Welcome back to the Luangwa Valley
Our peak season has passed on by and we are all appreciating the start of the rains. Personally this is my favorite time in the park as it always amazes me on how quickly everything springs to life (including me at the odd end of season party!) We always have a bit of a breather in camp in November as bookings start to slack off a bit and we have time to plan for Christmas and New Year.
Christmas is very festive in the camp and is a family affair with the traditional English fare of roast ham, cranberry sauces, tipsy tarts and fruit punches! All the lodges have a get together on Christmas Eve when we sing carols and generally have a great time. Our children are planning great events and are thinking of cunning plans to protect Santa’s reindeers from our local lion population. If you are planning on joining us for Christmas and New Year please book early and I can fill you in on further details.
Billy (guide) has been sponsored a trip to Japan and will be going over in December. I have given him a crash course in eating with chops sticks and warned him that not all sushi is cooked! Philemon is sitting for his Grade 1 (walking) practical exam in November and we have a number of guides in training for the exams next season. South Luangwa has always had a well deserved reputation for great guides and we constantly strive to maintain these standards.
The road from Chipata to us is still in a good state and the area that was very bad last year has received some work on it and we are hoping will hold up during the rains – I will continue to give updates over the new few months and please email me for further details if you are planning on driving into camp. Please also remember that I can book internal flights – please email me if you would like further details.
I am planning a short trip to Cape Town in November – purely business and thank goodness the business is doing an inspection of the wine route! I am sure there will be tales to tell of three “bush” girls attempting the traffic and if any of our friends and guests to happen to see any erratic driving of a 110 land rover – I am sure I can blame it on the suspension!
Patsy and the Wildlife Team
Comments from Colleen;
The afternoon skies are scattered with clouds that are battling against the hot sun to join as one and drench the thirsty earth. These late afternoon clouds are giving us the famous African sunsets as the bright orange ball disappears into the clouds.
The animals can also sense the approaching rains. The impala are getting ready to drop their young; normally the whole herd will drop their lambs within a narrow period of a few weeks, usually early summer or after the first few good rains. The vervet monkeys have already started to give birth, although they give birth all year round, they tend to do so around the beginning of the rain, as you walk around camp you can see the female monkeys carrying their very cute alien looking babies, especially the little males as the male vervets have a distinctive powder blue scrotum and belly.
I was lucky enough to see a small herd of the Cookson wildebeests these large antelope are a sub species of the Blue Wildebeest that are epidemic to the south Luangwa National Park. I spotted the herd in a grove of mahogany trees, which gave us a beautiful background and setting for photographs.
The Carmine bee eaters are roosting in the Luangwa’s clay cliff banks at the moment. These beautiful birds are just one of the 8 species of bee eaters that are found in the Luangwa.
These busy little birds are migrant and only visit us between the months of September to November when they come to roost.
These birds don’t build nests but dig holes into the clay banks along the river in large colonies.
This month has been a month for lion sightings, we have had the lions drinking in front of the camp, which was very exciting, the pride of 6 had come down to the water’s edge at the same time as a herd of elephants. The lions were chased away as the elephants were protecting their young.
Miriam and Herman only spotted the very well camouflaged lions due to the commotion caused by the elephants, trumpeting and causing dust storms as they stampeded about. It is always exciting to see lions so close and slightly unnerving! I was also fortunate to see two gorgeous male lions as well as several females hunting. The lions are always exciting to watch whether they are hunting or just resting in the shade.
Being in the presence of these amazing beasts is always so humbling. Although the hunts that I watched this month where unsuccessful, the power, speed and precision of their attacks are exhilarating to watch.
The large brothers I spotted had just eaten and so their bellies were full, and they were just lounging around. However I did see three different hunting attempts, the most exciting was the first.
We had been watching 3 females, sitting under an acacia tree for sometime. Suddenly the wind changed directions and the hunt was on.
The females slowly crept towards their pray, it was strange as there was no vegetation to hide behind, but with the wind blowing in their favour and their very well camouflaged coats they could creep up on the un-suspecting Puku who was drinking from the river.
She crept closer and closer until she suddenly pounced on the Puku, the frightened puku’s adrenaline kicked in and she ran into the water the lioness followed her in and the puku managed to jump over her head.
As the puku ran out of the water the other lioness ambushed her, however the puku has a great side step, and out ran the other 2 lionesses. It was really exciting to watch.
I have decided that the South African Rugby team, have been watching the antelope of southern Africa and learning their side steps from the springboks and Puku.