RPS expands into Liwonde National Park!

We are thrilled to announce the opening of Kuthengo Camp in Liwonde National Park, Malawi. Meaning “the wild” or “the bush” Kuthengo is located among fever trees on a large open plain along the spectacular Shire River.

The camp boasts four spacious en-suite safari tents, each featuring an outdoor shower, bathtub, basin (double) and state-of-the-art ‘Evening Breeze’ air-conditioned beds, as well as a private deck for enjoying sunset views. The main area and dining area are located under a magnificent fever tree, overlooking the Shire River where herds of elephants and other game are frequently seen coming down for a drink or to cool off.

The camp hosts a maximum of ten guests, so the small team of guides at Kuthengo can personalize activities to give each guest the safari experience of their dreams.

In addition to the camp’s quiet charm, a stay at Kuthengo promises adventure around every corner. Since Liwonde is a virtually untouched national park, you can expect game drives filled with animal sightings, adventurous walking safaris and peaceful boating safaris. Lions were re-introduced to the park earlier in 2018 by African Parks, which returned a key species to the natural system years after the last lion was seen in Liwonde.

Between our three lodges located in Majete Wildlife Reserve, Lake Malawi National Park, and now Liwonde National Park, we are giving our guests every reason to get off the traditional safari highway and venture from bush to beach in Southern Malawi.

We look forward to welcoming you at Kuthengo Camp!

All the best

The RPS Team.

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Celebrating Zambia’s 50 years of Independence!

 

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Let’s explore Zambia in 2014 as the country celebrates its 50th year of independence! Robin Pope Safaris has put together a 10 night trip that features Zambia’s key safari destinations in celebration:

Livingstone

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Livingstone is home to one of 7 natural wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls, and offers many opportunities, both adrenaline filled and more sedate, to view this amazing site. There are game viewing opportunities too, with a chance to see the white rhino in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park and river trips on the Zambezi River. Stanley Safari Lodge, the first stop on this itinerary is situated just 3km from the mighty Victoria Falls

South Luangwa National Park

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From Livingstone, a stay at either Nkwali or Nsefu (depending on the season) is next. Both camps are situated in the Luangwa Valley, which marks the end of the Great Rift Valley. Its is one of the last unspoiled wilderness areas and possibly the finest wildlife sanctuary in Africa. This is home of the walking safaris.

Lower Zambezi

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Luangwa River flows into the Zambezi River – just below the Lower Zambezi National Park and is the next stop on this itinerary. This park, scenically bordered by an impressive escarpment, has excellent game, which can be viewed from either the river or by land when staying at Baines River Camp.

Lusaka

The safari ends with a night in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. With many cultural and historical aspects in the city, it’s the perfect way to end this celebratory trip.

Contact us for the full itinerary or for more information: info@robinpopesafaris.net

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Its Monday and what’s hot in Liwonde…

Hello there! I hope that you are well and sitting comfortably wherever it is in the world that you are reading this from and are ready to be wowed by news from Kuthengo Camp, in Malawi. Marius and Licia, over to you…

“It’s Monday and it’s not just the heat that’s hot, but the animals were on fire too (thankfully not literary!) in Liwonde National Park. Fitting with the theme, we went out on a safari ourselves early Monday morning, not to look for anything specific but to enjoy the breath of fresh air and maybe spend some time with an elephant or two.


We left camp before sunrise with the hopes of getting a head start, and sure enough it wasn’t long before we had two bush pigs on our right and an African civet to our left. Both species being not so common sightings elsewhere, we were stuck with swinging our heads between the two.
As the morning progressed, we were treated with one special sighting after the other. First, we saw a herd of 40+ eland, then a similar size herd of sable, then just a few seconds later a herd of 60+ buffalo.

The buffalo, although still early morning, were already feeling the heat and were all gathered under a cluster of Mopani trees using the limited shade the leafless trees provide this time of the year.

Little did we know that was just the beginning. As we carried on our way there were clear signs of elephant in the area. Around the next bend, we came across a breeding herd of 45 strong and we silently sat and watched them move over a dry stretch of land on their way to the Shire River.

Already satisfied with what we had seen and the temperature busy soaring, Licia and I weren’t expecting much else; but soon we once again found ourselves overwhelmed. We bumped into 3 lionesses and a single male, also on their way to find some nearby shade. One of the lionesses was clearly showing her affection towards the male and we soon had a mating pair of lions before us; and we were happy to take a few photos of the couple.

After we left the lions, we were going to drive one more loop before stopping to dig into Licia’s picnic basket, but had to be postpone as we found a female cheetah with her three cubs enjoying a freshly killed impala. We sat with them for a while enjoying the elegant creatures. Soon it became very entertaining as the female started playing tag with two of the cubs while the other cub was having it’s fill of the impala. For fear of missing out, all the cubs were playing with their mom and trying to trip one another.

Whilst the cheetahs were playing, two crows as well as a palmnut vulture, tried their luck to steal a piece of the impala; but once the cubs would notice it, they would run to the kill to chase them away… We gathered they didn’t like to share.

With all this excitement in the park, we cannot wait to see what wonders Liwonde will give us next.”

Wow! what an incredible drive. Thanks so much to you both for sharing this with us, and as a result, making us all rather envious. Hope that you are all managing to keep as cool as possible in what I have to say feels like an incredibly hot October. Here in the Luangwa we are already seeing temperatures sneaking to 40C plus. There have been signs of the fact that the rains could just be around the corner with some cloud build up and even a few distant sightings of lightning. It is hard to imagine that it’s getting to that time of the year already! Let me now bid you a very fond farewell and look forward to catching up with you again next week with more tales from the bush. Until then, stay safe, happy, and of course don’t forget to look after one another.

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It’s Monday and Luangwa Safari House is the place to be

Hello there! I hope you are splendidly well. Here in the Luangwa we are galloping through October and the heat is already rising and the river is emptying out quickly! But this is not stopping the animals. We have had some incredible sightings between Luangwa Safari House and Nkwali, so I hope that you are sitting tightly ready for the update.

If you do for some reason doubt the following information… I promise you it is all true and reconfirms the reasoning behind Robin and Jo Pope building Luangwa Safari House and their house (RoJo) on a lagoon system and not the river. Whilst there is no doubting that the river view is incredibly special, the wildlife that we have been seeing around Luangwa Safari House has been incredible. To start with, we have a herd of buffalo which has become more and more resident on the property throughout the year. Each time we have seen them there, there has always been a passing comment “guess the Nkwali Pride of lions won’t be far behind”.

This time though, we were stumped, as there were lions but not the Nkwali Pride. These seem to be a pride of new lions with 3 males and a female who we do not recognise, we first saw them about 4 weeks ago and then they disappeared but were not going to miss out on an opportunity. One of the perils of this time of the year is that the lagoon systems start to dry out and as a result the thick squelchy mud gets rather sticky. The buffalos, however, don’t necessarily take much notice and go for it.

Last Tuesday one poor buffalo got his footing wrong and got stuck. Sadly, we do not intervene with nature, so we had to leave the situation to unfold and our mystery pride swooped in on Thursday night and took advantage of the situation. Once they had had their fill, the hyenas and vultures then took over and absolutely nothing was wasted.

Whilst all of this was happening the two wild dogs that we spoke about a few weeks ago, have been back and blazed past RoJo house, killing and demolishing a small puku before anyone really knew what was happening. Then went to rest up rather full and sleepy in the shade just off the Luangwa Safari House road.

Meanwhile, the elephants were taking absolutely zero notice of all the predators and just carried on coming in their droves to the waterhole at Luangwa Safari House and were having a field day rolling in the cool muddy water then dusting off by the side. On occasion, a youngster would go a little deeper than expected and need to be nudged out by its mum or aunt, showing off the real family unity in their herds.

Then as if all of that wasn’t enough, a female leopard with cub sauntered past just checking out what was going on and giving the baboons a bit of a fright before they slunk off into the bushes.

So, how’s that for the most incredible 24hours of sightings… I have to say, writing it all down in such a short little note, I fear doesn’t really do it justice. It was the most incredible period where all the animals just seemed to decide to turn up at the same time and so I felt compelled to share it with you all.

Right, on that note, I am going to scoot off and bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a fabulous week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

Emily
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Its Monday and a tale of masks and safari in Malawi

Hello there, hope you are well and have had an awesome weekend. Here in the Luangwa, it is warming up and the game has continued to offer us some amazing treats. Will save the details though for another week as I do not want to distract you from this week’s news. Conrad, who heads up our Operations in Malawi is sharing with us from his part of the world this week. Over to you Conrad…

“Back in March, with borders shutting and guests cutting safaris short to rush home, our conversations centered around closing camps, stockpiling basic supplies and erecting barriers outside the lodges – anything to minimize contact with the hustle and bustle of what to become our new normal. Now, in September, our conversations are about what colour of mask best matches our uniform and which hand sanitizer smells best.
So, what happened between March and today.

In March we decided to mothball Mkulumadzi completely. With vehicle batteries disconnected, furniture stored away and the pool going green; we waited patiently to see what the next step would be. How rapidly the virus would spread in Malawi and its neighboring countries? Which counter measures the government would introduce? How quickly the country would run out of fuel, face masks and, dare I say it, mayonnaise?

Staff had all been sent home and would take turns to assist in camp sitting. Other than the day we prepared for a national lockdown (that never materialized) and the day the lions blocked off the path to the footbridge, daily life was as normal as it could be. It was all about patience and routine.
By mid-May some of the answers to our questions started to surface. It became apparent that the virus spread would slower across Africa than what the rest of the world had experienced. We realized that fuel was still available, and face masks could be home-made. It also became clear that the novelty of kids not going to school and parents working from home had turned into a nuisance. We once again started receiving booking requests from people within Malawi.

In early July Mkulumadzi opened its doors to guests, and since then has been operating on weekends. It is far from ideal, but much better than some of the worst case scenarios we discussed in March; for that we are thankful!

The team have become experts at unpacking Mkulumadzi on a Thursday afternoon, welcoming guests on the Friday and packing it all up again on the Sunday. Wash, rinse, repeat (and by wash we mean disinfect) each weekend. The support we’ve received from the local travel community has been heartwarming and a massive thank you of each of them!

Even without the continuity of operating every day, Mkulumadzi has not lost its touch and with feedback like “An exceptional experience from beginning to end” and “We were pampered and treated like royalty” – we’re delighted to still be able to give our guests a place to break away from it all.”

Thank you so much Conrad! It seems you and the team in Malawi have your hands full and managing to enjoy the season with your guests.

We look forward to welcoming you and the rest of the world to Malawi as we note the increased flights in and out of the country.

On that lovely note, have yourself a fantastic week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

Emily
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Its Monday and great wildlife sightings in the Luangwa

Hello there, I hope that you are fabulously well and have had a lovely weekend. Here in the Luangwa, well it has been anything but quiet around camp as we have literally been surrounded by lions and let me tell you the noise that they have been making has been quite impressive. In fact we have had some rather strange happenings arise which I thought we should absolutely tell you about.

We have a pride of lions that have been hanging around Nkwali who were originally part of the main area pride called Big Pride, but they split up and a few of them started spending more time in the GMA (Game Management Area) around 2018. As they started hanging out here more and more, they earned the name. There were originally 6 adult females with a bunch of cubs but have since split further, and the pride as we currently know it, consists of 5 adult females and 6 sub-adults but they are breaking up and coming back together depending on circumstance and basically who is in town! Over the last few weeks we have had 2 of the females and 4 sub-adult males pretty much camped out just behind Nkwali, making a lot of noise as they were communicating to another pride just across the river. As a result, a lovely large male originally from the Lion Camp pride who has moved south and now mostly dominates the main game area with 2 brothers, hopped across the river to say hello. What has been really interesting is that he has completely tolerated the 4 young males as he is keen to mate with one of the females in the pride. They have been very busy ‘wining and dining’ but as of yet no action has been witnessed, we can only hope that we will see some new fluffy bundles bounding around in a few months time.

Also in camp, on a much much smaller scale, we have been inundated with thousands of caterpillars falling from the trees on their silken threads; making walking around a little tricky as everywhere we went we got covered in the silk. The baboons had a complete field day feasting on the caterpillars, but try as they might it, was simply impossible to eat them all. As a result, 2 weeks later we are witnessing the far more pleasant side of things with hundreds of butterflies fluttering around.

Other news from the Luangwa, the carmines are starting to come in as well as the yellow-billed kites – a sign of weather warming up. The carmines can be heard chirping away well before you catch a glimpse of their incredibly vibrant breeding plumage.

There was also a swap over of watchmen up at Nsefu (always a straw pulling contest to see who is going to spend the day bumping over the black cotton soil to do this) but it is always worth it when you see a pack of wild dogs.

Luangwa Safari House has been very busy over the last few weeks with a steady stream of buffalo, giraffes and elephants visiting the lagoon, not to mention a leopard killing an impala and stashing it in a tree right in front of the house. We can only assume that this is going to get better and better as the river is really starting to dry up quickly now. We have to pinch ourselves to realise that we are almost already through September and will soon need to start thinking about the arrival of the rains. What strange times these are.

I have one final note before I leave you to the rest of your week. As you all know as part of our effort to help protect wildlife, we support the incredible work of Conservation South Luangwa (CSL) through donations from you when you come to visit as part of the Luangwa Conservation & Community Fund. CSL work tirelessly with the Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to protect the wildlife of South Luangwa, at the same time implementing critical community programs. This year, although the park is empty of tourists, CSL and DNPW’s work is more important than ever before and they are working round the clock to make sure that when you visit again, you will find the wildlife flourishing.
We also know that there are so many people and organizations around the world in need right now. However, there is a great opportunity to help South Luangwa. Considering the challenges faced due to the pandemic, rangers across Africa have launched a Wildlife Ranger Challenge (run by TUSK Trust) with the aim of getting 5000 rangers back in the field across the continent. Conservation South Luangwa have a team competing in the Challenge of 21km carrying a load of 22kg each on October 3rd. For every dollar you donate, Scheinberg Relief Fund will match it 100%.
We ask you to please consider donating to this very worthwhile cause here, to help keep the wildlife of South Luangwa safe. Thank you.

On that note, have yourself a fantastic week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

Emily
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Its Monday and shared experiences at Kuthengo Camp

Well, hello again. Here we are, another beautiful Monday and another wonderful snippet from the African bush. This week we hear from Licia from Kuthengo Camp, Liwonde National Park in Malawi. So, after what I hope was a wonderful weekend, I trust you are now sitting comfortably and ready to enjoy this weeks edition of news from the wild. Licia over to you:

“Having been in this industry for 8 years, I have met many wonderful and interesting people. Some have become good friends, and some have become like family. However, before any of that happened, I was always asked the same question, ‘Why did I go into this industry?

Well besides the obvious fact that you get to spend almost every second in the bush, you also get to meet new people and you get to show and share a little piece of your happiness with them. You know, being in the bush is like an opening a lucky packet, you never know what you are going to find – perhaps a cute baby hippo (photo by Kathryn Leaper), or the king of the Liwonde Jungle (photo by Kathryn Leaper).

That being said, one of the best parts of the job for me is when guests arrive back from their activities, be it a game drive, a boat safari or a bush walk, and we get to hear the stories of what they saw and what happened. Most guests think that it gets tiring to hear that they saw a lion or that I get bored when they show me their photos, but it is actually quite the opposite. As some of you may know, I don’t get to leave the boundaries of the camp very often, so when guests share their experiences it’s as if I am watching a documentary through the guest’s eyes, and as such I am starting to slowly get to know the animals. In fact, it sometimes almost feels if I’ve come across those animals personally. For instance, I have never seen Lundu the Black Rhino (photos by Kate Atkinson) but what I have gathered is that although he can be a bit cheeky, he also likes to pose for the cameras.

I also have a soft spot for cheetahs having done my time as an assistant curator at an animal rehabilitation center for endangered animals. So any photo of one of those cats can make my day (photo by Kate Atkinson).

And to be honest, even those animals that do not get counted as being sought after or “glamorous” are just as fascinating. For example, did you know that the bush pigs (photo by Kathryn Leaper) do not live in burrows like their cousins the warthogs, but rather make nests using grass, and as they are mostly nocturnal and they never stand still long enough for a photo. So it is always a treat when guests can “catch one or 2 on camera”. Even the Southern Ground Hornbill is special to me (photo by Kathryn Leaper) as I mostly only get to hear their calls echoing through camp in the mornings.

So on that note I would like to thank all the guests who have shared their photos and bush stories with Marius and I and the Kuthengo staff, and no matter how big or small you may think that picture or story may be, please keep sharing (Zebra and Pied Kingfisher photo by Kathryn Leaper).”

Wonderful! Thanks so very much Licia. A huge thank you to Kathryn Leaper and Kate Atkinson for sharing with us your amazing photos. I am sure Licia and her Kuthengo Camp team are looking forward to seeing you again soon.

On that note, I am left with very little to say, except have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

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Its Monday and a safari down memory lane

Hello there, I hope you are well and have had a lovely weekend. Here in the Luangwa, besides feeling like we are surrounded by lions; we are plodding along gently getting a few bits and pieces done and waiting for life to grab onto a small amount of normalcy. In the meantime, we have received a nostalgic write-up from Steve Stevens and Inge Frye of their trip with us back in 2018. Steve and Inge over to you:

Day 1: Arrival in Zambia 30th of August 2018.

We arrived off the evening flight into Mfuwe and met by the RPS team, taking us straight to Luangwa River Camp and arriving sometime after 6. We were warmly welcomed and shown to our room to freshen up before a welcome drink and dinner. It was here we met Marcos Saberes and his family, who we were later to meet at Nsefu where he was the host for the season and were instantly charmed by him.

Day 2: a somewhat early wakeup call at 05.15. Wiping sleep from our eyes we headed down to breakfast set out on the banks of the Luangwa. I proceeded to pick up an egg from a bowl, under the misconception that it was hardboiled but was somewhat surprised when after cracking it on the table it was raw. Thus, earning me the title of “the raw egg lady” for the rest of our safari! Everything cleaned up and sorted, it was not long until we were on our way on our first safari but also our transfer up to Tena Tena. After a leisurely drive with a constant lookout for wildlife, we spotted elephants, zebra, buffalo, and plenty of antelope. We reached the river where we crossed by small boat and were met by another Robin Pope Safaris car which safely took us to Tena. After arriving, we were shown to our chalet and quickly freshened up for lunch. After a siesta we met for tea and then around 16:00 we were off in the jeep with our guide Chilumba. We had a lovely afternoon drive with plenty of the usual animals, then after sundowners we spotted a leopard at night for the first time. That was exciting but difficult to photograph. Returning to camp we had a lovely candlelit dinner on the riverbank.

