It’s Monday and Happy 1st Birthday Kuthengo

I do hope that you are all well and sitting comfortably, ready to grab the new week with the usual gust and excitement. Here in Zambia, well there is a definite chill in the air in the mornings which we are all really enjoying. The crisp air certainly marks the close of the rainy season. The Kawaluzi bridge is in and the teams are up at Nsefu and Tena getting started on building their camps for the new season. I am afraid to say that access is still limited as the road has not yet been put in and Willie (our Nsefu manager) was seen climbing out of the car a couple of afternoons ago grasping the base of his back and doing some fabulous stretches before he was able to wander over to the office. Having seen that I have opted to wait a little while before heading up there as not sure my back could take the bumps!

This however is not what I am writing to you all about as this week it’s all about celebrating Kuthengo Camps’ 1st ‘birthday’! It seems like just yesterday that our newest camp opened its doors to guests, and what a fabulous year it has had!

Guests have been treated to some special memories and sightings and the camp has really got off to a wonderful start. The views across the Shire River from your safari tent is wonderful not to mention the vast expanse of skies which offer some incredible star gazing in the evenings. There is no wander that when the famous hunter and explorer Henry Faulkner was sent to search for David Livingstone, and travelled along the Shire river, commented on the beauty of the area and abundance of wildlife there. Liwonde National Park is a rare example of untouched natural beauty and wilderness and we couldn’t resist making the most of this and Kuthengo (the translation means the wild) is in a perfect location to enjoy all that this area has to offer, including the most magnificent sunrises and sunsets along the river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The game viewing has blossomed with large herds of elephants being seen along the banks of the Shire river as well as the introduction of cheetah into the National Park making this the only place in Malawi to have these wonderful predators. Frequent visitors to camp include sable, waterbuck and the surrounding area is littered with the varying plains game, not to mention the occasional hyena that can be heard whooping during the night and the hippos that munch the grass around the tents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back through the photos it is hard to believe that just over a year ago Kuthengo was nothing but a building site just take a look at some of the before and after photos which help show just how much has happened in our little corner of paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since opening its doors last year, the camp has continued to evolve and upgrade with the addition of a glorious plunge pool to help guests cool down in the hotter months of the year as well as our new hand crafted boat which takes guests out on some breath taking river safaris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether it’s sitting on your private deck enjoying the view or being out and about in the park taking in the wildlife, a visit to Kuthengo is definitely a treat and after a year of sharing this wonderful place with our guests we look forward to many more years in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it for this week another fab week behind us and lets look forward to what this week has in store for us. Between now and then I hope that you all have a fabulous time with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

 

 

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It’s Monday and a family affair at John’s Camp!

I hope that you are all splendidly well and have had a lovely weekend. This week we are heading across to Zimbabwe to hear from Sarah and Milo and the rest of the John’s Camp team.

With the start of the new season literally around the corner, the team behind John’s Camp are at it again! The rainy season in Zimbabwe is typically from December to March/April, during which the camp is closed due to the wet conditions making camp inaccessible. The bush also becomes very dense so getting around the Mana Pools National Park and spotting game is no easy feat! That being said, the end of the green season is a beautiful time of year – still sunny and warm with a slight coolness in the evenings.

At the end of every season, the entire camp is taken down, packed away and the site returns to its natural state. This means that the months leading up to the new season are filled with sourcing of supplies, maintenance; and of course, getting into Mana to start the process of setting up an entire self-sufficient camp from scratch. As with ever year, the latter was a family affair including John, Milo, Dan and Max – the youngest member of the family being 3 years old.

After putting up a basic camp consisting of dome dents and kitchen area under a shady spot, the team quickly got to work planning, clearing and setting up the water supply.

The bush was not as dense as typically experienced during green season, as the rains have been unusually low this year. This will make for good game viewing this season. The team had some curious visitors during their trip, including an old Dagga Boy (lone bachelor buffalo) and a male lion!

It wasn’t all work and no play, as there is always time for a little fishing! Family time was spent along the river enjoying the tranquility of the surrounding African bush, returning to camp for dinner and a bucket bath. We think Max had the best deal!

Thanks to Sarah & Milo for sharing this news. We are so excited about the new season ahead at Johns Camp and look forward to hearing much more news from the team over the next few months. Over here in the Luangwa, I am not going to delve into too much of what has been happening but shall just finish off with a Gin Sundowners that Matt organized for his Luangwa House guests. Just before the drinks were poured, a pack of wild dogs decided to visit. I mean does it get much better than a gin and tonic, Luangwa sunset and a pack of wild dogs…?

On that note, I am going to bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you all have a fabulous week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter; and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

 

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Its Monday and time for some incredible photos

I do hope that you are all well; and have had a wonderful Easter Weekend, with plenty of family time and lots of chocolate. Here in the Luangwa, the Easter bunny came out in full force and hopped across most of our tables, dropping Easter eggs wherever he went. It was a race to gobble them up before the heat melted them, but don’t worry, we managed just fine!

Moving away from the Easter bunny, this week we are hearing from Daniela and Matthias Anger; regular guests of ours, who have recently been to visit and spent just over a week with us at Nkwali. During their stay they had some incredible sightings and have been very kind to share these beautiful photos with us so for this week I am going to let the photos do most of the talking, as really, they do not need words to detract from them.

Wow thank you so very much Daniela, what a beautiful selection of images!

On another note we have a new arrival…

Bertie was driving in to Nkwali last week and in the distance caught a glimpse of a brand-new leopard cub that was making a run for it from mum; but was soon scooped up and swiftly returned to the safety of the bush. Let’s hope that we get to see more of this little family unit as the youngster grows.

So, for this week I think that is all that I need to report on. Between now and next Monday I hope that you all have a fabulous week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

 

 

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Its Monday and what was missing last week has appeared this week

I do hope that you are well and have had a fabulous weekend with lots of smiles and laughter; and are now sitting comfortably ready to read this week’s news from the Luangwa. So what have we been up to? All sorts of shenanigans to be honest with you, but let’s start with letting you all know that Nsefu has now closed after an incredible Green Season – reopening at the end of May. Catherine and the team all came out on Sunday having shut the Nsefu doors for a short stint, before we can get up there by road in 6-8 weeks. We will keep you posted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the game viewing front, it would appear the giraffes and the lions have been reading our It’s Monday… After my comment last week about them being somewhat elusive, well this week they have been in the spotlight at both Nkwali and Luangwa River Camp. Chris was first to have a lovely sighting of giraffes who were just happily lazing on the main road, watching what else was going on and not particularly fussed by the approaching vehicle with guests; who although thoroughly enjoyed the sighting needed to get past. Eventually the giraffes got the message and moved on, as Chris advised his guests that there was no pushing them off the road – the animals have the right of way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Nkwali we had a day of giraffes just popping up everywhere, it was brilliant! One of those wonderful situations whereby the drive stopped to look at a couple of giraffes and then all of a sudden another, then another and before long there was a complete panorama of giraffe heads peeking over bushes. We have also had some lovely sighting of giraffes on the property behind camp as a stream of male giraffes had discovered a female in oestrous and so were pursuing her at a rather leisurely pace, but it gave the guests some great opportunities to witness the behavioural aspect of the process. The Luangwa House guests have been enjoying watching the giraffes from the comfort and cool of the pool in front of the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lions have also been showing off this week too but have mostly been showing off their new arrivals. Yes, there are lion cubs! We are always enormous fans of the new, small and fluffy arrivals… who wouldn’t be? We have had sightings from both Nkwali and Luangwa River Camp of different cubs, so our guests have been spoilt rotten. Chris was out with his guests from Luangwa River Camp and on the first night they spotted 5 adult lions and 2 sub adults who were eyeing some impalas, but the lions were sadly unsuccessful (lucky impalas!). The following morning they found two females with four tiny little cubs. The cubs were scampering around giving mum and aunt quite a difficult time wanting to play then wanting some milk, it was absolute chaos and the ladies certainly had their work cut out for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Cousins is back leading a group of colleagues. When I popped over for tea on Saturday to ask how things were going; I was gleefully informed by one of the members of the group that they had seen a zebra, just one lone zebra all morning. At which point more berating occurred and the truth finally came out that they had also seen lions with cubs. However, I am sure that Simon will fill us in with a more detailed report of his latest trip once he has returned home and I am certain he will have slightly more to report on than one zebra.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not to forget the other predators, we have had an incredible weekend of sightings with Kanga seeing 3 separate leopards on a morning drive as well as a pack of wild dogs finishing up the last of their breakfast in the form of an impala.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also have had countless elephants with tiny calves enjoying the shade under mums’ belly, before once again tackling the tall grass and enormous holes in the uneven ground from the rain and adult elephants churning up the mud.

Well I think that we can safely say that it has been a very busy week in the wild and the animals have been on excellent behaviour which is always rather helpful!
Before I sign off for the week, I am thrilled to announce that we have reached our 100th episode of our weekly Safari Diaries! This week is a particularly charming episode featuring Ground Hornbills. Click here to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH0jA9n1zLo&list=PLpTq0zDyV9mLuAXZ_ln2SDQubG4s7DnwS&index=100 
So before too much more chat from me, I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a fabulous week with lots of smiles and laughter. Don’t forget to look after one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Its Monday and news from Norway

I do hope that you are all well and have had a fabulous weekend, and geared up for the week ahead. Here in the Luangwa, we have had some extraordinarily high waters which has been pretty spectacular for boating.

Enough of the Luangwa as let’s face it, I am sure you can all see by the title of my It’s Monday today, we are not going to be having stories from the Luangwa but instead we are heading to significantly cooler climes with some Norwegian news!

After months of planning lots of applications, letters and all the rest of the formalities that go along with obtaining a visa we finally got the go ahead. Matt our Luangwa House host and his family offered to organise for Simon our Luangwa House chef to go and spend a month with them in Norway. What an incredible experience for him! Having never been on a plane before, never having even been on an escalator, I sat down and in huge marker pen wrote down a step by step instruction on how to get on the plane in Lusaka. Then the thought of Simon tackling Dubai dawned on me… Thankfully Matt organised for him to be escorted through the airport and put on the next plane and 21 hours of travelling later he arrived in Norway. The challenge wasn’t over as he had 2 hours stuck at immigration due to one letter being incorrect however he was finally let through and Matt was there to welcome him with extra layers and a familiar face. Fortunately it was a warm day in Norway with temperatures of -5C. Looking exhausted and mesmerised, his first thought was how on earth it was possible for people to live in such a place. Driving towards Matt’s home town of Trysil, Simon was totally overwhelmed but also dazed by the journey. After a quick dinner then off to bed.

The next few weeks were filled with all sorts of activities the first one on the list was getting used to the usual temperatures of -15C and -20C. Then also after a large dump of snow, having to get to work shovelling the snow out of the driveway to be able to get to the local school where Simon was doing a cooking class for some of the kids. Afternoon strolls with the dogs became a regular outing although by the looks of things, Simon was being taken for a walk by the dog! And new and exciting ingredients like moose were experimented with.

Some close family friends of Matt’s who are passionate about cooking came over to meet Simon, where they had long conversations with him about his life in Zambia and very kindly brought him some wonderful chefs’ knives as well as chefs’ jackets.

Simon visited the arcade for the first time where he and Matt played several games and also did a few rounds of bowling. For a first-time bowler he did amazing and managed to beat Matt, something which I am sure he will enjoy reminding Matt of when they are all back next week. Other totally alien activities included sledding and skiing – Simon was strapped into downhill skis fully geared up and off he went, at first tackling some of the gentler slopes. However Matt reckons by the end of his stay they will be going up onto some of the higher slopes.

From all of this Simon is surely going to be dinning out on the experience for some time to come. Staggered at first by how people could live somewhere so cold, he soon grew used to it and has really enjoyed the fresh crisp air. The other absolute novelty was the hot tub and sitting outside in warm water whilst the exterior temperatures are well below freezing! Whilst he is missing his family, he is having the most extraordinary time and enjoying the cooking and activities but so far, his favourite has been the skiing.

I just hope that he comes back as it certainly sounds like he is having a phenomenal time and I fear that when he does come back it is going to be quite a change getting used to the warm weather of Zambia again.

Right, that was definitely something a little bit different for you all this week and I will crack on next week with more African based stories. This one was just far too good to pass up on as it is an extremely generous thing for Matt and his family to have been able to offer Simon and quite a contrast to ‘off to Africa for the first time’. So, without any further rambling from me, I shall wish you all a very fond farewell, have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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It’s Monday 11th February and we finally put a face to the call…

I do hope that you are all well, sitting comfortably and ready and raring for the week ahead. In the Luangwa it’s been a little bit soggy and the water is at its highest point so far, this season, which is absolutely magical. It’s also however a slight cause of concern and Daudi was sent out with a ruler to measure the distance between the water and the bank. The markers are in now, so we are fully in the know with every step up or down that the water levels make.

Enough about the Luangwa River, this week we are heading over to Kuthengo where we are hearing from Jason and Steegan.

“Hello everyone, welcome back to the lush Kuthengo Camp where the birds are always chirping and the staff are always smiling!

We hope that you have had a wonderful start to the New Year and have already begun your plans to visit Malawi once again.

The atmosphere around camp is beginning to look and feel really romantic with Valentines Day around the corner. Sunsets have been spectacular to witness with a full sky of golden reds and yellows. So, you can imagine the sundowner drinks after a game drive are a highlight for many around this time of year!

Most evenings while our guests are sitting around the fire enjoying a drink and chatting about their days’ safari will be interrupted by a whooping noise. Many seasoned guests will know straight away that it is a hyena, while others have never heard that sound at all.

The call that has been studied the most in the field is the “whoop”: a very loud and musical call that often starts with a very low tone which is then modulated up and down in pitch. The whoop is a distance communication call that the hyenas use to announce their presence when they are out of visual contact. Did you know that each Hyena has a destinct whoop that other hyenas can identify?

We would often wake up the next morning and find hyena spoor around camp, although a little unnerving, it is still pretty awesome to know that we have them close to camp…

One late afternoon while out on a drive, Jason witnessed something that no other guest here at Kuthengo has ever witnessed. He saw a lone male Hyena taking a nap on the side of the road!

This must be the face to the call that we have been hearing so often. We have decided to call him Hazen and hope that he sticks around so that future guests can get a glimpse of this amazing creature!

Among other news, along with our new swimming pool, we have finally got our new wooden boat … there are still a few alterations that need to be done but the good news is that it is here and finally sailing the Shire River at Kuthengo Camp!

It can comfortably seat 8 people with their own “window” seat as well as a large spot for lounging in the front. She has officially been named Elise after Ton & Margaux’s youngest daughter.

As a new season approaches, we are looking forward to welcoming all the guests coming to us in Liwonde National Park. It is goodbye for now, but see you soon!

Jason and Steegan Smith – Managers at Kuthengo Camp.

Thanks so very much Jason and Steegan everything sounds like it is going wonderfully over at Kuthengo. After such lovely news my job is done, and I don’t need to say anything further except to wish you a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter; and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

 

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Nsefu turns 20!

 

Nsefu Camp, Zambia’s oldest camp – originally built in 1951 – turns 20 this year under the Robin Pope Safaris’ banner. Set on a stunning wide bend of the Luangwa River in the game rich Nsefu Sector, Nsefu enjoys a truly remote setting which it shares with sister camp Tena Tena.

Looking back in time – where it all begun and how far we have come:

 

1950 First Nsefu Camp, a temporary camp, opened north of the present site by the northern Rhodesian Game Department. The camp had been used for department officials when on duty. Turning the camp into a tourist camp came as the initiative of chief Nsefu and in turn all the profits from the camp went to him. The department assisted with the development of the scheme giving advise, providing construction and maintenance of access and gameviewing roads, the training of Native Authority Game Guards, camp reservations and with publicity.

1951 Nsefu Camp – moved to the present site as a temporary camp.

1954 Nsefu Camp – upgraded to a 12 bedded permanent camp.

1965 Nsefu Camp – taken over by the new independent government, under the Zambian National Tourist Board.

1966 Nsefu Reserve declared a Game Reserve, thus legalizing its status.

1971 The National Parks and Wildlife Act of 1968 comes into effect thus forming the South Luangwa National Park. This included the Nsefu Sector. Nsefu Camp continued to be run by various government departments.

1979 Two chalets burnt down, and the camp was closed. Zambia Safaris the largest hunting company in Southern Africa at the time took over the camp.

1981 Robin Pope, on a profit-sharing basis reopened the camp for Zambia Safaris. Robin ran the camp for five years during which he developed his reputation. In 1982 he opened Tena Tena as a ‘fly camp’ for three-day walking safaris from Nsefu.

1984 At the end of the ’84 season, Zambia Safaris folded, and the company was taken over by Eco Safaris.

1985 Robin left Nsefu Camp and opened Tena Tena as a 12 bedded camp under his own company – Robin Pope Safaris. Between 1985 and 1997 Nsefu Camp was run by Wilderness Trails. After declining occupancy levels, the camp did not open for the 1997 season.

1998 Robin Pope Safaris takes over the Nsefu Camp lease and starts renovations.

1999 July – Nsefu Camp opens as a Robin Pope Safaris camp.

2004 Luangwa Bush Camp, then called Nsefu Fly Camp, started operating between Nsefu Camp and Tena Tena.

2009 River Journeys: launched to now operate Nsefu for a few weeks between Jan and Mar.

Nsefu Camp is a historical property and in fact a listed property. Due to this there can be very little structural changes that can be made to the camp but innovation over the years has helped make it remain ‘current’:

* Wide windows and doors.
* Shady verandas on each chalet.
* Soft furnishings.
* Most recently ‘Evening Breeze cooling system’ – excellent eco-friendly air-conditioning/cooling system for the bed.

Highlights of the camp:
Location – true remote wilderness of Nsefu Sector, only shared with sister camp Tena Tena.

The Hide – perfectly positioned by a game rich lagoon, offering an option to stay in camp instead of going out on an activity. Perhaps even enjoy the sightings here instead of an afternoon snooze…

Lounge area – views over the Luangwa and a game rich lagoon which often offers excellent sightings for our guests. We have almost daily views of elephants crossing the river once the river levels drop.
Stork colony – this is an annual phenomenon with the peak breeding season for the yellow billed storks. Hundreds of these birds congregate on a small cluster of huge ebony trees where they breed and raise their young.  There are so many birds that the trees turn white from the excrement. Crocodiles and marabu storks are usually seen waiting patiently under the trees for the inevitable nestling casualties. The storks usually start to congregate in Feb/March and the last fledglings leave the colony in late April early May.

River Journeys – Nsefu opens for a few weeks Jan-Mar to explore the Luangwa during the Emerald Season while the Luangwa River is flowing high. Walking remains on during this period, coupled with boating safaris; which makes for incredible contrast to dry season experiences.

To celebrate the big 2-0, we have put together a special package in honour of Nsefu as well as Luangwa Bush Camping which turns 15 years: Nsefu@20.

Contact us today for more information.

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Good news for the painted wolves of the Luangwa Valley!

Recent wild dog conservation success in the Luangwa Valley has it estimated to now have the largest population of wild dogs in the whole of Zambia. Despite being one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores, wild dogs (also known as the painted wolf) in and around the South Luangwa National Park have enjoyed several years of increasing numbers, and there are now estimated to be approximately 350 adults and yearlings living in the Luangwa Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is largely due to the collaborative efforts of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP), and Conservation South Luangwa (CSL). Successfully increasing the wild dog population in the Luangwa has required joint conservation endeavours to reduce the impacts of snaring, which has had devastating impacts on wild dogs in the past.

As a result of intense monitoring of approximately 150 to 180 dogs by ground-based field crews, aerial tracking and satellite-GPS collar technology, teams from DNPW, ZCP and CSL have been able to detect and treat snared dogs. The data provided by collared dogs is also used in anti-poaching patrols, which target snare removals in high snaring risk areas for dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this population increase is encouraging news, the wild dogs still face an uncertain future, particularly outside the areas in the Luangwa where they are not intensively protected. “Conservation successes are hard to achieve, and we cannot relax, as they can quickly be undone if we are not vigilant,” said ZCP Ecologist Thandiwe Mweetwa. “Nevertheless, we should celebrate this conservation success for Zambia and the region’s wild dogs.”

Watch the painted wolves in action here: Pick a bone with a wild dog!

With multiple safari camps in the South Luangwa National Park, Robin Pope Safaris actively supports the wonderful conservation efforts of the ZCP through a mandatory Conservation Fee levied on every bed night through their South Luangwa camps and also by hosting the ZCP team at a base camp at Nkwali Camp.

The Robin Pope Safaris guides also play a part in assisting the ZCP teams not only providing the ZCP information when an injured animal is spotted but also help with the man-power when needed.

During Robin Pope Safaris’ Carnivore Week in November, guests are given the opportunity to learn about and view carnivores as well as gain some exclusive insights into the ZCP under the guidance of project manager, Dr Matt Becker and his team. During this week activities will include tracking, learning about ecological survey techniques in the field including lion identification and prey surveys and attending lectures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be part of something! We have some limited availability on this years Carnivore Week safari. Contact us today for more information!

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It’s Monday 14th January and New Years greetings from Pumulani!

I do hope that you are all well and have had a fabulous weekend and sitting comfortably for this week’s news from us. Roz and the Pumulani team share a roundup of their year as they get ready for their annual shutdown.

‘Greetings all from the shores of Lake Malawi! The management, guests and staff have said farewell to 2018 in true Pumulani style and welcomed in 2019. The last month of 2018 has brought the down pours of rain turning our beautiful land around the lake into a carpet of luminous green. The staff who farm have turned their land and planted, with promise of bumper crops this year. Travelling to the lake you will see rows and rows of maize and cassava (nutty flavoured root vegetable) growing and being carefully tendered to. Cheers to a wonderful year of growth!

Christmas at Pumulani was traditionally festive, the celebrations were held on Christmas Eve (fortunately as we had a very wet Christmas day!), with guests enjoying the delights of the Chef’s food. The local choir joined us in entertaining the guests with Christmas Carols in Chichewa. After an absolutely delicious meal, we ended the evening chatting around the fire under a star sparkled sky; with our awesome guests indulging in stories about life on the lake and further afield.

