Kaingu’s 8th Yoga Weekend. 11th – 13th June 2021

KAINGU’s 8th YOGA WEEKEND  
YOGA IN THE WILD
11th to 13th June 2021

 

ABOUT: Bring harmony to mind and body, improve your body strength and flexibility. Immerse in the relaxing natural beauty of the Kafue River at KaingU Lodge. Enjoy massages, yoga and delicious meals.
Ruth’s weekend yoga retreat will include Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga which is energetic and synchronising breath with movements, as well as Yin Yoga, a slow, soothing, and meditative style of yoga that targets the deep connective tissues, bones, joints, fascia, and ligaments in the body.
KaingU provides the perfect backdrop for your yoga sessions, revel at the Rapids, Mpamba Rock and on Yoga-Island. At KaingU Safari Lodge you will enjoy caring service and delicious healthy meals will complete your weekend of wellbeing.


DATES: 11th to 13th June 2021
LOCATION: KaingU Safari Lodge, Kafue National Park, 4 ½ hrs drive from Lusaka
DISCOUNTED COST (resident rate): $385 per person, self-drive
INCLUDES: 2 nights accommodation, healthy nutritious meals & snacks, 4 Yoga sessions with Ruth Odendaal on top of Mpamba Rock, on Yoga-island, Chief’s camp and the Rapids overlooking the river, one nature walk and a boat cruise
EXCLUDES: bar, park entrance fees (if applicable), road transfers (can be organized)
EXTRA: head, back and full body massage available over the weekend at additional cost
CONTACT: Lynda: info@kaingu-lodge.com www.kaingu-lodge.com
BRING: your yoga mat, let us know if you don’t have one
TELL US: dietary requirements, level of yoga experience

April 2021 Pictorial Newsletter

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.  

Julia's hot-cross buns (with a Bavarian twist)

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.  

  

A (very) Long Overdue Newsletter

Q: We haven’t seen a Kaingu newsletter for a long time.  Why?

A: Well, the whole world has been on fire with bad news for well over a year now, so I kind of think it was a bit redundant to write monthly newsletters.  It was also very obvious that travel was off the cards for a good while and there probably wasn’t going to be that much to talk about…  But we didn’t take our foot off the gas when it came to social media.  In fact we went into overdrive.  A lot of people seemed to enjoy our constant “almost live” updates with a lot of pictures and video being posted.  We uploaded somewhere over 30 videos to Youtube last year!  So many past guests reached out to tell us how they were enjoying getting close to nature through our social media and that it was a good distraction from all the terrible news.  

Q:  So are you open for business? 

A: Yes we are.  Our opening date last year was set to be the 1st of April and we had our first guests on the 2nd of April and have remained open since then.  We did close as per normal over the worst of the rains, and re-opened for 2021 for Easter. 

Q: How has your business been affected by covid-19?

A: Massively.  It goes without saying that international tourism basically didn’t happen last year and looks pretty similar for this year.  Fortunately, we have always had a local market to fall back on and we have been really well supported with so many repeat guests traveling to us from all over Zambia.  Historically we have always had pretty much a 50/50 split with local and international trade.  But revenue is massively down compared to last year without the international aspect of our business.  Revenue was down by just over 75%. 

Q: So how have you managed with this massive drop in revenue? 

A: Well, let’s start with the obvious one; we haven’t paid ourselves anything.  Then in terms of staffing we have kept 7 critical staff members on full contract with unchanged salary amounts and conditions.  These are staff members that have been with us for years and are absolutely the core of Kaingu.  The other staff we have been then rotating through on a casual employment basis. Those 12 staff were to have been on contract from the 1st of April last year and obviously this didn’t happen.  We are also providing monthly food support to those 12 staff members who are not on full contracts.  The reality is that some of those 12 staff members are actually taking home almost as much as they did last year (on contract) but of course they are not getting paid holidays and the other benefits.   We have also massively reduced things like insurance payments, donations, advertising and anything else that can be reduced.  We are still paying salaries for the community teachers in Itumbi and Keela though.  As well as the bursary payments for the two students in higher education that we are sponsoring from the area.  Obviously any major investments in the lodge or other projects are on hold right now. 

