It’s November 2000 and …


It’s November 2000 and …

It’s Monday 6th and Tena Closes

As you are all aware Jo and Jane are currently in UK getting ready for WTM (World Travel Market) starting on 13 November. They have left Jeffrey and me in charge of writing It’s Monday. I am a bit out of practice but here goes:

This is always a sad but fun time of year as the bush camps around the valley close and friends catch up on the season’s news before heading off to their various “winter” haunts.

Robin, Jason, Shanie and Sandford from Tena Tena farewelled their last guests on 31 October and have been busy packing up camp. Quite a job as everything has to come out. Right down to plumbing and electrical wiring! Jason headed off today, Shanie departs in a few days while Robin and Sandford will pull out in a few more days after finishing off. We trust they will all be back next year.

Daudi from Nsefu saw the first baby impala of the season on a morning drive last Monday. It had just been born and later in the day he came across 3 more. The rainy season is definitely upon us. Impala are always a good indicator of impending rain.

Not to be outdone, Bruce, (The old ROJO pilot) saw an aardvark on the way home from “Friday at Flatdogs” last night just outside Nkwali. It was after midnight and he was alone….. There has been a happy family of banded mongoose running along the edge of the river bank in front of Nkwali office and staff quarters this afternoon. Very funny to watch and nice to have in camp.

Well, not much more this week. A big storm is on the way so off to batten down the hatches. Jeffrey has just informed me he was nearly blown off his feet at the bar!

Have a great week and cheers for now,
Sara and all the staff at RPS

It’s Monday 13th and the river is rising!

With Jane and Jo far away in London working hard in the name of marketing and promotions I am now free to write an ‘It’s Monday’ – it is such a liberating feeling!! You will all be pleased to know that whilst our beloved seasonal staff have disappeared to different corners of the planet those of us that remain at Nkwali never have a dull moment! It has been a big week!!

The Luangwa River is starting to look big! In just one day it rose 0.5 feet!! You don’t have to wonder away for long and come back to see that the water has risen…with all the rain that we have been having lately it is not surprising. For the past three days we have had steady showers that start before dawn and continue into mid morning. The clouds clear partially and then by the late afternoon there is a huge gust of wind (watch those wigs!), more threatening clouds, some lightening and thunder – quite dramatic!! As you can well imagine the sunsets at the moment are truly spectacular. With all of this activity brings much relief from the heat of October.

Along the river there are many varieties of migratory birds enjoying the first of the rains. We have seen the emerald cuckoo with its brilliant song ‘Hello Georgie, it’s time for tea’…over and over again! There have also been sightings of the red chested cuckoo. Simon tells me how wonderful it is to drive around in the Park at present – the change in season has brought much colour to the landscape and many new bird sightings.

We are starting to see many baby impala and puku! There was a most exciting observation at Nkwali this week. A two day old puku was left hidden in a hollow in the sandbank in front of camp whilst its mother went off to feed during the afternoon. That night a pride of four lioness and a cub were seen all around this hollow and their roaring continued till dawn. Nobody held much hope for a happy ending – in the morning the lion were still there and mother puku was nowhere to be see. However the lion disappeared and at about 10am mother came back when it was safe and retrieved her baby – hoorah! Baby puku don’t have any smell and as this one was well camouflaged the lion didn’t realise what they were sitting on top of!

Zambia is in the middle of completing its first national census in 10 years. After traversing the country, from village to village, they finally made it to RPS. We all faced a list of questions and our houses were officially stickered. I now feel like a number! Naturally some of the questions caused confusion – what ‘tribe’ did I come from and did I possess my own donkey? Census staff also made it to Tena Tena during closing and the man who interviewed Robin was left scratching his head – why did the big boss live in a weenie thatch hut way out in the Nsefu sector when all of his staff at Nkwali live in big brick houses? It’s an injustice!

Finally, it has been another week of good-byes for some of our staff. Nsefu has now closed for the season amidst some heavy rains. With Nsefu and Tena Tena packed away Noodles and Shanie spent a few quiet days at Nkwali, catching up with lots of Valley locals and enjoy some retail therapy! It was sad to finally say cheerio but it won’t be long before they are back again!

Until next week, bye for now!

Jeffrey

It’s Monday 20th and a Silver Otter

The beginning of the rains has brought much activity this past week in the South Luangwa area. Each afternoon we continue to get the windy, stormy build-up with little or no rain. The heavens tricked us all at dawn this morning with a spectacular downpour. This is my first season in the valley during the rains so I finally got to see first hand how easy it is to slide off the road into a ditch – not a good look! Still, the much needed rain was obviously doing most things great and small no end in good!

