Guides and staff:
On the 16 of April they sat their grade 2 guiding exams, and we are very proud to say that both passed. The exams are of a very high standard and consist of a theory paper, first aid exam, mechanics exam and if they pass all of this then they have to take out a group of the experienced guides of the valley and have to give a practical game drive.
Patsy is the first aid examiner and we usually hold the exams at the camp in April each year. The exams are set by the South Luangwa Examinations Board, mainly run by Debs and Kerri in conjunction with ZAWA and other guides in the valley.
The exams have earned themselves a reputation of being tough but fair and I am sure all of you who have even been in South Luangwa can appreciate the very high standards of all our guides. A person is usually employed by a camp for a few seasons as a trainee guide and then acts as a “spotter” on the night drives and thus gets into the park and gains knowledge and experience and then sits for his grade 2 exam which enables him to conduct the driving safaris. After a season or two then he is able to go for his grade 1 exam – which is a lot tougher as this is for a walking guide so he also has to be more experienced and also has to be able to handle a firearm and of course be able to pass the high safety standards. If anyone is planning on coming out this year and would like to help sponsor a trainee guide please contact Patsy and she can give you details on this.
Sylvester has had his first few drives and Andrew is still waiting eagerly for his. They have handed in their barman uniforms and are looking very smart in their guides’ uniforms. You will be able to recognize them immediately as they have such huge beaming smiles.
Phillimon our most experienced grade 2 guide, has just written his theory for his grade 1 and will be sitting his practical in November. Phil will be accompanying Herman on most of the walks during the season, to gain experience. Let us also not forget Billy – who also wants to study for his grade 1 exam and will hopefully sit for this in 2008.
We have two new “receptionists in training” and Grace and Judith will be waiting to meet you on your arrival to camp. There have been very few changes in the housekeeping and kitchen staff and I am sure many of you will recognize most of the staff on your return to camp. Miriam is busy with some new recipes and makes a mean achar!
This month has been great for spotting the predators, with several lion, leopard, hyena and wild dog sightings. There has also been a large number of civet and genet spotting, which always makes the night drives more memorable. The wild dogs have been spotted with their new litter, which is exciting and great news for this endangered species.
The Impalas are currently rutting, which gives some great viewing and entertainment with the males fighting over the females. In front of camp, along the river bed is a great spot of game viewing, it is bustling in the mornings and afternoons, with troops of baboon, monkeys and bush buck, littering the grassy planes. The hippos are always around, grunting and snorting and are also interesting to watch. Yesterday we had a herd of elephant wander along this stretch of the river bend and in the afternoon, there was a tower of giraffes at the waters edge.
Weather and other changes:
The rains are now a distant memory and we are now looking forward to some cooler weather as it is still beautifully hot, with a few signs of it dropping. However I have been assured that I will need a light jersey on the early morning and evening drives. If you are planning on coming to the camp in anytime from May to July please remember to bring some warm clothing.
The roads entering the park have been repaired and are now an absolute pleasure to drive on. Work on the Chipata, Mfuwe roads are still under way but are coming along nicely. The road via Petauke is not open yet so please don’t try and come down that way. I will keep you updated on the roads in these monthly news letters.
The main bar has had a make over with some fresh paint, new cushions and lots of pots and pt plants. Patsy and Joel did a fantastic job with the new murals. It’s looking great. The Bare foot camp repairs are coming along nicely and we are in the final stages on the last two tents, the others are all up and ready to go. The campsite is looking lush and green and the pool wonderfully blue.
The family and other animals:
A new baby squirrel has been brought into camp and he is tiny! The umbilical cord is still attached and he must be about 4 cm long (or 8 cm if we count his tail in as well) He is totally bald and is having milk every two hours. As Patsy is going to Indaba (a huge travel show in Durban – South Africa) in a few days she has been showing Colleen how to feed him and care for him. We all hope he will survive and give Penny and the other squirrels some competition! The two kittens, Fuzzy Buns and Rosie are not concerned about him and yesterday the squirrel was quite content to sleep on the cats and get nice and warm. We saw Bob a few days ago (bushbuck) and he is turning into quite a handsome young man- his horns are about 10 cm long. We are all hoping that Bushy will have her first baby this season.
We look forward to welcoming you to our camp. If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help.