It’s Monday 26th November 2007 and the RPS Guides’ Safari

It’s Monday 26th November 2007 and the RPS Guides’ Safari

Robin and I are back from our annual migration to the UK. Three weeks of lovely autumnal weather.

As the end of the dry season has now come and gone (although I don’t see much rain around) I am going to let you know about some staffing news. Every year we have staff moving on – it is sadly inevitable as we now have 151 staff. On the guiding front, Beej is moving to the Lower Zambezi to run the Chongwe River House with his wife Clem (and of course darling Bruce of 18 months!). I am delighted as finding a couple to fill the shoes of Garth and Lins was going to be hard. Beej and Clem are perfect for the role. Kerri has also decided to move on and is currently roaming the plains of Tanzania! On the “back of house” side, Don and Suku are leaving us at the end of November. Marko, a very talented and artistic chef, is taking over the kitchens and Terri from Robin’s House is moving into the office. You have already met Fiona who has taken over from Amanda. The final addition will be Conor, arriving next month, to assist me with the Sales and Marketing. I look forward to his extraordinary enthusiasm and energy (well he is Irish!). A huge thank you to all those leaving us and a warm welcome to those coming in.

Arriving by plane The story of this week is the “Guides Safari”. We sent sixteen guides, in two groups, to the Lower Zambezi and Livingstone. Partly a thanks for all of their excellent work this year, and partly an “educational”. Out of the sixteen only two had seen the Lower Zambezi and three had seen the Victoria Falls. Many of our guests’ itineraries include these areas and so we felt it important for our guides to be informed. The changeover for the two groups was done by plane – another new experience for some!

Well – you can only imagine! I sat Keyela down for a debriefing. Firstly – who went – Prince could not make it and so his space was filled by Kanga, a trainee guide, new to RPS, who has been the tea bearer for Debs on the Luangwa Bush Camping. Not bad – a season of tea bearing and he gets a fantastic safari! And here are a few highlights.
However I believe there is a certain amount of what goes on tour stays on tour….

First stop, the Lower Zambezi Conservation headquarters and they were look after by Greg who used to work in the Luangwa. They were all in awe of the boating on the river – and felt that this was the main “competition” between the two parks. In the Luangwa we can only boat for 3-4 months of the year. They also did a full day picnic drive, visiting all the camps we send our guests to (Chiawa, Sausage Tree, Chongwe Camp). And of course they saw the Chongwe River House. Obi was not expecting to like it much but they were ALL blown away. Daudi did three fascinated tours of the house and was only just stopped from trying out one of the showers (waterfalls). Probably a saving grace for the rest of the team as he is known for his exceptionally long stints of singing in the shower. Wildlife highlights were a side striped jackal which you no longer see in the Luangwa. And an amazing lion kill.

on the ZambeziEle in the river

Striped JackalLion kill

Victoria Falls The drive to Livingstone was slow. Having got up early (0300) in their eagerness they did not realize that the Kafue River pontoon only opened at 0600 so thumbs were twiddled for an hour. The drive thereafter was slow – there were trucks trucks trucks and everyone was concerned about bringing the “tank”, our expensively converted cruiser, back alive! They had a wonderful welcome at Fawlty Towers, the news of the RPS Guides hitting Livingstone was clearly out. They were treated like VIPs at the Falls and the Park due to a letter they had taken from the Luangwa Warden. They saw the last remaining rhino, a first for most. Keyela says everyone was stunned by the Falls even though they were dry.

On the Kafue PontoonStaff at the falls


The highlight however, was the booze cruise on Makumbi. This boat has been on the river since 1965 and has had the same Captain for the last 42 years! Our guides all drank Castle beer including Keyela and Braston who are non drinkers. They sang and danced and soon had the entire boat, of 65 no doubt slightly surprised tourists, dancing with them. I would think they were expecting a quiet booze cruise but got a noisy fun trip instead! Daudi asked for quiet in the middle of the party to tell a joke about a frog. As only he would. And he had all 65 tourists hanging on every word! Classic Daudi. At one point all the RPS guides phoned their wives to tell them where they were. It was a “big privilege” to be on the Zambezi River. Once back on shore all 65 stunned fellow booze cruisers walked them to their car to wave them off. The next morning the first group needed nshima (the thick local porridge) with their tea to prepare them for the flight back to Mfuwe.

Makumbi cruiseMakumbi cruise

So – next week Robin and I will be on the Kenyan coast, celebrating a friend’s 50th! Yes we are at that point in life. My turn next year. I will be back with you in a couple of weeks. Until then……have a great time.

Luanga sunset

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