Matt from Nsefu finally bade farewell to his beloved camp on the weekend with a funny story to tell. It appears that the leopards have reclaimed their territory now that all the humans have left – after an overnight visit to Nkwali earlier in the week Matt returned to find two male leopards near what was the bar and a female lying casually on the floor where the tables and chairs normally sit! I am sure they will be excellent guardians during the rains!

Back at Nkwali Matthew and Sara were reclining at sunset at the bar with friends who came to stay. Matthew was marvelling that from where he sat we can occasionally see lion, and if we are lucky, leopard on the other side of the river. As though on cue out walked a male leopard to the edge of the riverbank and sauntered downriver for about 10 minutes when it climbed into a tree and promptly fell asleep. Two elephants were grazing right underneath the tree and the leopard did not care! Matthew and Sara’s friends were suitably impressed!

The birding has been excellent this week! There was a most amazing sighting of an Angola Pitta near the Nkwali workshop not an hour after a group of birding enthusiasts departed after a four night stay! This incredibly colourful migratory bird was the first sighting for a very excited Simon Cousins, Nkwali camp manager. Simon played one of his bird call CD’s nearby and the rare bird responded by calling back and hopping on his perch at the same time! Earlier that day Keyela and Dout spotted a Narina Trogon inside the park. For me, it is just wonderful to sit by the river and view the incredible variety of colour, shape and size fly past!

NEWSFLASH! Exciting news has just come in from Jo and Jane, both currently in London where they attended World Travel Market last week. Kawaza Village has won this year’s Silver Otter Award, run by the Guild of UK travel writers. Jo accepted a beautiful and huge Edinburgh Crystal Rose bowl on behalf of the project last weekend – We are very proud!

Best wishes to all and have a fabulous week.

Jeffrey

It’s Monday 27th and CARNAGE!

This past week has seen some of the best gameviewing all year for Nkwali! During the week staff and guests have witnessed carnage across the board along with some perfect camera moments!!

In the past five days there have been 8 separate leopard sightings! Two of these were kills witnessed on the same drive – one a baby impala and the other a one year old impala. At the same time guests in another vehicle spotted an aardvark (very rare these days – we have only seen about two or three this year). Both vehicles returned to Nkwali and it was a battle at the bar over who had the better story to tell!

Usually the leopard has the upper hand in the bush however some of our guests were also fortunate to witness a large male baboon chasing a leopard – running for its life they say! A baboon bite on the behind is not something to hang around for! And in another crazy afternoon of gameviewing (which included a HEAVY rain downpour that did nothing to deter an excited three young men in the vehicle) two big lion were spotted with a freshly killed zebra.

It did not all happen in the Park however – Matthew and Simon were having a quiet end-of-day ale at the bar when a monitor lizard darted out from a corner and finished off a bullfrog in a flash!
As I write I watch an army of ants carry their prey up a tree – such strength! The saddest ending was for a beautiful malachite kingfisher that flew into an open window near Matthew’s desk. One of the most beautiful creatures – it was very sad!

The Nkwali kitchen is having its roof replaced at present. All of the kitchen contents were removed and stored elsewhere and a temporary kitchen was set up under shelter outside. The following morning it was a scene of devastation – the hyenas went on a rampage and tore the kitchen fridge to pieces!! The edge of the kitchen door was ripped apart and the few contents that were inside demolished. The hyenas won’t be so lucky again!

This week gave Simon, Marcus, Sara, Matthew and I an opportunity to visit the site of Johnny’s accident and lay a stone plaque in his memory. As the large stone with metal inscription was embedded into soil it was an opportunity to reflect on Johnny, how much he loved this land and how much he is missed.

After a while we were getting ready to return to camp when Simon heard some baboons barking madly upriver. We drove towards them and immediately came upon a large female lion with her recently caught baby warthog. She took her kill under a tree in exhaustion and was not returning the call of another female friend who was looking for her cub (and some food). We found her companion not far away poking her nose into the bushes to find her cub. Later mother and two month old cub were found relaxing under a tree – it was a picture perfect moment and for Sara and I, our finest lion and cub sighting. The cute little thing kept teasing its mother and then ran over to a log near our vehicle to try and balance on top, with little success! Soon mother led her cub towards the scent of the warthog kill, but they only got as far as the next tree for another lie down! In between all of this two giraffe were gazing intently at the bigger female with her kill, not quite knowing what to do. An enriching excursion into the Park!

Have a great week and take care.
Cheers!
Jeffrey

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