It’s Monday 23rd July 2007 and we were having dinner

It’s Monday 23rd July 2007 and we were having dinner

Before I tell you about all the news I have to say that I have just spent the last hour trying to marry cameras, cords, photos cards for the stories, but have been frustrated in nearly all attempts, so this is a mixture of current, library and website photos.  That is what happens when I take it casually and do not plan for this during the previous three days!

The reef   dhow sails

Robin and I had a lovely four days at the Matemwe Retreat, 3 new “houses” built next to Matemwe Lodge ( ) on the north east of Zanzibar.  Quite where Robin’s camera is to show you, I don’t know, and Robin is on mobile!  The house is private, with a huge bedroom, double doors looking out to sea, a plunge pool and lounge area on the roof, and a bathroom to get lost in.   It was amazing!  We slept, and read books, and slept some more.  Sailed in a dhow out to the Mnemba reef to snorkel and then slept some more.  The sea was every colour of blue you could imagine, quite perfect.  We were able to connect from Mfuwe to Zanzibar in a day so the “bush and beach” combination worked perfectly.

We then visited Kim in Arusha.  I had given her a large coffee table book when she left but it was too heavy to carry.  So I promised that I would hand deliver it this year – promised kept.  I am delighted to report that Kim is very happy in her new home.

Nsefu staff in African shirts

Back at the ranch, I asked around this morning about what has been happening….  Beks is down from Nsefu taking some days off and she proudly shows me a photo of her and the Nsefu team in their African shirts.  What is this about? I ask.  Every couple of weeks they have an African night – with peanut soup followed by nshima, stew, pumpkin, and tomato and onion relish. Then (rather strangely I thought) – hot chocolate nshima for pudding !  I am not convinced that you will find that in either the village or an African restaurant but she assures me it is delicious.  The plan was to for everyone to sit around the fire and tell their African stories after dinner.  But that was completely superseded by a lion kill!

 “As we finished our chocolate nshima we heard a commotion just outside camp.  Everyone jumped into the vehicle and we found the three female lions we had seen crossing the river earlier in the day, circling a small herd of puku.  The cubs were lying in wait in a ditch.  Every time a puku tired to make a dash the lionesses managed to keep them corralled. Finally a cub rushed forward and grabbed one.  The feeling was this was a hunting lesson.”

 So I ask Beks – “any more stories?”

 ”Hmmmmm – did you hear about the hippo?”  “Nope”.

 ”Well,” she starts, “we were having dinner ….”

Hippo at nightHyena

  …..and there was a huge noise in the bush.  They thought it was the lions again but it turned out to be a hyena killing a baby hippo.  The mother was leaving the scene as they arrived (which is unusual as in my experience the mother will stay nearby for a long time, sometimes for a few days).  Nothing was seen and then a squeal gave the location away and there were two hyena killing a baby hippo.  Not an easy thing to witness! The next day half the carcass was found some 100 yards away – near a possible den.

 “So…that’s it?”

 ”No”, says Beks, “We were having lunch….”


Elephants outside Nsefu

 ….and there was a sudden loud trumpeting and screaming from a herd of elephants that had just crossed the river.  The elephants cross daily in front of Nsefu.  So…into the vehicle and round to the site where they cross. There was a pair of elephants mating, in mid river!!!!  The rest of the herd were on the bank very agitated, continuing the loud noise!  The deed was over two minutes (wham bam, thank you ma’am as Beks put it!) and the female rushed over to the herd and off they ran into the ebony grove, still followed in hot pursuit by the male.

 “So….it that it?”


 “Well there was a leopard that killed a bushbuck as we were eating dinner…but that was a few weeks ago.”

 It really is one of the most thrilling things about living in the bush, as the hot chocolate nshima hovers before your mouth, the bush can change the evening in an instant.

 All the best for another great week.

PS Thanks to Venetia Robinson and Bill Knight for the photos


Elephants crossing river

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