It’s Monday 9th May 2011 and all systems go

It has been a while since I have written and I can tell you with 100% certainty that life has not been quiet here in the Luangwa Valley. Where to start I wonder? Well Claire our caterer from mobiles arrived last week and spent 3 frantic days in Luangwa getting up to speed and packed up before leaving again for Liuwa Plains. Bernard and the rest of the team left early on Sunday morning for Lusaka – Claire got the lucky draw and flew to Lusaka but we couldn’t let her miss out on all the fun, so she got to enjoy the luxuries of a bus ride with Jason and the rest of the team on Monday morning up to Mongu. From there they picked up the bare essentials and headed in to camp to start getting everything ready for when the first guests arrive. No news from them yet, so am going with the concept of no news is good news. Robin will be joining them there in a few days to cast his beady eye over all that has been done and get the final details in place. I certainly look forward to hearing their news and will keep you posted with it over the coming weeks.


Here in the Valley we have started the all too familiar and nail biting task of camp opening. But before we start on that I feel that it is important to share a small tale with you all – especially the ladies! Always be wary when your partner asks you to get out of the car to do something, as he doesn’t want to do it himself!!! Rob and I were driving out of camp and happened upon some litter by the side of the road so dutifully I hopped out to pick it up and throw it in the back and as I did so I heard a frantic whisper from the front (as frantic as a whisper can be that is) when I looked up I was alarmed to see that with my sudden keenness to keep the Valley clean I had neglected to see the 3 lions relaxing in the shade no more than 20 meters up the road!!! Well needless to say that the lions and myself got somewhat of a shock and I somehow levitated back into the car as they jumped up and dashed in a different direction! Right now I am sure that as my mother reads she is having a small heart attack – but I can assure you I think the lions got more of a fright than I did.

Feet firmly back on terra firma, let’s get on with catching up on the news.

Luke headed up to Tena Tena on Monday to start building camp, which opens on the 20th, so we were a little later than usual this year but the roads were wet and the rivers too high to cross. Fortunately in the last week everything has come good and managed to get the teams up. I went up on Friday to see everyone and have a look at how things were coming along and have to say that there is something really rather comical about driving behind the Samil 50 truck on a road that is so overgrown that it is no more than a bicycle track, grass poking out the sides of the truck and guys bouncing around on top of the grass in the back. Certainly a sight that one can only believe happens in Africa. I made it up to Tena far more easily than expected and was the first person to drive across the rivers – Keyala got back to camp after an airport run and knew already that I had made it with no difficulties as rumour had spread through Mfuwe that Mrs Rob had been the first one to drive across the rivers this year!!!


The drive into Tena was littered with game, which was so lovely to see – a large herd of elephants crossing the plain and giraffe looking down at me with their quizzical gaze. Not to mention the impalas going through their annual rut – how is it that such a beautiful animal can make such a ghastly noise!!


Up at Tena, camp is coming along really well – most of the building work is completed and now it is the painting challenge that faces everyone. The animals though seem to be having quite some difficulty in remembering that after 6 months there are people in camp. A band of banded mongooses keeps on coming through making their little chirps and suddenly seeing lots of people, pirouetting around and running straight back out of camp. On Thursday afternoon the carpenters were working on the dinning room deck – hammering and sawing away when nonchalantly a leopard just strolled out of the trees and came to have a look at what was going on, had a sip to drink from the lagoon, got bored with the show and wandered off!! The other very exciting news that I shall tell you about in a very very quiet whisper is that on 2 separate occasions a pack of 22 wild dogs have been seen between Lunga lagoon and Kawaluzi crossing – shhhh… we wouldn’t want to scare them off.


Nsefu, under the usual masterful calmness that Daudi exudes, only got going on with the process of getting the camp open for the season on Sunday as Daudi has spent the last few days with me down at Nkwali choosing paint colours and organising all of his other bits and pieces. I look forward to heading back up to camp next week to see the changes.

So for this week I think that that is all for now. Hope that you all have a great week and lots of fun, and that the Brits reading this have got back to normal after the bank holiday festivities!

Have a great week.




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