It’s November 2003 and …

It’s November 2003 and …

It’s Monday 3rd and Tena Tena closes

I am writing this week with a heavy heart. Tena Tena my spiritual home has closed for another season. It really is unbelievable how quickly this season has flown by. It only seems a few weeks ago that Shanie was rushing around trying to make sure everything was ready for the opening.

Aniek had an interesting couple of days. The last guests left after breakfast on Saturday and as Aniek walked back into the kitchen area she was greeted with the whole contents of the Kitchen on a sheet on the floor. The camp staff were obviously keen to get back to their homes and families…. After two days of frantic packing and inventorising, Aniek arrived back at Nkwali last night having said goodbye to Tena Tena for the season.

Ross and Daudi stayed up at camp for a romantic dinner a deux and will be back at Nkwali tonight after “ripping out” the electrics and plumbing. Being a bush camp everything has to be dismantled and returned to nature. It is really amazing but the lions seems to know when it is time for them to reclaim the area. Again this year they came into camp on the first day that it was without guests, knowing that it would be theirs again for the next 6 months.

Nsefu is closing this week with the last guests arriving back at Nkwali on Tuesday. These guests happen to be Kate, our Nkwali caterer’s family – all 7 of them!! Kate has been with them at both Tena Tena and Nsefu for 5 nights and I am sure that next week we will hear all about their exploits. Meanwhile Nsefu continues to see excellent game right up to the last minute. 3 leopards were spotted on a buffalo kill!! Unlikely that they managed to pull the buff down themselves but whatever happened they certainly looked happy with the spoils.

We have had a few spots of rain over the last few days and unfortunately had a bolt of lightening take out our power lines last night. Therefore we are back to generator power today. It is funny to see how quickly we have all got used to having electricity here since it was installed in July. I was actually complaining this morning because the kettle took longer to boil, when a few month ago we had flasks of hot water as our only way of making a coffee in the morning. It does not really have too much affect on the guests – apart from “lights out” when the generator goes off. However, Adam is the hero of the moment as the water pump would only work when nothing else was using power and so he was up at 0330 this morning pumping water so that we could all have showers.

With the rains approaching we have seen the first baby impalas being born – “leopard snacks” as the hardened safari guides call them. Baby impala are also the sign that the World Travel Market is upon us. This is a travel show for the industry held in London each year. Both Jo and Shanie will be attending and are leaving this week. Therefore November is also quite a sad month as we slowly reduce staff numbers.

By the middle of the month there will only be 3 of us left here but then the hard core ie Robin, Jo, Simon, Shanie, Adam and me will be coming and going for varing periods until the end of March. This is really the only time that we are able to take leave and so will be disappearing for around 6 weeks each. Of course Simon and Shanie will be away for longer in the run up to their marriage in March when all will cease as there is a mass exodus to the UK by RPS staff for the wedding of the year.

Stay well and have a great week

It’s Monday 10th and storms brew

Well I am being slowly deserted! Jo and Shanie have left for the world travel market in London and will both be staying on for a much deserved rest until the beginning of December. Robin heads off to South Africa with his mother today and then on Thursday, Simon is going in the same direction to visit his folks. It feels very much like end of term as everyone packs their bags and heads off for varying times and locations.

Still we are full steam ahead at Nkwali with guests arriving as normal. We have just had a very lively bunch with us. Kate our caterer at Nkwali had 7 of her family over for about 10 days and they proved very popular with staff and other guests alike – a pleasure to have around. Kate took some time off whilst they were with us and headed up to Nsefu where they all had what they described as the drive of a lifetime.

It was the last drive of the season at Nsefu and what a finale. The bunch were parked up watching a pride of 10 lions in a gully. The pride consisted of 2 old males, 4 females, 2 juveniles and 2 cubs. Meanwhile a hippo was stuck in the middle of them looking somewhat uncomfortable as the lions were clearly looking for dinner.