Q: Everyone talks about how covid-19 has affected conservation.  Have you seen a rise in poaching? 

A:  No.  Not yet.    However direct conservation contributions from tourists has dropped massively. But the reality is that lodges and so tourist revenue are part of the revenue stream and not the whole stream.  Fortunately African Parks has stepped in with a very large budget support for the Kafue.  But it’s the longer term that worries us.  If tourism doesn’t bounce back quickly then conservation and lodges and all the rest of the downstream industries will be in trouble – not just conservation but every single person and business that is in anyway associated with nature-based tourism.  From conservationists to guides to pilots to bartenders.

Q:  How has covid-19 affected Zambia in terms of actual numbers? 

A:  Compared to many nations Zambia has been let off quite lightly. As of the beginning of April 2021 we have a total of 1,220 deaths.  But here we have to be honest – Zambia has been incredibly slow to approve vaccines.  Then of course there is the fact that the the rest of the world tends not to believe African numbers.  So we have little doubt that despite our low numbers we will be on red lists while countries with major case numbers will be ‘green’.  So the result is that despite Zambia being about as safe as it can get, tourism will continue to be wrecked by nonsensical decision making in other countries. 

Q: Are tourists now allowed into Zambia?

A: Yes.  The concise answer is that tourist arrivals must have a negative covid test but there is no quarantine. 

Q: What does tourism look like at the moment?

A: If you are prepared to travel then you will have the holiday of a lifetime….  Parks are almost empty and as are the lodges.  Not that many lodges are even operating.  Many of the ones that rely basically exclusively on international travel didn’t even open last year.  Livingstone is not rammed with tourists – we were there and had the falls to ourselves!  As I say – if you are prepared to travel and can travel then this is a great time to do so.  However, let’s get real for a moment.  It’s all very well to talk about tourism, but for a lot of travelers, international travel to Zambia is just out of the question.  Apart from the legitimate concerns of infection from being in crowded airports and planes, many governments are enforcing quarantine on returning tourists when they get home and not recommending anything but essential travel or even making it illegal, and in turn this means that travel insurance can be very difficult to obtain or even impossible.  And let’s again face reality – if you are feeling that you are in a more vulnerable age class or have other health conditions or generally worry about corona, then international air travel for a safari holiday is probably about the last thing you are considering right now. 

Q: We don’t see you posting on social media or sending out emailers about covid-10 precautions in the lodge.  What are you doing to mitigate risks? 

A: We are doing the normal best practice – staff wearing masks, disinfecting tables and serving utensils, not doing buffets unless it is for exclusive groups.  The list goes on.  We have even made all activities ‘private’ – so you get your own guide for the duration of your stay and you do not have to share activities with others. However, we also must point out that a safari here is intrinsically very safe.  Everything is outside and everything is spaced out. I am not going to go on at length about all these obvious precautions, telling people we wipe down tables and posting a photo of Benny in a mask is not going to kickstart tourism.

Q: How has tourism changed? 

A: I talked earlier about the parks and lodges being quiet.  Apart from that what we have now is everyone looking to the local market.  Lodges that previously shied away from the local market (and in fact didn’t even want anything to do with it) are now advertising their “local specials”.  Everyone is now fighting over the few local guests and discounting heavily.  It’s not a nice place to be. 

Q: Has there been any positives to the whole covid-19 disaster?

A: I will answer this firstly from a business perspective and secondly later from a personal perspective.  From a business perspective I can think of two or three things.  Travel Industry trade shows went virtual, that saves a lot of money and honestly speaking worked well.  We saw an upswing in indigenous Zambian travel.  People that said to us “normally we would go to Dubai” came and experienced the wonders that the Zambian bush has to offer.  This is a positive thing.  That is about it as far as the positives go.  I could come out with cliched statements like how the virus has made us re-evaluate links with nature but the fact is here we are over a year on and over 3 million people dead and there is basically zero media noise about making efforts to prevent this all happening again.  The narrative of how it all started and the links to wildlife trade has gone very very quiet. 

