It’s Monday 14th November 2011 and the tough life of a caterer

I hope that the weekend has been a long and relaxing one, and the week ahead is looking promising! Here, as the humidity increases, and the water dries up we are watching the clouds build up and everyone is looking to the heavens for the first glorious fat drops of rain. This also means the end of the peak season and time for all of our caterers to head home and take a well earned break – however, before they do so, I thought it would be good to hear from Harriet who has been working at Nkwali all season.

So for this week over to Harriet….

It’s so amazing to think that the last time I wrote for It’s Monday I had just arrived in Zambia, almost 5 months ago to the day! The season has absolutely flown by and I now find myself calling Nkwali home, lucky me! As I write this I’m sitting by the river watching what’s left of the Luangwa flow past me and our resident hippos waddle up the banks to start their all night food marathon. In the background I can hear the baboons squabbling for the best roosting position!

HipposNkwali

Despite appearances the season has actually been incredibly busy, but I have still managed to see a huge amount of animals, both when invited on game drives and from Nkwali itself. As the temperature gets hotter and the water in the park dries up the animals are gravitating towards the river to drink. Our most regular visitors in camp are the elephants who cross almost daily, pausing to pose for photos on the sandbank in front of the bar. The elephants are also often found in the lagoon in front of the dining room. One family group in particular bring their 2 youngsters who ensure there’s never a dull moment. My favourite little character is a baby of about two years old, easily identifiable by his missing tail and a fondness both for chasing our resident heron up and down the bank and getting stuck in the mud!

ElesEles

There is always something to watch in the lagoon and the bird life has totally converted me, having arrived as someone ‘totally not interested in birds!’ The other day for the first time we even had a hippo wander in just before lunch. Having been kicked out of the river he obviously thought that he’d lucked out when he came across an unoccupied lagoon full of delicious muddy water and nile cabbage!! Unfortunately he got a bit of a shock when Justin and Douglas arrived with lunch and reluctantly abandoned his new home and beat a hasty retreat into the bushes!!

Birds galoreHippo

In addition to the elephants I’ve been lucky enough to get out into the park and have had some brilliant sightings of the carnivores, spotty cats in particular!! One of my most exciting drives was with Kiki where I was lucky enough to see a pair of leopards mating. On the morning drive they had seen the one eyed male flirting with a female so straight after tea we set off to find them…Very close to camp on the other side of the river we caught a glimpse of the male and female up a tree before they ran down and into the bushes. It looked as if we might have lost them but after a short wait we were rewarded with the sight of them flirting again before mating several times. It was an incredible sighting and something I feel so lucky to have seen. That particular drive ended with another beautiful leopard sighting followed by an impromptu dash back to camp as the rain descended!!

On another occasion I was just welcoming the guests back from their morning drive when we were alerted to something going on across the river. The baboons were going crazy and the ever reliable watchmen, the puku were alarming. I would love to say that I spotted the leopard but I really can’t take credit for Braston’s incredible eyesight!! Thoughts of lunch were abandoned as soon as the leopard had been spotted and the option to go and find it was offered, was anyone keen? Of course!! We leapt into the boat and dashed across the river. Our rumbling tummies (yea right!) were forgotten when right opposite the bar we found the most beautiful male leopard sitting under a tree. He surveyed us for a few minutes, allowing us all to snap away and admire him, before strolling off to find a more private spot!!!

LeopardLeopard

From dashes to find leopards, driving past wild dogs on my way to bush breakfast, or watching elephants in camp it is so hard to write down all of the amazing things that I have seen. Very often though it is the ‘small things’ in camp that are the most interesting to watch. The banded mongeese, who are always on a mission, squeaking and chirruping and rushing around, or the baboons with whom I have a real love-hate relationship, owing to a few cake related incidents, but who I have to give credit to for being so eternally entertaining!”

Wild DogBaboon

Thanks Harriet – gosh certainly makes life sound incredibly glamorous – I promise you though, that a lot of hard work is partaken in between all of the game viewing.

We are also delighted to announce that at the recent World Responsible Tourism Day at World Travel Market (WTM), London, Robin Pope Safaris (Zambia and Malawi) was awarded joint Overall Winner of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards plus winner in the Poverty Reduction category as well. A great achievement for us as there were over 1000 nominations! This universal initiative was launched in 2004 and strives to educate, motivate and inspire travel companies to engage in year-round responsible tourism activity.

A huge thank you from us for your support, as most of our initiatives especially with the community would not be a success without you!

So until next week where we have some exciting news from Liuwa hope that everyone has a great week.

Cheers

Emily

river from Nkwali deck

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