A storm was brewing and making sure to get their priorities right before anything to exciting happened gin and tonics were quickly passed around and all hopped back on the vehicle as the rain started, lightening flashing and thunder rolling. Being from wet and windy Scotland this of course only added to the attraction for these hardened safari goers….

With the lions looking increasingly twitchy they moved off to take advantage of the stormy conditions. Drinks firmly, in hand the vehicle followed them, the view of the stalking pride added by the increasingly bright flashes of lightening but counter balanced by the driving rain.

All of a sudden, the hippo having been ignored, 2 puku and 1 impala were down and the various lions moved in for their share of the kills. An amazing experience – wild, stormy and thrilling.

Meanwhile at Nkwali we have had fantastic game viewing. Guests saw a pride of 15 lions and then a splinter group of 8 were busy chasing a female leopard and her cub. The cub took refuge up a tree whilst the lions chased its mother below managing to steal the leopards kill, what with several elephant looking on it was quite a sight.

Back of house is becoming more and more like a building site everyday. Staff houses are being rethatched. 3 new ones being built as well as the new ‘cage’ for senior staff – however, as I look out of the window there seems to be lots of earth, grass and bricks lying around but not much action. Everyone is madly trying to get building work finished before the rains arrive in earnest and building teams seem to try and keep everyone happy by doing a day at each place rather than finishing one job at a time. I guess the building trade is the same the world over…

We have had a rush of birthdays of late with both Jo and Adam last week – both of course celebrated in style with merriment on the night and various excuses for needing time off the following morning. Honesty being the best policy one chap (workshop manager I hasten to add not one of our very responsible guides) admitted to a hangover and the need to go out to Flatdogs for a cooked breakfast – unfortunately this coincided with South Africa playing rugby and the hangover managed to extend itself to the next day! The next birthday party is on Thursday (Possum, ex RPS) so I guess Friday is going to be a write off – on that note…… Stay well and have a great week

It’s Monday 17th and the perfect day

Very quiet this week but to make up for it we have had some great game viewing. Jacob from Nsefu has come down to Nkwali to guide for a few weeks and took a return guest Mike Bailey for an all day picnic to the Nsefu sector with another guest. They had an amazing day. The Nsefu sector is just about passable still but the amount of rain has made the area beautifully green. First they drove to the salt pan and saw all of the crowned cranes over 100 of them in a group. Then they went down to the stork colony and saw a big male leopard which had a kill. No storks yet at the colony but this was more than made up for with the sighting of two pels fishing owls in daylight. It is always a treat to see these beautiful birds but two together was quite something.

After this they set off for Baka Baka for their lunch and a well earned siesta under the trees. As they were driving their they came across Daudi who was in the area supervising the rethatching of Nsefu Camp’s bar. Daudi informed them that there was a lion kill around Tena Tena – being hungry men they stopped for lunch first and then set off on the lion hunt. The lions were found and they were able to watch the six lionesses on a buffalo kill. One of the lionesses was very skittish, she was nervous of the vehicle and kept her distance. After this they set off drive back to Nkwali. They arrived back at about 2pm in time for a quick rest and off again for the afternoon game drive.

Back in the vehicle – this time with Keyala and another super drive. They started with lots of elephants around the pontoon. The pontoon has now been taken out and so we are driving across the river. This will not last too long as the rains are beginning and the river will soon start to rise. Next off they headed straight for Lupunga Spa for sundowners. This was Mike’s last game drive and so Keyala uncorked the champagne and brought out the canapes. Keyala, being tea-total, abstained but Mike and Martin enjoyed the bubbles.

The light was connected and the night drive began. Within 10 minutes Mike heard the guinea fowl making a racket and Keyala set off to investigate. A female leopard was the cause of concern. She was spotted walking around the area and generally upsetting the birds who had taken to the trees for protection.

After this lovely sighting it was on to the hyena – four of them who were on
the prowl. A somewhat pungent smell was evident but althought a kill of
some sort was suspected, it was not found by the intrepid threesome.