Day 3: Saturday 1st of September – Tena Tena.
An early start again, which now was becoming the usual start to the day; then off we went once again with Chilumba. It wasn’t long before we were able to make our first spotting of a leopard. We saw a pride of lazy lions with their cubs, several females and 2 funky male lions. The cubs were very cute and showing off. We spotted herds of buffalo, zebra, many elephants and for the first time so many of the carmine bee-eater birds. Many birds! Lilac breasted rollers, white fronted bee-eater, ibis, crowned hornbills, a white browed coucal bird and a bateleur eagle. The evening drive again was spent with an exciting leopard sighting, lions, an African spotted genet, some mongoose and an owl.

Day 4: Sunday 2nd of September – onto Nsefu.
Today we would walk the 4 hours to the Nsefu Camp with Chilumba and an armed guard, Moses lead us on our way. The walk was interesting and hot, and we saw a few mammals, but we mostly learnt about the tracks and signs and the small animals. Some good bird sightings too, such as a pair of lovely white fronted bee-eaters and a lovely spot of tea at a big termite mound. We arrive at Nsefu and were met by Marcos and also met the well-known wildlife photographer Edward Selfe who was there with a client. Long-time Zambia traveler and Robin Pope Safaris guest, Helga from Luxembourg was also at Nsefu and would be our game drive partner. Lunch was on the riverbank and during that time a herd of ellies came for a drink. They are always fun to watch especially the little ones. Lots of hippos in the river too.

During siesta we were surprised by a group of 4 elephants that came into the camp and cleaned up the leaves around our chalets. How nonchalant these animals are! The little one was trying to imitate the elders use of their trunks. Quite a show. We had to wait a bit to get to teatime as we did not want to frighten them.

As we climbed aboard our car with our new guide Braston, and our new co-traveler Helga, we were told that a pack of wild dogs had settled just outside of the camp! So off we went to watch them laze around and play a bit. Not much going on in the heat! But it was our first sighting of wild dogs and we were very pleased.

Getting close to wild dog

We saw a lovely group of giraffes, lots of elephants, and after a beautiful sunset we crossed paths with a pride of lions crossing the road. Braston heard monkeys alarm calling and we went on a wild leopard chase and spotted him in the middle of a thicket. It was very shy, but we had a lovely sighting all the same. Not long after, blocking the road in the dark was a sleepy hyena! It just lay there blinking in the light. It finally got up and slunk away when Braston turned on the engine. A lovely dinner at the camp closed the day for us and the grunting of the hippos serenaded us to sleep.

Day 5: Monday 3rd of September – Nsefu.
Every morning at Nsefu you have the lovely sight of elephants crossing the river. Great show for breakfast and dinner. Today would be my special day for leopards. The morning drive was quiet and sleepy with sleeping adult lions and their not so sleepy cubs that were very entertaining; a hyena sleeping on the road. A rather surprising meet with a young lion with a punk hairdo lying in the grass and a welcome back to camp with a big herd of elephants crossing the river.

The afternoon drive had just started when Will and Lianne Steenkamp called Braston on the Radio (they are a young couple making a leopard film) to let him know that their leopard that they were filming “Olimaba” was at the Stork Colony. And there she was walking right in front of a herd of impala! We thought she was going to attack but she just went right on her way and went over to a fallen tree and lay down.
Olimaba then moved to a lovely viewpoint where she could watch the sun go down and then she wandered back over to where we were parked and just lay down right next to our car! I mean right next to it! I could not believe how casual she was about it all.

Driving back to the camp we came upon 2 big bonfires and seats set out in the bush; Marcos had organized a surprise bush dinner for everyone. What a treat after the treat that the queen leopard had given us! We had a good night dreaming of lovely leopards.

Day 6: Tuesday 4th of September – Nsefu.
Off we went again today finding a pack of 5 lazy wild dogs followed by a pride of lions a couple of different leopard sightings. So, just the usual morning game drive up at Nsefu then! The afternoon drive we pottered off to look at one of the leopards who we had seen in the morning sleeping in a tree, only to find a lion sitting at the base of the tree having a snack. We can only assume that that lion had managed to steal the leopard’s kill from it and the poor animal was off in the bush looking a little put out by the situation.

Day 7: Wednesday 5th of September – onto Luangwa River Camp.
Early morning excitement at breakfast. While eating breakfast, a bull elephant came to the camp and started to tear off a big branch from a tree that is right beside the bar and reception area. This is only about 20 meters from where we were having breakfast. Mr. Bull munched his branch while we looked on, astonished. We even had to sneak around the bar to get to the gameviewing vehicles. The good-byes were indeed very sad, and I even shed a few tears. I had had such a good time at Nsefu. Everyone was so nice, interesting and the whole atmosphere of the camp was special, and we found the food outstanding. After lots of hugs we headed with Braston on a game drive to the river crossing point. The drive started with a bit of excitement with a herd of grumpy elephants in the middle of the road which meant Braston had to put his foot to the gas a little as one of them was particularly grumpy but we safely moved off. Then the next fleeting roadblock was a leopard being chased across the road by a troop of baboons – it managed to get away. What a sight! We then heard on the radio that a snared lion had been spotted and Braston drove to where it lay. The Zambian Carnivore Project team and Vet was on the way to put the lion to sleep and take the snare off. We heard later that this went well, and the lion was released after his ordeal. How terrible that this still happens!

After crossing the river, it wasn’t long before we were back at River Camp.

Day 8: Thursday 6th of September – Luangwa River Camp.
Early morning breakfast and off for our morning game drive with Daudi as our guide. We had many good sightings, Ginger and Garlic the lions sleeping off whatever kept them awake the night before; zebras, elephants, lots of antelope. We saw 2 lovely lions that were just begging to have their photos taken, many carmine bee-eaters and a lovely lilac breasted roller. Just as we thought we were heading back to camp we came around a corner to find a surprise breakfast set out for us in the bush – what a treat! That afternoon we took a different approach and instead we went to visit Tribal Textiles and Project Luangwa where we stocked up on souvenirs for the grandkids.

Day 9: last day.
Our last morning game drive, and once more, plenty to see including elephants and whole host of different bird species and Ginger and Garlic the big male lions who were just sleeping happily in the shade. After lunch we packed our bags said a sad goodbye and off, we set for the airport soaking in our last sunset over the Luangwa from the plane as we flew off.
I have been to Africa before, but Zambia has really impressed me, especially the South Luangwa Park and Robin Pope Safaris. The camps are really beautiful, the food is unbelievably good, the hosts and staff so kind and caring. The guides really knowledgeable and outstanding. Zambia has left very pleasant memories in my mind. I do hope to go back and if I can’t, I do hope that my grandchildren will have the opportunity to go there someday and see what I saw. I hope that they can keep up the protection of these fabulous animals so that people can still see them in their natural habitat in the future. Steve and I took over 4000 photos but when I close my eyes, I can still see the wonderful animals and smell the African plains. I had the time of my life!”

Wow, what an incredible trip! Thank you so very much for sharing this with us Steve and Inge; along with the beautiful photos to also illustrate. I think that I can safely say that in their 9-day safari, Steve and Inge may well have seen more leopard than I have seen in my entire time in the bush – phenomenal! Again, a huge thank you for sharing and we look forward to welcoming you and your family back to our special home soon.

In the meantime, I am left with very little to say, except have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

Emily
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Its Monday and carnivores and a sleepout

I hope you are well, sitting comfortably after having a wonderful weekend.  Well, here in the Luangwa as I am sure you are aware, it is a little quiet on the guest front. However, let me tell you, the animals are not in the least bit affected and as winter draws to a close and the river slowly dries, we seem to be a magnet for the wildlife. 

The lions have been really showing off and we have had several sightings in and around camp both day and night.  We have had some unknown lion visitors to Nkwali, they parked off just some 200m from our house. They were discovered by one of the staff members as he was off to collect some branches to make a broom; and came running back to camp eyes wide open, somewhat surprised!   Later that day as the sun was setting, the lions decided it was time to explore and so did just that, straight through camp. Let me tell you one thing for free – when a large male lion stands in the middle of Nkwali roaring, the camp acts like a megaphone and I promise you I felt like my bed was shaking.  The baboons freaking out in the ebony trees above our house may have also added to the mayhem but it was quite the cacophony. 

Luangwa Safari House has had its own set of feline visitors who took the day to settle themselves at the staff compound. The poor watchman was somewhat hampered by their presence and stayed very firmly put in the house with the doors locked.    We had no idea that they were there and were enjoying a lovely sundowner on the beach with a very relaxed and curious elephant, when we got a message from ZCP (Zambia Carnivore Project) team letting us know they were at the house. So, off we scooted and enjoyed a fabulous sighting of 3 young males and a female in excellent health languishing in the shade. 

A few days later it was my turn to repay the favour to ZCP as I was driving back into camp and found 2 wild dogs fast asleep on the road at Robin’s Bridge.  Completely taken a-back by the sighting and with Jack (our son) chattering away next to me, we managed to get hold of the team but sadly by the time they arrived the dogs had perked up and disappeared.  From a quick photo that I got with my phone; Johnathan managed to identify them as 2 dogs from the Nsefu Hot Springs pack, which is amazing that they have come all the way down here.  They have been seen a few times since, hunting in front of Robin and Jo’s house, so we will keep our eyes open and keep you all posted.

Scooting up to Nsefu and Tena Tena (yes I know, they are still there even though you haven’t heard from them for a while!) – we decided to take a road trip up to check the camps. Given that we haven’t put any roads into the Nsefu Sector of the park this season, we figured it was going to be a lengthy process so packed the car up and spent the night up there. Looking at the car though, it slightly looked like we were going for a month!   A few hours of back breaking black cotton soil later, we arrived at the Kawaluzi Crossing with a lovely herd of elephants waiting to welcome us into the Nsefu Sector.  From there it didn’t disappoint with a small fishing party starting in Lunga Lagoon, magnificent kudu, zebra and giraffe all dotted around reminding us not to forget about them. 

Given that, for obvious reasons, the camps are closed we decided to pitch our tent on the far side of Tena Tena. With an incredibly over excited 3-year-old, we got to work on our first official sleep out.  It all went very well, until at midnight there was an almighty blast from a passing hyena which woke us all with quite a start. Things soon settled down after that and besides a very early start to the day, it was brilliant fun. 

The sites are looking lovely and the guys up there are enjoying some wonderful sightings of everything from elephant shrews scooting through the Nsefu bar to leopards prowling the riverbank.  The Hyenas up in the Nsefu Sector are going from strength to strength and it’s amazing to see the change in wildlife balance over the years. Lets hope that as we creep into September, we manage to get up and spend more time up there before the rains arrive.

On that note, let me creep away for another week and leave you to it. Hope that you have a fantastic week ahead, with plenty of smiles and laughter; and don’t forget to look after one another!

Emily
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Its Monday and Walk Luangwa with Robin

Hello there! I hope you are well and have had a lovely weekend. Here in the Luangwa its been a few weeks full of excitement. The Walk Luangwa team have completed their 17 day walk through the North and South Luangwa National Parks. Robin joined for a portion of the walk and has been kind enough to share with us his experience. So, for today Robin, over to you:

“Just back at our house “RoJo”, near Nkwali, after participating in an invigorating and reasonably testing two-day fundraising walk. This was part of the Walk Luangwa, an ambitious 350+km walk, from North Park down through most of the South Park. It is a “Valley all” (residents of the Luangwa 😊) affair, with everyone participating in some way and I was there to represent Robin Pope Safaris. Day one, I walked from Kaingo Camp to Kakuli Camp 16.5 km and on day two we walked further south to Mfuwe Lodge, 24.5 km. Note, this was the GPS distance and we walked further as we avoided elephants, thickets and rough ground.

Robin Pope

The object of this walking safari is to raise much needed funds for wildlife conservation and communities bordering the National Park, particularly at this difficult time. Tourism is a very significant contributor to the projects in the area and this year, such funding has dropped to almost zero.

The walk has been well organized and is led by Remote Africa guides and experienced Department of National Park escort scouts. They expertly saw us through a few potentially tight moments with elephants. Different individuals and organizations have volunteered for sections of this reasonably testing walk and a few intrepid souls have embarked on the whole safari.

It has been a pleasure to participate in this walk, immersed in the bush I have known so well over the years. I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this worthy cause, particularly at this time when everyone is feeling stretched financially. For further contributions, there is an online option available.

The Luangwa National Park is beautiful at the moment with carmine bee-eaters beginning to congregate, Cassia trees flowering, trees beginning to shed their leaves in anticipation of the hot dry months ahead. It is also very quiet and peaceful with little vehicle traffic.

Stay healthy and safe, Robin.”

Wow, well done Robin! Delighted to have seen you and Jo here over the last week and so excited that you were able to join the walk. The walk ended with the final stretch from Kalawani pans to Croc Valley where plenty of Valley residents were to cheer on the walkers and welcome them to the bar with a lovely and very well earned cold drink as well as a huge pat on the back for the money raised for such a good cause. I am sure that a few people may well look at their walking boots with a certain amount of dislike for a few days after but the memories and experience will be long in their memories.

Other than the epic walk, we have had some great wildlife in and around camp with mating lions just opposite camp making quite a ruckus. A few days later, we had a yelp down the radio from our Luangwa Safari House watchman as he discovered a pride of 4 lions enjoying the shade just behind the staff compound! The giraffes behind camp have been absolutely amazing as they lazily stroll through the bush looking down on all that pass them by and lastly the elusive leopard does nothing except torment the baboons around our house every night whilst we try to block out their rather loud barking.

Meanwhile, the water levels in the river are dropping quickly and the bush is thinning out and drying up as winter looks like it is coming to an end rather sooner than imagined and we prepare ourselves for the heat that will soon come our way. But for another week it looks like we are saying a fond farewell to you all and we will be back next week with more news. Between now and then have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to take care of one another.

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Its Monday and 30 years of RPS Mobile Walking Safaris

Hello there, I hope you are well and cracking on with the lockdown routine that I think most of us are practicing. Here in the Luangwa, well its eerily quiet around camp and we cannot wait to be back up and running; with the great news that Zambia borders are now open for international travel with no self-isolation required (but you will need a negative Covid-19 result certificate from your country of residence).

Today however, we continue with the second and last part of our series on 30 years of Mobile Walking Safaris with us. Jason over to you:

Jason Alfonsi
Jason Alfonsi

“So last week I left you hanging without any update on the wildlife up at Mobile Walking so here we are for a roundup. It’s not as simple as that though, as I am sure you can appreciate how things change year on year, let alone over 30 years. One of the more dramatic changes over the years in terms of animals is in the number of elephants. We have in the last 5 years or so had an incredible increase in elephant numbers, so much that the woodland along the river is getting quite a trim and these days we can hardly do a walk without seeing elephants; which is a very welcome change compared to 10 years ago when we would hardly ever see them. It has been fascinating watching the elephant numbers increase and the impact that they have on the woodland. The mopani along the river was very much a recovering woodland with heavily coppiced trees growing straight and true. No sooner had the trees recovered from the pressure of the huge elephant population we had in Luangwa in the 1960’s then the cycle comes around again, a wonderful display of a natural system restoring its balance.

Luangwa Elephants

Other animals have all had their ups and downs, some more than others. We seem to have more hippo sticking around longer than usual. We actually heard a hippo honking last season, the first time I have ever heard one up there and also saw tracks quite often near camp 2. We also seem to have a group of 4-5 hippos who stay on in the lagoons in the thickets near camp 4.

Hippo

Lions, leopards and hyena are all more or less in competition and their numbers tend to move in opposite directions. Some 10 years ago we had a high leopard concentration and very low lion sightings, now however the tables have turned, and we seem to have a pride of lions in the surrounding area of each of our camps. Camp 1 has a very small pride that is particularly skilled at hiding and are rarely seen but often heard. Camps 2 and 3 share a pride and we first met the founding female 5 years ago and over the last few years have watched her raise her cubs and start her own pride. Her 3 female cubs have now also had cubs and some of her granddaughters may well start breeding this year. Our male lions have for many years been rather mobile, but they also seem to be settling down a little bit as the prides become more and more stable.

Walking Safari
Luangwa Lions

With the lions having asserted themselves along the river the leopard are significantly less evident.

Leopard

The Hyena are little changed and whilst we don’t see them that often we certainly hear them and last year a young hyena would sneak into Camp 2 most nights that we were there and try to steal the rope that ties all the kit onto the big truck. It may have also stolen a radio, a thermos flask and our bird book! We have also been over the last few years been seeing an increase in the Wild Dog sightings most especially around Camp 4 but last year the big pack were denning quite a lot further than our walking range so we did not see them as often, instead we saw a small pack who were far more timid.

Hyena

We have a fantastic range of antelope that we see up on the Mupamadzi with roan, reedbuck, waterbuck, hartebeest, eland, kudu, grysbok and very very occasionally some oribi. We have a consistent flow of buffalo which seem to be pretty constant over the years and are always fun to see on foot. And our giraffes seem to be making a comeback, as for many years we didn’t see any up there but over the last 2-3 years we have been starting to have occasional sightings although they remain very skeptical over our presence!

Antelope
Antelope
Antelope

When we take to the skies nothing much changes, but no safari is complete without pointing the binoculars to the trees and skies to marvel in the wonderful variety of birds that we see. The usual suspects get ticked off the list with everything from moustached warblers, red faced cisticolas and waxbills having a blast in the reeds along the river but we also have our slightly different sightings including palm nut vulture who we find nesting regularly over the last few years. A pair of long crested eagles that seem to reside in a thicket near Camp 4 and last year one very unusual sighting of a hildebrandts francolin. The list could go on and on, but I should probably end it there and maybe suggest that you come and see it for yourselves. In essence nothing changes and yet everything changes!”

Wow thanks so much Jason, this is amazing! Now all that remains after this wonderful summary is for this Pandemic to be over, the airlines to fully open up and for it to be safe for everyone to travel so that we can properly celebrate our Mobile Walking Safaris.

Walking Safari
Luangwa Walking

For now though, it is up to me to bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a wonderful week ahead please stay safe and look after one another.

Emily
Antelope
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Its Monday and RPS Mobile Walking Safaris turns 30

Hello there! I hope you are well and that cabin fever hasn’t completely set in. Today we are hearing from Jason, as we celebrate 30 years of our Mobile Walking Safaris this year. When I asked Jason to write something about the last 30 years, there was a definite silence – I mean how do you sum up in one newsletter 30 years of safaris…? So, we decided to make this a two-part series because there is just too much to cover. Over to Jason now:

Jason Alfonsi
Jason Alfonsi

“This year is the 30th anniversary of our Mobile Walking Safaris. I can’t believe it has been this long already! It feels like we are still discovering new little parts up on mobile trails even after 30 years. I first went up the 05 route in 1987, long before I came to work at RPS. We used one of the roads put in by the company that was doing a geological survey for oil in the park! They were called Geosource and we still have a few of their roads still in use. We did not get far down the 05, only as far as the Chikya River but did have a good look at Frank’s Lakes on our way home. Franks Lakes is where we often stop for a break on the journey up and down the 05, it is a perfect spot to stop the car and have a cup of tea whilst enjoying some of the more unusual bird species that we find here in the Luangwa, particularly the ducks and other water birds.

