Dear ATC Readers!
What a great month of October we’ve had with plenty of happy guests, lots of animals everywhere and even our first real rains.
Ron & Anke and myself arrived together early in the month. Ron & Anke were here for a couple of weeks, going over the final measurements for the upcoming refurbishment at Kafunta River Lodge. They will be back again early December, with Luke who will be on a break from university.
As for me, I really enjoyed spending a few weeks with our team and guests, stocking up on the heat before returning to my home-office in Belgium where winter awaits.
TJ, Anke and Ron at Three Rivers
Ron & Anke with Izzy, Wilson, Levy and Anelle
Why leave camp when you can have a safari right from your room?
Apart from the soaring temperatures, October is always a spectacular month with all sorts of wildlife roaming through the camps. We receive daily visits from elephants and giraffes, coming to drink at the waterholes. Warthogs spend their days in mud puddles while monkeys & baboons pick on the ripe figs and wild mangoes.
Not a day goes by without seeing elephants around.
From Kafunta River Lodge
When the elephants arrive, the hide is our favourite spot!
The light was incredible that evening!
The waterhole at Three Rivers is also a busy place!
Adam’s GoPro camera was hidden at the edge of the waterhole
And the same goes on at Island Bush Camp, and the new hide.
Luangwa’s unique Thornicroft giraffes have also been frequent visitors this month, with groups up to a dozen taking a gentle stroll through the camps to drink at available water points.
Here at Three Rivers’ waterhole.
Or just in front of Zebra tent at Three Rivers
And just a few days ago… the first warthog piglets appeared in front of Kafunta!
Going on safari shouldn’t be about ticking all the boxes on the animal checklist, it should be about connecting with the wild, and observing any creature – big or small -that wanders by. Our camps are an invitation to sit back and relax, and take in as much as you can from what the African bush offers around you. Staying back one afternoon, and enjoying this while sipping a gin & tonic from the comfort of your private viewing deck or cosy lounge area, with a splendid sunset in the background is pure bonus, and something I strongly recommend doing on your next visit.
Converting the GoPro into a BeetleCam
To compensate for his broken DSLR camera, Adam (Island Bush Camp manager) has found some creative ways to use a GoPro camera, turning it into a beetle cam to get up close and personal with animals. Did you see that shot of a big elephant earlier in the newsletter? That was taken with the camera hidden in the grass near the waterhole.
It’s neither a sensor-controlled camera ("camera trap") nor a remote controlled one, but when the going gets tough… Adam gets going! So charging the camera to the fullest, choosing the right position, concealing the camera (already filming) and hoping for some action was what he did.
These still shots of the Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters were extracted from one of Adam’s videos. The quality is amazing and the angle surprising! This is wildlife documentary quality! The video itself is in the editing process at the moment as some interesting behaviour can be seen and is worth showing, but while we wait for it, we can enjoy some – very close – shots of these beautiful birds. You can see above how Adam disguised the camera just next to the colony.
Some of the birds even starting using the camera as a perch, hence the tails!
And the rains came
Most of the valley faced its very first serious rains of the year which were significant in some regions. Although the central Mfuwe area was spared, the north and the south of the park were definitely more impacted.
Although I love rainstorms for their stunning skies, it is certainly not something we wish for before our bush camps close! As it turns out I was myself at Three Rivers Camp when the storm came, and it rained heavily for most of the evening.
The ponchos did little however to protect us on the drive and as the rain intensified, we all headed back to Three Rivers and spent an interesting evening listening to the downpour while trying to keep the water out of the dining area. Luckily the tents remained dry! Obviously there was no sleeping under the stars for us that night!
Above: the storm approaching Island Bush Camp
Below: the roads the following day
Guests at Island Bush Camp however were not so lucky! They braved the rains for the first night, but were then all relocated to Three Rivers for the two following nights to allow for the camp to dry off! Imagine… open sky kitchen… and rooms.
But everybody was in great spirit and quite understanding of the situation.
We are grateful that the episode was short and that the camps eventually got back to normal.
Early rains are so unpredictable. The days following the storm brought us fresh temperatures (fleeces were even in order!) but we are now facing soaring heat again. So now that the bush camps close tomorrow, we wouldn’t mind for the rains to start for good.
Bush Camps – That’s a Wrap!
