Whats Happening at KaingU Safari Lodge in Zambia

Stay updated with news and information from KaingU Safari Lodge situated in the Namwala Game Management Area (GMA) on a spectacular and remote stretch of the Kafue River in Zambia.

June 2019 Newsletter

So back in May we had the mini marathon and so June kicked off with the Kaingu 100m sprint.  As Joel (barman) had sat out the mini-marathon we had no idea that he was going to take the honours in the 100m! Anyway, before all that on the way to our super track (i.e. the road from the Tsetse control point towards the lodge) we were given a display of just how athletic Junior (kitchen porter) really is: 

Junior leap frogging right over Elephayo’s head! Unreal.

So after the (total) victory that Junior pulled off in the mini marathon and then his jump right over elephayo we were pretty much expecting him to win the sprint.  Imagine our surprise when Joel blasted past him to bring in an 11 second win.  We were amazed! That is seriously fast.  

11 seconds 100m. Seriously quick staff!

Every month we always try and fit in an astroscape session.  In case you are wondering, astroscapes are considered to be photographs of stars with landscape type elements – as opposed to pure astro-photography which is is usually just stars and often of deep space objects.  

Kaingu lodge main area under the stars.

The turning circle under the stars.

We continued a gradual update of lodge interiors and general lodge photography.  

Chalet 3 at blue hour

Chalet 3 at golden hour

Chalet 3 interior

Chalet 3 interior 

We were also updating some main area shots when these three characters showed up…  While they look like they could be members of a band, in reality they are the crew from Valley Lodgeistics who are are suppliers and that of many lodges in the Kafue.  We have known these guys for years, and being stranded in our car park with a broken spring on the truck meant a night in our family house and some fine dining with the guides! 

Musonda, Ken and Claude. The VL crew.

You may or may not be aware that nearby to the lodge there is a pool where every morning at sunrise there is a gathering of Meyer’s parrots.  More here:https://kaingu-lodge.com/blog/2017/07/26/mayers-parrots-kaingu-lodge/

Anyway, they are in full swing:

Parrot pool in full swing

June was also the month that we finished our planned early burning and fire breaks.  I have mentioned before that historically our burning normally always starts in the first week of June.  However this year with drough conditions we were actually finished by the middle of June.  Unreal.  

Peter and Mike in the early morning smoke of our last planned burn of 2019.

Then a totally random shot of the rapids.  Whilst I have been there for so many sunsets and taken so many pictures there it always draws me back time and again.  This is one of the unique aspects of Kaingu – its not just wildlife that is worth watching here, there are also some mind blowingly scenic spots… 

The rapids post sunset.

Then for another atmospheric place…  we ventured down to the allegedly haunted pools of Izhibakamwale. The stories vary, but basically revolve around a very atmospheric pool and (depending on who you talk to) either a sort of mermaid creature that lures men to their death or a young woman who disappeared into the pool and haunts it still. Now I don’t believe in the paranormal, but I certainly admit that the area has an atmosphere. And that only once have I been down there at night alone.

The haunted pool?

Sightings of sable antelope on the Kaingu loops have really stepped up this year.  The Hartebeest are also there in big numbers, but compared to last year the sable numbers are way way up.  We are not sure of the reasons, but we are not complaining that is for sure! 

sable on the pools loops

Elephant activity around the river and around the camp has been really quite something this year.  Again we surmise that it is the dry conditions that are making animals come down to the river earlier, but regardless of the cause it is great to have them around: 

Checking out Oscar’s wheel barrow!

Ah the wonderful taste of ripped up palm trees…..

Two unmistakable African icons!

Then we had a training session.  Advance first aid.  Lessons and an examination over a three day period.  All in the name of keeping our guests and each other as safe as we possibly can. 

St John’s getting high tech this year.

The cold June mornings of course make for beautiful scenes.  Boating some guests up river for a game drive I grabbed this quick shot even though my fingers were so cold I could hardly grip the camera.  

Imagine views like this before you even GET to the game drive vehicles!

And then finally our last entry is another visit from the smilestar dental team.  This year they were in Mongu and stopped off here for some much needed R&R after treating hundreds of patients out in the West for free.  It was great to see Mitesh with a (largely) different crew this year.  Our staff also got checkups and we were happy to see extractions down to only 9 this year! 

The smilestar gang.

