It’s July 2003 and …

It’s July 2003 and …

It’s Monday 7th and the one eyed snake!

I am sitting at my desk shoeless today – this is my choice as I sometimes like to feel the earth between my toes. However, the other day Jason A had a bit of a boot crisis. His group were due to arrive at the airport and so he when to his room to change – no sign of his boots anywhere. On investigation he found that Aliale our bedroom attendant has taken them to be washed as he felt that they were looking a bit shabby. He was unrepentant when Jason said that they were his only pair and what was he going to wear to collect his guests. Aliale prompted said that a guide of Jason’s standing should have at least 2 pairs of boots and he should therefore stop on the way to the airport to buy another pair! Jason in fact borrowed a pair of Simons boots – a little too big for him but he managed not to trip over them as he walked out to meet the guests from the plane.

Ross was guiding guests at Tena Tena last week when he had to make an unscheduled “comfort” stop. Ross ducked behind a bush and spotting a crack in the ground took aim. Seconds later a snake sprung out of the crack and looked around bemused – no doubt trying to work out why the rains had started so early this year!

Tony Green has been guiding for us this week at Nkwali to help out during this extremely busy week. He had stopped the vehicle to look at some impala when a porcupine appeared on the road in front of them. Obviously having his mind on other things he just walked along the road towards the vehicle and bumped straight into it, shook himself and trotted off into the bush – a Kamakazi Porcupine!

Phenomenal leopard viewing with Paul at Nsefu. Guests came across a leopard on an impala kill at the stork colony. Lions appeared and stole the impala from the leopard who must have been hungry as he then killed another one right in front of the guests. Fabulous – what more could you ask for on a night drive – well actually 4 more individual leopard sightings on the way back to camp!(Warning – this is not normal – please do not demand a refund if you do not see 6 leopards on each game drive at Nsefu – but feel free to mention to your guides that Paul did it and so can they – the pressure’s on guys!!)

Stay well and have a great week,

Robin’s House – the final push!

Sunday – Robin “finished” the building and I stormed around as many people swarmed the place, cleaning and touching up. In the afternoon we put the furniture in and I started to worry that it was going to look like a “holiday apartment”. The final straw after a long tiring day was tripping over the rock chair and crashing onto the floor. One probably cracked little toe and rather bruised knees. Wine came to the rescue. Monday – moving the furniture around, putting in the soft furnishings, hanging the mossie nets, making the beds and suddenly we see that it all looks quite stunning. The pictures are hung and it is exquisite. Tuesday – and the guests are arriving in the afternoon. Shanie and George (the “valet”) fill the salt and pepper pots etc and Jo works in the office.
A breeze at the end.

And it looks stunning – we have surprised ourselves! We are thrilled. And
the guests have all loved it.

So you think it is all over………..well our new house is now at foundation level and we are throwing the slab today. Ha! But I will not give you weekly updates on that project – you have probably had enough of the building sagas.

The other news from me is that Nkwali is now on the mains grid. The big switch over was on Friday. Yes – I know. I resisted it all along……I want to live in the bush, I like the generator going off at night etc. But the cost of 1200 litres of diesel a month, the cost of the firewood runs (not to mention not being ecofriendly) etc and it does make sense. The first morning around the fire and we all had a comment. I had not woken up in time as it is the generator going on at 05.45 that wakes me! Most of the guides had slept with their lights on, forgetting that the power was not going to be switched off. No doubt we will all get used to it…….and will soon wonder how we lived without it!

Have a great week

It’s Monday 14th and the amorous puku

Sunrise - photo by Paul Joynson-HicksI have just had breakfast with guests which means an earlier start than normal for me as I am usually to be found struggling out of my room at 2 minutes to 0700 – just in time to make a coffee before opening the office. However, it was well worth the early alarm call as this mornings sunrise was quite spectacular with the sky a riot of pinks and purples. Of course the delicious porridge also helped!

Jason Alfonsi sets off tomorrow with the the mobile safaris and he has been very lucky of late. On his last trip to the Mupamadzi guests had the rare sighting of bush pigs. They were in view for about 40 mins by one of the lagoons – a really special sight as they are normally extremely shy and when Simon and I saw one last year it dashed straight into the bush. I did not realise what a fabulous treat this was until Simon said that the last time he saw one was several years earlier!

