It is hard to believe but the season is quickly coming to an end. By the time you will read this newsletter, our last guests will have left Kaingo and Mwamba and Derek and the staff will have moved into “deconstruction” mode. While construction of the camps takes about 4 weeks to be completed (see our June newsletter, as well as our archived blogs for pictures of Kaingo and Mwamba, and the staff, during construction), the taking down of both camps is a much quicker affair. This year, Derek will remain busy with the transformation of the remaining chalets at Kaingo before the rains really come in. But we are not there just yet. Although, the rains did give us a bit of a scare earlier in October, as you will read more about further down.
The last month was as busy as September, and altogether, the season has been excellent! The game viewing remained spectacular with only a few days ago a fantastic sighting by all of our guests of 20 lions from the Mwamba Pride, transforming in a quarter of a second from lazy cats to ferocious beasts, to take down a passing buffalo. It was a pretty gruesome scene but what a fantastic moment worthy of the best wildlife documentaries shown on Animal Planet. Coming soon on our YouTube page, I hope!
Our staff has kept up the good work too, and soon they will be heading home to their villages to take care of their farming, during the rains. Debbie Gadd, our caterer from Mwamba, has already moved on to colder climates, as she was due to resume her work in the UK. Thank you Debbie for your hardwork at Mwamba, and safe travels.
Here’s a few guests comments: a tribute of our hardworking and dedicated staff:
What an experience! As I write this “ellie” is here again… Thank you to all the staff at Mwamba Camp for making our time here so memorable. You are “the best” hosts no matter what the situation. A special thanks to all those who made our “camp out” trip so great – it is a tremendous effort on the part of all concerned. Our time inZambia will alweays remain as one of our life’s most special experiences.
PS: Thanks to pat for coming up with the goods in the last drive how did you round up all those animals?
Peter & Evanna Lake, Australia. June 2011.
“What can I say that has not already been written? We have been here for nearly two weeks, with two days to go and it has been a true adventure, a realization of what our planet is about! We have seen so much and met so many wonderful animals and people. Creation is not politics or religion, it is our planet earth. Thank you Derek, Izzy, Lisa, Deb, Ian, Meyam, Patrick and all the staff.”
Art & Christa Ryan. Australia. July 2011.
What a magical place. Wonderful animals and birds, beautiful setting and the most helpful and pleasant staff we could ask for. Thank you!
Deirdre and Steve. New York, USA. August 2011.
Simply magnificent! We enjoyed every moment. Many thanks to the great people at Shentons.
Ron & Sandra Dunglison. Australia. September 2011.
Thank you so much for welcoming us into and showing us among your magical kingdom. We cannot thank each and every one of you enough, but rest assured we will return.
John & Anne Davies. UK. October 2011.
Our Carmine Bee-eater hide has given us a bit of extra work this year. Derek had to move the original hide site substantially upriver, where the colonies were more active and only a week or so after setting up that site the bank of the river collapsed following the intensive digging done by the bee-eaters. Our poor unfortunate feathery friends! Luckily, they only moved up a few more meters to start anew, and the final hide proved to be quite exceptional for the observation of these colorful birds. Although we had to get our guests up and going extra early, they were all thankful for the experience. The pictures below were actually taken at the first hide.
And then came the rains… It is easy for me to remember that the first rains for 2011 started on September 30th, as it was on my birthday. Our guests were out on their evening drive, and Lisa and I went to the hippo hide for a celebration sundowner.
The rain started shortly before sunset, and remained fairly light, but it was heavy enough that the game drives decided to come home early to enjoy their sundowners at Kaingo. These first rains were very localized as Mwamba did not receive a drop at all, although it is only 6 km away from Kaingo. Then for about a week, we had rain almost every evening, just as if the actual rainy season had officially started (who said it only ever begins after October 24th, on Independence Day??). They culminated into a serious storm on October 10th, but a few days later the skies were clear and the October sun was back to shine on the bush. Despite being a bit disruptive, the rains entirely cleaned the ground and air from the dust, and most of all, brought down the temperatures to an almost “August” level. Now these low temperatures are a dream of the past again, as we are well back into our SUICIDE MONTH (so called by the locals) with the thermometer reaching above 40 degrees every afternoon.
