As we move from winter into late dry season, there has been lots to keep us entertained and the chills haven’t only come from the last breath of winter. Our Remote Africa team have been very focused on regrouping after the pandemic and once again creating the best experiences in the areas that we love. Much of the wildlife seems to be tackling life with the same vigour and it has been very noticeable the last few weeks.
The lions at Tafika are full of action…and attraction – after observing several more mating pairs this July we anticipate a few new prides by this time next year! The lions are very prominent on both sides of the river these days, manifested by a phenomenal sighting of a poor bull buffalo being chased into the water by a pride on the western bank, only to be met by a pride on our east bank
Sadly for the kakuli, the crocodiles quickly took advantage of his predicament. It turned out there were many beady eyes on this old buff’.
The new Kawere hide (or burrow) has fast become a favourite and is perfectly positioned to see lovely close up views of elephant, giraffe, buffalo and a multitude of birdlife. Guests can enjoy mid-morning tea or even a picnic lunch in the hide during the game drive and some of our best ellie’ sightings have been spied from here. The paperbark acacia pods attract the elephants up close allowing for sightings of muddy toenails!
We were honoured by Whisper’s presence at afternoon tea the other day! He couldn’t wait for his evening fishy treat and came for an early snack. The Yellow-Billed Storks have now dispersed from the breeding colony at Chipela and small flocks of these birds can be seen fishing throughout the remaining lagoons and Luangwa shallows. Despite his tea performance, Whisper seems to be joining the others these days and spending more time away which is the perfect end, and beginning, to his story.
Big Lagoon Camp
We’re still undergoing some improvements at Big Lagoon and are upgrading the shelving, beds and flooring in the rooms. The cement floors and other details ensure the rooms are cool and comfortable whilst maintaining the bushcamp feel. The chalets provide the perfect escape from the afternoon heat along with a fabulous view
Chikoko Tree Camp
Patson, our longest standing chef at Chikoko, has been fending off some pesky honey badger invasions from his kitchen during the night. The naughty badgers have been breaking into the kitchen and harassing the fridge. A cement block had to be built to stop them from digging and raiding the tasty morsels from the underbelly of the fridge – the only form of access which they eventually found!
Lions have been frequenting the Chikoko lagoon and are regularly observed on walks or even directly from the camp across the acacia plains.
It was great to welcome Ernst Jacobs back to Mwaleshi after several years and Ernst reports that it was mystical to be back. He further commented that Groovy, the resident Mwaleshi elephant has grown so much, he’s now the tallest elephant that he’s seen in the North Luangwa. Ernst first encountered Groovy 17 years ago!
The spectacular sundowners in the Mwaleshi river is another pleasure that hasn’t changed!
We were also happy to welcome back Brent Harris, who took over from Ernst in August and is based at Mwaleshi again. There have been some lovely lion, buffalo and elephant sightings on foot. The big prize in North Luangwa is, of course the rhino, and although it’s not regularly seen, Brent and his guests experienced an iconic sighting recently with rhino, lion and crocodile together!
Great sightings at Takwela are on the rise and the road network has been expanded and improved. A returning guest kept everyone thoroughly entertained with his new heat sensor camera as he captured the Takwela leopard cub through his abstract lens. The cub is becoming very relaxed, allowing for some beautiful sightings.
Shoebill Island Camp
The winter months have undoubtedly been the most popular time to visit the Bangweulu wetlands. It’s an ideal time when the wetlands are still inundated which allows for extensive exploring by canoe safaris but is also dry enough to drive across the plains. Shoebill sightings have been extremely good, black lechwe continue to cover the wetlands, cheetah were easily tracked through their collars and the birding continues to impress.
Side-striped jackal and zebra are regularly spotted across the plains and the tsessebe have been found (with a bit more effort) in the forests.
The Tafika Fund
Our eleven school pupils have successfully completed their second semester of school thanks to the fund and many amazing donations. Grade 12s have stayed behind to do holiday tuition in preparation for their final exams. We are extremely grateful for the several generous packages brought from far and wide for our local schools including books, pens, calculators, footballs and second-hand computers / devices.
Our Football for Wildlife league is a big success this year and we’re back to running it as a ‘professional’ league – with full funding for transport, players, coaches and linesmen. We are gearing up for the big final in a few days. Once again it is overseen by Jen but expertly managed by our multi-faceted tailor and spotter, Jimmy Sakala.
We took on another adult scholar who is determined to finish his schooling through night school. He is currently doing his grade 9 and is proud to be excelling in all subjects. Fordson proves that with some focus and determination (and a little helping hand), it’s never too late to achieve your goals!
Have you visited one of our camps recently? Please tag us to share the love and be part of our story. If you’re not that into social media but would like to share your experiences, please send your stories and/or images through to Nick on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve had a few postings go viral so it’s worth a follow. To confirm, no people, animals or parts of the camp were damaged during the epic hippo fight at Tafika, one hippo just had a sore chin.
If you have your heart set on a safari this year, it’s still possible, but chances are you’re not alone so make a plan now because you never know who else is eyeing out the space…