It’s Monday 22 October and David Rogers family’s maiden visit.

I do hope that you are all extremely well and have had a lovely weekend; and are gearing up to another fun and exciting week ahead. Here in the Luangwa, after years of visiting RPS and leading his photographic safaris with us, David Rogers finally came out on an actual holiday with his family. It was so fab to be able to look after them as a family and after so many years to finally meet them. So this week whilst David is going to get us started he is handing over to his wife Jenni who is going to tell us all about their safari.

“It was a dream come true to finally take my family to see my second home. While I love visiting Robin Pope Safaris camps with my photographic clients, it was wonderful seeing it through the eyes of my family. They just loved the experience, the landscape and the lodges. We visited several other lodges during our visit to Luangwa but for the boys Robin’s House was the absolute highlight. But before I hand you over to Jenni the boys did make a couple of little comments:

“Robin’s House was not like a lodge,” said Liam aged 14. “It was our home.”
“I am never going to feel sorry for you when you go on trips,” said Dane aged 13.

At last our two boys and myself joined David in South Luangwa, Zambia. David has been leading photographic groups to this wild and wondrous place four times a year, and as he leaves home each time, we longingly ask him about his ‘second home’ in the valley. His stories of the places and the people have us all curious and longing. And now we are here, hosted by Robin Pope Safaris, staying in Robin’s House, Nkwali. Met by Rob, Emily and their team, we throw open the doors of this small private bush home, to be welcomed by a wide deck hovering over a vast sweep of the river. Sausage trees throw shade over this cool and welcoming home. Hippos grunt and tussle for space in a large pod below us. There is a welcome like nothing else – wilderness and people draw you in. Our host Matt briefs us and Emmanuel serves us cold drinks and shows us to our large airy bedrooms. As our boys leap into the swimming pool a family of over fifty elephants cross the river in front of us.

With my own focus on selling private villas for families, this and Luangwa Safari House were of great interest to me, as these exclusive-use houses work so well for small groups and families. Robin’s House sleeps only 5, so it’s a perfect family home, and our boys instantly befriended the team and our guide Obi, this meant that leaving became very difficult! The mornings are a favourite – hot toast cooked over the fire in the cool dawn, before setting out to take a short boat trip across the river – navigating between hippos and the occasional croc to the far side where our vehicle waits for us. Then a drive with Obi along the flood plains in search of evidence of the night’s high dramas. A pile of porcupine quills tells of a treacherous battle. A dead hippo floating in the river fed on by some 40 crocodiles. A baby leopard stashed in the wide branches of a Tamarind Tree, with her mother watching over the remains of her kill in the branches. The game drive leads us along the river bank, into a wide-open area peppered by green Sausage trees adorned with trusses of red flowers and huge sausage shaped fruit. The heat builds and then there by the river we see a breakfast set up for us – chairs overlooking the river, and Nickson working over a fire to produce a feast! A scout watches the bull elephant who wanders over to us, then ambles off in search of the Wild Mango fruits. We marvel at all this set up for us, along with cold champagne and wet face cloths for the dust!

Back in our cool private space above the river, we siesta and I take the chance to sketch some of the bush flowers and the heat of the day bristles and vibrates. It is October and its hot. Only warthogs scuffle nearby and banded mongoose dash about.

Emerging for scones and whipped cream, we join Obi and Matt in search of a group of lions and their cubs. Finding them in the open near Luangwa Safari House, we watch the 6 cubs playing alongside three supine females all idly batting away the energetic and hungry babies. Later we drive over to Luangwa Safari House to see this amazing villa and as we are on the deck, one female chases and kills a warthog just 100 metres from where we stand! Later that evening we drive across a shallow part of the river to see a second pride of lions, only to find ourselves bogged down in thick cotton soil. The boys leap off, enjoying the adventure, watching the pride of lions on the sand bank just above us. Obi gets the boys safely in the back, pours our gin and tonic and together with some game scouts (who walk across the river to help us) – we dig ourselves free and give these men a lift back across the river in the fading light, watching the shapes of the elephants move away from the river.

Driving out early the next morning we spot two tiny cubs alone out in the open. We watch them play and climb trees, and Obi assures us the mothers will come back for them. My mother instincts cry out to save them from lurking hyenas and leopards, but we drive on in the valley and in to the heat. Nature must do as it must. I drink up the river, the massive figs, Tamarind, Wild Mango, Ebony and Leadwood trees – but the Sausage Trees stay with me, the amazing way that this tree serves to feed the animals with fruit and flower at a time when the land is dry and the grass is scarce.

Nature at its best.”

Thanks so much Jenni for the glorious words and beautiful sketch and of course David for the photographs to perfectly illustrate Jenni’s’ story. The only problem is this is really going to set a tough example of an its Monday to follow next week. So I shall not linger on as Jenni has more than successfully described the most wonderful few days of safari. Instead I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have the most wonderful week ahead full of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

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