So as per usual our news ‘letter’ is really just a series of images all taken here at Kaingu, all in the month of June.  There is no real story there as such.  Well, there is, there always is.  We are always doing stuff, upgrading stuff and creating stuff.  But sometimes a picture tells a 000 words.  Anyway, June.  Traditionally the month of mists and fires.  And the cold.  Lets go!

Looking North from straight above Kaingu Lodge in the early evening. Looking North you can see how after a few kilometers the river changes and becomes a slow, wide meander. Not nearly as charismatic as here. Still beautiful but with a totally different character!

This is the rapids. Literally a couple of hundred meters from where I sit right now in the office. A stunning spot and a site that we use regularly for dinners and drinks etc. June saw us finally able to use our usual dinner spot after the waters dropped enough. I have never seen generally such water levels at this time. Not just the rivers, but small streams and ponds that are normally dry by now are still wet.

The morning mists. June is always the month when this really starts up. It is absolutely stunning. We are so guilty of repetition when it comes to talking about this. But once you see it you will understand!

I joined one guest group that we immediately nicknamed “Ladies with lenses” as they were very keen photographers. Israel was guiding them and you can see here he also gets enthusiastic about morning mists! Anyway we had a fully photography packed few days lined up….

Repeat guests Kathy and Paul (multiple repeat I should add) heading into the sunrise on their next adventure with Kaley. The mist this morning was intense!

As we pulled back to the lodge we suddenly spotted the elusive jetty Finfoot. I was really pleased to perform a lightning quick lens change and then grab this as the “Finners” (Kaley’s shortcut name) moved through the mist. Made my day. Well, actually my week.

No guest experience here is complete without Mpamba rock. The ladies were very keen to photograph the sunset. Beautiful golden light….

Barbara’s beautiful Canon 5DMKIII with a fancy Lee graduated filter system. Ohh. I guess you have to be a real photo nut to see beauty in this image! Antonia and my own set ups were far far more basic that this.

After dinner it was back to the rock. The Ladies with lenses wanted to grab some star photos. The timing was perfect as it was a new moon so only starlight visible. It was a really good session. Everyone was happy with what they got. For me this evening was quite a novel experience as most times my night time photo sessions are pretty lonely affairs.

The following morning it was back onto the river pre-dawn for a second mist session. This mornings mists were less intense than the previous day. In some ways it was actually better as the previous day was almost too much.

Nala the cat. Okay, why a picture of Nala? Firstly because she is beautiful and very charismatic. Like all best models! Secondly because there is kind of an internet tradition that when someone gets a new camera or lens they have to take a picture of either a cat or a duck. One of the ladies with lenses very kindly lent me one of her lenses as she was leaving. Saying she will come back for it in November. Now as this whole news entry has been one long photo centric post I will now go into raptures about this thing: A Sigma 20mm F1.4 ‘Art’ series lens. This is not your average travel zoom or daily walk around lens. It is a big fat, specialized, wide, low light beast of a thing. If you know you need a 20mm F1.4 this is the thing. If you question whether you need such a lens then you really don’t. It weighs an entire kilo. It is a fixed length prime lens so not particularly flexible. It has more coma than a cheap Korean fully manual lens. It misses focus fairly often. But on the right day at the right moment it is utterly sublime! It hoovers up light like a dyson and is sharper than a katana.

The sigma again. Look at this thing! 9 aperture blades so amazing sunburts and beautiful bokeh. This is the path to chalet 4. The output from this lens can literally make you drop everything and go on safari!

Another day another sunset. By the Sigma. Yep. Test over. It works. Giving this thing back is going to hurt….

The Pools loops. June is also always the month that we finish slashing and fixing up the loops, do early burning and then start driving them. This is always hard and hot work, at times a bit nerve-wracking but always interesting. To see an area that we properly only saw almost six months ago and re-connect with it is great.

The ubiquitous puku. What has been very interesting is how over the years the population of medium sized antelopes (Pukus and Impalas) has risen in the area. We are not sure why, but it is pronounced. The first couple of years that we created and drove the areas we didn’t see half as many as now.  The larger grazers (especially hartebeest) were always there in numbers but not so much the medium sized antelopes.  Now that is all changed though.  

The Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest. This is the antelope (together with the Oribi) that is to me synonymous with the pools loops. Within one day of early burning we were counting 60 animals in 4 herds. Fantastic. They also are for sure now more comfortable with vehicles. Even after a 6 month break!

From the pools loops back to the river. Alfonso joined us on an internship again this year (you might remember him from last year). He memorably said to us – in fact while heading home from this rock) – that he told his friends that “I am going back to my favourite place in the world”. He is a great guy!

A random snapshot from early burning on the pools loops. We take it all very seriously (as we should). Fire fighting equipment, drip torches, a drone to monitor and fine tune, google earth (to plan), maps and training. We do it all.

Bo and Gil pre-burn planning. As mentioned we take it seriously. Evidence being the serious expressions and Gil’s treasured “crew boss” fire clothes. Of course 10 minutes later they are like kids running around burning stuff and saying things like “yeah, look at it rip through that dambo”.

And then finally we leave you with something more beautiful than burning. Victor setting up the first rapids dinner. Finally.