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: https://kaingu-lodge.com/blog/2014/09/27/november-november/
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.
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 😉
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.