Father Christmas (aka Godfrey) handed out gifts from under our locally made, roof high Baobab Christmas Tree. Our youngest guest Isabella, sparkled in her Christmas dress and was in awe that “Father Christmas” had come all the way to Pumulani!

We welcomed in 2019 around the fire with Garth sabering a bottle of bubbly at midnight for our guests, with cheers and well wishes all around; celebrating the Emerald Season in Malawi and a prosperous New Year for all!

It has been a busy six months since our last newsletter and our guests have been enjoying the numerous activities that Pumulani has to offer. Fish Eagle feeding has become very popular, especially among the enthusiastic photographers, with amazing footage of the majestic fish eagle.

Our dam on the property which is the home to cichlids, kampango (cat fish), chambo and ncheni is full with the help of the good rains and the guests are enjoying “catch and release” sitting on the bank under the trees or fishing off the walkway. Garth and the beach staff are always available to assist first timers to land at least one of these species. The competition is stiff and much fun was had by all.

Another activity is our sunset cruise on our locally made dhow (wooden sail boat), this is the perfect way to end a day sailing into the sunset with a drink in hand. Each sunset is different and never disappoints.

It has been a great year hosting guests and we look forward to inviting our new guests to stay when we reopen in March, to Pumulani – The brightest star on the lake!
Garth, Roz and the Pumulani Team.’

Thanks so much Roz for all the news; sounds like it has been a fab year for you guys.

Here in the Luangwa, well the rustles of preparation can be heard as we start to get ready to open Luangwa River Camp and Nsefu for the River Journeys. Rob looked at me with absolute horror when I unveiled the pile of food and housekeeping supplies which needed to get onto the boat to wend their merry way up to the camps. He got a similar look from me when I realized the amount of supplies which the workshop also had to send up! So I think that we can safely assume that the river is going to be rather busy with our boats beetling up and down over the next few weeks as we get all the required staff and supplies into camp.

It is always super exciting to venture into the Nsefu Sector at this time of the year when it has been transformed into a garden of Eden; and where the roads have almost all been washed away and there is not another soul up there. Hopefully this year I will venture out on the boat along with my camera and shall get snapping. For now though, I feel certain that it is time to bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.

 

 

 

 

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Solo travel in Malawi (Elle Magazine – Quebec)

Read all about Catherine’s solo adventures in Malawi:

Mon voyage en solo au Malawi

 

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Meet Boswell – the Zimbabwe elephant turned YouTube star (The Telegraph)

Deep in the heart of Mana Pools National Park, in the shade of a mighty winter thorn tree, an old bull elephant is flapping his ears to keep himself cool. It’s August in the Zambezi Valley and at last the seedpods, an irresistible delicacy for elephants, are ready to eat…

Read more here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/zimbabwe/articles/boswell-the-elephant-mana-pools-zambezi-fund/

The Telegraph

25 October 2018

 

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10 of the Most Tranquil Outdoor Showers in the World (Architectural Digest)

Situated on the southern end of Lake Malawi, Pumulani is nestled in the verdant hills among the trees and rugged outcrops. Dutch architect G. Hooft Graafland made sure the villas and showers were built in harmony with the natural landscape. The outdoor shower is placed inside a static wooden boat for an ethereal aquatic experience…

Read more about it here: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/most-tranquil-outdoor-showers-world

Architectural Digest

16 November 2018

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It’s Monday 7th January and some HUGE wild dog news!

How are you and how has the first week of 2019 treated you? I hope it has been full of promise of the year ahead. Before I go into overly enthusiastic raptures over the New Year, let me pull myself back to the task in hand and update you all on news from the valley.

Let’s start the year off with some really exciting news which has been given to us by Dr. Matt Becker and his team at the Zambia Carnivore Programme – The South Luangwa National Park is now officially home to Zambia’s largest African wild dog population

In an exciting win for conservation, the Luangwa Valley is now estimated to have the largest population of wild dogs in the whole of Zambia. Despite being one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores, wild dogs in and around the South Luangwa National Park have enjoyed several years of increasing numbers, and there are now estimated to be approximately 350 adults and yearlings living in the Luangwa Valley.

This wildlife conservation success is in large part due to the collaborative efforts of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP), and Conservation South Luangwa (CSL). Successfully increasing the wild dog population in the Luangwa has required collaborative conservation efforts to reduce the impacts of snaring, which has had devastating impacts on wild dogs in the past. As a result of intense monitoring of approximately 150-180 dogs, teams from DNPW, ZCP and CSL have been able to detect and treat snared dogs, ensuring the survival of many wild dog packs within the Luangwa Valley.

While this population increase is encouraging news, the wild dogs still face an uncertain future, particularly outside the areas in the Luangwa where they are not intensively protected. “Conservation successes are hard to achieve and we cannot relax, as they can quickly be undone if we are not vigilant,” said ZCP Ecologist Thandiwe Mweetwa. “Nevertheless we should celebrate this conservation success for Zambia and the region’s wild dogs.”

A huge thanks to all the people involved in this project it has proved a real success and we are so excited with the news that the Luangwa wild dog population is thriving thank you so much Matt for sharing this information with us.

So naturally after this news I should tell you about all the wild dog sightings that we have been having! Our guests at Nkwali have been treated with glimpses of them bounding out of thick bushes chasing some poor terrified looking antelope, to seeing them sprawled across the road enjoying the feeling of the cool ground against their tummies as well as witnessing the last remains of a kill being ravenously shared between the pack. It really has been a busy start to the year on the dog front.

It is not only the dogs that have proved successful so far this year a glimpse of a lioness with brand new cubs, eyes still shut was enjoyed by the guests and let us be honest about it really this is an undeniably amazing sighting as we rarely get to see lions out and about when they are this small. So all in all it’s been a great start to the year and let us hope that it continues in the same way.

For now though I am going to disappear off and leave you all to the rest of your week and wish you all a fabulous one with lots of smiles and laughter…don’t forget to look after each other!

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It’s Monday 31st December and high waters and even higher spirits.

How are you? I hope you had the most wonderful Christmas with friends and family and that you are all preparing to say a fond farewell to 2018 and an excited hello to 2019! Christmas in the Valley is always full of excitement and a certain amount of flexibility. We have had some incredible rain over the last few weeks so game drives have been leaving and coming back at all sorts of times of the days but despite that the guests have been seeing some wonderful game – which we will come back to.

Over Christmas we were chock-a-block so all the trees went up, Santa was guarding the Nkwali lagoon and the baboons circled the Nkwali bar waiting for an opportunity to attack the Christmas tree. The Nkwali tree was attacked however not by the baboons but by a rather large storm that literally swept it of its feet!

Our traditional Christmas carols was in jeopardy due to the rain and Kiki was tasked with putting together an impromptu RPS choir however the skies cleared and it was all on. For those of you who don’t know the carols is an age-old valley tradition where all the lodges get together with all their guests for some delicious snacks, plenty of bubbles and some good old Christmas carol singing.

Christmas day was all fun and games with turkeys running between ovens and the chefs looking at me sideways as I whipped out a box of parsnips – what on earth are these? They asked. Well needless to say as soon as they were cooked there were a few handed out for tasting and they were definitely approved of. The gin cured salmon starter however was only tasted by a couple of the more daring chefs as they were a little sceptical about a pink coloured fish that hadn’t been – well – boiled for several hours! However, they were even more perplexed when I took out a box of edible flowers for decoration.

Food asides the game viewing has been fantastic and the river is running so high that we have been able to get out in the boat as well. It has to be said that I don’t remember ever seeing the river this high at Christmas.

The Luangwa House guests have been seeing lots and lots of game including 4 separate sightings of leopard but there was one sighting that stuck out from the crowd. Driving along the road they found a leopard up in a tree while it was raining and was completely drenched, feet hanging down either side of the tree then suddenly perked up as some impala crossed the road and it jumped off the branch in an attempt to attack but the impalas were a little too alert so the attempt was thwarted. So slightly embarrassed it just sat still and cowered under a little shade trying to get away from the rain.

On a walk Bertie saw two bull elephants so they watched them quietly for a while then they carried on with their walk. The route that they were doing was a loop and on their way back they heard lots of splashing and crashing and the same two elephants came charging through a lagoon and the bushes closely followed by some impalas, waterbucks and pukus. Don’t panic the antelope were not scaring the elephant it was a knock-on effect of a pack of wild dogs scaring everybody into making a run for it! The guests only saw a fleeting glimpse of the dogs as they definitely had more on their mind than being photographed!

The Robin’s House guests also saw some incredible game but the stand out was a pair of mating lions which the youngest of the girls proclaimed as being “terribly romantic” however I fear may have caused a series of questions for mum and dad!

Other than that well plenty of giraffes absolutely everywhere and all the usual birds for this time of the year. There is plenty to be seen that is for sure. However, for today I am going sneak off as we have some preparations to be getting on with for this evenings celebrations and wish you all a wonderful evening and all the very best for the New Year. Have a wonderful first week of 2019 with plenty of smiles and laughter and dong forget to look after one another.

 

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It’s Monday 24th December and it’s almost Christmas time at Kuthengo…

Happy Christmas Eve – I hope that everyone has been well behaved and that Santa is absolutely on his way tonight! Here in the Luangwa it’s all systems go with getting the snacks cooked and the champagne chilled ready for our annual Christmas Carols. Then for tomorrow the turkeys are all lined up ready to be popped in the oven and all sorts of other treats and goodies are being planned. This week we are going to hear from Steegan over at Kuthengo as they get ready for their first official Christmas since opening in April this year.

Steegan – over to you:

“Although Christmas is stereotypically portrayed as a snowy white scene, at Kuthengo Camp our white Christmas has been swapped for a beautifully green one. After the first rains, everything has turned from dry and brown to an emerald green! So, welcome to our green Christmas…Isn’t it the most wonderful time of the year? Our build up to Christmas is going a little like this…

Arriving back from Blantyre with Christmas décor in hand, I thought I was going to be the only one excited to transform camp into a Christmas wonderland. To my surprise, I was wrong. Many of the staff members were curious to see what I had purchased and to listen to the vision I had. This included Dickson, our famous chef, who wasn’t the biggest help as he only stands about 4 foot 5 inches tall! I needed guys who were tall enough to reach the high spots around the tents, but none the less he wanted to help out.

Stanley, our assistant manager, helped place the greenery around the top of the tent in the main area as well as place the bows in their perfectly selected spots. Dickson then got into character and began to play around with the greenery we were busy with, this sparked a giggle among all that were gathered around. The Christmas spirit was here already!

It was time to choose a branch for our Tree to decorate, so we sent Dickson and Lucas, the Sous chef, out on the hunt for this perfectly shaped branch to call our bush Christmas tree. While the two of them were out on the hunt, I had recruited a few more curious guys standing around to assemble and put the “Merry Christmas” sign up in the dining room. Amon, our head waiter, is dubbed “the only giraffe in Liwonde” as he stands over 6 foot tall. He came in handy when we had to decorate the top of the tree and place the fairy lights around the tents.

The atmosphere in camp has become even more cheerful since we put the decorations and even sparked a creative idea from Dickson to make a ginger bread house to go along with the festive decorations.

This task has proven to be a difficult one as it’s rather wet and humid around camp, but we still think we have done a brilliant job! As it’s our first Christmas we hope that this is one of many traditions for the years to come. Dickson has even written down the recipe for the ginger bread house for everyone to use and start your own Christmas tradition!

Gingerbread house recipe by chef Dickson

We are also so grateful for our new addition to Kuthengo… the swimming pool!

Many guests have said that the pool is an absolute life saver with the heat that comes with the rain…and with quite a view I may add. This 6x4m pool is approximately 1.6m deep with the same spectacular view as the tents, the beautiful lush open flood plain where many hippo, waterbuck, kudu, impala, warthog, elephant and even sable graze and come to drink at the waters’ edge. The deck is still a work in progress but it is crystal clear and open to all who fancy a dip.

A last little bit of excitement to share, although the rains have come early this year, it never stopped Ole and Jean Peterson going out on a full day drive. Jean is a Malawian born Lady who met and married a Danish man in the 70’s. They make an effort to come to Malawi from Denmark once every two years and said they are happy to have found a place like Kuthengo to visit.

Opting for a full day drive with a slight chance of rain was one of the best decisions the Petersons made. They were keen to see anything that they could although they knew that they might not see much…

After a beautifully set lunch in the bush and drinks they started to make their way back to the camp. Driving along the road they spotted in the distance… what they thought maybe a lion, but to their surprise, it was a cheetah! They then discovered that not only one cheetah but three of them were laying under the shade of a rather large tree. This was incredible spotting from their guide Patrick.

This has been the first time that guests have seen the cheetah this far north! Usually they are found close to Chinguni Hill, which is 2 hours south of camp. We hope the cheetah family will decide to settle here! I mean who wouldn’t want to?

Ole and Jean spent a good few minutes watching them as they lay lethargically under the shade, when suddenly one of the three popped up and started walking away from the group. They followed it as far as they could to see if they could possibly witness a kill, but unfortunately it went further into the thicket.

This was definitely a perfect way to end the day and now it seems the possibility of seeing cheetah closer to camp is greater than before!

Among other news, The Klossners from Germany also witnessed a rarity at Kuthengo Camp… not only did they see the two male lions that were recently released from Majete but also one of the females with the males that was released at a different time. We are eagerly waiting to see if cubs will be a product of this exciting union.

On that high note, we wish you a Merry little Christmas from Jason, Steegan and all the staff here at Kuthengo Camp!”

Thanks so much Steegan and hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and obviously to everyone reading this, Happy Christmas and may your day be filled with festive cheer.

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Gingerbread House for Kuthengo’s first Christmas

It’s Kuthengo’s first Chirstmas and the atmosphere is absolutely buzzing which has sparked a creative idea from Chef Dickson to make a ginger bread house to go along with the festive decorations. This task has proven to be a difficult one as it’s rather wet and humid around camp, but we still think we have done a brilliant job!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As it’s our first Christmas we hope that this is one of many traditions for the years to come. Dickson has even written down the recipe for the ginger bread house for everyone to use and start your own Christmas tradition!

Gingerbread

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
For assemblage and decoration:
Melted white chocolate or Royal Icing, recipe follows
Jelly tots, Smarties, as desired

Royal Icing:
1 pound (3-3/4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
1 to 2 large egg whites, or substitute 4 teaspoons packaged egg whites and 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon almond extract, vanilla or lemon juice

Mix all of the ingredients together using an electric hand mixer, until the icing is smooth and thin enough to be pressed through a pastry bag with a writing tip. Add more lemon juice, if necessary.

Directions
1. Gingerbread House: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm.
2. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C or gas 4.
3. Cut out the following paper patterns for the gingerbread house template: Two rectangles, 3 by 5 inches, to make the front and back of the house. Two rectangles, 3 by 5 1/2 inches for the roof. Two pieces for the ends of the house, 3 inches wide at the base, 3 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 5 1/2 inches from the bottom. Four smaller rectangles, 1 1/2 by 1 inch for the roof and sides of the entryway. And one piece, 2 inches wide at the base, 1 1/2 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 2 1/2 inches from the bottom for the front of the entryway.
4. Roll gingerbread dough out to edges on a large, rimless cookie sheet. Place paper patterns onto the rolled out dough. With a sharp, straight edged knife, cut around each of the pieces, but leave pieces in place.
5. Bake at 190 C for about 15 minutes until dough feels firm.
6. Place patterns on top of the gingerbread again and trim shapes, cutting edges with a straight-edged sharp knife. Leave to cool on baking sheet.
7. Place royal icing into pastry bag with a writing tip and press out to decorate individual parts of house, piping on decorations, windows, door, etc., as desired. Let dry until hardened.
8. ‘Glue’ sides, front and back of house together at corners using royal icing. Place an object against the pieces to prop up until icing is dry (it only takes a few minutes).
9. ‘Glue’ the two roof pieces to the pitched roofline of the house. Then, similarly, glue the sides and roof of the entryway together with icing. Attach the entryway to the front of the house.
10. Continue decorating the house, gluing on Jelly tots and smarties, as desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy holidays from chef Dickson and the rest of the Kuthengo Team!

 

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It’s Monday 17th December and the green light

I do hope that you are well. Gosh – I don’t know how many years I have been writing It’s Monday but i assure you that it’s been quite a few and believe it or not today I totally forgot as we are all systems go and I am personally in major panic mode with Christmas preparations. But despite all of that I do hope that you have had a wonderful weekend.

So what news from the Luangwa? Nkwali has been empty for the last week which has been perfect as we are full on with Christmas preparations and this has meant that after a long and busy dry season we have managed to empty all the rooms, give everything a re-paint and a major spring clean so we are completely ready for our influx of guests over the next few days. While I have been busy with the guest rooms, Kiki has been busy getting the new river crossings sorted as the river is slowly creeping up and we have had to move harbour location. The only hiccup was that a month ago the lions killed a hippo in our green season harbour so we have had to slightly move it as we really didn’t feel that a hippo skeleton was an easy obstacle for our guests whilst carrying cameras, binoculars and all sorts of other paraphernalia! That situation has now been resolved and it is now all systems go on getting the guest rooms up and running.

The rains have also arrived, as we had a couple of huge rainstorms and the bush has literally burst into life with everything transforming itself into the most vibrant green you can imagine. After months of dry dusty beige, we are dazzled by the colour and with the rain all of the small dust particles get washed out of the sky and the light becomes simply incredible. The golden sun bathes the bush in this magical light – I realize it sounds like I am going slightly crazy, but I promise you it is incredibly beautiful. It’s the perfect Christmas green so mother-nature has done a large part of our Christmas decorating for us. Anyways before I get carried away with my ramblings let’s move on to guests shall we!

Robin’s House has been busy with guests and they have had some wonderful sightings however most of the predators seem to be sleeping. On the list of wildlife spotted sleeping was:

• A pack of 20 wild dogs with incredibly full tummies so obviously digesting a massive breakfast.
• A male and female lion just taking it easy in the shade.
• A leopard pretty much doing the same as the lion.

We have also had a few sightings of a lovely female leopard just behind Nkwali who has been busy stalking pukus’ so the poor creatures are living on high alert at the moment.

Let us also not forget about the smaller things that pop up this time of the year. In order to help us with our Christmas decorations we have the bright red velvet mites roaming the planes (ok allow me a little poetic licence – basically these small mites are dotted all around, if you take the time to stop and look on the ground!). Then we also have the fireball lilies which suddenly burst into flower from one day to the next.

The foam nest frogs are busy making their foam nests hoping and praying that the puddle they make their nest over doesn’t suddenly dry up! Everywhere you look there are dung beetles in all different shapes and sizes busy making the most of things and frantically rolling their dung balls. It’s a magical time of the year where everything just seems to relax a little after the long harsh dry season and all sorts of wonderful plants and creatures pop out of the woodwork and make their annual appearance.

So there we have it for this week I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and wish you all a wonderful week ahead with lots of Christmas cheer and spirit! We will chat to you again next week on Christmas Eve, with more updates from the camps.

 

 

 

 

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It’s Monday 10th December and the giraffe.

I do hope that you have had a fabulous weekend with plenty of joviality. So what news from the Luangwa? Well, to be honest with you today’s It’s Monday is going to take a slightly different stance, as we are having a giraffe update. What picture comes into your mind when you think of Africa? I am sure the obvious image of a large maned male lion but I am also sure that up there at the top is that iconic image of a lone giraffe feeding on a lone acacia in the middle of a vast open plane… It really is one of those classic African images.

A tower of giraffes, a journey of giraffes, so many subspecies with subtle differences. An array of wonderful local names – here in Zambia the local name is Nyama likiti the literal translation being the animal that makes the ground tremble. And across the border in Malawi “Kadyamsonga” meaning a feeder on tree-tops. Then there is the Latin name “Camelopardalis” which suggests that it is a cross between a camel and a leopard.

We need to protect this iconic species and African Parks have been doing just that down in Majete. We are now able to share some news of our exciting new arrivals in Majete Wildlife Reserve. Last month 13 giraffes were successfully introduced into the reserve for the first time. They came all the way from South Africa, spending over three days in the back of a truck and covering 2,500km.

African Parks have worked tirelessly on setting this project up and helping to protect this incredible animal. They also passed on some rather alarming information about giraffes and the survival of the species.

Giraffes are one of the iconic animals of Africa and yet they have been placed on the ‘Red List’ of threatened species and even more worryingly is that several subspecies of giraffes are now critically endangered. The numbers are down by some 30% since the 1980’s with fewer than 100,000 remaining across the continent. Having fallen to the devastating effect of poaching and hunting for their skin and their meat; as well as in some areas simply being killed just for their tails as part of a traditional brides’ dowry.

These 13 giraffes are now however happily making Majete their new home and are living there peacefully, along with a host of other animals. We sincerely hope that they thrive in their new home.

The translocation effort was undertaken with Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife, with additional support provided by the Sundaram Family. These wonderful animals have already been making an appearance, much to the delight of guests staying at Mkulumadzi!

All giraffes both in Majete and here in the South Luangwa must certainly be enjoying the wonderful flush of new green leaves that are popping out left right and centre with the rains that we have been getting. They do however look slightly entertaining as they become even taller from the thick soil sticking to their hooves as they wander around with their muddy socks on!

So without taking away the spotlight from the giraffe I am going to prevent myself from peeling off and nattering away about all sorts of other things. I hope that you all have a fabulous week, with lots of smiles and laughter; and don’t forget to look after each other.

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It’s Monday 3rd December and a leap into December.

I do hope that you are all well and have had a fabulous weekend and welcomed December with the gusto and excitement that it deserves. The last month of the year! Where has the time gone? The season has also flown by and Nkwali, Robin’s House & Luangwa Safari House remain open, as Tena Tena, Nsefu and Luangwa River Camp are all closed as the rains have arrived. The skies are heavy with clouds and dry bush has transformed itself into a surreal parkland with new sprigs of grass sprouting up all over the place. The elephants have decided that Nkwali is not the only place to hang out, which means it is now significantly easier for us to get around. Humphrey the hippo is having a wonderful time in his lagoon which has significantly more water in it.