  From a personal perspective, the big issue has been not having friends or family come out to Zambia.  Normally this happens each and every year.  But the positive has been that we have had huge amounts of time to enjoy the bush in periods when normally we are too busy to actually pause and take in the reasons why we live where we do and do what we do. 

 

 

 

November 2019 – Pictorial Newsletter

Kuumbi Mpati – the month when the clouds have finally formed and it starts seriously raining.

I simply cannot believe that I am writing this at the beginning of December and our season is all but over.  It seems like only a few weeks ago that we were doing the big unpacking and getting everything ready back in Feb.  Time flies when you are having fun as the saying goes!  Fortunately for everyone and everything November reflected what the Tonga descriptive name describes – the rains really did start in earnest.  This is so welcome after the last rainy season which was a complete disaster.  In fact Zambia has suffered the worst drought for 40 years, so getting some good rains is vital.  

Rains over the West of the Kafue National Park. Most welcome indeed.

Of course the welcome clouds and rains brings real interest to the skies.  There is no such thing as a good sunset sky without clouds!  This little video clip below gives some idea of the drama of one of the first storms: 

The rains have greened everything up incredibly – all in the space of two weeks.  It is amazing that anything can survive being frozen and baked and parched in the tiny amount of soil on top of the granite rocks, but as you can see here after the first substantial rains life really does blossom: 

How anything can survive 9 months being parched, frozen and baked on top of Mpamba rock is amazing!

On the topic of plants surviving on top of Mpamba here we have one of the euphorbia that survive in this harsh climate under the after-glow of yet another amazing sunset: 

Mpamba euphorbia

Of course it is not only from higher ground that everyone enjoys the drama of November.  Out on the river or out on a game drive  the skies are just as dramatic.  

God rays as guests boat back after cruising the Kafue.

Imagine watching this with your G&T!

And now we come (back again!) to elephants….  Vera (former Puku researcher) came back for another visit from Germany and camped out with us while waiting for her research permits to be approved.  She has the coolest little short wheel base Land Cruiser: 

Meanwhile down in the campsites!

The one afternoon was in particular quite unforgettable with two huge bulls ambling up to the main area (and chalet 4, and the guest loo) and providing serious entertainment for the guests during afternoon tea…. 

Israel keeping an eye on the chalet 4 resident.

While the guests were enjoying orange cake, this guy was enjoying slightly tougher fare.

And of course a bit of a display for the guests!

We keep saying it, but this year the elephant activity around camp has been more intense than ever.  With the onset of the rains and the vegetation really bouncing back the activity has reduced, but they are still around.  Overall it has been an incredible experience. 

Departing chalet 4

 Some of the guests that enjoyed the elephants tea party later that afternoon enjoyed another stunning canoe trail.  The four ladies (all doctors from Germany and including a mother and daughter) were an absolute pleasure to show the river to.  

Happy guests. A canoe trail ending with a sleep out in our Tonga baskets – super fun!

Unusually for our canoe trails it ended up with Kaley and myself in the same canoe, so we took the opportunity to grab some video: 

 

And then towards the end of the month we move onto developments at the Keela Community School.  The Itezhi Tezhi council had several months ago promised to send the drilling rig to try and find water for the school.  So long as we could provide the casing pipes, the diesel, the hand pump and transportation of the drilling rods and bits.  And finally it happened…! 

This momentous occasion was truly a community affair, with people helping carry the drilling rods, clear trees, move fuel and do whatever needed to be done!

However things did not go according  to plans and expectations.  The first day’s drilling was totally dry.  Then the second day also.  Then the third day and the second hole.  We were now totally over budget and had to bring in a LOT more diesel.  The despondency was everywhere: 

You can read the frustration in Benny and Boyd’s (councillor) body language.

And then finally on day four it happened.  Benny and myself had driven down in the late afternoon and the new hole suddenly delivered!  In fact the drilling team stated that the recovery rate of the bore was the best out of any that they had drilled in the entire district over the course of this year.  Suddenly everything changed! 

Water water everywhere suddenly!