Luangwa Birds
Luangwa Birds

The poor rains we had 3 years ago has had a huge effect on the bird life as the water dried out completely. It seems that all the resident birds either left or ran out of food when the water dried out, so for the last 2-3 years birds have been rather thin on the ground. We do still get the hartebeest, roan, zebra and reedbuck gathering to drink once the back country dries out. So far, the water birds have not re-appeared. Perhaps with our very good rain this last season we might see some of the water birds returning. I really look forward to heading back up there and seeing what has happened.

The 05 track was made in the 1960s to provide access to the Northern part of the park, the story is that it was made with a bulldozer, the driver given a compass and told to go straight up following compass bearing 005º, giving us the interesting if somewhat unimaginative name for the road! On my 1987 trip there were small trees growing in the road, averaging 8cm in diameter, the road had not been graded for 20 odd years. The sturdy bumper on my vehicle took a beating but it was wonderful to get out into the back county and see all that woodland! After a bumpy start, it took a couple of years of determined pushing from Robin to get DPNW to re-open the road and get our Mobile Safaris started. We have since added a couple of extra roads, but we mostly use the Lundu Plain road, which was put in by Moses Mkumbi, it is also known as Moses’s road!

Since my very first day trip up the 05 I had always wanted to spend more time up that way, compounded by all the stories we would hear over a cold beer with Robin after each of his trips; until I eventually managed to get him to put me on the roster. As those of you who have done more than one mobile walking safari will know, it is just one of those amazing places that seems to stay the same despite the continuous changes that nature affords us. Over the years we have been running our mobile safaris, we have seen plenty of erosion, some incredible sink holes appear which put a bit of a damper on the route but nothing that can’t be handled but the river has pretty much stayed on the same track. There are some areas where there has been some pretty fast erosion and some large holes churned out by the moving water but this year it will certainly be interesting to see what has happened as we have had an incredible rainy season.

We have watched trees grow and fall down we have watched lagoons fill and dry up, depending on the rains that we receive each year; we have watched sink holes appear and roads change. The animals come and go but the one thing that remains the same, and I hope it does for many years to come, is the absolute magic of this slice of the National Park.

For now, though I am going to get going and next week I shall be talking to you about the wildlife that we see while on Mobile Walking Safaris and how that has changed over the years.”

Great, thanks so much Jason this is amazing history behind the Mobile Walking Safaris. I can’t believe it has already been 30 years, it’s incredible. We can’t wait to hear from you next week Jason. Between now and then, I hope that you all have a wonderful week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

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Its Monday and a Golden Anniversary with RPS

Hello there! I hope you are well and getting used to the slight snippet of freedom that seems to be creeping into our lives. Here the Valley remains the same slice of paradise as ever; however, we are in the firm grips of winter so jumpers, trousers and occasional hats are being dusted off. We have put in our access roads to all of our camps and look forward to getting up to the Nsefu Sector for a day out soon, and I am sure that once we have we shall give you all a little update. This week we are hearing from long time regular guests Soren and Hanna Aunsholm, about a trip that they took with us to celebrate their very special golden wedding anniversary.

Soren and Hanna over to you:

“My husband and I have since 1997 been regular guests to RPS, we have during the years been there in cold months, where we were supplied with hot water bottles in the bed and warming Mbaola’s for our feet during dinner time and in the heat months of October / November.
Last year we celebrated 50 years of marriage. The natural choice for us was to celebrate in Zambia, the only slight hesitation was that our wedding date is March 16th and this is in the middle of the green season. Being under the assumption that this time of year we would have rain every day and the grass would be so high so we only can see Elephant and Giraffe, we did hesitate but then decided that there was no other place we would want to celebrate so we made the decision and booked our safari.

Leopard South Luangwa
South Luangwa Leopard

Over the years our tradition upon landing in Mfuwe was to pop into Daudi’s bar “Cool Runnings” for a quick Mosi to start our holiday off. So where better place to have a bit of a party. We contacted Daudi who immediately agreed and we were all set.
Once landing in a very green Mfuwe, Daudi picked us up and took us to River Camp – already on the way into camp we passed 4 lionesses and a leopard, this was certainly not the welcome we had imagined and the sightings continued. During the 3 days that we were at River Camp we were blessed with more sightings of lions and cubs, wild dogs a multitude of birds some species that we had never seen before and even a python. We had the fun of some occasional showers which cut a few game drives short but we were amazed at what we saw.

Wild Dog
Wild Dog

After three wonderful days at River Camp it was the bit day and the plan was to boat up to Nsefu where we would celebrate our special day in our favourite camp. Braston at the helm, we started the next phase of our adventure. The river was an amazing and mighty force of nature we never imagined it to be like this. We motored up for an hour then a slight hiccup and the engine failed, after a futile attempt to get it started again the scout took over with a bamboo stick and punted us to the bank. It was not long before another boat was motoring its way upstream this time a supply boat for one of the other camps and after a quick swap of paint and cement into our boat and us into that boat it was not long before we were on our way again. Needless to say Sebastian was slightly surprised when we approached in an unexpected boat; and I must add using cement bags as seats. Saying farewell to the skipper and making our way to our room Sebastian had decorated it with flowers and a bottle of sparkling wine. The perfect way to start the day.

Boating the Luangwa
Boating the Luangwa
Nsefu room
Nsefu room

Braston was soon back with our fixed boat and it wasn’t long before we were all geared up and ready to take our first walking safari. After all these years visiting RPS we have never done a walking safari and beginners luck we found 4 lionesses playing in the grass.

After two days up at Nsefu it was time to head back to Nkwali and also Cool Runnings for our party. We had invited guides that we had met over the years as well as their wives and children. We had no idea how many people would be there and when we arrived it was full of all of our Zambian friends and their families. There was a beautiful BBQ, drinks and lots of loud music – what a way for us to celebrate and we can not thank Daudi for making this so special.

Cool Runnings

The next 3 days was safari days with so many fantastic sights, we saw all that we could have wanted to and leave a big thank to all the people a RPS.
Hanna + Søren Aunsholm.”

Hanna + Søren Aunsholm
Hanna + Søren Aunsholm

Wow! Thanks so much Hanna and Søren Aunsholm. Delighted we could be part of your special anniversary celebrations. Sounds like you are now converts for our Emerald Season too!
On that beautiful note, have yourself a wonderful week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

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Its Monday and a Tena Tena trip back in time

I hope you are fabulously well and are sitting comfortably ready for this weeks’ installment from the bush. Before I begin, I really need to say a huge thank you to everyone who is sending in material for our weekly newsletters, giving us loads more to share – so a big thank you to everyone for your contributions. This week we have a wonderful account from Robert Keller, of a trip he took to Tena Tena back in 1985. A great flashback to what our Tena Tena used to be like. Robert, over to you:

“The first time that I visited Tena Tena was in September 1985, and it is still fresh in my memory. We were a group of 6 and had the entire camp to ourselves and as a scientific guide this was perfect along with the fact that we were able to do a lot of walking. We were so lucky to have Robin as our guide and his brother Adam was also in camp helping around camp but also out on the actual safaris.

The South Luangwa National Park is a wonderful place and its beauty remains with me ‘til today with so many wonderful sightings of hippos, elephants, crocodiles and much more; not to mention the exceptional birding that we had.

Tena Tena was simple but comfortable with a fantastic bucket shower which was always much needed and enjoyed after a long hot day in the bush. Siesta was taken under the lovely shade of the trees in camp and there was a small hide by a watering hole not far from camp which was frequented by bushbuck, mongoose and warthogs and a perfect place to enjoy during the heat of the day.

Robin’s brother Adam prepared some scrumptious food, especially given the difficulty in transport and access to goods back in 1985/1991; the variety was limited but quality was certainly not. In 1985 the kitchen was on the whole an open fire but that didn’t stop the camp cook and under Robins careful supervision the food was always absolutely delicious.

I returned to Tena in 1991 for another trip and in just those few years the camp had already been lifted to a higher level yet always maintaining its charming character. The tents were bigger and the beds more comfortable and the safaris in the open game drive vehicles were wonderful with a tremendous amount of different animals. Elephants in those days still had big tusks and there were even sightings of rhino (albeit rather rare). Tea breaks on the game drives were always enormously enjoyed with some form of snack and a nice hot cup of tea or coffee not forgetting the Amarula.

On the full day excursion Robin and Adam would always find a lovely spot to stop for some lunch parking in the shade and preparing our food on the tailgate of the car, nothing was too much trouble and they even made a small camp fire to make sure that we had hot drinks and hot food.

The highlight from both trips were the walking safaris, they are simply the best way to get closer to nature enjoying every element from sound and smell to the sightings of the animals. We found tracks of different animals, observed the insects and on one occasion found ourselves hiding behind a bush before Robin gave the ok; retreating to the car we drove around the bush we had been hiding behind and on the other side was a pride of sleeping lions.

On both of our trips we sadly noticed a dramatic change in the wildlife due to human encroachment. There were fewer elephants and a greater number were tusk-less and the rhinos had all but disappeared – it was during these years that poaching was on the rise.

We are planning a trip back to Tena next year and cannot wait to see how much it has changed and I am sure whilst it will be very different we will have the most wonderful time.”

Wow, thanks so much Robert! This is an amazing account thanks so very much for sharing with us and we cannot wait to welcome you back next year. In the meantime life in the Valley continues at a somewhat gentle pace. As a little comment with regards to the poaching we are incredibly fortunate to have Conservation South Luangwa (C.S.L) protecting our wildlife in conjunction with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (D.N.P.W) the funding and support has been fantastic and under Rachel McRobbs wonderful leadership the team do a incredible job at protecting the animals. Over the years the operation has expanded from foot patrols to include aerial surveillance as well as foot patrols with highly trained dogs who are able to sniff out illegal firearms, ivory, bush meat, pangolins, leopard and lion skins that would so often be missed by the human eye.

Whilst I highly doubt that poaching will ever be completely eliminated in rural Africa the C.S.L and D.N.P.W teams contribute enormously to reducing the risk to the animals. In fact just a few weeks ago Rob, myself and Jack were just on our way back from a little drive behind camp when we came across a giraffe with a snare on its foot. The following morning Rachel and the team were here with the vet and with Jack and I as awestruck onlookers, they darted and de-snared the animal in just a few minutes and with a good dose of antibiotics the giraffe was back up on her feet already looking happier and more comfortable.

CSL is one of the conservation projects that will benefit from our #SafariDreaming ebook we have recently launched. The ebook is a collection of memories shared by our past guests across our camps in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. For US$10 you enjoy great insights to what safari in our world can be like, through the eyes of guests. Enjoy the teaser and get yourself plus friends and family a copy.

That is it from me this week. Have yourself a safe, healthy week ahead and don’t forget to look after each other.

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Its Monday and Kuthengo Camp staff on safari

I hope you are fabulously well after the weekend and adapting to the new style of life. Here in the Luangwa life pretty much plods along at a rather gentle pace but we are keeping ourselves busy all the same; trying out new recipes for when we do open our doors or scooting up to Nsefu and Tena Tena to check that all is well.

This week we are not hearing about Luangwa life, instead we are beetling down to Kuthengo Camp to hear from Licia and Marius who have given us an update from Liwonde, Malawi. Licia and Marius over to you:

“Although I get to go out and explore much of Liwonde National Park on a somewhat regular basis, Licia is not so lucky and is mostly confined to the boundary of the camp itself. We decided that it was time for her to step out and enjoy the wonders of the park for an afternoon.

We travelled down south of the park where the landscape opens up in the form of floodplains, where hundreds of waterbuck can be seen grazing on the short green grass. The afternoon couldn’t get any better as we saw lion, a great variety of birds, a number of elephants and of course many hippopotamus but that all was soon forgotten.

We slowly went through a dry riverbed crossing and as we came up the other side there were eight buffalo grazing with the sun nearly touching the horizon in the background, we slowly drove past and a few seconds passed when Licia with great excitement shouted “rhino, rhino, rhino!”. To my disbelief I looked around and truly there it was standing with its head held high starring at us snorting so that we are made aware of its presence.

Since the Black rhino are not often seen in the park due to their behaviour and habitat preference, it made it all the more worthwhile for Licia to step out the office for once!

The rest of the team also had a treat a few days ago as a male cheetah decided to have a snack just outside of camp with a freshly caught impala. One of our guides, Patrick, who was guiding some guests (local residents), called us over the radio to let us know about the excitement. We decided to spoil the rest of the team by taking them to see the cheetah. Some of them had never seen a cheetah before, despite them living in and around Liwonde National Park.

When we arrived at the sighting, you could just see the excitement in their eyes! I gave them a little bit of knowledge on how different the cheetahs are to other cat species and they were all intently listening and nodding away. When we arrived back at camp, I asked if they had enjoyed it and I got many nods, thank-yous and smiles from ear to ear, even under their facemasks I could tell they were beaming.”

Fantastic thanks so much Licia and Marius, it sounds like you are having a fab time at Kuthengo and great to hear about all the sightings and goings on.

After such wonderful sightings, it leaves me with very little to say. I shall graciously bow out and wish you all a wonderful week ahead, with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

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Safari Dreaming Ebook

In April we set out to create some positive vibes through our campaign #SafariDreaming, where we invited our past guests to share their fondest RPS memories with us in an effort to keep the African dream alive. The response was incredible, and this got us thinking further…

The lack of international travel has adversely impacted our support of local communities, our staff on the ground as well as conservation efforts. In light of this we decided that our #SafariDreaming campaign could do so much more than just lift our readers spirits, and so we bundled up all the stories, beautiful pictures and anecdotes into a beautiful e-book available for purchase. All the proceeds will go towards the mentioned causes.

So why not treat yourself to our Safari Dreaming e-book and help support a good cause, while enjoying an RPS journey through Zambia, Malawi & Zimbabwe!

If you would like to buy a copy at GBP10 follow this link: https://travelafricamag.com/product/safari-dreaming-ebook-2020-by-robin-pope-safaris/

If you would like a donation, please get in touch with us: stephanie@robinpopesafaris.net

Here’s a teaser of what’s in store should you decide to purchase the book:
View Safari Dreaming E-book Teaser Here!

Keep Safari Dreaming…with a purpose!

Best Wishes
The RPS team

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Its Monday and adventure in Malawi & Zambia

I hope you are well and sitting comfortably ready and waiting for this weeks’ instalment. We have had another wonderful entry via our Safari Dreaming Campaign, an account of a trip from Eyal Schiff & Smadar Shiff-Carmi who visited some of our Malawi & Zambia properties in 2014. We are really enjoying the trip down memory lane with all these stories. If you would like to share your RPS memory with us, it’s not too late to get in touch. You can find out more about our Safari Dreaming campaign here.
For now, it’s over to Eyal & Smadar:

“It was September 2014 when we started off for Zambia & Malawi for a long-awaited 13-day safari with RPS.
Beginning in Livingstone, we had a relaxing stay at Stanley Safari Lodge, visiting the awe-inspiring Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls), and continuing the next day with white-water rafting on the mighty Zambezi. We have done white-water rafting before in Chile, Sri-Lanka and Bali, but this was definitely much more of the real thing.

After a couple of days we took a flight then boarded a jeep in Mfuwe for our journey to Tena-Tena on the Luangwa. We arrived at Tena-Tena in the late evening, it was pitch dark, which only added to the magical serenity of the place, regardless of the fact that we had yet to see any animals. We were escorted to our tents which were simply wonderful: pampering and secure, while at the same time open enough to make you feel a part of the surroundings. Even before going to sleep, we heard some reeds being crushed and some unabashed munching from just outside our tent and, using a flashlight, realized a herd of elephants were having a late-night raid on the trees in our own backyard – an amazing sight, augmented by the otherwise reigning darkness and silence.

We were really very sad to part with Bertram after only a couple of days and continued to Nkwali. Crossing the river among hordes of suspicious staring hippo, we were helped ashore on the other side by the talented Emmanuel, our guide for the next amazing couple of days, during which the vivid scenery and life of the Luangwa kept us mesmerized.

Posted in 2020, It's Monday | Comments closed

It’s Monday and safari dreaming from down under…

Well hello there, I hope that you are all well and hopefully enjoying a slightly freer pace of life. Anyway, news from the Luangwa? Well we have been inundated with people sending stories recent and old as part of our Safari Dreaming campaign which was an initiative to share safari stories on our social media platform. We have been receiving some wonderful stories and thanks to everyone who has participated so far – we really are enjoying sharing these with the rest of you! This week we hear from Gordon Ramsay (not the chef!) from ‘down under’. Over to you Gordon:

“I had 18 nights in three camps: the first 6 were at Kapani, when I was looked after wonderfully well by Willie, who has now become the manager of Nsefu Camp. The next 6 nights were at the Luangwa River Camp, which I thought was very special, and whilst there I was thoroughly spoilt by Sebastian, Yona and Polly, being the only guest during what was the last week of operation that season.

I think we saw three leopards on two separate evenings, all found by the sharp shooter Amos, who seems to have an eye for them. On one evening at Luangwa River Camp we had a terrific wind accompanied by a dust storm – then rain – and I told the team about hot conditions in my home town of Sydney, when, after very hot weather, storm clouds gather to the south of the city as we watch and feel the cold change blow in over the harbour. You can see it happening as the wind unleashes over the harbour and the temperature plummets 10 to 20 degrees. We call it the Southerly Buster. So, I suggested to the River Camp team that they call theirs the Luangwan Buster.

On Friday 29th November I said a sad farewell to Luangwa River Camp and with Yona at the helm headed off for Nkwali. I must admit that after a few hours of game drive I was starting to wonder where this camp was but I should have known that the guides love a surprise, and a surprise it was when I was driven up to a lovely site on the river under a big shade tree. And there I was greeted by the new team headed by Kiki, and before long I was munching into a delicious breakfast/brunch prepared by Robert the chef. I met most of the Nkwali team right there in the bush: Christobel, Justin and Leonard. The bubbling, ever-smiling Christabel, had to tell me what a buzz it was to have someone called Gordon Ramsay on the guest list. And we had a laugh while I explained that I was a quite a bit older than the famous chef.

The approach to Nkwali took me by surprise too, as, when I was at Kapani, we used to pass a sign on the same corner which said Kapani and Nkwali, so I expected to approach Nkwali by road but no, we drove onto the river bed, Kiki parked the vehicle and there was a boat to take us over the river to the camp. After a stern briefing from Christabel about the habits of the baboons, that they loved toothpaste etc, and that everything I valued should be zipped away and proceeded with a well-earned siesta.

I fell in love with Nkwali right away – goodness it’s hard not to. The camp blends into the bush and belongs to it. Everything fits.

There were a lot of incredible sightings that we had while we were there but just to give you a few of our highlights among many we had an epic hunt for an Angola pitta. Kiki suggested that we have a serious go at finding it in the grounds around camp so off we went with his computer and its speakers on full blast calling the bird in but no luck! The following day we did the same again but this time in the park in an area where Kiki had heard one just a few days prior.

