Winter doesn’t make social distancing easy, and luckily it’s not something little bee-eaters have to worry about, but we’re getting good at offering great safaris with a personal appropriately-distanced touch. Although our camps aren’t exactly bustling with activity, there’s still lots of great news to share and we’ve welcomed some lovely guests who have enjoyed a very exclusive experience. There have been some great sightings, good camp improvements and progressive developments in Zambia’s vaccination programme.
Shoebill Island Camp
The exciting new partnership between Remote Africa Safaris, African Parks and the Bangweulu Wetlands Management has been in the pipeline for some time but kicked off in practise this year. Shoebill Island Camp is situated in the heart of the Bangweulu Wetlands which is a community owned and managed protected area.
It’s home to the rare and unique Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) and up to 50000 of Zambia’s endemic black lechwe
Several safaris this winter enjoyed relaxing canoe rides out on the swamps with some great shoebill sightings. One trip proved very prolific with six shoebill in one spot – there just wasn’t a wide angle big enough to capture them all.
New Tafika territory
In our last mailer we briefly mentioned the new territory gained between Tafika Camp and South Luangwa National Park – linking a private corridor for wildlife between the game-rich Nsefu Sector and Tafika Camp.
This offers the luxury of new and improved private roads and more exclusive sightings from Tafika. Game viewing has been very impressive so far with several lion and leopard kills taking place along these new tracks and general game becoming more relaxed with every respectful sighting and interaction. Giraffes, elephants and waterbuck are becoming common and welcome roadblocks along these tracks.
One evening, Nick came across a leopard stalking a bushy-tailed mongoose when a pair of honey badgers waltzed into the light and stole the show. They are thankfully well behaved and the Tafika kitchen hasn’t suffered any pilfering from these charismatic, but rather vicious, badgers.
The legacy continues
Another exciting update from our feline residents includes the arrival of two leopard cubs. They are the offspring of Pink nose (Olimba) – our leading lady from Leopard Legacy…on her way to creating a new legacy. The cubs, one male and one female, are about 4 to 5 months old and appear to be fit and healthy.
We hope to see much more of these spotty bundles as the season progresses with Pink nose continuing to frequent her usual hunting grounds nearby.
Lions have been up front and centre recently with the Nsefu pride killing a fully grown hippo near Tafika. Guests were lucky enough to witness the entire episode, from the initial hunt to the bone picking clean-up of the carcass. Before the bones were scattered, Nick came face-to-face with the very same pride on his way to the Tafika kitchen in the early hours of the morning.
They were on the move to the next best thing and ignored him completely – luckily they also ignore our domestic camp cat, Zuwa, who was also close by!
Chikoko Tree Camp
Chikoko Tree Camp has its own camp dwelling lion pride that often passes through camp and frequents the general walking area.
2021 has seen a face lift in this double-story treehouse-style camp; our dining area now has a raised deck under a massive ebony tree with a gorgeous view across the Chikoko river bed to the grassy plain and winter thorn grove beyond. On many occasions the camp team and guests have been entertained by hunting lions viewed from the new deck.
A new bar, stone floors, reordered bathrooms, new basin tops and outdoor showers also enhance the in-camp experience while still maintaining an authentic feel.
Takwela & Mwaleshi
The North Park continues to captivate visitors with its magic and wild sense of freedom.
After a lengthy sabbatical, Mwaleshi Camp has been rebuilt and is welcoming back visitors again and treating them to some exciting wild dog sightings. Takwela Camp has fully dried out after the flooding and all four chalets have comfortable verandahs with spectacular views of either one or both of the Mwaleshi and Luangwa rivers.
Despite difficulties with funding, the Tafika Fund has stayed committed to all of the 12 school and 8 university scholarships. Although there have been some delays and online modules due to covid-19, their studies have continued this year. For more information about the Tafika Fund, please contact Jen on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below, one of our 3rd year medical officer students, Moses Nkhoma, proudly shows off his training rooms and his contribution to the fight against the pandemic in Zambia this year.
Football 4 Wildlife
There was great disappointment after the football league was cancelled last year so we have kicked off with a mini Football 4 Wildlife league for 2021. This includes 8 mens teams and 8 ladies teams in the South and North Luangwa.
Community & local news
A newly elected Village Action Group (VAG) committee in our area has enabled us to start a number of new initiatives within the community. Local fishing groups have been assigned fishing camps, and a local fish market has been installed in the community for better management of this resource.
Bee hives have been purchased with Walk Luangwa 2020 funds and assigned to six individuals in the community to reduce honey deforestation – we also look forward to some locally produced honey! A community vegetable garden has been created which supplies Remote Africa as well as the Mkasanga village with fresh produce – a project including ladies who were historically wood-collectors.
Covid-19 in Zambia
We are coming to the end of our third wave of Covid-19 and case numbers are dropping substantially thanks to the vaccination programme and warmer weather.
The vaccine programme has been very successful and many of our staff have been fully vaccinated since the beginning of July. AstraZeneca was initially used but we now have Johnson & Johnson and Sinopharm (with Pfizer coming soon). We were very grateful and impressed with our Ministry of Health when a vaccination team arrived at Tafika to give us the second jab in our very own backyard!
Travel to Zambia
The Zambian MoH has recently released a new high risk list. Travellers from high risk countries are tested upon entry but if cleared with a negative result, they may continue with their travels.
Countries NOT on the list include North America, UK, all European countries, Australia, New Zealand and Southern and Eastern Africa.
All travelers entering Zambia are still required to produce a negative PCR Covid-19 test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.
Departure from Zambia
Here’s a reminder that in-camp swabbing for Covid-19 tests is available at Tafika and Chikoko Trails for departing guests. Please just ensure this is pre-booked.
Keep dreaming of the wide open spaces where there are more elephants than people.