An amazing year! 2014 has been the year that we all wanted. We started off in February with camp improvements and that thread continued through the whole year. The improvements kicked off in the absolutely beautiful green season with modifications to the main area – new deck pergola, curio shop, new bar, new entrance.
Then as February went into March we wondered if we were going to be under water! We also ended up briefly cut off on the Park side when the Luansanza went over the bridge for two days! This got quite tricky, and Gil and Kaley ended up trying to run the Chunga rapids in a boat to get guests out! Trying being the operative word! Lets just say that the propellor now makes a ‘story point’ behind the bar…
Just before the season kicked off properly we also managed to get Isaac Kalio to join the Kaingu guiding team. Isaac had worked with Julia and Gil in Busanga Plains for several years, and his experience and ability meant that we were now starting to build a really solid team. Major also joined us as a trainee guide, and he rapidly became the No1 fishing guide and showed great skill and confidence in our rocky river. The great thing about our team is that they really are a team (Kaley, Isaac and Major all come from the same area and knew each other prior to Kaingu). They also bring different skills and facets to the guiding experience. Isaac is the consumate guide – massive knowledge and confidence to impart it. Kaley has a quite unique dry humour, is an amazing canoe guide and is developing at light speed! Major is a natural with anything with an engine, and for someone at a fairly early point in his career has great confidence with guests. All the guest feedback on all the guides has been fantastic through the whole year.
In short, the expansion of the guiding team is arguably the biggest improvement in Kaingu 2015.
The improvements then continued with construction of a new jetty which at times was quite entertaining. Felix the carpenter is still wondering how the Kafue can swallow two axes and a 2m long straight edge quite as easily as it did.
Then to tie up to the jetty we received a fantastic new boat, a 6m long aluminium Aliboat with swivel seats which are amazingly flexible – for fishing, photography and so on. Oh, and the seats can be pulled out in 2 minutes for freight runs!
We also secured permission from ZAWA to start cutting a loop in the Park – which we refer to as the ‘Pools Loop’ and was a fantastic addition to activities – almost guaranteeing Sable sightings as well as allowing a nice short game drive option.
We then turned our attentions to construction of a new private campsite with some unique design touches of glass bottles! Fully self contained and located a bit further from the lodge. A real hit with those looking for real solitude and a wilderness feel.
No sooner had we finished the campsite and we turned our attentions to two new chalets! This had been on the cards for a while, and we had decided to put them side on to the river so that guests would have river views from the bed, from the bathroom, from everywhere! Again with some rather different design features! The building team was lead by Royd, who is actually Chief Kaingu’s brother and is really very very good.
Seeing the two chalets done was a reason to go up to Mpamba rock and celebrate.
The next big change was the aquisition of three new custom built inflatable canoes for activities. Formerly we used to offer canoeing in partnership with Mawimbi canoe trails, but to be honest we needed the flexibility of doing our own thing. It has been hugely popular with guests – mostly just short paddles of a few hours duration. It is absolutely the ideal way to experience the small channels and areas you just do not see with the boats.
Then our second custom built game viewer arrived! Thankfully Julia and I didn’t have to drive it up from Joburg this time, our friend Colins did that one. Exactly the same specs and design as the other park-based vehicle.
All in all 2014 was a great year. Our guest feedback has been really excellent and the camp improvements and additions to the assets have all combined to really improve the guest experience. So we look forward to 2015 now. The projects have reduced, but we still have one or two ideas on the boil!