It’s Monday 12th Mar 2007 and we’re back in action

It’s Monday 12th Mar 2007 and we’re back in action

Well, we are all missing Jo and her fantastic story telling this week as she has abandoned the nest and flown off to Germany for a trade show. However, it has been an exciting couple of weeks for us here at Nkwali, our first guests (post flood) arrived on the first of March, so we are all feeling back to normal again, although the flood is still on our mind and every time it rains we are all on tenterhooks to see if the river will rise again or not.

open-billed storkweaver

Luckily that has not happened again, and the river has maintained a perfect level for boating and getting into all those little magic spots on the river! The height of the river has also allowed us and our guests to go and visit the amazing heronry, quite frequently, which is very special and one that is only possible for a couple of weeks a year. The heronry is alive with open-billed storks, cattle egrets, and weavers, which show off their acrobatic skills as they hang upside down creating their nests dangerously close to the river.

full lunar eclipseChichele lion pride

We also were blessed with the full lunar eclipse on the 3rd of March, which here in our part of the world occurred at about 1 AM, so the guests and our new Nkwali caterer Fiona, waited up till the wee hours of the morning to get a good glimpse of it and also to provide us with some nice shots as the moon approached total eclipse. On the other end of camp, the rest of the staff were watching the eclipse while celebrating the return of old RPS favourites, Simon and Shanie, who were here for a weekend visit from Malawi. They also got visit some of their old Luangwa favourites, the Chichele lion pride.

ZebraElephant, with raised trunk

The animals have been out celebrating the return of the river to its banks and our guests have had some great game drives over the past couple of weeks. Diana and David White have provided us with some fantastic shots from their trip here. Elephants, impala, and giraffe at play, and loads of babies everywhere (which no one can deny is one of the best parts of the Emerald season-they are just sooooo cute).


And Simon has been out in the park studying for the guides exams (and even treating us office dwellers to an evening game drive), where he has managed to catch glimpses of most things from creeping chameleons to hyenas lounging around.

Paradise-WhydahsCrowned Crane

There are also amazing amounts of birds to be seen. Everything from Paradise-Whydah’s (showing off their breeding plumage) to the migratory eagles. With so many migratory birds and breeding birds around sporting their breeding plumage the trainee guides Prince and Simon are having a great (and nerve-wracking) time trying to identify all the numerous species, coming back with all sorts of stories of Walberg Eagles dive-bombing Marshall Eagles, crowned cranes perched high atop trees,to waders racing along the river and flood plains precariously close to crocs.

And to end this week’s newsletter, we have a lovely tale of the bush painted by our local hero and resident guru, Robin:

Stotting impalaSunset over river

Today I saw Abdim’s storks and heard European bee eaters passing over Luangwa House. There is a marked change in the atmosphere over the last twenty four hours. Stars last night and a light easterly breeze. Today one of those beautiful April like mornings with light scruffy clouds on the horizon , intense yellowish sun highlighting the trees , particularly the winterthorn trees which are barren of leaf at this time of year and stand out when highlighted by the morning rays. I am sure we have more rain on the way and must savor it as it should draw to a close in the next three weeks or so. We will then start looking at the river, not to see how high it is but how low it is becoming.

The calling of the European bee-eaters at this time of year, for me has always heralded a move back to the bush. For the bee eaters the beginning of a major move north following the rain belt and then some. I always find this time of year a most challenging and enjoyable one with lots of field work, preparation work for the field camps and mobiles for another season. As the sun sets, to sit around the fire quietly and contemplate and listen to the sounds of the bush, with the distant crackling of the radio as the evening skeds take place. A number of migrant birds will be contemplating over the next month or two when they should begin to head north. The hippo sounds at night will begin to increase as some of the lagoons drain and more hippo move into the Luangwa.

From all of here at Nkwali, have a great week!


P.S. I have been getting lots of questions about the schools and how they fared during the floods.

I am very happy to report that the schools were wholly unaffected by the flooding, however the road at the moment is a bit impassable so I haven’t been able to get out and see the schools, but have been meeting the teachers halfway to find out how everything is going. Other good news is that the roof has been repaired at Kawaza school after blowing off in a wind storm in late October, and the storeroom at Kapita Community School has been finished!!

We are also looking to have a very productive 2007. We are planning a new school block at Nsefu Basic School, and also the first school block at Kapita Community School, which has begun a grade 3 class this year, and has over 180 students in attendance.

At Kawaza the main goal for this year is to get a computer lab up and running. In addition to the building projects we are also sponsoring 47 kids from grade 7-12, and subsidizing the salaries of 14 teachers at the three schools to help keep the student/teacher ratios low. We are also planning to get the Kawaza website up and running so that we can keep all of our wonderful sponsors informed of the goings on.

From everyone at Kawaza, Nsefu, and Kapita and from Jo and myself, we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated to the School Fund, you are the ones that make it possible for us to keep going with the improvement and development of the schools in the Nsefu area and we cannot tell you how much we appreciate the support you have given.

If you would like any more information on the school fund or would like to make a donation, please contact me on amanda[at]robinpopesafaris[dot]net

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