It’s October 2000 and …

It’s October 2000 and …

It’s Monday 2nd, and Leopard Cubs at Nsefu!

I can highly recommend a visit to the Lower Zambezi to anyone. The flight in to Jeki airstrip takes you along the river at low level – a magnificent sight. The water is crystal clear and looks almost blue from the air, with large swirling sandbanks underneath. We stayed at Sausage Tree camp which was beautiful. Situated on the banks of the Zambezi with marsh islands directly in front of camp, the views are incredible. One can spend hours watching the buffalo and elephant who spend their days on these marshes, grazing, drinking and crossing the various channels of water. Each tent is secluded and very private, positioned perfectly in the shade of enormous Sausage Trees. The tents are gorgeous – very tastefully furnished, simple and and elegant. Tiger fishing, game drives, canoeing, boating and walking are all available and can be combined for fantastic game viewing. We had a wonderful couple of days there with exquisite food, company, fishing (I caught a huge tiger fish which someone else had to reel in for me!) and wildlife. As most of you will know Sausage Tree Camp is included in the “Zambia’s Classic Safari ” Package and really does make the perfect compliment to the South Luangwa.

Matt from Nsefu had a rather exceptional morning drive last week. They could hear baboons barking in the ebony grove and went in to investigate. A very small leopard cub, estimated to be approximately 6 weeks old, was being harassed by the baboons. This was soon put to a stop by it’s protective mother who chased them away. Not far from this were another group of baboons barking at the base of a large creeper covered tree. Another small leopard cub was stashed in the very top branches of this tree looking down at them, before being joined by the other two. A wonderful daylight sighting of leopard and hopefully we will continue to see this female and her litter on a regular basis.

Keyala lead an outstanding walk this morning from Nkwali. He was walking with 5 guests in the Chichele area of the park. In 2 hours of walking they saw: giraffe, elephant, buffalo, puku, impala, hippo on land and the highlight – a large male lion. The walkers spotted the lion at about 100m, he was lying in the grass in the shade of a Winterthorn tree. The wind changed and he caught the scent of the group, stood up and let out a loud growl before walking away in the opposite direction. The guests returned to camp full of adrenaline – big smiles all round.

It’s Monday 9th, and Fried Eggs!

As you know we like to eat out in the bush as much as possible at Robin Pope Safaris – bush suppers are limited to the week full moon however bush breakfasts are not and are great fun. Last Thursday morning Noodles, the caterer at Nsefu, set off with her Land Cruiser packed up with chairs, tables, picnic hampers full of lovely food and of course plenty of Pimms. As she drove along towards the Kasikzi lagoon, the tail gate of the vehicle somehow fell open and out rolled about 20 potatoes, a couple of pots and pans, the ice bucket and a gingham table cloth! It wasn’t until Noodles reached her picnic site and began to cook the meal that she realised some vital ingredients were missing – The first guests rolled in with Dom and gave reports of having seen a rather unusual “potato bush” i.e. a small bush with parboiled sliced potatoes strewn around it’s base! They had also picked up the pots and pans etc so the breakfast continued as usual and Noodles managed to break the Olympic egg frying record with a total of 17!

It seems that the hyena and her pups have moved on from their den near Tena Tena. This is not unusual behaviour as it increases the chances of the pups’ surviving.

The Katete pride of lion have killed a young elephant just opposite Nkwali Camp. The ellie has been looking weak for some time and was finally taken a few days ago. The large male lion sings across the river every morning and night – such a wonderful African sound. They have almost finished the carcass now and the vultures are circling above camp – swooping down now and again to drink from the river.

It’s Monday 16th and Jane is on leave

Jane is on leave in Durban with her folks and Matthew and Sara still on leave after a nightmare journey to Tongabezi. They left 10 days ago – on Friday lunch time in their own vehicle. They were towed into Lusaka (8 hours normally) on the 4th day. Determined to get to Livingstone they continued on the Tuesday and we heard they did arrive. However, we are expecting them back today and no word from them! Ouch! I suspect the journey back will be another horror. Not the way to spend your weeks leave. And a reminder – when you break down in Africa there are no easy and fast solutions! It can take days to sort out.