The Itumbi Community Schools & Crowdfunding

Since 2006 Kaingu Lodge has been extremely active in developing and supporting the Itumbi Community Primary School. Through fundraising (mostly through our guests) we have been able to see the completion of a three classroom primary school in Itumbi (or Kaingu) village. We have been able (by contributing part of every guest’s stay) to pay teachers salaries. We have been able to put in a solar bore hole pump and water lines to the school and two other key locations in the village. The school has received countless material donations of school uniforms, teaching materials, stationery, text books, sports equipment. The amount of donations has at times been literally almost overwhelming and has delighted us and the community.

Itumbi Community Primary School

However the reality is that when we first got involved there were just over 200 pupils. There are now almost 450 children attending the school. The numbers simply overwhelm the ability of the Ministry of Education to properly fund the school. Our donations that we raise directly through our bed night contributions and through our guests generosity is also nowhere near matching the actual needs.

Two subsidiary schools have been started in the area to try to reduce the distances that children are having to walk. The Kela Community Primary school and Kasamba were started around the same time as the Itumbi school through the efforts of individuals (initially the schools were not recognised by the Ministry of Education). To say that these schools are rudimentary is a massive understatement – particularly the Kela School (which is sometimes also written as ‘Keela’).

Keela Community Primary School

Over the years many past guests have reached out to us after staying with us – especially after seeing posts and news on our social media channels. Quite a number of these previous guests have then reached out wanting to make donations to us. We are happy to do this and will continue to update people on social media and accept donations to our Kaingu Trust via ourselves. But we also feel that online platforms such as ‘Just Giving’ might make it easier (certainly in terms of bank costs) to do so.

Keela Primary School as it stands at the moment

We have literally zero expectations. We might raise nothing or we might raise a decent amount through this avenue. To do this costs us a couple of hours and a bit of writing so if it achieves something then it is a win win situation. The community cannot do this themselves. They have not the technology nor the ability to put themselves ‘out there’ on the internet and social media and donation platforms. But we do. And we love imagery and video and story telling – the story telling is literally what we do round the campfire every single night! So why not try and do this? 

What the community can do themselves they are doing.  They have moulded and kiln fired 20,000 bricks and are transporting them to the Keela School by ox cart.  But with no cement and no roofing sheets the project will simply end there… 

Part of the 20,000 bricks made and fired by the community

Transporting bricks from the kiln site to the school site

Any donations given will be overseen by us (Gilmour, Julia, Lynda and Rick) and will be channelled into infrastructure and eductaional material for the schools. In extreme cases funds might even be channelled into food and clothing for critically vulnerable individuals.

Keela pupils

This fundraising will in no way replace our bednight levies that we pay directly into the Kaingu Trust (of which the community representatives then decide how it is best used). If people want to specify exactly what they want the money to be used for then that is also absolutely fine. Any monies received will not be simply handed over to individuals: material will be purchased by ourselves with the teachers. Where labour is required it will be overseen by ourselves. In short we will continue to administer and oversee any expenditure at all.

We have kept the fund fraising sum relatively low. As I say, our expectations are very grounded and we realise just how many people are bombarded on a daily basis with requests.

Our link to the crowdfunding site is here: 

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/itumbischools?utm_term=mgnD9eqwv

 

Our very own community health worker

Patson Kandundwe joined us last year after we started actively looking for a locally based trainee Chef. He stood out among the rest of the applicants due to his seriousness, past activities and the fact that he obviously had the respect of his peers and the community. Prior to joining us he served as a community health worker focusing on HIV testing, counselling, education and adherence (ensuring that people know to take the right ART drugs at the right time).

Although he now is on the road to being a chef he still carries out health worker functions unpaid and in his own free time. Testing, education and adherence counselling is all being done right here at Kaingu Lodge! Further to this he also goes (again, in his free time) back to the Itumbi clinic to gather names of people defaulting on ART (Antiretroviral therapy). Patson then goes by bicycle out to outlying communities to try and reach out to defaulters and get them back on therapy. Since 2005 ART is free to all. It is estimated that 17% of adults in Zambia are HIV positive – a pandemic which has created 600,000 orphans. Patson’s unpaid and selfless work is literally saving lives.

Perhaps unsurprisingly in 2018 he was elected as chairman of the Itumbi Village Action Group. The initiative is a partnership between UNDP and the Government of Zambia through the Forestry Department, under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife at the Ministry of Tourism and Arts. It is being funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).The Village Action Groups meet regularly to discuss how to use their land sustainably and, little by little, through small scale grants overseen by the V.A.G. the community forests are coming alive with environmentally-friendly activities, ranging from honey production to the regeneration of community forests, goat husbandry, chicken farming and others.