Posted on Jun 2, 2018
The 2018 safari season is now well underway, and the humid, warm weather has been replaced by welcome chilly mornings and clear blue skies.
But first the news … be warned as this is a long one because it’s been a while since the previous newsletter and there is much to talk about!
CHICHELE/PUKU IN SOUTH LUANGWA NP: Chichele Safaris Ltd, the new owners of Chichele Presidential Lodge and Puku Ridge Camp which have recently been sold by Sanctuary Retreats, have entrusted us with the management of their complete renovation, improvement of safari experience (including guiding) and providing worldwide marketing / reservations services.
These much loved camps deep in the South Luangwa NP are well known for their amazing views and superb game viewing but are in need of some TLC and we welcome this exciting new challenge and opportunity, to bring our own interpretation of safari to these camps and offer attractive new packages combining these with Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro.
Puku Ridge is already closed, due for a complete rebuild and an anticipated reopening date of May 1st 2019, and Chichele is being run on an “as is basis” from the the take over date of July 2nd 2018 for 3 months before that too will be closed October 1st 2018 for renovations.
At this time we are not yet in a position to confirm rates or reopening dates but more detailed info will follow as soon as possible.
Jason and Kayla Johnstone, who many of you will remember from their 5 years of superb service at Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro, are already in place at Chichele and are working to ensure a smooth handover. They were also the original management couple at Puku Ridge who were there for its opening under Star of Africa so are well placed to help us achieve the necessary synergies for our efforts in the Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa NP.
CHIAWA CAMP FRONT OF HOUSE REFURBISHMENT: The lounge (sitenje) and dining areas of Chiawa Camp were completely dismantled and rebuilt this year, and although we have maintained a similar exterior the interiors have a fresh and all new look that so far have been met with rave reviews, from past and new guests alike.
Upgrades include a large new dining deck with more expansive views of the Zambezi, new and more comfortable furnishings with more nooks and crannies to relax in, and decor that not only looks gorgeous but that tells the Chiawa Camp story – paying homage to the peoples of Zambia and our fabulous staff, the rich history of the Cumings Family in Africa, and the incredible contribution that our camps make to conservation – a veritable living museum that entices and educates whilst guests receive Chiawa Camp’s world renowned personal attention.
BUT IT’S REALLY ABOUT THE WILDLIFE: We understand how important the guides are to the success of any safari. And so we recently held a fantastic refresher course for our guides from both our camps and Lex Hes brought some wonderful insights to this, what many consider the best, guiding team in Africa.
Both Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro have had some fantastic sightings this season, too many to mention in one email (please follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more frequent updates) however some of these include:
– Pangolin at Chiawa Camp not far from camp
– A riveting but tragic scene of a large male lion toying with and eventually killing a juvenile baboon in broad daylight – the video, filmed by our head guide Daniel, is likely to go viral. We have identified at least 21 lions in the Chiawa Camp game viewing area including new cubs and a new male that is shaking things up.
– And usually we don’t have to go far to see the majestic creatures of the Lower Zambezi, indeed they often come to visit us!
– A leopard princess in the morning light leaping over a stream right next to our game viewing vehicle – captured on video including the soundtrack of our delighted Swedish guests. Another video that may go viral but here’s another leopard captured by Chiawa pro-guide Chris F.
– A leopard killing an impala on a night drive right in front of us and then sharing it, albeit grudgingly, with a hyena
– A breath taking scene of 11 hyenas fighting with a lioness – not photographed sadly but at least the lioness escaped uninjured. Another scene of 2 male lions at Old Mondoro eating a crocodile they had caught.
– 7 Aardvark sightings so far at Old Mondoro – more than usual for so early in the year (thanks for the wonderful photo from Marlon Du Toit)
– Baby elephant standing on its hind legs suckling from its mother – although we see adult bulls standing on their hind legs to feed from the highest branches we have not seen this display by a youngster – yet another photo by Chris F.
– Multiple wild dog sightings at both camps, here is an unusual and wonderfully lit image taken by Michele, the Old Mondoro Manageress.
– Let’s not forget the birds, a stately Secretary bird has been seen regularly around Chiawa Camp and here’s another great photo by Chris F of a wood owl.
JEKI ONLY FOR 2019: Proflight has announced that for 2019 it will no longer fly its scheduled flights into Royal Airfield. This means that effective 2019 ALL of Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro’s flights will arrive and depart JEKI. How does this affect us? Not much, the road and river transfer will take about one hour between Jeki and Chiawa Camp, roughly 15 minutes by road and 40 minutes by boat with a few minutes extra to move luggage between boat and vehicle.
The good news is that new packages (soon to be announced) combining Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro with the South Luangwa will be that much more appealing through the convenience of the non-stop flights between Jeki and Mfuwe.
LAST MINUTE DEALS: Although we have just come out of our busiest ever May and June, we still have some availability at Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro during the peak season which is now just around the corner – please email Petty at firstname.lastname@example.org for very attractive, last-minute rates.
We hope to have more frequent updates in future … please drop us a line if you have any questions.
With best wishes,
Grant, Lynsey and the Chiawa Camp / Old Mondoro team.