Benny’s tale

Here at Kaingu Lodge we are proud of our staff and the way we have been able to expand the number of people that we employ. We firmly believe that the only way that such large protected areas as Kafue National Park can survive is by their existence being justified by the neighbouring local communities that live next to the park and, in many cases, whose ancestors lived and owned the land that is now protected. Hard bordered, protected areas where local people derive no economic or aesthetic value and are excluded literally and figuratively are doomed to fail and rightly so. Tourism is a very obvious benefit that such protected areas can bring to local inhabitants, and is one of the few ways such (empty) areas can actually provide employment. While anti-poaching is always the “sexy sharp end” of conservation and sells donations and a nice story, the reality is that economic change is what will in the long term protect such areas. As a lodge we believe strongly in employment and education being key. We also believe that many tourists want to engage and learn from local staff. We ourselves have seen far too many lodges where staff and tourists are kept at a distance and only the managers and guides are whom tourists interact with. Not here. Being something that we feel strongly about we have certain key staff members and success stories that we want to share. Examples where people have been able to take tourism generated employment and use it as a genuinely life changing positive force. The first person we want to talk about is Benson Kaloza. Known as Benny and regularly described as our front of house superstar he is someone who has taken opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. Someone who really should be a role model for young people in our neighbouring villages and someone who is going to go far in this industry. Here is his story in his own words:


Benny’s story:

My name is Benson Kaloza and I am aged 26 years old. I am currently a management trainee and barman/waiter at Kaingu Safari Lodge and I would like to tell you a little bit about my background so you can understand how tourism benefits people.

Although I was born in Lusaka, I was actually raised by my grandmother in a village called Bushinga which is about 28km south of Kaingu Lodge. I was raised by my grandmother as she was not looking after anyone else and so could relieve my mother and father who were raising their five other children. My initial schooling was at Bushinga primary school. Life in Bushinga was quite hard. No running water, no electricity and as it was just my grandmother and myself I had to help with fetching water from a well 2km away, gathering firewood and helping fish the river for our food as well as with her small farm. Basically until I was aged 14 years old I went to school barefoot! I completed my secondary education at Uphill School in Itezhi Tezhi. As at the time there were no boarding schools in Itezhi Tezhi this meant that I had to go and stay with my uncle in order to complete my schooling. My uncle had a welding workshop in the town and life was a bit easier than in Bushinga, but still I had to help with all sorts of domestic work and my uncle paid for my schooling and fed me and gave me a roof on my head.

In 2012 I completed my secondary education (grade 12) and joined society as an adult where I had to do any available job to survive. I worked for a year in a secretarial shop or business centre in Itezhi Tezhi. I then worked for a truck owner for a couple of years loading and unloading his truck. As you can imagine this was pretty hard work, sometimes it was loading bricks and sand within the town, other times we would even have to go to Lusaka for a load. Through my uncle I then got a job as a timber cutter. Let me explain what this is: It means getting permits from the forestry department and going into the Game Management Areas and sawing trees into planks. It is a very old fashioned and hard job. Camping out in the bush and then building a frame to put the logs on and making the logs into planks with a two man pit saw. No chainsaws or anything like that. Sometimes camping out in the bush we would hear and see lions and elephants and leopards and hyenas. Despite this I actually really enjoyed the job although it was very very hard.

In 2015 we approached Kaingu lodge to see if they needed any hardwood planks and they did. So we were camped out for days producing some planks for them. While doing this and getting to know them I submitted an application for a job and luckily they employed me immediately as a waiter after talking with me and reading my application. After gaining experience I also added bar tending. At the end of 2016 the owners of Kaingu said that as they were really happy with my work they wanted to further my prospects and were happy to pay for further education.

In 2017 I started a diploma course in hospitality management at the Zambia Institute of Tourism. This is a distance learning course. It has been hard work to study and then take time off from the lodge and go into Lusaka to do courses and exams. But so far I have been passing all my exams and should finish this year in 2019.

To me hospitality means to receive and to treat guests and strangers in a warm and friendly and generous way. I really enjoy it because I get to meet and interact with various races from all over the world and it makes me so happy to help the guests. I also really like it when guests come back from an activity and I see how they are happy and excited to have seen animals in our area and talk to them about it. This makes me proud of my people, my lodge and my job. Basically helping people to be happy is a very rewarding job. But to make this work you have to engage with people.

