It’s Monday 9th February 2009 and the rising river

As the avid readers of It’s Monday will be aware this is the time of year when all of us living in the Luangwa Valley start obsessing over the river levels – is it going to be high enough for River Journeys? Is it going to burst its banks? So we all live on tender-hooks watching the sky for cloud build up and marking a point on a stick to see by how much the river has come up or gone down. Until two days ago we had a rather large island in front of Nkwali camp, however over night things seemed to change. Luckily just in time for our next guests heading up to Nsefu – a rather large sigh was heard coming from Daudi.

Elephant on Luangwa River bankSunrise on the Luangwa River

The tributaries have started flowing and the water levels are rising fast. One of our morning drives crossed the bridge over the dry river bed of the Mushilashi River first thing on Friday and when they crossed back later in the morning there was a veritable torrent underneath! The Musandili River which runs parallel to the main road burst its banks on Friday and the road to Kawaza was under a foot of water. The Luangwa does of course have a much higher carrying capacity to these smaller rivers but it is amazing to see the speed at which it can come up and go down.

Road to Kawaza under waterNkwali bar with a full Luangwa River

The river is still rising and is now sitting at just over a metre and a half under the Nkwali Deck – the island in front of camp has disappeared and the occasional tree comes floating past as it has been swept away with the current – all very exciting. In anticipation of high water levels Robin’s Bridge under went a rather large renovation this dry season transforming itself from a small bridge with a couple of culverts to a more impressive structure. This has been somewhat of an anticlimax as barely a trickle of water passed underneath it. But with the rising water levels … we’ll be keeping an eye on it!

The previous Robin's bridge creating a damThe new Robin's bridge - waiting for the water to rise

We closed Nkwali last week for a few days, giving us the ideal opportunity to get some work done around camp and complete the improvements to the fronts of chalets 4 and 5. We have now managed to upgrade all of the chalets and they are so far proving to be rather a hit with their large French windows (Zambian style – no glass) folding back onto a private verandah with a stunning view of the Luangwa River.

The new chalet at NkwaliHippo nursery

The slightly quieter months are not only for camp renovations and our staff also take this chance to spread themselves far and wide on their annual leave. Simon is in Australia, Sandra’s heading to Livingstone and Robin and Jo are having a holiday of a lifetime on a cruise in Antarctica armed with plenty of warm clothes. The latest update puts them between South Georgia and Elephant Island and to quote “South Georgia is a fantastic island the size of South Luangwa National Park with mountains akin to the Himalayas down the centre reaching ten thousand feet with spectacular arêtes and glaciers. There are outstanding penguin nesting sites and elephant seals; cheeky fur seals, albatross, skuas and petrels”. I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more stories on their return.

Lion on bank of Luangwa RiverCloudy sky in the Emerald Season

While some staff head to the furthest shores we also welcome back past residents. Geno had left South Luangwa to take on the role of married lady and marketing manager extraordinaire. She is back for a few days looking gorgeous and loving life in South Africa. Simon and Shanie have also returned for a break from Lilongwe and brought the adorable Isla with them. All of the girls have been flocking around Isla oohing and aahing!

I had better run now and check the water level … we’ll keep you posted!



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