Well, here we stand again at the end of another year. I do understand that every end-of-the-year article you will read over the next couple of days will include the phrase “and what a year it has been” but please bear with me as I also say: “2011 – what a year it has been!”
Spot the chalet.
Here at Wildlife Camp December did not disappoint in producing an appropriate climax for the past 365 days. Not only did we experience some breathtaking storms complete with thunder and lightning, but one of these managed to bring down a beautifully big knob-thorn tree (Acacia Nigrescens) onto chalet 7. There is nothing like being woken up by the camp’s watchman at 5:00 on a Saturday morning with the words “Chalet 7 is buggered!” However, I can report that Herman and his builders must get big kudos as the damage to the structure was limited. There was fortunately nobody occupying the chalet at that time, but even if there was somebody inside they would have walked away without even a scratch!
And that brings me to my next point, because the lady that did occupy the chalet the night before was from the World Land Trust. She was in camp to investigate the possibility of them (World Land Trust) and the Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Society of Zambia combining their efforts to aid conservation in this area. Wildlife Camp, as you may know, is the main sponsor of the WECSZ. More than 60% of our revenue generated through accommodation is paid directly to this great Society, and for the year 2011 we will contribute more than $50 000 towards Conservation. So, for us it was a huge pleasure to meet and host the World Land Trust and off course, send them on one of the Luangwa’s famous night safaris!
The banded-mongooses also added a couple of babies to their rapidly growing gang. Six of them, to go with the three juveniles and the two adults that are already here to entertain us with their daily shenanigans.
Other than that, I have decided to give the creative-side of my brain a little rest over the Christmas period and have come up with an ingenious way of having other people write the December Newsletter for me.
We’ll start off with a couple of paragraphs dedicated to bragging and boasting.
Best in Africa?
When running a camp in the middle of nowhere it an awesome feeling to get positive feedback from your guests. Here is what Wildlife Camp guests had to say about their stays with us during 2011:
· Wildlife Camp was set to be the grand finale of our 3+ week tour of Zambia, and there was not a single disappointment! – June
· The setting was perfect (giraffes walked right by the camp a few minutes after we arrived and a hippo was right outside my window one night!) – July
· The Wildlife Camp is a perfect location! It is extremely authentic while still being absolutely comfortable and a pleasure to stay in… It was out of this world… The safari s themselves were breathtaking. Definitely the best we had in Africa – August
· The game drives and bush walks allowed us to see every species that we could hope to see, including: a leopard up a tree with its kill; a hyena dragging the kill away from two leopards; a herd of cape buffalo; and a lioness, lion and their three cubs. – August
· We stayed in the “Barefoot Camp” – with stupendous views overlooking the river… My wife said it was one of the best places on the planet! – September
· This must be one of the best value for money wildlife lodges in Africa – September
· As they say in the real estate world, “location, location, location” is what it’s all about and Wildlife Camp has the best site along the river – October
· Wildlife Camp had the best safari vehicles in the park – October
· What really sets Wildlife Camp apart from other places – is the holistic respect it shows towards nature. Wildlife Camp is located in the “animals world”, so it tries hard to adjusts its rules and everyday-life to that of nature – October
· Retha was very helpful and her team of mechanics were fantastic and managed to sort out our 2 punctured tyres so that we could get on our way – November
· We were upgraded when we arrived which was a lovely surprise. Dora couldn’t do enough and was extremely helpful and welcoming. The food was excellent and we were fed until we popped! – November
· Our guide, Billy, was simply outstanding – both informative and fun. The rainy season began on our second night in camp and the lightning and thunder show was spectacular – November
· We spent 5 days with the wonderful folks at Wildlife Camp and felt like we came away with new friends and an experience of a lifetime – November
What better motivation to take into 2012 than this?
When it comes to staff-members you will have to look far and wide to find one as great as Alice Mweetwa. She is Wildlife Camp’s receptionist and a very valuable part of the camp’s engine. In 2011 Wildlife Camp sponosored her to get a qualification through the University of South Africa. She managed to pass with distinction and I am positive that her newly acquired knowledge will be very helpfull to Wildlife Camp in 2012 and to her in the future. Here is what she has to say:
“As the year started, I did not know what to expect. I had been working with Wildlife Camp for two years now. Over these two years I have acquired a lot of experience with the help of management. Eventhough the experience and skills that I got was enough to get me going I still needed to have some official knowledge, but I did not have the funds to do that.
I really want to express my heart-felt gratitude to the Wildlife Camp management for sponsoring me through my studies which was a one-year advanced programme in Tourism, Travel & Hospitality through the University of South Africa. I also want to thank the company for the time they created for my studies to be a success – I had to travel twice to Lusaka for my exams.
I am very glad that the year was fruitful and that I am now a proud holder of a certificate in Tourism, Travel & Hospitality. All this was made possible by Wildlife Camp. I really thank management for their help and encouragement through 2011. I would like to advance myself in the future with further studies.”
New Year and a perfect time for a change!! As many of you may already know, time has come for me to seek out new adventures and follow my dreams. I have left Wildlife Camp and am now involved full time with the setting up of Takeri Private Reserve- 3500 hectares of land with 16 km of Kafue River frontage. 2012 will be spent setting up a new lodge, full time game management, anti-poaching patrols on horseback and so much more – being a private reserve we have to control all aspects. Lots to learn and many challenges ahead and I am not the only one facing new challenges, Byron and Tara are off to boarding school and my oldest son, Kyle, is heading off to Rhodes University.
Thank you to all of you, many who have become close friends, for your support over the years. I admit that I will miss my wonderful house on the banks of the Luangwa and of course many of the staff at the camp, some who have worked with me for 12 years. Wishing you all the best for 2012 and may it be as exciting as I hope it will be for me! For those wishing to keep in contact my new email address is email@example.com
Moment of the Month
Take a good look at the lion.
His name is Shaka: A male that we have grown very fond of over the last year-and-a-half. He (I apologise to my high-school English teacher for calling an animal a “he” and not an “it”) was undoubtedly the star of 2011 in the Luangwa Valley. He came from the hills near Chichele in late 2010 and set about transforming a large area into his own territory. Since then he has grown both physically and in stature and today demands a lot of respect not only from his fellow animals but also from all the homo-sapiens that had the privilege in 2011 to watch him at work. He is a beast but also a sheep in wolves’ clothing. He has some cubs in our main game-viewing area that has amazed guests the last couple of months (see the October Wildlife Camp Newsletter). Shaka protects them with all he’s got. To add to the huge amount of respect we already had for this beaut, in December he showed off his hunting skills for Wildlife Camp guests during a night-safari, in the end managing to bring down an impala. We also saw him at the end of November viciously defending his home-range from a younger male from the Mambwa-pride. So, the moment of the month is more a collection of moments that Shaka has provided us with through the year of 2011 – Shaka, take a bow.
That is that then for the December edition of the Wildlife Camp Newsletter.
We wish you a very merry Christmas and an unbelievably prosperous 2012!
The warmest of regards from all of us here at Wildlife Camp.