It’s November 2004 and …

It’s November 2004 and …

It’s Monday 1st and pipes and champers in the bush

Yes I am back – I seem to have missed quite a few Mondays. Firstly at fly camping – which was amazing…then a trip to Kutandala in North Luangwa National Park – fantastic, Rod and Gus Tether are super hosts and I hope that more of our guests will venture “up north” next year. And finally my long anticipated holiday to Kenya. I was hosted by Cheli and Peacock Safaris and had a wonderful time in Laikipia and then the Mara. Such a treat to see different game and birds, and to be a guest. Of course the highlight of the trip had to be meeting up with Jason Gifford – ex manager of Nsefu, who is now living in Nairobi. Many beers, over several hours certainly helped in the catching up process but is not recommended before an early flight in a small plane….

Now I am back for one newsletter before popping off again – this time to London and the World Travel Market. Kerri who, as most of you will know, is one of our guides at Nsefu will be taking over my computer for a couple of weeks whilst Jo and I are away.

CranesSad day today actually – Tena Tena is no more – well for another year anyway. Camp is now closed and the staff are madly packing up camp and all will leave in the next couple of days, apart from those who will remain to do some re-thatching ready for next season. I dropped by yesterday for a quick hello on my way back from the salt pan – which by the way is looking lovely. We had quite a drop of rain about 2 weeks ago and everything is greening up. The mopane trees are now in leaf, such a vivid green it is a shock after months of brown. The crowned cranes at the salt pan were beautiful as always and their haunting call will always remind me of the Nsefu sector. I also came across one of the youngest elephants I have ever seen – tiny and standing right underneath its mother‘s chest. It looked like it was just finding some shade between her front legs before tucking into lunch.

One of the pipes - the sound was better than the pictureRoss, Aniek and guests had a super sundowner last week – they joined forces with Nsefu guests as they had a special treat in store. You may know that Ross is our resident piper but one of the Tena guests, Kip Waistell, travels everywhere with his bagpipes and likes to play them in unusual places. Therefore all were treated to a duet by Ross and Kip. Even the elephants came down to listen and paused as they crossed the sandbank by Big Bend. One of our more unusual bush surprises…..

With recent rains the wild dogs are back in town. A pack of 12 and another of 5 have been seen – no photos yet but Simon is out there hunting them down as we speak!

A recent guest Doug Mahaffy sent through some wonderful birding shots and we have included a couple of his pics for you. Firstly carmine bee-eaters and then a spectacular sunset at Tena Big Bend.

Stay well and have a great week Kim

Carmine bee-eaters by Doug MahaffyLuangwa River SUnset by Doug Mahaffy

It’s Monday 8th and the mice are playing!

As Kim, Jo and Robin (the cats) are away at the World Travel Market in London, it has fallen to me to update you on the week’s activities. The last few days have passed in a frenzy of activity as the final few boxes and trunks have been packed up, vehicles brought back down to Nkwali and the odd traditional end of season party or two have taken place (the mice will play) – Tena and Nsefu have finally closed for the 2004 season. Kerri is now in the office with me and whilst now sitting “chained” to the computer has been reflecting on some the highlights of guiding at Nsefu this year –

“The season is over at Nsefu for another year and what fantastic season it was for me, from everyone I worked with, to the guests and the gameviewing, I enjoyed it all. Some of the highlights that stick out in my mind are; sundowners with the lions in the tree, and the near collision with a herd of buffalo when they started hunting them. The many sightings and time spent with the one eyed leopard ‘Kataba’ (who will hopefully have given birth to cubs by next year), especially the monkey eating incident. Seeing the hyena pups at the den for the first time. As well as the sad moments of losing the two 9 month old lion cubs killed by the two new pride males. I am looking forward to another season already and seeing some of you again”

As a special end of season treat, Jo and Robin organised for the guides and caterers from Tena and Nsefu to visit Shiwa N’gandu “The Africa House” for the day. They flew up with “Robbie the pilot” and I think for those first time fliers it was quite an experience. They had a great day of horse riding, birding and walks around the estate. Some of the birding highlights were the beautiful Narina Trogan, Palm Nut Vulture, Fulborns Longclaw, African Finfoot (jealous anyone!!) and Lesser Jacana.

