Welcome to our Newsletter
Dear Guests and Trade Partners, Dear Kafunta Friends, Dear ATCNews Readers,
We are long overdue for a newsletter and many of you are probably wondering how we’ve kept ourselves busy over the past few months.
The lodge remained busy through December and the first few days of January, despite torrential rains and floods (see more below). Mid-December we took the winners of the Zambian Carnivore Program’s drama competition (held the previous August for World Lion Day) on a game drive, they had a blast as several hadn’t been in the park before!
Wild dogs were again the stars of the month, and throughout the Holiday season with daily sightings and exciting encounters (more below).
As usual Christmas Day was celebrated in style with all of our guests, and a delicious buffet.
Then it was time to pack up the lodge and send the staff home for a break! Although not everyone got to take their leave just yet as several maintenance works needed to be done.
In the meantime, I kept busy with the exciting project of our new website (more below) along with filling our reservation book – 2020 was promising to be another great year for us.
At the end of February 2020, I was in the UK for a week of sales & marketing as part of the annual Zambia UK Road Show, together with a dozen other Zambian lodges and trade partners. We had a great time meeting over 40 British travel agents and tour operators, and we all felt energized by the increasing popularity of Zambia on the safari market.
But only days later things changed dramatically with the news of the accelerating progression of the Covid19 epidemic and soon the words “lockdown” and “social distancing” were all over the media.
This is barely a month ago. And now the entire world is stumbling down. You, us, everyone on the planet is impacted, in countless different ways – so many individual and incredibly sad stories.
At first, we all felt relieved that the spread wasn’t reaching Africa. But sadly, it has, and even if the progression is slow, it has the potential for a serious humanitarian disaster, besides the economic impact.
Following the international travel bans and health risks involved, our guests started to reconsider their safari plans and cancellation emails took over my inbox.
Bookings for April, May and June vanished, and the predictions for the rest of the year are seriously dwinldling. As I write these lines, instead of celebrating the opening of our 2020 season, Kafunta River Lodge is empty and on a voluntary lockdown.
Anelle and TJ are holding the fort along with 5 staff members including watchmen – all keeping with the recommended hygiene and social-distancing practices. Wilson is working from his house in Mfuwe, watching after his children Larry and Qiana. Ron and Anke are in Australia with Luke. Courtney and Stephan are respectively in Canada and South Africa, waiting for the green light to make their way back to Luangwa. As for me, I’m confined in my Belgian home keeping up with the usual admin work.
The team may be split physically but we are united in our efforts to secure the future of our staff, of our company and of our community.
Here in Mfuwe numerous lodges, businesses and non-profit organizations have already closed their doors until visitors return. But we are all in this together and we are incredibly privileged to be part of an industry (and a local community) full of resilient, passionate and amazing people.
When it is safe for you to travel again we will raise up, dust off the safari vehicles and we’ll be ready to welcome you back!
In the meantime we miss you and are thinking of you!
One last word about this crisis. If you have a safari planned for this year, there is something you can do to help. DON’T CANCEL. Cancelling will result in job losses and the closure of many camps and lodges across the country. Instead consider postponing your trip. By postponing you will help keep tourism alive and help us operators continue our commitments to our people, their livelihoods, the protection of communities and wildlife. And ultimately you will still have something to look forward to when this crisis is over, your safari will NOT be lost!
I’m happy to help if you have any question regarding an upcoming booking, simply email me.
EXCITING NEWS !!
We’ve got some reasons to celebrate! Indeed we are proud to present our NEW WEBSITE!
After weeks of working closely with the team at Wildweb our innovative website is now live with great images and detailed content.
We wanted it to be appealing and functional, more responsive and more relevant.
We hope you will like it! Check it out and let us know what you think.
Donations are always welcome! If you would like to help with the project, contact us for more information.
Other important news that we need to share is the progress made with the Chilongozi School renovations.
You will remember the fundraiser appeal we had sent over a year ago, well it wasn’t just words!
With the help of donations received (approximately $5000) we started renovating one of the classrooms block. Additional Kafunta funds were injected to accomplish this, and we still have to continue with the teachers house and dormitory building.
With the prospect of a year without any revenue we may need to put the project on hold, but we are committed to see this through at some stage.
Have a look below for the "before" and "after" photos.
The rainy season started early in 2019, with the first rains right at the end of October. Although they remained sporadic in November, they came heavier in December and continuously through January and February. With the rains came the usual floods but these ones were quite significant, actually they were the highest since 2007 which marks the record year (one record we don’t need to reach again!). The access road to Kafunta was enough under water that we thought for a while that our guests may not be able to make it to the airport. But as the levels come up they also go down quickly, and all was fine in the end. We didn’t suffer any damage to the lodge.
Three Rivers Camp was also affected by the rains.
As you can see on the aerial photo to the right, the lagoon next to camp was really full, and it was actually overflowing into the camp grounds.
The next photo was taken when one of our teams went down to check the area and see the state of the camp.
This is one of the three tents facing the lagoon, the photo is taken from the bar area.
It’s time to look at some of our guests photos. I’ve selected two of our guests who were at the lodge in December.
Mike Anderson was with us mid December for 6 nights.
I’ve picked four of his photos, all showing amazing leopards sightings. Just because they are beautiful and we never grow tired of looking at these beautiful creatures!
Sabine Haering is one of our frequent guests, she came for 12 nights at the end of December, and was our last guest of the season.
Impossible to list all the wildlife and birdlife Sabine was able to photograph on this visit, it was a successful trip for sure!
I love this photo of a greater bushbaby on the ground!
What Sabine really wanted to see, however, was wild dogs which had been elusive on her last trips.
I think she saw wild dogs on almost every drive! Including some amazing interactions as you will see below, between wild dogs and a lioness, and wild dogs and an elephant.
Need some inspiration?
Are you confined at home and bored out of your mind? Or did you have to postpone your travel plans and you want to virtually escape your routine? Here are some suggestions of good African reads, movies, documentaries or even podcasts you can keep busy with until things are back to normal!
Enjoy and keep the African dream alive!
Vic lived for 25 years in an isolated bush camp in the Luangwa Valley. This is a great read, complex and funny.
The true story of Graham Cooke’s trip from South Africa to South Luangwa to release two young leopards
The lovely story of how Norman Carr saved and raised two lions before releasing them into the wild.
A very detailed guide book with everything you need to know about the Luangwa Valley, by Ilona Hupe
A murder mystery novel based in South Luangwa involving fossil-hunters and archeologists. An easy read.
This one or any other non-fiction book by Alexandra Fuller who grew up in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi
Other African Stories
Films & Documentaries
Other Interesting Links
- Countdown to the Rains (BBC) – filmed in South Luangwa
- Tales from Zambia (NG Wild/Smithsonian Channel)
- Wildlife & Wilderness (Podcast with Nick Aslin – Safari in Zambia)
- Travel Africa (online version of the magazine)
- Africa Geographic (online version of the magazine)
- BBC Discover Wildlife (online version of the magazine)
Okay, I got a little carried away! But at least you’ve got a nice list to last for a while!
But I need your help.
With no safaris planned for the near future, I don’t want to run out of content. I need you to go back to your hard drives and memory cards and send me your favourite souvenirs of your safari(s) at Kafunta! I can share them in our next newsletter but also on our social media!
That way we can all virtually escape to South Luangwa and think of the good times ahead!
Izzy & the Kafunta Safaris Team
From the bottom of our hearts, we wish you, your families and loved ones to get through these surreal times as safely and sanely as possible!
Mfuwe, South Luangwa, Zambia