Office Africa July 2013
Six weeks have gone by at a staggering speed since our last newsletter – the 2013 season is well under way, and sightings have been… amazing. The winter slowly follows its course, although we have had a very mild one so far. The areas inland are drying fast, but the riverine area along the Luangwa is still fairly lush. Ebony fruits are dropping in hundreds to the joy of elephants, baboons and staff alike!
Talking about staff, we are delighted to present Yoram Ndhlovu, our latest addition to our guiding team. Yoram arrived end of June, and has quickly fit in with the team.
Jules, Saphire and Jayabella are with us in camp for a couple more weeks; they are truly enjoying being back in the bush and spending family time with Derek.
Having completed all the final touches, both camps are looking great. I snapped a few pictures of the new bed linen at Mwamba Bush Camp. We kept the style very similar but it was time for a new look. We’ve added new light fittings in the rooms and the chitenje as well. Seems to please Tom & Jerry (the resident ellies) a lot, they have been seen more than regularly in camp (and at the bar!).
We’ve also made the photographic hide at Mwamba more comfortable (it’s bigger!) and Derek added an upper level, so when you first come to the hide, you can have a peak at what’s happening and not risking scaring the wildlife away. More about Mwamba and the hide a bit further down.
So are you ready for some wildlife pictures now?
Well first of all… WILD DOGS! Our first sighting of the season came as our June newsletter had just been published. They were found on June 10th by James, our ever-so-lucky driver, as he was taking some of our guests back to the airport. The dogs were right by the main road between Mwamba and Kaingo. There was 7 of them, including a very pregnant alpha female. This was great sign, as it may means they are denning in the general area (no wild dog area is small however… as they cover many kilometres in a day).
This is the very first picture of the sighting; sent to us by our guest Danielle Ruh, who was on the transfer vehicle, before having to unfortunately continue her journey to the airport.
News spread fast and our other guests soon joined in on the sighting. The dogs were seen again that same afternoon, and the next day – at our mobile hide. And once more a few days later, when guests Gene and JP from BelAfrica were with us Here are their pictures, along with Meyam’s.
And then the painted dogs were gone…
That is until July 6th, where they were found at midday, in the wide open area of Lion Plains – on the move as always. The small group of keen photographers, led by Peter Smart (Wild Arena) arriving that day was well rewarded! The pack was seen that same evening again, as shown in Jules’ pictures.
Although extremely happy for our guests, I was starting to feel left out of these wild dog sightings – I had never seen them here in South Luangwa before, and it was all happening without me! My luck came about a week later, when Yvonne and I went on a short drive with Sylvester, trying to find new lion cubs (and miserably failing), and on the way back to Kaingo – we were alerted by the shriekings of banded mongooses which we decided to investigate. We came across the pack, first a bunch of eyes shining in the spotlight, and then the dogs in full view. It was night, and the dogs were moving in all directions. We watched them for a few minutes before losing them in the thickets. No photo, but what a moment!
Jules on the other hand, has captured some beautiful pictures of one of the new male lions of the Hollywood pride.
The Mwamba pride has also been seen on several occasions – with the cubs from last year (those we followed through the 2012 season) having grown up nicely. We have seen up to 17 lions together. Those were the “Mwamba-Kaingo” pride, while the other subdivision of the pride, the “Mwamba-Kapanda’s” have been more remote, but twice we have spotted a mother with very young cubs. That’s great news for the upcoming months.
We had the pleasure to host Judith Gawehn (below) from Afari (Germany) and Isak Pretorius from C4 Images (South Africa), both professional wildlife photographers on a workshop with their “students”.
Isak has had a chance to sort some of his pictures already, and agreed to share them here. We are hoping to receive some from Judith soon.
We’ve also hosted Peter Smart (Wild Arena, UK) and 4 guests, and I can’t wait to receive their pictures.
Why? Because this is part of what they saw during their stay:
This picture was taken by our guide Meyam, and I think you’ll agree that it is quite stunning! It is Kylie, our long term resident leopard near Mwamba Bush Camp who did a striking red-carpet show off for this lucky audience. I’ll dedicate a large portion of next month’s newsletter to the amazing photos of leopards seen in our area, so stay tuned for more!
Talking of Kylie, her son Elliott has been seen a few times, but not as often as we were seeing him last year. Having come into sexual maturity (he is 4 ½ years old now) he may have expanded his territory and it may be he’s off visiting the lucky ladies of the area. We hope he passes down to his cubs the super calm manner he inherited from his mum Kylie
Long term return guests Pieter and Tinka Louw were also with us in June and Pieter has sent us very nice shots of “Jimmy” our giant kingfisher! We are more accustomed to seeing Jimmy resting on the roof of the main deck at Kaingo, during morning tea, but on these pictures it is Jimmy at work.
After this amazing series of stunning pictures, I’m a little embarrassed to show mine. But I will because I wanted to talk about the Mwamba hide. We all know how amazing that hide is come September. But it just is my favourite place to be, even in the more quiet times of June. As the water is still largely available along the length of the Mwamba River, and at several lagoons, the attraction of the waterhole at the Mwamba hide is not as strong at this time of they year. But sitting back quietly in the hide and observing the birdlife, and the other little things lurking around, is fun no matter what. I was lucky to spend two relaxing days at Mwamba, and these are some of the things one can find early in the season.
Saying this, some of our guests have already been extremely lucky at the hide! The leopard Kylie was seen at midday catching a guinea fowl, and flirting with another male leopard on another occasion.
On the travel news front, we are so proud to announce that both Kaingo Camp and Mwamba Bush Camp have been nominated for the 2014 Safari Awards (The Good Safari Guide annual awards).
All The Safari Awards Judges have been appointed by the previous year’s awards winners and finalists and are unquestionably the most highly-respected, knowledgeable independent tour operators selling safaris. The judges sit at the head of the Good Safari Guide, ensuring that the lodges, camps and operations presented both in the guides and in the Awards really are the best in Africa.
Voting is now open – so please click on the links below to vote for one of our properties. Thank you!
The voting phase started on 10th June 2013 and runs through 31st August 2013. The Judges will then assess the votes during September and announce their finalists by 1st November 2013.
If you’ve just returned home from a safari with us, we would like to invite you to post your review on TripAdvisor, if at all possible. We’re making it easy for you: simply click one of the icon below and you will be taken to the relevant page. Thank you!
On a less exciting level, we have to let you know that the Zambian National Airports Corporation has introduced an Infrastructure and Development charge effective 15 June 2013. This tax had been in the works throughout 2012, and postponed many times, up till now.
It is applicable for ALL passengers departing from Livingstone, Mfuwe, Lusaka or Ndola airports on domestic or international flights with a ticket issued, or re-issued, after 15 June 2013. This charge is in addition to the current departure tax and security tax.
By looking at your Proflight ticket you will know which date it was issued on, and you can determine which taxes are included or not.
If you are about to travel to Zambia, I invite you to read HERE the detailed blog we posted in June, to have more information about the taxes, and what is and isn’t included in your ticket.
If you follow us on Facebook, or read our blogs, you will have seen our winners for the June Picture of the Month. The theme was “comical” and here is the selection we picked. Congratulations to John Selby, Ryan McGuirk and Russel Millner. Our next themes are: Action (hurry, closing soon), Leopard and Feathers. Email your pictures (under 500kb please) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, I think that’s it for me for now. I can’t wait to get started on the August newsletter, and share with you more wonderful pictures.
Till next time,