As the sun was setting the joy was everywhere.  The spray of water and the golden light lent further magic to what was a really joyful day. 

Benny’s face tells it all.

A huge thanks to the really committed crew from Itezhi Tezhi council. They camped out without a complaint for four days and said that they were going to stay until we hit water – so long as we could keep feeding the machine diesel!

The following day I went back down to see the installation of the hand pump.  Despite it being a Sunday people were all lined up with containers desperate for the first ever pumped clean water in the community.  It was amazing. 

The singing and shouting and pure happiness was fantastic.

We tried to capture the momentous event with a short video that we made:

 

And just to give a bit of context here is a quick snap of where the community were previously drawing water.  A few muddy inches of water at the bottom of a hand dug well.  We are really pleased to have helped make such an important development happen. 

A few inches of muddy water….

And then to end the month we want to talk about maize meal.  As we mentioned at the beginning of the newsletter this year Zambia has suffered the worst drought for four decades.  The worst hit has been the South/Central parts of Zambia – i.e. the villages south of us where all our staff live.  The 2019 harvest was more than 50% down on the already poor harvest of 2018.  A reduction of 400,000 tons.  As the lodge closes for Jan, Feb and March (with everyone coming back towards the end of March to get things ready for opening in April) then clearly there is a long period where people are needing food security.  Almost all of our staff are small scale maize farmers who normally have a stockpile to go through these months.  But of course this year there are no stockpiles.  And maize prices have risen and risen as the year has worn on.  Prices now are double what they were a few months ago. 

So as a means of supporting our staff and their families we went shopping for maize!  So on the last day ofNovember it arrived.  Over two tons of maize meal.  So with that we end the month and basically the season.  We will have a few more updates before the year’s end, so until then! 

Two tons of mealie meal ready for distribution to our staff and their families – Twalumba (thank you) to everyone for working hard and making 2019 a far more successful year than we anticipated back in March. Good job!

   

  

October 2019 – Pictorial Monthly Update

“Kakumba Kanini”  Translated as “the time when the clouds start to form and sometimes even some rain”.  The Tonga words for what in English is known as October.  Very apt!    As you can see from the below image we have had a few showers – nothing major, just enough to whet our appetites.  

Scattered sunset showers to the North of the lodge.

While the heat build up is unrelenting and the grounds are parched the Kakumbi Kanini does at least bring some interest to the sky after months of clear skies and nothing but haze. 

Looking South South West.

The one thing that we don’t have in the Kafue – despite the incredibly dry conditions – is the really terrible conditions that other parks face.  In Mana Pools people are actually bringing fodder into the park to try to sustain the animals, and conditions in Hwangwe are apparently terrible with dozens of elephants literally dying from lack of food and water.  At times like this our low animal densities and large sources of water are a blessing.  

As you can see from the below image, while the Kafue levels are low they are not THAT low.  There is still plenty water going over the rapids and the life blood of the park is in no danger of running dry. 

Still a good amount of water flowing over the rapids just below the lodge.

Of course all this means that sightings are (as they always are) good in October.  Not much to add here really. Just let the pictures do the talking…. 

Wild dogs as captured by the new member of our guiding team James – who joins us from the Lower Zambezi.

The location of this leopard on top of a termite mound meant that guests got a great perspective looking up – so often on game drives we are only looking down on animals.

I couldn’t resist grabbing a quick shot of Junior doing some animal bread making with children.  We do offer children’s activities and child minding FOC to allow adult time!  Interestingly this picture caused some hilarity in the office when one of our facebook followers got things a bit confused and thought that ‘hippo bread’ was bread that we make to feed hippos!  Classic. 

Junior helping a child make ‘hippo bread’. Which (I must stress) gets eaten by humans not hippos.

October also means that river based birding also ramps up.  A lot of migrants (both intra African and palearctic are now on and around the river.  October also brings the white-fronted bee-eaters to the fore as they are nesting now and constantly hawking above the river to feed the young ones in the burrows.  Which of course allows for some great action photography.  

white-fronted bee-eater coming in. They are capable of such fast aerobatics that they are fascinating to watch.