On a festive note, this week we are going to get cracking with some early preparations for Christmas. The amarula ice cream will find its self being churned and we will start with some experimenting for the Christmas menu so that we are fully prepared. The crackers are already in and the turkeys have been on order for the last month – there was no way we were going to leave that to chance. And this year will be the first time that we will decorate our house as with Jack I feel it important to celebrate. However, I am not entirely sure how a Christmas tree will survive with him and the cats but let’s wait and see what happens there!

Anyway, let’s move on to the serious business of game viewing… So, what has been happening out in the park? Well the animals are looking decidedly spritelier with the start of the rains. The baby impalas have popped out everywhere – although I must admit I do feel that this year there appear to be fewer. However, they are always an absolute joy to watch. The guests witnessed a puku being born – never ceases to amaze how these fragile little creatures can be born and up and running within a matter of minutes! And the migratory birds have started coming in with sightings of Abdim Storks and White Storks. On Saturday John was out on a drive and they heard an Africa Pitta (formerly known as Angola Pitta) – it’s always the biggest challenge this time of the year for our keen birders to try and spot one of these elusive birds. I am afraid to say that the challenge continues as despite a lot of neck craning and eye straining it remained heard but not seen.

Whilst talking of being elusive this week the leopards have been somewhat absent from the show. However, 2 female lions were spotted having just taken down an elephant calf and were feasting on their reward. Whilst on the subject of animals and prey, also out in the park was a rare and unusual sighting of a spotted bush snake – I want to say pouncing to make it sound more dramatic but obviously there is no pouncing when it comes to snakes, so let’s use our imaginations! Like I was saying, a spotted bush snake was seen grabbing a skink with astonishing speed and taking the poor beast off clasped in its jaws to enjoy its meal in a slightly more secluded spot. Whilst on the subject of bush snakes we had one that really was in a bit of a pickle the other day – it had caught a frog and had the frog in its mouth but was under a door and, well, wanted to go back inside but really couldn’t know there was the added bulk in its mouth. After what felt like an age of indecisiveness it finally decided to leave the comforts of the office and take refuge in a tree.

 

I assure you, it will not be long until I start obsessing over the levels of the Luangwa River. However, for now it remains rather empty and we are still enjoying daily sightings of elephants crossing in front of camp, which is always a splendid treat. The kudus and giraffes are also regularly coming down to drink and we also had lions camped out there for the best part of a week. Never a dull moment.

For now, however, I am going to leave you all to it. As I write this, I hear the dulcet tones of the Heuglins Robin (sorry – white browed robin chat – for those more up to date with the bird names) reminding me that it is time get the day going. So, I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you all have a splendid week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter, and don’t forget to look after one another

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It’s Monday 26th November and the annual predator photographic trip.

I hope you are sitting comfortably and prepared to be wowed by loads of incredible stories and even more amazing photographs from David Rogers and
a group of four photographers who braved the November heat for David’s annual Predator Photo Workshop. The words and pictures from this trip leave little doubt about just how wonderful it was.

In the words of David’s guests:

Maria-Jose Carballo : “Early November is one of my favourite times in South Luangwa.” Weakened herbivores trying to find the last bits of dried grass, buffalo calves getting stuck in the mud and feasting predators all over the place. As the heat builds, the first scattered showers start changing the landscape and the wobbly newborn impala announce the arrival of the new season. Wildlife at its best!”

Wendy Vickery from Swaziland has been to Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa and says she keeps telling family and friends that this was her best trip ever. “I love the bush, and that Mopani forest made my heart feel like bursting.” Wendy really liked the fact that our group was so small and everyone got to know each other very quickly.

Liz Stagg listed highlights which were too plentiful to include all of them, but here are some of her top moments:

“Seeing the confused look on the face of a lioness who had killed two warthog piglets, ‘which one to eat first?’ Hearing the deafening squeals of a fully-grown male warthog, taken down by a pack of lions which included ‘Stumpy’ – a young male with only half a tail. Wendy spotting a leopard asleep in the only tree for miles around on the salt pan. That tree is now referred to as ‘Wendy’s tree’. Seeing the Painted dogs start to chase the impala, the impala fleeing for their lives across the meadow, the giraffes joining in and our vehicle in hot pursuit. Over the noise of the chase David shouted out ‘Liz, get your GoPro running’. The pregnant impala didn’t stand a chance. We watched as the adult dogs let the pups feed and fill their tummies. Watching in silent wonder as a new-born Puku tried to stand. She was tiny and still wet from birth; her Mum warily kept her eyes on us. Bob entertaining us with tales, recounted in the accents of Barbados, with great accuracy.”

Bob Sankey, on his second trip to Luangwa in 12 months, was blown away by the people and the landscapes. An ex Royal Marine and previously a guide in Zimbabwe, he has a large personality and a singing voice to match. None of us will ever forget driving back from Chichele Hills special sundowner with two bottles of bubbly under our belts and Bob singing Mathilda at the top of his voice.

We will let the photographs do the rest of the talking.

Wow thanks so much everyone it was obviously wonderful to have you all with us and we are delighted that we got to spoil you with some incredible sightings and photographic opportunities. Anyone who is interested, David holds photographic workshops with us quite regularly although the spaces are booking up fast – options available for November 2019 and February 2020.

On that note I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

Robin Pope Safaris digital photographic workshop in South Luangwa National Park with David Rogers *** Local Caption *** © David Rogers

 

 

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It’s Monday 19th November and a safari through all the camps.

I do hope that you are fabulously well and sitting down when I tell you this… yet another season has zoomed past!!Tena Tena is now closed and we only have a couple of weeks before the same happens to Nsefu and Luangwa River Camp. I have to say I really honestly have no idea where time has gone since May! Instead of banging on about the fact that time is whistling past, far too quickly at that, we have had some lovely images from David Elbourn. David recently stayed at Nkwali, Tena and Nsefu; and as you will see had some wonderful sightings both in and out of camp.

This year, more than any other year, we have been surrounded by elephants at Nkwali and the fences have borne the brunt of them trying to get from A-B. The team having re-done the fences several times, decided to decorate one of the fences with the addition of an arch. As I am sure you can imagine, it is more work than initially thought as it needs to be popped back on almost every day as the elephants don’t quite fit underneath it and so just knock it off!

Humphrey the hippo has been regularly joined by the same elephants, and to be honest with you, makes very little attempt to socialise.

Aside from exceptional sightings of all predators and plenty of birds, the Nkwali team rustled up a magnificent bush breakfast; and I have to say just looking at what Winnie was cooking up makes me feel hungry!

Through all the camps David was treated to plenty of lion and leopard sightings as well as wild dogs and even the elusive Eland whilst up at Tena Tena.

The birdlife this time of the year is always good, having a lot of our migratory birds around and because there is so little coverage in the trees and bushes. So, we get to have great sightings of everything not only up in the trees but also the larger birds down on the ground wrestling with how best to consume the fish that they have caught!

David, thanks so much for sharing your fab photos with us I am somewhat envious of all that you saw while you were here. I realise that this sounds ridiculous as I live here but we don’t actually go out on safari when we go to the camps – it’s always a quick trip there and back and if we see something it’s a major bonus. So I live vicariously through the sightings of others.

Moving on now to one of my favourite topics – the weather… this time of the year we have the build up to the rains and without exception we get a few tell-tale signs. First one – baby warthogs and this year we seem to be seeing plenty. We have a pair of little ones seen almost daily running around Nkwali with mum and I presume aunty.

Second sign – baby impala, the guides have spotted the odd one or two which means that soon the plains are going to be littered with these wonderfully leggy and wobbly little creatures. Third – the frogs start to sing, which is a sure sign that hopefully soon the earth is going to be blessed with some much-needed moisture. Then lastly let’s not forget our old favourite, the red-chested cuckoo who sings a rather distinctive tune which I can assure you by February has become a little irritating. However when I heard the first one just a few days ago I did smile at what it means. Right, I think that I have probably over-shot with my stories this week so will hopefully leave you not too fed up with my babbling.

I hope that you all have a spectacular week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

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It’s Monday 12 November and a safari through all the camps

I hope that everyone has had a fabulous weekend and is prepared for another action filled week ahead. Here in the Luangwa it seems to be non-stop incredible sightings with all sorts of lion kills as well as lions crossing the river in front of camp after spending the night roaring loudly, making sure everyone knew that they were there, on the way to a macabre style buffet. Plus, lions sitting waiting for buffalos that were stuck in the mud to die whilst the vultures all sat in the trees watching and patiently waiting. However, this week we are not talking about the Luangwa we are heading down the Shire River to spend some time at Kuthengo So, I shall pass you on to Jason & Steegan, the managers down at Kuthengo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“On the last day of what was a fantastic safari in the Liwonde National Park guests were treated to yet another spectacular sighting right in camp! Just goes to show it’s an everyday safari at Kuthengo!

We were heading towards the dining area for brunch on the last morning of the safari with an amazing family, when we stopped in our tracks as someone spotted a harmless spotted bush snake on the floor in the dining area. Not just a bush snake but a bush snake tangled up in a battle of wills against a grey foam nest tree frog!!!

This sent everyone rushing for cameras and phones to capture this rarely seen moment, a spectacle of nature only a few are privileged enough to witness. We were lucky enough to watch the snake swallow the frog by stretching its jaw and body around its prey; a feat that still remains hard to believe. This encounter lasted 20 minutes with everyone in rapture at this amazing spectacle, even the younger members of the group couldn’t bear to take their eyes away for a moment, fearing they would miss something!

What our guide Michael, who was on the scene at the time, believes transpired is that the bush snake on the hunt for just such quarry, had caught the frog. Perhaps due to the frog’s struggle for life with its powerful hind legs, it forced the snake to drop to the floor with the frog in its mouth. Having managed to hold on, it then proceeded to swallow its prey. After the snake had finished swallowing its prey, we then gave it space to make its way back into the bush to find somewhere to lie up and digest

This is what a safari in Liwonde NP is all about, the unexpected, nature and wilderness at its most raw and untouched. Something that is nothing short of a privilege to experience!”

Wow! Seems Michael has been having some interesting encounters, here is more:

“On another beautiful afternoon sitting at Kuthengo in Liwonde National Park having tea, watching over 200 elephants on the western bank, we decided that a walk was the best plan of action for the following morning. My two guests on their honeymoon also agreed.

I proceeded to give them a run-down of what I hoped to achieve for the morning and mentioned things don’t always go according to plan in the bush, as mother nature tends to have her own idea of events. However, it turned out mother nature and I were in complete harmony! After reaching the western bank and running through my safety briefing, I explained we were going to look for bull elephant tracks and see if we could find one to walk up onto and hopefully watch him for a while. We did just that, after an hour of tracking we found ourselves sitting under a bush watching a magnificent bull elephant feeding. Wind in our faces sun at our backs and the bull had no idea we were there, perfect! After about 20 minutes ten more bulls joined the fray, this just increased our already ravenous appetite to stay and observe these charismatic and delightful animals. The first bull who was feeding a little apart from the others then showed us something rarely witnessed by many people, he reached up stood on his hind legs and broke a huge branch off a fever tree which came down with an almighty crack. The rest of the bulls then came on with haste as they knew there was a juicy food source on offer! We sat for over an hour in silence under our little bush and watched the bulls feed and interact with each other. Nature at its finest and a privilege to witness.

When it was time to move, we moved in silence once at a respectable distance. I said we were able to now talk, not that it happened, my guests were speechless and to be honest so was I! We then found a good spot for some tea and coffee and once we had finished and felt replenished, I decided to finish off the mornings adventure with a short boat cruise. This turned out to be one of my many bright ideas (not that there are that many). We ended up finding a herd of over 200 elephants drinking and crossing a small inlet. After some careful maneuvering on the boat as not to disturb them we then sat close by as giant bulls, wise matriarchs, adolescent teenagers and playful youngsters drank, wallowed and threw mud around. At one point one of the big bulls, who’s size and stature was nothing short of awe inspiring then decided to investigate. When he got too close a few stern words helped let him know that he was close enough. After an almighty head toss with dust, mud and water flying everywhere he then turned and ambled after the rest of the group. This whole episode lasted an hour and left us again, speechless!

Click here to watch a short clip of the lovely herd of elephants taken on the boat cruise!

It’s very rare that all a plan comes together in the wilderness but on that occasion that they do it is nothing short of spectacular!”

Thanks, so much Jason, Steegan and Michael what an incredible experience.

On that note really, I am not even going to say anything except bid you all a very fond farewell and have a lovely week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Monday 5th November and a half term trip to the Luangwa for the Cousins Family.

I do hope that you are all well and sitting comfortably. For those of you who still have children at school and are looking at ways to spend half term – take a leaf out of the Cousins’ hand book! Simon and Shanie have just been back out to visit with the girls; as where else would you spend half term. The valley at this time of the year is admittedly a little on the warm side but with that comes some pretty incredible game viewing.

Straight out of school and into the car they set off for the Valley; and were here just in time for a cold beer for the adults and lots of fun and splashing about in the swimming pool for the children.

First morning waking up in the Valley is always filled with incredible excitement and there was absolutely no time to be wasted; a cup of tea and off by 5am as its always best to beat the heat. For the next few days joined by various friends they had some incredible sightings showing off the Luangwa at its best.

Littering the sharp banks of the Luangwa are colonies of Carmine Bee-Eaters who are busy nesting and, well, zipping back and forth catching food for their youngsters. It’s a great time of year as we did have a little early shower and since then we have had heaps of cicadas, moths and other bugs for them to catch and take back to their little mud caves.

Still on the birding front, they had a fabulous sighting of a Giant Eagle Owl flashing its wonderful pink eyelids. And with the lagoons drying out we have seen an increased number of pelicans coming in to reap the rewards of the crowded fish population.

Giraffes – well, there are loads around at the moment and whilst there is no rhyme nor reason or scientific proof that they have a particular mating season (in fact a lot of the females are wandering around with youngsters already and given they have an approximate gestation period of 7 months that would prove me wrong!). But the females seem to be being followed by a trail of male suitors, maybe it’s just something in the air – the anticipation of the rain perhaps. Who knows.

Whilst lions were somewhat scarce, they had some incredible sightings of leopard including a beautiful scene of a mum and cub just chilling in a tree enjoying the breeze and the last moments of day time before beginning the evenings hunting activities. Which really has to be an absolute highlight of anyone’s safari.

So, if that isn’t just quite simply the best way to spend half term, I don’t know what is. Simon, thanks so much for letting us share your photos and sightings with everyone as always hugely appreciated; and hopefully we will see you back in the Valley again soon.

 

Other news… we are being catapulted towards the end of the season and Tena Tena has now closed. The unfathomable speed at which the team is able to pack up the camp still astounds me. Spending a month putting the camp up it can take just 3 days to get everything washed, counted and packed up. It’s like a whirlwind and you don’t want to stand in the way, that is for sure. I think there is an innate panic instilled in the guys worrying about the rain coming and not being able to pack things up properly; but also lets face it, getting home to their families is certainly priority number 1. This year was no exception and after possibly one of our busiest seasons the team certainly deserves a well-earned break.

This leaves us with Nsefu, River Camp, the Houses and Nkwali; so don’t worry there are still plenty of guests with us and plenty of stories still to come your way. So I will graciously bow out for this week and bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a splendid week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.


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It’s Monday 29 October and a treat for all the senses at Johns Camp.

I do hope that you are all extremely well and have had a lovely weekend. Here in the Luangwa well we have had a slight flurry of excitement with some early rain which certainly caught us all somewhat unaware but the skies have cleared up and the temperatures are rising once more and we have even seen our first piglets which is always such a treat. But before I delve too deeply into the goings on in the Luangwa let me stop myself and hand you over to recent guest who stayed at John’s Camp, Deb Primrose.

“Arriving back into camp after an exhilarating day spent amongst the wonders of magical Mana Pools as the last rays of a huge orange sun sets over the Zambezi Valley. Sun tinged and a little dusty, time to head for a hot shower (en suite) and change of attire. Later we gather around and sip on pre-dinner refreshments transfixed by dancing flames in the fire pit. A beautiful dining table is set, alfresco, romantically lit with flickering hurricane lamps and glinting wine glasses. We are soon to be treated to a simply delicious 3 course meal freshly prepared and cooked by the camps accomplished chefs. Happy chat and stories are told. With bellies full we are happy to retire, escorted to the comforts of our tents. Safely inside and enjoying crisp cotton sheets sleep begins to take hold as foreign sounds echo through an inky black night. A high pitched giggle of the hyena, a distant roar of a lion, the shriek of a night jar and the sharp snap of twigs breaking under the enormous pads of a mighty elephant. Wandering what may unfold tomorrow? Who will pass through camp or what shenanigans will take place while we sleep. We were told of the cheeky honey badger who over the last few nights had managed to outwit camp staff by performing skillful manoeuvres as he stole some delicious delights from within the kitchen.
A scheduled wake-up call before sun rise gets us jumping out of bed, welcomed cups of hot tea and coffee and a slice of toast set us up for our early morning adventures while watching a herd of over 100 buffalo in front of the camp!
Breakfast with buffalos

Loaded into vehicles wrapped warmly, as there is still quite a chill in the air, bino’s and cameras at the ready we head out of camp. Full of anticipation and excitement as to what this day will bring.

Rays of a warming sun appear, on the wind an odour of fresh elephant dung indicating we are close – a large herd of elephant little ones in tow, just the cutest, their little trunks dancing curiously seeking new smells tucked in close amongst the jumble of thick column like legs. All are alert but unperturbed by our presence as they continue to forage away happily. Observing these great beauties comfortable in their natural environment is one of life’s most treasured experiences. Amazed by their sheer size, how they achieve such bulk on a diet of just leaves alone. Obvious there is a deep family bond amongst the herd, the big matriarch keeps order, she is the ‘look out’, sensitively alert always. Calm and graceful but unpredictable, when ears start to flap a trunk goes up and steadfast she stands, she warns us that we are close enough.

Moving on… Lion spore almost lost in the dust are expertly spotted by our guide Dave’s trained eye. We come to a halt as the tracks veer from the road, time to follow on foot. Closely behind one another in single file our hearts pounding with anticipation and feeling a little vulnerable we follow quietly. Fascinated at the skills of our guide his ability to read and estimate a time the prints were placed, stopping every now and then to listen or learn about a specie of bird, tree or plant. Unfortunately after a few kilometres and no tell-tale signs that we are getting any closer it is decided we return to the vehicle. Onwards to a favourite pan for a rewarding cuppa and freshly baked muffin. An interesting assortment of water fowl happily chatting go about their business, a hilarious hippo opens his enormous mouth exposing an impressive set of tusk like teeth while contributing to a concert of loud grunting sounds. A troop of baboons entertain, rather human in behaviour, as a young mother reprimands her toddler with a gentle spank.

We travel a winding road through an acacia woodland, shafts of misty morning light illuminate the distinctive black and white stripes of a zebra twosome, grazing beneath, a truly magical sight. Not forgetting the hilarious bald baobab or upside down tree as it is affectionately known. Its robust gnarly trunk and crazy root like branches reach for the sky.

With a sensory over load, so many new sights, sounds and smells our hunger has reached the point of no return. A spectacular buffet brunch of tasty deliciousness catered for every palette is a welcoming sight as we pull into camp. Once again, with our appetites satisfied and the days heat reaching its climax we follow suit of the animal kingdom and head for shade and rest, in the coolness of our tents.

Afternoon tea and cake appointment at three in the mess tent is the call, before heading out once again on another sundowner adventure.

To sleep under canvas in a remote African bush location, one is treated to an experience that enlightens every sense – There is no other place like it on earth.”

Wow! Well if that doesn’t make you want to head to Johns Camp then I don’t know what will. Thanks so much to Deb, this paints the most wonderful picture of a safari even for those of us who live in the bush there are pangs of jealousy. And let’s face it I am not going to be able to compete with this story so I shall gracefully bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a wonderful week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.
Sunset in Mana Pools

 

 

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It’s Monday 22 October and David Rogers family’s maiden visit.

I do hope that you are all extremely well and have had a lovely weekend; and are gearing up to another fun and exciting week ahead. Here in the Luangwa, after years of visiting RPS and leading his photographic safaris with us, David Rogers finally came out on an actual holiday with his family. It was so fab to be able to look after them as a family and after so many years to finally meet them. So this week whilst David is going to get us started he is handing over to his wife Jenni who is going to tell us all about their safari.

“It was a dream come true to finally take my family to see my second home. While I love visiting Robin Pope Safaris camps with my photographic clients, it was wonderful seeing it through the eyes of my family. They just loved the experience, the landscape and the lodges. We visited several other lodges during our visit to Luangwa but for the boys Robin’s House was the absolute highlight. But before I hand you over to Jenni the boys did make a couple of little comments:

“Robin’s House was not like a lodge,” said Liam aged 14. “It was our home.”
“I am never going to feel sorry for you when you go on trips,” said Dane aged 13.

At last our two boys and myself joined David in South Luangwa, Zambia. David has been leading photographic groups to this wild and wondrous place four times a year, and as he leaves home each time, we longingly ask him about his ‘second home’ in the valley. His stories of the places and the people have us all curious and longing. And now we are here, hosted by Robin Pope Safaris, staying in Robin’s House, Nkwali. Met by Rob, Emily and their team, we throw open the doors of this small private bush home, to be welcomed by a wide deck hovering over a vast sweep of the river. Sausage trees throw shade over this cool and welcoming home. Hippos grunt and tussle for space in a large pod below us. There is a welcome like nothing else – wilderness and people draw you in. Our host Matt briefs us and Emmanuel serves us cold drinks and shows us to our large airy bedrooms. As our boys leap into the swimming pool a family of over fifty elephants cross the river in front of us.

