Meyer’s Parrots at Kaingu Lodge

Over the last few years we have been observing a rather interesting phenomena where groups of Meyer’s parrots gather at a mud pool in the national park opposite the lodge.  This rather unique spectacle is something that is a bit of a mystery – even to the guys at the  FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town.  We have witnessed groupings of over one hundred birds gather at sunrise and come down and partake in eating the mud (geophagy).  At first when we witnessed it we thought it was the vegetation in the mud pool, but later on once the pool had completely dried out and the vegetation was gone we realised that it was the actual mud that was being consumed.

Anyway once we realised that this was quite a special event we quickly threw together a rough and ready temporary hide.  We also got in touch with the guys in the University of Capetown.  The phenomena is widely known about with parrots doing a similar thing in the Amazon.  In this case it is because the soil contains sodium (i.e. salt).

Amazonian parrots eating sodium rich soil (copyright Alan Lee, Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town)

Guests in our temporary hide.

Another theory advanced is that the clay soil allows the birds to ingest fruits containing alkaloids that would otherwise be toxic to the parrots.  To be really honest we quite like the element of mystery about the whole thing.  And the fact that serious bird researchers are even not 100% sure about the reasons.  We are just delighted that a rather unusual spectacle takes place every morning without fail when we have guests to share it with!

Mud breakfast

Once the sun has risen and the parrots have fed then they all disperse (in the direction of all points of the compass).  Even here at the lodge we see them flying over and know exactly what they have been doing 30 seconds previously.

The occasional Green pigeon and grey-headed parrot join in the feeding frenzy.

For keen birders and casual enthusiasts alike it is quite a sight.  I suppose the next step would be to send soil samples down to the guys in Cape Town and see if that solves the riddle.  But in other ways we are not that keen to solve the riddle.  Its quite nice that there are still some mysteries out there in Kafue National Park.

June News slider

May Newsletter

We kick off our slightly belated May news with an update on the heron chick.  Well, it turned out that there were two chicks on two separate nests!  Within 50m of each other.  Herons like to nest communally and it seems that Goliath herons are no exception!  anyway, it looks like the first chick didn’t make it, but the second one fledged and we now see it flying around!

While hanging around trying to work out which chick is which and where we always get good sights of trumpeter hornbills flying over the channel just before sunset.

The beautiful clear skies of May makes for amazing star gazing from the deck.

For one reason or another May became the month for family safari groups.  Now this always is fun, but there is a lot of work that goes into all the childrens activities….   from animal bread making, seed jewellery, bows and arrows through to the lollipop trees while on the walk to Mpamba.  Lollipop trees need careful tending.

Meanwhile the ever talented Mr Yandilla (Mike) spent a bit of time converting some scrap metal into a bush gym.  Here is unique bench press set up using an old mitsubishi cylinder head (cut in half!).

And then Benny demonstrating the Toyota brake disk based weights!

While gearing up for children the monkeys took quick advantage of the hammocks being set up to also get in some leisure time.  Instead of lifting weights though they rather get stuck into some gymnastics.

Completely unrelated, but the full moon allowed a chance to snap a 05:30 picture of our small fleet of aliboats under the moonlight.

And turning around 180 degrees the lodge looked absolutely stunning at this terrible time.  Now I am actually a bit of a morning person so quite relish the quiet time in the mornings before everything kicks off.

Then to roads.  Before we started on opening up our loops we started some repairs to the spinal road – manual pothole filling with 10 guys.  It took us a week to complete from Kaingu up to Shishamba, but the team did an outstanding job and it has smoothed out the ride nicely.  As always with these jobs Bo was in charge.

Then to the generallisimo.  AKA Franco.  Our local crafts supplier (the main one anyway).  His monthly visit.. Bowls and mortars this time.

