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.
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.
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!
And our Mukwa and plumbing parts cake stand:
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.
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…!
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.