South Luangwa Valley: Kapani Lodge

Kapani Lodge

This post is the first of about six that have been queuing up for an Internet connection. Forgive me if they have all been overtaken by events but I am hoping that most of you will feel better an out of date post than nothing at all…!

Also forgive me if I add photos later, if and when I can. So far it has proved tricky, as you know, so we’ll deal with words first.

After we had flushed the animals off the airstrip, and our charter light aircraft had re routed itself to pick us up from Shiwa we were picked up at Mfuwe airport by Brian, our guide for the next few days, who drove us straight to Kapani Lodge, actually just outside the Luangwa Valley National Park.

My parents loved the Luangwa Valley and as a youngster I will have visited the area probably several times but never before as a safari lodge visitor. My father had been involved in some fairly major way behind the scenes with Norman Carr’s plans for its formation into a national park. Kapani is one of the Norman Carr lodges, and apparently where Norman Carr himself settled after he retired. Two of his ‘children’ live there now apparently, but we did not see them.

The site is spread out along the river, which is already very low although the rains won’t come until October or November. There is a small number of chalets all complete with palatial double bed with mosquito nets hanging from a large frame above.  We have not seen  a single mozzie (predictive text inserts mozzarella here…) but better safe than sorry…

There is a most enticing looking swimming pool which we wondered about braving but never got further than talking about it. Winding bricked pathways lead to the reception and office and eventually to the large bar/dining area overlooking the river, where everybody eats together at the same large table. This may sound off putting but actually leads to a very friendly atmosphere and a most helpful and jovial sharing of tips and experiences.

Our last morning the sun was rising as we watched a family of elephant crossing the riverbed below while we enjoyed very early morning porridge and eggs cooked to order over a log fire.

The porridge tasted so delicious I asked the breakfast chef- a woman whose name I was told but forget now – how she made it. Her instructions were exactly as I make ours! The only difference was that she uses Jungle Oats, for my less tasty version I obviously rather unnecessarily go the the local health food shop to buy the best organic oats that money can buy… Another possibly more significant difference is the slow cooking in the open air over a log fire.

There has been the usual almost insurmountable difficulty getting onto the Internet, but Enoch, the manager, was most assiduous in his attempts to get us connected and did eventually succeed to my intense gratitude, and possibly your horror as you experienced a sudden surfeit of posts.

Shiwa Ng’andu – a Snippet

A snippet, and out of order too, but things have got rather disorganised. Sorry.

IMG_0490-1024x682We arrived at Shiwa after QUITE  the bumpiest 3+ hour ride one could hope to survive! However, Tink and Jen, who had picked as up from Kasama were such pleasant company that we survived the adventure happily, full of wonder at their driving and the robustness of their Land Rover.

There is a longer in distance but shorter in time much better road apparently, but as our plane arrived at Kasama apparently there was little choice.

Power is limited (absolutely no WiFi!), bath water runs very slowly and is heated in drums over a log fire as I remember so well from my childhood. On the other side of the coin, Jo and Charlie Harvey (Charlie is Sir Stewart’s grandson) are the most generous and engaging of hosts, dinner is announced by a drum after drinks in the drawing room, and we are waited on. This is all just as I remember colonial life in my childhood, long now a thing of the past – for John and me anyway. 

The visit to Shiwa is another reconnection with the past for me, the later visits I can remember vaguely, and I well remember Sir Stewart, but not Lady Gore Brown whom I hadn’t seen since I was young.

When I was a child we lived nearby (in African terms) and visited frequently. My mother had been at school with Lady Gore-Brown, and they had been good friends, my father was a friend and colleague of Sir Stewart. I have had great fun looking at their visitors’ books, and seeing photos of my parents and even one of me as a babe in arms in the garden at Shiwa!

Similarly, we brought my parents’ Visitors’ book so Charlie and Jo have been looking at his parents’ and grandparents’ signatures when they stayed with us where we lived, in a place called Mkushi.

The Past Recovered, Internet willing!

Sorry for yet another break in intermission. I wrote this on Wednesday, and we are now at Kapani Lodge just outside the Luangwa National Park, and there is internet connection. Apparently. It might be very slow, and it may not work at al, but here is hoping. There may be two or three posts in a flurry, but there again, there may not. Certainly no photos which are too demanding….

 

So far we seem to have had more days with no internet connection than I ever suspected, so what with that and the problem with photographs we have certainly promised more than we can deliver.

I have been writing posts, but have to wait until we next have wifi before I cam try to send then.

Meanwhile, as I sit in the sun, pondering happily over our visit to Africa, I realise the enormous significance it has had for me. Not for John, except at second hand, but so far we have met such interesting people and done so much that I think/hope he is getting as much interest and enjoyment, albeit different.

I don’t want to suddenly come over all wafty and new agey, and that certainly is. It my style, but for me it has been deeply moving.

Firstly, it was reconnecting with my sister, Ruth. I have visited her three time since her stroke and for the first time have we been able to chat, really, reminisce, remind each other of funny incidents in our shared childhood, which is unique to us. We are close in age, have always got on well and, shared a bedroom, went to boarding school together. Looking at our identical twin great nieces the other day, I felt that, although Ruth and I are not twins and in many ways are very different but we always felt two halves of one whole.

Chatting together in their house in Nordhoek it was suddenly as if we had shed all those years and responsibilities of our lives which since childhood have been very different. So the whole visit to me was wonderfully ‘healing’

The next real link with my past was revealed when we reached Kasama, and not because that was where I was born but because the landscape, the thronging African with their colourful clothes, the women with pots on the heads and babies on their backs was just how I remember the real Africa of my childhood.

Finally, coming to Shiwa which was so much part of my very early childhood, seeing familiar but long since forgotten names ,in the Visitors’ Books and hearing talk of local places that were also part of our lives and my parents’ reminiscences over the years.

Are We Cousins…?

Our immediate family is smallish and very close emotionally although quite far-spaced physically, with my sister and her husband and one nephew and his family in Cape Town, and our second daughter, Sara, and her husband Derek and son Tom in New South Wales and the rest of us spread out mostly in England but also Wales and Scotland. Continue reading Are We Cousins…?