It’s Monday 20th April 2009 and the daisies

Writing a weekly newsletter is not that easy. I am sure you would say surely there is so much going on in the Luangwa. Well there is but since 2002 we have been including photographs and so I try to give you stories that I can illustrate (Note – the Its Monday archive is on the website, from 2000). There are not many guides with cameras and I spend far too much time behind the desk so I rely more and more on the guests. Last week I related the leopard sightings were numerous but I did not have photos. David Hill, who saw 9 leopards in 3 days, sent through two fabulous photos of the leopards seen at Robin’s Bridge (1 km from camp). What a sighting that must have been.

leopard in the Luangwa Valleyleopard in the South Luangwa

This is camp building time and so this week Robin got the ball rolling. We are slightly late but we decided that due to “global” we would try a different approach. More people in less time so with only a month to go rather than the usual six weeks the process has started. Nsefu is in great shape as we did all the structural repairs in early January before we opened for River Journeys (Nsefu is now open mid Jan to end March). So Nsefu will be a doddle but Tena Tena will need work. And as always the roads require grading and this takes a lot of time. Bernard joined Robin, got the old tractor up and running and off it went with the harrow.

crocodile feeding in the Luangwa RiverBaby elephant on Nsefu Camp path

On the way up Robin saw the remains of a dead hippo. A large croc was feeding on the skin. Not a clear photo but worth including. They really can be huge! There has been plenty of game at Nsefu and the staff always eagerly relate what they have seen. A pride of lions had killed an impala in camp during the week and there was a herd of elephants on the path to greet Robin – with a very curious baby.

Robin’s picnic lunch set out at NsefuBernard gets the tractor going

Elephant meets the washing line!

Back at Nkwali the elephants have been in and around camp. This huge bull destroyed a grass fence only to be met by the washing line! On Sunday morning Robin and I were having our “lie in” cup of tea, admiring the view from our bed and suddenly and elephant started to scream. That usually lasts a few seconds but this one went on and on. Then we saw a female running, with a male close on her tail. They rushed through our lagoon, with her still screaming, and then in full view of our house they stopped and mated. Thinking it would not last long I did not even look for the camera. But I changed my mind – found it but too late. So this is the post coital moment (“having the cigarette” as someone put it!). Robin has lived in the Valley for 32 years and this is only the third time he has witnessed this event.

View from our bedThe moment after mating

And so we had another day at home but now that the lagoons at the back of Nkwali land have dried up the game has moved back in. All day, against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, the hills and the endless sound of the cape turtle doves, the giraffe, impala and elephant strolled by. At one point I could not find Robin so I went outside only to find him creeping up on giraffe in our “garden”. It was so glorious we decided to go for a short drive down our recently harrowed road. We found the resident herd of forty odd buffalo and Robin started making mooing noises and again creeping up. Hmmmm…. There were many small families of elephants, but this big bull was amazing. One of the ways of aging an elephant is how much “flap” there is hanging over the back of his ears. Interesting that his tusks are not that big when there is considerable flap. We stopped for our sundowner on what we call “the island”. A circle of winterthorn trees bathed in pink light as the sun dipped. What spectacular country! And it is wonderful to have the animals back in the whole area.

Robin spotted sneaking up on the giraffeBuffalo herd checking us out

Bull elephant in the evening lightOur sundowner spot

This week Robin will be getting ready to leave for Liuwa Plain. We have been sent a few photos (taken 31st March) from Craig who manages Liuwa for African Parks – saying the flood water is receding, that there is plenty of game and birds and he has managed to get to camp. Amazing how a photo gives you a different image than words do. Robin leaves on Saturday and will not return here until mid June. Quite how we ended up planning so much time apart I am not sure – but we did the planning! Our fault. That is a lot of Sundays on my own. However, there is travel ahead with Indaba coming up – the annual South African trade show. No doubt I will survive. Note – there is still a few spaces left for joining Robin on Liuwa Plain in May/June. Availability is on the website

Receding floods on the Liuwa Plain

Many of you will remember the phrase “don’t forget to pick the daisies”. Something a woman wrote in a poem, looking back over her life. Well yesterday handfuls were picked. A wonderful day in the bush.

Until next week……

Young hippo with mother on the sandbanks

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