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March 2003

This Month:
Vumbura Camp update - Okavango Delta.
• Photos and updates from the new Serra Cafema Camp in Namibia - perhaps Africa's most remote camp.
Chikwenya Camp update - encouraging news and great wildlife in Zimbabwe.

Botswana Camps
Vumbura Camp                 Jump to Vumbura Camp  
March has had some really really great sightings witnessed almost all the time by guests who have had memorable times here. Several different prides of lions have been visible almost every day and kills of mainly giraffe then buffalo and tsetsebe were common. Their cubs are also pretty visible. Our one male cheetah has been sighted with regularity also witnessed killing warthog etc. A new young male leopard has been gingerly stepping in to big boys spot. He killed a baboon for us just outside the camp. Talking of big boy, we had the most exciting leopard sighting as he killed a young buffalo, hung it in a tree and then could not extract the head from the tree fork in which it was wedged. The resulting sightings of him trying to remove the buffalo, saw him dangling from the animal just with his teeth holding him up, his body shaking around, but in vain. Eventually he re thought the tactics and managed to get it down. This sighting engrossed us for two days. Needless to say the guests were ecstatic.

The carmine bee-eaters are now thinning out as they leave the subcontinent, welcome most the guests with their colourful and action packed escort into camp diving around the vehicles for the insects.

Without going on, the game has been great and the weather mostly very very good. We had 8 mm of hail mid month and yesterday the 31st, we had 17mm of rain. Otherwise its been dry. The mosquitos are not a problem at all and generally every thing is in control. We eagerly await our new genie any day now as the old one packed up and we are currently using the smaller back up one.

We are looking forward to a great April with Roger and Margi managing. Kind regards Roger

Namibia Camps
Serra Cafema Camp                Jump to Serra Cafema Camp  
(report dated 27-March 2003 from Colin Bell, Wilderness Safaris' Managing Director.)

Check out the photos just in (click the link above) from the new Serra Cafema Camp in north-western Namibia (on the Kunene River, just inland from the Skeleton Coast Park). This small and intimate 6 roomed camp is our latest in Namibia and has just opened its doors a few days ago. It is also our most remote camp and in my opinion our very best Namibian camp. It is so remote, so isolated and in one of the most beautiful areas of the planet. Mombo in the Okavango Delta is closer to Windhoek than Serra Cafema is to Windhoek. We opened to a full camp for its first four nights. Many of the guests rated this as one of their best lifetime experiences ever (and they were a very well travelled group).
Quad biking in the dunes at Serra Cafema Camp in Namibia.  
The activities here are so special and one of the best highlights is a very sensitively handled quad bike trip out into the desert and the dunes, finishing off at some incredible waterfalls. Add in boating along the Kunene River, the Himba people and some of the best scenery in some of the most isolated places on the planet - and the camp is a winner!!!

Serra Cafema Camp                Jump to Serra Cafema Camp  
We have this email just in from a National Geographic journalist that has just come back from Serra Cafema. I think his quote sums up the Serra Cafema and the Skeleton Coast experience the best:

"I'm back in the office...reluctantly.   I have had the most magnificent time of my life. You would not believe how fantastic some of these places--well, ALL of these places--are. The best part was the Skeleton Coast and Serra Cafema--slept in the most remote suite at the most remote camp in Africa, right along the Angola border. And the landscapes! Salt pans, agate mountains, endless gravel plains, sand dunes that sing. And the biggest sky you've ever seen. I loved the isolation and remove of being in such a distant place."


Zimbabwe Camps
Chikwenya Camp
                Jump to Chikwenya Camp
Following is the March camp report from Chikwenya Camp in Zimbabwe...... - still one of our favorite camps in all of Africa. In spite of all the negative press surrounding Zimbabwe, Wilderness Safaris are managing to keep delivering superb safari experiences, safely - and at the same time their continued presence is keeping the poachers out and providing a safe haven for the wildlife.

The concession areas in the northern parks - Mana Pools, Hwange and Matusadona are in fine shape.... thanks to all you folks out there who have been supporting these camps through these times.

Monthly report for Chikwenya - March 2003
Arriving back from an extended leave period, Anne and I were astounded at how the Zambezi valley had become so green and lush. A lot of rain in the past few months (including the very recent effects of cyclone Japhet over
Mozambique) had turned the bush thick and seemingly unpenetratable. After a few dry years, it was great to get a cleansing!

Unusually, the rain had not affected game viewing and large groupings of up to one hundred elephant have been seen feeding on the lush grass. One of these groupings was made up of Agatha's herd, which now has a new addition, a little calf of a couple months old. Unfortunately the original matriarch, Agatha, we think is no longer with us. She was one of the most relaxed and kind tusk-less elephant cows I have ever come across. Agatha's herd have been coming right through the camp for at least thirteen years that I know about. The rest of the herd have her composure and during the dry season they will hopefully be regular guests in the camp again.

The solitary lioness with the slit nose that had been seen fairly frequently last year has teamed up with another younger lioness and they have been seen quite often around the camp, a couple of times this has been during dinner on the pool deck with a spotlight. Her teaming up with the younger lioness has been good news as she was struggling with hunting by herself and she certainly looks in a lot better condition. What is also very exciting is that it looks like she may actually be lactating; hopefully we will find her cubs soon. We think she may have the cubs in hiding fairly close to the camp. Towards the end of last year we saw her being escorted by a couple of large and very handsome black-mane lions who have extended their territory by what appears to be approximately ten kilometres to encompass Chikwenya as well, so we assume one of them to be the father.

Our baby genet, Nakai, has grown up an incredible amount and is no longer the pathetic drowned rat that we found in November. She now spends most of the night and day on her own and does most of her own hunting. She is still very attached to the camp - especially those that are willing to have their arms used as pincushions during playing. Nakai has become very inquisitive of the larger animals coming through the camp. One evening at dinner one of the cow's in Agatha's herd, with her very young calf, walked between the swimming pool and the dinner table. Nakai bounced across to investigate, stopping centimetres from the cow's trunk. This unsettled the large lady, who trumpeted, spun around and moved off rapidly. Nakai was very excited at the reaction she received and came bounding back to us and very hyperactive. She was obviously so impressed with herself she tried the same stunt with a hippo a couple of weeks later, with a very similar result!

The Sapi River in front of the camp has flowed this month, quite a sight for those of us used to the large expanse of sand. This cuts off our land access but does not affect anyone flying in. We have had a total of 162mm of rain this month.

John and Priscilla Marira, who are normally based at Ruckomechi, Humphrey Gumpo and Ashleigh Spiller, normally running Mana Canoe Trails, Sacha Toronyi and Tamlyn Kluckow, who were based at Ruckomechi, Solomon Tevera and Kevin van Breda have all been in Chikwenya in the last couple of months holding everything together while I have been on long leave.

The Chikwenya team for this season will be Anne Hadingham and I as the managers, Sacha Toronyi as professional guide, Tamlyn Kluckow as hostess, Solomon Tevera and Kevin van Breda as canoe guides.

Sean Lues.


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