Shiwa N’ganduKerri's Horses

Even though the “bush camps” may be closed Nkwali is still busy with many guests coming to stay with us (I’ll let you into a secret – they all know how special the green season is!!) and plenty of excellent gameviewing. My parents were staying with us last week so Simon and I managed to sneak out a few drives with them. One morning we got up early before sunrise and went for a wonderful long drive in the park seeing a wide range of animals and birds including a baby zebra who just lay in the morning sun and was so relaxed he did move when we drove up, a pair of African Hawk eagles circling above us and a magnificent male lion striding out across the Wafwa – he was not a lion that Simon knew but he was in great shape with huge powerful shoulders and big shaggy mane.

Simon's cranesOn their final evening we went on our traditional drive to the saltpan behind Nkwali. Unfortunately we did not see Racket Tailed Rollers or Arnot’s Chat as usual but we were treated to a great viewing of about 50 Crowned Cranes engaging in displaying to each other.

Rocky's pythonRocky (of Tena Tena) is now working down at Nkwali and whilst on a walk last week came across a large python – it is very unusual to be treated to such a close up view of this creature. From the picture you can see what amazing patterns they have on their skin and how well camouflaged it is.

The arrival of numerous migrant birds is a clear indication that the rains are on their way. A flock of 20 Abdims Storks were spotted circling above the park, all of the cuckoos have been heard or seen and several Woodland and Greyheaded Kingfishers.

Stay well and have a great week Shanie

One of the circling birds

It’s Monday 15th and the Birds are Back

It’s that time of year again. The rains have broken and the dust and haze that is synonymous with the hot, dry season has been washed away. The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular at this time of the year. The large rain clouds and clear air make for some of the most beautiful light displays seen in the Luangwa. Any excuse for a cold beer or a gin and tonic at sunset!!

SunsetSunrise

A lot of the migratory birds are arriving in waves – here to feed and to breed. The incessant calling of the cuckoo’s, both the Emerald Cuckoo and the Red Chested Cuckoo can be heard around camp throughout the day. It is a lovely sound for the first few days but it gets a little monotonous after a while!!!

The birds are back

We are starting to see lots of little baby impala now. They seem to have arrived a little later than most years but they are starting to be born now (possibly because the storks that bring the babies have only just arrived !!!! ). They are still a little skittish, running away behind their mothers, on their wobbly little legs. Hopefully in a week or so we will be able to get some better views of them.

StorksWarthogs

The young warthogs, on the other hand, are all over the place scooting along behind their mothers with their tails in the air. Recently the guides have been seeing European White Storks and large flocks of Abdim’s Storks arriving after their long haul flight from Europe taking a much needed break on the big sand banks of the Luangwa River. They arrive here to feed on the large numbers of insects and frogs that come out with the onset of the rains.

Twig Snake eating a frogBeing a frog out here is not easy. Everything seems to be after you!!. Rocky managed to get a great shot of a Twig Snake eating a frog in the tree by the Nkwali bar. It is not often that we are treated to a view of this shy, secretive and extremely camouflaged snake.

Ross is still up in the bush at Tena Tena. He is organising the rethatching of the entire camp – a very big job, indeed!! The race is on, of course, as the rains are looming. We have already had a few big storms making movement in and out of the area very difficult. It never ceases to amaze how messy camp building can be – those who have stayed at Tena Tena before would not recognise the place due to the large amounts of thatching grass, bamboos and poles that have been dumped in the middle of the camp. What a mess!!!

Poles at Tena TenaThatching at Tena Tena

Keep well. Until next week……… Simon

It’s Monday 22nd November 2004 and Kim is back from the big smoke

Yes I am back again. London was great but I have to say it is a huge relief to be back in the bush and home – even if only for a week before heading off to France! It was lovely to catch up with friends and colleagues at the World Travel Market and exciting that Zambia seems to have a buzz about it, which we all know is long over due of course.

Back at Nkwali everything is green and beautiful and the gameviewing has been fantastic. One morning guests got up early and set off for a sunrise drive – breakfast packed up ready for a feast in the park. The evening before, a drive had come across lions hunting, who then killed a buffalo calf. By the next morning the whole carcass had been devoured and the lions were fat and full and just lying around. On this same sunrise expedition they came across two leopards in a tree, honey badger and four hyena so worth getting up at 4am…

Daudi has finished camp building at Nsefu and after a few days rest is now guiding at Nkwali. He came in last night and has set off this morning for an all day drive in the Nsefu sector. Seems we can not keep him away from this area. As we have not had any significant rain lately we can still cross the Kauluzi and explore this area – I will report back on this adventure next week.

Tena Tena rethatchingMeanwhile at Tena Tena, Ross is still busy building. All of the chalets are being re thatched and we have a picture to show you what they look like – beautiful porcupine thatch and the new honeymoon suite will be started this week. I think the girls have had enough input on the design front and it is now just up to the boys to build it!

