HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
We wish you a fantastic year ahead, good health, fun trips and inspiring friendships. And plenty more!
We closed Kafunta River Lodge on January 5th, after saying goodbye to 2018 with a full lodge. Traditionally we like to keep things low key over the celebrations, except for the famous Luangwa Christmas carols on Christmas Eve, then Kafunta’s Christmas brunch and finally our Chefs’ 6-course dinner with bubbly for New Year’s Eve. And despite the early rains, all went splendidly well this year.
Luangwa Christmas Carols 2018
Kafunta guests attending the Carols
Christmas Day Brunch
No time to rest!
With our last guests of the season gone, one would think that we can put our feet up and relax a bit!
Well, not exactly! With the much anticipated renovation, the next 3 months are going to be hectic ones at Kafunta.
And there is no time to waste.
Gillie Lightfoot and Anke Cowan talking decoration
As you can see here, the thatch of the main area is taken down as the roof is going to be reshaped and the dining/lounge area is going to be revamped.
The rooms will also have a major facelift.
Actually although the layout of the lodge is not changing much, we’re confident there will be a complete new feel when we reopen on April 1st!
Ron is looking at the structural work while Anke has been spending time with Gillie Lightfoot (founder of Tribal Textiles, and owner of Lightfoot Zambia in Lusaka) for the decor.
You can see below a sneak peak of the trend we are going for.
Warm. Simple. Organic. Fresh. Soft. Comfy.
These would be the catchwords of the facelift. With a focus on subtle tones and natural palettes evoking our surrounding landscape, with eclectic furniture sourced locally or from artisans around the world, with soft and deep sofas, extensive wooden decks, eye-stopping lighting – the style will definitely be warm and appealing, an invitation to sit back, relax and indulge in what Kafunta is all about – the stunning view and our staff’s friendliness.
The rooms will see new indigo soft furnishing along with clean-lined and modern bathrooms, without giving up on the African style.
We’ll keep you updated on the progress, and in a few months, which undoubtedly will feel like just a few weeks, we’ll reopen with an almost new lodge, 21 years after it was created. Needless to say we’re thrilled and impatient.
Early and heavy rains
Like anywhere else in the world, in Zambia too, the weather is part of every conversation. And in the past weeks, it certainly was one of the favorite topics.
Well one word that is… Rains
Obviously we need a lot less words to describe the weather here than, let’s say… for a British forecast.
Dry – Hot – Very Hot – Burning Hot – Overcast – Windy – Dusty – Rainy. That’s about it really. Oh, and WET…
Very wet. Our 2018-2019 rainy season started early, and heavily. As you can see on the successive photos, taken only days apart, the Luangwa went from bone dry to floods usually witnessed in February. Which is actually a relief for wildlife. Our December guests had a taste of what the "emerald season" is all about, along with the joy of wearing ponchos and getting stuck in the black cotton soil. And got to witness some amazing skies.
By Christmas the Luangwa and the Kafunta pond were one and the same, and we were renamed "Kafunta Lakeside Lodge" by our guest Sabine Haering!
Aren’t these stunning photos (taken from the lodge)?
Never mind the rain
Rain doesn’t keep wildlife away. And certainly not wild dogs. When I look back at previous Dec/Jan newsletters, it’s seems a common theme at this time of year – wild dogs are back!
And in high numbers with a group of over 20 dogs frequently seen in December.
Actually you may want to read this blog from the Zambian Carnivore Program about the
amazing success achieved by the long term conservation efforts undertaken in the valley by ZCP, Conservation South Luangwa andthe Department of National Park and Wildlife. The Luangwa Valley is now estimated to be home to the largest population of wild dogs in Zambia! Wild dog numbers are estimated to 350 dogs in the valley as a whole. Well done to all involved, and let’s hope this trend continues!
2018 in Review
If you missed it on Facebook, here’s the link to our traditional "year in review" video. Featuring photos from our guests, it’s a great summary of what being on safari in South Luangwa is all about. Simply incredible.
No question about it, South Luangwa should be on your safari list!
Before moving on to the next feature, I’d like to update you on our important 2019 project –Saving the Chilongozi Primary School.
You may think that we constantly talk about this now on our social media. And you’re right. We do. Because without your help, we won’t succeed and the children of the Malama community will see their school taken down, with no alternative offered.
We want to thank each and everyone of you who have donated so far towards the project of rebuilding a school. Every single donation, small or big, is a huge help. So far we collected just under GBP 4000. But we need more, much more. Please talk about it with your local schools, Rotary Clubs/Lions Clubs, church, philanthropic organisations, family, friends and cousins. Every drop counts to form an ocean.
If you missed our December appeal, you can read the story behind it here and learn more about the urgency of this fundraising. And you can help.
Meet our guest… Helen Huggett
Helen is the Director and Tour Leader for Twiga Trails Inc, Canada. She came to Luangwa end of October, along with 3 other ladies, for her first trip to Zambia. Here’s what she has to say.
Tell us about your trips? I have been conducting safaris for over 30 years in Africa, mostly East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. I usually lead one group yearly with anywhere from 4 – 8 clients. I plan my own itinerary based on where I want to visit and where I wish to stay. I have always wanted to visit Zambia and this was the year. So many people have no idea where Zambia is!
My focus for safaris is mostly photography and observation/behaviour studies of the animals we encounter. We have no set schedule/times for game drives. We watch what we find. I like to find the more elusive animals – leopard, painted dogs, porcupines, eagles of any kind; I really like watching vultures.
Why did you choose Kafunta Safaris? I did not have a contact in Zambia when I began planning. I checked out several companies on the internet and decided upon Kafunta, firstly for their camps, secondly for their pricing and finally for the immediate response to meet my safari requirements, thanks to Izzy. As this was my first time in Zambia and South Luangwa, I had a lot of questions. My expectations were met many times over. Everything was wonderful. James, our driver/guide was excellent.
What was your favourite wildlife sighting?I cannot say what was the highlight of the trip, there were too many! The multitude of elephants everywhere, even through the camps. The painted dogs which we saw in Lower Zambezi. I just love the dogs. The leopard sightings were spectacular and I cannot leave out the huge porcupine on a night drive or the civet. There is just too much to say in a few words.
Do you think you will be travelling to Zambia again? In a heartbeat. I will be back as soon as I can….already planning for next year. I would return to either Island Bush Camp or Three Rivers Camp in South Luangwa and definitely Chongwe River Camp in Lower Zambezi. Thank you Izzy for making this safari possible for my group.
Helen Huggett (Aka – Mama Safari)
These are amazing photos of a common resident in South Luangwa, but rarely seen on the ground!
Usually we only have a glimpse of their big yes in the beam of the spotlight, but this Greater Galagowasn’t shy to pose for Sabine’s camera!
Don’t you just want to pick up this fuzzy gremlin and cuddle it?
I love it!!
That’s it for the first newsletter of 2019. Be sure to stay tuned to see the progress of our renovations! Our next newsletter will be in March, with many interesting topics already lined up!
Izzy, Kafunta Safaris
Photo by Edward Selfe – readhis blogs about South Luangwa trips here