On the 26 January we all got a shock as the 2008 parliamentary speech was disclosed and overnight the visa waiver system has been abolished, plus there was a 100% increase on visa fees – all with immediate effect.
Never has Luangwa Safari Associated acted quicker and an emergency meeting was called for – copious amounts of coffee was consumed and strategies worked out! ZAWA was also in attendance and were a huge help with statistics of visitors over the past years to the valley – including a very useful breakdown of nationalities. LSA has always had an excellent working relationship with the authorities and this was obvious as calls were made to relevant ministers, government officials and friends in high places – and the impact of this to the tourism sector was pointed out. We all waited with bated breath for the outcome on our response and finally at 8.30 p.m on the 29 January we were informed that that this has been re-considered and visa fees will be as follows;
$50 PER SINGLE ENTRY – $80 PER DOUBLET ENTRY
This applies to most nationalities that require visa’s for entry into Zambia and are able to apply for this at point of entry. However we are still debating the US and UK nationalities as there have been many conflicting reports on this and the amount to be charged. Please know we take this very seriously and are doing our utmost to get this confirmed in writing to us. As soon as I have confirmation – in writing – I will let everyone know.
However the VISA WAIVER system is not longer an option and will not be re-instated.
Now as always somehow the discussion always turns to the weather and so far we have escaped the floods that have been affecting the southern areas of Zambia and Mozambique. However we have had good rains and this has caused the stream that we have to cross into camp to turn into a river and has cut off our access road at the moment.
Two days ago we made the decision to close the camp for the rest of February as we feel that this is a good chance of this remaining high and we would not like to have you come all the way down to us and not be able to do all the activities or take any chances in crossing water that is really too high to be safe.
As I am sitting in my office any typing this out the radio is busy with messages from camp to camp finding out about water levels and the bush telegraph – with a bit of technological help – is alive and well in the valley.
We will take this time to do a lot of camp maintenance and we be open again on the 1 March – all ready for a good month and remember that Easter falls in March this year we are already planning the Easter eggs hunts and a family weekend!
My family and other animals..
Most of our staff are away but Colleen arrives back in camp today and the school will be open by the end of the week. The children have all missed her and eager to get to work. This year the school will have six pupils.
Our guides are all away on holiday except for Andrew who is helping with painting and camp repairs. The kitchen is trying out a few new recipes and we have got some great new ideas for the season – this has not helped my waistline so I have resorted to cycling again – but here I have to admit defeat and after being chased by one to many elephants am now doing the stationary version.
The elephants are still all around the house and camp and have being stripping a lot of bark off the mopane trees. The hippos are about 2 meters from the campsite bar – this is because this section is not flowing quite as fast as in the main stream of the river. Many hippos have also moved into the lagoons to escape the fast flowing river. Our bushbuck are still around and Bushy was at our house yesterday and still lets me touch her. The dormouse has not been seen since we released him and Penny (the squirrel) is about to produce yet another litter and still comes in daily and shares lunch with the children – she is rather partial to spaghetti!
Have a good month and we will keep you all updated on the visa fee situation.