Many people have helped me in my journey. Financial help, materially and also in terms of advice. To other young people from a similar background to me my advice is this: In life be very determined and focussed and never lose hope that one day you will make it. Through hard work I have come from a tiny village to now being in further education and with a good job. With my salary I have built a small business for my wife in Itezhi Tezhi in 2018 where we sell hair products. Overall we have been able to change our lives.

As for the future, who knows. But I hope that in five years time I will be fully managing a bush camp or small lodge. In ten years time I would like to be running my own food outlet or catering business. And one day I would like to be running my own Safari Lodge.

At the end of the day if it wasn’t for tourism I might still be loading and unloading lorries or camped out sawing timber in the bush.


November News

So as we write this on the second of December the season is (almost) over.  The last lodge guests are packing their bags and while there are still some camping guests over the next weeks our season is basically closed.  Everything gets packed away now and the green season teams do their thing.

But anyway this is about November and not about the end of our season!

We start with our second yoga weekend!  This one was much more successful than our washed out one back in March.  Yogi Ruth did an amazing job with yoga instruction and massages.  The attendees ranged from first timers through to a yoga instructor, so quite a diverse group.  The absolute common thread that ran through the weekend though were the locations.  Everyone commented repeatedly just how incredible the locations were…

Then came our (almost) annual trek to Liuwa Plain National Park.  I counted them up and this was our sixth visit.  No guests on this trip so we rounded up a couple of friends to join.  As many of you will be aware we have run mobile safaris there in the past and fully intend to do so again.  But with or without guests we go there.  A lot!

I am not going to ramble on too much more about Liuwa.  There is plenty more about it here on our blog if you look.  I will rather just show images from this amazing place:

so that’s it for Liuwa 2018.

Now back to the Kafue and the last couple of weeks of the season.  We have raved on before about November (a lot) here:

Suffice to say it is a beautiful month and indeed one of our favourites:

Skimmers! Finally. No nesting pair this year unusually but we have had infrequent visit. About as much fun as you can have with a camera…!

The number of goslings on the river this year has been incredible. I have no idea why but cannot recall these numbers before.

We had a family from Alaska come here. They actually came mostly for the fishing and clearly knew exactly what they were doing. Israel spent a week guiding them. It was absolutely fascinating to hear their stories and descriptions of the wilderness that they come from and how similar yet different it is.

On thanksgiving weekend we had some guest from ‘merica. So Lizzie got onto Youtube and downloaded a pumpkin pie recipe! Lizzie is becoming an avid content consumer with Youtube and is using it as a learning tool in a big way!

Rains bring frogs!

One of the last images of our season 2018 was the most incredible sunset that I witnessed while out with two very keen photographers.

And that is it folks!  Season 2018 is over.

October News

Blog post/news time already!  We literally cannot understand where the season has gone.  We are now almost at the end of November and writing about October.  Meanwhile it seemed like yesterday when we were opening up.

October is traditionally the ‘best’ safari month.  The month when the sightings are at their peak.  Sightings in October of course are accompanied by serious heat.  We have written loads previously about how actually November can be better – at least from a photographic point of view.  Now I realise that lion pictures are winners.  I study our social media pages in depth and look at metrics a LOT.  So I do know that a badly focused and blurry lion picture is always going to be more popular than a carefully composed and beautiful landscape picture that took vary careful planning and execution. So bearing all that in mind I am still going to go ahead and give you our October image set and not include a single animal.  Just to try something different.   No one will like it.  But As we have been so late with our newsletter I already know that November’s one is totally rammed with wildlife.  So here is October:

The absolutely stunning Zhibakamwale pools


Looking north up the river towards our famous rapids.


The pools where we often take guests to just sit, paddle and enjoy the river.


Absolute serenity – right around sunset on the Kafue river.


Zhibakamwale pools again


Top secret location south of the lodge. Starts with a “Z”


Then we turned traitor by taking a trip to a rock that wasn’t our beloved Mpamba…. Puku pan hill.  Stunning views.


More from puku pan.

When you look at this image you might start to understand why we decided to dedicate a news ‘letter’ to the landscapes around us….  Or not.  Probably you prefer blurred lions 😉  


September News

Its 36 degrees in the office and the winds are predicted to hit gusts of 60km/hr today…   Yep.  September.  If the preceding month of August is when we talk about Winter leaving then September is a month when we forget what it was even like to be cold!

