It’s Monday 18th April and let’s hear from Simon

It’s Monday 18th April and let’s hear from Simon

I mentioned a few weeks back that Simon would be back from his adventures soon and having come back this week I thought that it might be nice to hear from him and his family about their trip up to the Luangwa Valley as well as Simons forays up at Liuwa Plains.

Before hearing from him I thought just a quick update from my side to let you know that the leopards have been taunting the guests at Nkwali as they have been patrolling the river bank just out of sight of all the game-viewers in front of camp. This rather rude behaviour has caused much frustration with the vervet monkeys in camp as they have been sitting in the trees shouting throughout the course of the morning and the guests who have been attempting to develop super seeing powers by sneaking peaks through trees and bushes.

Nkwali leopard

On that note over to Simon and his folks….

Well its been a long time since you’ve all heard from me I think Emily has filled you in a bit on what I’ve been up to but a quick note to let you know how I get to spend the off season. After managing Pumulani over Christmas and New Years I headed off on a break for three months. My first stop was Lusaka for two weeks before heading off to Liuwa Plain National Park to work with African Parks and the Carnivore Research Program , even on holiday I go in the bush. I spent six weeks there helping with operations and following predators on a motorbike.

Simon and his bikeLiuwa cheetah

It was my first time to Liuwa and it blew my mind away. The adventure of riding through 3 feet of water, the remoteness of nobody for 40km and the beauty of the birds and wildlife made this a place that is definitely amongst my top 5 for Africa. The other highlight was watching hyena (the dominant predator in Liuwa) and wild dog hunt out on an open plain and fight with each other for kills. Cheetah meandered around the waterways searching for oribi and Lady Luiwa quietly going about her business while her new boy friends roared all night reminding everyone Lion’s are back in Liuwa. Anyway I will never be able to do the place justice in words but it was fantastic.

Wattled cranesLiuwa



Liuwa wild dogLiuwa wild dog

Liuwa hyenaLiuwa hyena

From there I returned to Lusaka to pick up my parents (out from Australia) and uncle and aunt from Zimbabwe and we travelled by road up to the Luangwa Valley. I think after 14 hours of driving they were beginning to think I was lost in the dark but we eventually rolled into the warm welcome of Robin’s House and I’ll let their words tell you the rest….

How do we describe and thank Robin Pope Safaris for such an experience of a lifetime? From the warm greeting by Tours Africa as we stepped off the plane at Lusaka to the last waves goodbye from the Nkwali Family as we left to tackle the Mfuwe to Chipata “Highway”, it was just a magical experience.

The hospitality and attention to detail in accommodation, meals and more than our every need, was faultless. From scouts, chefs, boat operators, lodge attendants, managers, and of course the best guide in the world (our son Simon), we felt we were amongst friends every hour of the day. And then of course the bush and the animals kept up the high standards. We were sceptical of arriving in the Emerald season but that was soon dissipated by the spotting of over 100 different species of birds and fantastic sightings of giraffe, kudu, white tail mongoose, elephant shrews, genet and water monitors amongst the constant stream of land and water life. Watching for hours elephants at close range and babies playing tug of war with each other made our “normal” Australian life seem a distant figment of our imagination.

Seeing three beautiful bull buffalos chasing 4 lions, and then another day watching a different pride of lions mating, and on our last trip a magnificent male leopard posing out in the open in the middle of the day, all oblivious of the human presence,,,,,, had us all hugging and in tears of delight.

It is 25 years since we were last able to visit South Luangwa and we were extremely impressed as to how the park and tour operations have managed to keep the experience so natural and yet comfortable. So much of the rest of Africa we have seen in recent years has been over commercialised and more of a zoo of skittish animals and crush of vehicles ticking off a checklist. The tour operators cannot be congratulated enough for keeping the environment, as it should be and still giving us a five star experience. If there was an improvement to be made to anything, we certainly didn’t find it in our 6 days of bliss in the bush. The surprise breakfast in the park after an early morning guided walk was yet another huge surprise! To top the experience the Mongolian dinner on the last night cooked by Chiseka has set high standards for the rest of our camping and braais around Africa.

Thank you RPS and your fantastic team of professionals. We can’t get back soon enough.

Luangwa buffaloLuangwa lion

So after 3 months of relaxing I have now returned to work ready for a new season. To my surprise, and great excitement, on returning to the Luangwa Valley I was sent across to Pumulani to help out for a few weeks. The lake is looking fantastic and the Pumulani team are smiles as always and looking forward to a fantastic new year. The new Star Scope has been installed and we can now marvel at not only the fish of Lake Malawi but the Heavens as well. Looking forward to seeing you all somewhere in Africa soon.

Ciao for now

Luangwa elephant

Thanks ever so much Simon – Claire our mobile caterer from last year will be back next week and getting things ready for the next Liuwa season with Robin, Jason and the team before hitting the road for the long journey west – so we shall look forward to hearing from her on that at some point.

In the meantime from the beautiful Luangwa we hope that you all have a great week and, next time we chat, fingers crossed for stories of road trips all the way up to Tena and Nsefu.

Have fun



liuwa lake

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