With my own focus on selling private villas for families, this and Luangwa Safari House were of great interest to me, as these exclusive-use houses work so well for small groups and families. Robin’s House sleeps only 5, so it’s a perfect family home, and our boys instantly befriended the team and our guide Obi, this meant that leaving became very difficult! The mornings are a favourite – hot toast cooked over the fire in the cool dawn, before setting out to take a short boat trip across the river – navigating between hippos and the occasional croc to the far side where our vehicle waits for us. Then a drive with Obi along the flood plains in search of evidence of the night’s high dramas. A pile of porcupine quills tells of a treacherous battle. A dead hippo floating in the river fed on by some 40 crocodiles. A baby leopard stashed in the wide branches of a Tamarind Tree, with her mother watching over the remains of her kill in the branches. The game drive leads us along the river bank, into a wide-open area peppered by green Sausage trees adorned with trusses of red flowers and huge sausage shaped fruit. The heat builds and then there by the river we see a breakfast set up for us – chairs overlooking the river, and Nickson working over a fire to produce a feast! A scout watches the bull elephant who wanders over to us, then ambles off in search of the Wild Mango fruits. We marvel at all this set up for us, along with cold champagne and wet face cloths for the dust!

Back in our cool private space above the river, we siesta and I take the chance to sketch some of the bush flowers and the heat of the day bristles and vibrates. It is October and its hot. Only warthogs scuffle nearby and banded mongoose dash about.

Emerging for scones and whipped cream, we join Obi and Matt in search of a group of lions and their cubs. Finding them in the open near Luangwa Safari House, we watch the 6 cubs playing alongside three supine females all idly batting away the energetic and hungry babies. Later we drive over to Luangwa Safari House to see this amazing villa and as we are on the deck, one female chases and kills a warthog just 100 metres from where we stand! Later that evening we drive across a shallow part of the river to see a second pride of lions, only to find ourselves bogged down in thick cotton soil. The boys leap off, enjoying the adventure, watching the pride of lions on the sand bank just above us. Obi gets the boys safely in the back, pours our gin and tonic and together with some game scouts (who walk across the river to help us) – we dig ourselves free and give these men a lift back across the river in the fading light, watching the shapes of the elephants move away from the river.

Driving out early the next morning we spot two tiny cubs alone out in the open. We watch them play and climb trees, and Obi assures us the mothers will come back for them. My mother instincts cry out to save them from lurking hyenas and leopards, but we drive on in the valley and in to the heat. Nature must do as it must. I drink up the river, the massive figs, Tamarind, Wild Mango, Ebony and Leadwood trees – but the Sausage Trees stay with me, the amazing way that this tree serves to feed the animals with fruit and flower at a time when the land is dry and the grass is scarce.

Nature at its best.”

Thanks so much Jenni for the glorious words and beautiful sketch and of course David for the photographs to perfectly illustrate Jenni’s’ story. The only problem is this is really going to set a tough example of an its Monday to follow next week. So I shall not linger on as Jenni has more than successfully described the most wonderful few days of safari. Instead I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have the most wonderful week ahead full of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

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It’s Monday 15th October and an exciting morning with some lions.

I do hope that you are well and sitting comfortably ready and raring for the week ahead. So what news from the Luangwa Valley? Well let me tell you, this week we are throwing out the usual tactics of getting stories from the camps and instead I am being terribly selfish and telling you all about a sighting that Rob and I had. Every Wednesday morning, we head to Luangwa River Camp and usually try to get going early, especially this time of the year as the temperatures are rising. So, John arrives at our house full of stories about the morning ride into work and announces that the staff run had seen a big pride of lions. Well I was not going to miss out on this opportunity so dusted off my camera; which I can assure you has not been used much at all lately. I grabbed Rob from the office, packed up the car and off we went; and sure enough there were the lions – what a treat to see so many and also actually playing around, suckling and interacting with each other.

Dr Matt Becker and the Zambian Carnivore Programme along with the DNPW team were obviously also there making notes and identifications etc. Then Matt asked if it was ok if they put a collar on one of the females. Now I realise that for quite a few of you the immediate reaction is negative, especially when trying to take photos of the animals. However, as we found out from the research team these lions were part of the group that we called Big Pride which had split off in 2016. They have been spending increasing amounts of time in the GMA (Game Management Area – the non-park side of the river) and the father of the cubs is likely to be the male lions from what they call the Mvu Coalition and not Ginger and Garlic – hence the penchant for increased time on our side of the river. This is obviously very important information as for the safety of the cubs they will likely to be wanting to spend increasing amount of time away from their original pride.

For a little more history (which is fascinating) this is the exact same way that the Chinzombo Pride formed many years ago. Given that in 2016 the resident Chichele Pride female was killed by Ginger and Garlic, this has opened the area for a new pride which these guys have now filled. The researchers decided to collar one of the females for several reasons; one of them being so that they can keep a track of this splinter group but now a new pride. Also with this monitoring of the animals comes safety, as with them being outside of the park we are obviously aware and careful with Human/Wildlife conflicts so we want to keep everyone nice and safe.

The team all convened and after careful consideration of the circumstances, they darted one of the females (obviously not mum but one of the aunts). Once she was safely sedated and the remaining pride had moved on, we could come in and observe proceedings. I have to be honest with you it was fascinating. The team measured the animal, took her temperature, took a small tissue sample for DNA purposes and then fitted the collar. Talking to Matt about how they fit the collar and determine where to put the collar and how to size it taking into the fact that this was a fully grown female but obviously strains and flexes when hunting and killing prey was so interesting and certainly put a new slant and perspective on this. We left the team to it as we didn’t want to crowd and impact the situation. Later that day the team were coming back to camp, having spent the entire day with the pride ensuring that there were no problems. In fact the pride killed and ate a warthog and behaved as if nothing had happened which is fantastic. Success all round. So hopefully we will be able to keep abreast of how the pride is doing which is important but also exciting.

As a further point of note which I found incredibly interesting and is that the lions from the work done by the researchers is Zambia’s longest running lion conservation project. They utilize collars to give locations of prides and provide Conservation South Luangwa with the information so that they can patrol in the areas that the lions are spending their time, which in turn minimizes the risk of snaring. Throughout the history of the project some 39 lions have had snares removed and to date those 39 lions have given birth to 148 cubs – this is just incredible and shows the amazing work that the teams on the ground here are doing.

Well as you probably guessed I could go on and on for hours about this, but really should leave you all to your day. Hope that you have a fab day and week ahead with all the smiles and laughter possible and also don’t forget to look after each other.

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It’s Monday 8th October and lion vs wild dog!

I do hope that you are sitting comfortably after a lovely weekend and ready for the thrills of the week ahead. Let’s get you off to a good start and get you going with a rather exciting account from Mobiles (our Mobile Walking Safaris). Incidentally before I pass you over to Michael for this week’s news, may I just give the sad news that this will be the last news from Mobiles for the year, as the season has already come to an end. It has whistled past and has been an incredible season up on the Mupamadzi River with sightings like we have never had before. Anyway, enough from me; let’s hear first-hand from Michael…

“As is the usual case with Mobile Walking Safaris, it’s always action packed. And I mean action packed.

This safari, which Kanga was leading, got off to a flying start with a pair of mating lions at the sundowner spot on the first day! The second evening saw us sipping on G&T watching a tower of 7 Giraffe as the sun dipped below the horizon. Not forgetting the countless wonderful sightings that the guests had had during the day.

 

Then on the third evening, things really got exciting! I have to go back a little bit to give you some perspective before the story can really begin. After getting everyone’s sundowner orders before they leave camp on their afternoon walk, myself and Shadreck pack the Tank and head out to a spot that Kanga has decided upon. On this particular evening it was ‘Georgina’s’ spot (not sure why it’s called that, maybe someone can clarify… perhaps a story for another day!), one of my favourites! While driving there Shadreck and I see the group walking to our right-hand side, as we reach the sundowner spot. The team is quite far off taking a nice big loop along the river which gives us plenty of time to unpack. Once done we take a moment to enjoy the setting which is when Shadreck says “there’s an animal on the sand-bank,”. I grab my binoculars and discover that it is a pride of 6 lions – 3 lionesses, 2 subadults and a juvenile relaxing on the sandbank. I still have the walking team in site and start waving to get their attention to come over and see the lions, however to my surprise I see they are indeed watching something else… our resident pack of 16 wild dog!

I relax in my attempts to get their attention as I can now see the dogs moving parallel to where Shadreck and I are waiting, assuming the team will follow. However, if anyone knows dogs they are notoriously difficult to follow especially when they move off at pace! Which they proceeded to do, so the team with the lions still out of site then walked to the carmine colony to get some photos of these beautiful birds in the golden light of a Luangwa sunset.

What makes the next part of the story interesting is the dogs were up wind of the lions, meaning as soon as they got to a certain point the lions would pick up their scent and ultimately begin stalking, which they did.

The dogs had now settled down around 30/40 meters from the bank of the river. The lionesses then began their stalk through the river and up onto the bank, by this point I couldn’t see the team so instead sat down and enjoyed the moment with Shadreck . As the two lionesses stalked up the bank, the pack of dogs seemed very relaxed, this had the potential to end badly for one of the dogs! And while I am all for nature taking its course, my heart was in my throat, the anticipation was just killing me! Finally, after about 5 minutes 1 lioness began her charge, full bore at the pack which immediately scattered and began barking and alarming in protest! This certainly got the group’s attention and as I looked left I noticed them moving with all urgency to investigate the disturbance. They got themselves into position and managed to watch the drama unfold as the dogs continued to bark and dart in and out at the two lionesses, with the lionesses making a charge every now and then! This tentative confrontation went on for around 20/30 minutes until the two female lions gave up and went back across the river to their offspring who sat with enviable patience for their mothers’ return.

Once the wild dog vs lion excitement had abated, the group came over to join Shadreck and I. Everyone sat down to a well earned G&T and stunning African sunset; whilst enthusiastically discussing the events which had just been witnessed.”

Wow! Thanks Michael, what an incredible story to finish the Mobile season off with.

Well, from my side the team has returned to Mfuwe and have been reunited with their families. All the Mobiles kit has been packed into the container down here at Nkwali ready to go for next year. I can’t quite believe that it is already October, the season has gone incredibly quickly and the sightings just keep on pouring in. However, I think that we have had enough excitement for this week so I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you all have a fabulous week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Monday 1st October and some familiar faces!

I do hope that you are all well and have had a wonderful weekend. Everything here has been going great guns, and scarily we are on the final countdown for the Mobile Walking Safaris this year; but you will hear from them soon don’t worry. The stories from the camps keep on piling in and I for one feel a certain pang of jealousy as I sit behind the desk writing my Its Monday, telling you of the fab sightings that we have been having. Suddenly, as if to make me feel better, an elephant with her calf literally pitch up at my office window and all is forgiven. But enough of that, let’s get on with those stories…

For those of us out here, obviously everyone who comes to visit is special but when we have familiar faces coming back year after year it is always lovely to see them; and we recently had Bill and Chris North come out. This time they were joined by their daughter Kate as her son happens to be our host at Luangwa River Camp – yes rather confusing I know. The only negative to come out of the visit was when Joe said to me, before they arrived, “gosh you have almost known them as long as I have”. There was a sideways glance of disapproval from me, however ultimately, I couldn’t deny it.

Anyway enough about discussing age and times gone by, let’s talk about their trip with us. We organized for Joe to take time off with them whilst they were all staying at Luangwa Safari House, and then whilst they were at Luangwa Safari House he was busy working under the watchful eye of Daudi. It was as always just lovely seeing them as they do rather feel like family really and we had a chance to introduce them to Jack, who gleefully wandered around Luangwa House then very excitedly spotted a giraffe outside the Copper Room. He came running in with his incomprehensible babble pointing frantically and we simply ignored him the first half dozen times, then eventually stood up and had a wonderful sighting of a giraffe not more than 10 meters away.

Aside from the herd upon herd of elephant that visited the house during siesta time and in fact all times of the day, they really had some magnificent sightings. Giraffes seemed to pop up all over the place and they reckon that they must have seen every single lion that was possible to see. The highlight on the lion front however had to be watching 5 lion cubs playing – how can anyone not enjoy that. The lions seemed to just be out to show off with cubs and sub-adults, as well as Garlic and Ginger and other prides of lion on the Luangwa River Camp side of the park. Now don’t start thinking that it is a guaranteed sighting, as we really do have periods where we just can’t even catch a glimpse of a lion however they were seriously out to impress the North clan.

Let us also not forget about the other special moments of time just spent relaxing in the house, sundowners on the banks of the Luangwa and surprise bush breakfasts which is an undeniable treat for all. Obviously, everyone was sad to part ways but hopefully there will be many more trips still to come. And, please let me take this opportunity to thank Kate for sharing her lovely photos with us all.

On that note I wonder if I should continue with my ramblings or leave you to your week ahead… I think I will choose the latter. So, I shall bid you all a very fond farewell from all of us here in the Luangwa. Hope that you have a fabulous week ahead, with lots of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

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It’s Monday 17th September and it’s busy!

So where to start? First with hello, and I hope that you are well and have had a fabulous weekend. Here in the Luangwa it’s been a feast for all interests, from birds to predators to all other mammals; and the game viewing hasn’t been restricted to just the game drives either.

In the camps there is now a constant flow of animals. Nkwali has decided that it is competing with Nsefu with the steady stream of elephants crossing the river in front of the bar. And whilst Nkwali may not be quite up there with the numbers yet, they have added giraffes into the mix! There is also a constant flow of banded mongoose through Nkwali who keep everyone aware of their presence with the gentle little chirping as they wander through foraging for whatever food they can find.

Hearing about all of this, Luangwa Safari House wanted to make sure that they were not forgotten with both hyena and leopard at breakfast on Friday; but I think that that’s just showing off! They have also had some lovely sightings of elephants from the hide which is a thrilling and novel angle to watch these magnificent animals.

This week Humphrey the Nkwali hippo found a friend in the form of a terrapin, who decided to spend the afternoon sitting on his back – I am so sorry but I didn’t manage to get a photo of this but take my word for it, the two of them got on like a house on fire! Oh, and also let’s not forget Boris the Spotted Bush Snake who we have mentioned a couple of times he has been seen visiting his stuffed toy friends in the Nkwali shop again.

Heading out on game drive… well the bird life has been spectacular and this week I don’t think Kiki has even ventured into the park as he has had some serious birding groups and not really made it as far as the pontoon! The carmine bee-eaters are firmly back in the valley and have started nesting, looking as always absolutely splendid with the rainbow of colours catching the sun as they bask on the river banks. There was also an incredible sighting of crowned cranes and the guest counted 105 at the salt pans behind Nkwali. This must be a record-breaking sighting it was quite impressive. The noise and dancing from the cranes was quite spectacular as they were all just getting together and catching up. The guests were in fact rendered speechless as was Kiki which is saying something.

Moving up in size, well Ginger and Garlic seem to have permanently moved to the Nkwali side of the park which has given us some pretty regular and great sightings. Over the weekend they decided that actually they would take a stroll down the bank opposite camp calling with all their might, which is a pretty impressive sound to go to sleep to.

Other than that and the steady stream of leopard sightings, the smaller game are also being seen in abundance. We also know that we are fast approaching October as the impalas are starting to get a little round around the middle as most of the adult females are pregnant. Isn’t it just incredible how they time the rut and gestation to coincide with the beginning of the rains – you have to marvel at mother-nature.

Down at Stanley Safari Lodge well they also been incredibly busy with the guests enjoying the escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and sitting up on the hill with the spectacular view down onto the Falls.

The water levels have dropped which means that all the water-based activities such as the rafting, swimming in the Devils Pools and trips to Livingstone Island are all in full swing and the source of much entertainment for our guests. For those who have taken a more cautious approach, they have been enjoying the wonderful access that we are afforded into Zimbabwe due to not only the easy immigration process but also the old bridge that straddles the gorge and where the slightly more adventurous amongst us decide to bungee jump off. From crossing the bridge, it is an easy stroll into Victoria Falls town which is steeped in history. The Victoria Falls Hotel serves a spectacular high tea bringing memories of a bygone era flooding back and then there is Victoria Falls Station where kings and queens along with famous actors have arrived over the years.

So there you have it, a little detour down to Livingstone at the end for you as well as all the wonderful wildlife sightings we have been having in the Valley. I should probably stop before I take you over to Malawi and news from there… let’s leave that for another week. So for this week it is time for me to bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you have a wonderful week ahead, stay safe smile lots and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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We’re dreaming of a GREEN Christmas…

We’re dreaming of a GREEN Christmas…

Counting down to the festive season… is your getaway booked already? Make it a green one this year and venture out to Southern Africa.

What to expect:
• A period of revitalization… plenty of new growth, dramatic skies, vibrant colours (the most outstanding being the emerald green! – with the purples, pinks and yellows of new flowers sprouting through).
• Influx of migratory birds with spirals of migrating storks, cuckoos and other “specials” like the African pitta.
• Butterflies escape their cocoons and flitter about everywhere.
• Great game viewing experiences.
• Fewer people around, making for more exclusive feel of all areas.

Where to stay:
Zambia
Robin’s House & Luangwa Safari House: home away from home experiences in the Luangwa. Perfect for families or groups of friends looking to spend some much needed quality time together.
Nkwali: Christmas safari with friends or make new friends here. Whether a solo traveller, couple or family this will be a perfect place to safari and relax.
Stanley Safari Lodge: a mix of relaxation and adrenaline all in one destination. A great start or end to your safari experience is the Victoria Falls, Livingstone!

Malawi
Pumulani, Lake Malawi: a beach holiday with a difference. Exclusive lodge offering ‘a place of rest’ as is the meaning ‘Pumulani’ in local language.
Mkulumadzi: perfect hideaway for that much needed R&R, Majete Wildlife Reserve. Perfectly serene setting offering a feeling of ideal retreat/getaway for the festive season.
Kuthengo Camp: a wonderful place to unwind and enjoy the festive season in Liwonde National Park.

Trip ideas…
Safari & Beach – 8 night combo. * South Luangwa * Lake Malawi *
Family Safari with RPS – 10 night combo. * Livingstone * South Luangwa * Lake Malawi *
RPS Exclusive – 10 night combo. * South Luangwa * Majete * Lake Malawi *
Warm Heart – 8 night combo. * Majete * Liwonde * Lake Malawi *

Normal terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability.

Contact us for further details.

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Es ist Montag 30 Juli 2018 und ein ganz besonderer Aufenthalt im Luangwa Safari House

Ich hoffe, Ihr hattet ein schönes Wochenende und seid gerüstet, um von einem erinnerungswürdigen Erlebnis zu erfahren, das wir vor kurzem im Luangwa Safari House ermöglichen konnten. Zwar ist jeder Ausflug von hier aus in die Wildnis ein besonderes Erlebnis, doch manchmal gelingt es, durch Integration einer kleinen Überraschung den Erlebniswert noch zu steigern, so wie kürzlich bei einer Familie, die uns im Luangwa House besucht hatte. Deborah übernimmt an dieser Stelle von mir, bevor ich Gefahr laufe, die Pointe vorweg zu nehmen.

“Paul und ich besuchten South Luangwa für eine Abschiedsparty mit unseren Freunden und ihren drei Kindern, die nach einem dreijährigen Aufenthalt in Malawi in die Vereinigten Staaten zurückkehren. Sie waren letztes Jahr in Robin Pope’s Luangwa House zu einer Geburtstagsfeier und hatten uns von ihren wundervollen Erfahrungen dort erzählt. Seither träumten wir davon, selbst einmal den Naturschutz in der Robin-Pope-Konzession zu erleben. Wir waren überwältigt von der Vielzahl an Wildtieren in dem Gebiet, in dem es keine Zäune gibt, was die erfolgreichen Bemühungen zur Bekämpfung der Wilderei und die Partnerschaft mit den lokalen Gemeinden für den Wildschutz deutlich unterstreicht. Als wir zum Luangwa House fuhren, kreuzte unser Weg einige Meter entfernt mit dem von Elefanten und eine Giraffe begrüßte uns auf dem Parkplatzgelände. Es ist unglaublich zu sehen, wie vertraut die Tiere mit dem Geschehen am Luangwa Safari House sind.

An unserem zweiten Tag wurde die morgendliche Safari von einem Rudel Hyänen und von 12 Löwen gekrönt, die einen Büffel fraßen. Als wir uns auf unsere Sundowner-Fahrt vorbereiteten, dachte ich mir: “Wir haben alles gesehen, was wir uns vorstellen können. Es gibt eigentlich keine Möglichkeit mehr, dieses Erlebnis noch zu steigern.” Doch weit gefehlt! Die Sonne näherte sich dem Horizont, als wir einen Hügel hinauffuhren und der Wagen plötzlich stoppte. Vor uns standen zwei Campingstühle, ein Tisch mit Snacks und einer Flasche Champagner darauf, die ganze Szene umrahmt von blauen Windlichtern. Im Nachhinein hätte ich vielleicht ahnen können, dass der Champagner auf einen besonderen Anlass hinweisen würde, doch im Augenblick des Geschehens hatte ich keine Vorstellung von dem, was kommen würde. (Paul und ich sind seit dreieinhalb Jahren zusammen. Wir haben schon früher mal über die Ehe gesprochen, aber ohne konkrete Vorstellung davon, wann dies auf unserer Agenda stehen würde.) Eines der Kinder in unserer Gruppe versuchte, vom Fahrzeug auszusteigen, wurde aber zum Bleiben gebeten. Ich schaute rüber und sah plötzlich Paul außerhalb des Wagens, der mir bedeutete, ihm zu folgen. Die Szene war unglaublich. Wir beobachteten einen grandiosen afrikanischen Sonnenuntergang, mit Blick ins Tal und die Silhouette des Steilhangs im Hintergrund. Es kam mir vor wie die Szene aus einem romantischen Liebesfilm. Mir wird noch einmal klar, wie unglaublich Paul ist und ich beginne, über unsere gemeinsamen Jahre nachzudenken. Er sieht, dass ich den Tränen nah bin und er fragt mich, woran ich gerade denke. Ich antworte: “Wie glücklich ich bin.” Er nimmt meine Hand, fällt auf ein Knie und fragt, ob ich ihn heiraten würde! Ich weine für die nächsten 15 Minuten und neige meinen Kopf auf und ab, um meine Antwort zu geben — “Ja!” Der South Luangwa Nationalpark trug zu den Feierlichkeiten mit drei weiteren Löwen bei, die wir sahen, bevor wir zu einem köstlichen Abendessen zurückkehrten.

