It’s Monday 22nd March 2010 and Nkwali from a new angle


David Rogerslions by the river

The photographic week ended on Tuesday, everyone seemed very proud of their photos and they have reasons for that …they did amazing stuff. Tim, a journalist from South Africa with a science background, had a special touch for animal behaviours. He shoots elephants, hippos and birds in the most unusually angles! So who else could describe better this fantastic trip than Tim himself………. he will share this expedition with us soon!

I couldn’t lose the chance of having Dave around to do some shooting of the new side of Nkwali and the amazing improvements at Robin’s House – all works with Neil Rocher signature.

Neil was one of the first characters I had the pleasure to meet when I arrived in January and he is the responsible for the castlesque Luangwa House.

Neil has a passionate spirit, energetic and a very creative personality. He lives for his architectural work and he puts his heart and soul into his work …oops sorry… wrong word it’s not work at all, it’s his “hobby” as he says!

Luangwa Safari HouseLuangwa Safari House

First time I heard about Robin Pope Safaris I searched on the internet to find out where it was and what their properties looked like! There was a picture that stood out immediately and made me think this is unbelievably beautiful! That picture was Luangwa Safari House with the elephants in the front. I remember thinking “what was Gaudi doing in the middle of Africa!” The house’s lofty height and its organic shapes make us think that it was God who sculptured it with his own two hands, like a piece of clay, moulded by a potter.

I’ve studied Art History and I don’t remember hearing about an architect in history that worked as he does. Neil hardly projects his work on the paper. He gets his inspiration from the landscape and creates his architecture as a sculptor or a painter, lead by inspiration and vivid imagination.

In 10 weeks Neil transformed Nkwali and created new grand and noble areas.

New dining area at NkwaliUpdated Nkwali

I could probably go on forever about Neil, but I believe it would be far more interesting to hear from him about his criteria in choosing the place to build the new areas:

What was your vision for the Nkwali main area?

“The dining room area needs views not only of the lagoon but also the river, I also wanted the roof to feel like it had grown out of the trees and become part of them and not be at odds with its surroundings. The pool needed to be within easy access of all rooms, have a great view and get a combination of sun and shade during the day to keep the water at a moderate temperature but not too cold. I also like the idea of dining by the pool, long lazy lunch’s in a kikoi and a leisurely swim after lunch so I wanted them interconnected yet screened.”

What were your sources of inspiration?

“The surroundings and Robin Pope Safaris image. I wanted to do an area that fitted in with Nkwali’s image, was not too shishi but still made a statement.”

Robins House new entranceRobins house new entrance

Robin’s House entrance

Why where you keen in rebuilding Robin’s House entrance?

“It struck me as odd that you would drive to the river, walk around the side of the house and enter from the front, thereby exposing your best views on arrival and then turning your back on it. An entrance should be a series of unfolding surprises. A tunnel of vegetation, a glimpse of the door and view through to the river. Then everything‘s starting to open out in front of you as you enter the house. On arrival the house should be the frame for the view not the focal point.

As a designer in the bush I strongly feel that it is my job to try to compliment nature and not compete with her, I would lose anyway as she is the perfect designer. You only have to look at a spiders web, an anthill, a placid lake with a mountain backdrop, a pied kingfisher etc etc to understand this.”

Neil is leaving us this Thursday, moving to his new challenge in Tanzania and leaving behind fabulous pieces of work…

On a final note I’m pleased to inform that Luangwa Safari House and Tena Tena have been nominated for 2010 Good Safari Guide Award, in the category of Travellers’ Choice and Best Safari Camp. These nominations where made by experienced African travel specialists. If you wish to support Luangwa Safari House or Tena Tena please make a nomination.

So have a great week, and stay well.
From the sunny Luangwa!


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