Wednesday, 23 March 2016

A news update and a feature on two crazies

Greetings from the Zambezi Valley,

Well the last week and a bit has been rather busy and interesting.

So, I have not yet met with any serious damage, much to the surprise of us and many others. Well, there was that one morning where I managed to electrocute myself on a plug point, getting put on my ass after flipping over the back of the chair, great fun, not! No damage done, just the ego mostly.
Oh, and having just been reminded there was that incident where I fell through the counter top, just missing the crate of empty bottles and the other pile of fishing tackle. That could have ended in a spot of disaster! But just a sore arm and time to learn to build a new kitchen counter.

 On a more business like note, the business of working is going well. The kitchen stores have been repaired and painted, looking good now. Starting to unpack all the stores now. The office has been fully painted and scrubbed clean, feels good to work in a brighter, cleaner environment. Several months of sitting undisturbed allows all sorts of things to grow big and make homes in dark places. My nerves were shattered, waiting for a large gecko to run out over my hand or such as I pulled files and boxes out of dark storage areas. Some of them are huge here!

One of the funniest was how the Madam, has already become the local painting guru. Guys still walk past staring as Karen is busy painting. Even her paint brush, roller and tray are known as the Madams brush! Bwahaha!

We have had some good rains over the last week, good soaking rain. Does not help the work rate, but it has cooled everything down to a manageable temperature. Sadly this does not really help us with the river levels here, for that we need really good rains in Angola and the western part of Zambia to feed into the upper Zambezi, to fill the floodplains, to fill the dams, to allow the hydro electric station to let water come down the river. Sorry, going all teacher on you again!

On the animal front, regretfully no fantastic sightings yet. Even the trails camera is only getting a very tatty hippo at night, a few impala, baboons and the odd elephant. We have been hearing the lions calling for the last few nights, they seem to be hanging around at the moment. Also hearing the Southern Ground Hornbills in the early morning, I think we have a group living just to the east of us.

Whilst on the subject of animals, one of the animals we are not going to be seeing here is a rhino. They have all been poached out many years ago. With this in mind, can I take a moment to ask you to take a few minutes to click on this link: Bradley Rhino  and like the page. Two of our good friends, Bradley and Greg are going to be running the Great Wall of China Marathon and the Comrades Marathon in rhino suits to raise funds for Rhino Conservation in the form of Save the Please become one in a million and donate what you can to these two crazies in there efforts. You can donate at: . The longer story can be read in a PDF, which I cannot work out how to inset here, if you would like a copy, please give me a shout.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Some of the smaller stuff around us

Greetings from the Zambezi Valley,

So as the title implies it is time for a quick photo essay of some of the smaller things around us. We are some 16 days into our stay here and believe me, this is a tiny sample of the small life. Regrettably, as the camp books are all still packed away deep in the store, I have not been able to identify many of these critters, so any comment as to the unknowns will be most welcome...

 A beautiful marbled moth

 A Cape Wolf Snake, who sadly lost his head in a building accident, not, I am assured, killed intentionally.

 A green beetle, possibly a Picasso beetle, anyone able to confirm?

A sudden rush on scorpions one morning, both Karen and I having the delightful experience of each having one fall on us from different door frames!

 One of the Long-horn beetle family me thinks.

 A wasp, so long ago seen, I forget which one..

Another wasp, if I ever see another Potter wasp again, it will be too soon! 

One of said wasps family members 
securing a caterpillar in the pot for the
larva to eat alive before emerging.

A millipede, species specific, I do not know, sorry no size comparison, my bad.

Some really beautiful fungi, many more of these to be seen in the near future.

A Brown House Snake, found in the bathroom.

And that is it for now, we will do another one of these as the photo library fills up.
Till next time...

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Our new home and some camp life

So Will this is just for you, and anyone else that may be interested.

Our new home Is a tent on the banks of the Zambezi River. We live in a 4×4m room with an adjoining shower, loo and cupboard room.

We have a small shade-clothed balcony of about 3x4m which just happens to have a bath.

We receive all of our water pumped directly from the river , then stored in tanks and piped through to the rooms, etc. Water is heated in a gas geyser, soon changing to solar. Drinking water comes from the R/0  system.

Electricity is generated every day by running a diesel genni in order to charge the batteries that run the invertors, no hairdryer for me, or anyone for that matter!

We have a shorter commute to work in the morning these days, having to only walk about 20m now. The downside to the short commute, if there could be one, is that we usually have either a hippo or an elephant outside the tent at any given time.
Thank goodness we invested in really good torches!!

The good news for Karen is that we are privileged enough to haves really good chefs onsite. The downside, again if there could be one, is that weight watchers will probably be seeing us when we get days off!
The other privilege we have is that one of the guys cleans our house and does our laundry every day.

