It was the first Friday of the Trees for Zambia reforestation and conservation education project in Livingstone – a good day to plant 1000 trees. Yip, one THOUSAND trees. All those who’d planted with Greenpop before knew it was perfectly possible to plant that many trees in a day although by now we also knew that Livingstone ground could be stubborn.
Upon arrival at NSongwe Village we created a human conveyor belt and shifted nearly a thousand saplings from the trucks to the plant site. Once that was done we gathered under a huge (I should know the name) tree to receive His Royale Highness Senior Chief Mukuni. The chief welcomed us to his village, acknowledged the need for trees as a result of cutting for charcoal and wooden curio making in the area, talked about the possible desertification in Zambia and even planted a tree himself.
It was noon by the time we started planting and by two we’d picked, hacked and dug close on eight hundred holes. Bongo drums kept spirits high, coupled with Friday energy and anticipation for the evening’s concert at basecamp.
After a delicious cooked lunch, we got the trees into the ground, our volunteer numbers almost doubled thanks to a local woman’s group and other villagers who were there to help us.
As the day wound down and honey light poured across the plant site, we took proud stock of the 775 trees we’d just planted. Not quite 1000 but enough to make you smile.
Partying for trees
After a tiring day and a huge dinner, we still found energy to sing and dance. A drumming circle got everyone going, followed by three awesome bands: Zimbabwean act Chickenbus Band and Cape Town based TouchWood and Jeremy Loops. We were into the wee hours once the fun had come to a finish and we dispersed slowly to bed, some humming, some still dancing and some – inevitably – wobbling.
A lion encounter
Weekends are reserved for relaxation, giving volunteers the chance to enjoy Livingstone – Africa’s adrenalin capital. There is an endless list of cool things to do including bungee jumping, bridge swinging, white water rafting, booze cruising, microlighting and walking with lions. Lion Encounter teamed up with Greenpop, offering volunteers a free lion encounter, which is what many of us spent Saturday morning doing. My group saw two pairs of lionesses, one of which had just brought down a buffalo.
It was quite something being so close to the magnificent felines, a worthy experience to round off an awesome week.