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.

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.

May Newsletter

Its that time of the month again.  Time to recap and review the month of May here at Kaingu Lodge.  We kicked off the month with a mini marathon and this (health!) became a bit of a recurring theme later in the month as well.  The mini marathon was great fun.  We had a day without guests so the whole thing was organised quite well.  We had a timekeeper (Mike the mechanic) on top of Mpamba rock and a timekeeper at the lodge (Joel the barman).  A few “did not finishers” ended up being brought back from the rock by Mike, but the overwhelming majority did the whole 6km. 

And the ladies are off! Matron leading the way and kept this up and ended up winning the ladies section.

And the men!

Israel was a strong favourite, here he is leading Oscar.

Chef Wina. He was certainly not a favourite! But he did really well. Go Wina. Always a winner.

Team Kaingu! Well, actually not the whole team. A lot of people had departed to grab showers at this point.

After the mini marathon (the winners being Junior and Matron) we moved straight into our annual (7th!) Father & Kids fishing weekend.  This is always a highlight in our calendar and while numbers were lower this year the number of nights was more.  So basically the fun factor was still the same.  

Stick bread on top of Mpamba. The trek to the rock is always a highlight of the last night. This event featured motivational lollipops on the path for the kids and beers for the dads – something that was certainly not a feature of our mini marathon!

A short video that we put together on the last night! 

Now we come to another annual event.  Lodge firebreaks!  Unbelievably this year we ended up burning on the 5th of May.  This is more then a month earlier than we usually do.  This shows just how dry conditions are this year. 

Oscar helping control while we are doing our primary firebreak around the lodge.

Ruben in action.

On the subject of fires…  We try to do a monthly astrophotography session on the rock (normally around the time of the new moon).  This one captured quite a large wildfire (a good few kilometers south of  us) under the arch of the milky way. 

Stars and fire.

When I captured this photo (well, actually a series of photos as it is a stitched panorama) I realised that there was a reasonable chance that the fire would creep West and two days later my theory was proven. 

For any photogeeks (like myself): This is 17 full frame images taken with a 20mm F1.4 lens at ISO 1600 for a 13sec exposure. The images are then stitched together in photoshop to create the panorama capturing the full 180 degree sweep or arch of the milky way. To the left of the arch you can clearly see the defined galactic core which is just starting to be visisble at this time of year.

And now for a totally gratuitous landrover picture.  We love (and sometimes don’t love) our old landrover!  Planning on a paint job this year though… 

The old landrover on the pole bridge over the Mweengwa river as you approach the lodge through the Game Management Area.

And then what was for me an absolute highlight of the month.  Possibly of the year.  There are a couple of ladies who come to Kaingu a LOT.  Both are passionate photographers and I have referred to them before as the ‘ladies with lenses’.  Anyway, B knew that the mists on the river were coming and that there would be some good photo opportunities.  And there was…  The cape clawless otter is a fairly infrequent sighting here.  But when you get a family group with the adults just having finished eating a fish on a rock at sunrise in the mist, well, lets just say I was wishing for a longer lens!  But still we were sitting in the boat kind of speechless.  

Otterly amazing sighting.

We went back the next day and scouted around to see if we could repeat the magic, but perhaps not surprisingly we couldn’t.  We did have some other water dwelling mammals join us though. 

Hippos in the glorious golden morning mist.

As we got back to the lodge I decided that we would try really hard to find a kingfisher that we think is nesting by the deck (as we are seeing it so often).  We failed on the kingfisher but we got lucky with another guy that we see in front of the lodge a lot. 

‘Our’ resident finfoot. If I was wishing for a longer focal length with the otters, with this sighting I was almost wanting shorter!

And as our super keen photographing guest was about to leave us we had another unusually spectacular sighting.  Osprey!  With a fish.  

Like the otters the osprey is another one that we are always left wanting to see more off.

This sighting was quite special as it was Julia’s first time to even see one and it was the first time I saw one and actually was able to get a picture.  It was also quite the moment for me because as a child I was lucky enough to be able to cycle round to the Loch of the Lowes nature reserve and watch a nesting pair. So I did.  A lot!   The story of Scottish ospreys is quite a conservation success story.  To go from having been extinct in 1916 to having only 5 nesting pairs in 1969 to now Scotland having 224 breeding pairs is quite something.  The story is here: 

https://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/2019/03/celebrating-50-years-of-ospreys-at-loch-of-the-lowes/

And then for a complete change of scene we headed North to see our friends from J&M Safaris at Musekese Camp.  This was a LONG overdue visit and we were so glad to catch up and see the stunning area that they are managing and conserving.  The guys are doing super work with their Musekese Conservation and the area has what is to me probably some of the best animal concentrations in the Kafue and yes I include Busanga in that statement!  Phil and Tyrone have been joined this year by Gareth and Frederike and it was also great to catch up with Gareth who we also know from a good few years ago.  Here is Phil and Gareth proving their conservation chops by moving ants out of the path of the vehicle!

Musekese Conservation!

We do share a lot of guests with each other so while the visit was a pure pleasure we can also claim it was business! If you want to see more of what they are doing for conservation in the Kafue then you can take a look here:

https://www.facebook.com/musekeseconservation/

And then back to Kaingu goings on.  We had a large group that were keen to experience a bit of local culture (something that we feel is often missing on safari).  So the Kaingu team were happy to organise! 

Getting ready…. The lodge turning circle gets transformed into a lantern lit arena!

The chiwamba – noise making belt used by luvale people in dancing.

Traditional drums (Ngoma).

Bo, Benny and Dennis in action.

And in the same health vein as the mini marathon we then organised Agnes the nurse from the Itumbi clinic to come up and spend a day at the lodge with all our staff.  She is a bit of a dynamo and packed in a day of health checks, talks, testing and education.  This was the first such visit but will certainly not be the last

Agnes checking her blood pressure monitor is working!

And then the last monthly highlight was our 4th Yoga retreat.  This is most certainly a highlight of the year for Julia and Lynda.  Rick and myself are not quite so keen although I have started a tiny bit… Anyway we got Clare to come up from Livingstone and we got madam Precious the masseuse to come out from Lusaka.  It was a huge hit with the participants and we also had a Zambian TV crew film the first session. 

Madam precious in action.

Yoga by the rapids – one of the four locations for each session. The rapids, the rock, breakfast island and the chief’s campsite. Not a bad location for yoga!

Clare is a superb instructor.

And there you have it.  May at Kaingu Lodge.  We leave you with a last picture from our yoga retreat.  Clare helping Julia with the dreaded ‘bridge’…. 

The bridge. Julia reports it as a bridge too far!