Whilst the mission was not accomplished the challenge was almost as rewarding. In a similar Ornithological quest Kiki also suggested we headed off into the Mopani woodlands to search for a Racket-Tailed Roller this quest was also to no avail however we did find an Arnots Chat as well as witness the devastation to a forest that elephants can cause. As well as Kiki I was also guided by Thomas who at first appeared rather serious but quickly showed me to joys of the bush and the animals that I seriously thought I would never have an interest in such as termites.

On one morning we had a good look at termites, three types: dry wood; damp wood; and fungus termites. How am I doing? Before long I understood where they lived and how they fed and colonised. Thomas, like all good teachers, turned the learning into a game, and I, who have taught at university level, lapped it up. We got back to camp where I announced that Nkwali had a new professor – and his name was Thomas. He managed to get the balance of seriousness, fun and niceness just right, as do all the staff of course, the best example of all being Kiki.

I have to thank the entire team for such a wonderful and memorable holiday and I look forward to returning sometime once life returns to normal.”

Wow what a wonderful account thanks so much Gordon for sharing with us, it’s always such a joy to hear a firsthand account of someone’s stay with us.

After that there is very little left for me to say except stay safe, stay sane and don’t forget to look after one another.

Posted in 2020, It's Monday | Comments closed

It’s Monday and a dazzling safari

I do hope that you are all well and cracking on with the routine of self-isolation. Here in the Luangwa well the baboons and Humphrey the hippo have pretty much taken over camp and we are a mere imposition. Anyways this week we are going to hear from Mike and Nancy who head up an organisation called Dazzle Africa and were guests here with us at the beginning of the year. Mike and Nancy over to you:

“Some might be unnerved to get news a week or so before traveling to Zambia from the US that your groups can’t stay at one of the 3 camps originally planned, but that’s what happened to us when RPS had to keep Luangwa River Camp closed due to high water. As Rob said rather descriptively in his email, the footpaths in camp were now “crocodile highways”!

The RPS team, though, went into problem solving mode and suggested Luangwa Safari House, and we were game, as it looked amazing on the website. It turned out to be fantastic and our 8 guests loved it, a very different experience than an equally great Nkwali and Nsefu! Sarel, Yonna, Emmanuel and the rest of the team made our time full of great experiences.

Dazzle Africa, as a non-profit organisation, exclusively runs philanthropic safaris, so all of the profit from our safaris go to wildlife conservation, education and community projects in the park and in Mfuwe. The RPS team was fantastic at being flexible and accommodating with our tight schedule, as we always bring our guests to visit our partners Conservation South Luangwa (CSL), Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP), Mfuwe Secondary School, and Mulberry Mongoose, Tribal Textiles, as well as Project Luangwa, in between game drives.

We partially fund the aviation program run jointly by CSL/ZCP, so Yonna and Obi worked hard to fit in a visit to the airstrip so our guests could see the anti-poaching plane. We wound up seeing wild dogs on our way to the strip and couldn’t pass up the sighting so we were a bit late! We eventually got there to listen to our friend Dr Matt Becker of ZCP and pilot Deven give a presentation about how vital the aviation program is to anti-poaching achievements and large carnivore research. These kinds of hands-on visits really inspire guests to stay involved and do their part to keep the wildlife of the valley thriving!

The same goes for our visits to the Secondary School, where Dazzle Africa has provided skills-based training to their teachers to help create an entrepreneurial arts program called Hands Over Zambia. The program resulted in a brick-and-mortar shop at the campus where high-quality crafts are offered on sale. Our guests were so impressed that they virtually cleaned out the place of great craft items. The program also trains students on how to create and run their own business. Dazzle Africa is proud to have sponsored 29 students and counting, who are training to be everything from teachers to vets and who now fund their own brothers and sisters or children to attend school.

Our visits to CSL are, as always, fascinating as one of our groups got to see a demonstration of the anti-poaching detection dogs. Both of our groups got to visit with Dr Mwamba Sichande, the only full-time wildlife vet in South Luangwa, and who Dazzle Africa is proud to fully fund.

One of our two visits to the fantastic Mulberry Mongoose was filmed for a promo for them, which was fun. The MM team always does a smashing job and people are thrilled with their high-end jewellery, both for themselves and to give as gifts, especially if it helps remove snare wire from the bush and provide high-quality employment to villagers
Despite being the rainy season the weather was superb, given there was a lot of water in the river and the ground was quite muddy but we managed to keep dry most of the time. A slight blip occurred on the boat trip up to Nsefu but Catherine had hot coffee with amaretto and tea ready and waiting to help warm us up.

The only other time we had rain was while on a game drive at Nkwali when we were supposed to have a surprise Bush Breakfast, Nancy and I were getting nervous it wasn’t going to be possible. Well, no reason to fret, RPS came through with flying colors. The rain stopped and as we turned down the track to the giant termite mound, there was the whole team cooking a huge beautiful breakfast! The chairs were ready and dry and a herd of ellies happily munched the tall gorgeously green grass just beyond the mound. Perfect.

Up at Nsefu, the bird sightings were nonpareil, thanks to Willie and Bertram. The yellow-billed storks plucking catfish from the flooded ebony forest at sundown was unforgettable. Besides the famous yellow-billed colony, the team up there also discovered an open-billed stork colony as well! This one was reached by a walk with a lot of “bushwhacking” after Willie, Berty, and scouts Justin and Gilbert tirelessly found us a landing spot, with water fast receding. It was beautiful to see the big storks flying all around as they built their nests.

Besides all of this, our wildlife sightings were amazing, with multiple wild dog experiences, lions (one pride right near the Primary School!), plenty of ellies, and a few quick leopard sightings. Speaking of leopard sightings, during one night viewing along the road back to Nkwali from the main gate, a courser was flushed out by the leopard’s movements and hit Nancy right in the head as she sat in the vehicle! She was just fine, and the poor bird seemed to have recovered.

We had many experiences we’ll all remember forever, and so much laughter. The quality of the guides-including the young ones coming up in the ranks like Canny (Banjo) and Geoffrey- and the warmth of your staff is always top notch and we are dedicated to staying regular guests when the pandemic subsides.

In fact, we have already booked a group for next Emerald season, so we hope you’re all staying positive, taking care of each other and being safe. We can’t wait to see you all again!

Thanks so much Mike and Nancy for this wonderful account of your stay and we can’t wait to have you to visit again next year. Between now and then let’s hope that all of this subsides (sooner rather than later please) and we can start sharing our wonderful slice of paradise with guests once more. Between now and then though I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you all have a fabulous week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter. Stay safe and healthy and don’t forget to look after one another.

Posted in 2020, It's Monday | Comments closed

It’s Monday and a collection of Sunday safaris.

I hope you are keeping happy and healthy! Here in the Luangwa, well it’s much the same as ever: the birds are singing, the baboons are barking and the hippos are grunting. The only thing missing is the gentle hum of the goings on of the camp… here’s hoping we can get back to normal sooner rather than later. So before I start today I would like to say an enormous thank you to the outpouring of well wishes and concerns that we have had from everyone. A huge thank you also goes out to everyone who has written stories for the It’s Monday through our ongoing Safari Dreaming campaign and I look forward to reading many more. If you haven’t heard about the Safari Dreaming campaign, take a look at this: Keep the African dream alive!

This week it is my turn though so here goes:

Gloves off and no lies life has calmed down significantly for Rob and I over the last month or so and as a result we made the decision that given neither of us had done an actual game drive for some 3-4 years (can you imagine!?) that we would start a little family tradition as part of our COVID-19 routine, which is every Sunday morning we pack up a breakfast and as soon as Jack is awake we head out into the park for a little pootle and breakfast with a view.

Safaris with a 3 year old certainly take a slightly different approach to what they used to with the rather limited attention span and sitting at a sighting involves a lot of “Why” questions about the animal and surrounding landscape. Rob and I as a result have had to take turns to brush up on our geography knowledge (I have had a lot of questions about the moon and sun and the rain and the clouds) and Rob has been having to answer a whole host of brilliant questions asked by a young mind. Sadly, though we don’t have answers to all of the questions and so the response is simply “because that is the way it is”. Back to school it is for us!

Given the approach to our safaris I am unable to write an entire its Monday about one single outing but instead need to cover a collection of Sundays to be able to put this together. The getting out of bed is the hardest thing and takes some convincing but eventually once his stuffed lion gets up Jack is on his feet and running out the door before I can even get sun cream on him. Everything ready we pack the car up looking like we are setting off for a week away and not just a few hours in the National Park but let’s face it better to have it and not need it than the other way round!

We have had some lovely sightings including some very patient zebras who were more than happy to stand still for us to watch them rather than running off into the thickets.

Giraffes and elephants are always intrigued by us and happily oblige to the slightly noisy little person in the front of the car. The predators have been proving a little elusive which is not surprising but just getting out into the park is treat enough in itself.

Out of the car Rob has been busy showing Jack what lion footprints look like and we were incredibly fortunate to have some wonderful viewing of Humphrey the Hippo before we even started our game drive. Not to mention the obligatory cooked breakfast which is a welcome break for all of us as we find a wonderful open and shady spot and get down from the car for a sausage sandwich and a cup of coffee.

Whilst nothing about the current situation is ideal, we have at least been able to appreciate a few small benefits and hope that we will be able to continue to show and excite Jack with all that this wonderful National park has to offer. So on that note all that is left for me to say is to bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you all have a wonderful week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter. Stay healthy and safe and don’t forget to look after one another.

Posted in 2020, It's Monday | Comments closed

Safari Dreaming…

We hope you are well and in good health.

With the current doom and gloom flooding us all, we would like your help to create something positive.
If you have visited us in the past, we would love to hear about it, so please send us your fondest RPS memories.

Help us brighten the day for someone with a photo, poem, anecdote, phrase, story or whatever you feel like. We will share these via our various social media platforms.

Lets keep the dream of Africa alive!

Please send the above on to: stephanie@robinpopesafaris.net:

Do let us know if you are happy to have your name included or rather prefer to be an anonymous influencer…

We look forward to receiving your memories and sharing them with the world.

Thank you from all of us at RPS – we miss you!

Warm and healthy wishes,

The RPS Team

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Its Monday 6th April and an Nkwali Safari

I hope you are coping well with life in isolation and that hopefully this newsletter will add a little light and change to the day. Here in the Luangwa we have a wonderful round up from Robert and Marijke Van Oordt, who were our very last guests at Nkwali Camp before we had to sadly close our doors due to the various lockdowns and travel bans. Robert and Marjike over to you:

“Somewhere I read the following which I would like to share with you:

Some people think you should have two faces, one for yourself and one for the outside world. That’s what makes animals different from us. They have one face…

We spent two gorgeous weeks at Nkwali Camp in a charming chalet with thatched roof, where we had an unobstructed and mesmerizing view of the wide and fast-flowing Luangwa River. Every afternoon a large monitor lizard rested on the bank of the river, waiting for edibles to come his way. Baby skinks scuttled across the grass and baboons checked on us from a safe distance – high up in the tree hanging over the water. Humphrey, the camp hippo, who lives or rather hides in a large lagoon covered with beautiful light-green Nile cabbage, only left us his deep and easily recognizable tracks in front of our chalet on his nocturnal jaunt to the river. But he was kind enough to show himself the day we left! And what a large beast he is, covered with Nile cabbage as if he was off to a wedding in his most festive attire.

Every day at 06.00 a lovely ten-minute ride by boat would take us to the “harbour” – a rather grand word for the steep slippery riverbank – extra slippery after the nocturnal rains. But we would not have wished for a jetty and a railing – this is nature at its best. Then we would climb into our faithful mud- and deep-water-proof jeep, already filled with goodies for a coffee break and driven by our very knowledgeable and indefatigable guide Kiki.

Paul Theroux calls Africa the Kingdom of light and a nearly lost paradise – we couldn’t agree more. Against the sweeping background of the green savannah dotted with glorious morning-glory shrubs, stumps of dead mopane tree and a grandiose baobab, the impalas, puku and baboons, all with babies, would greet us, the impalas prancing as fast and high as they could, racing around and around in large circles, thoroughly enjoying themselves and delighting us. Screeching male baboons chased each other fiercely in their fight for supremacy and the winner immediately claimed his trophy – his female of choice – as the tiny weeny baby baboons found safety under their mother’s belly.

Apart from the usual but always exhilarating sightings of elephants, zebra, impala, giraffe and the ubiquitous Guinea fowl with their fluorescent blue necks – always in large numbers and with lovely babies – we had some extraordinary surprises.

One morning we spotted a large pack of wild dogs who apparently had just finished off a kill and were resting, blood-stained, under the trees, while two of them, still hungry, licked the bones. We heard and saw two giant eagle owls hooting to each other from separate trees – most likely about the whereabouts of snacks in the undergrowth. The discovery of two young leopards playfighting on a branch of a mopane tree did not cease to excite us and our iPhones and camera tried in vain to get a sharp image. And then four lionesses walked in front of our jeep to their hunting ground while two males passed us very close by as unconcerned as can be…

We were constantly treated to an endless variety of colourful birds: the storks: yellow billed, saddle billed, open billed; the bee-eaters: European, white fronted, swallow-tailed, and the little bee-eater; the pied kingfisher and the spectacularly light blue woodland kingfisher; the crowned cranes; the ground and red-horned hornbills, the blue waxbill; not to forget the herons, bateleur eagles, western banded snake eagles, vultures, weavers and lapwings and many many more.

We would have stayed longer if the closure of airports and the cancellation of flights had not forced us to leave before plan. We sincerely hope that at some point this dreadful life changing global disaster will be overcome and life will return to normal.

Our thoughts and deep respect are with everybody affected by this terrible crisis and with the many professionals and volunteers who are risking their life to help where they can. I would like to end with a fitting quote from Charles Dickens:

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. ”

Amazing! Thank you so very much for that Robert and Marjike. The only thing that remains for me to say is a very fond and warm farewell and hope that you have a wonderful week with smiles and laughter and plenty of hand cleaning and sanitizing. Stay well and look after one another, and we will be back again next week with more updates from us here at Robin Pope Safaris.

Posted in 2020, It's Monday | Comments closed

Its Monday 30 December and a round up of the festivities

I do hope that you are all fabulously well, have had a wonderful Christmas and are now fully gearing up for seeing in the new year with enormous excitement and gusto. It would appear that it was a fantastic week all round with good food, plenty of smiles and laughter and not to mention some extraordinary game viewing. The question is where do we start?

In the Luangwa despite some good rain including a shower at the Christmas Eve carols sadly bringing the event to an early finish. The guests have had some incredible sightings and it would appear that the Luangwa leopards decided that this was going to be their week and they were really going to show off….. we had a family of 11 staying with us at Nkwali who over dinner on Christmas Eve decided that their Christmas day sighting needed to be a leopard.

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Christmas day arrived and their morning game drive included 5 separate leopard sightings. Including one leopard looking a little bleak about things as it had successfully made a kill and was getting all ready to tuck in when 5 hyenas pitched up to the party uninvited and stole the kill. The hyenas brazenly ate it within view of the poor leopard who eventually walked away sulking. What a way to start Christmas day and then to return to camp to the bubbles flowing and the turkey plus all the trimmings ready for a full Christmas lunch, needless to say a nice long siesta was enjoyed by all.

Along with the incredible amount of leopard sightings the guests have also been spoilt with some very sleepy lions – maybe they were just doing what most of us were doing after Christmas lunch and just sleeping off a rather enormous feast!

SONY DSC

There were also some great sightings of some sleepy wild dogs who started off by lazing around but then decided that they would have a quick stretch and go and harass the neighbours! The rest of the wildlife has also been out in force with elephants, impala, warthogs and giraffes all showing off for us in copious amounts. Almost as if they are all sending the year off in great fashion.

SONY DSC

Over in Malawi, the camps were also fashionably festive. At Pumulani, our neighbours from the Holy Trinity Choir entranced guests and staff alike with Malawian carols on Christmas Eve. Luckily Santa also brought beautiful weather for the 25th and guests spent most the day on the beach, eating, swimming, kayaking, eating again, resting, reading and laughing.

Fortunately Dasher, Dancer & Prancer left Kuthengo Camp early on the 25th as we do not feel they would have much enjoyed the lion sightings our guests had on Christmas morning. However, in the same light, the lions I am sure would have loved chef Dickson’s Christmas lunch.

Meanwhile at Mkulumadzi, the bush turned so green after the recent rains that we could barely tell the Christmas tree from the bush beyond.

Gosh so there you have it, I do hope that everyone has had an equally wonderful Christmas and at this point all that remains is for the entire RPS team to wish you all a Happy New Year and all the very best for 2020. We will be back with more news in the new year but in the meantime wish you all the smiles, laughter and happiness that you all deserve over the festive period and as always don’t forget to look after one another!

Posted in 2019, It's Monday | Comments closed

NEW: Focus on Conservation

A unique opportunity to spend a week in Malawi exploring the amazing work African Parks have done and continue to do, specifically in Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park. You will be able to spend some time with various team members from African Parks and have some hands-on experience of what they do.

If conservation is an area of interest, then this safari will certainly be one you want to consider. Malawi has an incredible story to share with the world on various conservation success stories that have been achieved and lots more to be achieved.

Malawi is a landlocked country, running down the end of the Great Rift Valley. Dominated by Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa, the surrounding country is exceptionally beautiful with dramatic scenery that includes rocky outcrops, high mountains, plateaus and views across what is considered Africa’s most beautiful lake. Malawi is known as the “Warm Heart of Africa” and as people, the Malawians live up to this name. They are extremely friendly and welcoming. There are many market scenes, roadside stalls, cottage industries that a visitor can comfortably visit. With both the scenery and the culture Malawi is a great country to drive in.

For more information about this safari contact us or download the itinerary here!

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Warm Heart Christmas Safari

With the Christmas just around the corner, is your festive season getaway booked already? Why not make it a Green Christmas this year and venture out to Malawi for a fabulous bush & beach holiday complete with all the festive cheer!

Why visit Malawi during the ‘green season’? There are so many great reasons why, but here are a few to start with:

• It’s a period of revitalization… plenty of new growth, dramatic skies & vibrant colours (the most outstanding being the emerald green! – with the purples, pinks and yellows of new flowers sprouting through).
• Influx of migratory birds with spirals of migrating storks, cuckoos and other “specials”.
• Butterflies escape their cocoons and flitter about everywhere creating a woodland wonderland.
• Great game viewing experiences.
• Fewer people around, making for more exclusive feel of all areas.

Our combination of bush and beach destinations offers the perfect chance to experience the best of both worlds, starting off with a trip into the wilderness, visiting Mkulumadzi Lodge in Majete Wildlife Reserve followed by Kuthengo Camp, and ending off at Pumulani Lodge on Lake Malawi.

Malawi is known as the “Warm Heart of Africa” and as people, the Malawians live up to this name. They are extremely friendly and welcoming. There are many market scenes, road side stalls, cottage industries that a visitor can comfortably visit. With both the scenery and the culture Malawi is a great country to make memories during ‘the most wonderful time of the year’!

