Sacred Combe Safari IV
Our guests had gone ahead of us, all save one; Jane did the last leg with us. She, Chris and I were the last ones to fly out of North Luangwa National Park: heading by light aircraft down to the South Park where we would all spend the last couple of days. Below us the mad Luangwa River snaked its way southwards, thrashing from one side of the valley to the other as it has done across the millennia: a river untouched by the human hands.
I looked right, I looked left, I looked ahead. Was there no end to it all? And all at once I was filled with the most terrific surge of delight. A ridiculous grin seized me. It wouldn’t stop; it hurt my ears it was so big. I turned to Chris and shouted above the sound of the engine, pointing idiotically out of the window at what lay below: “”There’s an awful lot of this place, you know!”
Chris got it. Well, of course he did. I’ve been travelling here for 30 years, Chris a lot longer: and we have done quite a lot of it together. We know how out minds work, at least when it comes to the astonishing place stretched out beneath us.
So no words were necessary. Just the nod, the answering grin: a moment caught forever between a silly joke and revelation of eternity.
Later that day, in the South Park, we came across astonishing numbers of elephants. I counted at least 100. Then they saw the vehicle — and more than half of them went striding off, tails extended in fright. That was strange. Not park elephants these: elephants had come for a visit from outside, and were deeply suspicious of us.
But all the same: so many of them. So many elephants, and so much room for elephants. Two vistas of eternity in a single day: well, I thought, as darkness fell in its sudden way — that’s Luangwa for you.