Liuwa Plain 2009
From the team as they leave the Liuwa Plain
The RPS team have just spent an amazing seven weeks in remote wilderness at the Liuwa Plain. As we locked up camp and loaded our luggage into the landcruiser, seven sad faces bid Liuwa goodbye. We asked the guys to share their highlights of the past few weeks...
Emmanuel, the waiter
No mosquitos. No tsetse! And I got to try different types of fish, barbel, tiger, bream which we bought fresh from the small, long canoes on the Zambezi River. The boat trip from Mongu to Kalabo was special with plenty fisherman and lots of birds. Birds I’ve never seen before like the open bill storks circling high above on thermals and plenty big wattled cranes. Pelicans too! Oh I liked to see hyena in the daylight, in a big group, sometimes more than 17! Lots of wildebeest, sometimes more than one thousand. The weather is great. No-one got sick because the place is so nice.
Our visitors were always happy and they liked the braai on the last night and especially banana flambé when the banana goes on fire with all the brandy. They liked to watch the sunsets on the water and turn around and see the big moon coming up behind the palm tree.
One night I got to stay in the Hollywood Hotel in Mongu and watched the Chipolopolos (Zambian’s National soccer team) on a big film screen playing Algeria but we lost 2 nil so we just ate our chicken and nshima and drank 2 mosi beers. I went to the market and bought a phone and my brother some new shoes and I’ll buy my mother a small radio when I get back to Lusaka.
But the best of all was it was my first time to see cheetah ever in my life. No wonder I love Liuwa Plains and all my visitors love the place. Let’s hope we can have more visitors next season. You are welcome to come visit our Liuwa!
James, the tent attendant
Wow – the western province speak a very different language to us – very deep Lozi but the scout helped alot to translate so we could all be friends. The Lozi people liked the people from the valley and we told interesting stories about our traditions. Working there was very nice, no problems. In the morning I wasn’t’ happy – I didn’t want to go alone to the tents to switch on the boiler for hot showers because I was fearing the lioness coming into camp. I even had a torch and Emmanuel came to assist. The first day she was greeting us and she stayed in camp a bit and then when the males came she never came back and then I did the boilers by myself.
I liked the boat trip and the market had good shoes and bags. I bought presents for my family from Liuwa as remembrance. We also went to the staff village of African Parks and gave them sweets and chocolate cake from Michelle’s birthday party and this was very nice to see.
The thing is, when you go to Liuwa plains you can believe that the world is round because the blue sky and the land are connected and you can see this and also at night the stars move around from one side to another. There are no trees or buildings in the way. I love it so much.
Alfred, the chef
I’m very happy because I was flying for the first time. I really appreciate Bwana Robin to do that and give me an opportunity to be in an aeroplane. I wasn’t ever expecting to fly in my life and was so WOW to see the floodplain from the sky. I told my family I was flying and they couldn’t believe. Robin took a picture so now they know it is true.
I loved cooking the bush breakfasts and the braai’s because it was nice to get out of camp and see some game and even cheetah and hundreds of different birds. The weather wasn’t too hot and wasn’t too cold.
I love my job cooking for visitors and I have very good experience after cooking for 20 years with Robin Pope safaris. I have lots of recipes for cooking and anything you like to eat I can make so you are welcome.
Bernard, the mechanic
To me the most important thing is that the vehicles never broke down. There are no potholes, no tar roads, just deep white sand and small tracks. I enjoyed driving each week to collect the new guests and do the pontoon crossing. I went on a wooden boat with over 1000 litres of fuel, 2x 40kg gas cylinders, crates of beers and wine and the engine broke down. It was only 30 horsepower. 8 hours later, I arrived back in camp and lucky it was a full moon so I could find my way back on those hard roads.
When I went to town to collect our guests, I used to take all the cell phones from the camp staff and send the messages to the families because we were so far away from them. They were very happy to have the greetings.
I also liked to stay at the Hollywood hotel, nice rooms with TV and food. I’ve stayed there 3 times. I would enjoy to stay at Liuwa for a long time again and I managed to take some snaps with my new camera which sometimes doesn’t work. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.
Thank you, Robin Pope for bringing such a wonderful team to such a beautiful place. I would love that I come back. Thank you.
Michelle, the hostess
To spend my birthday in such a gorgeous place was fantastic. I even scored a trip in the Park Manager’s microlight. Seeing the plains from a plane was one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen, such beautiful landscapes and golden scarlet skies with thousands of wildebeest.
Once, seeing 4 wild dogs at sunset and then witnessing a cheetah kill, only 2kms outside camp, was a huge highlight - the whole thing from the chasing, to the catching, to the chomping! Incredible!
I never felt so good, such clean fresh air and delicious healthy meals. I even got the staff into a bit of a yoga routine in the mornings, which was highly amusing!
But the biggest highlight for me was being a part of the lion males introduction to Liuwa and was at my happiest to see Lady Liuwa ‘bonding’ with her suitors. I look forward to seeing a new Liuwa pride of lions in November!
Robin, the Bwana
Well, for a start, I’m just so proud of everyone. To go out to such a remote place, a new area and not have any hiccups. It was great to go somewhere different, a new environment with blue lagoons and varieties of birds I hadn’t seen before. I loved the open grassy plains and driving out to the horizon and witnessing the most incredible scenery I’d ever seen.
I’m happy that the lions were seen mating and look forward to seeing the cubs when we return in November. The biggest highlight for me, was perhaps the 60-70 head of cattle being herded across the Zambezi River. The herd Bull in front following a guy drumming , with dugout canoes on either side so they wouldn’t get swept down the river. The guy drumming and the cattle just following, was a magical sight.
Also, it was so fantastic to see how many of our regulars came back (some 20 years later!!) to visit us in such a different place. Thank you to them and especially to all the staff that made this such a flawless, memorable 7 weeks!
Jason the guide
It was just amazing to see such a different and new place. It was very nice to see everyone working as a team so far away from our home and not a cross word between everyone. It was also great to see the guests enjoying themselves so much and getting as much out of the place as we did. New places are always good as they shake any complacency one might have from years of working in a place you know well. Was great to see a neglected park recovering and to be a part of that process, by proving that safaris can work there, successfully. A highlight? When the male lions escaped! I know it was a tricky moment from the African Parks perspective because the lions could have just kept going but I just felt relief! Humans had done their bit, now the lions were taking control of their own fate.