April News

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

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

adult goliath taking off

giant chick

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

pair of crowned eagles

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

Morning tai-chi

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

warming the drums

drum solo

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

our small fleet

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

the talented Mr Yandila

new umbrellas

All done on this!

hand cranked chinese sewing machine

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

mini croc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kafue River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Liuwa 2016 Slideshow

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

Doing Liuwa Plain Mobile Safaris!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

October News at Kaingu Lodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September News

So apart from our ‘back of house’ news we also wanted to share our regular pictorial news of what was happening in and around Kaingu lodge for the month of August 2016.

We had our usual annual share of firefighting, both in the GMA and in the National Park.  This (sadly) has become such an annual routine now and it is intense work.  This year (in terms of being out there) was not as bad as last year, but we still clocked up 8 days continuous firefighting.  We are lucky that this year we invested in decent beaters and more backpack firefighting pumps.  We were able to at least stop fires from the North and from the South from marching up the park between the spinal road and the river and our early burning saved most of the ‘pools loop’ area.  But the amount of late season fires is just too much.  The GMA was also bad, again we were at least able to stop our walking areas from burning.

This was day 7 of non-stop burning. The “macpoly” backpacks really mean the difference between being able to control a fire or not.  Especially late fires in winds where beaters just cannot get close enough.

Contrast the blackened landscape above with this area near the lodge where early burning was done:

But then to balance the bad with the good.  We hosted staff and Trustees from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on a two night fact finding mission to the Kafue.  On top of the rock we had a big group discussion where fires were a hot (sorry) topic.  Some of the good news was that it looks like next year TNC will be investing massively in fire management in the Kafue.  Great news. Post discussion beers, pictures and Mpamba sunset:

A day or too later we were treated to a lunchtime visitor.  I know we keep saying it, but the regular sightings of elephants crossing from island to island and from Park to GMA is just so amazing.

Then (finally) the Wild Dog Air plane took to the skies!  Interminable delays meant that everyone was using a Proflight Islander, but now at least it’s up and running.  It does look absolutely spectacular (inside and outside) and we are all pleasantly surprised at how many people have made use of the flights this year:

Then a few pictures just wandering around camp in the early evening:

Then we had our good friend and pro photographer Anthony Grote come and stay for three nights.  He was back in the Kafue doing work for some lodges and contacted us that he would love to come and stay and while here put together a small Kaingu video.  We jumped at the opportunity!  I must say it is great to see that he has been able to add more lodges to his list in the Kafue.  We can’t wait to see the finished video.  As usual with Anthony we worked the schedule hard – Mpamba, river, poachers rock, shishamba, pools loop, parrots, river, rapid canoeing, more river, rapid dinners etc!

Of course while out working on trying to video things it also means a lot of time being ‘out there’.  One afternoon drive that then turned into a night drive was spectacular.  Including mating leopards…

Franco.  If you have noticed we have talked a lot about him recently. Why? Well it is simple.  He is a genuine success story in that he is a local guy that has used his skills and talent and hard work to (via Kaingu and our shop) make a huge difference to his family’s income.  With 9 children to support you can imagine the pressure.  We mentioned before that he is making good money from the curio shop on a weekly basis.  This month we also directly contracted him to make some large driftwood fish for the deck of each tent.  Excellent.

Then we end the month with what we might consider the perfect ending to a day!  Out on the boat enjoying some peace and tranquility after watching African Skimmers do their thing.  Looks like they are back and nesting on what we call “skimmer island”.  The bee-eaters are also busy on the same island, so the hide is reconstructed and ready for use.  Bring it on!

Back of House News

So every month we try and post news. Generally this is pictures of scenery, birds animals and sometimes guests (and sometimes ourselves pretending to be guests).  But anyone that follows our facebook page will know that we also are not shy to post what goes on behind the scenes. People are generally interested in how it all works.  For the last month or so we have been embarking on a fairly major project to upgrade the staff village.  Kaingu now employs 25 contract staff for ten months of the year.  Last year we added 3 new houses, but more facilities are required. 

We decided that another new double (flush) toilet was needed (ladies and gents) and a double shower block (four showers) was needed to supplement the existing ones.  A staff kitchen (monkey-proofed) was also added to the list, as were re-thatching of Nkutas (outside shelters) and some new ones.  So Mr Gibson (thatching grass) and Royd (contract builder) were engaged. 

Of course part and parcel of bush life is breakdowns and repairing them!  Out old Mitsubishi Canter is getting a bit tired, but it struggled vainly on moving thousands of bundles of grass, dozens of poles and all the rest...

Nkutas are found in all the village homes.  They are areas where people can cook, sit around the fire and shelter from the rains and the sun.  We have small ones and a massive communal one where all staff not on duty gather to eat and chat (and yes, sometimes party!).  This small one below is for JohnD and Jenny:

The large one for the staff is matched by another one behind the kitchen.  Eating and sitting area for the guides who cannot bear to be away from the wifi signal! 

The staff kitchen is a major step forward.  Up until now the cooking is done by the staff chef (Vincent) in the large Nkuta on an open fire.  The staff kitchen below is having a gas range, shelves, cupboards and sinks for washing up.  Our staff is what makes Kaingu, well, Kaingu. We firmly believe in trying to make their lives here as good as we really can.  Wood smoke from open fires in Africa is a huge problem for people's health. 

