AS April draws to a balmy close, the Zambezi is slowly rising here on the island. The Zambezi River Authority tells us that on 23 April the volume had increased to 1,035 cubic meters/second, still only 26% of its volume of 3,954 this time last year. One of the measuring stations is situated at Chavuma in Western Zambia, where the river re-enters Zambia from Angola. The river that far upstream peaked on 17 March and is now dropping. Its volume is 538 cubic meters/second, last year it was 4,842. The level there is trending the 1995/96 season which was the lowest in 50 years.
The poor rainy season has its advantages; we have had very few mosquitoes this year, and bugs, in general, are in short supply. Not good for those animals that eat them, but a good number of our guests are delighted. I have noticed that certain nationalities that come to the island have a lower tolerance for insects, compared to others. I attribute this to the fact that many of them live in big cities, notoriously poor environments for insects with the exception of cockroaches.
The first elephants are starting to visit us from the Zimbabwean bank. We have had some wonderful viewings of young bulls swimming from the island to Palm Island in Zambia, typically in the late afternoon. Even though the river is relatively low, the current is still strong enough to sweep them well downstream from where they launch. A few days ago, we had a hippo grazing between Rooms 3 and 4 late into the morning, which is unusual. Guests are always thrilled to see them out of the water and are amazed at their bulk. Hippos are very neat eaters, nipping the growing tips of the grass off with their lips and leaving the remainder in healthy condition. They are excellent lawn mowers and their dung fertilizes the food they eat.
Walking home down the walkway to my tent last night I noticed that the Southern Cross is in a great position for viewing from the rooms right now. For most of the year, it is not easy to see behind the huge palms and other trees on the island.
Every morning flocks of Egyptian geese fly over the island heading downstream, honking as they move. In the evenings as we wait on the jetty for our guests to return from their cruises and drives, they fly back in the opposite direction, giving us a beautiful fly-past in formation. I always wonder where they roost and where they spend their days, and nobody seems to know. Humans in cities are not the only creatures on earth to commute.
On 20 April the first guests ever to stay in Room 6 arrived. Building began on 18 January, and the project took almost exactly three months to complete. Luc and Gugula from Belgium loved their three nights with us, and we are happy that major construction is now finished here. The walkway from Room 5 to 6 has a very high arch to allow even the tallest elephants through with ease. I cannot imagine that there is another room anywhere in the Vic Falls area with a view that comes even close.
Average Monthly Rainfall for Livingstone. Source: www.yr.no