Anyway as usual we just go straight into our pictorial review of the month:

We start of with cats. Sighting in September were really good on our Pools Loops. Which was very fortunate as the Shishamba area became very quiet in terms of cat sightings.

What has been very interesting since we created these loops is to monitor and see the changes in animal densities and patterns. When we first created these loops we saw large herds of sable antelope on a regular basis. Sable sightings have reduced over the last three years and yet Hartebeest numbers have shot up. Medium sized antelope such as puku and impala also have increased in the area massively.

But cat sightings over last year and this year have increased dramatically. Which of course is absolutely wonderful. Relaxed leopards are becoming fairly usual sightings!

To see four different leopards in just two days used to be something very unusual for this area. Okay to be fair it is still not exactly regular. But there is definitely an increase in cat sightings in ‘our’ area.

We even had the mukambi river pride (named after where they were first seen) push all the way down and spend several days hanging around the pools loops. Unusual patterns of behaviour for sure.

All this discussion about unusual patterns that we cannot explain brings us to data collection. We are happy to support Panthera with data collection. So when you see our guides fiddling with what looks like a big phone they are not messing around. They are gathering data about cats. Using an open source software called S.M.A.R.T we try to collect as much data as possible. This will help the researchers better understand the population numbers, dynamics and challenges in order to better protect Kafue’s populations of charismatic mega fauna!

So hopefully playing our part in date collection will enable the custodians of the wildlife to better understand and protect them. Allowing guests to have wonderful experiences like this!

As the heat builds it is simply great to be able to offer so many different river based experiences as well as game drives. Canoeing is an absolute highlight for many. Us too!

The river always produces surprises if you look carefully. The Finfoot we normally see swimming or at best skittering across the water. But to see one (almost) in flight and rock hopping was quite a sight. We also have been seeing two young quite regularly.

Here a rather unfortunate leopard squeaker becomes a fish supper for a young reed cormorant!

September is also the month that the white-fronted bee-eaters start digging out their colonies. They are such fascinating birds. Socially extremely complex and incredibly adept in the air: we could watch them for hours. Hint: sometimes we do!

Back to the pools! It is not that often that one becomes familiar with a particular individual antelope. But there are a pair of reedbuck on our loops that we have become vary familiar with.

That was the male and this is the female. In reviewing our pictures of this pair I am once again struck by just how beautiful and graceful the reedbuck are.

one evening saw us also having a sundowner and getting the tripod out. The beauty of the area of the pools and the actual pools themselves never fails to wow.

We also had a team from the TNC come and stay and evaluate our fire management strategy. While McRee and Mundia have been here many times it was good to have them come out in the late season and see the effect of early burning and the rather less desirable late season fires. Like the data collection every little bit feeds into the bigger picture…

On the subject of fire. September. Almost guaranteed that at some point we will be out there fighting wildfires. So of course we were….

Probably the most unusual sighting for us in September wasn’t related to the animal kingdom or birds at all. It was rain!!!! We had a sudden electrical storm and quite a significant downpour. It was fantastic!

And then this was most certainly newsworthy. A large company that wishes to remain nameless donated a huge amount of (mostly) children’s clothing to the school. Over 100 boxes!!! It took us three boats to get it all across the river. A big thanks to the guys and a big thanks also to Markus and Valley Lodgeistics who transported it out to us at no cost.

Downtime: An evening at the lodge with only a few guests means that not everyone has to be on deck. We were taking an evening walk while the guests were on activity and found some of the team also enjoying the river.

When you see the river around Kaingu then you understand why it draws everyone to it. Whether it is guests on activity or us on some downtime it just never ever gets old.

Following the example of Wina and the guys we also grabbed a canoe and did a bit of island exploring. Julia getting all zen in a rather stunning area that we had never explored before.














There is indeed something about these landscapes that make you want to become all yogi.

And we leave you there for September.