Ich möchte Matt, Sebastian und den Rest des Personals im Luangwa Safari House danken. Sie haben unseren Aufenthalt unvergesslich gemacht. Sie waren nicht nur unglaublich intuitiv, aufmerksam und gastfreundlich, sie halfen auch meinem Verlobten, seinen geheimen Plan zu organisieren.”

Nun, wenn das nicht herzzerreißend ist, dann weiß ich auch nicht. Ich entschuldige mich aufrichtig bei Euch Männern da draußen, und hoffe, dass Eure Partnerin nach dieser Lektüre nicht Eure romantische Ader in Frage stellt!

Paul und Deborah, Herzliche Glückwünsche und vielen Dank, dass Ihr Euer Erlebnis mit uns geteilt habt. Wir hoffen, Euch bald wieder hier im Tal begrüßen zu dürfen, wo Ihr weitere Erinnerungen sammeln könnt.

Alles andere im Tal hat sich in hektischem Hochsaison-Tempo entwickelt, wir hatten viele wunderbare Tierbegegnungen, und einen neuerlichen Besuch von Simon Cousins mit einigen Kunden, die wie immer großartige Wildbeobachtungen hatten, von denen hier einige Fotos berichten.

Ich danke Euch allen und hoffe, dass Ihr eine tolle Woche mit viel Grund zum Lachen habt, und vergesst nicht, aufeinander Acht zu geben.

 

 

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It’s Monday 30th July 2018 and a very special stay at Luangwa Safari House!

I do hope that you are all fabulously well and sitting comfortably ready to read about the latest memory that we have helped create, this time at Luangwa Safari House. Obviously every trip out is special but some of them become even more special when there is a little surprise in store. We had a family out recently to Luangwa House for which this was truly the case. Deborah is now going to graciously take over from me and tell you all what happened and I am not going to ruin the surprise.

“Paul and I visited South Luangwa for a going away party with our friends and their three children, who are returning to the United States after a three-year tour in Malawi. They stayed at Robin Pope’s Luangwa House last year for a birthday celebration and had told us about their wonderful experience there. Entering the Robin Pope concession was like arriving at a conservationist’s dream. We were blown away by the amount of wildlife found in an area unblemished by the presence of fences, which strongly highlights the anti-poaching efforts and community partnership for wildlife preservation. As we were driving up to Luangwa House, we crossed paths with elephants a few metres away from our vehicle and a giraffe greeted us in the car park area. It was incredible to see how comfortable the animals felt coming to the house.

On our second day at Luangwa House, the morning safari was marked by 12 lions eating a buffalo and a pack of hyenas. As we prepared for our sundowner drive, I thought to myself, “We have seen everything we could possibly imagine. There is no way this trip could get better.” Little did I know! The sun was nearing the horizon as we made our way up a hill when suddenly the vehicle stops. There were two foldable canvas camping chairs surrounded by blue hurricane lanterns and a table with snacks and a bottle of champagne. Hindsight, I should have noticed that the champagne would have marked a special occasion, but I had no idea of what was to come. (See, Paul and I have been dating for 3 and a half years. We have talked about marriage before, but with no concrete idea of when it would be on our timeline.) One of the children in our party was trying to hop out of the vehicle, but was asked to stay seated. I looked over and suddenly see Paul out of the vehicle, motioning for me to get out and I hesitated having just seen the child being told to stay seated but eventually made my way out. The scene was incredible. We watched a signature golden African sunset, with a view into the valley and the silhouette of the escarpment in the background. It felt like a scene out of a romance film. I start to get emotional thinking about how incredible Paul is and reflecting on our years together. He sees that I am starting to tear up and he asks me what I’m thinking about. I reply, “How happy I am.” He takes my hand, drops down to one knee, and asks if I would marry him! I proceed to cry for the next 15 minutes and nod my head up and down to give my answer – Yes! South Luangwa joined us in the celebrations by allowing us to spot three more lions before heading home to delicious dinner.

I want to take a moment to thank Matt, Sebastian, and the rest of the staff at the Luangwa Safari House. They made our stay unforgettable. Not only were they amazingly intuitive, attentive and hospitable, they also helped my now-fiancé organise the proposal.”

Well if that doesn’t tug at the heart-strings then I don’t know what will and I sincerely apologise to all men out there reading this and hoping that respective partners are not going to come home and question your romantic streak!

Paul and Deborah congratulations and thank you so very much for sharing your experience with us and let’s hope that we will see you back out in the valley again soon for more memories.

Everything else in the valley has been plodding along at its rather hectic peak season pace and we have had plenty of wonderful sightings to speak of including another visit from Simon Cousins and some clients who as always had great game-viewing and here are a few photos from their latest trip.


Thanks everyone and hope that you all have a fabulous week with plenty of smiles and laughter and as always don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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Es ist Montag 23 Juli 2018 und wir lassen Bilder sprechen!

Ich hoffe es geht Dir gut, Du bist entspannt und blickst auf ein tolles Wochenende zurück. Was gibt es Neues aus dem Luangwa-Tal? Nun, diese Woche werde ich versuchen, nicht zu viel zu schreiben, sondern stattdessen ein paar unglaubliche Fotos von einer erfolgreichen Leopardenjagd sprechen zu lassen. Letzten Monat besuchten uns Marie und Denis Grenouillet sowohl in Tena Tena als auch in Nsefu, und während ihres Aufenthalts hatten sie unglaubliche Tierbegegnungen, darunter als Höhepunkt folgender Riss eines Leoparden im Tageslicht.

Sie haben diesen Kampf zwischen einer relativ kleinen Leopardin und dem stattlichen Impala-Bock von Anfang bis Ende miterlebt. Wenn es auch immer traurig ist, das Sterben eines Tieres zu sehen, so müssen wir dennoch stets bedenken, dass dieses ‚Fressen und Gefressen-Werden’ das Gesetz der Natur ist und nur so als Ergebnis des Kampfes das Überleben des Leoparden möglich ist.

Also für heute empfehle ich Eurer Aufmerksamkeit diese unglaubliche Fotostrecke:

Marie und Denis danke ich dafür, dass sie diese Bilder mit uns geteilt haben, und Euch empfehle ich einen Besuch ihrer Website www.planetstillalive.com voller wunderbarer Bilder aus aller Welt, so auch der gesamten Strecke von dem Leoparden-Kill.

Von unseren mobilen Wandersafaris erreichen mich Nachrichten über eine ganze Reihe unglaublicher Tierbegegnungen mit Löwen, jeder Menge Elefanten und sogar einem Erdferkel! Kanga geht nächste Woche wieder hinauf, und so bin ich sicher, dass wir bald weitere Geschichten erzählen können. Auch von den übrigen Camps gibt es tolle Berichte, auf die ich diese Woche nicht weiter eingehen werde, da mir die Zeit davonläuft, doch nur ein kleines Update von der flauschigen Front – bei Nsefu gibt es Hyänenwelpen, die ja immer wunderbar anzusehen sind.

Bevor ich mich also in weiteren Geschichten aus dem Busch verliere, ziehe ich mich zurück, nicht ohne Euch allen eine schöne Woche mit viel Grund zur Freude zu wünschen, und vergesst wie immer nicht, aufeinander Acht zu geben.

 

 

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It’s Monday 23rd July 2018 and time for the photos to do the talking

I do hope that you are well, sitting comfortably and have of course had a fabulous weekend. So what news from the Luangwa Valley? Well this week I am going to try not to talk too much and instead I am going to let some incredible photos of a leopard-kill do the talking. Last month we had Marie and Denis Grenouillet stay with us up at both Tena Tena and Nsefu and over their stay they had some incredible sightings, however this amazing daytime leopard kill really was the highlight.

They witnessed this battle between a relatively small female leopard and this rather large male impala from start to finish. Whilst it is always sad to see an animal’s life ending let’s also remember that this is nature and survival and at the same time there is a beauty to the battle and the life that is given to the leopard as a result.

So for this week over to these incredible photos:

Marie and Denis thank you so much for sharing these with us and for those of you who are interested take a look at their website, it’s full of wonderful wildlife images from around the world on www.planetstillalive.com.

Other than that it’s all been happening up at Mobiles with a whole host of incredible sightings including lions, loads of elephants and even an aardvark! Kanga heads back up there next week so I am sure we will have more stories coming back to us. The rest of the camps have also been having some amazing sightings which I am not going to go into too much this week as I am running out of time but just a little update from the cute fluffy side — there are hyena pups up at Nsefu which are always just wonderful to watch.

So before I find myself delving into more tales of the bush I am going to whisk myself away and wish you all another fabulous week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and as always don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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World Ranger Day Interview with Conservation South Luangwa

Every day brave rangers set out to protect our wildlife and put their lives on the line to keep the innocent animals we adore so much safe. World Ranger Day, which is observed annually on the 31st of July, is a chance to honour the rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and to celebrate the critical work they do to protect our natural heritage for future generations.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of World Ranger Day, supported by the International Ranger Federation, their partner the Thin Green Line Foundation, and by individuals who support the work of rangers and the IRF, such as Rachel McRobb, the founder of Conservation South Luangwa.

“Witnessing the countless horrors of poaching over and over again, especially the senseless results of snaring of all species, made me get up and try to help,” says McRobb, who’s been at the forefront of conservation in South Luangwa since the organization’s inception back in 2003.

In a recent interview with us, McRobb held nothing back and talked about elephant extinction, sniffer dogs and the biggest challenges that lie ahead for one of Africa’s greatest national parks.

Robin Pope Safaris: What is an average day for a ranger in South Luangwa?

Rachel McRobb: Rangers /scouts are typically out on long 10-day patrols which could be reactive or proactive, or they may be on an anti-snaring day patrol, an ambush as a result of intelligence or attending to snared animal issues with myself and our vet. The work is intense and demanding and covers large tracts of land and with no luxuries as we know it.

RPS: What risks are involved for the rangers on the ground?

RM: There are daily risks from being shot at or attacked by poachers, ousted by communities and risks from being attacked by dangerous animals (crocodiles, elephants, buffalo and so forth).

RPS: Have there been any incidents of death or injury of a ranger as a result of poachers or other conservation activities?

RM: Luckily, Conservation South Luangwa has not lost anyone to a poaching incident as a result of gunfire, however we have sadly lost a couple of scouts over the years to animal attacks and vehicle accidents as a result of conservation work.

RPS: How has the introduction of sniffer dogs assisted in your activities?

RM: Our detection dog unit has greatly increased our results and also acts as a deterrent to would be traffickers; they need to think twice now about which route to be on in case the dogs are present. We currently have 5 dogs and 8 handlers and have just started training the dogs to track as well as detect so we expect this to help even more.

RPS: How has technology helped/hindered your conservation efforts?

RM: Cell phones are both a help and a hindrance. They are useful a lot of the time but also poachers use them so it makes it harder for us as everyone is informing everyone. Other technology such a thermal imagery is definitely helpful and investigations and intelligence databases help us too.

RPS: How do you deal with the conflict between human rights and animal rights?

RM: We have a human wildlife conflict mitigation project that helps communities to mitigate conflict in particular with elephants.

RPS: Which animal faces the biggest threat of poaching?

RM: Currently elephants in Luangwa are under threat, but we cannot forget about the hundreds and hundreds of small game caught in snares every year.

RPS: How big is the threat of extinction for the African elephant?

RM: Bigger than most of us can imagine.

RPS: What is the main reason for the poaching of these animals? Bush meat, ivory/horns/skin, human animal conflict etc.?

RM: Ivory at the moment.

RPS: What tools are poachers using for their activities?

RM: Muzzle loading guns and sport rifles for large game and often snares for small game.

RPS: How do you prioritize, with so many species in danger?

RM: Reducing elephant poaching is our main priority right now.

RPS: How do you think population increase has an effect on the future of Zambia’s wildlife?

RM: This will have huge implications as people need land to farm and this is happening at a drastic rate on the boundaries of the national park.

RPS: What is the biggest challenge you face in wildlife conservation?

RM: Loss of habitat, human encroachment, political will and funding and resources.

RPS: What can we, as average citizens, do in our everyday lives to confront these issues?

RM: Tread lightly on the earth and leave as little negative impact as possible. This can range from littering, use of plastic bottles, electrical use, not cutting down trees, supporting conservation causes of your choice. Small steps go a long way. No need to try and save the whole world, just the part around you.

RPS: What has been your greatest achievement in your conservation efforts?

RM: Keeping CSL an almost wholly Zambian run organization, developing Zambian citizens and being proud to have so many Zambians in our organization working hard to protect South Luangwa’s wildlife.

RPS: How do you see the future of South Luangwa’s wildlife?

RM: In the long term, precarious. We need a solid land use plan for the game management areas that will limit uncontrolled development in the game management areas with a clear view in acting as a buffer zone for the national park. Unless this is achieved South Luangwa National Park will eventually become an island like most other parks in the world.

For every night you stay at one of our South Luangwa camps, we donate $5 to the Luangwa Conservation Community Fund which supports Conservation South Luangwa.

 

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Es ist Montag 16 Juli 2018 und jede Menge Sterne in Mkulumadzi

Hallo, ich hoffe, es geht dir gut und Du hattest wie immer ein tolles Wochenende. Für diese Woche schweige ich und wir erfahren von unseren Managern Dave und Tammy, was bei ihnen unten in Mkulumadzi los ist. Dave und Tammy, Ihr habt das Wort:

“Die Sonne scheint wieder in der Mkulumadzi Lodge. Nach fünf Tagen unerwartetem, aber dringend benötigtem Regen (diesjährig haben wir eine heftige Trockenzeit) ist die Sonne zur Freude der meisten Gäste zurückgekehrt. Warum nur die meisten? Nun, wir haben einige besondere Gäste wie Dr. Uschi und Professor Keith McEwen, die den Busch bei jedem Wetter zu schätzen wissen. Sie würden sich nicht von ein wenig Regen davon abhalten lassen, das Lagerfeuer zu genießen, das sie so sehr lieben. Vor kurzem saßen sie mit Regenschirm an der Feuerstelle und ihre unstillbare Begeisterung für den afrikanischen Busch hat uns alle tief bewegt. Die Erinnerung ist noch ganz frisch.
Der Höhepunkt der Saison war definitiv die Einweihung unseres Sternen-Bettes. Wir waren begeistert, als Naomi und Adam aus London es als erste Gäste ausprobieren wollten. Naomi war so freundlich, uns an ihrem Erlebnis teilhaben zu lassen:

“Wir waren für drei Nächte in der Mkulumadzi Lodge. Ich hatte die Zeit bereits in vollen Zügen genossen, die wunderschöne Lage, das freundliche Personal und die tolle Tierbeobachtung, und ich war mir nicht sicher, ob eine Steigerung überhaupt möglich wäre. Doch zu meinem Geburtstag überraschte mich mein Freund mit einer Nacht auf dem Sternen-Deck. Ich war anfangs etwas unsicher – unter den Sternen schlafen? Mit den Löwen? Hatte ich mich doch gerade erst an die Spinnen in der Lodge gewöhnt! Tammy und Dave jedoch versicherten mir, dass wir in Sicherheit wären und überließen uns ein Funkgerät, falls etwas passieren sollte oder wir zurückkommen wollten.
Als wir durch die Dunkelheit fuhren und uns dem Sternen-Deck näherten, war ich sogleich zuversichtlich, dass dies eine ganz besondere Erfahrung werden würde, die ich nicht missen will. Das Deck ist eine erhöhte Plattform mit Blick auf den Park, komplett eingerichtet mit Bett, Moskitonetz und (meiner Meinung nach sehr wichtig) einer richtigen Toilette. Wir saßen im Licht des (annähernden) Vollmondes, tranken Champagner und schauten in den wunderschönen Sternenhimmel, und ich empfand dies als etwas ganz Besonderes. Der Schlaf war sehr bequem — ich blickte in den Nachthimmel und genoss die sanfte Kühlung durch eine leichte Brise. Wir fühlen uns sehr geehrt, die ersten Gäste gewesen zu sein, die das Sternen-Deck probiert haben und es ist sicherlich ein Geburtstag, den ich nie vergessen werde! Ich kann es nur jedem empfehlen, der keine Angst hat, mal etwas Außergewöhnliches zu probieren — diese Nacht war die Krönung eines tollen Aufenthaltes in Majete.”

Hier noch einige aufregende Neuigkeiten aus Majete. Im Mai wurden erneut zwei junge Löwen aus Südafrika in das Reservat umgesiedelt. Sie haben sich in einem Gehege auf ihre neue Umgebung eingestellt. Nächste Woche werden noch drei Löwinnen in das Gehege kommen, um sich dort zu akklimatisieren. Kurz vor ihrer Ankunft werden die männlichen Löwen freigelassen. Ziel ist es, neues Erbgut in die Population einzuführen, um das genetische Gleichgewicht zu erhalten. Wir freuen uns auf ihre Ankunft und werden beobachten, wie sie sich in der neuen Heimat eingewöhnen.

Neu im Team für diese Saison ist unser deutscher Praktikant Felix Reitberger, der sich in Mkulumadzi gut eingelebt hat — er unterstützt uns bei der täglichen Arbeit, der Gästebetreuung und bei der Tierbeobachtung. Nach dem Studium der Medienfotografie bieten ihm unsere wunderschöne Landschaft und Tierwelt reichlich Gelegenheit, seine Talente zu beweisen, sei es bei Pirschfahrten, Bootstouren oder Wanderungen. Auf einer kürzlichen Bootsfahrt auf dem Fluss Shire hat Felix folgende brillante Aufnahmen gemacht: ein Nilpferd, das aus dem Wasser springt, ein Graufischer mit Beute und ein Krokodil bei der Rückkehr zum Fluss.

Ich kann es kaum erwarten, mehr von seinen fantastischen Fotos zu sehen, während Felix in der Lodge beschäftigt ist.

Jede Jahreszeit im Busch hat etwas Besonderes. Was sich auch diesen Winter wieder bestätigt. Unsere drei ansässigen Bullen sind zur Lodge zurückgekehrt, um uns zu unterhalten. Wir hatten fantastische Wildbeobachtungen, einschließlich großer Herden von Elefanten und Büffeln, oder scheue Leoparden und schwarze Nashörner. Wir sind erst Mitte der Saison und freuen uns auf jede Menge Spannung in Mkulumadzi. Tschüss und eine schöne Woche!’

Vielen Dank Dave und Tammy, wir freuen uns darauf, im Verlauf der Saison mehr von Euch zu erfahren. Von meiner Seite gibt es nicht viel zu sagen, außer Euch eine tolle Woche mit viel Freude zu wünschen, und wie immer meine Aufforderung, aufeinander Acht zu geben.

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It’s Monday 16th July 2018 and stars abound at Mkulumadzi!

I do hope that you are well and as always have had a fab weekend. So for this week I am keeping quiet and we are hearing from Dave and Tammy our management team down at Mkulumadzi on what has been happening in their neck of the woods. Dave and Tammy over to you:

“The sun is again shining at Mkulumadzi Lodge. After 5 days of unexpected, but much needed, rain (this is the dry season after all), the sun has returned to the delight of most guests. Why most? Well, we have some special guests like Dr. Uschi and Prof. Keith McEwen who appreciate the bush in any weather. They wouldn’t let a little rain keep them from enjoying the evening fire they love so much. Sitting under umbrellas at the lapa recently, their true spirit and love for the African bush warmed all of our hearts. The memory is still with us.
The highlight of the season has definitely been our star bed. We were thrilled when Naomi and Adam from London wanted to be our first guests to try it out. Naomi has been kind enough to share their experience with us:

“We were staying for three nights at Mkulumadzi Lodge. I was already having an amazing time, with a beautiful location, super friendly staff and some great animal viewing and I wasn’t sure that it could get any better. However, for my birthday, my boyfriend decided to surprise me with a night staying on the star deck. I was initially a little unsure — sleeping out under the stars? With the lions? I had only just got used to the spiders in the lodge! Tammy and Dave assured me that we would be completely safe and left us with a radio, in case anything did happen or we wanted to come back.

As we drove through the darkness and approached the star deck I felt confident, however, that this would be a very special experience and one that I wouldn’t want to miss out on. The deck is a raised platform looking out over the park, complete with proper bed, mosquito net and (very importantly in my view) a proper toilet. We sat drinking champagne under the light of the (almost) full moon looking at the stars which were beautiful and I was right that this was very special. Sleeping was very comfortable too — looking up at the night sky, gently cooled by a light breeze. I feel very honoured to have been the first guests to try the star deck and it’s certainly a birthday that I will never forget! I would absolutely recommend it to all who aren’t afraid to try something a little different — it really did top off a wonderful stay in Majete.”

Some exciting news for Majete. In May, two new, young lions were translocated from South Africa to the reserve. They have been adjusting to their new environment in a boma. Next week, 3 females will also arrive to be held in the boma to also acclimatize and settle. Just before their arrival, the male lions will be released. The goal is to introduce new genetics into the population to maintain genetic health. We are looking forward to their arrival and watching them settle into their new home.

New to the team for the season is our German intern, Felix Reitberger who has fit right (“Reit” — get it??) in at Mkulumadzi, assisting with daily operations, hosting guests and spotting. Having studied media photography, our beautiful landscape and wildlife provide ample opportunities to practice his talents whether on a game drive, boating or walking. On a recent boat cruise on the Shire River, Felix brilliantly captured the following images: a hippo popping out of the water, a Pied Kingfisher with its prey and a crocodile returning to the river.

Can’t wait to see more of his amazing photos while keeping him busy around the lodge.

Every season in the bush is special in its own way. This winter is no different. Our 3 resident bulls have returned to the lodge to keep us entertained. We have had fantastic game sightings including large herds of elephants and buffalos along with the elusive leopard and black rhino recently. We are only mid-way through the season and look forward to plenty of excitement around Mkulumadzi. Cheers! Enjoy your week.”

