Flatdogs

Dustin here, with an interlude from the weekdays of authentic Zambian experiences to the ultimate in cliché African adventures… a weekend of safari.  After two nights in our tent at Dean’s in Chipata I already started lobbying for upgrading to a room – with the excuse that we needed the space and electricity (lights) to get our packing done before our early morning departure to head off to the park.  So we broke down the tent and moved all of our luggage into the dorm.  Two hours later we had sorted, collated, reorganized, and repacked all of our gear and settled in for a short night’s sleep.

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.

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3 Responses to Flatdogs

  1. Mama says:

    It is fun to hear a different voice. Your reporting is markedly different, but, equally as good as Julianna’s. I have to wonder what she would have said about the same experience. Bet you did not have to lobby too hard to get Julianna to stay in the dorm! :)

  2. Dad says:

    Great post, Dustin. Thanks much. Flatdogs – great name, but a scary animal. Please don’t walk in your sleep or get lost at night.

    Much love to you both.

  3. Cate says:

    I guess with time you will laugh at the hard time travel stories, but at the time it is miserable, isn’t it? But you are reaping rewards for your efforts. Flat dogs….don’t step on one. they don’t seem too dog or people friendly.

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