For more information, download the itinerary or contact us.

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Its Monday and a trip to Stanley Safari Lodge

I hope that you are all splendidly well and have had a lovely weekend and those of you who are in Europe are surviving the heat! Ironically, we are in the depths of winter here, so we are doing our best to wrap up as warm as possible, especially on those early morning game drives. However, as you are all aware, I am happy to talk about the weather but really that is not what we are here for… David Rogers and his family recently spent a few days at Stanley Safari Lodge enjoying the camp and the Victoria Falls. They have been kind enough to share these wonderful photos with us as well as a few words. David over to you:

“This year in June I had the great pleasure of visiting Stanley Safari Lodge in Livingstone with my family. The lodge has a great view down towards the town and the Victoria Falls itself and has a real safari atmosphere which ties in brilliantly with the rest of the Robin Pope Safaris camps. At Robin Pope Safaris camps I always find myself among like-minded people and this was no exception. In the evening we were expertly hosted by Jonathon Aldous and his wife Sylvia and sat round the fire chatting to other guests about their safari experiences in South Luangwa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highlight of our stay was our visit to the Victoria Falls. No matter how many times I visit this World Heritage site it always takes my breath away. At 1708 metres wide with 108 metres in height this is the largest waterfall in the world and is hugely spectacular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from walking along the spray drenched paths near the falls, it is also possible to walk down to the Boiling Pot and photograph up towards the falls. It’s a steep but satisfying way to enjoy the falls. Flying in a helicopter or microlight is also awesome but take note that if you want to use your own camera this is not allowed on microlight flights. I have done quite a bit of photography of the falls — in the air and on the ground — and find that it’s is in the mornings when the plume of spray and the rainbow is at its best. A top tip is to time your visit for the period around full moon and you may be able to photograph the lunar rainbow. The best time to do this is April or May when the water is high and there is also likely to be clear skies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this trip we took the opportunity of visiting Livingstone Island where the explorer first saw the falls. We headed off by boat to the island and were led to the very edge of the falls by a very capable set of guides. The water was flooding over the Eastern Cataract and the boys had a thrilling swimming in a pool right on the edge of the falls. We also took the boys white water rafting — it was an awesome experience for me; this is still the most exciting activity at Victoria Falls.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks David this sounds absolutely wonderful and we are so delighted that you enjoyed your stay with us. Moving North to the Luangwa Valley, it has also been rather busy with a whole host of incredible sightings, Tena Tena, Nkwali and Nsefu have all enjoyed leopard sightings from camp this week. Tena Tena however won with 2 separate sightings, the first being a big male leopard strutting his stuff up and down the riverbank opposite from camp making sure that everyone knew that it was his patch. Then as if that wasn’t good enough the guests in Room 6 heard the puku alarm calling just after dinner and looked out and saw a lovely female just in front of their room. She had obviously just finished having a drink and was walking from the waters’ edge across the beach straight towards the room! Gosh what an amazing sighting.

Anyway, enough of all of that, I should definitely get on with my day and leave you all to yours. I hope that you all have an absolutely fabulous week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2019 | Comments closed

Its Monday and a Big 5 Bonanza at Mkulumadzi

I do hope that you are all well and have had a wonderful weekend; and sitting comfortably. This week we are hearing from Steph on what is happening at Mkulumadzi in Majete, Malawi.

” ‘Confucius say, ‘Roads were made for journeys…not destinations.’

The journey to Mkulumadzi was just about as rewarding as the actual destination! Having set off a little later than planned due to delayed flights, we made our way from the city of Blantyre, down the long and winding escarpments, taking in the sights and sounds of village life. Although we were all anxious to get to our destination, the sunset was a sight for sore eyes and a photo opportunity we could not pass up on. Our driver was only too happy to comply and we had a wonderful time watching the sun as it lit up the valley in shades of orange, yellow and crimson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We reached Majete Wildlife Reserve just after dark. Once in the reserve, the drive to the lodge was another 30 minutes and at this point we were all quite disappointed that our late departure from Blantyre had cost us an evening game drive. We were however pleasantly compensated when we turned a corner and came face to face with 2 beautiful lionesses, preening themselves in the middle of the road. We couldn’t have asked for a better journey… or better welcoming committee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rains had turned Majete lush and green, but has not compromised the wildlife sightings which have been excellent!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were fortunate enough to witness something rather special on our morning game drive…

It all began with the usual 5am wake-up call, followed by a quick breakfast and a cuppa before heading out into the park. During the drive, the antelopes of Majete really put on a show for us – sable, nyala, kudu, bush buck, waterbuck and impala all making an appearance within the first hour. Mali, our safari guide, suggested we have our morning tea break on the Majete airstrip – this may sound strange, but he assured us that is was quite a hub of activity and a popular place to see giraffe. True to form, we arrived at the airstrip to see it littered with warthogs, impala and giraffe! Way to go Mali!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the morning tea break, it was back to business. Mali asked if there were any special requests in terms of what we would like to see. Leopard was top of the list as the night before we had been treated to a lovely lion sighting. Mali explained that although he was not ruling out seeing a leopard, they had however been quite elusive over the past few weeks. Less than 5 minutes later, lo and behold, we came across a beautiful leopard, enjoying the early morning sun! We were in awe and thus the photographic evidence is a little shaky however none the less, here it is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we continued our drive, we had another Big 5 experience, with some fantastic elephant sightings, including a very playful young male. The guy was so intrigued with our game viewer that he proceeded to block the road for a good 10 minutes while he took a closer look. Not that any of us were complaining!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the young elephant had had his fill, he moved on and we then began to make our way back to the lodge, only to find yet another member of the big 5! Out on the river bed in front of the dining area, a small herd of buffalo. We sat and watched the herd all come down for a drink before sauntering back into the bush. Our morning could not have gotten any better!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch and a quick siesta, we were out in the park, making our way to the jetty for an afternoon of boating. Being out on the river is indescribably peaceful and from the boat we saw an array of bird life and plains game as well as a rather prehistoric looking crocodile who was sunning himself on the river bed without a care in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mali then docked on a small sandbank on the river for sundowners, where we enjoyed our G&Ts while watching yet another glorious sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were not so lucky seeing the 5th member of the Big 5, the elusive rhinoceros, but we were very aware of their presence, having come across several tracks.

That marked the end of our time at Mkulumadzi but re-affirmed our need to return!”

Thanks, so much Steph for sharing this with us; it certainly sounds like the wildlife and camp is going from strength to strength. As we have been offered such a lovely story from Malawi, I am going to leave you on that note and bid you all a very fond farewell. Have a fantastic week with lots of smiles and laughter.

 

 

Posted in 2019, It's Monday | Comments closed

It’s Monday and a treat for all the senses at Kuthengo

I do hope that you are all fabulously well and have had another smashing weekend and are ready and raring for the week ahead. Here in Zambia well winter has arrived and whilst most guests are enjoying the pleasant temperatures the rest of us are wrapped up as if we were entering the arctic – we really are rather pathetic! Anyways it’s not about any of that today we are going to scoot over to Kuthengo and hear from Steph who is part of the marketing team and has recently been to stay there for a few days. Steph over to you:

“The holiday doesn’t start as you walk into your tent at Kuthengo. The journey in is equally as wonderful, with so much to see on the drive in through Liwonde, sneaking a peak at authentic Malawi life and then eventually reaching the banks of the impressive Shire River. The 45 minute boat transfer to camp is in its self a fantastic game viewing experience seeing crocodiles basking on the banks of the river, elephants taking a dip as well as countless species of birds however to be honest with you from my perspective it was the hippos that stole the show. They were quite literally everywhere! The sheer quantity was mind boggling, and let me tell, you they do not let you forget that they around as the gentle snorts and grunts offer a back drop to the peace and quiet of the bush. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we knew it though we had arrived in Kuthengo and were greeted with cool flannels and iced tea whilst we were briefed about the camp and discussed our plans for the afternoon. After a delicious lunch, heavenly siesta and scrumptious high tea it was time for our game drive.
Patrick was our guide and he was accompanied by Felix, a scout from African Parks, the organization who has been managing Liwonde National Park for a few years now. They made a fantastic pair and kept us entertained with stories from the bush. After about 10 minutes, Patrick suddenly stopped the car. There was a peculiar sound coming from above, which was no doubt a bird, but which one was it? After several failed attempts at guessing what species of bird it was, Patrick took us closer to the tree, and perched on a branch were 2 glorious ground hornbills! On closer inspection, we discovered that one of the hornbills had their lunch dangling from his beak and seemed to have no intention of sharing it with his partner, who looked on rather enviously!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After we had had our fill of gawking at the hornbills we decided to move on and less than 20 metres away, we came across another pair of birds perched on a tree, this time it was 2 adult fish eagles who were not as obliging as the hornbills had been and flew away as soon as we got closer. The birding in Liwonde really is wonderful and we were spoilt with countless sightings of a variety of species including African grey parrots, a lone marabou stork and countless bee eaters and more. Liwonde really is a birders paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a classic African sunset accompanied with a Gin and Tonic we watched as another day drew to a close and then headed back to camp having the most wonderful sighting of a porcupine on the way – a completely underrated animal they are wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following day we decided that we would have our senses heightened and experience the bush on foot. Heading out before sunrise to treat ourselves with the magic of that early morning in the bush we were rewarded with a sighting of a herd of Hartebeest. The rest of the morning was spent exploring the tracks and signs of the bush and getting a great lesson on the small details that you miss when in game drive car. I really would recommend experiencing the bush in this way to everyone it is incredibly rewarding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of our stay was just as rewarding with plenty to see from the small insects and spoor on the walk to the impressively enormous Baobab trees and large herds of elephants. And as if all of that was not enough when back in camp we had the wonderful pool to laze by whilst absorbing the magnificent view of the Shire River and enjoying the company of the other guests and wonderful stories around the camp fire in the evenings. Whilst leaving is never fun it is a foregone conclusion that we will be back again soon and we can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much Steph sounds like you had a wonderful stay.
So what else to say – well a quick little story from us here in the South Luangwa – Fred came into the office telling me about one of his sightings which quite frankly I have to share. Seeing a leopard is obviously always a highlight. Seeing a leopard making a kill even more so – well listen to this! Fred was out and about and found a leopard stalking impala. Turning off the engine they sat patiently and waited for the action to take place. A burst of energy and flurry of dust and this leopard took down a large male impala just as she had the impala by the neck and was starting to think about the meal ahead of her when a pride of 5 lions muscled in on the action. She let go of the impala and ran for it while the lions took advantage of the situation finished off the kill then proceeded to enjoy their meal. I mean wow talk about drama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many more stories to come but today is not the day we will update you all with more next week. Between now and then sit tight and have a great week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

 

Posted in 2019, It's Monday | Comments closed

It’s Monday and Nsefu memory lane with Jo Pope

I do hope that you are all well and sitting comfortably. Today we are hearing from Jo Pope, the original author of Its Mondays; who has leapt back into the driver’s seat for this week as we celebrate Nsefu Camp in its 20th Season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Ten years after Robin started his guiding career in 1976, he was the manager of Nsefu Camp. It was here he spread his management wings, so that when the opportunity for a solo career presented in 1985, he was ready to take it and start Robin Pope Safaris. Robin’s first camp was Tena Tena, some 12 kms from Nsefu Camp.

Nsefu Camp is the oldest tourism camp in Zambia and certainly one of the oldest in Africa. The first Nsefu Camp, a temporary camp, opened north of the present site by Northern Rhodesia Game Department. The camp was used for department officials when on duty.
Turning the camp into a tourist camp, in 1951, was the initiative of Chief Nsefu and profits from the camp went to the Chief. The department assisted with the development of the scheme giving advice, providing the construction and maintenance of access and game viewing roads, the training of Native Authority Game Guards, camp reservations and with publicity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The camp changed hands, closed, changed hands again and then, after some years of declining tourist numbers, it closed. This was 1997 and here was a chance for Robin Pope Safaris to buy the lease and bring this historical camp into the RPS fold.

The camp however, had hardly changed over the years. The rondavels, the round huts, were the same small huts that had been built in 1951. Back then there were shared ablutions but at some point, a small bathroom had been squeezed into the already small room. Standards had of course changed, and we needed to modernize as best we could without changing the footprint of the rooms. They were considered part of the safari history and not to be touched!

At the time Bruce Rousseau was our pilot and it turned out that also he had a design qualification. So, after his days flying, he would help us look at our design options. In the end, our only option was to add a bathroom at the back and create big windows. Nsefu would not loose it’s historical buildings but there would space and airiness added to the rooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running a busy safari company is a full-time occupation but during the year of 1998 we added the task of renovating Nsefu to the management team. For those who spent more time behind a desk at Nkwali’s HQ than they liked, it was wonderful to have to drive up to Nsefu two or three times a week. Work progressed through the dry season and into the rains.

During the rains, Robin and I drove to Johannesburg to buy the interiors and fixtures and fittings. Our concept was “it is in the ‘50s and we are building our first camp. What would it look like?”. So, we found old fashioned brass clunk/click type light switches. We sourced antique style taps, old silver cutlery and serving dishes. We even found a windup gramophone that worked and some 78 rpm records. We had great fun scouring antique shops for these items. I had it in my head that we needed to reflect the colours of the bush – the green sage of the dry lagoons and the silver of the dead mopane and leadwoods on the plain behind camp. We went to dozens of material shops looking for just the right green but failed again and again. It was anxious making and of course I could have dropped the concept and thought of something else, but that did not occur to me. On our way back through Harare, we stopped for some food and whilst I shopped, Robin wandered into a small material shop next door. And there it was – the exact green in old fashioned strips and checks. The bedcovers and curtains were going to be perfect. It’s all in the detail!

Nsefu opened on time but as with any camp opening, only just in time. We were extremely proud of what we had created.

Not sure what the wildlife made of the scratchy Ave Maria recitals we played on our wind up every afternoon, but we loved it.

Today Nsefu continues to thrive. It is 20 years since Robin Pope Safaris reopened the camp and I love to think of all the people from around the world that have since enjoyed the camp and the amazing area. But then I go back further and remember that the first brick was laid nearly 70 years ago. Just how many tourists have visited Nsefu Camp over the years?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow thanks so much Jo! Nsefu certainly has a rich history, one that has touched and impacted many lives. We continue to enjoy the camp and all who come through its doors. On that nostalgic note, I shall bid you all a very fond ‘till next week’ – have a fabulous time with lots of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2019, It's Monday | Comments closed

Its Monday and what a great start to the season

I hope that everyone is fabulously well and ready and raring to hear from Sarah and Milo in Zimbabwe; as John’s Camp has opened for the season, and well has done so in style. Sarah and Milo – over to you:

“From a successful few weeks setting up camp to incredible sightings it’s been a great start to the season!

As you’ll know from our last bit of news, a lot goes into setting up a camp in a remote setting. The last week of April saw the remainder of the John’s Camp team return to their second home, Mana Pools to finish the job! We thought we’d give you a little sneak peek into the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a busy few days, we welcomed our first guests into camp.

The game viewing has been off to a great start – a true reminder of how wild this part of Zimbabwe really is! Dave Amyot, our resident guide captured some of these wonderful moments on video including lion calling in the dead of night {video} and an early morning sighting of a male lion crossing the flood plain {video} – much to the impala’s dislike.

John Stevens and his guests were in camp last week and were lucky to come across a cheetah defending its kill from vultures while on a game drive. These pictures, courtesy of John, speak for themselves!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow – amazing! Thanks so much for sharing that with us Sarah & Milo; what an incredible way to start the season. With several months of fabulous game viewing ahead of us, we can not wait to hear more news from you. To be honest with you, I don’t think that there is anything that can follow on from that… So I shall graciously bow out and bid you all a very fond farewell, with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2019, It's Monday | Comments closed

Its Monday and we head to the Falls!

I do hope that you are all well and have had a splendid weekend. Well, news from the Luangwa Valley this week is going to be a little on the sparse side as we are heading to Livingstone. Johnathan at Stanley Safari Lodge is sharing with us what they have been up to; besides of course from sipping gin and tonics in camp and looking down onto that glorious view of the mist that rises from the Victoria Falls. So Johnathan, over to you:

“Can you believe it’s only a month to mid-winter in the Southern Hemisphere and of course mid-summer in the North, nearly half the year is gone…

Here in Livingstone, the days are shorter, and the sun has lost some of that intense heat experienced in the summer months; but the weather is beautiful with mild days, clear skies and cool evenings.

The bush is still green after late rain and the Zambezi River is still running strongly so the Falls are looking spectacular and the “smoke that thunders” is hanging high over the water. Everyone visiting the Falls for a closer look returns to camp in absolute awe of the power, noise and quantity of water that races over the edge and down into the gorge. They also come back a little on the soggy side, as this time of the year there is no point in pretending that you have a chance to stay dry; you may as well accept a drenching and enjoy the thrill of the experience.

What a great time to be visiting this area. Who would know better than our repeat guests Jonathan & Christine Cox, visiting us often from Cornwall in the UK to our other Robin Pope Safaris camps – having last been to Stanley Safari Lodge in 2004. Having just spent 10 days in the Luangwa Valley, they chose to end their trip with a relaxing stay here. Not only getting to see the Falls and experience Livingstone and all it has to offer, but also to see some of the staff that are still here from when they last visited us.

It is always so wonderful to have so many familiar faces coming through to see us as it’s like welcoming family back. We look forward to welcoming many more familiar faces and new ones throughout the course of the year.”

Johnathan thanks so much for that, its always lovely to hear from you guys and we look forward to more tales as the season progresses.

Lastly a little update… We have over the last couple of years been working with a wonderful couple, Will and Lianne Steenkamp (best known for their multiple award-winning documentary Vanishing Kings and their work for the BBC’s Planet Earth series). They have been doing our Safari Diaries as well as some of our camp videos. Having come back to the Luangwa Valley time after time, they have decided to make this their second home. During the season they can be found filming in the Nsefu Sector, not only to keep the footage coming to you all on a weekly basis, but also filming their own incredible leopard film amongst others. In between all of this, they have recently been dashing around our camps taking new footage for any of you curious to have a scenic tour of our world, or just take a trip down memory lane – here is a sneak a peek: RPS Collection.

On that note, I shall bid you a fond farewell and keep all other news from the Luangwa to myself till next Monday. Between now and then, take care, have fun and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2019, It's Monday | Comments closed

It’s Monday and the lost supper

I do hope that you are all splendidly well and are ready for another killer week of sightings in the South Luangwa. This week we are hearing from Tom Hardy along with some photos from Margaret Croft who have recently stayed with us at Robins House and experienced some incredible sightings so Tom and Margaret I am handing the story telling to you today:

“Our afternoon game drive had gone well, and we’d enjoyed our sundowners standing on the banks of the Luangwa River watching the bee-eaters posing on the trees. As it grew darker we set off for the evening drive with Daniel sweeping the searchlight, and our guide Fred keeping a sharp eye open for anything of interest. We knew that there were a couple of leopards in the area and hoped to see one, but it was not until we were nearly back to the boat that Fred called: ‘There’s a leopard over there to the left. No, it’s an impala – no, it’s a leopard AND an impala!’