Thanks so much Dave and Tammy, we look forward to hearing more from you as the season progresses. From my side not much left to say except have a fab week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter and as always look after each other.

 

 

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Es ist Montag 9 Juli 2018 und die erste Walkingsafari der Saison

Hallo, ich hoffe es geht Euch gut und Ihr hattet ein schönes Wochenende mit viel Spaß und Freude an der Fußballweltmeisterschaft. Hier im Luangwa-Tal haben die mobilen Wandersafaris mit gehörigem Aufsehen, tollen Tierbeobachtungen und viel Spaß begonnen. Daher freue ich mich außerordentlich, Eure Aufmerksamkeit für diese Woche auf den Mupamadzi zu lenken und mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Miranda und David Jollie aus deren Bericht zu zitieren — Miranda, Du hast das Wort:

“Es sind fünf Jahre seit unserem letzten Besuch im South Luangwa Nationalpark vergangen – viel zu lange. Unsere letzte Reise war mit einem Besuch in der Liuwa-Ebene verbunden, wo wir Kanga (der uns dort führte) wie auch Jason kennenlernten, und uns nach deren Erzählungen vorgenommen hatten, das nächste Mal die Mobile Walkingsafari zu machen. Das uns jetzt endlich mögliche Datum war zugleich die erste Tour der Saison.

Mit einer Gruppe von Leuten, die du erst am Tag zuvor kennengelernt hast, fünf Tage im Busch zu verbringen, ist an sich schon ein Abenteuer, doch dies als erste Gruppe des Jahres zu erleben, wirkte besonders herausfordernd. Als wir zu siebt (sechs Gäste plus Jason) den Land Cruiser bestiegen, hatten wir das echte Gefühl, tatsächlich in die Wildnis aufzubrechen. Während einer Kaffeepause zeigte uns Jason anhand seiner Karte, wie weit die mobilen Lager von anderen Camps entfernt waren. Wir würden die ersten Menschen sein, die die Tiere seit mehr als einem halben Jahr zu Gesicht bekämen. Zusammen mit einem umfassenden Abriss zu Geschichte, Geographie und Ökologie des Luangwa-Tals erklärte Jason, dass die Faszination im Mupamadzi-Gebiet nicht zuletzt darin bestünde, zu sehen, wie Tiere auf uns reagieren – zu Fuß wären wir integraler Teil ihrer Welt, und weniger fremde Eindringlinge auf einem Fahrzeug.

Als erste Gruppe des Jahres könnte man ein paar Kinderkrankheiten beim Aufbau und Betrieb der Camps erwarten. Doch weit gefehlt. Camp One war bereit und Michael erwartete uns bei der Ankunft mit kaltem Bier. All die Annehmlichkeiten konventioneller Safaris waren aufgeboten – Sundowner, Nachmittagskuchen, leckeres Essen, heiße Duschen – doch die Kuchen wurden in einem Loch im Boden gebacken und die Dusche kam aus einem Eimer. Es ist schwierig, einzelne Mitarbeiter hervorzuheben, weil alle so ausnehmend gut waren, aber eine Person, die uns besonders begeisterte, war Jeffrey, den wir noch von Liuwa her als Kellner kannten. Mit Adleraugen gesegnet absolviert er derzeit eine Ausbildung zum Wildnisführer, begleitete uns bei den Wanderungen, und scheint die gesamte Zeit nicht geschlafen zu haben, da er uns jeden Morgen berichtete, wo die Löwen gebrüllt hatten während wir selig schliefen!

Wandern in dieser abgelegenen Gegend birgt eine Fülle von Safari-Erfahrungen, die sonst nicht möglich sind. Jason brachte uns bei, wie man steinzeitliche Werkzeuge erkennt, die in den meisten Schluchten und steinigen Gebieten zu finden sind – anscheinend lebten früher mehr Leute hier als jetzt! Wir hörten Leoparden bei der Paarung und Löwenbrüllen zum Sundowner. Wir vernahmen ein leises Rascheln als das einzige Geräusch, während Elefanten nur wenige Meter von uns entfernt durch das Gras zogen. Wir wateten durch den Fluss und gingen zu den abgelegenen Chifungwe Plains, wo wir auf einem kleinen Bergrücken Tee tranken und eine Elefantenherde beobachteten, die auf einen Drink ins Tal lief und sich am Fluss suhlen wollte. Plötzlich drehten sich alle um und rannten zurück, wie sie gekommen waren – sie hatten wohl unseren Geruch gewittert auf einem Weg, den wir zuvor entlang gegangen waren. Faszinierend der Moment dann als sie zurück über die Ebenen gingen und zu einem anderen Weg kamen, den wir an diesem Tag ebenso passiert hatten. Die Leitkuh an der Spitze der Kolonne hielt inne und wir meinten fast, ihre Gedanken lesen zu können, wie sie die potenzielle Bedrohung beurteilte. Diesmal war sie weniger besorgt und die Herde zog weiter. Die Gewöhnung an unsere Gegenwart geschah vor unseren Augen. Kurz darauf rief Super-Spotter Jeffrey vom Ende unserer Gruppe “Lions!” Ein Rudel lag auf einer Anhöhe wenige Meter entfernt. Jason erkannte sie als das Rudel, dem er letztes Jahr gefolgt war und das ihn mit Sorge erfüllt hatte, da zwar Junge, aber kein männlicher Löwe dazu gehörten – er hatte befürchtet, dass sich ein rudelloser Löwe an die Spitze der Gruppe setzen könnte und dazu alle männlichen Jungen töten würde. Nicht nur die Weibchen waren zusammen, die Jungen waren ebenso da. Wir waren die Ersten, die sahen, dass das Rudel es unbeschadet durch die Regenzeit geschafft hatte.

Doch nicht nur die Tierwelt macht die mehrtägige Wandersafari so besonders – fern von Fernsehen, Internet und all den anderen Dingen, auf die wir uns im Alltag verlassen, ist hier eine Gelegenheit, an der sich gute Gesellschaft und Geschichtenerzählen bewähren. Gemeinsam am Feuer oder beim Sonnenuntergang werden aus einer Gruppe Fremder beste Freunde. Ich hatte noch nie einen Urlaub, in dem ich so viel gelacht habe.”

Wow, vielen Dank Miranda und David, und nur als kleine Ergänzung der Hinweis, dass wir diese fabelhafte Karte, die Jason von der Reise und den Wanderungen, sowie den wesentlichen Highlights bei der Tierbeobachtung gemacht hat, zusammenstellte haben.

Um ehrlich zu sein gibt es von meiner Seite wirklich sehr wenig, was ich noch beitragen könnte, da Miranda die Magie der Mobilen Wandersafari so treffend beschrieben hat – diese völlige Entfernung von modernen Technologien, denen wir uns so verbunden fühlen, zugleich tolle Gesellschaft, atemberaubende Landschaft und wunderbare Tierwelt — gibt es eigentlich noch eine Steigerung?

So wünsche ich Euch eine tolle Woche mit viel Grund zur Freude, und vergesst nicht, aufeinander Acht zu geben.

 

 

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It’s Monday 9th July 2018 and the first Mobiles of the year!

I do hope that you are well and have had a truly wonderful weekend with all the fun and games that weekends are for. Here in the Luangwa, Mobiles has opened with a major bang and a roar with some incredible sightings and lots of fun, so for this week with great excitement I am taking you all up to the Mupamadzi courtesy of Miranda and David Jollie — Miranda over to you:

“It’s been five years since our last visit to South Luangwa — far too long. Our last trip had been combined with visiting Liuwa Plain where we had met both Kanga (who guided us there) and Jason, so we’d been promising ourselves that next time we’d see if we could do the Mobiles — and the date that worked also happened to be the first trip of the season

Setting off for five days in the bush with a group of people you only met yesterday is always an adventure, but being the first group of the year felt especially intrepid. As the seven of us (six guests plus Jason) climbed into the Land Cruiser, there was a real feeling of going out into the wilds. Jason showed us a map on the tea stop and we realised just how much far beyond any other camp the mobile camps were. We would be the first tourists any animals had seen for more than half a year. Along with a comprehensive run-down of the Valley’s history, geography, ecology and geography, Jason explained that one of the fascinating things about visiting the Mupamadzi area is seeing how animals react to you — on foot, you’re part of their world, rather than an alien presence in a vehicle.

First group of the year, you might expect a few teething problems in the set up and running of the camps. You would be disappointed. Camp One was ready and waiting and Michael had the beer cold when we arrived. All the good things about conventional safaris were there — sundowners, afternoon cakes, great food, hot showers — but the cakes were baked in a hole in the ground and the shower came out of a bucket. It’s difficult to pick out individual staff members because everyone was so good, but one person we were particularly pleased to see was Jeffrey, who we recognised and turned out to have been a waiter when we were at Liuwa. He’s now an eagle-eyed trainee guide, who joined us on every walk and as far as we can tell didn’t sleep, as he was always able to give us a rundown on where the lions had been calling while we were asleep!

Walking in this remote area brings all sorts of safari experiences you just couldn’t get anywhere else. Jason taught us how to recognise the Stone Age tools which you can find in most gullies and stony areas — seems there were more people around then than there are now! We heard leopards mating and lions roaring over sundowners. We heard the swishing noise which was the only sound as elephants moved through the grass just a few metres away. We waded the river and walked up to the even more remote Chifungwe Plains where we broke for tea on a little ridge, and saw a herd of elephants heading down for a drink and wallow on the river. Suddenly they all turned and ran back the way they had come — and we realised they’d caught our scent where we’d been walking earlier. The really fascinating moment came next, as they continued back across the plains, and came to another path we had taken that day. The matriarch at the head of the column paused this time, and you could almost see the thought-process as she assessed the potential threat. This time she was less worried, and then carried on. The learning and adjustment to our presence was happening before our eyes. Later on that same walk, super-spotter Jeffrey, at the back of our group, called out “Lions!” A pride were on a ridge a few metres away. They melted into the bush fairly quickly, but not before Jason noticed they were a pride he had been following last year, which he’d been concerned about, as they had cubs but no adult male — he’d been worried that one of the pride-less males in the area might move in and kill the cubs. Not only were the females together, the cubs were still there. We were the first people to see they’d made it through the rains.

But it’s not just the wildlife that makes Mobiles special — being away from TV, internet and all the usual things we rely on for entertainment, it’s a place where good company and storytelling come into their own. Sitting around the fire or watching the sun go down over the river, the group that had been strangers became best of friends. I’ve never had a holiday where I laughed so much.”

Wow thanks so much Miranda and David and just a small addition we have this fab map that Jason put together of their trip of the routes that they covered and the sightings that they had.

So to be frank from my side there really is very little else that I can follow up with as Miranda has beautifully surmised the magic of The Mobile Walking Safaris with that complete removal from modern technologies which we are so attached to combined with great company, stunning scenery and wonderful wildlife — can it get much better than that?

Have an amazing week ahead with lots of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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Es ist Montag 2 Juli 2018 und ein Blick nach Stanley

Ich hoffe, es geht euch allen gut und Ihr blickt auf ein wundervolles Wochenende zurück. Wir hier im Tal sind vollauf mit unseren zahlreichen Gästen beschäftigt, unternehmen viele Pirschfahrten im Park und können so von herausragenden Naturbegegnungen berichten. Diese Woche werden wir jedoch vom Team der Stanley Safari Lodge in Livingstone hören, wo der Betrieb ebenso auf Hochtouren läuft:

“Es steht außer Zweifel, dass all die Niederschläge, die flussaufwärts gefallen sind, irgendwann auch hier ankommen. Der mächtige Sambesi erreicht denn seinen Höchststand und bietet ein eindrucksvolles Bild. Seine Pegelstände waren höher als viele Jahre zuvor. Nach langer Trockenperiode lächelte der Geist von NyamiNyami aus der Karibaschlucht endlich wieder. Im April und Mai hatte der Fluss seinen höchsten Stand erreicht und eine enorme Gischtwolke stand permanent über den Victoriafällen. Zu jener Zeit fallen golfballgroße Regentropfen, und alle Besucher sind in kürzester Zeit bis auf die Haut durchnässt. Zugleich ist das die Zeit der klaren Winterhimmel. Und die Gischtwolke über den Fällen ist noch kilometerweit entfernt zu sehen.

Mit dem fallenden Pegelstand ab Juni können dann viele Aktivitäten wieder aufgenommen werden, da der Fluss jetzt als “nicht mehr so wütend” angesehen wird. Wildwasser-Rafting beginnt in der letzten Juniwoche und Livingstone Island öffnet sich zur gleichen Zeit. Ein untrügliches Zeichen, dass die Hauptsaison bevorsteht. Während zur Hochsaison die sonst übliche Hektik herrscht, scheint das Geschäft in diesem Jahr noch mehr als den üblichen Besucherstrom auszulösen. Unser Nachbar Simbabwe entwickelt sich hinsichtlich der Besucherzahlen erkennbar positiv. Ein Großteil der mit dieser Entwicklung einhergehenden Betriebsamkeit konzentriert sich unmittelbar entlang der Flussfront. Für uns im Hinterland ist der ruhigere Blick auf den mächtigen Sambesi weitaus attraktiver. Und das bis zu uns dringende tiefe Grollen der Viktoria Fälle im Hintergrund hören wir als ein echtes afrikanisches Wiegenlied.

Die zurückliegende Nebensaison mit nur wenigen Gästen konnten wir für Interna nutzen. Christelle und Josh verließen uns, um ein Resort im fernen Vietnam zu führen, und mit Jonathan und Sylvia Aldous stießen neue Manager zu uns. Ihr Ursprung liegt bei den Aldous’ von Underberg in Südafrika. Sie bringen eine lebenslange Erfahrung im Hotel- und Gastronomiebereich mit sich. Als erstes haben sie sich der Herausforderung gestellt, die meisten jener Aktivitäten selbst zu erleben, die wir anbieten, damit sie wissen, worüber sie reden, wenn Gäste fragen. Die Armen, aber jemand muss es ja tun!!! Außerdem hat das Schwimmbad einige kleinere Reparaturen erfahren und verliert kein Wasser mehr an den durstigen Kalahari-Sand. Sylvia hatte sich mit einigen Änderungen Inneneinrichtung beschäftigt.

Traditionsgemäß feierten die Tonga-Leute kürzlich die Lwiindi-Gonde-Zeremonie (Regen- und Erntefest) auf übliche Weise. Dazu gehören neben erheblichem Bierkonsum schöne Tänze und eine allgemein ausgelassene Stimmung – wie Ihr Euch sicher vorstellen könnt. Dies ist auch die Zeit, in der sich die Stammesführer in traditionellen Gewändern und mit den hergebrachten Insignien versammeln. Ermutigende Reden werden gehalten, und große Mengen Bier angeboten, um die Geister für die Gunst ergiebiger Regenfälle und Ernten zu beschwören.”

So, das war es für diese Woche. Wie Ihr seht ist allerorten viel los und es gäbe noch viel mehr zu berichten, doch ich will ein paar Geschichten zurückhalte, um Euch auf die Folter spannen. Ich wünsche Euch eine schöne Woche mit viel Grund zur Freude und zum Lachen und vergesst nicht aufeinander Acht zu geben.

 

 

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It’s Monday 2nd July 2018 and a round up from Stanley

I do hope that you are well, sitting comfortably and have had a wonderful weekend. Everyone here in the valley is being kept very busy with lots of guests coming through, meaning lots of game drives out in the park and plenty of wonderful sightings. This week however we are going to hear from the team at Stanley Safari Lodge up in Livingstone where it’s also been full steam ahead:

“Well there is little doubt that whatever rain falls upstream has got to travel down. The Mighty Zambezi is in full spate and is an amazing sight. This year overall the river has been higher than it has been for many years. The spirit of NyamiNyami at the Kariba gorge must be smiling after such a long drought. In April May when the river is at its highest there is an amazing permanent cloud above the Victoria Falls. Rain drops the size of golf balls fall and there is really no doubt if you get anywhere near you will be drenched to the bone in no time. It is a time of clear blue winter skies. The vapour cloud sticks out high above the falls and can be seen for many miles around.

In June with the receding waters, a number of activities reopen as the River is deemed by the local people, to be “not so angry”. White water rafting commences in the last week of June and Livingstone Island opens for business at the same time. The sign that the high season is upon us. Whilst there is the usual hustle and bustle of high season, business this year seems to have attacked more than the usual share of visitors. Our neighbouring Zimbabwe seems to be on the up in terms of their visitors which is good to see. Most of this frenetic energy happens in and around the River front. For us the quieter hill top view of the mighty Zambezi is far more appealing. For those with hearing listening to the low rumble of the Victoria Falls in the back ground is a true African lullaby.


On the home front and whilst we had few people through, we “made hay”. Christelle and Josh moved on to run a resort in far-away Vietnam and new managers arrived in the form of Jonathan and Sylvia Aldous. The Aldous’ hale from Underberg in South Africa. They bring with them a life time’s worth of hotel and catering experience. They have been undertaking the arduous task of experiencing most of the activities we have to offer so they know what they are talking about when guests ask. Oh well someone has to do it!!! In addition the swimming pool has undergone some minor repairs and is no longer losing water to the very thirsty Kalahari sands. Sylvia has busied herself with some remodelling of the in house décor.

As is tradition the Tonga people recently celebrated their Lwiindi-Gonde (rain and harvest) ceremony in their customary way. This involves a lot of beer drinking with the usual dancing and general merry making that goes with it – as I am sure you can imagine. This too is a time for the customary leaders to gather in all their traditional regalia and splendour. Encouraging, words and copious quantities of beer are offered up to help convince the spirits that good rains and harvests would be good for everyone.”

So there you have it for this week. As you can see lots going on everywhere and plenty more to report but let’s keep some stories back as we need to keep you guessing!! I hope that you all have the most fabulous week with lots of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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Es ist Montag 25 Juni 2018 und Neuigkeiten aus Pumulani!

Hallo miteinander, ich hoffe, es geht Euch allen gut und Ihr konntet wieder ein tolles Wochenende genießen. Diese Woche geht es mit einem Sprung über die Grenze nach Malawi, denn wir werden von Kaneli in Pumulani hören. Kaneli, Du hast das Wort:

In diesem Monat waren wir mit ziemlich viel Gemeindearbeit beschäftigt, da wir — passend zur Fußballweltmeisterschaft – insgesamt neun Fußballmannschaften in den umliegenden Gemeinden Nankhwali, Kasankha, Cape Maclear, Msaka und Monkey Bay mit neuen Fußballtrikots von Molecaten Africa/Robin Pope Safaris ausstatten konnten. Die Begeisterung darüber ist riesig. Die Mitarbeiter von Pumulani lieferten die Trikots an die verschiedenen Teams aus, des weiteren Sonnenschutzmittel und Sonnenbrillen für die Albino-Gruppen in Cape Maclear, Kasankha und Nkope, sowie Spielzeug und Bücher für die Kliniken von Nankhwali und Cape Maclear.

Hinsichtlich unseres Gästebetriebs hatten wir die Gelegenheit, ein paar sehr schöne Luftaufnahmen von Pumulani zu bekommen, da ein Gast eine Drohne mitbrachte. Es war eindrucksvoll und bedeutete viel Spaß für unser Personal, zuzuschauen, wie das kleine Flugzeug vom Boden aus gesteuert über die Lodge flog. Beim Blick auf die Aufnahmen werden uns die Schönheit des Sees und des Nationalparks, in dem wir arbeiten, einmal mehr bewusst. In den klaren Gewässern des Parks leben hunderte Arten des Buntbarschs, von denen die meisten einzig in diesem See vorkommen.

Eine andere Familie, die kürzlich Pumulani besuchte, war überwältigt von der Schönheit des Nationalparks und seiner Bewohner. Sie hatten einen fantastischen Schnorchelausflug zu der wunderschönen Insel, vor der wir unseren Gästen die bunte Welt der Cichliden (Buntbarsche) zeigen. Sehr schön war auch ihr Dorfspaziergang zur nahegelegenen Kasankha Bay, wo sie einen lebhaften Eindruck vom Alltagsleben der Einheimischen gewannen. Dort führte man für sie auch den Gule Wamkulu Ritualtanz auf, was ebenfalls eine einzigartige Erfahrung war.

Der Malawisee Nationalpark beheimatet mindestens 200 verschiedene Vogelarten. Der bekannteste ist wohl der Afrikanische Fischadler – die Gäste sahen nicht nur, wie sich dieser majestätische Vogel von seinem Aussichtspunkt auf einem Baum an der Uferböschung hinunter zum See stürzte, um Fische an der Wasseroberfläche zu erbeuten, es gelang ihnen sogar, hervorragende Aufnahmen von dem Geschehen zu machen.

Auch hatten wir wieder Gäste, die hier ihre Flitterwochen verbrachten oder runde Geburtstage feierten, und die bei uns für solch besondere Anlässe perfekte Bedingungen wie Ruhe, friedliche Atmosphäre und Naturschönheit vorfinden. Darauf spezialisiert bieten wir romantische Erlebnisse wie zum Beispiel ein wunderschönes privates Dinner am Pool.

Aufgrund des klaren und kühlen Winterwetters konnten die Gäste auch wunderschöne afrikanische Sonnenuntergänge genießen, so während der Ausfahrten auf unserer Dhau, bei denen leckere Snacks und Sundowner Drinks gereicht werden. Die Glücklichen haben auch die Flusspferde entdeckt, die in der Bucht direkt gegenüber der Lodge leben.

Vielen Dank Kaneli, es ist immer toll zu erfahren, was am See vor sich geht und es hört sich so an, als wäre es eine ausgesprochen lebhafte Zeit für euch. Nochmals vielen Dank.

Was uns hier im Tal angeht werde ich es eher kurz halten, möchte aber erwähnen, dass die Saison der Wandersafaris offiziell begonnen hat. Das Team startete heute morgen, der große Samil 50 Lastwagen war gerammelt voll geladen, und die Mannschaft besetzte den Landcruiser, um den Weg zu unserem magischen Ort Fluss Mupamadzi zu finden, der während der nächsten Monaten ihr Zuhause sein wird. Mehr dazu in den kommenden Wochen, davon bin ich mir sicher, aber im Moment schließe ich, grüße Euch sehr herzlich und hoffe, dass ihr alle eine fabelhafte Woche mit viel Grund zur Freude habt.

