Generators, oil leaks and head gaskets, yes, one can assume that Herman is out of the camp on a couple of weeks break and I have been overseeing the workshop and camp maintenance. In the valley we don’t have the good fortune of having tradesmen to come in and do maintenance and if something breaks you generally have to fix this yourself. Leaking tapes and geyser elements blowing are a reality and being practical is not an option but rather an obligation. Logistically Luangwa is not the easiest place to operate from but certainly one of the more rewarding and even a bad day can be justified by having a herd of elephants walk past your house at sunset.

Load shedding is another reality in the valley and if you are camping please make sure you travel with adequate lighting as ZESCO is famous for turning off the power in the early evenings. All our rooms do have paraffin lights and we do have a stand-by generator but if you read the first line you can appreciate that there can always be a time this does not run! (I think I have traced the fault down to a warped head – the generators that is!!)

The good news is that our new family chalet opens today and is looking wonderful. Much of the work and progress on this can be credited to Tim, our volunteer, who has been a tremendous help. Tim will be with us for three months and last weekend joined us for a family picnic in the park. It was a great fun day and somehow ended up with us digging for water in the dry Luwi river bed – I can assure you that up to two meters it is dry, and this river was flowing only two months ago.

During dry periods elephants will excavate holes in dry river beds using their tusks, trunk and feet to gain access to underground water. The daily water intake is 100 – 220 litres and generally they drink once a day, although in some seasons and in some habitats they can adapt to drinking every other day or even every third day.

This year has seen many return guests coming to the camp and been super to see so many friends back in camp. Many guests coming into camp have commented on the news letters and this has been wonderful as I often sit in my office while typing out the letters and wonder who actually reads them. Please also let me know if there is any specific topic that you may want to hear about and I can gladly include this.

Wishing you all a good July

Hello from Colleen…

I often get asked what a single girl does for fun in the Luangwa Valley. So I decided to share with you all, what I get up to on my day off.

I spend most of my days off in the bush, watching, listening and learning. On the first weekend of June I decided to venture into the Nsefu sector to see what I could see. Armed with a land rover, a packed lunch and a cooler box filled with cold drinks I headed off into the unknown for a whole day drive.

The Nsefu sector is another area of the park, it is accessed through the Miliyoti gate. After crossing the Lupande River and the Mslandi River I reached the gate. I purchased a map and then headed on. I decided that the river road drive was the best option. I had heard the Eland were about and was determined to find the largest antelope in the Luangwa. I first came across a beautiful lagoon, with several crocs sunning themselves as well as a large pod of hippos. I next came across a Puku drinking, a grey heron on its left and 2 large crocs sitting in front of them. One Croc slid into the water most likely with the thought of tasty puku for lunch. After driving around for a few hours and seeing plenty of game, I came across the shy Eland. I was lucky to 6 of these beautiful antelope. Although quite shy I did manage to get a few pics of them. Feeling rather excited and happy I headed on.

I saw a range of animals, giraffe, Buffalo, elephants, puku, impala and zebra to name a few, the bird life was fantastic with me sighting the green backed heron, the cattle egret, white backed vultures, Batleurs, Lillian love birds, carmine bee eaters, snake eagle the spoon bill and many more.. I then came across my sighting of the year, a leopard jumped from a tree directly in front of the car, what a sight it was 14:00hrs, not the time to be seeing leopards, as I turned the landrover to get a better a view, 4 young lions started to chase her..  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.. She luckily got away and climbed a large tree not too far from the road.. The lions stalked her for a little while, got bored and then flopped to the ground keeping a lazy eye on her!! I managed to get some fantastic shots of her in the tree. It was my first pictures of leopard and well worth the wait. After watching this unfold, I didn’t think my day could get any better. I decided to head up to the stork colony. Now there is a sighting I will not forget, the sight of thousands of yellow billed storks, nesting in a few chosen trees. From afar it looks as though the trees are covered in snow, as you get closer you hear the cries of thousands of hungry chicks squawking and screeching for food. There is an endless stream of traffic, Heathrow airport has nothing on these birds!! They all seem to know where they are going, no crashing with perfect landings on the tiniest of branches.

The Marabou storks are hungrily waiting at the bottom of the trees for any food that is dropped from above. When something does drop, there is mad panic, of feathers, beaks, dust and confusion as they scavenge for the tiniest bit of fish!

I decided here is a good spot to enjoy my lunch as I sit in wonder, I could have sat there for hours, it was better than any TV show. There was drama, romance, action and comedy all unfolding in front of me!

After this I headed back down towards the gate, passing through the salt pans first. The pan is large and flat and you get to see as far as the horizon. I saw plenty of the elegant kudu, the puku, impalas, yellow baboons, elephants and the warthogs. It was an amazing day and another great adventure.

After a day like that, I know that I am very lucky and blessed to live and work in the Luangwa. I look forward to sharing with you my adventures from next month!!

Kind regards Colleen