What I found the most amazing though was the immediate renewal of nature – a few drops of water and the bush turns green again, at an amazing speed! Of course, the sausage-tree flowers had already been out, as well as some other early blooming trees, but the grass, flowers and buds are coming out everywhere you look. Wonderful cycle of nature, as shown in the pictures below. The last one was taken only a few days back, at Pelican Lagoon – doesn’t it feel like the Emerald Season?
… followed by the greens!
One of my favorite spot later in the season is most certainly the hide at Mwamba. And I know it is also the favorite for many of our guests returning to visit us at this time of the year. The hide is set on a bend of the Mwamba River, where a waterhole has formed, just outside the camp. And as water becomes scarce in the area, every living creature comes to drench its thirst near the hide. At some times during the day, it seems that the word has spread out and everybody is in for a special “happy hour” – impalas, pukus, bushbucks, waterbucks, baboons, lovebirds, guinea fowls and more. That is when the entire Mwamba Pride has not taken over the bar for a day or two! Or when the elephants turn the waterhole into a mud bath –to be followed by a rubbing and scratching session on the perfectly positioned trunk of an old ebony tree.
Finally I would like to say a few words about our “extra-curricular” activities offered both at Kaingo and Mwamba for the more adventurous guests. With the excellent work of Francois d’Elbee, the professional photographer discussed in our previous newsletter, we finally have beautiful pictures of those sleep-outs. From Kaingo, we offer a night-out on the Elephant Hide platform, set in an ebony tree on the Luangwa River . This year, Derek has improved the platform to have a permanent “sleeping quarter” and a dedicated platform for the observation. The sleep out at the “ellie hide” is very romantic, and is designed for two people. It is about sleeping under the stars, on a very comfortable king size bed, while listening to the nocturnal noises of the bush. If you are lucky, the elephants will indeed come to the crossing although this is rarely done during the night. But some of our recent “sleep-out” guests were in luck as two groups of elephants came to cross during their night. Another couple was awakened by a huge bird of buffalos coming to the edge of the water to drink.
Available for guests residing at Mwamba is our full on Camp Out night. The camp out is a private affair, designed for 2 to 4 guests. It starts after the afternoon tea, where the guests would jump in the game drive vehicle, with their private guide, and head out North-west towards the Baobab Forest. After about 45 minutes of driving, we move on to a walking safari which will lead the party to a surprising lagoon, known as “KAPANDA” lagoon. And around the corner, to their great surprise, the guests will discover their camp for the night, set up by a team of up to 4 staff. The set-up is minimalist – after all, all we need is a comfortable mattress, a mosquito net and a cold drink for sundowner! The staff takes care of preparing a delicious bush dinner while we simply enjoy sitting around the fireplace recalling the various animals met during the walk, or identifying the nocturnal bird calls we can hear. It is a very special moment, with a sense of remoteness rarely experienced. After the night under the stars, a morning walk will open up the appetite for a hearty bush breakfast, before heading back to Mwamba in time for the midday activity
Both those campouts are to be organized at the time of the reservation, especially the Mwamba Camp Out, and come at an extra fee.
Well, it is time for me to wrap up now. Literally. On October 31st, I will leave camp with our last remaining guests to head to Lusaka where Jules and I will finalize our marketing plan for the rainy season. I will miss the “bush office” and the sounds of Africa. But it is only for a few months, as I know I will be back next May!
In the meantime, even if our newsletter will changed to its rainy schedule of once every two months, I’ll make sure to keep you informed about all the new developments at Shenton Safaris, and share with you more of the incredible pictures and stories taken by our guests and staff. I can’t resist to add a few more of mine already.
To finish off the 2011 season, we share with you 3 short stories from some of our recent guests. And don’t miss out the PICTURE OF THE MONTH winner and runners-up for October. Those monthly awards will remain during the rains, and are published at the beginning of each month on our website and Facebook page.
That is all for me, for now.