Recycling at Kaingu Lodge

Claiming green credentials in the safari industry is almost as ubiquitous as khakis and gin and tonics.  Generally speaking most camps and lodges are pretty minimal impact.  It kind of comes with the territory as environmental standards in protected areas are usually quite strict.  Also being ‘off grid’ means that a lot of lodges rely on solar power generation or hybrid generation systems.  Water filtration is touted as being green (some camps will hand you a fancy water bottle with a nice story about helping the environment) but in reality it is just sensible; try carrying cases and cases of water and then having to deal with all the plastic waste.  It might be green but in reality it is just easier to manage!  But green credentials sell safaris and if we don’t all try to minimise our impact on our world then we are going to end up in big trouble.  So every little helps.  Now I am not cynical enough to try and tell you that us re-using a few wine bottles and steel barrels is because we believe it will save the world.  No.  It is rather a bit like my water bottle example; we do it because it works, we do it because there is satisfaction in creating something yourself and then seeing it used.  We do it because we want to at least try and reduce a little bit the circle of consumption and waste.  And we do it because it can save us a bit of money.  We do it because we do not want our lodge to be furnished from a catalogue and we want it to be unique and to feel like it was designed by a human being.  You won’t find that many geometric shapes in what we do here at Kaingu.  This reflects the fact that we are surrounded by nature where there are few hard edges and angles.  “Nestled into nature” is a phrase we have used repeatedly because it fits our lodge and our approach.

So in this post we want to show some examples.  Not of solar panels and batteries and toilets.  But of how we have taken items and incorporated them into our buildings and decor.  Now let’s also be clear; when I say “we” it is basically all Julia.  With a background (educationally as well as vocationally) in design she is the one who spearheads all of this.

Lets start with bottles.  We use a lot!  As much as possible we try and get our suppliers to send beer and soft drinks in returnable bottles.  This works for a lot of drinks.  But of course not all.  Wine springs to mind.  Now glass windows don’t work at Kaingu.  But what about recycling bottles to create a ‘window’ that allows light in?  And it can even be in the shower as nobody can see through it.  And it looks beautiful when the morning sun hits it.

Now we come to the humble mbaula.  This is the charcoal brazier used all over Zambia for cooking on.  They are everywhere and used by everyone.  The mbaula itself though is already a recycled item as they are made from steel drums that are used to supply oils and lubricants.  The 200L (55 gallon) ones make for quite a large brazier and smaller 50kg grease drums make for a ‘one pot’ cooker.  Initially an mbaula looks like there is very little to commend them in terms of arts and crafts:

But the finished items look fantastic once they are painted up and once we made mukwa (local hardwood) table tops for them.  We see them as practical, cheap and (being a bit fanciful here) a uniquely local item which is recognised by many and becomes a talking point where all sorts of conversations start: from cooking through to deforestation due to dependence on charcoal!

Next on our list is the humble mortar.  As in pestle and mortar.  In our house we have a couple of very old ones that we use as side tables.  We wanted to create the same for the lodge.  Now while we envisaged buying old broken down ones from the villages it actually turned out to be a lot harder than we expected.  The mortar and pestle in Africa is a seriously large implement.  The spread of small scale diesel powered hammer mills means that really the use of these is now confined to very rural areas where distances to the nearest mill are substantial.  To pound maize in these in order to produce a meal to make nshima is pretty hard work indeed.  The mortar is symbolically as well as practically a very important piece of household equipment.  It is difficult for people coming from say Europe to appreciate just how important the role of maize is here.  And in turn just how important the tool to turn maize into the staple starch dish of nshima is.  A bit of minimal painting and turned upside down they also make amazing side tables which really are truly Zambian.

Next up is the traditional canoe.  There is a good story here too.  We were approached by a nameless D.N.P.W. patrol team leader who informed us that a very trusted staff member had loaned out his canoe to people who were now using it for nefarious purposes in the villages (i.e. crossing the river to poach).  To avoid implication and trouble we sat the said staff member down and offered to buy the canoe to take it out of circulation.  Smiles all round and a great story:

The next one was yet another poacher’s vessel.  This one however was confiscated by a patrol team who had found a poacher’s camp on one of the islands south of us.  At first it was going to be burnt on the spot by the team but again we stepped in and the end result was that everyone was happy.  Except the poachers who on return to their camp would find that they were  short of a canoe!  Anyway it now resides on the deck and still carries people but in a slightly different way and for very different purposes.

Now we come to our final one and this is one which always makes me smile.  This is true recycling although not of an item that is a problem to dispose of.  Indeed rather the opposite.  Most safari goers are very familiar with the marula tree.  The fruit is much loved by elephants and indeed the elephants are a method of seed dispersal as the pulpy fruit is eaten and sometime later the seed is deposited.  In it’s very own patch of rich manure.  Studies have shown that marula seeds that have passed through an elephant’s digestive system are far more likely to germinate than those that have not.