 

We stopped close by, and as the light picked them out we saw a young leopard holding a fully gown impala by the throat. The impala was not yet dead, and being bigger than the leopard he was putting up a brave fight. Several times he attempted to stand and get away, but the leopard hung on grimly. Eventually the impala keeled over and lay on his side, with the leopard still holding on firmly to the throat.

Suddenly, from out of the gloom, up trotted one of the lionesses of the local pride. The leopard vanished in the opposite direction, and the lioness took possession of the now exhausted impala. She held it firmly, tossed it around a couple of times and ensured it was finally dead. The other four lionesses of the pride also appeared one by one, and the five of them settled down to enjoy their nice fresh supper.

We watched for some fifteen minutes as the lions ate. We were stunned by the drama of the kill, and we all felt sad for the leopard who’d had the skill to catch the impala in the first place, but had not had the chance to benefit from her efforts. Returning to Robin’s House for dinner and a smiling welcome from hostess Aggie, we felt privileged to have watched such a drama, and thankful that obtaining our own supper through Stephen’s and Michael’s exemplary service was a lot less trouble than the leopard had had!

As a postscript, four days later we were fortunate enough to see another leopard having just caught an impala in very much the same area. This time the leopard was able to kill the impala more quickly, and there was a muted cheer from our group as we saw her dragging the dead carcass off towards the trees, where she would be able to stash it safely in the thickets away from any troublesome lions.

Photos: Margaret Croft
Text: Tom Hardy

Wow – really nothing else to say is there!! Thank you so very much Margaret and Tom what an incredible trip you had and thank you so very much for sharing with us we really appreciate it.

To be honest with you not much left for me to say after that except here it is all systems go we are opening Tena Tena, Nsefu and Luangwa Bush Camping on Wednesday so we are all running around making the final touches and before you know it we will be launched into peak season.

So without any further procrastination I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and wish you all a splendid week with lots of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2019, It's Monday | Comments closed

Its Monday and a cracking week in the Luangwa!

I do hope that you are all splendidly well and have had a lovely weekend; now sitting comfortably ready and raring for the week ahead. In the Luangwa we are hurtling towards the beginning of the peak season and getting Nsefu and Tena open. Very excitingly, Rob and I are heading up there for our first trip of the season and to see the camps and get back into the Nsefu sector. I am sure that I will update you with all the news from our trip next week, but for now let’s just take a quick moment for the most magnificent week of sightings at Nkwali.

We had some guests here Toby and Olivia who were on their first ever safari; and on their first drive with Chilumba they witnessed an entire leopard hunt and kill from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then as if that was not enough, on their second night drive they witnessed another entire leopard kill from start to finish. At this point I was wandering if the incredible sightings were ever going to stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To top it all off, on their third night drive they found the leopard with her kill and adult cub having a little bit of an interaction with a hyena who was trying to muscle in on their dinner. Not only was there this interaction but also some wonderful mum and cub interaction which is always just so wonderful to see especially with creatures that are usually solitary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In between all the leopard kills and sightings, there was also plenty of other wonderful plains game sightings. I think really the Luangwa massively showed off on this occasion for our newbies on safari… Also thank you so much Toby and Olivia for sharing your photos with us – now we really do believe the sightings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other than some extraordinary leopard sightings Nkwali has been inundated with elephants and mongooses; quite the extremes on size. The elephants are not making it particularly easy to get around, but who cares, they are wonderful to watch and so we are making the most of just enjoying their presence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a totally different end of the spectrum, lets give you some birding information. Last Saturday it was Global Birding Day and there were various teams out in different areas of the park just concentrating on birding. From RPS we had Braston out with some of our guests and then the second team was Jason with Kanga, Chilumba and Cannan. Braston’s team got 97 different species on their morning drive and Jason’s team managed 110 species. Among the sightings, they saw crowned eagle on a nest and also some swallow tailed bee-eaters.

Global Birding Day is set up by The Cornell Lab and all of the data collected worldwide is uploaded onto their system to help with their various ornithology projects. It’s incredible the amount of information and participants. Take a look at this link to read up more about it and next year you can participate from home

Right, so on that note I think that I am going to leave you all to it and hopefully next year some of you might dust off your binoculars at home and have a look in the garden to see how many different species of birds you actually have at home – you may well be surprised. In the meantime, I hope that you all have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

 

 

Posted in 2019, It's Monday | Comments closed

It’s Monday and Happy 1st Birthday Kuthengo

I do hope that you are all well and sitting comfortably, ready to grab the new week with the usual gust and excitement. Here in Zambia, well there is a definite chill in the air in the mornings which we are all really enjoying. The crisp air certainly marks the close of the rainy season. The Kawaluzi bridge is in and the teams are up at Nsefu and Tena getting started on building their camps for the new season. I am afraid to say that access is still limited as the road has not yet been put in and Willie (our Nsefu manager) was seen climbing out of the car a couple of afternoons ago grasping the base of his back and doing some fabulous stretches before he was able to wander over to the office. Having seen that I have opted to wait a little while before heading up there as not sure my back could take the bumps!

This however is not what I am writing to you all about as this week it’s all about celebrating Kuthengo Camps’ 1st ‘birthday’! It seems like just yesterday that our newest camp opened its doors to guests, and what a fabulous year it has had!

Guests have been treated to some special memories and sightings and the camp has really got off to a wonderful start. The views across the Shire River from your safari tent is wonderful not to mention the vast expanse of skies which offer some incredible star gazing in the evenings. There is no wander that when the famous hunter and explorer Henry Faulkner was sent to search for David Livingstone, and travelled along the Shire river, commented on the beauty of the area and abundance of wildlife there. Liwonde National Park is a rare example of untouched natural beauty and wilderness and we couldn’t resist making the most of this and Kuthengo (the translation means the wild) is in a perfect location to enjoy all that this area has to offer, including the most magnificent sunrises and sunsets along the river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The game viewing has blossomed with large herds of elephants being seen along the banks of the Shire river as well as the introduction of cheetah into the National Park making this the only place in Malawi to have these wonderful predators. Frequent visitors to camp include sable, waterbuck and the surrounding area is littered with the varying plains game, not to mention the occasional hyena that can be heard whooping during the night and the hippos that munch the grass around the tents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back through the photos it is hard to believe that just over a year ago Kuthengo was nothing but a building site just take a look at some of the before and after photos which help show just how much has happened in our little corner of paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since opening its doors last year, the camp has continued to evolve and upgrade with the addition of a glorious plunge pool to help guests cool down in the hotter months of the year as well as our new hand crafted boat which takes guests out on some breath taking river safaris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether it’s sitting on your private deck enjoying the view or being out and about in the park taking in the wildlife, a visit to Kuthengo is definitely a treat and after a year of sharing this wonderful place with our guests we look forward to many more years in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it for this week another fab week behind us and lets look forward to what this week has in store for us. Between now and then I hope that you all have a fabulous time with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

 

 

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It’s Monday and a family affair at John’s Camp!

I hope that you are all splendidly well and have had a lovely weekend. This week we are heading across to Zimbabwe to hear from Sarah and Milo and the rest of the John’s Camp team.

With the start of the new season literally around the corner, the team behind John’s Camp are at it again! The rainy season in Zimbabwe is typically from December to March/April, during which the camp is closed due to the wet conditions making camp inaccessible. The bush also becomes very dense so getting around the Mana Pools National Park and spotting game is no easy feat! That being said, the end of the green season is a beautiful time of year – still sunny and warm with a slight coolness in the evenings.

At the end of every season, the entire camp is taken down, packed away and the site returns to its natural state. This means that the months leading up to the new season are filled with sourcing of supplies, maintenance; and of course, getting into Mana to start the process of setting up an entire self-sufficient camp from scratch. As with ever year, the latter was a family affair including John, Milo, Dan and Max – the youngest member of the family being 3 years old.

After putting up a basic camp consisting of dome dents and kitchen area under a shady spot, the team quickly got to work planning, clearing and setting up the water supply.

The bush was not as dense as typically experienced during green season, as the rains have been unusually low this year. This will make for good game viewing this season. The team had some curious visitors during their trip, including an old Dagga Boy (lone bachelor buffalo) and a male lion!

It wasn’t all work and no play, as there is always time for a little fishing! Family time was spent along the river enjoying the tranquility of the surrounding African bush, returning to camp for dinner and a bucket bath. We think Max had the best deal!

Thanks to Sarah & Milo for sharing this news. We are so excited about the new season ahead at Johns Camp and look forward to hearing much more news from the team over the next few months. Over here in the Luangwa, I am not going to delve into too much of what has been happening but shall just finish off with a Gin Sundowners that Matt organized for his Luangwa House guests. Just before the drinks were poured, a pack of wild dogs decided to visit. I mean does it get much better than a gin and tonic, Luangwa sunset and a pack of wild dogs…?

On that note, I am going to bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you all have a fabulous week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter; and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

 

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Its Monday and time for some incredible photos

I do hope that you are all well; and have had a wonderful Easter Weekend, with plenty of family time and lots of chocolate. Here in the Luangwa, the Easter bunny came out in full force and hopped across most of our tables, dropping Easter eggs wherever he went. It was a race to gobble them up before the heat melted them, but don’t worry, we managed just fine!

Moving away from the Easter bunny, this week we are hearing from Daniela and Matthias Anger; regular guests of ours, who have recently been to visit and spent just over a week with us at Nkwali. During their stay they had some incredible sightings and have been very kind to share these beautiful photos with us so for this week I am going to let the photos do most of the talking, as really, they do not need words to detract from them.

Wow thank you so very much Daniela, what a beautiful selection of images!

On another note we have a new arrival…

Bertie was driving in to Nkwali last week and in the distance caught a glimpse of a brand-new leopard cub that was making a run for it from mum; but was soon scooped up and swiftly returned to the safety of the bush. Let’s hope that we get to see more of this little family unit as the youngster grows.

So, for this week I think that is all that I need to report on. Between now and next Monday I hope that you all have a fabulous week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

 

 

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Its Monday and what was missing last week has appeared this week

I do hope that you are well and have had a fabulous weekend with lots of smiles and laughter; and are now sitting comfortably ready to read this week’s news from the Luangwa. So what have we been up to? All sorts of shenanigans to be honest with you, but let’s start with letting you all know that Nsefu has now closed after an incredible Green Season – reopening at the end of May. Catherine and the team all came out on Sunday having shut the Nsefu doors for a short stint, before we can get up there by road in 6-8 weeks. We will keep you posted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the game viewing front, it would appear the giraffes and the lions have been reading our It’s Monday… After my comment last week about them being somewhat elusive, well this week they have been in the spotlight at both Nkwali and Luangwa River Camp. Chris was first to have a lovely sighting of giraffes who were just happily lazing on the main road, watching what else was going on and not particularly fussed by the approaching vehicle with guests; who although thoroughly enjoyed the sighting needed to get past. Eventually the giraffes got the message and moved on, as Chris advised his guests that there was no pushing them off the road – the animals have the right of way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Nkwali we had a day of giraffes just popping up everywhere, it was brilliant! One of those wonderful situations whereby the drive stopped to look at a couple of giraffes and then all of a sudden another, then another and before long there was a complete panorama of giraffe heads peeking over bushes. We have also had some lovely sighting of giraffes on the property behind camp as a stream of male giraffes had discovered a female in oestrous and so were pursuing her at a rather leisurely pace, but it gave the guests some great opportunities to witness the behavioural aspect of the process. The Luangwa House guests have been enjoying watching the giraffes from the comfort and cool of the pool in front of the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lions have also been showing off this week too but have mostly been showing off their new arrivals. Yes, there are lion cubs! We are always enormous fans of the new, small and fluffy arrivals… who wouldn’t be? We have had sightings from both Nkwali and Luangwa River Camp of different cubs, so our guests have been spoilt rotten. Chris was out with his guests from Luangwa River Camp and on the first night they spotted 5 adult lions and 2 sub adults who were eyeing some impalas, but the lions were sadly unsuccessful (lucky impalas!). The following morning they found two females with four tiny little cubs. The cubs were scampering around giving mum and aunt quite a difficult time wanting to play then wanting some milk, it was absolute chaos and the ladies certainly had their work cut out for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Cousins is back leading a group of colleagues. When I popped over for tea on Saturday to ask how things were going; I was gleefully informed by one of the members of the group that they had seen a zebra, just one lone zebra all morning. At which point more berating occurred and the truth finally came out that they had also seen lions with cubs. However, I am sure that Simon will fill us in with a more detailed report of his latest trip once he has returned home and I am certain he will have slightly more to report on than one zebra.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not to forget the other predators, we have had an incredible weekend of sightings with Kanga seeing 3 separate leopards on a morning drive as well as a pack of wild dogs finishing up the last of their breakfast in the form of an impala.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also have had countless elephants with tiny calves enjoying the shade under mums’ belly, before once again tackling the tall grass and enormous holes in the uneven ground from the rain and adult elephants churning up the mud.

Well I think that we can safely say that it has been a very busy week in the wild and the animals have been on excellent behaviour which is always rather helpful!
Before I sign off for the week, I am thrilled to announce that we have reached our 100th episode of our weekly Safari Diaries! This week is a particularly charming episode featuring Ground Hornbills. Click here to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH0jA9n1zLo&list=PLpTq0zDyV9mLuAXZ_ln2SDQubG4s7DnwS&index=100 
So before too much more chat from me, I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a fabulous week with lots of smiles and laughter. Don’t forget to look after one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Its Monday and news from Norway

I do hope that you are all well and have had a fabulous weekend, and geared up for the week ahead. Here in the Luangwa, we have had some extraordinarily high waters which has been pretty spectacular for boating.

Enough of the Luangwa as let’s face it, I am sure you can all see by the title of my It’s Monday today, we are not going to be having stories from the Luangwa but instead we are heading to significantly cooler climes with some Norwegian news!

After months of planning lots of applications, letters and all the rest of the formalities that go along with obtaining a visa we finally got the go ahead. Matt our Luangwa House host and his family offered to organise for Simon our Luangwa House chef to go and spend a month with them in Norway. What an incredible experience for him! Having never been on a plane before, never having even been on an escalator, I sat down and in huge marker pen wrote down a step by step instruction on how to get on the plane in Lusaka. Then the thought of Simon tackling Dubai dawned on me… Thankfully Matt organised for him to be escorted through the airport and put on the next plane and 21 hours of travelling later he arrived in Norway. The challenge wasn’t over as he had 2 hours stuck at immigration due to one letter being incorrect however he was finally let through and Matt was there to welcome him with extra layers and a familiar face. Fortunately it was a warm day in Norway with temperatures of -5C. Looking exhausted and mesmerised, his first thought was how on earth it was possible for people to live in such a place. Driving towards Matt’s home town of Trysil, Simon was totally overwhelmed but also dazed by the journey. After a quick dinner then off to bed.

The next few weeks were filled with all sorts of activities the first one on the list was getting used to the usual temperatures of -15C and -20C. Then also after a large dump of snow, having to get to work shovelling the snow out of the driveway to be able to get to the local school where Simon was doing a cooking class for some of the kids. Afternoon strolls with the dogs became a regular outing although by the looks of things, Simon was being taken for a walk by the dog! And new and exciting ingredients like moose were experimented with.

Some close family friends of Matt’s who are passionate about cooking came over to meet Simon, where they had long conversations with him about his life in Zambia and very kindly brought him some wonderful chefs’ knives as well as chefs’ jackets.

Simon visited the arcade for the first time where he and Matt played several games and also did a few rounds of bowling. For a first-time bowler he did amazing and managed to beat Matt, something which I am sure he will enjoy reminding Matt of when they are all back next week. Other totally alien activities included sledding and skiing – Simon was strapped into downhill skis fully geared up and off he went, at first tackling some of the gentler slopes. However Matt reckons by the end of his stay they will be going up onto some of the higher slopes.

From all of this Simon is surely going to be dinning out on the experience for some time to come. Staggered at first by how people could live somewhere so cold, he soon grew used to it and has really enjoyed the fresh crisp air. The other absolute novelty was the hot tub and sitting outside in warm water whilst the exterior temperatures are well below freezing! Whilst he is missing his family, he is having the most extraordinary time and enjoying the cooking and activities but so far, his favourite has been the skiing.

I just hope that he comes back as it certainly sounds like he is having a phenomenal time and I fear that when he does come back it is going to be quite a change getting used to the warm weather of Zambia again.

Right, that was definitely something a little bit different for you all this week and I will crack on next week with more African based stories. This one was just far too good to pass up on as it is an extremely generous thing for Matt and his family to have been able to offer Simon and quite a contrast to ‘off to Africa for the first time’. So, without any further rambling from me, I shall wish you all a very fond farewell, have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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It’s Monday 11th February and we finally put a face to the call…

I do hope that you are all well, sitting comfortably and ready and raring for the week ahead. In the Luangwa it’s been a little bit soggy and the water is at its highest point so far, this season, which is absolutely magical. It’s also however a slight cause of concern and Daudi was sent out with a ruler to measure the distance between the water and the bank. The markers are in now, so we are fully in the know with every step up or down that the water levels make.

Enough about the Luangwa River, this week we are heading over to Kuthengo where we are hearing from Jason and Steegan.

“Hello everyone, welcome back to the lush Kuthengo Camp where the birds are always chirping and the staff are always smiling!

We hope that you have had a wonderful start to the New Year and have already begun your plans to visit Malawi once again.

The atmosphere around camp is beginning to look and feel really romantic with Valentines Day around the corner. Sunsets have been spectacular to witness with a full sky of golden reds and yellows. So, you can imagine the sundowner drinks after a game drive are a highlight for many around this time of year!

Most evenings while our guests are sitting around the fire enjoying a drink and chatting about their days’ safari will be interrupted by a whooping noise. Many seasoned guests will know straight away that it is a hyena, while others have never heard that sound at all.

The call that has been studied the most in the field is the “whoop”: a very loud and musical call that often starts with a very low tone which is then modulated up and down in pitch. The whoop is a distance communication call that the hyenas use to announce their presence when they are out of visual contact. Did you know that each Hyena has a destinct whoop that other hyenas can identify?

We would often wake up the next morning and find hyena spoor around camp, although a little unnerving, it is still pretty awesome to know that we have them close to camp…

One late afternoon while out on a drive, Jason witnessed something that no other guest here at Kuthengo has ever witnessed. He saw a lone male Hyena taking a nap on the side of the road!

This must be the face to the call that we have been hearing so often. We have decided to call him Hazen and hope that he sticks around so that future guests can get a glimpse of this amazing creature!

Among other news, along with our new swimming pool, we have finally got our new wooden boat … there are still a few alterations that need to be done but the good news is that it is here and finally sailing the Shire River at Kuthengo Camp!

