September Newsletter – It is basically just baskets!

So we left you last month with a promise to have more updates about Elephayo’s woven muchinga products.  Some background.  We have always been admirers of traditional building techniques and have tried to incorporate as much ‘home grown’ building techniques and designs as we can.  The lodge overall uses a lot of traditional construction.  Local ‘bush poles’ and thatching.  It simply works, is a renewable resource and has many advantages.   We are regular users of mud bricks as well.  Simple, cheap and plentiful.  So long as you build well and keep them dry then you don’t even need to fire them in a kiln.  They are fantastic insulators of both thermal and sound energy.  Anyway we digress…

Large woven structures are often used around rural Zambia as grain stores, chicken coops and other agricultural purposes.  Muchinga as a tough and flexible plant and incredibly strong.  For a long time we have been thinking about treehouses, sleep out platforms and baskets.  In conversation with Bo (at his house while admiring his grain store) it turned out that Elephayo is a highly skilled maker of such things.  So we went to work drawing, designing, testing and creating.  The results we feel speak for themselves.

The treehouse basket off to be installed.

The first of Elephayo’s Muchinga “Tonga baskets” was completed and installed at the Finfoot Family House. Hanging from a tree so that one can just sit and watch the river go by.

The Finfoot “Tonga Basket”. We couldn’t resist getting out some lanterns during the blue hour. The end results became one of the Lodge’s most popular ever Facebook posts. Unusual to have lodge photography be so popular (normally it is lions or Israel’s selfies that generate all the ‘likes’. Made us happy though!

The completed “Tonga basket” tree house.

The completed tree house in the blue hour.

Interior shot from the treehouse.

Lodge cat Nala giving the seal of approval to one of Elephayo’s creations.

So apart from the “Tonga Basket” work we also have started replacing all the fences with woven muchinga. Here is Mr Elephayo doing his thing.

Gymnogene (African harrier-hawk) using the lift from wind on a sandbank to literally hover in place looking for prey.

September sees the arrival of the ubiquitous yellow-billed kites. Intra-African migrants, they move down from North Africa.

A photo finish captured at the Parrot hide.

So while us humans are busy as anything eating the crayfish that the local fishermen deliver, it was very interesting to see another crustacean getting consumed!

As it hots up we start utilising all the natural pools for some paddling and chilling. This is us just wandering around looking at different spots and assessing water levels.

Picture yourself on this beautiful island. A cold beer in hand, a book by your side and a totally relaxing afternoon ahead. Sounds tempting eh!

another island, another sunset and another photograph. I like repetition!

While walking around the bush we came across a rather dramatic lion skeleton largely fairly intact. The teeth wear would seem to indicate that it was a very old lion when it died.

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