Well, hello there. I do hope that you are fabulously well after another relaxing weekend and are sitting ready for the week ahead. So, in order to kick start the week this time we are taking a trip through the bush with John who has just finished his first season heading up Luangwa Bush Camping.
John, when I first arrived was a rather timid but always friendly housekeeper for Robin and Jo Pope but soon started to develop an interest in the bush and learning all about it. Now we find ourselves 15 years down the line having cruised through all his various guiding exams and he is now managing Bush Camping. Having shown great management skills during covid when we put him in charge of setting up and running a camp for a film crew, we decided this was his chance to have his own product. Hand-picking a small team who he works very closely with, this wonderful product is a halfway version of our Mobile Walking Safaris but in the game dense Nsefu sector.
Setting camp up in a couple of wonderful spots depending on where he is collecting his guests from, he shows them a true bush experience taking walks off the beaten track into areas that have no access by road and other times crisscrossing the road network getting to secret spots where he can make the most of the freedom a walking safari offers. Having done some 170 walking safaris just in the last 6 months his boots are certainly made for walking, and we can say with confidence that he has plenty of experience and what sightings he has had. Sitting down with him this weekend to talk through his season it was hard to pick out what to share with you as the season’s experiences have varied so much with everything from dodging elephants to strolling over to the carmine bee-eater hide and sitting with his guests enjoying these fabulous birds as they fly in and out of their riverbank nests.
There have been a few very memorable occasions which have more often than not come about from just being in the bush and waiting for scenes to unfold in front of them. For the most part the walks have entailed sneaking around elephants and up to giraffes, keeping ears pinned for alarm calls and like the animals heading to various lagoons. One morning having spent a lot of time with a wonderfully relaxed group of giraffes John headed towards one of his favourite lagoons where he sat with his guests all nicely hidden watching kudu and waterbuck all coming down to drink.
A few moments later the baboons started to bark which is a sure sign that something is lurking and sure enough a lovely male leopards came sauntering out of the bushes straight towards the lagoon for a lovely long drink before finally heading off. Of course, once the leopard had gone everyone also got up to go as there was not a single animal left as they had all scampered off! The leopard sightings continued throughout the season including a wonderful surprise one evening around the campfire as a gentle rustle of leaves on the perimeter alerted John and shining his torch a young male was simply minding his own business passing through.
Whilst on the subject of wildlife, at camp on one occasion we developed the ultimate meals on wheels as one evening the elephants decided to park themselves off between the staff tents and the guests tents so there was no way for the food to be brought through except by car. The delay and method was enjoyed by all and it certainly made for an entertaining evening.
After all this why not end the season on a real high, walking parallel to a herd of elephants who looked like they were going to cross the river and heading to the beach with them and watching them all cross. A magical site in itself but one to be further improved with a sundowner in the same spot whilst watching a lone lioness coming down to the river for a drink. The last morning proved to be a real bang and a roar finale seeing lions on the opposite side of the river and then continuing with the walk and quite by accident surprising 3 lions who got as much of a surprise as John and his guests and so dashed off a little way before turning around to take a look at what on earth it was that had given them such a surprise. Everyone amicably parted ways and the rest of the walk ended very peacefully all the way back to Nsefu.
What a wonderful season it has been, and John and his team have done a fantastic job and are already looking forward to next year and welcoming you to their very special little camp.
So, there you have it for this week I am afraid. Lots more stories still to come but lets keep them for next Monday. Between now and then though I hope that you have a wonderful week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.