Monday, August 22, 2011

Before Lisbon... Zambia

In complete contrast and as a gorgeous relaxed prelude to the busyness of the week in Lisbon, my husband and I were lucky enough to join my two sisters, their spouses and a group of friends, on an idyllic holiday on the Zambezi River in Zambia. I didn't do a lot of sketching - my few attempts at drawing the abundance of wildlife - lions, hippos galore, elephant and crocodiles, buffalo, impala and kudu were quickly abandoned as either they or the vehicle moved, or I was too entranced to take my eyes off them to reach for my sketchbook and brushes. These were some of the quiet moments I did manage to get down on paper...
A view from a pool deck at the lodge down the river.
Hippos grazed and grunted contentedly near the tented rooms - I sat on one of the patios and sketched them and a group of baboons picking at seeds on the mud flats - ready to run inside if they came any closer!

Boats took us to some watery by-ways, where scores of varieties of birds nested and fed, as well as some huge crocs and the ubiquitous hippos, the 'pigeons of the Zambezi'. I was grateful for the expert knowledge of the guides as to where to get out and stretch our legs! This was my husband, brother-in-law and his brother fishing for barbel. On another occasion, one of them had caught a fish from the boat and was reeling it in, when a croc shot up and took it, Matt finding himself with this huge toothy beast on the end of his line, a metre away - which fortunately turned and broke it before diving back into the deep.

Vincent, the fishing guide on this trip (my sketch doesn't look much like him, another moving target!), worked hard, baiting all the hooks and advising where to cast - he was extremely knowledgeable about the birds, trees, in fact all the flora and fauna, as were all the guides - getting a little time to fish himself in between work.

The bar hangs over the water and underneath a magnificent sausage tree, adorned with enormous sausage-shaped seedpods. It was a bit chilly in the evenings to make use of this beautiful sundowner area in July, two outdoor fireplaces inviting us to gather around and share every day's wealth of experiences.

The white fronted bee-eater, as my sister Vivienne noted, was the bird of the trip, there seemed to be one around or ahead of us, wherever any of us went, by foot or landrover. One of the guides said they try to lead people, or baboons to bee-hives, so that as you take the honey, they get the bees, wiping the stings out first on a rock - clever little creatures!

...and a jacana digging for food in the mud puddles.
On my last blissful day in the bush, we could choose to go down the river by boat cruise - which I did, having an unforgettable encounter with elephants along the way (photos below) - land vehicle, or canoe, all meeting at a spot on the river bank where a delicious picnic lunch had been prepared for us. I sketched the staff having a well-earned break before clearing up and getting us back via boat cruise or game drive for one last, perfect evening on the Zambezi.


Kerrie said...

Just gorgeous!

dinahmow said...

I always love your sketches, but the Zambesi trip is almost like being there. (It's on my "one day" list!)

Penny said...

What a wonderful trip, thanks for sharing something I will never get to see.
Your sketches are lovely.

RH Carpenter said...

What a trip! I like all of these sketches but LOVE the hippos and baboons - what body positions so typical of them and that pink on the hippo :) I see more animal paintings in your future!

Cathy Gatland said...

Thanks Kerrie, Penny, Dinahmow and Rhonda - hippos are SO pink, they look badly sunburnt, but apparently its a defence against the sun. And they were too far away really for me to see if that one that looks like a rock was facing forwards or backwards! I don't know about painting animals... love to watch them, but not as subject matter for some reason

Benjamin J. said...

Your so lucky to get to visit these places. Through the sketchblogs of many we all get to see the world. One sketch at a time.

Carol King said...

Oh My, these are fantastic!