October in the Luangwa Valley is a strange month. It is a month that keeps one guessing from the 1st to the 31st about when the rains will arrive and how high the thermometers will reach over the lunch-hour. Now that we come to the end of the month we know that we, at least once, reached 46°C and that the clouds has not yet reached the valley.
Q’s & A’s
With those two questions answered I decided to continue with the same Q & A theme: Guests visiting Wildlife Camp is often intrigued by the behind-the-scenes action at Wildlife Camp and staff members often have to stand by with answers.
Where do all the supplies come from?
When it comes to food, whatever we can get fresh from the local traders and farmers we get. Other basics like nails, cement and decorations like wooden giraffe and banana-leaf mats we also get from Mfuwe village. For everything else, we place an order to come from Lusaka or Chipata once a week. This order does not only include food but also other things from energy-saving bulbs to engine-oil and deodorant.
Who fixes the cars?
This is the job of camp-director Herman Miles and his dedicated team of mechanics led by Moffat. They not only fix our vehicles, but also help guests out when they experience mechanical problems.
What happens when there are no guests in camp during the rainy season?
Even then, there are always jobs to do. We paint the chalets, we train new staff and sometimes we just sit down and enjoy the lovely bush that surrounds us. The rain attracts a lot of birds and, as our guides will regularly point out, the cats also like sticking to the main roads in order not get their feet wet. Thus, we have plenty to keep ourselves busy with during the green-season.
Especially when it comes to the managers and their daily lives, guests have many questions. Do you live in one of the chalets? Have you ever had a dangerous snake in your house? How often do you go “home”?
In this month’s newsletter, I am setting out to find all these answers from Dora. She has been managing Wildlife Camp for almost three years now and few people are as qualified as her to answer your questions! And, the nice thing about Dora is that she can answer you either in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, or Swiss-German.
Do you live in one of the chalets?
No, I have a nice little house in between the campsite and the main-lodge area. It is not big or spectacular but it is all I need and of course, the view over the river is priceless.
Have you ever had a dangerous snake in your house?
How often do you go home to Switzerland?
Once a year, usually in April.
What do miss most of Switzerland?
My friends, the chocolate and the cheese. But my friends must be first on this list.
What is the best thing about living in the bush at Wildlife Camp?
The animals are great to have around – even the baboons and the monkeys. And the peace and the quiet that is nowhere else to be found.
If there is one thing you cannot live without here in the bush, what is it?
Books – I really like novels and always make sure that I have at least one good one to keep me busy.
What is the single most important thing a guest can bring on their trip to South Luangwa?
Binoculars – that can make such a big difference out in the park, and even here sitting in camp and watching nature go by.
Describe the best animal-sighting you have had in South Luangwa?
Definitely last year, it was probably in October, when 60 or more elephants crossed the river right in front of camp. There were big ones and small ones and it was just amazing to see.
What do you do on your off day?
Well, I like going into the park with our guides in the morning, and the rest of the day I spend on my veranda painting and reading.
Why should guests choose Wildlife Camp to stay with when visiting South Luangwa National Park?
The best guides and the best location. Our guides guide from their hearts – they love the South Luangwa valley and all that live here. Our location is also perfect. There are no other camps in sight and the bend in the river attracts many animals. And then there is the sunset which is too beautiful to describe in words.
What is the strangest request who have ever had from a guest?
There have been a few strange ones. Probably the time when guests wanted to visit in October and enquired whether we have hot-water bottles and heated blankets in the chalets. And then of course about the animals: more than one person have asked me before if they will see tigers in the park. One lady also asked what giraffes go for when they hunt!
Sighting of the month
October had many great sightings and deciding which one was most special is difficult. In the end it came down to two. A walking safari which found lions feasting on a freshly killed buffalo – or – A very close encounter with a gorgeous male leopard. Seeing as the lions reigned supreme the two previous months I’ll go with the leopard this time. On an early morning drive, Sylvester spotted a big male leopard resting under an ebony tree. It was not long before the cat leisurely woke up, strolled over to the right rear-tire of the Land Rover and scent-marked it. Mr Leopard then made his way up onto a comfortable branch and that is where Sly and his guests left him to rest.
For an elusive and shy animal like a leopard this sighting was indeed very rare. We are confident that November will also make for more rare and special moments.
Warm Regards from all of the Wildlife Camp team.
P.S. from Patsy
The last few months have been very busy! I have been spending half the time at the Camp and the other half at Takeri –(where we have had a record number of sable births) nothing like commuting across Zambia!
On another note, we have always supported SLCS (South Luangwa Conservation Society) and recently I became an Honorary Wildlife Police Officer, working closely with ZAWA (Zambian Wildlife Authority) and SLCS. We are active in our investigations and in the last month I have spent three days out on patrol with ZAWA. We had a very productive patrol, travelled to remote areas of the park / Game Management Areas and severely tested my vehicles ability in water! One does not like to dwell on the negative side but reality is that there is poaching in Zambia and by covering this up is not the solution. SLCS plays a fantastic role in conservation and if you have a moment have a look at their website (www.slcs-zambia.org) for further details. I am hoping to register a bird, antelope and small mammal rehabilitation centre at Takeri Wildlife Reserve and once I have all the permissions in place from ZAWA I will let you all know more about it.
On that positive note let me wish you all a great month ahead – we are just waiting for first rains – nothing can beat the smell of the bush after a downpour!