Both Kaingo and Mwamba are now closed down for the rains, everything has been packed away and our game drive vehicles are resting at our plot in Mfuwe. Our local staffs and guides are now back in their homes with their families, tending to their crops, and from what I understand, still waiting for the serious rains to start. Derek is back with Jules in Lusaka to the happy cheers of Saphire and Jayabella, Noelle and Brent are back in South Africa, Rob in Australia and I’m back in Belgium.
The season is over, but what an incredible one it was!
Now we are all resting and looking forward to 2013, and delighted to bring you our last newsletter of the year!
The end of the season was a bit hectic, and wet, but I’ll come back to that later on. First I’d like to come back to our previous newsletter where I had promised more pictures of the Mwamba Cubs – here they are, courtesy of our guest Samuel Cox. Splendid pictures indeed and you can see more of Sam’s superb photography and videos on his website. Alternatively you can also visit his facebook page.
In addition, our guests Rolf Crisovan and Jonathan Silverman also sent us some pictures of the cubs. So here’s more – such a pleasure for the eye!
Those cubs (with the help of their older siblings) have been naughty again, and decided late in October to have a go at our Hippo Hide (after damaging our mobile hide several times during the season!). Guests Ryan and Kylie caught them on the spot!
Also in the last newsletter I was talking about the C4 Images and Safaris photo group led by professional photographers Patrick Bentley and Isak Pretorius. One of those mornings, our guests at breakfast witnessed an unusual “kill” which they observed from their own chair at the dining table. Look at these pictures taken respectively by Rolf Crisovan, Isak Pretorius and Patrick Bentley. I love how they each tell the story in a different way, although the conclusion remains the same for the poor frog.
Here are some pictures from Isak Pretorius along with personal notes on his safari at Kaingo. You can learn more about his work by visiting his website.
10 October 2012 – Photo tour, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
The hyenas discovered the hippo carcass and started feeding in the early morning. We also followed some hyenas walking through the forest before going back to the buffalo carcass to see the two male lions feed. The afternoon was spent in the carmine bee-eater hide where the memory cards got filled quickly.
11 October – Photo tour, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
We spent the morning with elephants, feeding on acacia’s, walking across the open plains and drinking at the Luangwa river. After watching a kill at the breakfast table (spotted bush snake grabbed a tree frog), a bit of downtime was welcome to recharge batteries. In the afternoon we saw a dead elephant with vultures and a pride of lions that killed a young waterbuck.
12 October – Photo tour, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
The light in South Luangwa during October is a photographer’s dream! The smoke and dust in the air during this time of the year creates diffused light till late in the morning. It acts like a giant filter, perfect to photograph for a few hours extra. We photographed elephants and carmines bee-eaters again during the morning drive. Our afternoon was aimed at photographing birds along the channels of waters on the open plains.
13 October – Photo tour, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Our last morning started with beautifully backlit baboons in the ebony forest. After visiting the bird hide at Mwamba Camp to photograph Lilian’s love bird we got surprised with a breakfast setup in the forest. We watched some crocodiles lunge at impala’s in the hippo hide in the afternoon before finding a leopard during sunset.
Talking about photo tours, we have a few of them planned for 2013, so if you are interested in learning from one of those professional photographers or naturalists, while spending a few days at Kaingo, contact us for more information or visit our photography tours page on our website. There is limited space on those trips, so don’t wait and pass the word.
Judith Gawehn – Afari Magic Africa (Germany). June 16-22, 2013
Peter Smart – Wild Arena (UK). Jul 6-14, 2013
Anna Bulleid – Peregrine Travel Center (Australia). Sep 5-9, 2013
David Rogers – David Rogers Photography (South Africa). Sep 19-22, 2013
ARR Natur (Austria). Oct 10-16, 2013
Carol Petersen – Nature Encounters Tours & Travel (Canada). Oct 25-28, 2013
Greg du Toit – Oryx Expeditions. Oct 28-Nov 6, 2013
Ready for more photography?
If you were guests at Kaingo in September and October, you might have heard of “Useless Croc”. This croc lives at the hippo hide and has spoiled us with numerous trials at catching unsuspecting game coming down to drink. The poor thing got his name for exactly that… trials only, we never saw him actually catch anything. But he certainly gave our guests opportunities for exciting shots. Here is a series from return guest Mary Guy (fabulous!), followed by a very short snippet of Johan Vermeulen’s video (watch attentively because it is quick!).
VIDEO by JOHAN VERMEULEN – Click on picture to open the video
And as we are all about sharing photographs and stories, here’s some more.
These photographs were taken by our guide MEYAM NJOBVU. They are stunning and featuring another one of our celebrities: Elliott the one-eye leopard. He is much more successful at hunting than Useless Croc, as you can see here.
