Kafunta Safari News and what happened in April 2017

Kafunta Safaris News Updates

Though not at ZATEX this year, I had to give South Africa
priority as they ‘sealed the deal’ well in advance, here come
more news from my hosts of last year, Katunta Safaris …
Enjoy!

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Kafunta Safaris
NEWSLETTER April 2017
Dear all!

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Welcome to our 2017 season!

Wow, it’s been an awesome start to it with Kafunta River Lodge reopening with a full camp!

And it’s been a great month, with amazing sightings all along. Those who doubt coming to Luangwa so early in the year, this newsletter is for you! Wildlife and birds abound, the light is absolutely amazing with dramatic sunsets and the temperature has been really comfortable.

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Now of course… there is a risk of rain. In our March newsletter I showed quite a few pictures of the river and its high level, as well as the flood plains in front of the lodge.

Well, we can say the rains have still been regular, with some good downpours, all month long. Although it makes for beautiful scenery, it is now time for them to stop so we can get moving with building the pontoon (which should be in full operations by now) and grading the dirt road to camp, which is bumpier than we would like.

We are confident the rains will trinkle from now on, and for those of you visiting us in the coming weeks, rest assured that fixing those two things is our high priority.

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The Cowans

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Ron, Anke and Luke have been at the lodge since early April, but Luke is just on his way back to Australia as his school holidays are over. Ron and Anke are staying behind to oversee the final preparations for Three Rivers Camp.

We’re on track for opening, even if the rains are making it a bit more challenging than we’d like! And driving down can be an adventurous journey! See the picture here of Ron & Anke in a bit of a pickle, and waiting in the shade while help was on the way (the vehicle got slightly stuck… ).

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April is Ron’s birthday month and as we are loyal to our traditions, the staff came along with Ron’s favorite chocolate cake happily singing and wishing "bwana" another wonderful birthday.

Why this is always done at breakfast I’m not certain! Sure keeps our sugar level high for the rest of the day.

The Cowans also had visiting friends for a week or so, and enjoyed bringing them to one of their favorite spots – at the top of the Chindeni Hills. It’s quite a climb to get there (several hours of steep hill hiking), but the view is worth it.

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Ron, Anke and Luke at the top of the Chindeni Hills
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From left to right: Anna, Fine, Friederike, Luke, Anke, Ron, Sverre and Paul (sitting)
Welcome to Anna & Sverre!

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With our portfolio of camps increasing so is our staff. Firstly, we are very excited to welcome Anna van Doorn and Sverre Beugelink!

Both from the Netherlands, they met each other almost 13 years ago, while working in a restaurant in Holland and have been together ever since. Travel & nature are a common passion and in September 2013 they left home to work as hotel managers in rural China. This was the beginning of a new career. In 2014 they set foot on the African continent, and after working on the top of a rocky outcrop in the Ugandan Savannah followed by a tropical beach in Zanzibar they joined us at the very end of March.

With studies in hospitality management and years of experience in restaurants (from cook to barista to events to restaurant manager), Sverre is ready to meet the challenge of our first season at Three Rivers Camp. Anna’s background is in Commercial Economics and her high administrative skills and passion for customer service makes her the perfect Duty Manager at Kafunta River Lodge.

Anna will also serve as Sverre’s back up and extra help at Three Rivers Camp, and in the future, we hope to see Anna & Sverre both based at the camp.

And to Ludovic!

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We also have long term visitor at the moment, Ludovic Wilmart who is coming to us from Belgium (that makes him my compatriot!). Ludovic is staying at Kafunta as a school intern.

As a small child, Ludovic inherited his mother’s empathy for injured animals and helped her caring for rescued ones often turning their house into a small zoo.

His parents also passed on their passion for travel and when Ludovic turned 21 he left his tiny country to spend most of the year in widespread New Zealand where the idea of working in tourism came to him. Back in Belgium, Ludovic started tourism studies and is now doing his school internship with us for a couple of months.

Not only is he learning a lot about the industry, he is also a keen photographer as you will see throughout the newsletter, and on our social media! Well done Ludovic, and we’ll be sorry to see you go at the end of May.

Now some of you may wonder what has happened then with Eugene Booysen, who was at Kafunta River Lodge for the past two years! Don’t you worry! "Monkeygene" is coming back soon and will be based at Island Bush Camp as full time manager to take over from our friend Klaus, forced in pre-retirement.
Staff on deck!

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Our restaurant team, barmen and waiters, will also be growing as senior staff train new locals to eventually move to Three Rivers Camp.

Our Lodge Manager Lisa Peake is looking after them as a good mother hen would!

Look at how sharp they all look in their new uniform!

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Clockwise from Lisa – Sandie, Francis, Nashan, Andrew, Honest
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Francis presenting afternoon tea
How about some wildlife!

