November in the Luangwa Valley changed my perception about a month I never really fancied.
November always used to be a bit of an unpopular month: Exams are written in November and Christmas is still too far off to get excited about it. November is also the month for doing all the boring little jobs in order to get ready for 2013 – here at Wildlife Camp we applied for a liquor licence for 2013, a Tourism & Hospitality licence for 2013, a this-licence and a that-licence, and these applications take tedious time.
However, the month of November has crawled into my heart over the last couple of seasons. It is also the time of year when camp is a little quieter after the busy peak season. November brings with it the rains, cooler temperatures, green leaves and amazing sunsets. November also brings with it Movember.
Movember is a world-wide fundraising phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. The basic premises is that men grow their Mo’s and get sponsored by people in their community to do so, with all the proceeds going towards testicular cancer research.
Here in the Luangwa Valley, Wildlife Camp has decided to put our own spin on Movember: Yes, we did grow moustaches, and yes we did raise money… but in our special way.
With drinks and snacks sponsored by Zambian Breweries and Wildlife Camp, and a painting sponsored by Pam Carr (the legendary Norman Carr’s daughter) we held a get-together at Wildlife Camp’s bar on the 23rd of Movember. The drinks were sold and the painting auctioned off with all proceeds going towards a pre-designated cause.
It was a wonderful evening – having a couple of drinks with good friends, knowing that every Kwacha you spent is for a great cause, was fantastic. We even had a moustache judging committee with gold (a case of beer), silver (12 beers) and bronze (6 beers) medals awarded to the best Mo’s.
Our evening was a great success and we hope to go even bigger next year!
Fales and her new wheels
When we started planning our Movember event, it was difficult to know how much money we could raise, and how this money would be spent well.
After a lot of research by the local doctor and Project Luangwa we came to the conclusion that we should aim high – the target was 2750000 Zambian Kwacha which would buy a wheelchair for Fales, a girl in Mfuwe with cerebral palsy.
Fales (pictured right) is bright as a button but due to her condition can only attend pre-school as that is the only school within walking distance from her house. New wheels would mean that she can go to proper school!
When we counted the money-raised on the morning-after we were delighted with K5 317 000 – more than enough to ensure that Fales gets her wheelchair and school uniforms for 2013. There will also be some money left over which will go to an equally great cause.
As Karen Beattie from Project Luangwa put it: Never was so much beer drunk for such a worthy cause.
Camera, lights, action!
Wildlife Camp was in the fortunate position to host a film-crew from Brazil during November. They were producing a documentary on Zambia and were looking for some off-the-beaten track footage – where better than to come to Wildlife Camp! While staying with us they picked up two interesting stories: Crocodile; Fishermen conflict as well as Elephant; Farmers conflict.
Wildlife Camp was the perfect base for them to explore these two stories further. Some of our staff members, who are also farmers, took them to their farms and showed them the various methods they use to avoid damage to their crops by elephants.
They also interviewed Mago, at the place where was attacked by a crocodile 11 years ago while fishing in the Luangwa River. After the croc-attack Mago spent 2 months in hospital before he started working here at Wildlife Camp as a gardener and a spotter.
It was very interesting having the flim-crew here and it helped all of us to once again look at the Luangwa Valley through the eyes of outsiders. Naturally, they wanted to also do some filming in the park, and that is where this month’s moment of the month come from…
Moment of the month
… I was very excited to take our filming-crew into South Luangwa National Park. With the park-permit that they had, we could stay in the park as long as we wanted, and we even had permission from the Zambian Wildlife Authority to drive off-road!
So, with cameras, microphones and head-phones packed and the presenter dressed in safari-gear we set off into the park… And then the first rain of the season arrived. 120mm of rain fell within a matter of hours, rendering our little filming-safari useless!
We made a dash for camp, trying to keep all the expensive gear as dry as possible. At one stage it was raining so hard that one could not see 10 meters ahead… I very nearly drove over a 2meter crocodile crossing the road! The rain rendered most of the roads undrivable, but we finally managed to get back to camp – only to bog down in a sink-hole 15meters from dry-ground!
Now, this does not sound like fun at all – and it wasn’t. But in hindsight you can only be amazed at how powerful Mother Nature is! In a matter of minutes she changed the complexion of the whole South Luangwa National Park – and the park is big: 9052km² big. And for that, I have to say that the rain on the night of the 1st of November was the best moment of the month.
These two photos were taken from Wildlife Camp. The top-photo was pre-rain and the bottom photo post-rain, merely 48hours later.
If you’d like to come and make some moments of your own, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We do still have some chalets available over Christmas and New-Years but please book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
Kind Regards from all of us here at Wildlife Camp.