Several big herds of buffalo have been seen, which is unusual for this time of year. Simon mentioned the baby impala last week and actually managed to get some on film this week so you can now take a look at them too.

Impala

Impala

Nkwali Bar seems to be the place for crocodile enthusiasts at the moment. Firstly Shanie was having tea with guests when a croc came up out of the water and grabbed a catfish. He managed to chop it clean in half and as the tail was wriggling in it’s mouth the front half “swam off”. The resident fish eagle was caught napping and by the time he noticed what would have been a free meal, the front half of the fish had disappeared under the water and he was left swooping about, looking bemused.

Last night Simon and I were sitting on the deck having a coca cola (ummm, well ok beer) and saw seven crocs circling around and a couple more heading up river to join them. A young hippo had separated from the pod just down stream from camp and they seemed to be trying to decide whether they should have a go or not. After a few head to head swimming contests they decided to back off and the hippo returned to the pod. Quite a bizarre sight.

MothOf course I can not write without mentioning the most important event of the week – yes England BEAT South Africa in the rugby. As you can imagine this was a tense event and Simon had to drink a few Mosi’s to get over the shock. Thankfully there were plenty of English supporters around who valiantly joined in to help him drown his sorrows……

Stay well and have a great week
Cheerio Kim

It’s Monday 29th and pitta patta

Yes I am still here… off on Friday to France and then a few days holiday at with my family in Somerset in the West of England for an early Christmas with them. Oops – forgot to let my mother know I will be expecting turkey and all the trimmings – not to mention having the tree decorated a couple of weeks early! Genet KittensWe have all just about recovered from a somewhat hectic Saturday night. Robin and Jo returned from the UK and we invited “everyone” in the valley over to Nkwali to watch the rugby followed by sundowners. Having strong South African and British contingents in the area, Ross and Simon set up 2 televisions in our staff area and so it was very confusing trying to watch England vs Australia with the Scottish drums in the back ground. However, there was much shouting and dashing between the different games. Then onto the bar for a party – the sun was well down once the last fans left – I think it was closer to coming up again in fact! One of our scouts found a tiny baby genet on the road near the car park last week. He put it back in the hollow of a tree where he found a second one, and we hoped the mother would return to find them. Thankfully she did come and take them to safety but we got a very cute picture of them. Blue PansyOur first real thunderstorm occurred this week – wow is all I can say. The thunder and lightening are so impressive out here. The new sails at the bar held the rain out and so we were all snug and dry whilst watching the impressive display. The rain bought out some lovely butterflies as well as some interesting moths and insects. Simon spotted these highly coloured little moths on the road which seemed to be feeding on minerals found in the damp soil – anyone know what they are???

[Probably part of the Six Spotted Burnet moth family – Zygaenidae. Thank you Shirley Aung]

Moth unkownMoth unkown

Ross seems to find a convenient reason to pop to Nkwali once a week – always coinciding with rugby which is lucky. However, building work at Tena Tena is going a pace and the frame work for the new honeymoon suite is all but finished and should be thatched by next Monday when we hope to be able to give you a preview. Gameviewing has continued to be excellent – wild dog have been seen although only 2 this week – hopefully the whole pack will be around soon. Highlight of the week has to be a valley staff trip which I will leave Simon to describe to you.

Stay well and have a great week
Cheerio Kim

Robin, Ross and I set out at 5:30am on Sunday morning on our “angola pitta hunt” and met up with a couple of other valley folk at the main entrance of the park. The angola pitta is a migratory bird, very rare, extremely colourful and lives in thickets. For any birder this is one of the prize Southern African birds which very few people get to see. Armed with our Bird Sounds of Southern Africa and sound recording equipment brought along by our resident ornithologist, Derek Solomon, we set off in search of the elusive bird.

Pita displayingOur first attempt to call up the pitta resulted in a distant reply from a bird – to far to go off and find it! For the next 2 hours we tried and tried, every kilometre or so, to call up a pitta but to no avail. We had basically given up the search and decided to have a compulsory cup of tea and coffee and then return home. One last check in a different area and we found one !! He replied immediately and we headed off into the bush, towards the call from the pitta.

Moments later we found this beautiful bird and spent the best part of an hour following and watching it. We managed to get a couple of photos, although the habitat that you tend to see these creatures in is not conducive to photography but we got a couple of shots. A very successful day!!

The Angola PittaThe Angola Pitta

Cheers Simon

This entry was posted in 2004, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.