But sometimes far slower and less spectacular birds are also well worth capturing.  Here the sunset caught a rather peaceful and serene great white egret as we boated back to the lodge. 

Sunset gradient and a great white egret.

And now for some mean and moody hippos.  We had a repeat guest with us who stayed with us for over 3 weeks!  She became very much part of Kaingu and on many occasions we just jumped on a boat with her and did things that guests on a more time limiting trip don’t do.  Sitting watching hippos for a couple of hours is not usually done as people want to move on and see as much as possible, but in this case we did.  

just hanging around. The hippos and us.

More mean and moody hippos!

On the same laid back boat cruise (taking things very slowly and spending time) we also spent 30mins watching this pied kingfisher attempt to eat this rather large (for the kingfisher anyway) fish.  Eventually we moved on as it looked like the process was never going to end! 

Eyes bigger than her stomach (and beak!)?

The rock pratincoles also really start to arrive in numbers in October.  As their name suggests they nest on river rocks – making Kaingu a perfect place for them! While on land they look quite ungainly and fat, in the air they are incredibly graceful and agile.  Its quite a sight to see literally hundreds of them whirling and diving for insects over the river.  

rock pratincoles. Not as fat as they look!

While some birds characters differ completely in air and on land, the wattled plover is one that doesn’t.  They are strident and loud and angry on land and in the air!  

wattled plover’s default mood = angry!

Oh, and in a rare (for here) sighting Julia got a quick picture of a lesser Jacana and then accidentally deleted it from her memory card!  We only see them every couple of years.  So instead we have to make do with this African jacana which we see on every boat trip.  The symmetry of the ripples stood out though. 

African jacana that should have been a lesser one!

Moving on from birds to yet another sunset…   25 years in Africa and sunset pictures still get me excited! 

Wild sunset on the river.  

Now if you regularly read our newsletter or follow any of our social channels then you will know that star photography is a bit of a thing here.   The correct term is really “astro-landscape”, as all the images contain parts of the earth as opposed to purely shots of deep space by itself.   If you are like me and are a bit of a geek about this then you will know that the season for pictures incorporating the most dramatic elements of the milky way include what is known as the galactic core – i.e. the center of the spiral galaxy that we are in.  The core starts to be invisible in October and the season lasts for 6 months or so.  So we were pretty happy to have the ‘excuse’ of a guest who was a very keen photographer but had never attempted stars before and wanted a bit of coaching.  He was up for adventure so after dinner we jumped in a boat and headed to an island.  Our guest memorably described it as one of the best nights ever!  We were surrounded by hippos and an elephant was on a nearby island breaking branches.  The reflections of the stars in the river were governed by the movement of the hippos around us.  It was pretty incredible really.   I should also point out that this is not the first time we have done some pretty adventurous night sky photography with those that want to do something completely different! 

reflecting pools!

Last of the milky way season!

And then we come to the 24th of October – Independence Day!  So to celebrate we took a picture of the National Bird (African Fish Eagle) and made a cake in the National Colours.  Okay, the fish eagle was taken a few days before…  but the cake was fresh!  

Our national bird takes flight.

And Julia and Lizzy’s rather creative cake in the National colours.

And again on the subject of repeat guests we had a couple that have been with us so many times.  They were actually our first ever guests to canoe with us, the first guests to sleep in our Tonga tree baskets and various other firsts.  We were delighted to have them back on their fifth trip to Kaingu! So we went on a longer canoe trip…  

Into the wild.

Getting to the end.

The end of the day.

Towards the end of the month again we had some scattered showers around, but nothing substantial.  Traditionally in Zambia it is said that the first rains coincide with Independence Day, but sadly not this year.  

Scattered showers as witnesses from the top of Mpamba rock.

And now onto elephants.  I know we keep saying it, but the elephant activity around camp this season is the most intense ever.  We are starting to realise that that there is not a tree or bush around the camp that hasn’t been partially (or completely!) eaten.  Of course we don’t mind – its is marvelous to have them around and the guests love it.  We do have to be on our toes though.  So here is a few examples of our October elephant action around camp.  

Yep. Its a boy!

about as close to the main area as possible.