Huge thank-you’s are in order for our bush camps managers Theuns Kruger (right, with Ron) and Adam Parker(below) and their teams for their excellent work accomplished over the past few months. The camps will close for the season on November 1st, after seeing an increase in occupancy by almost 50% compared to last year!
Although wildlife is still a bit skittish in the area, excellent sightingswere reported throughout the season, including just 2 days ago an aardvark and lions with cubs.
We can’t wait to see what next year will bring.
Thank you to all and happy packing!
Island Bush Camp
Three Rivers Camp
Luangwa is all over London!!
If you are a big fan of wildlife photography you would be familiar with the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition hosted by the National History Museum in London.
Now in its fifty-third instalment, the competition provides a showcase for the world’s very best nature photography.
A frequent visitor to South Luangwa, South African photographer Isak Pretorius is making the news again at the competition. His stunning photo of a lioness sneaking through the green grass for a drink was nominated for this year Animal Portrait category. It didn’t win, but this doesn’t matter much to Isak as the photo was alternatively selected to be the official one for the WPY 2018 marketing campaign, and has now been seen by millions around the world via the web and by thousands of Londoners boarding the tube, taking the bus or walking the streets of the city.
Why talk about this? Other than the fact that it is a beautiful image, it was actually taken right here in South Luangwa, during last year’s rainy season. If you are familiar with the park, the photo was taken just after the bridge, so not far from the main entrance. Isak is a huge fan of South Luangwa, and the buzz created by the photo is definitely putting Luangwa on the map for all the world to see. Well done Isak!
“cool cat” by Isak Pretorius. WPY Highly Commended 2018, Animal Portraits
Zambia with Gesa & Frank
Trail-blazers Frank Steenhuizen (Safari Guide) and Gesa Neitzel (Film Producer, Author & Storyteller) were with us in June and will be back to Zambia next year to lead a couple of safaris, including our camps.
Gesa runs a blog on YouTube called Safari Sundays, and I highly recommend you watch the episodes featuring her June trip. Click on the buttons below and you’ll be transported straight to Luangwa!
If you are interested in joining Gesa & Frank next year, hurry because the dates fill up quickly. Click here for more information.
Gesa at Island Bush Camp
Meet our guests… Steve & Tom
It was a fairly last minute trip, but Steve had known for a while that he wanted to visit Africa. Booking barely a month ago, he grabbed his buddy Steve and flew to South Luangwa where they spent 6 nights with us.
Tom (left) & Steve (right) with their guide Andrew
Full of wit and charisma, this pair left only laughter in their path. It was obvious that they deserved a spot as our guests of the month!
Steve answered the questions while Tom took the photos. They had a great safari!
Was this your first trip to Africa? On safari? Yes but I had previously been to South Africa for the Football World Cup, does this count?
What triggered the wish to come to Africa? I had previously booked two trips to Africa (to Tanzania) and both had fallen through due to personal circumstances. But I wasn’t going to give up. It was always something I wanted to do.
So, when an article popped up in the paper last September – we just took a flyer and booked it!!
Why did you choose Kafunta Safaris? I totally trusted my Travel Agent – Far and Wild – and South Luangwa along with Kafunta Safaris were the recommendations. So here I am!
What was the highlight of the trip? Seeing the animals up close and personal! The sightings from Kafunta River Lodge were just incredible, and we saw pretty much everything on our very first drive (lions, leopards – with a cub, elephants, buffalos, wild dogs, etc). We were rained down at Three Rivers Camp, but that’s part of the adventure.
Was there anything that made you nervous in the African bush? YOU (only joking)! The proximity of some of the animals on Safari and the fact that there may have been (and were) animals in the Camps at night. I’m not sure I expected that, but everything was made safe.
You mentioned being interested in supporting the Mfuwe Football league?
Very! When travelling as much as I have you come across people who have less than yourself but are still committed to their cause. Wilson at Kafunta was an inspiration, and what he does for the local kids through sports.
I have already contacted Chelsea Football Cluband I am in discussions to see if together we can assist with anything.
Anything else you would like to add? Yes, this trip to Kafunta exceeded my expectations. Thanks to ALL staff for making it so!
Although Steve mentioned there was too many attractive destinations around the world on his bucket list to plan a return trip to Southern Africa in the near future, we’ll be happy to savour his humour should he visit South Luangwa again!
That’s it for October!
I’ll save the rest for the next months. And if you’ve got photos or stories you would like to share with us, you know where to find me (the email is unchanged whether I’m in Luangwa or in Belgium!)