Written by: Hadley Pierce
As we sat down for high tea at Kafunta River Lodge, we noticed an eerie sense of stillness had settled over the bush. Across the river from Kafunta, large dust devils swirled up into the sky and within minutes the unnerving quiet had been replaced by almighty gusts of wind that brought with them waves of dust.
All of the clouds in the sky seemed to have flattened out; they had a fluffy appearance on the top half, but the bottom half looked dark, heavy with water, and ended with a smooth, flat bottom. Could the rains really be finally coming? After months of little more than an occasional shower, the vegetation, animals, and people of the South Luangwa Valley were all ready for the seasonal rains to come.
As we enjoyed our ice tea and Jewish apple cake, the clouds seemed to bottom out, dispersing the waves of water that they had accumulated onto the dry earth below. Over the next hour, we watched under the cover of the thatch roof – the sun appeared beneath the clouds and shone brilliantly through the sheets of rain, turning the sky a deep, blood orange shade of red.
As the sun continued to set, the clouds above merged into one seemingly endless black mass, pervaded only by occasional strikes of lightning. We stayed watching the sun set until it dipped below the horizon, and even after the sun set, we couldn’t tear ourselves away. We sat watching the light show that followed as bolts of lightning lit up the clouded sky and cast a temporary light over the now bright green foliage. The rains continued on and off well into the evening, as the soft thunder rolling into the distance lulled us all to sleep.