Dear ATC Readers!
The seasons are changing quickly in South Luangwa, and August always marks the transition between our winter and summer. We hardly had any winter at all, and based on the already hot temperatures we can say summer is here! The pool awaits you…
Late August and the arrival of summer, also means it’s time for the Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters to gather in great colonies and select their breeding sites.
They will spend the next few weeks building their nests (or proceeding to renovations of older ones if they choose the same site as last year) by digging deep in the river banks. This is the best time to observe these frantic little masons with their stunningly red and blue colours, so if you are visiting us soon, you’re in for a treat!
Let’s enjoy a few of last year’s photos from our guest Andy Richardson, while we wait for the 2018 spectacle.
Revisiting the Past
We talked a lot about the past recently with Kafunta’s 20th birthday celebrations. Something else happened in July that certainly was the cherry on the birthday cake! At least for Ankeand our special "guest of the month".
Meet our Guest… Stefan Glimm
Stefan first came to Zambia in 1997 (Ron & Anke owned Wildlife Camp back then) and in a way served as "guinea pig" for Anke’s first intrepid guiding tour in Northern Zambia.
This year, over 20 years later, he personally asked Anke to put her guiding boots back on to retrace their steps and lead him and some friends on this aptly named No-Mercy tour.
The story is illustrated with a mix of old and new photos. Apart from the vehicles, nothing seems to have changed much! How exciting!
When was your first visit to Zambia and why did you choose South Luangwa?
My first visit to Zambia was 21 years ago, in 1997. And we did not choose South Luangwa, we chose Anke! Our best friends Bernadette and Wolfgang enjoyed Anke’s expertise on a Malawi safari in 1995. At that time, Anke was
working as a tour guide. Anke challenged our friends to come back, and to bring more friends, to explore a mobile tour through North Zambia. So, what do you do if good friends ask you for a favour? You do it – and we enjoyed so much that I have been back to Anke’s place at least five times over the last 20 years, even spending my 50th birthday here at Kafunta.
Tell us more about that first trip, and why you wanted to retrace your steps this year.
Yes, it was at my first visit in 1997, when we relabelled the guided tour into ‘no mercy tour’ – due to some adventures we experienced. Crossing the Luangwa river with one 4WD – just being
Photo: Stefan is sitting on the left, Anke on the right
guided and watched by Mark on the other side of the river; walking through mud and water for hours to find the shoebill stork which we were told to meet at 2pm at a remote tree, and which we never saw; facing bush fires all night long very close to our wooden huts; arriving at our, as we thought, booked accommodation … a castle which was abandoned, boarded, and guarded by a person looking in the twilight like the hunchback of Notre Dame; flat tires (on the way to the airport) without having an appropriate jack in the jeep; empty tank and jars relying on supplies from gas stations on wheels, i.e. trucks selling some of their diesel, a normal procedure as we learnt; going on walking safari accompanied, instead of a ranger, by a cook armed with an axe. Believe it or not, it was one of the best of my approx. 50 safaris I’ve been on since I lived in Kenya in the early nineties. Just the way back, crossing South Luangwa from North to South is a drive, nature and wildlife I will never forget.
And now, I wanted to experience this beauty once again, and when Anke complained during my last visit “Stefan, staying in Africa, I wanted to be in the bush, and not only managing a hotel all year round” it was my turn to challenge her: “Anke, if you personally guide us, I will bring you some friends as clients who would love to have such an extraordinary experience”. And here we are.
What was your favorite part this year?
The remote areas like driving from Petrauke directly to Island Bush Camp, the road access via Luambe NP to North Luangwa NP and later on down the escarpment, crossing South Luangwa NP.
Only by driving through the remote areas you
may get a touch about real life in Zambia. And Island Bush Camp is just one of the most spectacular places to be if you want to be out in the bush! And for me personally, to learn after 21 years again from Martin, now head guide at Kafunta, about the secrets of the bush on walking safaris was just like coming home. And what we all learnt from Anke when the road was blocked, flooded or no spare tires were left – always think ahead, and never even think of turning back.
Who were the member of your group? It was a very interesting mix of good business friends and of one of my ‘oldest’ school buddies. While all are experienced travellers for some it was first time in Africa and for all others first time in Zambia. What it made unique for all, I believe, was the off-road self-driving experience through the very remote areas. Thanks to our experienced guide Anke, coaching us to manage all the challenges of river crossings, deep sand driving and finding detours when the tracks were blocked by broken trucks, we enjoyed our adventure. And Mike from Kafunta team joining us as a mechanic not only helped us to change slashed tires and a deformed rim, he also allowed us to get in contact with local people and to better understand their challenges of every day life.
Why do you think South Luangwa is so special and what was your best wildlife sighting on this trip? The sightings of game and especially of leopards, elephants and also lions are just outstanding. I have been in many NP in Eastern and Southern Africa, but what I am always telling my friends at home: the best place to watch a wide variety of wildlife in a relative short time is the South Luangwa.
Besides observing leopards twice hunting in the dark, the most exciting for me was my first sighting of a pair of honey-badgers, and a chameleon spotted on an afternoon drive by John – just unbelievable that he could spot it when driving, while we could not see it until being so close that we could have touched it.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank Anke wholeheartedly for taking us out to real Zambia!
Without her great leadership this outstanding experience would not have been possible for any of us. I am sure to speak on behalf of all members of our group that we wish Anke, her family and the whole Kafunta team all the best for the future and to keep South Luangwa and the remote areas of Zambia natural highlights of our planet, while supporting development for Zambian people by employment, education by initiatives like African Parks or Project Luangwa.
We thank Stefan for sharing his story with us. We hope it inspired you too! His 2018 itinerary included Pioneer Camp (Lusaka), Island Bush Camp (South Luangwa NP), Luambe Camp (Luambe NP), Mwaleshi Camp (North Luangwa NP), Shoebill Camp(Bangweulu Wetlands), Mutinondo Wilderness (Muchinga Escarpment) and Kafunta River Lodge (South Luangwa NP).
In case you wonder… the Shoebill stork does exist! Although the sighting was extremely brief, one was spotted flying away from the swamp. And yes, they were escorted by a professional armed scout this time!
Tatra Photography – A photographic journey with Nikon expert Simon Stafford.
Early this year, and for the 3rd consecutive year, Simon Stafford brought a group of guests to explore South Luangwa and to hone their wildlife photography skills while based at Kafunta River Lodge. Here are only a sample of Simon’s photos, and more can be found on his website.
Check Tatra Photography’s website here for their 2019 South Luangwa dates.
A couple of very cool photos of unusual sightings worth mentioning.
First is this chameleon in shedding mode. As a reptile, chameleons renew their skin about every two months! Amazing that we don’t see it more regularly.
Next is this photo taken by our guest Joan Sharkey while at Three Rivers Camp of a Southern Ground Hornbill stealing away an egg. A delicacy for this omnivorous but mostly carnivorous bird. They more commonly eat frogs, snakes and large insects that they pick on the ground.
Black & White – by Katrin Martin
Katrin was a guest at Kafunta River Lodge back in June, a participant in Stephan Tuengler‘s annual photographic workshop (InAfrica). In a future newsletter I will share more of her beautiful
photos but for now I chose a small selection of her Black & White creative work.
All right! Here’s to another exceptionally busy month and I look forward already to our next newsletter at the end of September! Incredible to think that we have only two months left in our peak safari season.
If you were with us recently, make sure to email me your photos, it would be lovely to share more of our guests’ safaris. Chat soon!