The next series of pictures is from our other guide PATRICK NJOBVU. They feature this peculiar ritual of 2 male giraffes “fighting” in slow motion.
This last series was taken by myself, on one of my last game drives. We were just south of Kaingo, near the “ebony grove” when we saw this small herd of elephants. They were extremely nervous, although we couldn’t figure out why they were so upset. They kept sniffing the air with their trumps curled up in the air, undecided about which way to go. They finally rushed back across the water and up the bank.
Earlier I was mentioning how hectic our last few days of the season had been. It was on November 1st. We said goodbye to our last guests at Mwamba, but at Kaingo we were busy with a photographic group from Oryx Worldwide Photographic Expeditions for a few more days. As we sat down for dinner, the rain started to come down. Not one of those usual storms as we expect them at this time of the year, but a steady rain… which did not stop until the next morning! It rained so much that the sandbars of the Luangwa River got almost all covered up, it rained so much that the Mwamba River started flowing again, along with the Luwi, and many other streams. It seems that part of the park got as much as 117 millimeter of rain during that night. That is about 1/8th of what we have in an entire rain season.
The soil in our area is what we call “black cotton” and those who have been on bush walks know how hard and craggy it gets. Well pour a little water on it, and it turns into a slick and sticky mud right away, which only a good old “John Deere” can manage. The next couple of days meant on-foot safaris only, but personally I had to make it to Mfuwe Airport, and could hardly walk the 30 km down to the paved road. That’s when Derek, and its John Deere, came in action! I think Derek particularly enjoys this kind of adventures, although this is normally something he reserves for the beginning of the season, not at this time of year! Here are a few pictures of our expedition down South, making way through the rivers, and the flooded and muddy plains.
Thankfully the sun reappeared quickly, and trails dried up again. This allowed for the packing and transfer out of our last guests and staff. And since then… the rains have been shy and are greatly expected by those in the Valley.
When it comes to photography, we particularly like to feature our guests’ pictures. You are familiar with our unofficial “picture of the month” competition, which has been running now for more than a year. We collect all the pictures sent by our previous guests, they must have been taken while staying at Kaingo or Mwamba, and every month we select a few of them based on various themes.
In November we had chosen the theme “Monkey Business” but we realized that we didn’t have enough pictures to really make it a interesting, so we have postponed the theme for February! Make sure to email us your best shots, whether they are applicable to the upcoming themes or not, you never know when your picture can be chosen for the competition, or simply for a blog or any feature.
So this month, no picture of the month to show you, but here’s a spectacular picture from our guest Rolf Crisovan, who visited Kaingo and Mwamba in October 2012 (we all remember Rolf coming back from game drives with his hands up in the air, cheering with joy). The photograph was taken from the Mwamba hide, and is quite interesting to look at.
Rolf used the “photomerge” function of Photoshop to combine 10 shots into one.
Our upcoming themes for the Picture of the Month are: Reptiles for December, Black & White for January, Monkey Business for February and Comical for March. Pictures must reach us by the middle of the month. Now, head to your computer and email us your shots.
The holidays are quickly approaching, and if you would like to support the children of Mfuwe, here is an easy way to achieve both – supporting the community and offer your friends a very useful gift! The now famous “Project Luangwa Wildlife Tea Towel” is now available for purchase online!
Really cute, isn’t it? And very affordable too. For just £ 4.50 you can purchase the towel online, and have it shipped to your address (currently in the UK and Europe, but rest of the world coming soon). They are going fast, so hurry and click here to order your towel. Project Luangwa also offers cards and “aMaizing” shopping bags for sale. And of course, any other donation via the PL website is greatly appreciated. You are directly helping the children of South Luangwa. Click here to visit Project Luangwa’s website.
And if you are also interested in supporting the conservation efforts in the Valley, you can donate to the South Luangwa Conservation Society. One very original way to support them is by SPONSORING an anti-poaching patrol! A anti-snaring day patrol costs $35, while a six-day patrol (6 scouts) costs $130. Do you know that already 817 snares have been removed this year (numbers from early October).
Rachel and her team really cover a lot of grounds, and missions. For those of you who remember seeing a collared leopard towards the end of our season in 2011, or early 2012, you will be happy to know that Rachel led a successful rescue and that the collar was removed in June this year.
Read more here about the various ways to support SLCS.
It is time to wish you all a happy and peaceful holiday season, first by thanking each and every one of you for reading our newsletter, and for sending your feedback, and then of course by thanking all of our 2012 guests for a wonderful season.
Make sure to add your review to TripAdvisor to keep our good ratings up, and to join us on Facebook to get regular updates and more pictures while waiting for the next newsletter! Today we have 458 friends, maybe we can reach 500 friencs by the end of the year? That would be wonderful. Click on the icons below to connect directly to the relevant pages.
We’ll be in touch again in January!
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!
PS: our offices will be closed from December 24th through January 1st included