Guests at Nkwali unfortunately finished tea too early yesterday. Just as the vehicles departed for the afternoon gamedrive, 2 lions appeared on the sandbank opposite the camp and chased a puku across it and up onto the bank opposite the bar – a nice sight for those of us “stuck” in camp though.

Elephant (and baboon) outside NkwaliWe have had a lot of elephant activity at Nkwali of late. The elephants love the ebony fruit which are not carpeting most of the area. They regularly wander through but a few nights ago one came around the side of Ryan’s house as a hippo was coming in the opposite direction. Obviously both were concentrating on food and oblivious to anything else in the area. It must have been quite a shock when they almost bumped into each other. Loud shouts from both were followed by a swift exit in opposite directions leaving Ryan wondering what was going on as he heard the retreating foot steps.

One lunchtime at Tena Tena guests were watching a puku drinking just below the kitchen. They then noticed about 6 females on the island in front of camp. These must have crossed during the dry season and then been stranded on the Island after the river rose, for the duration of the rains. When the male saw these nubile young things he decided to swim across the river to get a closer look – dodging the waiting crocs as he went. As he got closer to his prospective harem another male appeared on the island. The battle commenced and after fighting for sometime the intruder was chased off and had to swim back across an even deeper channel in the river and disappeared – no doubt in search of easier lady friends. 15 minutes later a huge bull elephant came from the island and crossed in the same place – this time in search of food and came up into the kitchen intent on eating Anieks much cared for herb garden. The kitchen staff, being much more afraid of Aniek than the elephant, manage to chase him off before he could do any damage.

A familiar face returns to the valley today. John Nicholson, who many of you will remember was guiding at Tena Tena last year, is coming back to help out for the next couple of months. John will be based at Tena Tena and will also be covering at Nsefu when they are busy or when Ed, Paul or Jacob have a well deserved break.

Kawaza school in October 2000There is a drive in Zambia to increase the literacy rates and the results are amazing. Grade 1 and 2 (6 and 7 year olds) are now reading in Chinanja and English. As David, the Headmaster, said, once you have taught them the building blocks of how to read they can easily switch language. Now the older kids are going to the younger kids for help on words. The grade 1 and 2 classes are now going to extra reading lessons on Saturdays – and they all
love it. They are rewarded by watching a video afterwards. I went last
Saturday and there were 100 children all glued to a wildlife documentary.

The art program is also going very well – and the kids are now doing wonderful drawings, using full colour and filling the whole sheet of paper.
We started the program 2 years ago and as the children were so unused to having material they drew tiny pictures on the corner of the paper, and only in pencil. With the donations of colour crayons and felt pens, paints and paper of the last few years they now have the chance to colour, paint, draw.

They recently won first prize at a competition for schools.

So – anyone coming to visit us and wanting to bring something here is a list of items that are always welcome……..

  • early reading books
  • education videos
  • carton videos
  • crayons, felt pens etc
  • early learning jigsaw puzzles

Stay well and have a great week,

It’s Monday 21st and picnics in the park

Due to a very bad week with our email system Kim is very busy with work so you are stuck with Simon for this week!!!!

Due to the cooler temperatures at this time of the year all the camps have been going out on all day trips and picnics recently. It is an ideal time of year for such outings as people do not get too hot and the game is fairly active throughout the day as well.

ElandRobin has been up at Tena Tena for a few days and did one of his ‘ specials ‘. He got up and left for the saltpan at 5:00am and had the most fantastic viewing, in true Robin style !! Robin and his guests arrived at the big baobab tree, just as the sun was rising, to find a large herd of eland. It was hard to work out the numbers as it was still relatively dark but Robin estimated the herd to be 30 plus.

On the way up to the saltpan they had a lovely sighting of a bat hawk. This is not a common sighting at the best of times but very seldom seen in the morning!! Bat hawks are crepuscular by nature (active at dawn and dusk in layman’s terms) and are most commonly seen in the evening so it was a great sighting to catch one the early morning. On the saltpan they were greeted by another lovely herd of eland. Water supplies in the back country are obviously drying out as we are seeing more and more eland as the season progresses. Amongst other things on the saltpan were the early arrivals of carmine bee eaters. These early arrivals are often last years youngsters that have not migrated with their parents and have, instead, spent the rains in the back country.