So here is the original product:

And below is some of the contents after a fair bit of work!  Past visitors to Kaingu know that Julia as a hobby creates seed based jewelry.  I should point out that it is a hobby that pays as a lot of items are sold in the Kaingu curio shop!  The fact that people are wearing an item that has passed through an elephants digestive system is just too cool.



August News

As per the norm here at Kaingu we are doing a pictorial review of the month.  August is generally the month that winter leaves us and temperatures start to climb.  By the end of the month we were seeing temperatures in the low 30s so a big change there.  Birdlife on the river also really starts to pick up.  Anyway enough talking and we let the pictures (and captions!) tell the story.

Our motivation signs!   They are a bit ironic now (and this is why we posted this) as the road that they are on is now actually the fastest way to reach Kaingu.  The D769 (Itezhi Tezhi road) is now being tarred and is in amazing shape and then the last 40kms in through the GMA forest has been worked on by ourselves heavily over the last two years.  The net result of all this is that this is now the fastest way to reach Kaingu.  However the park side/boat arrival still has far more charm and “safari theater”!

School visit

A delightful family from the UK visited ‘our’ school.  They had brought footballs and other supplies and were absolutely amazed by the friendliness and enthusiasm at the school.

Pools loops reedbuck. The reedbuck for me is actually one of the most beautiful antelopes; perfectly proportioned and wonderful colour. Fortunately a fairly common sighting on our loops.

Another common pools loops sighting: Israel!

New life at chalet 1: JohnD spotted this tiny newborn bushbuck from the river and radioed in. A new addition to the numerous bushbuck that reside around the lodge.

New life in the river too! In the wild crocodiles are extremely slow growing though so this guy is probably a couple of years old. Check out that eye!

Safari staples: G&T has to be the most often requested sundowner drink. While others go for the botanicals and fancy gin tastings we keep it simple. As it should be.

As the river levels drop August is also the month that we start doing more sleepouts and different activities. A simple one-pot meal under the stars and reviewing the day with a glass of wine and good company. Doesn’t really get much better than this!

Half-collared kingfisher. on the river with a bit of natural framing.

Latest lodge details: A true story is that this bench was once a canoe and used in poaching activities. (we only tell the full story if you sit on it!). 100% recycling.

As water levels drop we start assessing our natural bathing/paddling pools. The late and heavy rains mean that they are not quite there yet. But any day now…

Tonga basket: during August we finished two additional ones. So we now can offer sleepouts for up to 6 people. We are totally biased of course but think they are totally stunning and totally unique.  Mike the mechanic (known for his rather sharp and eccentric observations) calls them “human nests”.

Of course in fine-tuning the guest experience testing is required. A hard job! Here is Julia contemplating sunrise from a Tonga basket (human nest).

And now for something completely different. Latest lodge details: We have decided to create our own handmade soaps for our guests. Turns out there is a fair bit of complexity to soap production…..

But the finished results look (and smell) amazing. Everything is curing at the moment so the final results will take a few weeks until they are in. But so far so good.

We did a fair bit of canoeing in August. Always such a fantastic activity.

I always enjoy Kaley’s safety briefs. He has truly developed them into a comedy art form which always puts sometimes nervous guests at ease.

Nyambanza. She is a bit of an unsung hero to be honest. Quiet, efficient and brilliant with family groups. We don’t post enough about her but will get that sorted!

Pic from JohnD: He called up on the radio to announce that once again we had lions in the carpark! Its becomming a bit of a regular thing.

Now when John called the lion sighting in I jumped in a boat and headed across. But what ended up happening was that the early morning light hitting a young puku actually made me leave the lion and photograph the puku. Sometimes it is the smaller things that make your day!

Wildfires. Sadly late season wildfires are a fact of life in the Kafue and surrounding GMAs. Actually historically the GMAs suffer late season fires less than the NP. Anyway we had quite a large one burning out to the East. Due to our regime of firebreaks and early burning we were not really concerned but I did go out to monitor it and ensure we were not going to get any nasty surprises. The opportunity to photograph it was taken for sure.

Moonrise while monitoring the fire.


July News

I can’t believe we are basically half way through our season.  Unbelievable how time passes.  July was a phenomenal month in so many ways, but we start with Benny.  We are actually planning an entire blog post about Mr Benson, but we will start with a quick picture of him in his chef’s whites.  Although Benny is front of house he is passionate about cooking as a hobby and to generally develop himself.

Benny (on the right) taking a break from waitering!