 

 

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It’s Monday 25th June 2018 and news from Pumulani!

I do hope that you are well and have had a fabulous weekend. This week we are heading over the border with a hop skip and a jump and will be hearing from Kaneli at Pumulani.
Kaneli over to you:

“This month we have been really busy with quite a lot of community work. Nine football teams within the surrounding communities of Nankhwali, Kasankha, Cape Maclear, Msaka and Monkey Bay were made very happy after receiving new football jerseys donated by Molecaten Africa / Robin Pope Safaris; delivered by the Pumulani staff. The team also distributed sun lotions and sunglasses for the albino communities in Cape Maclear, Kasankha and Nkope plus toys and books for Nankhwali and Cape Maclear clinics.

On the guest front, we had the opportunity to get some really nice footage of Pumulani from above when a guest visiting showed up with a drone. It was a new experience and lots of fun for the staff on duty to see this little vehicle flying above the lodge controlled from the ground. Seeing the pictures themselves made everyone appreciate even more the beauty of their own lake and the National Park they work in. The park’s clear waters are populated by hundreds of species of colourful cichlid fish, most of which are native to the lake.

Another family who recently visited Pumulani were stunned by the beauty of the National Park and its inhabitants. They had a fantastic snorkelling trip to the beautiful island spot we take our guests to see the colourful cichlids. They also thoroughly enjoyed their village walk to nearby Kasankha Bay where they could observe the locals going about their daily chores. The Gule Wamkulu ritual dance was also performed for them to add to their unique experience.

Lake Malawi National Park, where Pumulani is located, is also home to at least 200 different species of birds. The most well-known is perhaps the African Fish Eagle — the guests not only saw this majestic eagle performing its act — diving from its high vantage point down to the lake and catching the fish on the surface, but they also caught amazing shots of it.

There have been quite a few guests coming to celebrate either their honeymoon or anniversary with us, finding here the perfect peace, quiet and beauty of the nature for their special occasion. So we have been getting going with all our romantic gestures including this lovely private dinner that we set up by the pool.

Due to clear and cool winter weather guests have also been able to enjoy beautiful African sunsets while on our sunset dhow cruises with some delicious snacks and their favourite sundowner drinks packed on board. Lucky ones have also spotted the hippos that live just across the bay from the lodge. ”

Great thanks so much Kaneli it’s always great to hear what is going on at the lake and it certainly sounds like lots has been happening there.

As for us here in the Valley; well I am going to keep it rather brief but I will tell you one thing and that is our Mobile Walking Safari is now officially open for the season. The team headed up there this morning the big Samil 50 truck loaded to the gunnels and the guys piled onto a landcruiser to make their way up the 05 route to our magic spot on the Mupamadzi river which they will be calling home for the next few months. More to come in the coming weeks on that I am sure but for now I am going to scoot off and bid you all a very fond farewell and hope that you all have a fabulous week with lots of smiles and laughter.

 

 

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Es ist Montag 18 Juni 2018 und a morning safari at Tena Tena

Ich hoffe, dass es Euch allen gut geht, dass Ihr ein schönes Wochenende verbracht habt und dass Ihr Euch ausgeruht in diese Woche findet. Nun, ich habe es in dieser Woche leicht, da Nancy McDaniel so freundlich war, ihre letzten Ferieneindrücke mit Euch allen zu teilen, also hat sie die Last von mir genommen und Euch alles über die unglaublichen Tiersichtungen erzählt, die sie während ihrer Zeit bei Tena hatte.
Nancy — Du hast das Wort:

“Mein dritter Tag im Tena Tena Camp war wie immer schön, klar, klar und lebhaft. Die Geräusche des Busches begrüßten mich und zum Frühstück gab es tollen “bush toast”, den Nick sorgfältig vorbereitet hatte. Zunächst schauten wir, was wir alles zusammenpacken sollten, und als alle fertig waren, machten wir uns auf den Weg. Die letzten zwei Tage waren ziemlich ruhig auf der Raubtierfront, aber wir sahen viele schöne Vögeln, Antilopen und Elefanten, doch wir waren zugegebenermaßen alle gespannt darauf, Raubkatzen zu beobachten, besonders nachdem wir zwei Nächte zuvor nach einem Sundowner einen wunderschönen Leoparden gesehen hatten!

Weniger als 5 Minuten vom Camp entfernt bekam unser Guide einen Anruf von einer aufregenden Sichtung direkt neben dem Camp. Also sind wir wieder zurückgefahren. Das andere Fahrzeug sagte, sie hätten gerade ein Rudel Wilde Hunde gesehen, doch die waren bei unserer Ankunft bereits weitergezogen, so dass wir etwas enttäuscht umdrehten, um die Fahrt fortzusetzen, als noch einmal ein Anruf kam mit der Meldung, dass die Hunde wieder zurück seien. Also kehrt marsch und als erstes sahen wir eine Gruppe nervöser Elefanten und eine einsame Hyäne. UND DANN WAREN SIE DA: Eine atemberaubendes Rudel mit 15 Hunden! Was für ein Erlebnis, so viele topfitte Wilde Hunde bei Tageslicht beobachten zu können.

Wir blieben eine Weile bei ihnen, bevor wir mit Bedauern weiterzogen, um zu schauen, was wir sonst noch finden würden. Weniger als eine halbe Stunde später sahen wir in der Ferne zwei Leopardenköpfe im Gras. Als wir gerade anhielten passierte es dann. Eine Hyäne stürzte aus dem Busch und jagte dem Leopardenjungen hinterher. Sofort folgte Mama der Hyäne, während sich das Junge geschickt auf einem Baum in Sicherheit brachte. Es ist alles so schnell passiert und war so aufregend, dass wir fast nicht glauben konnten, was wir sahen!

Wir saßen eine ganze Weile zusammen und beobachteten, was sich entwickelte, und als wir uns schließlich davon überzeugt hatten, dass der Leopard nicht in Gefahr war, machten wir uns auf die Suche nach einem schönen Platz für einen Tee. Kurz nach dem Ende dieser Pause entdeckten wir schließlich VIER LIONS! Sie waren völlig entspannt und einfach nur am Chillen.

Was für eine außergewöhnliche Morgensafari mit ALL diesen Erlebnissen zwischen 06:58 und 09:41 Uhr. Was für ein unglaublicher Raubtiermorgen in Tena Tena!”

Wow, vielen Dank Nancy, was für eine unglaubliche Fahrt und vielen Dank dafür, dass Du diese Erlebnisse mit uns teilst. Es gibt sehr wenig, was ich als Steigerung beitragen könnte, also werde ich mich ehrfürchtig verbeugen und mich von Euch herzlich verabschieden. Ich hoffe, dass Ihr alle eine wunderbare Woche mit viel Grund zum Lachen habt und vergesst nicht, aufeinander aufzupassen.

 

 

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It’s Monday 18th June 2018 and a morning safari at Tena Tena

I do hope that you are fabulously well, have had a lovely weekend and are sitting comfortably ready for this week’s installment. Well I have it easy this week as Nancy McDaniel has been kind enough to share her recent holiday with you all so has taken the load from me, telling you all about the incredible sightings she had whilst up at Tena. Nancy — Over to you:

“My third day at Tena Tena Camp dawned beautifully, as usual, crisp, clear and vibrant. Sounds of the bush welcomed me and then to breakfast with the awesome “bush toast” carefully prepared by Nick. Raring to go and get out to see what we could we packed up, and once everyone was ready off we went. The previous two days had been rather quiet on the predator front with lots of beautiful birds, antelope and elephant but we were admittedly all eager for predators, especially after a sundowner-time viewing of a beautiful leopard two nights night before!

Less than 5 minutes away from camp, our guide got a radio call of an exciting sighting right near camp. So back we went to see. The other vehicle said they had just seen a pack of Painted Dogs but they had moved on, slightly disappointed we turned round to continue our drive when once again another call — They’re back. So back we went, first spotting a group of nervous elephants and a lone hyena. AND THEN WE SAW THEM: A stunning pack of 15 dogs! What a treat to see so many, healthy looking dogs out in the open in the daylight.

We stayed with them a while and regretfully left to see what other sightings we could find. Less than half an hour later in the distance, we spotted two leopard heads in the grass. We stopped and then it happened. A hyena dashed out, tearing after the leopard cub. Mom immediately gave chase to the hyena, while the cub nimbly leapt into the safety of a tree. It all happened so fast and was so exciting we almost couldn’t believe what we were seeing!


We sat watching the event unfold for quite a while and then once we were convinced that the leopard was out of harm’s way we made our way to find a nice spot for some tea. After tea it was just moments before we then came across FOUR LIONS! They were relaxed and just chilling.

What an extraordinary morning’s drive with ALL this excitement happening between 06:58 and 09:41. What an amazing carnivore-filled morning at Tena Tena!”

Wow thanks so much Nancy, what an incredible drive and thanks so much for sharing with us. Right well there is very little that I can say that is going to even come close to that drive so I shall graciously bow out and bid you all a very fond farewell. I hope that you all have a wonderful week ahead with lots of smiles and laugher and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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Es ist Montag 11 Juni 2018 und ein waghalsiger Leopard

Ich hoffe, es geht Euch gut und Ihr blickt auf ein herrliches Wochenende zurück. Hier im Luangwatal ist der Winter eingezogen und ich kann Euch ohne Übertreibung sagen, dass es morgens richtig kalt ist. Die Temperaturen fallen bis zu 10 Grad und wir schützen uns mit Mützen, Schals und jeder Menge Pullover. Das mag sich für Euch natürlich anhören als wären wir alles Weicheier, doch Ihr solltet berücksichtigen, dass es hier ja weder Fenster noch Heizungen in den Zimmern gibt, dass wir somit ungeschützt der Nachtkälte ausgesetzt sind und morgens erst mal den einen oder anderen Moment brauchen um aufzutauen. Sei’s drum, lasst uns nicht weiter beim Wetter aufhalten, es geht ja schließlich darum, was hier im Busch so abgeht. In Vorbereitung habe ich in der mir üblichen Hektik die Guides um entsprechende Berichte gebeten, weil ich vergangene Woche noch mehr als sonst in Computerarbeit vertieft war, und so war ich schlicht überwältigt, als sie endlich in mein Büro kamen, um Bericht zu erstatten, und ich freue mich, das, was sie schließlich erzählten, nun mit Euch zu teilen.

John war mit einigen Gästen unterwegs, als sie einen entweder sehr mutigen oder total verrückten Leoparden sahen! Sie waren einem Rudel von 22 Wildhunden begegnet, die soeben einen Wasserbock getötet hatten — was für sich schon ein eindrucksvolles Erlebnis ist, da dieses Beutetier ja keineswegs klein ist. Die Hunde waren also vollauf mit dem Fressen beschäftigt, als sich ein großer Leopard dazugesellte und die Idee verfolgte, sich ein Stück der Beute zu sichern und so eine mühelose Mahlzeit zu genießen! Das aber musste ordentlich schief gehen, wenn man sich allein die mathematischen Bedingungen anschaut mit 1 Leoparden gegen 22 Wildhunde — wir wissen alle, wer da gewinnt! Bereits während des Versuchs, sich anzuschleichen, wurde er erkannt und flüchtete so schnell wie irgend möglich auf den nächstgelegenen Baum. Die Hunde ihrerseits beschlossen, dass es ein guter Plan sei, sich just unter diesem Baum auszuruhen und damit den Leoparden noch mehr bloß zu stellen. Leider kann ich Euch gar nicht berichten, wie lange die Hunde dort ausharrten und damit den Leoparden in Schach hielten, denn nach einer Weile brach John mit seinen Gästen auf, doch ich bin sicher, dass die arme Katze noch eine ganze Weile in dieser Falle saß.

Apropos Katzen, die 12 Löwen des Nkwali-Rudels wurden kürzlich dabei beobachtet, dass sie einen Büffel erlegt hatten und anschließend nach dem Festmahl total dickgefressen noch immer kleine Happen untereinander teilten, und sie, obschon dem Platzen nahe, sogar nach der Ankunft vieler Geier nicht bereit waren, auch nur einen kleinen Happen ihrer schwer verdienten Beute preiszugeben, sondern eher aufzustehen und die Geier davonzujagen. Es versteht sich, dass die Löwen sich derart satt gefressen über mehrere Tage nicht von dem Platz fortbewegten.

Themenwechsel und damit was ganz anderes, denn die wunderschönen Ebenholzbäume und ebenso die Tamarindenbäume tragen Früchte, was für die Jahreszeit recht früh ist. Und so macht es großes Vergnügen, Paviane zu beobachten, wenn die auf der Suche nach Früchten durch die Bäume rasen und dort fressen; dabei sind sie ungeschickt und unordentlich, so dass Reste und ungewollte Früchte auf den Boden fallen, zudem schütteln sie bei der Hetze durch die Baumkronen reife Früchte herunter. Unter den Bäumen harren dann schon Warzenschweine und Impalas, um sich über das Fallobst herzumachen. Zudem beteiligen sich Elefanten an dem Spektakel, wenn sie ganze Äste abreißen, und dabei die Bäume so heftig schütteln, dass ebenso jede Menge reifer Früchte herunterfallen. Die Luft ist angefüllt mit dem süßen Duft des Jasmins, der derzeit blüht, und dessen strahlend weiße Blüten einen wunderbaren Kontrast zum vorherrschenden Grün bilden.

So, das war es dann auch schon wieder für diese Woche, ich will an dieser Stelle enden, denn ich habe Euch schon lange genug aufgehalten, und so danke ich für Eure Aufmerksamkeit und verabschiede mich mit besten Wünschen für eine tolle Woche voller Freude und Grund zum Lachen.

 

 

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It’s Monday 11th June 2018 and a crazy leopard

I do hope that you are well, sitting comfortably and have of course had an absolutely fabulous weekend. Here in the Luangwa, well winter has definitely arrived and it is mighty nippy in the mornings I can tell you that for free. The temperatures are getting down to the low teens in the mornings so we are all wrapped up in hats and scarves and lots of jumpers. Yes I realize that we sound like wimps but remember we don’t have windows or heating in our rooms here so we do feel the cold at nights and it may take a moment or two to defrost. Anyway let’s not go on about that, let’s talk about what is happening out in the bush. I did my usual panic and called the guides in for their stories, as this week more than most I have had my head stuck in my computer, and when they came in to tell me what they have been seeing I was bowled over, so here goes with the sharing of the sightings.

John was out with some guests and saw either a very bold or totally insane leopard! They came across a pack of 22 wild dogs that had just killed a waterbuck — in itself pretty impressive, as waterbuck are not small. Anyway, the dogs were busy eating away when a large male leopard decided that it would be a good idea to try to steal some of the meat and get a free meal! Well of course this all went terribly wrong for the leopard, I mean seriously let’s look at the math here 1 leopard vs 22 wild dogs — I think we know who is going to win! Whilst he tried to sneak in he was obviously spotted and chased off running as fast as he could to the nearest tree and scampered up. The dogs then decided that actually it would be great to just camp out under the tree, taunting the leopard. I am afraid I can not tell you how long the dogs stayed there for or the leopard for that matter as after a while John and his guests moved off but I am sure that the poor cat was trapped for quite some time.

Talking of cats, the pride of 12 lions down at Nkwali were seen having just killed a buffalo and were all happily feasting looking very full and fat but yet they kept on snacking and when the vultures arrived despite being full to bursting they certainly weren’t going to share their hard earned meal with anyone so occasionally would stand up and chase the vultures away. Needless to say they were so full and fat that they pretty much stayed put for a couple of days before moving on.

Taking a major turn on subject matter the magnificent ebony trees have started to fruit, which is quite early, and the tamarinds are also laden with fruits. When this happens it’s a major feast for everyone with the baboons scooting up into the trees picking and eating the fruits; but they are slightly clumsy and messy eaters, so they chuck their unwanted fruits on the ground, and as they are scrambling around in the trees they are knocking loose fruits which also fall. Underneath (depending on the tree of course) the warthogs and impalas reap the rewards. The elephants also help out and pull down branches for themselves, which obviously has a wider repercussion in terms of a shock wave going through the tree and encouraging ripe fruits to fall. The air is also heavy with the lovely aroma of the Jasmine bush, which is currently in flower, and the delicate white flowers create a lovely break in the greenery.

Gosh so there we have it for this week I really must get going as I think that I have kept you all long enough so I am going to graciously say goodbye and hope that you all have a wonderful week with plenty of smiles and laughter.

 

 

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Es ist Montag 4 Juni 2018 und alle Systeme gehen.

Hallo miteinander, ich hoffe es geht Euch gut und Ihr blickt auf ein schönes und geruhsames Wochenende zurück. Hier im Luangwatal haben wir, um es auf einen Nenner zu bringen, kaum Zeit zum Verschnaufen, denn nach einem sanften Beginn der Saison haben wir bald RPS-übliches Tempo aufgenommen und sind nun zum Beginn unserer Hochsaison voll ausgelastet.

Hinsichtlich Leopardenbegegnungen werden wir derzeit quasi überfüttert, und so sehr ich es auch hasse, die Erwartungen unserer Gäste durch die Lektüre dieser Mitteilungen zu hoch zu schrauben im Sinn “dass sie im Luangwatal auf alle Fälle Leoparden sehen würden”, weil es eben auch Zeiten gibt, in denen wir nicht den Hauch einer Chance haben, diese wunderschönen Katzen zu beobachten. Doch in der vergangenen Woche konnten wir aus dem Vollen schöpfen. Gäste vom Luangwa Haus waren auf dem Rückweg von ihrer Pirschfahrt, hatten den Fluss im Boot überquert und waren an der Anlegestelle von Robins Haus in den Geländewagen umgestiegen, als sie nach wenigen Metern einen Leoparden entlang des Weges trotten sahen. Und als wäre das noch nicht genug, sahen sie zugleich einen weiteren Leoparden, der hinter dem Gebäude entlang schlich. Wahrlich kein schlechtes Ende einer Pirschfahrt.

Auch in Nsefu geht es rund, dort beobachten wir eine wunderschöne Leopardin mit zwei Jungen — die so klein sind, dass die Mutter sie noch im Dickicht versteckt hält, wo es Gästen dennoch gelang, eines zu entdecken, während die beiden Filmemacher Will und Lianne schließlich sogar einen flüchtigen Blick auf beide Jungen werfen konnten. Gäste vom Luangwa Bush Camping sahen später die Mutter, wie sie einen Affen jagte und schließlich tötete — es ist nahezu ausgeschlossen, einer Leopardin gemeinsam mit ihren Jungen zu begegnen. Apropos Luangwa Bush Camping, dort hatte es sich zuletzt ein Rudel von 5 Löwen in der Nähe des Camps gemütlich gemacht, und die Gäste konnten wählen zwischen Tiefschlaf oder aber dem Konzert des Löwengebrülls. Zudem ist jüngst eine Gruppe von 4 jungen Löwen in den Nsefu Sektor eingedrungen, wo sie ein ernstzunehmender Faktor werden können, was wir künftig unbedingt beobachten werden.

Nsefu-Manager Marcos war eines morgens mit den Check der Zimmer beschäftigt und völlig in Gedanken vertieft, als er beim Verlassen eines Zimmers prompt von einem mächtigen Elefantenbullen begrüßt wurde, der den Schatten eines Baumes genoss. Es verging eine kleine Ewigkeit, bis der Elefant weiterzog und Marcos mit seiner Arbeit fortfahren konnte. Das ist auf alle Fälle eine gute Entschuldigung dafür, sich mal ein wenig in einem der Gästezimmer auszuruhen! Sehr schöne Fotomotive ergeben sich dadurch, dass die Scharlachspinte dieses Jahr anfangen, ihre Nester an der Uferböschung direkt vor dem Camp zu bauen.

Wildhunde wurden zuletzt von Gästen aus Tena Tena und aus Nsefu beobachtet, und wir nehmen an, dass es sich um ein und dasselbe Rudel handelt, das zwischen den beiden Gebieten pendelt. Damit sind wir schon bei Tena Tena, wo regelmäßig eine Leopardin mit einem Jungen beobachtet werden kann, das sich ausgesprochen interessiert an den Geländewagen zeigt. Zudem beginnen Büffel, das Gebiet in großen Herden zu besuchen, was eindrucksvoll ist und dazu führt, dass ein paar mürrisch aussehende alte, aus der Herde ausgeschlossene Einzelgänger in der Umgebung des Camps herumlungern. Und dann sind da noch die immer wieder entzückenden Begegnungen mit Stachelschweinen, die wir häufig auf den Nachfahrten antreffen. Wer liebt sie nicht, diese drolligen Wesen — gleichzeitig hübsch und doch bizarr ausschauend.

So, nun könnt Ihr also nachvollziehen, dass unser Saisonbeginn hinsichtlich der Tierbeobachtung alles andere als ruhig verläuft, ganz im Gegenteil und wir sind alle überrascht darüber, was wir bereits gesehen haben und drücken natürlich die Daumen, dass es so auch weitergeht. Ich für meinen Teil glaube, dass diese Schilderungen für den Rest der Woche genügen sollten und ich hoffe, dass Euch die Leopardengeschichten neugierig machen auf das, was wir in den nächsten Wochen zu berichten haben. Damit verabschiede ich mich, nicht ohne Euch eine gute Woche mit viel Anlass zur Freude und zum Lachen zu wünschen, und vergesst nicht aufeinander Acht zu geben.

 

 

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It’s Monday 4th June 2018 and it’s all systems go!

I do hope that you are well, sitting comfortably and have of course had a fabulous weekend. Here in the Luangwa, well let me tell you there is no such thing as starting the season gently, we went full throttle RPS style and have been jam packed since we officially started our peak season.

