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.

Opening News (AKA March News)

So as per usual we planned to open the lodge on the 1st of March after being closed over January and February.  Like last year though the weather decided to make things a bit interesting.  January and February were unusually dry months, and in fact at the end of February even seasonal game viewing tracks were actually driveable.  However March was extremely wet.  While we didn’t see quite the huge river levels of last year (the bar at least stayed dry this year!) there was still a massive amount of rain.

This of course is great for the park and surroundings.  Like last year I have no doubt that the pools along our game drive loops will hold water right through the year.

So we start with trying to show some of the beauty of the rains and the landscapes at this time of year:

Camp opening is hard work.  There is always a lot to be tackled before the first guests.  Trying to do it in heavy rain means there is more time pressure than normal…

By the arrival of the first guests we had everything pretty much ship shape and ready to go:

Our first delivery of food and supplies only reached the main road through the park.  The road into our car park was rapidly becoming a total mud fest.  Last year it was a river (we even took a boat up it!) but this year with prolonged and heavy rain the mud was the issue!

The road and the never ending repairs.  It felt like one step forward and two backwards at times:

Mike (mechanic) has been studying the levels of the Kafue river since he was an infant.  When he started trying to bolt an outboard motor to his car we knew that we were in for trouble…

And sure enough.  The Luansanza and Shishamba bridges were again under water.  Fortunately we have the back access through the Game Management Area and we did use it.  Several times! Here is the Luansanza. It gets quite intimidating when you drive this:

Then stuck vehicles.  We had a few.  Game viewers, rescue cars that then needed rescued and on and on!

One of the biggest laughs was a request for an interview by questionnaire from someone who does a safari blog.  One of the questions was along the lines of “if your walking shoes could tell a story what would be the best one”.  All I could think of was this picture and a whole bunch of expletives!

So we leave our camp opening/March news with a picture of new trainee Guide Chanda.  He caused a LOT of coments about his height when we posted this picture on our facebook page.  Yes, he is really, really tall.  We stood him next to Lizzie (who is a pretty average height for Kaingu staff) for some sense of scale.  Annapurna Vs Mpamba rock!

October 2017 News

Just the usual images taken through the month.

September Newsletter – It is basically just baskets!

So we left you last month with a promise to have more updates about Elephayo’s woven muchinga products.  Some background.  We have always been admirers of traditional building techniques and have tried to incorporate as much ‘home grown’ building techniques and designs as we can.  The lodge overall uses a lot of traditional construction.  Local ‘bush poles’ and thatching.  It simply works, is a renewable resource and has many advantages.   We are regular users of mud bricks as well.  Simple, cheap and plentiful.  So long as you build well and keep them dry then you don’t even need to fire them in a kiln.  They are fantastic insulators of both thermal and sound energy.  Anyway we digress…

Large woven structures are often used around rural Zambia as grain stores, chicken coops and other agricultural purposes.  Muchinga as a tough and flexible plant and incredibly strong.  For a long time we have been thinking about treehouses, sleep out platforms and baskets.  In conversation with Bo (at his house while admiring his grain store) it turned out that Elephayo is a highly skilled maker of such things.  So we went to work drawing, designing, testing and creating.  The results we feel speak for themselves.

The treehouse basket off to be installed.

The first of Elephayo’s Muchinga “Tonga baskets” was completed and installed at the Finfoot Family House. Hanging from a tree so that one can just sit and watch the river go by.

The Finfoot “Tonga Basket”. We couldn’t resist getting out some lanterns during the blue hour. The end results became one of the Lodge’s most popular ever Facebook posts. Unusual to have lodge photography be so popular (normally it is lions or Israel’s selfies that generate all the ‘likes’. Made us happy though!

The completed “Tonga basket” tree house.

The completed tree house in the blue hour.

Interior shot from the treehouse.

Lodge cat Nala giving the seal of approval to one of Elephayo’s creations.

So apart from the “Tonga Basket” work we also have started replacing all the fences with woven muchinga. Here is Mr Elephayo doing his thing.

Gymnogene (African harrier-hawk) using the lift from wind on a sandbank to literally hover in place looking for prey.

September sees the arrival of the ubiquitous yellow-billed kites. Intra-African migrants, they move down from North Africa.

A photo finish captured at the Parrot hide.

So while us humans are busy as anything eating the crayfish that the local fishermen deliver, it was very interesting to see another crustacean getting consumed!

As it hots up we start utilising all the natural pools for some paddling and chilling. This is us just wandering around looking at different spots and assessing water levels.

Picture yourself on this beautiful island. A cold beer in hand, a book by your side and a totally relaxing afternoon ahead. Sounds tempting eh!

another island, another sunset and another photograph. I like repetition!

While walking around the bush we came across a rather dramatic lion skeleton largely fairly intact. The teeth wear would seem to indicate that it was a very old lion when it died.