The elephants around Tena Tena at the moment are quite sensational. The area is simply full of them. It is a dry year and so the remaining water holes are a great attraction. Tena Tena has water just along the back of camp and the new “open” tents over look this. Tent 5 had three groups, the last being 15 elephants, mud bathing in front of the tent during yesterday’s siesta. In fact most of the other guests joined the party, with drinks, and everyone watched. Quite amazing.

In fact as I write this there is a group of elephants walking past the office, towards Basil and Simon’s house!

Keyala saw a group of wild dogs this week – 5 adults and 4 pups. The pups were moving with the pack so have left the den but are still quite young. We have not seen pups for a long time (years?) here.

Just spoken to Matt at Nsefu – yesterday he saw 3 lion cubs that had just been taken from the lions hiding place – eyes just open and still milky looking. They were staggering around and mewing like kittens do. Mother Lioness then picked them up one by one and put them back under a bush. A moving sight.

It’s Monday 23rd and Aardvarks!

Last night we had the first rains of the season! You could smell the rain about half an hour before it came – a very distinct wonderful musky smell. Here at Nkwali the shower lasted a couple of hours but it seems that further North at Tena Tena and Nsefu they had quite a bit more. I spoke to Shanie on the radio this morning who told me her grass office was like a mud bath! The first rains of the year bring a slight madness to us all for some reason – you feel like stripping off and dancing around in it! Of Course we didn’t! This morning has that wonderful post-rain feeling – fresh air, blue skies and all the birds singing away.

Zebron at Nkwali impressed our visiting travel agents with a fantastic sighting of an Aardvark a couple of nights ago. This was his second of the week which is almost unheard of – it was the same Aardvark so hopefully we will see her most frequently from now. Zebron could tell it was female by white on the tip of her tale – I don’t think I would even recognise an Aardvark if I came across one!

A gigantic African Rock Python skin was found in a tree near Nsefu last week by Dom. The skin has been shed by the snake which Dom estimates to be about 4 metres long! The skin is in the Nsefu bar and is very impressive indeed. Noodles has her eye on it as a potential pair of snake skin trousers!

It’s Monday 30th and Lion Cubs at the Salt Pan

As a result of the rain last weekend , the valley floor is now carpeted in tiny green shoots only just pushing through the earth. It all looks so fresh. We have had no rain since the heavy showers last week however the constant clouds ( I am told they are a combination of Cumulus and Cumulus Nimbus) show signs that more is near by.

Nsefu and Tena Tena have been enjoying incredible gameviewing up at the Salt Pan. For those of you who have not visited the Salt Pan – it is the vast area surrounding a natural hot spring in the North East of the Nsefu Sector.

A pride of 13 lion have been sighted almost daily on the salt pan for the last week. They have tiny cubs with them and are not shy around the vehicles at all so the photography opportunities have been wonderful. In addition to the lion – Serval and Leopard were also seen this week on the salt pan.

In fact it has been quite a “lion” week in all 3 camps – from Nkwali we have been watching 2 females with one little cub padding backwards and forwards across the sandbank in front of camp at sunrise and sundown. It is the most wonderful sight with the lionesses silhouetted against the pale sand and the cub usually distracted and chasing the guineafowl!

For Tena Tena this has been the last week of the season while Nsefu remains open and busy for another week. Of course everyone is very excited at moving on but there is always a sadness as the season draws to a close. We have been through quite a lot together this year and the overall team is exceptionally close. It will be sad to see everyone disappear for a few months.

Most of the guests staying at Nsefu opted to stay and relax in camp yesterday morning. As we sat with cups of tea looking out over the river from the rondaavels , round the corner on the other side of the river appeared a herd of 35 wildebeest. They galloped along the beach towards Nsefu, kicking up the white sand and chasing their tails (as only wildebeest do!) until they came opposite camp and stopped to drink from the river. It really was spectacular to see them. The Cookson’s Wildebeest which we have in the Valley are a wonderful soft pale blue colour with a black mane and look so so different from any other species.

Jo will now be back in the UK with her family and I am due to fly over next Saturday for a spot of marketing which, of course, includes the annual World Travel Market – so this will be my last It’s Monday for a while. However I will ask Sara and Jeffers to keep you in touch with what is going on at Robin Pope Safaris.

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