It seems like we have been inundated with leopard sightings and whilst I hate to get peoples’ hopes up when reading this and then thinking “gosh well we will definitely see leopard when we are in the South Luangwa!” as there are periods of time when we don’t even catch a glimpse of these magnificent spotted cats. However this week that has simply not been the case. Luangwa House guests were coming back from their game drive, they had boated across the river, jumped into a car at the Robin’s House harbor and no more than a few meters down the road had a lovely sighting of one just wandering down the road, then as if that was not enough, later that evening there was another leopard walking past the house by the deck. Let’s face it that is not a bad end to a game drive.

Nsefu have been also been seeing the most lovely female leopard with her 2 cubs – the cubs are still totally brand new and are hidden in a thick tree but the guests managed to get a little glimpse of one of them and then Will and Lianne who are at Nsefu filming, managed to sneak a glimpse of them both. The female was then later seen by the Luangwa Bush Camping guests chasing a baboon away and actually killing it — there is no way that you cross a female leopard with her cubs. Whilst talking about Luangwa Bush Camping, a pride of 5 lions were camped not far from camp the other night so the guests were either lulled to sleep or kept awake with their gentle roars. We also have 4 young male lions that have moved into the Nsefu sector and could potentially be a force to be reckoned with so we are certainly keeping an eye on the dynamics there.


Marcos our host at Nsefu was busy doing his room checks so was totally preoccupied with everything he went to leave the room and was greeted by a huge male elephant just enjoying the shade of the tree. After quite some time the elephant moved off and Marcos managed to escape but at least that’s a pretty good excuse for relaxing in a guest room! Oh also such a lovely thing this year is that the Carmine Bee-Eaters appear to be starting to nest right in the bank in front of camp which is such a treat.

Wild dogs have also been seen quite a few times by both the Nsefu and the Tena Tena guests as we appear to have a pack that are bouncing between both areas. This smoothly takes us over to Tena who have also been having some lovely sightings of their female leopard and her cub who seems to be most intrigued by the vehicles. The large herds of buffalo are also starting to move into the area, which is fab and a few slightly grumpy and ostracized old boys have been regularly seen around camp. Oh and the other thing which is always a treat on a night drive is lots of porcupine sightings. Who doesn’t love seeing these wonderful animals — slightly bizarre looking but magnificent at the same time.

Gosh so there you go, as you can see it’s not like it is a quiet start to the season in terms of sightings, in fact it’s been quite the opposite and everyone is staggered by what we have been seeing so far so fingers crossed that long may it continue. I think that that pretty much wraps things up for this week, I hope that you have been fully saturated with leopard stories for the week and hopefully lots more sightings to follow in the weeks to come. On that note I shall bid you all a very fond farewell and wish you all a superb week with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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Es ist Montag 28 Mai 2018 und ein toller Trip zum John’s Camp!

Hallo miteinander, ich hoffe es geht Euch gut, Ihr hattet ein tolles Wochenende und seid gut in die neue Woche gestartet. Die Neuigkeiten vom Luangwa Tal lassen sich in Kürze zusammenfassen: Tena Tena und Nsefu sind eröffnet, die Camps schauen prächtig aus und die Teams sind mächtig gespannt auf die Saison. Doch heute will ich gar nicht von hier berichten, vielmehr ist es diese Woche an Ed Selfe, der sonst hier im Luangwa-Tal mit seiner Kamera unterwegs ist. Der kommt gerade von einer Safari im John’s Camp in Simbabwe zurück, wo er eine tolle Zeit hatte — Ed, Du hast das Wort:

“Erstmals gehört hatte ich von Mana Pools 2004, als mir Freunde von einem überwältigenden Waldgebiet in Zimbabwe am Ufer des Sambesi berichteten. Schon damals, noch bevor Mana Pools jenen Ruf hatte, den es heute genießt, wurde die Gegend als wilde und authentische Safariregion bewundert.

Bis heute stellt es eine Herausforderung dar, die schwer zugängliche Region zu erreichen, und durch diese Abgeschiedenheit ist Mana Pools vor jenen hohen Besucherzahlen geschützt, die andere Nationalparks inzwischen zeitigen. Wir kamen dort nach einem gemütlichen zweistündigen Bootstransfer an. Gebucht waren wir im John’s Camp, einem authentischen Lager am östlichen Rand des Parks, benannt nach dem legendären simbabwischen Guide John Stevens. Geführt wird es von John’s Tochter und Schwiegersohn, Sarah und Milo, und ist vor nicht langer Zeit in die exklusive Familie von Robin Pope Safaris aufgenommen worden.

Im bisher weitgehend nicht privatwirtschaftlich betriebenen Mana Pools Nationalpark bedeutet John’s Camp möglicherweise den nächsten Schritt. Es ist das einzige Camp östlich der Nationalparkverwaltung von Nyamepi und verfügt damit über ein wunderbares Gebiet zur privaten Nutzung. Hier wird das Ideal eines ursprünglichen Busch-Camps um Momente von Komfort, Exklusivität und Eleganz angereichert und wirkt somit in der abgeschiedenen Lage um so aufsehenerregender.

Der Park wird durch die hier ziemlich enge Schwemmlandschaft des Sambesi und im Inland durch ganzjährig dichten Buschwald, der oberhalb der Fluthöhe des Flusses liegt, markiert. Mit fortschreitender Saison drängt mehr und mehr Wild aus dem Dickicht und bevölkert das Schwemmland, das Nahrung und direkten Zugang zum Wasser bietet.

Entsprechend aufregend gestaltet sich das Geschehen. Entlang des Flusslaufs gibt es große Grasflächen, die bis zur Uferböschung reichen und in denen Elefanten mit enormen Stoßzähnen im Ried grasen. Nur wenige Meter vom Wasser entfernt geht die Landschaft in alten Waldbestand über, der die Vorstellung vieler Interessenten an einem Besuch von Mana Pools geprägt hat. Ahnenbäume, Weiße Akazien und Ebenholzbäume säumen den Flusslauf in der Ferne, und die nur spärliche Vegetation zwischen den Bauminseln verschwindet von Tag zu Tag mit fortschreitender Trockenheit.

Unter den großen Bäumen äsen Impalas an Sichelpelzbüschen und Elefanten strecken ihre langen Rüssel nach den Blättern der Weißen Akazien aus. Während unseres Aufenthaltes waren die Impalas gerade auf dem Höhepunkt ihrer Brunft, und so hörten wir während unserer Safari ein Schnauben und Gebrüll, wie man es dieser wohl elegantesten Antilope Afrikas nicht zutrauen würde.

Am Nachmittag unserer Ankunft in Mana Pools verließen wir das Camp, um Löwen zu suchen, die wir während der Anfahrt zum Nationalpark vom Boot aus bei der Paarung gesehen hatten. Wie anzunehmen hatten sie es sich unter einem Busch gemütlich gemacht, doch das Weibchen war offensichtlich sehr hungrig, denn ihre Augen hefteten sich an ein paar Impalas in der Nähe, die sie schließlich sogar verfolgte. Doch bald verlor sie das Interesse, und so beschlossen wir weiterzufahren und erst zurückzukehren, nachdem auch die Temperaturen gesunken waren.

Wir hielten uns vom Fluss weg landeinwärts Richtung mächtiger Wälder, in der Hoffnung, dort Elefanten in der Umgebung großer Weißakazien auf Futtersuche zu finden. In dieser Gegend begleiten die Familien-Herden bisweilen ausgewachsene Bullen, die in der Lage sind, Äste in großer Höhe zu erreichen und herunter zu reißen, von denen dann alle etwas abbekommen. Wir waren noch nicht weit gekommen, als ich plötzlich meinte, im Laub nah am Weg etwas zu gesehen zu haben. Ich veranlasste unseren Guide David anzuhalten und ein paar Meter zurückzufahren. „Ich meine ein Gürteltier gesehen zu haben!” Angesichts der Uhrzeit und Helligkeit um 17 Uhr glaubten die anderen mir nicht recht!

Und doch — da war es! In Deckung hinter einem Baum, doch den langen Schwanz dahinter hervorragend, sah ich das erste Gürteltier in meinem Leben! In diesem Augenblick waren alle Elefanten, Wälder, Flüsse nebensächlich, selbst wenn wir sonst nichts anderes in Mana Pools gesehen haben würden, wäre diese eine Begegnung die Reise wert gewesen! Mit David als einem qualifizierten Guide auch für Wanderungen in Simbabwe durften wir das Fahrzeug verlassen und uns dem außerordentlich scheuen und eigentlich nachtaktivem Tier nähern. Gürteltiere sind zwar Säugetiere, die lebend gebären und die Jungen mit Milch aufziehen, doch mit ihrem Schuppenpanzer ähneln sie eher Reptilien. Sie ernähren sich von Ameisen, die sie mit ihrer langen Zunge aus dem Bau holen. Trotz ihrer Schuppen bewegen sie sich langsam und sind verletzlich und eine leichte Beute, weshalb sie vornehmlich nachts aktiv sind. Wenn sie gestört werden, rollen sie sich zu einer Kugel zusammen, die nicht einmal ein starker und hungriger Löwe knacken kann.

Wir machten einige tolle Fotos von dem Gürteltier bei der Futtersuche im Bodenlaub, wo es gelegentlich den Kopf hob und uns mit seinen Knopfaugen anstarrte. Was ein Gürteltier veranlasst, sein Versteck am Nachmittag zu verlassen und auf Futtersuche zu gehen, anstatt bis zum Einbruch der Dunkelheit zu warten, ist uns ein Rätsel! Wir verließen es schließlich und hoffen, es nicht allzu sehr erschrocken zu haben, um Richtung Camp zurückzufahren. Safaris in Mana Pools enden um 18 Uhr, und so kamen wir mit dem letzten Tageslicht zurück gerade recht für ein Bier am Lagerfeuer, bevor das Essen serviert wurde.


Wir beschlossen, den nächsten Morgen wieder in Richtung der Wälder aufzubrechen, um dort in gutem Licht Interessantes zu entdecken. Die Möglichkeit, jederzeit wandern zu dürfen, nutzten wir dazu, uns an Elefanten anzupirschen, wie dies mit dem Fahrzeug nie möglich wäre. Es ist einfach unbeschreiblich, sich zu Fuß zwischen diesen riesigen Tieren zu bewegen und dazu noch ein ganz besonderes Erlebnis, Elefanten aus der menschlichen Froschperspektive zu fotografieren.

Wir blieben den gesamten Vormittag draußen, sogar über jenen Zeitpunkt hinaus, in dem das Licht fürs Fotografieren geeignet ist, erkundeten so neue Gebiete und verfolgten die Wanderbewegung verschiedener Tierarten. Eine Vielzahl von Raubvögeln, kleine Elandgruppen, und einige Verbünde von Büffeln und Zebras, wie natürlich jede Menge Flusspferde entlang des Ufers. All dies sind Anzeichen eines gesunden und funktionierenden Ökosystems.

In der Nacht hörten wir ganz in der Nähe Löwengebrüll! Früh am Morgen begaben wir uns daher auf die Pirsch und fanden sofort einen großen Löwen auf dem Weg. Zunächst meinten wir, er wäre alleine, doch bald schon hörten wir Geräusche von anderen ganz in der Nähe. Zu Fuß näherten wir uns der Gegend, wo wir die anderen Löwen vermuteten, aber noch nicht sehen konnten. Schließlich fanden wir versteckt im hohen Gras einen weiteren Löwen zusammen mit zwei Löwinnen. Es scheint, dass der Löwe auf dem Weg versucht, eine Verbindung mit jenem Löwen einzugehen, den wir wenige Tage zuvor bei der Paarung gesehen hatten. Zu Beginn der Saison, wenn die Löwenaktivitäten über mehrere Monate hinweg nicht beobachtet werden konnten, ist es meist schwierig, die künftige Rudelkonstellation für die Folgezeit vorherzusagen.

Mana Pools ist ein wunderschöner und einzigartiger Park, in dem es den Besuchern erlaubt ist, in erstklassigem Regionen wandern zu gehen, die in anderen Nationalparks nur für Safaris vom Geländewagen aus zulässig wären. Es ist zudem ein kleiner Park mit stark begrenztem Aktivitätengebiet, wodurch die Konzentration des Wildes und der Raubtiere während der wenigen Monate Trockenzeit unglaublich ist. Ganz bestimmt werde ich angesichts dieser hervorragenden Bedingungen, seiner Ruhe und wunderschönen Landschaft zum John’s Camp zurückkehren.”

Das war ja ein phantastischer Trip, Ed, und ich danke Dir dafür, dass Du diese Eindrücke mit uns geteilt hast. Tatsächlich kann ich da kaum mithalten und so ziehe ich mich lieber zurück und wünsche Euch für den Rest der Woche eine gute Zeit, viel Anlass zu Freude und Lachen und vergesst nicht aufeinander acht zu geben.

 

 

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It’s Monday 28th May 2018 and a fantastic trip to John’s Camp!

I do hope that you are well, sitting comfortably and have had a fabulous weekend. Well, the news in brief from the Valley is that Tena Tena and Nsefu are open, the camps are looking fab and the teams are in great spirits. However I am not here to talk about that, this week Ed Selfe who usually is found snapping away with his camera here in the Luangwa actually led a safari down at John’s Camp and they had a wonderful time, so for this week — Ed over to you:

“I first knew about Mana Pools in 2004 when friends told me about a stunning, mature forest on the banks of the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. Even then, before it had enjoyed the fame that it is enjoying these days, it was revered as a wild and authentic safari area.

Even now, it is an inaccessible area; a challenge to visit, but protected by its remoteness from the high visitor numbers that other National Parks now experience. We arrived by boat, after a comfortable and scenic 2 hour transfer. We were booked in at John’s Camp, an authentic bush camp at the Eastern end of the park, named after the renowned Zimbabwean guide John Stevens. The camp is run by John’s daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Milo, and has recently joined the collection of exclusive Robin Pope Safaris’ camps.

There is nothing commercial about Mana Pools, but John’s Camp perhaps takes this one step further. They are the only camp on the Eastern side of the park’s HQ at Nyamepi, which gives them a wonderful private area of operation. They have taken the idea of a real bush camp and refined it with touches of comfort, class and elegance that make the camp experience all the more remarkable in their remote location.

The park is made up of the relatively narrow Zambezi floodplain and, inland from that, the thick perennial bush that lies above the flood-line of the Zambezi River. As the season develops, more and more of the game emerges from the thickets and resides on the floodplain with its rich feeding grounds and access to the river.

Of course, the scenery is outstanding. Along the river, there are broad grasslands running down to the water’s edge where elephants feed in the reed-beds and dip long trunks into the enormous river. A few steps back from the water, the habitat changes and quickly becomes the ancient forest that has captured the imaginations of so many aspiring to visit Mana Pools. Leadwood, winterthorn and African ebony trees stretch away into the distance with sparse vegetation between their trunks that diminishes daily as the dry season rolls on.

Among these large trunks, impala browse the sickle-pod bushes and elephants lift extendable trunks to the fresh leaves of the winterthorn trees. When we visited, the impalas were in the peak of their rut, so our safari was punctuated by snorts and roars that seem so unlikely to come from Africa’s most elegant antelope.

We left camp on our first afternoon in Mana Pools to go in search of a mating couple of lions which we’d seen on our way in from the boat transfer to the National Park. Predictably, they were asleep under a bush, though the female was clearly hungry as she locked her eyes on to a pair of sparring impalas nearby, and even began to stalk them. But she lost interest, so we decided to move off and return when the temperature had dropped.

We headed to the majestic forests just inland from the riverine strip, hoping to find some elephant feeding from the large winterthorns. In this area, family herds accompany the large bulls, knowing that the bulls will reach for high branches and drag them down, possibly allowing some spoils for the rest of them! Before we had travelled far, I caught sight of something in the leaf-litter near the road as we passed. I asked our Guide, David, to stop. I said “Um, please go back, I think I’ve just seen a pangolin!”. Keeping in mind that this was 5pm and still daylight, there was some disbelief from others around me!

But there is was! Hiding behind a tree, with its long tail still visible, was my first ever pangolin! For a while, I forgot about elephants, forests, large rivers and decided that even if we saw nothing else, my trip to Mana Pools would have been worthwhile! With David as a qualified walking guide in Zimbabwe, we were able to get out of the vehicle and approach this terribly shy and normally nocturnal creature. Pangolins are mammals, birthing live young and feeding them on milk, but appear reptilian with their covering of large scales. They feed on ants, using a long tongue to extract them from holes. Despite their protective scales, they are slow-moving and vulnerable to predation so therefore tend to be active at night. When disturbed, they roll into a ball and not even the strength of hungry lions can get inside.

We took some great photos of the pangolin as it foraged in the leaf-litter, occasionally lifting its head to look around and fix us with a beady eye. What encourages a pangolin to leave its burrow early in the afternoon and forage, rather than waiting until the cover of nightfall, we’ll never know! We left it to feed, hoping that we hadn’t traumatised it too much, and set out towards camp. Safaris in Mana Pools end at 6pm so we arrived in camp at last light, in time to sit at the fire with a beer before supper.

We chose to spend the morning exploring the stunning forest areas in the hope of finding wonderful light and interesting subjects. The ability to walk through the landscape at any time enabled us to get out of the vehicle and approach elephants and in a way that is harder in a vehicle. It’s thrilling to walk among these large animals and, of course, the angle that you enjoy when photographing an elephant on foot is also very pleasing.

We stayed out late in the morning, way beyond when the light was useful for photography, exploring new areas and noting game movements. We saw lots of large birds of prey, small pockets of eland, a couple of little clusters of buffalo and zebra, and plenty of hippos along the river. All these factors point to a healthy and thriving ecosystem. We heard the lions in the night, and they sounded close! We left early in the morning and almost immediately found a large male on the road. He appeared to be alone, but we soon heard the sound of others nearby, and he pricked up his ears. We walked in to where we’d heard the lions that we couldn’t see, and found the other male with at least 2 females hidden in the long grass. It appears that the male we saw on the road is attempting to form a coalition with the male who had been mating the previous few days. In the early part of the season, when there have been many months of unobserved lion activity, it is often hard to know exactly how the pride structure will settle during the season.

Mana Pools is a unique and beautiful park that offers visitors the chance to walk in prime safari areas that would often be “vehicle-only” areas in other National Parks. It is also a small park, with a very restricted zone of activity, forcing incredible concentrations of game and predators together for a few months in the dry season. I will certainly return for the wildlife opportunities on offer and the quiet, scenic and superbly efficient surroundings of John’s Camp.”

Wow thanks so much Ed what an incredible trip and thank you so very much for sharing it with us. To be honest with you there is very little that I am able to follow on with from that so shall graciously bow out and leave you all to the rest of the week and hope that you have a fab time with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after each other.

 

 

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It’s Monday 21st May 2018 and we’re kicking off the new season!

I wish I could tell you that here in the valley we had all kicked back and had a lovely relaxing weekend, but in fact the opposite is true. With Tena Tena opening on Tuesday and Nsefu opening on Wednesday I am sure you can only imagine how busy things have been. However I do hope that everyone else reading has had a wonderful and relaxing weekend.

So where to begin? Let’s start here at Nkwali as we have been having some wonderful sightings of the leopards behind camp, which is always a treat. Rob and I even had a fleeting glimpse of the female being followed by a male suitor! So who knows, we may even get some additions to the family in a few months time. The elephants have also been in full force both in and around camp and there has been a constant stream of visitors to the lagoon in front of Luangwa House. And let us not forget Humphrey the hippo who has taken a real beating to his ego after his last venture into society so is licking his wounds both physically and mentally and staying firmly put at home in the Nkwali lagoon.

Scooting up to Luangwa River Camp, Daudi and his team are solid as a rock, there was just one small problem… In the main area of camp there is a small pond type structure which last year Daudi painstakingly fixed up, filled with water, put in some nile cabbage and also a handful of fish. He was incredibly proud about this but has been scratching his head of late as he has discovered a dwindling population of his fish. Checking with everyone what on earth it could be he soon discovered that a magnificent Pel’s Fishing Owl has discovered that there is an easy meal to be had at Luangwa River Camp so has been visiting in the evenings to pick up some dinner! Definitely a 50/50 situation going on there — Daudi’s fish Vs. the Pel’s Fishing Owl, he couldn’t decide which to favour so has let nature take its course.

Next stop on our whistle stop tour is Tena Tena where Bertie, Nicholas and Nyambe have been feverishly working with the team to get the camp ready for yet another busy season. The lions have passed through on a few occasions to keep up to speed with proceedings and there have also been plenty of elephants in and around camp. Whilst out clearing the roads, the guys have been inundated with loads of different sightings as well so there is no shortage of game despite the tall grass. The camp is looking fab and the team are ready for yet another bumper season starting tomorrow.

Over at Nsefu, Willie and his team have been super busy getting everything ready from preparing the hide at the lagoon to watering the lawn ready for the lions to walk through and drink from a recently made puddle. Whilst talking about wildlife they have also seen the Wild Dogs from the bar a few times and the elephants have already started crossing the river in front of camp, which is always a massive treat. Marcos the new host up at Nsefu went up over the weekend and was thrown in at the deep end getting all the linen sorted and checked as well as getting the kitchen ready and all of the supplies organized.

As for Braston and the Luangwa Bush Camping team, they certainly pulled the short straw of it all, as with a small tented camp which doesn’t take much preparation they were dispatched to croc river to start putting in the crossings for the cars. Always a nail biting moment as they tentatively feel their way across the water with their feet whilst knowing that there are some beady eyes lurking in the brown water. There is a reason it is called croc river! But don’t panic, all done from the very edge using a rather long bamboo stick and then a series of sandbags are thrown in to ensure safe crossing for all.

So now that everyone up in the Nsefu sector is in place and ready to go we can breath a momentary sigh of relief, but not for long as next we get to start putting in the pontoon here at Nkwali then the challenge of getting our mobile safaris up and running.

So on that somewhat frantic note let me leave you all to it and hope that you have a fabulous week ahead with the usual smiles and laughter and we will catch up with you next week hopefully with stories of sightings from the Nsefu sector.

 

 

Posted in 2018, 2018, Es ist Montag, It's Monday | Comments closed