It can comfortably seat 8 people with their own “window” seat as well as a large spot for lounging in the front. She has officially been named Elise after Ton & Margaux’s youngest daughter.

As a new season approaches, we are looking forward to welcoming all the guests coming to us in Liwonde National Park. It is goodbye for now, but see you soon!

Jason and Steegan Smith – Managers at Kuthengo Camp.

Thanks so very much Jason and Steegan everything sounds like it is going wonderfully over at Kuthengo. After such lovely news my job is done, and I don’t need to say anything further except to wish you a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter; and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

 

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Nsefu turns 20!

 

Nsefu Camp, Zambia’s oldest camp – originally built in 1951 – turns 20 this year under the Robin Pope Safaris’ banner. Set on a stunning wide bend of the Luangwa River in the game rich Nsefu Sector, Nsefu enjoys a truly remote setting which it shares with sister camp Tena Tena.

Looking back in time – where it all begun and how far we have come:

 

1950 First Nsefu Camp, a temporary camp, opened north of the present site by the northern Rhodesian Game Department. The camp had been used for department officials when on duty. Turning the camp into a tourist camp came as the initiative of chief Nsefu and in turn all the profits from the camp went to him. The department assisted with the development of the scheme giving advise, providing construction and maintenance of access and gameviewing roads, the training of Native Authority Game Guards, camp reservations and with publicity.

1951 Nsefu Camp – moved to the present site as a temporary camp.

1954 Nsefu Camp – upgraded to a 12 bedded permanent camp.

1965 Nsefu Camp – taken over by the new independent government, under the Zambian National Tourist Board.

1966 Nsefu Reserve declared a Game Reserve, thus legalizing its status.

1971 The National Parks and Wildlife Act of 1968 comes into effect thus forming the South Luangwa National Park. This included the Nsefu Sector. Nsefu Camp continued to be run by various government departments.

1979 Two chalets burnt down, and the camp was closed. Zambia Safaris the largest hunting company in Southern Africa at the time took over the camp.

1981 Robin Pope, on a profit-sharing basis reopened the camp for Zambia Safaris. Robin ran the camp for five years during which he developed his reputation. In 1982 he opened Tena Tena as a ‘fly camp’ for three-day walking safaris from Nsefu.

1984 At the end of the ’84 season, Zambia Safaris folded, and the company was taken over by Eco Safaris.

1985 Robin left Nsefu Camp and opened Tena Tena as a 12 bedded camp under his own company – Robin Pope Safaris. Between 1985 and 1997 Nsefu Camp was run by Wilderness Trails. After declining occupancy levels, the camp did not open for the 1997 season.

1998 Robin Pope Safaris takes over the Nsefu Camp lease and starts renovations.

1999 July – Nsefu Camp opens as a Robin Pope Safaris camp.

2004 Luangwa Bush Camp, then called Nsefu Fly Camp, started operating between Nsefu Camp and Tena Tena.

2009 River Journeys: launched to now operate Nsefu for a few weeks between Jan and Mar.

Nsefu Camp is a historical property and in fact a listed property. Due to this there can be very little structural changes that can be made to the camp but innovation over the years has helped make it remain ‘current’:

* Wide windows and doors.
* Shady verandas on each chalet.
* Soft furnishings.
* Most recently ‘Evening Breeze cooling system’ – excellent eco-friendly air-conditioning/cooling system for the bed.

Highlights of the camp:
Location – true remote wilderness of Nsefu Sector, only shared with sister camp Tena Tena.

The Hide – perfectly positioned by a game rich lagoon, offering an option to stay in camp instead of going out on an activity. Perhaps even enjoy the sightings here instead of an afternoon snooze…

Lounge area – views over the Luangwa and a game rich lagoon which often offers excellent sightings for our guests. We have almost daily views of elephants crossing the river once the river levels drop.
Stork colony – this is an annual phenomenon with the peak breeding season for the yellow billed storks. Hundreds of these birds congregate on a small cluster of huge ebony trees where they breed and raise their young.  There are so many birds that the trees turn white from the excrement. Crocodiles and marabu storks are usually seen waiting patiently under the trees for the inevitable nestling casualties. The storks usually start to congregate in Feb/March and the last fledglings leave the colony in late April early May.

River Journeys – Nsefu opens for a few weeks Jan-Mar to explore the Luangwa during the Emerald Season while the Luangwa River is flowing high. Walking remains on during this period, coupled with boating safaris; which makes for incredible contrast to dry season experiences.

To celebrate the big 2-0, we have put together a special package in honour of Nsefu as well as Luangwa Bush Camping which turns 15 years: Nsefu@20.

Contact us today for more information.

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Good news for the painted wolves of the Luangwa Valley!

Recent wild dog conservation success in the Luangwa Valley has it estimated to now have the largest population of wild dogs in the whole of Zambia. Despite being one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores, wild dogs (also known as the painted wolf) in and around the South Luangwa National Park have enjoyed several years of increasing numbers, and there are now estimated to be approximately 350 adults and yearlings living in the Luangwa Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is largely due to the collaborative efforts of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP), and Conservation South Luangwa (CSL). Successfully increasing the wild dog population in the Luangwa has required joint conservation endeavours to reduce the impacts of snaring, which has had devastating impacts on wild dogs in the past.

As a result of intense monitoring of approximately 150 to 180 dogs by ground-based field crews, aerial tracking and satellite-GPS collar technology, teams from DNPW, ZCP and CSL have been able to detect and treat snared dogs. The data provided by collared dogs is also used in anti-poaching patrols, which target snare removals in high snaring risk areas for dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this population increase is encouraging news, the wild dogs still face an uncertain future, particularly outside the areas in the Luangwa where they are not intensively protected. “Conservation successes are hard to achieve, and we cannot relax, as they can quickly be undone if we are not vigilant,” said ZCP Ecologist Thandiwe Mweetwa. “Nevertheless, we should celebrate this conservation success for Zambia and the region’s wild dogs.”

Watch the painted wolves in action here: Pick a bone with a wild dog!

With multiple safari camps in the South Luangwa National Park, Robin Pope Safaris actively supports the wonderful conservation efforts of the ZCP through a mandatory Conservation Fee levied on every bed night through their South Luangwa camps and also by hosting the ZCP team at a base camp at Nkwali Camp.

The Robin Pope Safaris guides also play a part in assisting the ZCP teams not only providing the ZCP information when an injured animal is spotted but also help with the man-power when needed.

During Robin Pope Safaris’ Carnivore Week in November, guests are given the opportunity to learn about and view carnivores as well as gain some exclusive insights into the ZCP under the guidance of project manager, Dr Matt Becker and his team. During this week activities will include tracking, learning about ecological survey techniques in the field including lion identification and prey surveys and attending lectures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be part of something! We have some limited availability on this years Carnivore Week safari. Contact us today for more information!

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It’s Monday 14th January and New Years greetings from Pumulani!

I do hope that you are all well and have had a fabulous weekend and sitting comfortably for this week’s news from us. Roz and the Pumulani team share a roundup of their year as they get ready for their annual shutdown.

‘Greetings all from the shores of Lake Malawi! The management, guests and staff have said farewell to 2018 in true Pumulani style and welcomed in 2019. The last month of 2018 has brought the down pours of rain turning our beautiful land around the lake into a carpet of luminous green. The staff who farm have turned their land and planted, with promise of bumper crops this year. Travelling to the lake you will see rows and rows of maize and cassava (nutty flavoured root vegetable) growing and being carefully tendered to. Cheers to a wonderful year of growth!

Christmas at Pumulani was traditionally festive, the celebrations were held on Christmas Eve (fortunately as we had a very wet Christmas day!), with guests enjoying the delights of the Chef’s food. The local choir joined us in entertaining the guests with Christmas Carols in Chichewa. After an absolutely delicious meal, we ended the evening chatting around the fire under a star sparkled sky; with our awesome guests indulging in stories about life on the lake and further afield.

Father Christmas (aka Godfrey) handed out gifts from under our locally made, roof high Baobab Christmas Tree. Our youngest guest Isabella, sparkled in her Christmas dress and was in awe that “Father Christmas” had come all the way to Pumulani!

We welcomed in 2019 around the fire with Garth sabering a bottle of bubbly at midnight for our guests, with cheers and well wishes all around; celebrating the Emerald Season in Malawi and a prosperous New Year for all!

It has been a busy six months since our last newsletter and our guests have been enjoying the numerous activities that Pumulani has to offer. Fish Eagle feeding has become very popular, especially among the enthusiastic photographers, with amazing footage of the majestic fish eagle.

Our dam on the property which is the home to cichlids, kampango (cat fish), chambo and ncheni is full with the help of the good rains and the guests are enjoying “catch and release” sitting on the bank under the trees or fishing off the walkway. Garth and the beach staff are always available to assist first timers to land at least one of these species. The competition is stiff and much fun was had by all.

Another activity is our sunset cruise on our locally made dhow (wooden sail boat), this is the perfect way to end a day sailing into the sunset with a drink in hand. Each sunset is different and never disappoints.

It has been a great year hosting guests and we look forward to inviting our new guests to stay when we reopen in March, to Pumulani – The brightest star on the lake!
Garth, Roz and the Pumulani Team.’

Thanks so much Roz for all the news; sounds like it has been a fab year for you guys.

Here in the Luangwa, well the rustles of preparation can be heard as we start to get ready to open Luangwa River Camp and Nsefu for the River Journeys. Rob looked at me with absolute horror when I unveiled the pile of food and housekeeping supplies which needed to get onto the boat to wend their merry way up to the camps. He got a similar look from me when I realized the amount of supplies which the workshop also had to send up! So I think that we can safely assume that the river is going to be rather busy with our boats beetling up and down over the next few weeks as we get all the required staff and supplies into camp.

It is always super exciting to venture into the Nsefu Sector at this time of the year when it has been transformed into a garden of Eden; and where the roads have almost all been washed away and there is not another soul up there. Hopefully this year I will venture out on the boat along with my camera and shall get snapping. For now though, I feel certain that it is time to bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

 

 

 

 

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Solo travel in Malawi (Elle Magazine – Quebec)

Read all about Catherine’s solo adventures in Malawi:

Mon voyage en solo au Malawi

 

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Meet Boswell – the Zimbabwe elephant turned YouTube star (The Telegraph)

Deep in the heart of Mana Pools National Park, in the shade of a mighty winter thorn tree, an old bull elephant is flapping his ears to keep himself cool. It’s August in the Zambezi Valley and at last the seedpods, an irresistible delicacy for elephants, are ready to eat…

Read more here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/zimbabwe/articles/boswell-the-elephant-mana-pools-zambezi-fund/

The Telegraph

25 October 2018

 

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10 of the Most Tranquil Outdoor Showers in the World (Architectural Digest)

Situated on the southern end of Lake Malawi, Pumulani is nestled in the verdant hills among the trees and rugged outcrops. Dutch architect G. Hooft Graafland made sure the villas and showers were built in harmony with the natural landscape. The outdoor shower is placed inside a static wooden boat for an ethereal aquatic experience…

Read more about it here: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/most-tranquil-outdoor-showers-world

Architectural Digest

16 November 2018

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It’s Monday 7th January and some HUGE wild dog news!

How are you and how has the first week of 2019 treated you? I hope it has been full of promise of the year ahead. Before I go into overly enthusiastic raptures over the New Year, let me pull myself back to the task in hand and update you all on news from the valley.

Let’s start the year off with some really exciting news which has been given to us by Dr. Matt Becker and his team at the Zambia Carnivore Programme – The South Luangwa National Park is now officially home to Zambia’s largest African wild dog population

In an exciting win for conservation, the Luangwa Valley is now estimated to have the largest population of wild dogs in the whole of Zambia. Despite being one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores, wild dogs in and around the South Luangwa National Park have enjoyed several years of increasing numbers, and there are now estimated to be approximately 350 adults and yearlings living in the Luangwa Valley.

This wildlife conservation success is in large part due to the collaborative efforts of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP), and Conservation South Luangwa (CSL). Successfully increasing the wild dog population in the Luangwa has required collaborative conservation efforts to reduce the impacts of snaring, which has had devastating impacts on wild dogs in the past. As a result of intense monitoring of approximately 150-180 dogs, teams from DNPW, ZCP and CSL have been able to detect and treat snared dogs, ensuring the survival of many wild dog packs within the Luangwa Valley.

While this population increase is encouraging news, the wild dogs still face an uncertain future, particularly outside the areas in the Luangwa where they are not intensively protected. “Conservation successes are hard to achieve and we cannot relax, as they can quickly be undone if we are not vigilant,” said ZCP Ecologist Thandiwe Mweetwa. “Nevertheless we should celebrate this conservation success for Zambia and the region’s wild dogs.”

A huge thanks to all the people involved in this project it has proved a real success and we are so excited with the news that the Luangwa wild dog population is thriving thank you so much Matt for sharing this information with us.

So naturally after this news I should tell you about all the wild dog sightings that we have been having! Our guests at Nkwali have been treated with glimpses of them bounding out of thick bushes chasing some poor terrified looking antelope, to seeing them sprawled across the road enjoying the feeling of the cool ground against their tummies as well as witnessing the last remains of a kill being ravenously shared between the pack. It really has been a busy start to the year on the dog front.

It is not only the dogs that have proved successful so far this year a glimpse of a lioness with brand new cubs, eyes still shut was enjoyed by the guests and let us be honest about it really this is an undeniably amazing sighting as we rarely get to see lions out and about when they are this small. So all in all it’s been a great start to the year and let us hope that it continues in the same way.

For now though I am going to disappear off and leave you all to the rest of your week and wish you all a fabulous one with lots of smiles and laughter…don’t forget to look after each other!

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It’s Monday 31st December and high waters and even higher spirits.

How are you? I hope you had the most wonderful Christmas with friends and family and that you are all preparing to say a fond farewell to 2018 and an excited hello to 2019! Christmas in the Valley is always full of excitement and a certain amount of flexibility. We have had some incredible rain over the last few weeks so game drives have been leaving and coming back at all sorts of times of the days but despite that the guests have been seeing some wonderful game – which we will come back to.

Over Christmas we were chock-a-block so all the trees went up, Santa was guarding the Nkwali lagoon and the baboons circled the Nkwali bar waiting for an opportunity to attack the Christmas tree. The Nkwali tree was attacked however not by the baboons but by a rather large storm that literally swept it of its feet!

Our traditional Christmas carols was in jeopardy due to the rain and Kiki was tasked with putting together an impromptu RPS choir however the skies cleared and it was all on. For those of you who don’t know the carols is an age-old valley tradition where all the lodges get together with all their guests for some delicious snacks, plenty of bubbles and some good old Christmas carol singing.

Christmas day was all fun and games with turkeys running between ovens and the chefs looking at me sideways as I whipped out a box of parsnips – what on earth are these? They asked. Well needless to say as soon as they were cooked there were a few handed out for tasting and they were definitely approved of. The gin cured salmon starter however was only tasted by a couple of the more daring chefs as they were a little sceptical about a pink coloured fish that hadn’t been – well – boiled for several hours! However, they were even more perplexed when I took out a box of edible flowers for decoration.

Food asides the game viewing has been fantastic and the river is running so high that we have been able to get out in the boat as well. It has to be said that I don’t remember ever seeing the river this high at Christmas.

The Luangwa House guests have been seeing lots and lots of game including 4 separate sightings of leopard but there was one sighting that stuck out from the crowd. Driving along the road they found a leopard up in a tree while it was raining and was completely drenched, feet hanging down either side of the tree then suddenly perked up as some impala crossed the road and it jumped off the branch in an attempt to attack but the impalas were a little too alert so the attempt was thwarted. So slightly embarrassed it just sat still and cowered under a little shade trying to get away from the rain.

On a walk Bertie saw two bull elephants so they watched them quietly for a while then they carried on with their walk. The route that they were doing was a loop and on their way back they heard lots of splashing and crashing and the same two elephants came charging through a lagoon and the bushes closely followed by some impalas, waterbucks and pukus. Don’t panic the antelope were not scaring the elephant it was a knock-on effect of a pack of wild dogs scaring everybody into making a run for it! The guests only saw a fleeting glimpse of the dogs as they definitely had more on their mind than being photographed!

The Robin’s House guests also saw some incredible game but the stand out was a pair of mating lions which the youngest of the girls proclaimed as being “terribly romantic” however I fear may have caused a series of questions for mum and dad!

Other than that well plenty of giraffes absolutely everywhere and all the usual birds for this time of the year. There is plenty to be seen that is for sure. However, for today I am going sneak off as we have some preparations to be getting on with for this evenings celebrations and wish you all a wonderful evening and all the very best for the New Year. Have a wonderful first week of 2019 with plenty of smiles and laughter and dong forget to look after one another.

 

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It’s Monday 24th December and it’s almost Christmas time at Kuthengo…

Happy Christmas Eve – I hope that everyone has been well behaved and that Santa is absolutely on his way tonight! Here in the Luangwa it’s all systems go with getting the snacks cooked and the champagne chilled ready for our annual Christmas Carols. Then for tomorrow the turkeys are all lined up ready to be popped in the oven and all sorts of other treats and goodies are being planned. This week we are going to hear from Steegan over at Kuthengo as they get ready for their first official Christmas since opening in April this year.

Steegan – over to you:

“Although Christmas is stereotypically portrayed as a snowy white scene, at Kuthengo Camp our white Christmas has been swapped for a beautifully green one. After the first rains, everything has turned from dry and brown to an emerald green! So, welcome to our green Christmas…Isn’t it the most wonderful time of the year? Our build up to Christmas is going a little like this…

Arriving back from Blantyre with Christmas décor in hand, I thought I was going to be the only one excited to transform camp into a Christmas wonderland. To my surprise, I was wrong. Many of the staff members were curious to see what I had purchased and to listen to the vision I had. This included Dickson, our famous chef, who wasn’t the biggest help as he only stands about 4 foot 5 inches tall! I needed guys who were tall enough to reach the high spots around the tents, but none the less he wanted to help out.

Stanley, our assistant manager, helped place the greenery around the top of the tent in the main area as well as place the bows in their perfectly selected spots. Dickson then got into character and began to play around with the greenery we were busy with, this sparked a giggle among all that were gathered around. The Christmas spirit was here already!

It was time to choose a branch for our Tree to decorate, so we sent Dickson and Lucas, the Sous chef, out on the hunt for this perfectly shaped branch to call our bush Christmas tree. While the two of them were out on the hunt, I had recruited a few more curious guys standing around to assemble and put the “Merry Christmas” sign up in the dining room. Amon, our head waiter, is dubbed “the only giraffe in Liwonde” as he stands over 6 foot tall. He came in handy when we had to decorate the top of the tree and place the fairy lights around the tents.

The atmosphere in camp has become even more cheerful since we put the decorations and even sparked a creative idea from Dickson to make a ginger bread house to go along with the festive decorations.

