It’s Monday 15th November 2010 and let the rains begin

Rita is still in Europe, after her trip to the Word Travel Market in London, so this week we hear from the Luangwa Valley. Over to Emily…

I am happy to say that my weather prediction skills are now officially useless!!!  My date of 21st October for the first rains came and went without so much of a cloud – I think that next year I shall jump on Sebastian’s band wagon and simply say “it will rain soon”.

Every year we pack up both Nsefu and Tena in preparation for the rains as the mud roads tend to create a slight obstacle when it comes to driving around once they have had significant amounts of rain on them. This year however not a drop……. Both camps are packed up and put to bed and still we wait……

The teams at Tena and Nsefu did a sterling job of closing up the camp and where it takes 4 weeks to build the camp at the beginning of the season it takes 2 days to take it down at the end. This year the Tena team decided that enough was enough and they were not going to mess around so they all woke up at 4.30 in the morning and took down their accommodation and packed everything up – that way they knew for sure that the camp would be packed up and they would be going home that day!!!

We are at the moment going through that limbo stage – everything is brown, dusty and incredibly hot.  The predators are feasting as the animals become slightly more lethargic as well as more concentrated around the small amounts of water left in the river and lagoons. The one glimmer of hope though is the female impalas have dropped their young (a sure sign that the rain is not far off) – it has to be said they are the dandiest little things all legs and lots of wobbles, before all of a sudden they get up and start to gently skitter across the uneven terrain. Nature is amazing!


As soon as the rains arrive though it is an incredible sight – where there was brown is within a few days brilliant green – The Emerald Season; there is no better way to describe it.  How on earth the grass seeds survive the long harsh dry season has to be one of mother natures closest secrets. The clouds build up daily creating those deep purple grey thunder heads with the lighting dancing across them. The loud rumbles from above warn us that the rain is coming and then the wind picks up and almost like a steam train hitting you it arrives.  The general misconception is that when we say the rainy season it is thought of that it rains all day every day (UK style) – how wrong, we get bursts of rain – enough to cool things down, clean everything off and get everything growing. The kind of rain with huge drops that get through any kind of waterproofing that fall on the ground creating large puddles within seconds – then as soon as it started it stops and everything starts to dry off. The transformation of the bush is certainly a sight to behold and even though I can attempt to describe it I can assure you that no justice can be done by my words.


The Luangwa River is everybody’s favorite topic of conversation – “how much has the river come up today”. Most find it an inconceivable idea that between now and January the river will transform itself from a pathetic dribble to an unstoppable bank to bank torrent. Soon the boats will be out and about as we also have the additional privilege of river safaris, the migratory birds will be here as well as the occasional chance of seeing elephants swimming – for the elephant lovers amongst us there can be very few better sights.


The time of plenty is soon – however for now we shall continue to over heat and find our way through the dusty landscape. Don’t worry though we will certainly let you know how things are coming along with the rains and the river!!!

Have fun and enjoy the week.


PS – Bush & Lake Aviation would be interested to hear from a charter pilot rated on CT206 H and PA 32 – 3000; TT 500 hrs. If anyone is interested please contact

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