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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.

Oberty.

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.

October 2017 News

Just the usual images taken through the month.

August News & sightings

August.  The month that bridges winter and summer.  We often say that at some point in August it is like a switch has been thrown and suddenly temperatures rise.  Well this indeed was the case this year, but even at the end of the month and moving into September we still have cold crisp mornings and hot water bottles at night.  But we are nudging 30 degrees C in the afternoons now.  Thanks to the really heavy rains in early this year there is still a lot of water in the bush.  Although the Kafue is dropping fast and is at fairly normal levels for this time of year it is clear that seasonal pools and streams are still holding water when most years by now they would be dry.  In short this is good news for inhabitants of the park!  When we describe August as a bridge month this seems also to apply to birdlife, particularly on the river.  In the course of August we suddenly started seeing black-winged stilts, spoonbills, grey-headed gulls to name but a few.  The parrot hide got some use too.  Anyway enough chattering on.  As usual we try to tell the story of the month through images:

Airfield leopard spotted while the guides were waiting for a big fly-in group.

Driving back to the lodge the same group were treated to lions.  Nothing unusual in that, but I loved the fact that JohnD got the shot with Kaley’s vehicle in the background – despite the fact that it was almost dark!

The bee-eater hide with an added perching pole for clearer bee-eater shots.  Sadly the next day there was a bee-eater disaster.  An elephant slid down the banking, right through the colony and took out half the nests.  Poor Israel was devastated and he told Julia “I don’t know how to tell Gil”.  Anway the survivors are doing fine and a new colony has been established on the opposite bank downstream.

Bathing bateleur!  Out on the boat with visiting family we were treated to a couple of sights of birds in relatively unusual positions.  Firstly the Bateleur and then:

This rather geometric cormorant! We then headed down to the Lake Itezhi Tezhi with the family for a few nights.  We had a great time with fellow lodge owner Andrea from Konkamoya and we were treated to great hospitality and great sights and views.  As we share a lot of guests to and from Andrea we told ourselves that this was getting to know our products…  but that is just dressing up what was just a really relaxing stay in another part of the Kafue!

Oribi on a fantastic drive along the Nkala river.  We also really enjoyed all the sights and wildlife along the lakeshore.

The little rocket ship that is the malachite kingfisher in action.

Lake shore buffalo. There are huge herds down there. We only caught up with smaller bachelor herds, but still great to see them.

Distant bushfire by the lake.  On the way down we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of proper early burning and how systematic it seems to have been done – proper patches and not just random swathes of hundreds of kilometers.  Hopefully all the work done by TNC on fire management is paying off.

Nightime porcupine.  Konkamoya is quite famous for night drives.  Sadly we didn’t see the famous Aardvarks, but this spotlit porcupine was a good second prize!

We leave our little excursion to the lake with a beautiful sundowner spot and head back up to Kaingu!  We took the river road back to the lodge through the GMA and it is always an interesting drive.  It is the area where all our staff live and we get a small glimpse into what is still very traditional, rural Zambian life.

Ila cattle herding. Cattle are hugely important for the Ila people. It is said that before the creation of lake Itezhi Tezhi, and the gradual loss of the kafue flats that the Ila were the richest pastoralists in Africa.

Back at Kaingu and on the pools loop we caught this great sighting of a slender mongoose. Which we normally see shooting away. This one showed real curiosity and kept peeking over the termite mound at us.

As the temperatures hot up and the river levels drop we get treated to more elephant activity. Island hoping Kaingu style. Always great to see. This bull was quite skittish and had been kicking up dust when he saw the boat.

The parrot hide has been in action too. Again with the rainfall amounts that we have had, the pool is holding water a lot longer than normally. Hopefully this means that the parrot activity continues as well.

Black-winged stilts. A fairly uncommon visitor here and it was fantastic to see them with young ones as well. At the same time Israel caught a sighting of spoonbills, but sadly no photographs.