And then more family related fun.  May was the month for our annual fathers and kids fishing group.  This firm fixture is something completely different – basically the lodge gets taken over by a group of friends that come every year with their children (no mums allowed).  As you can imagine it is total chaos:

We start with JohnD doing a load test on the zipline (which for the rest of the year is my winch cable and snatch block!):

Lentil salad in the rather appropriate form of a fish:

Main area Karaoke (which we have to do so that we allow the Dad’s to give their elbows a good workout around the fire).  Great fun (if you like Justin Bieber):

Victor (who has organised this trip for the last four years) giving some top tips:

Surrogate mum Julia gets asked to brush hair….  Dad’s are known to be very poor at hair brushing.

Victor always organises a pig or a lamb on a spit.  Six bags of charcoal!!!!!!!!!   A LOT of beer (Victor and Antun have to sit in the sun and watch Willard turn the lamb).  Its thirsty work.  The lamb was absolutely stunning…   6 hours of cooking, 5L of olive oil and en entire box of lemons for the basting.

Funky lunchtime salads!

 

The last night we always go en-masse up to Mpamba rock.  Lots of drinks, lots of pork belly and lots of laughter!

And then we get back to the lodge for the final dinner and then the prize giving ceremony. All in all it was another great weekend and we are already booked up with the guys for next year.

Aerial Views!

“Drones” – love them or hate them, they are here to stay and are allowing people to get stills and video that formerly was possible only with chartering a helicopter at $$$$s of dollars.  Even then you cannot fly a helicopter in places you can fly a small quadcopter.  They come in all shapes and size, from huge rigs that can carry large professional quality video and stills cameras through to ones that can fit in your pocket.  The technology is changing so so fast.  A friend of our has lent us a quadcopter – a DJI Phantom Vision 2+.

This is not our loaner drone!  This is a $3500 dollar one…  better not crash in the river then.  

Now in the drone world this is 3 year old technology, so therefore getting long in the tooth!  DJI are a chinese company that are dominating the market with mid and high end units.  The small ‘copter has a built in camera roughly similar to a gopro type action camera, but it is able to take still photographs in .RAW format to allow more latitude for processing.   The camera sensor is pretty similar to what you find in your smart phone.  So small.  That means low light stuff is going to yield poor results. But in decent light it is capable of capturing some amazing views.  The .RAW images I found need fairly heavy handed processing to make them pop, so a lot of saturated and dramatic (almost HDR) tones are on the agenda here.  Anyway we have a whole bunch of shots and video planned and fingers crossed I don’t crash it as I did last year!

So here are some views of the area where our lodge is located.  We hope you like this different view of this stunning part of Africa!

This is just south of the lodge, our ‘Chief’s campsite’ enjoys this location.  The ablution building is just visible in the bottom left hand corner of the image.  

The rapids just below the lodge – the site of many dinners under the stars as well as canoeing set pieces!  

 

Looking from the rapids North.  The lodge is on the right hand river bank in the center of the frame, but it is so well hidden in the trees that it is basically invisible.  

 

Here the quadcopter is basically hovering over the lodge and looking west.  The myriad of channels and islands around the lodge can really be seen from up here (up here is 150m above ground level).  

Again looking North from the lodge area.  The massive island of Mantobo can be seen and the length of river visisble is basically the route that guests arrive in by boat – the car park in the National Park is beyond the two smaller islands clearly visible in the main channel.  

looking East from ‘Chief’s campsite`.  As far as the eye can see stretches Namwala GMA and nothing but bush!  

Straight-down shot above the rapids.  The dinner location is just visible in the open area between the trees at the very bottom of the frame.   

A beautiful misty morning with the mists just starting to break up as the sun rises.  The camera point of view is right above the main area of the lodge looking south towards the rapids.  

Looking south west over the top of Mpamba rock – site of literally thousands of scenic and spectacular sunset sundowners. 

The dambo next to Mpamba rock.  Straight down point of view.  

Straight down point of view of the lodge lurking in the morning mists.  