Setting off to drive back to camp a civet was seen dragging something behind him. On close inspection it was seen to be the afterbirth of an elephant. Amazing to think that these lucky guests may have actually seen the birth of an elephant had they been a little earlier. However, they did see a baby elephant just after this and it was suspected to be the new born as it was still pink. They did not stay too long as Keyala did not want to disturb it or the family group.

In short a great day for all concerned.

On top of this – great excitment – the wild dog have returned to the area. 22 of them in one pack have now been seen on two occasions. The first by the big baobab and the second at Lupunga Spa. We have not seen them yet but I am sure it our guides’ amazing tracking skills it is only a matter time….Unfortunately our resident wild dog fanatic (Simon) is on leave at the moment and will be itching to get back here once he reads this report…..

Stay well and have a great week

It’s Monday 24th and the tummy birds

Well I have to start this one by saying congratulations to the English Rugby team….sorry to all of our Australian guests but you know we don’t get to celebrate world champions often so I am sure you will forgive the euphoria we are currently feeling. The rest of the staff sloped off to Flatdogs to watch the match and I stayed behind and watched in from Nkwali and probably just as well. Mosi in hand, bouncing up and down on my chair in our TV room must have been quite a sight – strangely no-one came to call me to the phone or anything during extra time, which is just as well as I am sorry to say that professionalism would have gone out of the window and nothing would have budged me from the nailbiter.

England actually winning something has not been the only strange sight this week.

A few days ago I was walking back from the bar just after dark and saw a hippo in the lagoon in front of the dinning room. It was not moving and Adam who was with me thought it might be dead. Kate and Daudi hastily arrived for further inspection and the men started to discuss how they would remove it – involving winches, ropes and hooks. Obviously disturbed by the ideas being expressed the hippo lifted its head and put an end to the recovery mission – thankfully.

Yesterday a tiny baby vervet monkey fell out of a tree just opposite the office. The poor thing looked quite bewildered, looking up at us with it big head and huge eyes. The mother remained in the tree bobbing up and down, trying to frighten us off. We retreated to allow the mother to come down and collect the baby. She shot down the tree, raced across the ground and without missing a step scooped up her offspring with one hand and headed off to safety.

Definitely the sight of the week was again at Nkwali camp. Looking out of my office window – yes daydreaming again – I saw a huge flock of birds flying along the river. Rushing out to find a group of over 500 (we estimate – although guesses varied from 300 to 1000!) Abdim’s storks – or as Keyala and Daudi call them Abdomen storks. They were accompanied by 2 white storks who stood out in contrast in the middle of the group. These migratory birds first appeared about 3 weeks ago in the Nsefu sector. They stayed opposite the camp for a hour or so before flying off again which produced an amazing noise as they flew overhead.

Nkwali has been a great spot this week for viewing game. In addition to the birds, we have had guests being treated to both Lions and Hyenas on the opposite bank during breakfasts and as I write a huge male elephant is parading along the river. We often have giraffe coming to join us for sundowners and it is fascinating to watch them drinking from the river. The other day we also had the spectacle of three puku trying to decide whether or not it was safe to cross from one sandbank to another. There were several hungry looking crocodiles around and the first two bravely went for it, taking enormous leaps as they shot across. The third puku was not so sure of the sense of it and after much deliberation decide to stay put.

No more wild dog sightings this week but the hunt is on and will keep you posted as I am sure we will see them very soon.

Meanwhile game viewing proper has been fabulous too. 4 Pels fishing owls on the same walk were seen by Jacob – he certainly is doing well on his count of these amazing birds. Later on the same walk they came across a pride of 5 lions. They then heard long tailed starlings making a racket and went to investigate. Walking in cautiously Jacob came face to face with a 3 metre long python. It was by then tea time and signified that it was also time to head back to camp in time for lunch.

Stay well and have a great week

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