With stomachs rumbling, a big fry up was next on the agenda and Robin, with the help of the guests, proceeded to cook up a scrumptious breakfast for all. A gentle meander back to camp arriving at around 3:00pm for a late lunch – a caterers nightmare!!! Robin decided that there was little time for rest and that they would just pop out for a quick sundowner after their belated lunch and then head back to camp.

How typical that these short little outings produce some of the most fantastic viewing. A leopardess was spotted on the edge of Lunga Lagoon. She posed beautifully, sharpening her claws on a nearby tree and then made use of a nearby termite mound as a great vantage point, possibly eyeing up dinner!! Elephants crossing the riverOn to sundowners south of camp and three large bull elephants crossed the river as the sun went down. Spectacular.

A short trip back to camp produced yet more amazing sightings with a big male lion roaring by the vehicle and another 2 female leopards before arriving back at camp!!!

I must add a day in the bush does not always go like this ……….!!

Some of the other great sightings this week include a first aardvark sighting at Nkwali by Marcus, just out the back of camp. Keyala had a great view of a leopardess with her 3-4 month old cub up a tree with a puku kill. At Nsefu, Ed came across a pride of 8 lions feeding on a buffalo that had been stuck in the mud whilst he was on a walk downstream from camp.

Anyway, that is all from us – have a great week.
Take Care,

PS from Jo – I am back from a warm and simply wonderful few days on the Welsh seaside with my family. Mzuzu , my adorable 14 month nephew, entertained us all with his favourite word “trac-tor”, splashing around on the edge of the sea and throwing quite of lot of his food around. And yes- the bestest baby EVER! I have come back to a drier bush, warmer weather and a lower river. Incredible how it changes in a week.

And finally – with the ebony fruit dropping all over the camp the ellys are living permanently with us. I must remember to keep my eyes open as I do tend to go down the path with my head in my though

It’s Monday 28th and champagne all the way

Monday again! I have had a very social week. After returning form the UK, I had a couple of days in the office before heading up to Nsefu to join a group of friends. A great day sitting around talking, playing the guitar and singing, and taking the kids on gamedrives.

Meanwhile Chris Holt who most of you will remember had arrived to stay with us for a week. Chris is in great form and it was wonderful to see him. And with him – Paul Hicks, the photographer of Safari Dreaming. Paul has been awarded a distinction at the British Royal Photographic Society for the photography in the book. He can now put ARPS after his name! Quite an accolade. Anyway – more sundowners and late nights.

Back to the office for another quick catch up before flying off to the wedding of the year.

Rob – who used to be a guide at Nkwali – was marrying Lindsay (after 7 years of being together so you can imagine the “about time” comments). Ten of us flew directly to Lake Malawi in the Grand Caravan – to Club Makakolo! I had radioed everyone early in the morning to remind them to bring their passports – and guess who did not check hers! Yes – we had to delay the flight as Adam made a record time to the airport. Classic! Off we flew and tension was mounting – we arrived very excited. With 200 people (only just as the BA strike in the UK had kept some guests at Heathrow for 4 days!) – it was great to catch up with various friends – including Jane who worked with us in 2001 and of course Matt Gurney – who used to manage Nsefu.

The lake was blue and still, the air cool and sun shining. In the afternoon the wedding took place in the exquisite gardens. All African weddings seem to have a wonderful mixture of being relaxed, beautiful, charming and funny. Kicking off with the registrar from the local council – his cell phone rang just after he started. And the funnier part was that he took the call! He did tell the couple that they know where to come if they wanted a divorce so you can imagine the ministers words trying to counteract the instruction! Anyway – it was a magical ceremony, in a magical place.

Late into the night the celebrations continued and on the flight back there were groans and moans on the bumps! So I am now trying to catch up in the office.

I am sure that there have been excellent sightings as usual – but my turn to write and I can only report on the social side of life.

Have a wonderful week
and remember to pick the daisies.

This entry was posted in 2003, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.