April News

So after the mega floods of March we were glad to welcome April.  While the rains reduced they were by no means gone.  We had long periods of glorious sunshine and then a good few days of heavy cloud cover and rains.  The long periods of cloud brought nice cool temperatures but didn’t do our solar power generation, pumped water and hot water geysers any favours!  But as we kept telling ourselves (especially in March): “its just weather”.  So yes, April showers and no packing away the ponchos just yet.  Fortunately the rain seemed to fall around and not on some of the big American groups that we hosted.

We were delighted to see that goliath herons were back in the same nesting site as last year with another giant chick.  Interestingly later in the month a second nest and a second chick appeared not 30m from the original.

adult goliath taking off

giant chick

The birding action continued with a very special sighting.  JohnD enroute back from a game drive was boating guests down the river when he came across a pair of crowned eagles in a tree on Mantobo island! Phenomenal.  I have always been fascinated by these birds since coming across a young one up close and personal in the Ghanaian rainforest.  Of course John immediately took up back up river to find them but they were long gone.

pair of crowned eagles

The next sighting was another unusual one.  A group of American guests were fully into morning Tai-Chi and so there was morning sessions on the deck.  The one guest was actually a martial arts instructor and managed to persuade some of the guides and staff to also join in (and Lynda!).

Morning tai-chi

The large numbers of Americans in camp meant that there was lots of singing and drumming…  and it wasn’t all one sided either.  While our staff are very very used to this (and highly skilled) we were very impressed by one guest standing up and doing a drum solo on his last night!

warming the drums

drum solo

Our second 6m swamp cruiser boat has been doing sterling service already.  Its one of those assets where now we wonder how on earth we ever managed without it…  having space on boats for 22 guests but in an 16 bed lodge means that we can really personalise activities and provide total flexibility – which is something that we really pride ourselves on and work hard at doing.  Our small fleet at rest on a sundowner island:

our small fleet

We have often mentioned Mike’s (mechanic) skills and how versatile he is.  This month he went from rebuilding a starter motor in a morning to then sewing new umbrellas for the deck from canvas… All on a hand cranked chinese sewing machine.

the talented Mr Yandila

new umbrellas

All done on this!

hand cranked chinese sewing machine

We started having a regular visitor to the boat jetty (now that it was finally not under water).  Fortunately it was about 8″ long and not a 3m monster!

mini croc

The last of our big groups for the month was one of the absolute best ever.  All friends travelling together and hailing from Spicewood Texas, they were an absolute blast to deal with from start to finish.  Including the specially written song.

Sadly the group missed out on lions, and then murphy’s law dictated that on the way back from dropping them at the airstrip JohnD came across some luggage trailer lions:

Easter was a fantastic weekend – despite one of the last death throes of the rains!

Then the month of April kept the best for last!  Repeat guests Johan and Antonia were driving out to spend labour day weekend at the lodge and came across what will almost certainly be the sighting of the year!  A caracal kitten.  Incredible.  I personally have never seen a caracal in the Kafue, JohnD tells me he has seen one in his career here!  29th of April.

We celebrated with dinner on the deck that night and then dinner at poacher’s rock the following night!

How a little girl flooded the bar! (AKA camp opening 2017)

So 2017.  Thanks to a wind in the pacific our main area got flooded!  Joking apart, the end of 2016 and early part of 2017 were forecast to be “La Nina” (Spanish for little girl) conditions.  These are conditions that follow the more known “El Nino” (little boy) conditions.  How does that flood the bar?  Well, La Nina conditions are stronger than usual easterly trade winds in the pacific.  These winds move warmer water to the west (shallower water near the west coast of South America is warmer) allowing the warmer water to be replaced with cooler water.  A couple of degrees change in temperature of a large area of the pacific then has a huge effect on the global atmospheric circulation (which you may as well just call weather!).  This basically means you then have different than normal distribution of thermal energy to the earths surface.  La Nina conditions means higher than normal rainfall patterns in Southern Africa and that was for sure this year.  El Nino is the exact opposite in cause and effect.

