the next connection? Or would the luggage be checked all the way through to Windhoek, Namibia.
We were met by a transfer agent in Johannesburg and told him our dilemma. He escorted us to the front of the line for immigration, and then he looked at our passports. The South African ticket agent had attached our luggage claims to the back of Barry’s passport and they clearly showed the luggage would be checked all the way through to Windhoek. Relief! We spent the next couple of hours relaxing in a comfortable South African lounge and then boarded another commercial flight to Windhoek. Once there, we met another transfer agent who quickly drove us to the Hotel Heinitzburg where we had an elegant dinner and spent the night. Driving through Windhoek, we were struck by how modern and prosperous the city looked. No tin roofs or open sewers that we could see.