We also did a bit of updating our activity images.  Julia was pointing out that we keep using a 6 year old boating picture in our emailers and ads.  So we did a quick evening photo session with Julia and Alphonso.

The beauty of the river

Rocky river

Now we turn to a few lodge ‘touches’.  Using humble materials – recycled charcoal braziers (Mbaulas) to create coffee tables and using some Mukwa and copper pipe (and carved Zebras) to create a safari style cake stand.  We already have had social media messages from people wanting to buy these pieces!

The humble mbaula. A charcoal brazier used the length and breadth of Zambia

Which we then turned into these!

And our Mukwa and plumbing parts cake stand:

Mukwa, copper pipe and a raid on the curio shop produced this.

Then for something completely different.  Some background story: There is a fairly spectacular Baobab about 10km up the river road from us. I had on and off thought about trying for a typical African astro landscape shot many times but never actually done it. The last couple of weeks has seen really unseasonal cloud at night, no good at all for astro landscapes obviously. A few evenings ago after dinner with guests Julia and I went out to try and find the lion that had been calling behind the lodge. No go on the lions, but sitting in our old landrover in the middle of the dambo listening the stars were unreal. The cold front had cleared the skies of smoke and it was stunning. Julia was not so into a midnight astro mission (she was keen on bed) so we headed to the house and swapped the old series III for something more reliable. Of course as I drove a few kilometers up the river road here was the lion strolling up the track. He kindly made way (he was a bit skittish) so I ‘overtook’ him and headed for the boabab. I knew he would be continuing up the road towards me and sure enough I could hear his calls approaching. I REALLY quickly set up the tripod, locked down the camera, switched to MF, found infinity focus and started shooting. The calls were getting closer and the atmosphere was unreal. If only photos had sound!


Grass.  We use a lot of it.  Every year…   We rely on the local communities for our supply.  4500 bundles in total.  Now to be really honest there are easier ways to do this but we are proud of how much impact our lodge has on the very local economy and we like to keep things traditional.  Oberty is our local organiser and the cutting team generally comprises about 30 people – often older people or very young who have little other income sources.

The man himself: Mr Oberty.  He has taken over the role from his father (Mr Gibson) who is over 85 and was until last year out cutting grass himself.


And now for some game drives.  We also took the opportunity to get out in our old landrover.  Now many of you know that this old classic basically is used only to drive guests back from Mpamba rock in the evening after a walk and sundowners on the rock.  However we got all brave (risking mechanical catastrophe) and went out into the Game Mangement Area to get some footage and just enjoy our beautiful surroundings.

Seriies III 109″ Landrover. Born in SA from components from Birmingham. She is well over 40 years old!

In marked contrast here is Julia driving one of our slightly younger vehicles.  Absolutely wonderful to get out a bit on our loops and get some video and pictures.  All marketing but all fun…!

Julia driving the pools loops.

Beautiful evening light.

Now we come to sightings.  What a month.  We will start off gently with what are for us very common sights.  Hartebeest.  The winter colours of the bush blends beautifully with the coats of the hartebeest.

Likewise the ever present puku melting into the background.

Then we had a rather special day.  On a transfer down to lake Itezhi Tezhi JohnD had the most incredible sightings.  A pangolin and 21 wild dogs.  Unreal!

Pangolin and Kaingu lettering – fantastic!

The best thing was that the guests on the drive were all serious safari goers and so a pangolin was the icing on the cake.

Dogs and pangolin on one drive.  Sometimes the planets align perfectly…  (more on that later!):

Then on the same day Julia and I jumped on an evening game drive with guests.  We were so glad we did as we got to spend 30mins with an incredibly relaxed young male leopard.

And now for something completely different.  We have been very busy on school related work this month.  Now most of you probably know that Kaingu was instrumental in the construction of the Itumbi school and that we (together with generous donations from guests) do quite a lot in terms of trying to upgrade (and even just maintain) standards, equipment, facilities, teacher training etc.

As I say, we are fortunate to have very generous guests and in July we were lucky to receive some very generous donations towards our ongoing desk rehabilitation and replacement.

We have been very busy using some of these funds to rehabilitate old broken desks:

These broken desks have been lying for literally years. The school is desperately short of desks, so here we go….

Willard in action, grinding off old rusted bolts before Mike welds the broken frames.

And Mike.  Welding.  In slow motion!

