We got up at O-dark-thirty to be ready for our ride, which had requested that we be ready to go at 6am (we found out later the reason was because he needed to get to the park in time to pick up some other folks for a return trip). Given that Julianna is an excellent planner, we had showered, eaten, and gotten our bags ready to load by a few minutes to six. Forty-five minutes later our ride arrived, after what he described as ‘battery problems.’ We had called twice (after 15 and 40 minutes) and both times got the answer: “I’ll be right there” followed abruptly by the call ending. Transportation is one aspect of travel in Africa that rarely runs like clockwork.
After a quintessential beginning to our weekend we arrived at our destination about 50 miles north, 3 hours later. You can do the math – we weren’t moving very fast. Although our destination is one of the top two tourist attractions in all of Zambia (perhaps second to Victoria Falls), our route along the most direct road was anything but developed. Most of the journey was over dirt roads, which might best be described as an obstacle course. Even in our 4×4 vehicle the driver had to constantly weave back and forth across the entire road in search of the least pocked path. Ironically, for most of the way we were driving directly next to a large nicely graded road that is under construction (although our driver expected it to be completed ‘in a few years’). Towards the end of the journey we picked up a paved road, which continued to the park. It turns out that the pavement started at the airport, which is how most tourists travel to the park – for reasons that were at this point quite clear to us!
So, at 10am we rolled into Flatdogs, our accommodations for the weekend. The place came highly recommended, and didn’t disappoint. High on the list of reasons for the accolades is the kitchen, which was our first stop. A late breakfast of French Toast, fresh fruit, and an omelet really hit the spot. The rest of the meals over the course of the weekend were great too, comparable to an average meal out in San Francisco – which means they far exceeded the quality of any other meals I had had in Zambia so far!
Last up for the morning was checking into our safari tent, situated right on the bank of the river. The prime locale of the accommodations is another area where Flatdogs gets top marks, as well as its namesake! As we were checked in to the tent, and shown the nice view of the river from the front patio, we got strict instructions to not venture beyond the grass. Beyond the grass was a large sandy riverbank, which is well populated with crocodiles – otherwise known by their local nickname: flatdogs.