Royd was also asked to add to the contract a small outside seat and flower pot for each house.  Small details, but at least the houses can be a bit more like home for everyone.  Of course some of the "rugged" guys like Bo haven't actually planted anything.  The ladies seem to be in the lead on this one.  The house below is Chef Lizzie's house:

The thatching looks a bit like a bad hair moment, but after the first rains it all flattens down.  Pictured below is the new shower block which is now finished except the tiles and plumbing.  Mike is on that job as I type:

Now constructing a proper kitchen gave us another idea.  In fact the idea came from Willard (camp hand, not the guide!) who jokingly told me that now there is no smoke inside the large Nkuta we could put a TV there.  We started to think about it.  Why not?  So....   4 solar panels, an inverter, 2 deep cycle batteries, a charge regulator, a dish and decoder and a HELL of a lot of alignment and we now have DSTV with dozens of channels as well as a charging station so everyone can charge mobile phones while watching shocking Nigerian movies (that seem to always be one of only two themes - infidelity or witchcraft.  Some of the better ones combine both topics).  To be fair I did find guides Kaley and Israel watching a Nat Geo programme about the Amazon. 

  And then we finish with an improvement that benefits everyone - a new solar pump.  After our second submersible solar pump packed in (due to water ingress) we decided to install a surface pump where all moving parts are on the river bank and not submerged.  This meant a few things - firstly a chicken house for the pump to go in and secondly a large extension to the panel array.  So far so good.  The pump is quiet and vibration free.  Of course nothing is easy.  People will sell you a pump, but to get fittings to plumb it in???  Our good friend Congo came to the rescue and fabricated some special flanges for us.  Okay, I have to stop now because I can literally talk about pumps the whole day!  We are really pleased with the staff village improvements and we are proud of the fact that we are really trying to make everyone feel that Kaingu is a good place to work.

Look at it! All shiny and sleek.  Stainless steel and other bits.  Sexy. I can sit for hours and just listen to the gentle whirring noises.  Art in motion. 

 

August News Images

Just a selection of images from Kaingu Lodge taken through the month of August. 

July Newsletter

5 Egrets

It was fascinating to watch 5 egrets all try and land at the top of the same tree.  They continued wheeling around the tree for ages making for some great photo opportunities. 

David and goliath

On the way up to do a staff transfer run Julia saw the rather unusual sighting of a goliath heron and a finfoot together. 

One tusk in camp

We were visited in camp regularly over the course of the month by 'one tusk' who is the most regular elephant visitor here. 

Wild dogs

No GMA sightings this month, but no shortage of dogs in the National Park. 

One tusk in the river

"One Tusk" again providing guest entertainment.  In the river this time.  The spectacle of elephants in a river is always amazing, what makes it more special here is if they then climb on top of rocks!  We don't see it often, but when we do it is incredible!

Lions

Regular predator sightings.  As temperatures hot up and the bush dries out sightings of lions, wild dogs. leopard get far more regular. 

Lesser jacana

A massively cropped picture, but I was highly excited to see my first ever lesser Jacana (at Kaingu that is) and grab a picture of it.  All while waiting for guests to arrive for an island sundowner. 

Pied kingfishers

The Kaingu Lodge logo is the pied kingfisher.  Quite appropriate really as I don't think I have ever been on the river and not seen one.  The pied kingfisher is apparently the only African kingfisher that is capable of a true hover.  They have been clocked flying (not diving) at 50km/hr.  Rapid little things!

Chalet improvements 1

We also rolled out some chalet improvements over the month of July.  The first one is new luggage racks/wardrobe units.  All work by Julia. 

Chalet Improvements 2

We have replaced all the bedside rugs with new sisal rugs and every room now also has a Nguni cow skin rug too. 

Chalet views!

And then because we were taking pictures of chalets we couldn't help but take one of the view in the evening dusk. 

Birdlife on the river

Its not just the mammal sightings that have started to really kick in.  As the river levels continue to drop the bird numbers just keep on increasing almost daily.  From the specials to the more everyday ones... 

Green power

And once again the wonderful 'one tusk'.  This time he was checking out the solar hot water and PV panels at Chalet 2.

Wedding anniversary

American guests were celebrating a rather special event.  Cake and decorations by Julia and Lizzy. 

July mists

The most fantastic thing about July (for me anyway) is the morning mists on the river due to the cold temperatures.  It is simply amazing and wll worth frozen fingers and an early start. 

July mists 2

We can never get enough of these mists!  Actually few guests elect very early morning cruises (for some reason it is usually an afternoon choice), but as you can see it is actually the best time. 

Kill by the camp

A wild dog kill 1km from camp meant some great vulture sightings.  Kaley and I went back after the guests had seen the dogs and spent an hour just watching the action. 

River by night

Coming back after packing up an island sundowner. 

Pools loop.

I always associate our pools loop with golden evening light, golden grass and loads of hartebeest.  The pools this year are really full with water and I am betting they will hold water right through to the rains.  Should make for productive sightings the whole season.  

Gargantuan beast

We were taking guests upriver for a spot of canoeing and saw that our canoes had an admirer.  Bear in mind our canoes are almost 4m long and are dwarfed by this massive crocodile.  The biggest I have personally ever seen. 

Kaingu rock art

And our final image from July is the rather interesting rock art that is found near the lodge.  Fascinating.  Most theories are that it is an ancient 'nsolo' game and that the place was probably a meeting point (market?).