Chalet 3 visitor.

And the to end the month’s review we show (again) an island elephant.  October has been a fantastic month here although there is no doubt that the heat has been quite extreme.  All in all it is a month when we have been very grateful to have the Kafue river and it’s constant flow.  It really is the life blood of the area and this season overall makes one think about climate change, over reliance on hydro power and the harsh fragility of the wilderness we are lucky to live in and share with our guests.  

contemplating a crossing..?

 

 

September 2019 Newsreel.

September!  Temperatures have risen that is for sure and so has the amount of elephant activity.  Enjoy. 

 

August Newsreel

July Newsreel

A very busy month!  3 day canoe trips, scouting filming locations, elephants, night skies (and wildfires) staff portraits, bees, lake Itezhi Tezhi and setting up our Tonga Treebaskets.  

 

June 2019 Newsletter

So back in May we had the mini marathon and so June kicked off with the Kaingu 100m sprint.  As Joel (barman) had sat out the mini-marathon we had no idea that he was going to take the honours in the 100m! Anyway, before all that on the way to our super track (i.e. the road from the Tsetse control point towards the lodge) we were given a display of just how athletic Junior (kitchen porter) really is: 

Junior leap frogging right over Elephayo’s head! Unreal.

So after the (total) victory that Junior pulled off in the mini marathon and then his jump right over elephayo we were pretty much expecting him to win the sprint.  Imagine our surprise when Joel blasted past him to bring in an 11 second win.  We were amazed! That is seriously fast.  

11 seconds 100m. Seriously quick staff!

Every month we always try and fit in an astroscape session.  In case you are wondering, astroscapes are considered to be photographs of stars with landscape type elements – as opposed to pure astro-photography which is is usually just stars and often of deep space objects.  

Kaingu lodge main area under the stars.

The turning circle under the stars.

We continued a gradual update of lodge interiors and general lodge photography.  

Chalet 3 at blue hour

Chalet 3 at golden hour

Chalet 3 interior

Chalet 3 interior 

We were also updating some main area shots when these three characters showed up…  While they look like they could be members of a band, in reality they are the crew from Valley Lodgeistics who are are suppliers and that of many lodges in the Kafue.  We have known these guys for years, and being stranded in our car park with a broken spring on the truck meant a night in our family house and some fine dining with the guides! 

Musonda, Ken and Claude. The VL crew.

You may or may not be aware that nearby to the lodge there is a pool where every morning at sunrise there is a gathering of Meyer’s parrots.  More here:https://kaingu-lodge.com/blog/2017/07/26/mayers-parrots-kaingu-lodge/

Anyway, they are in full swing:

Parrot pool in full swing

June was also the month that we finished our planned early burning and fire breaks.  I have mentioned before that historically our burning normally always starts in the first week of June.  However this year with drough conditions we were actually finished by the middle of June.  Unreal.  

Peter and Mike in the early morning smoke of our last planned burn of 2019.

Then a totally random shot of the rapids.  Whilst I have been there for so many sunsets and taken so many pictures there it always draws me back time and again.  This is one of the unique aspects of Kaingu – its not just wildlife that is worth watching here, there are also some mind blowingly scenic spots… 

The rapids post sunset.

Then for another atmospheric place…  we ventured down to the allegedly haunted pools of Izhibakamwale. The stories vary, but basically revolve around a very atmospheric pool and (depending on who you talk to) either a sort of mermaid creature that lures men to their death or a young woman who disappeared into the pool and haunts it still. Now I don’t believe in the paranormal, but I certainly admit that the area has an atmosphere. And that only once have I been down there at night alone.

The haunted pool?

Sightings of sable antelope on the Kaingu loops have really stepped up this year.  The Hartebeest are also there in big numbers, but compared to last year the sable numbers are way way up.  We are not sure of the reasons, but we are not complaining that is for sure! 

sable on the pools loops

Elephant activity around the river and around the camp has been really quite something this year.  Again we surmise that it is the dry conditions that are making animals come down to the river earlier, but regardless of the cause it is great to have them around: 

Checking out Oscar’s wheel barrow!