So it rained and rained and rained… Now lets be honest, Zambia needs a decent raining season to fill up the dams and provide relief what what has been 3 fairly dry rainy seasons.  The river just kept rising up though.  Now normally this is not that big a deal – the Luansanza and Shishamba rivers often rise over the bridges and make access impossible, but generally it is over in 24hrs and they have subsided below the bridges.  Not this time!  We were left with no choice but to boat guests down from Chunga all the way to the lodge.  Its either that or four hours around the GMA/ITT road and I know which I would prefer.

Once in camp the guests had the unique experience of seeing the waters slowly rise through the deck, over the deck and eventually into the main thatched area and up to the bar.

Interesting times indeed.  We made a plan and used the Finfoot house deck for lunch and then for dinner we used the guides nkuta – fortunately last year we built a new one and the special curved cooler box storage area could do duty as a bar.  It actually looked really good we thought.

Fortunately the waters stopped just below the guest tents.  Although most of the tents we had to place mukwa planks on breeze blocks to allow guests to keep their feet dry.

Game drives were definitely not on the menu, the car park in the National Park was completely under water.  In fact our game drive vehicles were marooned on the only bit of high ground.  JohnD, Kaley and myself took a boat through the car park and halfway down the track to the spinal road – totally surreal experience.

Almost as surreal was taking a boat up the river, up the Luansanza and over the bridge.   To give you an idea here is two pictures, one with the river at its peak and then one last November when we were clearing and burning the storm debris that builds up at the bridge.

When it came to departure time for the ‘flood group’ we elected to drive the guests around – there was not too much enthusiasm for punching upstream into the heavy current and up the Chunga rapids!  We then had about a weeks dry weather and the main area dried out and we were finally able to get a vehicle out of the car park.  Fortunately we did that day as German guests then had a fantastic sighting of a huge Pangolin as we were heading down to the Kaindabaila hills.

The very welcome week of dry came to an end though with more rains.  Just as we were gearing up for the arrival of some big groups.  This led to some very sleepless nights – these group numbers were such that driving them around was just not an option.  The river started to rise again and it was a real deja vu moment.  Fortunately the bridges stayed clear and we were able to get our groups in an out.

While the river is still really high (most rocks and islands are still totally submerged, as is our jetty) it is finally receding fast.  No doubt that the rainy season is over now and we are all breathing a sigh of relief.  We were really chuffed to still be getting good guest feedback even at the peak of the flood.  But we are really glad that not every camp opening is like this one was!

Great stay despite the unseasonal “High Tide”. Everyone did their utmost to keep the show on the road and our walking trips through the velt learning about the “smaller things” like butterflies, snakes, scorpions, spiders and trees was FANTASTIC. The knowledge of the guides was outstanding and the friendliness of the owners – staff was magic.

although the river Kafue had risen and the camp was flooded, the staff were very good and looked after you very well in the circumstances.
there was other activities to do like walking,canoeing, fishing etc. all told a different but enjoyable experience.  

We got away lightly.  A lot of other camps were badly affected.  Its a bit of a distant memory now and with a good clean up things are totally back to normal and everything is lush and green.  Getting a bit chilly in the mornings too.  Roll on winter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kafue River

Rivers are often written about as being arteries of lifeblood.  For us the analogy is an apt one; the Kafue river is our lifeblood. We drink it, we live next to it and we base our whole lodge and it’s activities on it. Most of our guests arrive on it and all our freight does too.    Our guides show its character, nature, inhabitants and routes to our guests by boat and by canoe and by foot on the banks and islands.  The section here around Kaingu is a stunning stretch of river.  The Bradt guide to Zambia talks eloquently about this stretch of river;

“..the river beside the lodge is most unusual, and as lovely as any stretch of any African river I know: it’s worth coming here just to spend a few days afloat. Kaingu stands beside an area where the river broadens to accommodate a scattering of small islands, each onsisting of vegetated sandy banks and huge granite rocks interspersed with rapids. Imagine someone throwing half of Zimbabwe’s Matobo Hills into a wide, shallow river and you’ll get the picture. So to potter round here with a canoe, or a motor boat, or even just to go fishing, is a real journey of discovery – endless side-channels and islands to explore. There’s something different around every corner, plenty of vegetation everywhere – and birds all around. It’s a real gem of an area.”

