It’s Monday 9th August 2010 and Mkulumadzi is growing

This week brings us news from Mark and Jenna at Mkulumadzi, with stories of the construction of our new lodge in Majete Wildlife Reserve South Malawi.

“The construction continues, chalets one and two are already at roof level and foundations are in and the walls are going up on a further three chalets.

The main lodge building is beginning to take shape and the whole project is gaining in momentum. The building team is now accustomed to the strict site rules that need to be enforced when working within a wildlife area – no harassing animals, no littering, no cutting of trees, leave that tortoise alone! It appears to be never ending!

building teambuildings

The building site is a hive of activity during the day but come 5 o’ clock the builders depart and the site is reclaimed by the resident wildlife, the hippos, the birds and the sound of the river the only ‘noise’. If one were to visit at this time it would appear as if buildings were spontaneously growing from the riverbank like those little mushrooms that appear out of elephant dung!

With the buildings magically appearing from the ground we’re on to interiors next and the buying team are in Johannesburg this week to start the fun task of sourcing fittings, décor and furniture.

MarkMkulumadzi River

Getting to the lodge still means removing your shoes, rolling up your pants and wading through a river. This has become such an automatic ritual that we often forget to mention it to newcomers. As a result we’re usually around midstream before realising that we’ve left the visitor on the bank wondering if they should follow or if we just happened to be taking a dip in the river before continuing to the lodge site.

Not for much longer though! Work has started on an 80m long suspended footbridge over the Mkulumadzi River. It will be unusual walking onto site with dry feet!

Solar PanelMajete  Wildlife Reserve

As mentioned before we will be running the entire lodge off solar power. When we first said that it sounded great; environmentally friendly, clean power, the right thing to do. Now I see why lodges in Africa are still reluctant to go solar – it is still astonishingly expensive – and not just to install, replacing batteries every 3-5 years is also no small cost. But there are always ways and means and we’re exploring all of them in order to fulfil our promise of cleaner, greener electricity.

black rhinoblack rhino

Bentley Palmer lives in Blantyre and has more than just a keen interest in Majete’s flagship species the black rhino. Bentley’s passion for rhino has led him to assisting African Parks with the monitoring of these precious animals in the park. His main modus operandi is to settle into a viewing hide on a full moon night and lie in wait for a rhino to come to the waterhole. Rhino’s by moonlight!

The poignant image above is of Shamwari, a five year old male, who turned up on a cloudy full moon to be captured in Bentley’s lens. Lundu, another male, was photographed on the access road to our lodge site. Other rhino reports in the park show that three of the five females have calves – good news indeed!

waterbuckswaterbuck

There is a lot on the go this month with the final translocation of 600 more animals to the reserve. Sable, waterbuck and impala are all on the way from Liwonde National Park and will be released in to Majete mid-August. A participation safari is being run alongside the relocations where guests are involved in all aspects of the program, from the capture and release to darting and collaring of a number of elephants already in Majete. The satellite collars being fitted to the elephants will allow scouts to monitor the movements of certain individuals and herds more closely.

So we only have good news to report from Majete, although as the months roll by and the dry season becomes the wet there are sure to be a few obstacles such as swollen river, roads becoming impassable to trucks and our site becomes a lot muddier. Yet another African challenge to look forward to! Until then we make hay while the sun shines and long may it shine!!”

Thank you for the update guys, very exiting without a doubt!

RockyGrey  Lourie

News from the Valley, Rocky is back!!! He left us in November 2008 and is now living on a Pacific island Vanuatu, where he attends university and lives with his fiancée. Whilst he is with us we have put him to work once again, guiding for us in the peak season. This return has a twist to it as Rocky has brought Linda back to the bush with the express mission to marry her. The ceremony will take place in the Nsefu Sector, an area very special to both of them – this is where they met! Wedding preparations are in the advanced stage with many local dignatories on the guest list – His Royal Highness Chief Kakumbi being one. Stay tuned for more on this great event which is due to take place at the end of Rocky’s stay, at the end of the month.

Have a wonderful week!

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