I really feel l need to throw in a not so nice thing at this point. Did l mention that we are both covered in more unidentified insect bites than we can count? We are either going to get some sort of poisoning from all the sprays and creams we cover ourselves in every day or run out of antihistamine tablets and creams!

Camp life is much like many other safari camps. We are obviously based alongside the river and are an unfenced lodge. This means we have animals constantly within the camp footprint, no letting your guard down here.
We work from a small office off the side of the kitchen which can get really hot! But you know what they say about that!

We have not opened to guests yet, that only happens in late April. For now we are prepping camp.
Every year the entire contents of the camp from chairs, beds, furniture, fixtures to fridges and freezers is packed away in a secure store above the flood line. This means that at the start of the next year we come in, repair any damage that may have occurred during the rainy season and unpack everything. Then in early April we start rebuilding the roads.

This is why you are not yet inundated with wildlife photo's. We have no roads to go out on yet, we are still camp bound. This also means that we have nothing that even remotely looks, sounds or feels like a social life. It does however mean that we are quickly learning 2 player card games and getting rather good at Backgammon.

Well that pretty much sums up where we are for now.

I am busy compiling by an exciting insert on some of the snakes, bugs,  insects and others that we have encountered so far, so stay tuned.

Until next time....

Sunday, 13 March 2016

One week, and bit, in...

And so we find ourselves having already been here for ten days, how time has flown! It has been a roller-coaster of emotions and experiences.
The temperatures here have been something else during the week. Although it is only showing as low 30's C, it has felt a lot hotter, probably due to the very high humidity that we are just not used to! I really miss the aircon!
Getting into the groove of camp life has been straight forward enough. The staff, we have on and off about 15 guys here at any given time, are really great. They are incredibly hard working and capable.
This has helped tremendously as so much of what happens here and how it happens is completely foreign to us. We are certainly not used to relying on someone else to do our shopping for food and maintenance materials, hoping that they get the correct item, or that it even makes it here in one piece! Those douh! moments when you realize that you did not add something so completely obvious to the order because you always just grab it when you walk past it in the shops moment; now you wait another week for it.
Our orders are still arriving by boat as we are still getting rain in the park and the truck may not make it through on the muddy roads, so weight is a major concern! We now shop by weight. How much cement do we need to keep the building moving compared to what the other camp needs, compared to how much food do we need. A steep learning curve! So far, we are still building and still eating, so apparently we are fast learners.
The building is progressing well, as is my how to build a rustic safari camp tent knowledge. Forget all you know about conventional building techniques, welcome to Africa where we make a plan. No worries if you did not receive the correct water fitting, we have something close that will work for years to come, I love it!

One of the fun things we have found, when not biting you, are the
small creepy crawlers.
The Red velvet mites (photo below) have come out after some rain as some of the other insects.

Well, ok, this is the bottom of one trying to get down a hole! 

A real close up.            

The larger guys, especially the elephants have been hanging around camp and are getting used to us.
If you haven't already seen it, this is one of them...

There are of course the stunning sunsets over the river, but you will get more of those as we go.

So apart from lots of itchy bug bites, a couple of leaky roofs, some great elephant sightings, sunsets and lots of learning, we are loving life!
There is so much to see, experience and learn. It is going to be a great two years!

Till next time....

(If you are interested, I think I have added a spot below for you to subscribe by email, otherwise I will probably put out a link on FB when I update.)

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Our arrival

Well, we arrived in Lusaka on the 29th Feb only to discover one of Karens' bags had not made the journey with us. at least we wen't alone! At least 40 other passengers had the same problem. On the bright side, this did give us our first opportunity to experience form filling and bureaucracy in Zambia; initially, not too bad.
The bag was found the following day and all ended well, for us anyway. We later learned that the flight on the previous day had arrived with the sum total of 5, yes 5, bags only! I can only imagine the chaos!
We manged to get our work permits for the next two years sorted out in record time, again seeing the good side of Zambian government wheels at work. Unlike the young SA lady in the que behind us, who after throwing a complete tantrum and being escorted out by her other half, will probably just never have her paperwork found again. Steep learning curve!
And so it was that we departed by car from Lusaka to a small camp called Gwabi on the banks of the Kafue River. We joined several of the staff members traveling with us on the boat to camp and set off again to camp.
The boat trip was uneventful, except for several sightings of elephant, some buffalo and, must to our surprise two young lions on one of the larger islands in the Zambezi River. Not a bad start.
We were welcomed into camp by three elephant bulls feeding outside the camp.

The day was spent offloading goods for camp and a tour. Lots to learn in a short time!
The following morning we were off again, via the boat to our camp, another hour and a half downstream.
We arrived mid-morning. Off-load and into camp inspection almost immediately. so much needs doing!
We had lost two of the tents due to erosion of the river bank during the rainy season and the needed to be rebuilt. Two of the store roofs had serious structural problems and needed fixing. Tents need repairs and paint.
It was going to be a rush to get everything done before guests arrive before the end of April...