Ah the wonderful taste of ripped up palm trees…..

Two unmistakable African icons!

Then we had a training session.  Advance first aid.  Lessons and an examination over a three day period.  All in the name of keeping our guests and each other as safe as we possibly can. 

St John’s getting high tech this year.

The cold June mornings of course make for beautiful scenes.  Boating some guests up river for a game drive I grabbed this quick shot even though my fingers were so cold I could hardly grip the camera.  

Imagine views like this before you even GET to the game drive vehicles!

And then finally our last entry is another visit from the smilestar dental team.  This year they were in Mongu and stopped off here for some much needed R&R after treating hundreds of patients out in the West for free.  It was great to see Mitesh with a (largely) different crew this year.  Our staff also got checkups and we were happy to see extractions down to only 9 this year! 

The smilestar gang.

The Itumbi Community Schools & Crowdfunding

Since 2006 Kaingu Lodge has been extremely active in developing and supporting the Itumbi Community Primary School. Through fundraising (mostly through our guests) we have been able to see the completion of a three classroom primary school in Itumbi (or Kaingu) village. We have been able (by contributing part of every guest’s stay) to pay teachers salaries. We have been able to put in a solar bore hole pump and water lines to the school and two other key locations in the village. The school has received countless material donations of school uniforms, teaching materials, stationery, text books, sports equipment. The amount of donations has at times been literally almost overwhelming and has delighted us and the community.

Itumbi Community Primary School

However the reality is that when we first got involved there were just over 200 pupils. There are now almost 450 children attending the school. The numbers simply overwhelm the ability of the Ministry of Education to properly fund the school. Our donations that we raise directly through our bed night contributions and through our guests generosity is also nowhere near matching the actual needs.

Two subsidiary schools have been started in the area to try to reduce the distances that children are having to walk. The Kela Community Primary school and Kasamba were started around the same time as the Itumbi school through the efforts of individuals (initially the schools were not recognised by the Ministry of Education). To say that these schools are rudimentary is a massive understatement – particularly the Kela School (which is sometimes also written as ‘Keela’).

Keela Community Primary School

Over the years many past guests have reached out to us after staying with us – especially after seeing posts and news on our social media channels. Quite a number of these previous guests have then reached out wanting to make donations to us. We are happy to do this and will continue to update people on social media and accept donations to our Kaingu Trust via ourselves. But we also feel that online platforms such as ‘Just Giving’ might make it easier (certainly in terms of bank costs) to do so.

Keela Primary School as it stands at the moment

We have literally zero expectations. We might raise nothing or we might raise a decent amount through this avenue. To do this costs us a couple of hours and a bit of writing so if it achieves something then it is a win win situation. The community cannot do this themselves. They have not the technology nor the ability to put themselves ‘out there’ on the internet and social media and donation platforms. But we do. And we love imagery and video and story telling – the story telling is literally what we do round the campfire every single night! So why not try and do this? 

What the community can do themselves they are doing.  They have moulded and kiln fired 20,000 bricks and are transporting them to the Keela School by ox cart.  But with no cement and no roofing sheets the project will simply end there… 

Part of the 20,000 bricks made and fired by the community

Transporting bricks from the kiln site to the school site

Any donations given will be overseen by us (Gilmour, Julia, Lynda and Rick) and will be channelled into infrastructure and eductaional material for the schools. In extreme cases funds might even be channelled into food and clothing for critically vulnerable individuals.

Keela pupils

This fundraising will in no way replace our bednight levies that we pay directly into the Kaingu Trust (of which the community representatives then decide how it is best used). If people want to specify exactly what they want the money to be used for then that is also absolutely fine. Any monies received will not be simply handed over to individuals: material will be purchased by ourselves with the teachers. Where labour is required it will be overseen by ourselves. In short we will continue to administer and oversee any expenditure at all.

We have kept the fund fraising sum relatively low. As I say, our expectations are very grounded and we realise just how many people are bombarded on a daily basis with requests.

Our link to the crowdfunding site is here: 

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/itumbischools?utm_term=mgnD9eqwv