All this talk of hides…. I never thought I would use an extreme wide angle fisheye lens in a bird hide. But I did. This is the bee-eater hide, situated on a narrow island opposite the colony.

Self explanatory really. We are always talking about walking out to the rapids so we thought we would try and give you a taste…

Then for a different view from the rapids. We had two young Icelandic guests who were absolutely charming. In fact they were so charming that they persuaded me to place the small rubber boat at the rapids dinner site so that after dinner we could get across to the bottom of the rapids in the pitch dark to capture some star photographs…

So we wrap up the month with some mystery infrastructure ‘items’.  Made by the talented Elephayo in the traditional form of woven tonga grain storage baskets.  More to come in Septembers news about this.

 

June News slider

May Newsletter

We kick off our slightly belated May news with an update on the heron chick.  Well, it turned out that there were two chicks on two separate nests!  Within 50m of each other.  Herons like to nest communally and it seems that Goliath herons are no exception!  anyway, it looks like the first chick didn’t make it, but the second one fledged and we now see it flying around!

While hanging around trying to work out which chick is which and where we always get good sights of trumpeter hornbills flying over the channel just before sunset.

The beautiful clear skies of May makes for amazing star gazing from the deck.

For one reason or another May became the month for family safari groups.  Now this always is fun, but there is a lot of work that goes into all the childrens activities….   from animal bread making, seed jewellery, bows and arrows through to the lollipop trees while on the walk to Mpamba.  Lollipop trees need careful tending.

Meanwhile the ever talented Mr Yandilla (Mike) spent a bit of time converting some scrap metal into a bush gym.  Here is unique bench press set up using an old mitsubishi cylinder head (cut in half!).

And then Benny demonstrating the Toyota brake disk based weights!

While gearing up for children the monkeys took quick advantage of the hammocks being set up to also get in some leisure time.  Instead of lifting weights though they rather get stuck into some gymnastics.

Completely unrelated, but the full moon allowed a chance to snap a 05:30 picture of our small fleet of aliboats under the moonlight.

And turning around 180 degrees the lodge looked absolutely stunning at this terrible time.  Now I am actually a bit of a morning person so quite relish the quiet time in the mornings before everything kicks off.

Then to roads.  Before we started on opening up our loops we started some repairs to the spinal road – manual pothole filling with 10 guys.  It took us a week to complete from Kaingu up to Shishamba, but the team did an outstanding job and it has smoothed out the ride nicely.  As always with these jobs Bo was in charge.

Then to the generallisimo.  AKA Franco.  Our local crafts supplier (the main one anyway).  His monthly visit.. Bowls and mortars this time.

And then more family related fun.  May was the month for our annual fathers and kids fishing group.  This firm fixture is something completely different – basically the lodge gets taken over by a group of friends that come every year with their children (no mums allowed).  As you can imagine it is total chaos:

We start with JohnD doing a load test on the zipline (which for the rest of the year is my winch cable and snatch block!):

Lentil salad in the rather appropriate form of a fish:

Main area Karaoke (which we have to do so that we allow the Dad’s to give their elbows a good workout around the fire).  Great fun (if you like Justin Bieber):

Victor (who has organised this trip for the last four years) giving some top tips:

Surrogate mum Julia gets asked to brush hair….  Dad’s are known to be very poor at hair brushing.

Victor always organises a pig or a lamb on a spit.  Six bags of charcoal!!!!!!!!!   A LOT of beer (Victor and Antun have to sit in the sun and watch Willard turn the lamb).  Its thirsty work.  The lamb was absolutely stunning…   6 hours of cooking, 5L of olive oil and en entire box of lemons for the basting.

Funky lunchtime salads!

 

The last night we always go en-masse up to Mpamba rock.  Lots of drinks, lots of pork belly and lots of laughter!

And then we get back to the lodge for the final dinner and then the prize giving ceremony. All in all it was another great weekend and we are already booked up with the guys for next year.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!