Then we come to the RowZambezi expedition.  Two years ago they approached us asking if we would release Kaley to help them with guidance and assistance on the river.  We were happy to oblige and Kaley was very keen on this adventure.  After a year’s delay (to raise more sponsorship money) it finally was on.  In addition to Kaley helping guide we also received a bit of a last minute call for help which ended up us taking two boats up to Chunga and assisting to lead them down to Kaingu.

The rowers included olympic athletes and boat race competitors.  It was fascinating to hep out and watch it all unfold.

The three teams approaching Kaingu.

And then lastly we come to the lunar eclipse.  This was a highly anticipated event in so many safari lodges across Southern and central Africa.  We were a little bit unlucky here as in the late afternoon the cloud started building and eventually the coverage was almost total.  We decided to head up to Mpamba rock regardless and just hope for the best.  We packed up the old landrover with cushions, blankets, a pot of chili and drinks.  We sat on top of the rock with our guests and made stick bread and ate and drank and waited.

Waiting and waiting for a break in the clouds

And finally!  The clouds parted just as the ‘blood moon’ or eclipse totality happened.  The break in the clouds only gave us a few minutes view but we did manage to grab some quick pictures which brought us almost to the end of a wonderful month here at Kaingu Lodge.

June News and images

So as per usual our news ‘letter’ is really just a series of images all taken here at Kaingu, all in the month of June.  There is no real story there as such.  Well, there is, there always is.  We are always doing stuff, upgrading stuff and creating stuff.  But sometimes a picture tells a 000 words.  Anyway, June.  Traditionally the month of mists and fires.  And the cold.  Lets go!

Looking North from straight above Kaingu Lodge in the early evening. Looking North you can see how after a few kilometers the river changes and becomes a slow, wide meander. Not nearly as charismatic as here. Still beautiful but with a totally different character!

This is the rapids. Literally a couple of hundred meters from where I sit right now in the office. A stunning spot and a site that we use regularly for dinners and drinks etc. June saw us finally able to use our usual dinner spot after the waters dropped enough. I have never seen generally such water levels at this time. Not just the rivers, but small streams and ponds that are normally dry by now are still wet.

The morning mists. June is always the month when this really starts up. It is absolutely stunning. We are so guilty of repetition when it comes to talking about this. But once you see it you will understand!

I joined one guest group that we immediately nicknamed “Ladies with lenses” as they were very keen photographers. Israel was guiding them and you can see here he also gets enthusiastic about morning mists! Anyway we had a fully photography packed few days lined up….

Repeat guests Kathy and Paul (multiple repeat I should add) heading into the sunrise on their next adventure with Kaley. The mist this morning was intense!

As we pulled back to the lodge we suddenly spotted the elusive jetty Finfoot. I was really pleased to perform a lightning quick lens change and then grab this as the “Finners” (Kaley’s shortcut name) moved through the mist. Made my day. Well, actually my week.

No guest experience here is complete without Mpamba rock. The ladies were very keen to photograph the sunset. Beautiful golden light….

Barbara’s beautiful Canon 5DMKIII with a fancy Lee graduated filter system. Ohh. I guess you have to be a real photo nut to see beauty in this image! Antonia and my own set ups were far far more basic that this.

After dinner it was back to the rock. The Ladies with lenses wanted to grab some star photos. The timing was perfect as it was a new moon so only starlight visible. It was a really good session. Everyone was happy with what they got. For me this evening was quite a novel experience as most times my night time photo sessions are pretty lonely affairs.

The following morning it was back onto the river pre-dawn for a second mist session. This mornings mists were less intense than the previous day. In some ways it was actually better as the previous day was almost too much.

Nala the cat. Okay, why a picture of Nala? Firstly because she is beautiful and very charismatic. Like all best models! Secondly because there is kind of an internet tradition that when someone gets a new camera or lens they have to take a picture of either a cat or a duck. One of the ladies with lenses very kindly lent me one of her lenses as she was leaving. Saying she will come back for it in November. Now as this whole news entry has been one long photo centric post I will now go into raptures about this thing: A Sigma 20mm F1.4 ‘Art’ series lens. This is not your average travel zoom or daily walk around lens. It is a big fat, specialized, wide, low light beast of a thing. If you know you need a 20mm F1.4 this is the thing. If you question whether you need such a lens then you really don’t. It weighs an entire kilo. It is a fixed length prime lens so not particularly flexible. It has more coma than a cheap Korean fully manual lens. It misses focus fairly often. But on the right day at the right moment it is utterly sublime! It hoovers up light like a dyson and is sharper than a katana.

