It has been a while since we’ve shared our news – the rollercoaster ride that was 2020 seems to have extended into 2021, hence the delay! The pandemic continues to impact all of our lives globally and from the Luangwa side – it has been another year with lots of water. We did our usual expedition upriver by boat to check on the camps and the staff in March and North Luangwa guide, Alex Phiri, even adventured up to Takwela.
During our March trip into Tafika, the Luangwa river had burst its banks resulting in water flowing through some of the chalets at Tafika and Chikoko camps. The advantage of really high water levels meant we could zip around everywhere in the boat and even visited the stork colony which was teeming with activity – a boat trip we haven’t managed to achieve for a few years.
Some lovely flights also gave us an incredible vantage point of the massive expanses of water and greenery.
Takwela was completely flooded with the highest ever river level recorded at the confluence! We’re happy to see that, although there wasn’t a patch of land left dry, the camp was largely intact. Travelling in the Valley during the rains is extremely difficult and it took Alex several days before he reached Special and the rest of the crew in the North, a trek that included paddling the last few kilometres into camp.
The Mkasanga community, which is home to most of our staff, struggled with elephants invading their crops this Emerald season and although the rains have come in abundance, so have the elephants. Apart from that, few have been ill and there have been no covid-related deaths in Mkasanga.
Our return to the Luangwa just a month and a half later reveals a dramatic change in the terrain and river.
Our return to the Luangwa was more exciting than usual this year as Remote Africa recently acquired additional land between Tafika and the National Park. This expands our private area for exclusive use and new, beautiful game viewing loops are being added along stunning ebony groves and extensive river frontage. We look forward to sharing more information and photos in our next mailer.
We’re happy to report that although many of our camps were underwater, they are all fine and preparations by the Remote Africa Safaris crew for a hopeful 2021 season are well underway. Road grading and camp building has kept us all busy with some lovely additions at Tafika, Chikoko and Takwela which we hope to share with you in person this (or next) year.
William, son of Mark McAdam (Remote Africa Safaris director and shareholder), came out to experience the beginning of season in the Nsefu sector. He was blown away by the change in scenery from his last visit in October but really enjoyed his taste of the Emerald season. Will also broke the record for the biggest Sausage fruit found at Chikoko Tree Camp with a fruit weighing over 20kg!
We’re enjoying being back in the bush, it’s lovely, green and full of wildlife. Wild dog hunting puku and lion have been spotted on the beach during breakfast; herds of elephants, giraffes and antelope kept the grading team company as they worked; and our local leopard prodigy, Pink nose, has spoilt us with some great views.
We were thrilled to welcome a couple of guests this May at Tafika who were rather taken with the beauty and relaxed nature of this exceptional feline.
Leopard Legacy is still showing on national TV so keep an eye out for it. Pink nose, stars in this exceptional documentary as Olimba, which recently won the Best Animal Behaviour award at the 44th International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula USA. Big congratulations go to Lianne and Will Steenkamp from Into Nature Productions for this fantastic achievement.
The Tafika Fund
Thanks to all of your generous donations we were able to continue supporting all of our twelve school pupils and ten university students throughout a difficult 2020. Here, Jones Phiri, one of our grade 12 pupils from 2020 shows off his final report form with pride (and four distinctions!).
Sadly, we have had to close new scholarship entries and place the Football for Wildlife league on hold for 2020 and 2021, but we hope to continue supporting all of our existing scholarships for this year again which include 12 school pupils and 8 university students. Teaching seems to be a favored qualification – Gerald Mwale (son to Tafika guide, Lloyd Mwale), marks a sizable pile of workbooks during his teaching practice in February.
The Mkasanga class room which was funded by a generous guest in 2020 has been in full use for many months with very appreciative learners and teachers.
Covid-19 & Vaccinations
After we experienced a Covid spike in December (our version of a spike seems to be very different from the global norm), the numbers of positive cases have dwindled substantially. The vaccine programme started during April in Zambia.
About half of our staff have had the first vaccine jab so far. Some of us were stoic in facing the needle…others less so…and some even got the giggles! – but all of us are thankful that the Ministry of Health (MoH) has been proactive in distributing the vaccine far and wide, even to small communities like our far-flung Mkasanga village.
Travel to Zambia
The Zambian MoH has recently released new guidelines and classified certain countries high risk and travellers coming from these countries will now be required to quarantine upon entry into Zambia.
Before you rush out to cancel your holiday plans this year, please be aware that camps and lodges may be certified as quarantine facilities and we are in the process of certifying our camps. We are confident this will be in place soon.
Please be aware that all travelers entering Zambia must produce a negative PCR Covid-19 test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.
Travelling from a high risk country
Unvaccinated travellers from high risk countries are now required to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry. This isolation can take place in government-certified tourism facilities.
Travellers who have complete documentation of full vaccination and have a negative PCR Covid-19 test, will be exempted from quarantine even if they are coming from a high risk country.
All travellers coming from a high risk country will be required to undergo a Covid-19 test upon arrival or within 48 hours of entry at the traveler’s expense.
Transiting through high risk countries is permitted.
High risk countries include (amongst others): France, Germany, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Italy, Tanzania
The UK and USA are not listed as high risk countries for Zambia.
Departure from Zambia
In-camp swabbing for Covid-19 tests is available at Tafika for departing guests. Please just ensure this is pre-booked.
To keep up to date with Zambian regulations please check the MOH facebook page, ask your local agent or pop us a mail.
We’re still learning the flow of the new ride that is 2021 but we’re happy to share that Zambia is open, its wilderness areas are lush and thriving with wildlife and we hope that you can join us in the near future.