Its a very good description.  Now I am no explorer but I have been on the Volta rivers, the Niger, the Tano, the Orange river, the Zambezi, the Luangwa and a good few other African rivers.  All are obviously unique, but only this stretch of the Kafue has this hard-to-describe almost surreal and cinematic feel to it.  Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, whatever your choice.  The comparisons are inevitable with the rocks, hundreds of chanels and mists and light.  There is a distinct almost tropical feel to it which we use for inspiration.  Fresh fruit salads on a lush island after canoeing?

Or it can scare and awe.  Not on a daily basis, but if you go looking for it you can find it.  I recall Kaley and myself in a tiny channel, hippos everywhere and the day getting later and later.  We knew we weren’t going to make our destination so had to admit defeat and face a long, long paddle home against the current.  Or that slightly tingly feeling when you are approaching some rapids.  It’s not shooting the Zambezi or the Colorado, but a frisson of adrenaline can still be tapped into. Not just the roaring water ahead but the remoteness, the feeling of other humans being a long, long way away and the knowledge of other inhabitants if the canoe tips over.  Tiny risks but still they are there if you insist or want to look for them.

But for most of the time it’s much, much more serene.  It’s watching birds or elephants with the engine off and drifting gently with the slow current or standing on a rock watching the spectacle of yet another glorious sunset and knowing that a dusk cruise home and dinner awaits.  Of course living on the river we monitor not just the levels but the changes from season to season.  Every year we compare dates when the skimmers arrive and when the first rock pratincoles are seen.  The changes in height of the river are almost as dramatic as the changes in vegetation of the surroundings between the dry and green seasons.  A three meter height difference is not unheard of here, this year it was 4m which sees us able to park the boats by the main area or even step off the end of the deck into the boats.  These changes give totally different feels to the river, in the peak of the dry season, just before the rains, the riverscape is all rocks and grassy islands, but come March and it is all submerged with only the biggest islands still dry.  Most of the islands are then only the tops of the dozens and dozens of waterberry trees marking where to go, if that is, you can remember them after the two month shutdown period!  When the waters are at their peak the river is quieter in fauna if not water.  Most of the waders and water birds move out to flooded dambos and lagoons where the feeding is easier.  With the cold months life picks up on the river and come the lowest levels in October/November the birdlife is teeming.

The stretch around Kaingu is hard to describe well enough.  The only thing is to emphasize that it needs to be personally experienced.  Preferably twice – once at peak water and then once at the end of the dry season.

Unsurprisingly the area around here has naturally led to many local legends.  Kebby talks endlessly about the ‘Donna fish’ (basically a mermaid) luring men into the depths of the Nzhibakamwale pool.  I plucked up courage one night to go down and take photos of the pools under the stars.  I didn’t hear or see the creature, but alone there at night I could well imagine how:

The Ila recognize the bapuka, a “wide-ranging category of insects, reptiles and fabulous animals” which inhabit the trees, pools, and forests (Smith & Dale 1920,i:224, 389). Chief among these is the great Kafue River monster called Itoshi, a 50-foot creature with a crocodile’s body, a man’s head, and the fins of a fish. Invisible to all who lack the proper medicine, it seizes people and take them into its burrow beneath the river bed (ii:128-29). An illustrated hut drawing, however, depicts it as a flat-headed snake with anterior fins (i:120). “What concerns us here is the fact that many people, especially chiefs, enter the water after death and become these monsters” (ii:129). Most of the Ila water beings, then, take reptilian forms, and are often associated with ancestors or spirits of the dead.