This task has proven to be a difficult one as it’s rather wet and humid around camp, but we still think we have done a brilliant job! As it’s our first Christmas we hope that this is one of many traditions for the years to come. Dickson has even written down the recipe for the ginger bread house for everyone to use and start your own Christmas tradition!

Gingerbread house recipe by chef Dickson

We are also so grateful for our new addition to Kuthengo… the swimming pool!

Many guests have said that the pool is an absolute life saver with the heat that comes with the rain…and with quite a view I may add. This 6x4m pool is approximately 1.6m deep with the same spectacular view as the tents, the beautiful lush open flood plain where many hippo, waterbuck, kudu, impala, warthog, elephant and even sable graze and come to drink at the waters’ edge. The deck is still a work in progress but it is crystal clear and open to all who fancy a dip.

A last little bit of excitement to share, although the rains have come early this year, it never stopped Ole and Jean Peterson going out on a full day drive. Jean is a Malawian born Lady who met and married a Danish man in the 70’s. They make an effort to come to Malawi from Denmark once every two years and said they are happy to have found a place like Kuthengo to visit.

Opting for a full day drive with a slight chance of rain was one of the best decisions the Petersons made. They were keen to see anything that they could although they knew that they might not see much…

After a beautifully set lunch in the bush and drinks they started to make their way back to the camp. Driving along the road they spotted in the distance… what they thought maybe a lion, but to their surprise, it was a cheetah! They then discovered that not only one cheetah but three of them were laying under the shade of a rather large tree. This was incredible spotting from their guide Patrick.

This has been the first time that guests have seen the cheetah this far north! Usually they are found close to Chinguni Hill, which is 2 hours south of camp. We hope the cheetah family will decide to settle here! I mean who wouldn’t want to?

Ole and Jean spent a good few minutes watching them as they lay lethargically under the shade, when suddenly one of the three popped up and started walking away from the group. They followed it as far as they could to see if they could possibly witness a kill, but unfortunately it went further into the thicket.

This was definitely a perfect way to end the day and now it seems the possibility of seeing cheetah closer to camp is greater than before!

Among other news, The Klossners from Germany also witnessed a rarity at Kuthengo Camp… not only did they see the two male lions that were recently released from Majete but also one of the females with the males that was released at a different time. We are eagerly waiting to see if cubs will be a product of this exciting union.

On that high note, we wish you a Merry little Christmas from Jason, Steegan and all the staff here at Kuthengo Camp!”

Thanks so much Steegan and hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and obviously to everyone reading this, Happy Christmas and may your day be filled with festive cheer.

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Gingerbread House for Kuthengo’s first Christmas

It’s Kuthengo’s first Chirstmas and the atmosphere is absolutely buzzing which has sparked a creative idea from Chef Dickson to make a ginger bread house to go along with the festive decorations. This task has proven to be a difficult one as it’s rather wet and humid around camp, but we still think we have done a brilliant job!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As it’s our first Christmas we hope that this is one of many traditions for the years to come. Dickson has even written down the recipe for the ginger bread house for everyone to use and start your own Christmas tradition!

Gingerbread

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
For assemblage and decoration:
Melted white chocolate or Royal Icing, recipe follows
Jelly tots, Smarties, as desired

Royal Icing:
1 pound (3-3/4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
1 to 2 large egg whites, or substitute 4 teaspoons packaged egg whites and 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon almond extract, vanilla or lemon juice

Mix all of the ingredients together using an electric hand mixer, until the icing is smooth and thin enough to be pressed through a pastry bag with a writing tip. Add more lemon juice, if necessary.

Directions
1. Gingerbread House: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm.
2. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C or gas 4.
3. Cut out the following paper patterns for the gingerbread house template: Two rectangles, 3 by 5 inches, to make the front and back of the house. Two rectangles, 3 by 5 1/2 inches for the roof. Two pieces for the ends of the house, 3 inches wide at the base, 3 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 5 1/2 inches from the bottom. Four smaller rectangles, 1 1/2 by 1 inch for the roof and sides of the entryway. And one piece, 2 inches wide at the base, 1 1/2 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 2 1/2 inches from the bottom for the front of the entryway.
4. Roll gingerbread dough out to edges on a large, rimless cookie sheet. Place paper patterns onto the rolled out dough. With a sharp, straight edged knife, cut around each of the pieces, but leave pieces in place.
5. Bake at 190 C for about 15 minutes until dough feels firm.
6. Place patterns on top of the gingerbread again and trim shapes, cutting edges with a straight-edged sharp knife. Leave to cool on baking sheet.
7. Place royal icing into pastry bag with a writing tip and press out to decorate individual parts of house, piping on decorations, windows, door, etc., as desired. Let dry until hardened.
8. ‘Glue’ sides, front and back of house together at corners using royal icing. Place an object against the pieces to prop up until icing is dry (it only takes a few minutes).
9. ‘Glue’ the two roof pieces to the pitched roofline of the house. Then, similarly, glue the sides and roof of the entryway together with icing. Attach the entryway to the front of the house.
10. Continue decorating the house, gluing on Jelly tots and smarties, as desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy holidays from chef Dickson and the rest of the Kuthengo Team!

 

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It’s Monday 17th December and the green light

I do hope that you are well. Gosh – I don’t know how many years I have been writing It’s Monday but i assure you that it’s been quite a few and believe it or not today I totally forgot as we are all systems go and I am personally in major panic mode with Christmas preparations. But despite all of that I do hope that you have had a wonderful weekend.

So what news from the Luangwa? Nkwali has been empty for the last week which has been perfect as we are full on with Christmas preparations and this has meant that after a long and busy dry season we have managed to empty all the rooms, give everything a re-paint and a major spring clean so we are completely ready for our influx of guests over the next few days. While I have been busy with the guest rooms, Kiki has been busy getting the new river crossings sorted as the river is slowly creeping up and we have had to move harbour location. The only hiccup was that a month ago the lions killed a hippo in our green season harbour so we have had to slightly move it as we really didn’t feel that a hippo skeleton was an easy obstacle for our guests whilst carrying cameras, binoculars and all sorts of other paraphernalia! That situation has now been resolved and it is now all systems go on getting the guest rooms up and running.

The rains have also arrived, as we had a couple of huge rainstorms and the bush has literally burst into life with everything transforming itself into the most vibrant green you can imagine. After months of dry dusty beige, we are dazzled by the colour and with the rain all of the small dust particles get washed out of the sky and the light becomes simply incredible. The golden sun bathes the bush in this magical light – I realize it sounds like I am going slightly crazy, but I promise you it is incredibly beautiful. It’s the perfect Christmas green so mother-nature has done a large part of our Christmas decorating for us. Anyways before I get carried away with my ramblings let’s move on to guests shall we!

Robin’s House has been busy with guests and they have had some wonderful sightings however most of the predators seem to be sleeping. On the list of wildlife spotted sleeping was:

• A pack of 20 wild dogs with incredibly full tummies so obviously digesting a massive breakfast.
• A male and female lion just taking it easy in the shade.
• A leopard pretty much doing the same as the lion.

We have also had a few sightings of a lovely female leopard just behind Nkwali who has been busy stalking pukus’ so the poor creatures are living on high alert at the moment.

Let us also not forget about the smaller things that pop up this time of the year. In order to help us with our Christmas decorations we have the bright red velvet mites roaming the planes (ok allow me a little poetic licence – basically these small mites are dotted all around, if you take the time to stop and look on the ground!). Then we also have the fireball lilies which suddenly burst into flower from one day to the next.

The foam nest frogs are busy making their foam nests hoping and praying that the puddle they make their nest over doesn’t suddenly dry up! Everywhere you look there are dung beetles in all different shapes and sizes busy making the most of things and frantically rolling their dung balls. It’s a magical time of the year where everything just seems to relax a little after the long harsh dry season and all sorts of wonderful plants and creatures pop out of the woodwork and make their annual appearance.

So there we have it for this week I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and wish you all a wonderful week ahead with lots of Christmas cheer and spirit! We will chat to you again next week on Christmas Eve, with more updates from the camps.

 

 

 

 

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It’s Monday 10th December and the giraffe.

I do hope that you have had a fabulous weekend with plenty of joviality. So what news from the Luangwa? Well, to be honest with you today’s It’s Monday is going to take a slightly different stance, as we are having a giraffe update. What picture comes into your mind when you think of Africa? I am sure the obvious image of a large maned male lion but I am also sure that up there at the top is that iconic image of a lone giraffe feeding on a lone acacia in the middle of a vast open plane… It really is one of those classic African images.

A tower of giraffes, a journey of giraffes, so many subspecies with subtle differences. An array of wonderful local names – here in Zambia the local name is Nyama likiti the literal translation being the animal that makes the ground tremble. And across the border in Malawi “Kadyamsonga” meaning a feeder on tree-tops. Then there is the Latin name “Camelopardalis” which suggests that it is a cross between a camel and a leopard.

We need to protect this iconic species and African Parks have been doing just that down in Majete. We are now able to share some news of our exciting new arrivals in Majete Wildlife Reserve. Last month 13 giraffes were successfully introduced into the reserve for the first time. They came all the way from South Africa, spending over three days in the back of a truck and covering 2,500km.

African Parks have worked tirelessly on setting this project up and helping to protect this incredible animal. They also passed on some rather alarming information about giraffes and the survival of the species.

Giraffes are one of the iconic animals of Africa and yet they have been placed on the ‘Red List’ of threatened species and even more worryingly is that several subspecies of giraffes are now critically endangered. The numbers are down by some 30% since the 1980’s with fewer than 100,000 remaining across the continent. Having fallen to the devastating effect of poaching and hunting for their skin and their meat; as well as in some areas simply being killed just for their tails as part of a traditional brides’ dowry.

These 13 giraffes are now however happily making Majete their new home and are living there peacefully, along with a host of other animals. We sincerely hope that they thrive in their new home.

The translocation effort was undertaken with Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife, with additional support provided by the Sundaram Family. These wonderful animals have already been making an appearance, much to the delight of guests staying at Mkulumadzi!

All giraffes both in Majete and here in the South Luangwa must certainly be enjoying the wonderful flush of new green leaves that are popping out left right and centre with the rains that we have been getting. They do however look slightly entertaining as they become even taller from the thick soil sticking to their hooves as they wander around with their muddy socks on!

So without taking away the spotlight from the giraffe I am going to prevent myself from peeling off and nattering away about all sorts of other things. I hope that you all have a fabulous week, with lots of smiles and laughter; and don’t forget to look after each other.

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It’s Monday 3rd December and a leap into December.

I do hope that you are all well and have had a fabulous weekend and welcomed December with the gusto and excitement that it deserves. The last month of the year! Where has the time gone? The season has also flown by and Nkwali, Robin’s House & Luangwa Safari House remain open, as Tena Tena, Nsefu and Luangwa River Camp are all closed as the rains have arrived. The skies are heavy with clouds and dry bush has transformed itself into a surreal parkland with new sprigs of grass sprouting up all over the place. The elephants have decided that Nkwali is not the only place to hang out, which means it is now significantly easier for us to get around. Humphrey the hippo is having a wonderful time in his lagoon which has significantly more water in it.

On a festive note, this week we are going to get cracking with some early preparations for Christmas. The amarula ice cream will find its self being churned and we will start with some experimenting for the Christmas menu so that we are fully prepared. The crackers are already in and the turkeys have been on order for the last month – there was no way we were going to leave that to chance. And this year will be the first time that we will decorate our house as with Jack I feel it important to celebrate. However, I am not entirely sure how a Christmas tree will survive with him and the cats but let’s wait and see what happens there!

Anyway, let’s move on to the serious business of game viewing… So, what has been happening out in the park? Well the animals are looking decidedly spritelier with the start of the rains. The baby impalas have popped out everywhere – although I must admit I do feel that this year there appear to be fewer. However, they are always an absolute joy to watch. The guests witnessed a puku being born – never ceases to amaze how these fragile little creatures can be born and up and running within a matter of minutes! And the migratory birds have started coming in with sightings of Abdim Storks and White Storks. On Saturday John was out on a drive and they heard an Africa Pitta (formerly known as Angola Pitta) – it’s always the biggest challenge this time of the year for our keen birders to try and spot one of these elusive birds. I am afraid to say that the challenge continues as despite a lot of neck craning and eye straining it remained heard but not seen.

Whilst talking of being elusive this week the leopards have been somewhat absent from the show. However, 2 female lions were spotted having just taken down an elephant calf and were feasting on their reward. Whilst on the subject of animals and prey, also out in the park was a rare and unusual sighting of a spotted bush snake – I want to say pouncing to make it sound more dramatic but obviously there is no pouncing when it comes to snakes, so let’s use our imaginations! Like I was saying, a spotted bush snake was seen grabbing a skink with astonishing speed and taking the poor beast off clasped in its jaws to enjoy its meal in a slightly more secluded spot. Whilst on the subject of bush snakes we had one that really was in a bit of a pickle the other day – it had caught a frog and had the frog in its mouth but was under a door and, well, wanted to go back inside but really couldn’t know there was the added bulk in its mouth. After what felt like an age of indecisiveness it finally decided to leave the comforts of the office and take refuge in a tree.

 

I assure you, it will not be long until I start obsessing over the levels of the Luangwa River. However, for now it remains rather empty and we are still enjoying daily sightings of elephants crossing in front of camp, which is always a splendid treat. The kudus and giraffes are also regularly coming down to drink and we also had lions camped out there for the best part of a week. Never a dull moment.

For now, however, I am going to leave you all to it. As I write this, I hear the dulcet tones of the Heuglins Robin (sorry – white browed robin chat – for those more up to date with the bird names) reminding me that it is time get the day going. So, I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you all have a splendid week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter, and don’t forget to look after one another

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It’s Monday 26th November and the annual predator photographic trip.

I hope you are sitting comfortably and prepared to be wowed by loads of incredible stories and even more amazing photographs from David Rogers and
a group of four photographers who braved the November heat for David’s annual Predator Photo Workshop. The words and pictures from this trip leave little doubt about just how wonderful it was.

In the words of David’s guests:

Maria-Jose Carballo : “Early November is one of my favourite times in South Luangwa.” Weakened herbivores trying to find the last bits of dried grass, buffalo calves getting stuck in the mud and feasting predators all over the place. As the heat builds, the first scattered showers start changing the landscape and the wobbly newborn impala announce the arrival of the new season. Wildlife at its best!”

Wendy Vickery from Swaziland has been to Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa and says she keeps telling family and friends that this was her best trip ever. “I love the bush, and that Mopani forest made my heart feel like bursting.” Wendy really liked the fact that our group was so small and everyone got to know each other very quickly.

Liz Stagg listed highlights which were too plentiful to include all of them, but here are some of her top moments:

“Seeing the confused look on the face of a lioness who had killed two warthog piglets, ‘which one to eat first?’ Hearing the deafening squeals of a fully-grown male warthog, taken down by a pack of lions which included ‘Stumpy’ – a young male with only half a tail. Wendy spotting a leopard asleep in the only tree for miles around on the salt pan. That tree is now referred to as ‘Wendy’s tree’. Seeing the Painted dogs start to chase the impala, the impala fleeing for their lives across the meadow, the giraffes joining in and our vehicle in hot pursuit. Over the noise of the chase David shouted out ‘Liz, get your GoPro running’. The pregnant impala didn’t stand a chance. We watched as the adult dogs let the pups feed and fill their tummies. Watching in silent wonder as a new-born Puku tried to stand. She was tiny and still wet from birth; her Mum warily kept her eyes on us. Bob entertaining us with tales, recounted in the accents of Barbados, with great accuracy.”

Bob Sankey, on his second trip to Luangwa in 12 months, was blown away by the people and the landscapes. An ex Royal Marine and previously a guide in Zimbabwe, he has a large personality and a singing voice to match. None of us will ever forget driving back from Chichele Hills special sundowner with two bottles of bubbly under our belts and Bob singing Mathilda at the top of his voice.

We will let the photographs do the rest of the talking.

Wow thanks so much everyone it was obviously wonderful to have you all with us and we are delighted that we got to spoil you with some incredible sightings and photographic opportunities. Anyone who is interested, David holds photographic workshops with us quite regularly although the spaces are booking up fast – options available for November 2019 and February 2020.

On that note I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

Robin Pope Safaris digital photographic workshop in South Luangwa National Park with David Rogers *** Local Caption *** © David Rogers

 

 

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It’s Monday 19th November and a safari through all the camps.

I do hope that you are fabulously well and sitting down when I tell you this… yet another season has zoomed past!!Tena Tena is now closed and we only have a couple of weeks before the same happens to Nsefu and Luangwa River Camp. I have to say I really honestly have no idea where time has gone since May! Instead of banging on about the fact that time is whistling past, far too quickly at that, we have had some lovely images from David Elbourn. David recently stayed at Nkwali, Tena and Nsefu; and as you will see had some wonderful sightings both in and out of camp.

This year, more than any other year, we have been surrounded by elephants at Nkwali and the fences have borne the brunt of them trying to get from A-B. The team having re-done the fences several times, decided to decorate one of the fences with the addition of an arch. As I am sure you can imagine, it is more work than initially thought as it needs to be popped back on almost every day as the elephants don’t quite fit underneath it and so just knock it off!

Humphrey the hippo has been regularly joined by the same elephants, and to be honest with you, makes very little attempt to socialise.

Aside from exceptional sightings of all predators and plenty of birds, the Nkwali team rustled up a magnificent bush breakfast; and I have to say just looking at what Winnie was cooking up makes me feel hungry!

Through all the camps David was treated to plenty of lion and leopard sightings as well as wild dogs and even the elusive Eland whilst up at Tena Tena.

The birdlife this time of the year is always good, having a lot of our migratory birds around and because there is so little coverage in the trees and bushes. So, we get to have great sightings of everything not only up in the trees but also the larger birds down on the ground wrestling with how best to consume the fish that they have caught!

David, thanks so much for sharing your fab photos with us I am somewhat envious of all that you saw while you were here. I realise that this sounds ridiculous as I live here but we don’t actually go out on safari when we go to the camps – it’s always a quick trip there and back and if we see something it’s a major bonus. So I live vicariously through the sightings of others.

Moving on now to one of my favourite topics – the weather… this time of the year we have the build up to the rains and without exception we get a few tell-tale signs. First one – baby warthogs and this year we seem to be seeing plenty. We have a pair of little ones seen almost daily running around Nkwali with mum and I presume aunty.

Second sign – baby impala, the guides have spotted the odd one or two which means that soon the plains are going to be littered with these wonderfully leggy and wobbly little creatures. Third – the frogs start to sing, which is a sure sign that hopefully soon the earth is going to be blessed with some much-needed moisture. Then lastly let’s not forget our old favourite, the red-chested cuckoo who sings a rather distinctive tune which I can assure you by February has become a little irritating. However when I heard the first one just a few days ago I did smile at what it means. Right, I think that I have probably over-shot with my stories this week so will hopefully leave you not too fed up with my babbling.

I hope that you all have a spectacular week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

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