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Earlier on I said this newsletter would interest those of you who are still shy of coming to Luangwa so early in the season.

This section is for you! And the rest of us who are never tired of looking at the abundant, and gorgeous wildlife, we are privileged to have here in our area.

Now I have TOO many pictures to show for one newsletter. So you will just have to stay tuned to see more on the next one. But here’s a sample of what was seen in the past month.

Leopards, lions, wild dogs, buffalos, and tons of birds. Thank you to all for already sharing your pictures with me so they could be included in this newsletter.

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Be our guest! The Shelley Family

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We are back with our popular feature we started last season. Once in a while in our newsletters I introduce you to some of our guests, randomly selected at the lodge by our team of managers.

Amongst our first guests this year, were Paul & Ann Shelley with their teenagers boys Ben & Buster. Coming to us from Australia, this is what they had to say after their 5-night stay at Kafunta.

Was this your first trip to Africa? Yes, this is our first time to Africa. Paul has travelled to Johannesburg for work previously.

Why did you choose South Luangwa as your safari destination, and Kafunta River Lodge? Because Luke and Ben are at school together, and also in the same soccer league so we’ve known Ron & Anke for a long time. We also know a family who came before and had said how great it was. We really wanted to see it for ourselves. We did not know anything about South Luangwa before we came.

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How was your experience at Kafunta? Kafunta was just amazing. A beautiful place just to sit and take in the surrounding views. We were warmly welcomed. The staff were amazing. The accommodation wonderful.

What was your greatest wildlife sighting? This was our first time on safari so all the wildlife was up close and amazing to see. Absolutely loved everything. Lions walking past us. The leopard relaxing on a tree. I loved the hippos and their sounds at night.

Was there anything that made you nervous in the African bush? Our guide, Martin, made everything relaxed and comfortable, even as 5 lions walked casually passed our open 4WD!

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You went to see the local kids play soccer, how was that? Ben was keen to have a game with the locals, and was a bit surprised when he turned up and it was decided to play 2 x 1 hour halves. He had an absolute ball. The locals had all turned up to watch and it was great fun. Great sportsmanship by all.

Do you think you will travel again in Southern Africa after this? If so, where? I think that we will definitely go back to South Luangwa and Kafunta. We would like to visit at a different time of year and have access to the river crossing to see a different area of the park.

And anything else you would like to add? Our family had a wonderful time. Everything was absolutely great. The staff, the accommodation and the food. We were certainly looked after by all.

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Half time! Both Ben and Luke joined to play
New in the neighbourhood – Luambe Camp

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Luambe National Park is a very small piece of land tucked between the North Luangwa and the South Luangwa National Parks, on the Eastern side of the Luangwa River. It offers a Luangwa Valley experience reminiscent of the early days in the Valley – remote and wild!

We applaud the rebirth of Luambe Camp, the only safari camp in the park and its operating company Luambe Conservation Ltd whose main objective is to primarily conserve the habitat and biodiversity of the National Park, which forms a crucial part of the Luangwa Valley’s ecosystem.

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We are delighted to join with Luambe Camp and introduce a very exciting combined itinerary to include both South Luangwa at Kafunta River Lodge and Luambe National Park at Luambe Camp and then fly for a 3 nights stay at Wasa Lodge in Kasanka National Park for the unique bat migration! This is a spectacular phenomenon happening yearly in a very limited period of time (end of October/early November).

Seats are limited due to seasonality of Luambe Camp (closing Oct 31) and the short bat migration. Inquire here for package details.

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Bat migration at Kasanka National Park
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Luambe NP
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Kasanka NP
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Observation Hide
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If bats are not your thing, we can also suggest visiting all three parks of the Luangwa Valley, by combining our camps in South Luangwa, with a few nights at Luambe Camp before continuing to Mwaleshi Camp in North Luangwa. The seasonality of this combo is broader, being available from mid-June until October.

This is not a set package, but a tailor-made itinerary which I would be happy to help with. Inquire here for more information.

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Luambe National Park
Just a few sunsets

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It’s time to end the newsletter, but I couldn’t resist sharing a few more pictures of the amazing April sunsets we’ve had over the past few weeks.

The combination of clouds and spectacular lights makes for jaw-dropping sceneries that Anke and Ludovic both captured beautifully, right from the deck of Kafunta River Lodge.

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In a month’s time Island Bush Camp and Three Rivers Camp will be welcoming their first guests too. Another exciting time ahead. The picture to the left is another sunset, but this time taken from Three Rivers Camp, how stunning is that!?

Bye for now,

Izzy

Kafunta Safaris

Kafunta Safaris, Box 83, Mfuwe, Zambia

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