 

 

 

 

 

Liuwa 2016 Slideshow

Small selection of images from Kaingu’s 2016 fly-in safaris to Liuwa Plain NP

Doing Liuwa Plain Mobile Safaris!

Driving West to Liuwa Plain National Park feels like you are heading to the edge of the world. Zambia almost ends, the Zambezi appears and suddenly the world seems to expand. Horizons stretch for miles and the sky suddenly seems huge. It is difficult to describe just how different this area is, arriving in Mongu you can look out over the 25kms of floodplains towards the other side: Kalabo, Liuwa and Angola. The destination has understandably become a bit of a cult one for safari cognoscenti and self drive adventurers alike. We (as in Julia and myself) have been there five times and for 2016 we decided that we would offer a joint Kaingu/Liuwa package, with the Liuwa part being a fly-in safari and fully catered and serviced. A maximum of six guests, a Kaingu guide and open vehicle and accommodation in comfortable large dome tents with food by Wina and Benny in the front of house.  It all sounded like a plan!  To do Liuwa there are not that many options.  If you hire a (fully equipped) 4x4 and know what you are doing than that is an option.  There are a couple of operators doing driving based trips and then there is one lodge option that is priced quite highly so we felt that a fly-in mobile option had potential.  The interest (and the bookings) seemed to confirm our views.  The area is certainly getting more known and seems to feature in every second magazine article.  Visitor numbers have expanded over the last few years, but to be honest we are talking about a handful of people - the limited camping sites (and the control and running off them by African Parks) and the very limited lodging means that visitors are few. 

For us the staff, the place is now getting a lot easier to get to. A causeway of 27 bridges has tamed the Zambezi floodplains. I have heard it said (by affluent outsiders) that this has changed a part of 'old Africa' for the worse. Easy to say if you don't actually live there and just holiday there... It is a stunning piece of engineering and makes life a lot easier. What took us once three and half hours churning through mud and sand in pouring rain now is a cream cheese smooth 20 minutes. I will take the smooth option any time thanks.

But not before stopping in the new Shoprite supermarket in Mongo after overnighting in the town. 

Benny goes mad and starts taking selfies and asking to be snapped in front of the new shoprite. Oddly he is not the only one.

Once at Kalabo we go through what we have done many times before. Reducing tyre pressures to better cope with the thick sand and then checking in with the friendly, efficient Africa Parks tourism girls. Charity was always a star and Mimi seems to be cut from the same cloth. This time we are doing Liuwa with guests, so we have pre-paid everything so it is just a matter of checking in. Kaley has reached first so has left our avgas at the Kalabo airfield and sorted out the watchman. So all that remains is to get to camp. This means first the famous hand-drawn pontoon which is now even more bizarre as the ramps have been damaged by a truck so I have to reverse off with the trailer into sand. Luckily I don't mess it up as there is an audience! Kaley then crosses over with the game viewer and the real adventure begins.

Maybe it's just us but we don't seem to remember the sand being quite as thick as it is... After an hour we say that its not just us. The tracks leading to the park really are churned sand and making progress is not easy. Once into the park things smooth out and we reach Lyangu site and start the big unpack. Oh boy. We cannot get into the site that the guests will use until the next day so we set up as best we can and plan to move all the tents the following day. The offloading and packing seems to go on and on – with a quick sandwich break – but at least its not raining. We get as much done as we can and then call it a day.

Julia and myself jump in our vehicle and head off for a quick drive just up to the pools at the lone palm – one of Liuwa's landmarks.

Immediately we are struck by just how dry everything is. The pools are basically empty. Now wildebeest need to be by water, so the dry pools get us a bit alarmed. Without water the migration (or gathering) of the wildebeest is going to be later. Hmm. Ah well, this is the way of the wild. We get back and Wina cooks the five of us a fantastic kapenta and nshima meal. Early to bed and an early start for tomorrow.

 

Next day we are all up at 06:00. By safari standards this is a long lie. Kaley is off back to Kalabo to pick up the guests at the airstrip. Sadly the Islander is too heavy for the sandy strip inside the park at Matamanene. We all frantically move the guest tents and start making the beds (literally as the camping beds have to be assembled). Fridges are wired into solar panels and eventually we reckon its all about done. Just in time – a quick shower, into Kaingu clothes and Kaley is pulling in with the first group of 6 guests. Now we have to see if we can re-create the standards we st at Kaingu in an even more remote location. What have we forgotten? The nearest shops are a long, long way away. Kaley radios in (we remembered to bring radios so that we can still get the 'five minutes out' call. “Kaingu Lyangu come in”. We are in business.

The first group went really well and sightings were fantastic – a mother cheetah with cubs probably being the highlight. Our logistics and infrastructure is all working well – from the bucket showers that we brought (the campsites only have cold water showers) through to the solar panels and batteries to keep our fridge and freezer running.

All too soon the first group is gone and we are on the move again. While Kaley takes the guests to the plane sitting at Kalabo airstrip Julia, Benny and myself and Wina pack as much as we can physically fit on the trailer and our vehicle and then set off North to Katoyana camp site which is considerably further North. We get there and are about 90% setup when Kaley and Wina roll in. Another great Nshima and Kapenta meal and all too soon it's 0600 the next day and Kaley is off to get the next guests. They arrive in camp just after lunch and the second group is now under way.

Sightings again with this group are superb – more cheetah, lots and lots of hyena (and of course wildebeest).

It all worked out really, really well. The guests loved the whole experience, and several guests told us that we MUST keep doing it for 2017. Wina in particular received many compliments about the quality of the food that was prepared in our basic kitchen. While we call it a 'mobile' safari (and it is) it is extremely comfortable camping. Our tents are all roomy with stretcher beds and mattresses and the whole safaris is basically as comfortable as we can make it withought building a lodge! As I finish this we are pricing up next years packages and setting dates. We can't wait to get back there!

October News at Kaingu Lodge

October news kicks off with the fact that Kaingu was featured in the October issue of Sawubona - South African Airways inflight magazine!  Fantastic.  A really great piece (mostly about the river here) that included a description of the journalist witnessing a croc take a puku while on a canoeing trip with Kaley.  They also used all the imagery for the article from Anthony Grote.  So great news for us and Anthony. 

October is also the month when historically we get the best elephants in river/on rocks/in camp activity and this month has been no exception.  'one tusk' has been providing great viewing, leading a small group of bulls from island to island. 

The best sighting though was saved for repeat guests Audrey and Rick.  This was their third visit here and we were treated to multiple sightings of elephants crossing and standing on rocks!

Of course the activities have not been only confined to the river.  We also got raided by an elite gardening squad. 

The skimmers nested and then got raided by a harrier-hawk.  Poor old Israel was heartbroken as he witnessed the raid and even an egg being carried off.  Last year a crocodile got the one chick.  No wonder they are rare and endangered birds.  The good news was that a subsequent witnessed raid was driven off and fingers are crossed for another chick this year. 

Kaley managed to find a cheetah.  There is nothing particularly amazing about that as cheetah sights this year have been fantastic.  But what was really amazing was that we subsequently learned from researchers that the last time this cat was seen was in Busanga in the far North.  Incredible. 

October is traditionally also one of (if not the) our busiest months.  This means we have been doing uncountable rapids dinners.  And taking uncountable pictures of them...

Another thing that is supposed to happen in October is the first rains falling on Independence Day (the 24th).  Amazingly they did! 

Independence day cake - by Lizzie (cake) and Julia (flag)!