SPECIAL MEMORIES FROM OUR GUESTS
From Tom Cronin – Crocodile vs. buffalo
It was our last evening game drive of our visit, and we could tell that Patrick was determined to make the best of it for us. The four of us – Ros, Tom, Elena, and Ian – piled into the land cruiser together with two Zambian guests at Kaingo, Yousuf and Mohammed, and we set off. In no time at all, Patrick found us a huge herd of buffalo, looking tired and haggard and straggling along in a ragged queue looking for a peaceful place to drink down at the river. We drove to a spot near the river bank to watch as the leaders of the herd bunched up at the top of a short sandy ramp down to the water, nervously eyeing a huge crocodile looking up at them from the surface. The croc slowly backed off and submerged, and the leading edge of the buffalo herd timidly made their way down to the water’s edge and began to drink, while the others patiently stood waiting for their turn. The croc slowly surfaced a couple of times, delaying the drinking as the buffalo stared back at it, but each time it submerged they resumed drinking. Suddenly, with an explosion of water, the croc launched itself almost completely out of the water, attempting to grab the head and throat of its chosen victim! Everyone in the vehicle, including the normally imperturbable Patrick, yelped with surprise, and I jammed down on the shutter button, hoping that the photo wouldn’t be too blurry from the hasty shot. The result is seen here. And this was just the beginning of the drive! (P.S. The buffalo managed to pull away, and we heard later from Derek’s group that it had been seen again, injured on its jaw, but that it would probably recover.)
From Penny & Rick Fahlman – Ellies vs. hippos
The hippo hide was quiet and peaceful with hippos sleepily wallowing and sunning themselves in the warm September mid day sun. There was not much activity until our guide, Kennedy, said to come quickly to the lower level as elephants were coming down to the water. We rushed down to see three elephants appear and start drinking. The hippos were slowly moving to the other side of the pool. Suddenly the lead elephant rushed forward into the pool and started pushing the hippos out of the way. The other two elephants followed. Pandemonium ensued! Hippos were bellowing and roaring and scrambling in all directions to get out of the pool. The elephants moved on, swinging their trunks and pushing the hippos.They they reached the sand bank in the middle and stood, swinging their tales back and forth in unison. They seemed very pleased with themselves as they looked around at the chaos they had caused.
Two hippos were very stirred up and proceeded to have a fight. The elephants watched this, and then slowly moved on to cross to the other side of the river.
Penny & Rick Fahlman
From Donna Caouette – Ellie vs. my hammock
I wanted to share with you this picture taken through the window screen of the chalet at Mwamba in July of this year. I had stayed behind from the morning drive that day as I was not feeling well and shortly after the other guests had driven off, I heard a rustling outside. At first I thought it was Henry on his way to straighten up the other guests’ room, but then realized it was not human movement I was hearing. This is definitely validation for the given instructions NOT TO fall asleep in your hammock!!
I think about the incredible time I had at Kaingo and Mwamba almost every day and hope and dream that I might be able to return some day.
PICTURE OF THE MONTH – OCTOBER
Every month, Shenton Safaris selects 3 pictures among those taken by our guests during their visit at Kaingo and Mwamba. Make sure your best shots are emailed to us so we can add them to the pool.
OCTOBER 2011 WINNER
By David Tickner, September 2010. Settings: Canon EOS 5D, 1/640 sec at f/5.6 Focal 500mm. ISO 400.
I came to Kaingo and Mwamba in Aug/Sept 2010 with my son Christopher and we had the most fantastic time photographically.
I live in the UK with my wife and half of my family (the other half are in Australia) where we lived for 5 years.
Photography fills a large part of my life and over recent years I have been very involved in animal and wildlife photography in many parts of the world. My aim is to try and capture the magic moments of interaction and perhaps emotion between animals which takes the image beyond just being a record shot.
I am a Fellow of the Australian Photographic Society and an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. These honours were obtained by submitting portfolios of my work which were based on the interaction between animals and their environment.
OCTOBER RUNNER UP 1 & 2
By Robert Shave, September 2011. Settings: Canon EOS 60D, 1/800 sec at f/5.6 Focal 350mm. ISO 800.
I live and work in Cardiff (UK) and whilst I love my job as a Professor of Sport and Exercise Physiology, I would rather spend my time taking photos of African wildlife. My partner, Kelly, and I visited Kaingo early in September (2011), and were blown away by everything about the camp. This picture was taken just after enjoying an amazing lunch on the deck, not sure if you can have anything better than lazing by the Luangwa River, waiting for the animals and birds to do what they do with a cold beer in your hand. I wish lunch was like this every day!
By Daniel Dolpire, May 2011. Settings: Nikon D3 S, 1/30 sec at f/8. Focal 24mm. ISO 200.
I came to Kaingo in May 2011 with David Rogers on his Africa Geographic photo safari! Kaingo for me was quite a unique experience. I am keen to get back there to do the carmine bee eaters. My speciality is bird photography. I am hoping one day to publish a book with my photos!