So we are back to regular newsletters after our covid hiatus where we didn’t post a newsletter for over a year. You can read a short Q&A about that and other topics here: https://kaingu-lodge.com/blog/2021/04/23/a-very-long-overdue-newsletter/ Suffice to say that we focused on social media and video to keep people updated last year. In fact at times I really question making these newsletters in this age of Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. However apart from last year we have always kept at it so will continue for a while anyway.
April has been the month that we open. We actually used to open in March but frankly it was too hard. The rains, the flood waters and the access just made it too difficult to actually deliver a good experience for guests. And the conditions this year confirmed that decision. We had water over the deck on three occasions – completely unheard of! Oh, and the access road in through the Game Management Area got extremely tricky in places with plenty of jomba jomba (getting stuck). So yes, our decision was once again verified.
Fortunately the rains subsided at the end of March. One of the last downpours gave us a beautiful rainbow over one of the islands opposite the lodge:
April saw us putting the final touches to the camp after a very intense week of opening jobs. We were opening for Easter and to a full house. No “soft” openings here!
Opening for Easter is an interesting one – the lodge is always going to be full, and of course everything has to be tip top. Easter menus, children’s egg decoration and hunts. The list goes on and on. We were extremely fortunate in have had a fantastic group of guests over the holiday – a mix of old and new customers.
Of course being in the time of covid our fabulous buffet brunches and lunches are now all placed on individual tables. Guests are also assigned tables for the duration of their stay. Staff are of course wearing masks and santizer is at various points. But what we are most proud of – and what really does add value to guests staying with us is that we took a decision this year to make all activities private – so no shared boats, vehicles or walks. This of course makes life in terms of logistics for us quite the juggling act. But it is something a bit unique and is normally the preserve of people paying very high private guide fees.
Activities for children included an Easter egg hunt and literally hours of Easter egg decoration and creating an Easter “tree”. Oh, and the lodge was decorated with a couple of Easter “leobbits”!
As always the Kaingu team worked together beautifully! We are so proud of the team spirit and friendly, respectful yet totally informal ambience that the team projects. It really is great. Oh and Benny and Wina were wearing their Lozi hats that we brought from our little trip to Barotseland in February!
Oh and Easter Sunday we did a bit of low key drumming while the guests were having pre-dinner drinks. A new drum (also from the West) was being broken in…!
Sightings over the Easter weekend were spectacular – the first two proper drives (two vehicles out on Easter Friday afternoon) of the season had guests seeing wild dogs, leopard, lion, buffalo and elephant! Picture of wild dogs below by Field Guide Israel Kayombo:
The bush at this time of year as it dries out is spectacular.
And the elephant activity around the lodge (more on that later) has really ramped up.
And a bit more of the beautiful April bush:
All the elephant activity around the camp is a direct result of this being the best year we have ever seen for muchingachinga fruit. This fruit (also known as monkeyfingers) is much loved by elephants as well as monkeys and baboons and us! It has a sharp yet sweet taste and works brilliantly as a jam or syrup. So for a good one week it was a race between the three regular bull elephants and Linny and Lizzy as to who could harvest the most! Fortunately the bushes are literally dripping with the fruit and there is more than enough to go around.
Of course while our end product is beautiful jams and syrup, the elephant end product consists of some tonnage addition and lots and lots of boluses filled with seeds. Helping disperse the shrub!
So as we get to the end of the month the temperatures are dropping. We can feel the air drying and the need for jackets and sweaters is now there. The game drive loops are not yet accessible but should be by the middle-end of next month. The firepit is getting some good use after being avoided in the hotter months!
Oh, and before we go. The river is still really high. But we can now see the boat jetty and we also did our first canoe trail of the season.
Oh, and here are a couple of little videos from April. The first showing the amount of water still going over the rapids below the lodge. And the second being a few small clips shot around the lodge on our opening evening of Easter friday.