The sigma again. Look at this thing! 9 aperture blades so amazing sunburts and beautiful bokeh. This is the path to chalet 4. The output from this lens can literally make you drop everything and go on safari!

Another day another sunset. By the Sigma. Yep. Test over. It works. Giving this thing back is going to hurt….

The Pools loops. June is also always the month that we finish slashing and fixing up the loops, do early burning and then start driving them. This is always hard and hot work, at times a bit nerve-wracking but always interesting. To see an area that we properly only saw almost six months ago and re-connect with it is great.

The ubiquitous puku. What has been very interesting is how over the years the population of medium sized antelopes (Pukus and Impalas) has risen in the area. We are not sure why, but it is pronounced. The first couple of years that we created and drove the areas we didn’t see half as many as now.  The larger grazers (especially hartebeest) were always there in numbers but not so much the medium sized antelopes.  Now that is all changed though.  

The Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest. This is the antelope (together with the Oribi) that is to me synonymous with the pools loops. Within one day of early burning we were counting 60 animals in 4 herds. Fantastic. They also are for sure now more comfortable with vehicles. Even after a 6 month break!

From the pools loops back to the river. Alfonso joined us on an internship again this year (you might remember him from last year). He memorably said to us – in fact while heading home from this rock) – that he told his friends that “I am going back to my favourite place in the world”. He is a great guy!

A random snapshot from early burning on the pools loops. We take it all very seriously (as we should). Fire fighting equipment, drip torches, a drone to monitor and fine tune, google earth (to plan), maps and training. We do it all.

Bo and Gil pre-burn planning. As mentioned we take it seriously. Evidence being the serious expressions and Gil’s treasured “crew boss” fire clothes. Of course 10 minutes later they are like kids running around burning stuff and saying things like “yeah, look at it rip through that dambo”.

And then finally we leave you with something more beautiful than burning. Victor setting up the first rapids dinner. Finally.

May News

Month of May.

Stargazing with Julia and Stephanie.  Stephanie joined us from Belgium on an internship.  This was them brushing up a bit before a bit of stargazing with guests.  

Lots of lanterns.  Received a new shipment of Dietz  Lanterns.  Safari staples… Lanterns and canvas! 

Dinner for 18. Hence the need for lots of lanterns!

And in daylight.

Daylight deck.  The one thing about safari lodges is that ‘gear’ takes an absolute hammering.  Constant daily use and exposure to the elements.  We sanding down and finished each and every directors chair.  A job that seems never ending.  Still, it all looked good when finally done.  

Steph heading off with Benny to set up an island sundowner

Dancing and drumming under the stars.  

Kaley and Panthera Leo.  Sightings for May were pretty good.  Long grass and lots of water were for sure there, but overall it was pretty good! 

Hippo through the deck.  This was an absolute highlight – from the guests perspective anyway.  A hippo decided to walk across the deck.  Fortunately this level of daftness is rare.  It hasn’t happened in years.  Total chaos! 

Repairs. Fortunately we had hardwood 2×6 in stock.  And screws and all the rest of it…. 

Precision.  Mike being unusually delicate.  While his talents are undeniable, at times he is not the most gentle of souls! 

Something completely different.  We grabbed a couple of nights down at the lake.  And were amazed by the small Kapenta traps that are put out every night.  As well as an alternative to the (over) conventional fishing it also is very atmospheric! 

Itezhi Tezhi town from 1000′.  The Kapenta traps are put out all over the lake.  

Pig on a spit.  A shot like this means that it is time for the annual Kaingu Fathers & Kids fishing weekend.  Anyone that is familiar with our social media content knows that this is an absolute highlight of our year.  It is something so different and informal.  

Fathers and kids on the rock

Stick bread.


Dance off! A three way competition – boys, girls and dads!

Mark and Victor choosing a song for the dads (winning) dance. Katerina finding the whole concept of dads dancing hilarious.

Back to more normal life!


Evening light and a monitor lizard

More normal safari goers!

JAAS. “Just” another African (almost) Sunset.

And lastly something VERY different. A group of dentists visiting the lodge offered free staff treatment and checkups.



April Newsreel

As we often do for April’s news we have done an image slideshow.  All images of course from April ’18 here at Kaingu Lodge.