It’s Monday 24th August 2009 and Cousin’s return

This week we hear from Simon Cousins. Sometime in the distance past (early 90’s) a young lad of 18 joined us from Malawi. Some 11 years later he left us! Along the way he met Shanie who was catering at Tena Tena and married her. They now live in Lilongwe, Malawi with their new baby girl Isla and Simon still misses the bush. He always will. But recently he managed a visit. Over to Simon.

Simon leading a walk in 2005 on the Mupamadzi River

“Well, it has been a while since I have written an It’s Monday! When I sent Jo some photos of my recent visit to Nsefu Camp with some work colleagues she wrote back and suggested that I simply add the text !!! A nice idea at the time but when I thought about it I realised that it is not as simple as it sounds. I took a quick trip down memory lane and had a look at the It’s Monday archives on the website to jog the memory into It’s Monday writing mode!

It has been a while since I have been up to Nsefu Camp in the peak season as I usually go back to the Luangwa Valley in the quieter months when everyone has more time. To be expected, Nsefu didn’t disappoint!

old bull buffalo behind Nsefu Campimpala watching the walking safari pass by

We arrived in camp at tea time and I immediately felt that I had never left the RPS family! I had to keep biting my lip and not refer to myself as a member of staff. It was hard to sit back and let the team of Daudi, Nessa, Sebastian and Braston actually host me.

With only two full days in the bush we wasted no time in heading out for an evening drive and sundowners – a wonderful treat for a bunch of city dwellers! When you are away from the Luangwa Valley, my home for over 10 years, you realise how much you miss it all when you stop on the river bank for a cold mosi (or two!)

Hazel eyes, Nsefu Camp's resident leopardtwo male kudu

The wildlife did not fail us either. Not long after dark we came across the Nsefu pride of lions hunting. A lovely start to the trip. But the group were all experienced safari goers and a target of 100 species of birds was set for the two days. I was a little nervous as it had been a while since I had done any serious birding!

crowned cranes flying of the hot springs in the Nsefu SectorMeyers parrots feeding

Getting to the first 60 – 70 species is not that hard but the next 30 can be difficult. A morning walk with Braston was just the ticket for adding to the tally and we started with a good view of the yellow-billed oxpeckers perching on some close up buffalo bulls close to camp. I am not sure if everyone was looking at the oxpeckers or at the mean looking buffalo, though. Nonetheless, one more to the list! We soon began to pick up all sorts of species of birds and, of course, animals. We came across a lovely sight of a herd of impala watching us closely as we wandered through their world.

dawn over the salt pans in the Nsefu Sectormale giraffe at eye level

The daughter of Hazel Eyes, one of Nsefu’s resident leopards, graced us with her presence before sundowners on our second night. She was sitting behind some vegetation eyeing out the herd of impala, puku, bushbuck and warthog that wandered around in front of her – oblivious to her preying eyes. What a wonderful way to finish off a day in the bush!

Crawshay's zebra - a subspecies of Burchell's zebrasunset through the haze in the South Luangwa

A sunrise trip to the salt pan was planned for the following morning to try so we packed up our breakfast and left before dawn. Although it was an early start it was well worth it. Breakfast on the salt pan in the early morning light was very special and we managed to catch up with some different bird species to boot. The arrival of the crowned cranes, coming in from their overnight roosting areas in the back country, is always magical and they obliged – arriving in their droves. I also managed to get a shot of some Meyer’s parrots sitting still – not a common sight. They are usually seen either flying overhead, screeching as they go.

The usual fare of game was seen on the way home with a particularly different view of a young giraffe. It is not common that you get to look one of these comical creatures directly in the eye but the young male was standing low in a gully. I am sure the giraffe doesn’t often get this sort of view of a game viewing vehicle either. Eye to eye.

Sundowners that evening was again, rudely interrupted by a leopardess!! This time it was Hazel Eyes herself. A lovely way to end our stay at Nsefu!! Our target of 100 birds was reached on our way to the airport – phew!!!”

Four years on we still miss Simon and Shanie. They were very much part of the RPS family and still are and of course will be part of my life forever! Wonderful people.

So until next Monday, enjoy the week and remember to take time to pick the daisies!

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Nkwali Camp Tena Tena Nsefu Camp
Luangwa Safari House Chongwe River House
Pumulani on Lake Malawi

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