Well the season is now well and truly open!
We opened very early this year with the first guests pulling in on the 28th of February. Prior to that we had our annual shutdown period in January and February which allows us to get on with various jobs. This year we had unusually low rainfall which allowed at least easier transport of building materials. It also gives us a chance to unwind a bit and enjoy some absolute serenity! It is also a great time of year to be in the bush and taking pictures – the clarity of light and the lush vegetation and blue skies. It is not often over the course of the season that we can wander round the camp with a camera and not have to rush back for guests returning from activities or to place the weekly order etc. The ‘green season’ is a stunning time of year. With the Kafue being relatively high altitude we don’t get stifling heat, so although the humidity is high it is quite pleasant.
Here are a few images taken around the camp over the closed season:
Bushbuck on the path to the campsites
Böhm’s bee eater by chalet no3
Little spotted woodpecker also by Chalet No3
Spotted bush snake (and it’s prey) by the laundry steps.
Male Bushbuck by the solar panel bank.
Bushbaby in the tree above our house.
Of course we also take the opportunity to get out on the boats and even combine visits to ZAWA HQ with a bit of a game drive. The character of the river completely changes as the level rises and most of the rocks submerge.
Elephant in the miombo while heading up to pay park fees to ZAWA
The birdlife is not as prolific as at the end of the dry season, but still some great sightings can be had. Having time on our hands we can really appreciate the birds that we see pretty much every day, but never really spend time on.
The spectacular trumpeter hornbill – we see it every day here, but amazingly this was the first time ever here getting it on camera.
The even more spectacular Knob-billed duck.
White faced whistling ducks
Julia went back to Germany in February for a few weeks to catch up with family and friends (and a few agents too of course!), Rick and Lynda were also back in Oz for a while so I was left to my own devices…. Which meant that apart from the building projects I got quite a few chances to try and improve and experiment with a bit of astrophotography and trying to catch lightning from Mpamba rock. Let’s face it – while alone at the lodge there is not many entertainment options!
Mpamba with storms racing in. There were actually storms on three sides on this night.
Seven sisters from the deck.
Green laser (star pointer) on Mpamba.
On the way into town to pick up Julia I was amazed to have the most incredible ‘game drive’ of the green season. Sadly I had no decent camera with me, but at least the tablet managed to get the wild dogs 1km from the camp. But the Sable and Zebra shortly afterwards were way, way too far! All this a few kms from the camp in the GMA area – not the park. Very encouraging.
The various projects over the green season…. As usual all the design work and layout is by Julia, this ranged from simple things (sign boards and re.construction of the tea station) through to more complex things (our house is anything but a simple construction!). A few random pictures of all that was going on.
Japhet (trainee carpenter) in action.
Felix (carpenter and Japhet’s father) in action.
Royd (builder and Chief Kaingu’s brother) and his crew in action.
Handson and Dennis (thatching crew) preparing bundles.
Thatcher (and general supervisor at other times) Bo in the wooly hat.
Moving a few last minute rocks…
Of more relevance to guests is the modifications that we decided to do to the ‘Finfoot’ family house. On the occasions when the house is used by two couples there has always been a bit of inequality in the two bedrooms! Not any more…. now the twin bedroom has some serious modifications. We knocked out the window, changed the internal bathroom and then built a door, outside shower, bench seat and mini-deck. Quite a change, and very favourably received by the first guests that have been using it:
The beginning of the modifications.
Half way through the project
The end result.
Some of the less ambitious (but still effective) changes included the tea station – the old one was completely dismantled and then rearranged into a longer counter with shelving above so that more than one person can make a cup of tea at a time!
To avoid confusion we also went back to basics and put numbers on chalets and pathways! The Ila names that were used previously were great, but to be honest most guests struggled with remembering them (as did I). Sometimes the simple tried and tested methods work best…
That was pretty much it with regard to the green season. We had a great camp opening and so far we have had great sightings, including the spectacular heronary which was discovered just south of the ‘tunnels’. This is an amazing site – so many nesting birds on a small island in the river. We took repeat guests Pete and Fran down there and had a great time watching all the action.
On the same subject (things that fly) we had some great guests that at the last minute decided to take their planes and fly in for the weekend. Absolutely beautiful Piper Cherokee:
We leave you with one of Julia’s seed Neckless designs on top of the rock: