It’s Monday 29th June 2009 and the addicts

“RPS addicts” – definition – those who visit us regularly, time and time again. Some people visit a place and move on – wanting to see as much of the world as possible. Others – find a place that they love and return…and return…and return. And this week we have word from a few.

Steve Wilson arrived on his 1955 vintage Ariel Red Hunter motorbike this week, covered in dust and rather shattered after the Chipata road. I had warned him – but no one quite believes it will be as bad as it is. Steve had come on this vintage bike from Cape Town, alone, and had many adventures on the way. Read about the journey – “Short Way Up“. The bike had of course given trouble on the way up but he had found bike boffins along the way which, he said just popped out of the bush whenever needed!

Steve at Kawaza Schoolexcellent netball at Kawaza School

He had done this ride to raise money for Kawaza so please do support him/Kawaza. We needed to take a promo shot and parked the bike near the lagoon outside our house. On queue, a couple of bulls came down to drink. Steve could not believe it! And of course we went to Kawaza. There was an inter school sports tournament going on. I was seriously impressed by the girls playing netball. However, the boys’ football needed some coaching I thought. Currently there are two volunteers staying there – Estelle and David. David is football mad so he is coaching the Kawaza team. He is amazed how the boys play without shoes and how they throw themselves around on the dirt ground (no soft turf here!) without even a scratch.

Estelle and Constance at the volunteers houseDavid coaching football at Kawaza

So after four days of resting up and some game viewing, as well as the bike getting a full medical in the workshop from Rob, Steve dons his leathers and leaves early in the morning to tackle the Chipata road and then back to Cape Town. Impressive stuff!

Steve, vintage bike and drinking elephantsleopard surveying the scene

Alex Paul has been visiting for around 18 (Alex?) years. He is an extremely good photographer and was the runner up in our last photographic competition with a great leopard shot. Alex wrote…..

“More often than not when one sees leopards, it is by night and they are picked up in the spotlight on the prowl in the bushes or up a tree against a dark background. However, by daylight it is a different experience and I thought you would like these pics of my four sightings of leopards in a daylight environment during my recent visit to Tena and Nkwali. These, of course, are only distance shots and I have a lot more pics of them “up-close and personal” which I shall be entering in the competition.”

(A reminder to all those travelling this year – we have a photographic competition going this year!)

leopard passing byleopard on road in Luangwa Valley

I also heard from Barbara and Richard Barrett this week……and I felt immense pride in our staff. Well I do daily but this was wonderful. A coordinated plan well executed. Here is the story……

“We just thought we would write and say what a simply marvelous time we had this year. It was our fifth trip and they have all been great and it was totally superb.

First of all the trip to the Liuwa Plain was so lovely – we read your comments in Its Monday recently and you said almost word for word exactly what we have been saying since we returned. The contrast between this area and the Luangwa Valley is remarkable. We are grateful to have been able to have the experience.

unloading the food for the Liuwa Plain safari on arrivaltree climbing lion at Nsefu Camp

As usual the great trees of the Luangwa Valley worked their magic. But maybe the highlight of our visit to Nsefu Camp was the evening we watched a lioness up a tree and then the pink full moon rose visible beneath the branch she was lying on. This group of three walked off as darkness fell and then five more lions emerged from the bushes. Sebastian said “perhaps they will cross the river” so a quick short drive to a position on a cliff overlooking the river and the spotlight revealed 8 lions wading in the river – they looked up at us and then completed the crossing with a series of leaps and lots of splashing.

wild dog at last!!!leopard posing as a leopard should

On to Tena Tena where we met Simon for the first time. He made every minute of the game drives so enjoyable and interesting with attention to plants, insects, etc as well as enabling us to meet Zero Zero again (Ed. a resident leopard). On the morning of our last full day there we were on our way to the stork colony when Emma radioed to say that wild dogs had been found at Nkwali and would probably stay where they were until the evening. As we have longed to see wild dogs since our first visit to Africa in 1981 this was INTERESTING. Apparently lots of people like Daudi, Simon and Emma had been thinking of our wish to see the wild dogs so we dashed back to Tena Tena, packed in half an hour, quick drive to the river crossing, across, land cruiser with Kiki waiting and a drive to the wild dogs. We still can’t believe that everybody had tried to do this for us. Luckily Nkwali had a room vacant so we were able to sleep there that night.

Our final experience was the next morning when Kiki found a leopard and we were able to spend quite a lot of time with her watching her walking, climbing into a tree and lying in a great position for photographs just as leopards ought to do but often don’t. Finally she came down, caught a dove and played with it just like our cat does at home – absolute bliss. After this off to Mfuwe Airport and we were on our way home.”

I take my hat off to Kiki and team for pulling that one off!

All the best until next week……

another Luangwa leopard

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