Welcome to our July newsletter!
Better late than never, isn’t it?! Finally some news from Kafunta Safaris! Don’t worry, you’re still on our mailing list and this is our first newsletter of the season, even if we are halfway through the year already.
Thank you for being patient readers, here is the latest news.
It’s true that like most of our fellow safari operators, we had high hopes for our 2021 season after the emptiness of 2020. As we know, the reality is quite different. Even though Zambia has remained open to tourism, there is no denying that international travel is complicated especially for some specific countries of origin.
But in fact, there is definite progress since 2020: at least we are operating! Kafunta River Lodge opened at Easter, and Three Rivers Camp opened in early June. The majority of our guests have come from within Zambia, but we’ve also seen some determined travellers coming from the US, Germany, Dubai, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain!
We continue to have a flexible approach towards any guests reconsidering their trip and who prefer to postpone to 2022 to fully enjoy their safari without all the hassle. We remain hopeful that countries and airlines will soon simplify the movement of fully vaccinated people so that we can return to some sort of normality.
Any updates on current Covid protocols, cancellation policy, PCR testing as well as Point-of-Entry requirements for Zambia are available on our website “covid” page.
It is with extreme sadness that we heard of the passing of our former long-term Safari Manager and Senior Guide, Josephat Msoni, on Friday 23rd July. Many of you expressed heartfelt condolences on our social media and shared fond memories of Josephat along with photos. We couldn’t include all the photos here, but we thank you for your thoughts and prayers for Josephat’s family.
A word from Anke & Ron Cowan
“We met Josephat in 1998. At the time he was employed with National Hotels at Chichele Lodge, he arrived on foot having crossed the Luangwa River to ask for a job! And so he started working at Kafunta when we opened the lodge that July 1998. He started as a safari guide, quickly becoming Senior Guide and in his last years at Kafunta Safaris, he held the role of Safari Manager. After 18 years with us, he left Kafunta in December 2016 and we openly supported him as he started his own safari operation in 2017.
Josephat’s larger then life personality lit up the room, he was a great entertainer and had everyone laughing! He was well known amongst his peers for his practical thinking and always looking for the simplest solution to any problem.
He was an outstanding guide, his personality and knowledge turned the safari into a great experience. In the early days he often led the mobile Safaris to North Luangwa, he was in his element when leading groups for a length of time, his ability to connect with guests was second to none!
There are many anecdotes to tell about his years in the bush, but the one that always made him laugh was about the time he completely got lost in the park on an evening game drive with guests. He simply had gotten so deep in the bush he couldn’t find his way out. We had to send vehicles with spotlights used as beacons, to signal the way back home.
Josephat was a family man, he had a big heart and was very fond of children. He would turn any family safari into a fun event with quizzes and competitions. One year Josephat was selected to be Father Christmas at the Lodge…we spotted a red dot in the distance as he made his way across the lagoon to the Lodge…he was welcomed with a cold beer but the children were not so sure about this suspicious-looking Santa Claus!
Many of our guests returned, year after year, requesting Josephat as their guide, such as the MacFayden family. Years ago, the MacFadyen invited Josephat and his partner in crime, Martin, to their home in California, it was wintertime then and both experienced snow for the first time.
Josephat is an integral part of the Kafunta story and Kafunta would not be what it is today without him. He will always be remembered.
Anke & Ron Cowan
The past few months at Kafunta…
So, what has happened in the past months? Quite a bit actually! Back in February and March, in preparation for reopening, the majority of our front-of-line staff was certified with a “Covid Safety-at-Work” & “Introduction to Infection Prevention & Control” training courses.
Vaccination in Mfuwe started in early May and has come by waves, depending on the availability of vaccines supplied by international programs such as Covax.
Luckily many staff were able to benefit from the first wave and are now fully vaccinated. We certainly encourage the rest to consider the vaccine as soon as it becomes available. We’re delighted that overall tourism staff in Zambia have been quick to respond.
We started our 2021 safari season with a super busy Easter weekend with guests from all over Zambia. The lodge was full – something we hadn’t seen in many months! Such a nice feeling!
In May we held our very first ‘Yoga Pause in the Wild” weekend with 7 enthusiastic participants and Briana Chapman as our yoga instructor. The feedback was excellent, so we’re looking at renewing this experience again, maybe later this year – but definitely in 2022 as well.
It is also in May that we welcomed our first “international” guests, as part of a family reunion of over 20 people – with half residing in Dubai. It was a lovely weekend immortalized by local photographer Aaron Mwale.
We were delighted to receive a large number of football balls and soccer boots for Malambo United Football Club & the Malambo Valley Queens, sponsored by Jako equipment in Australia solicited through previous guests Barbara and Walter Hoermann. In these hard times when only a few travel due to the pandemic and everything has become so challenging, it was a wonderful treat!
All this time, Anke and Ron have had to remain in Australia, as the country has had strict border restrictions and travel bans since the early days of the pandemic. Of course, they continue to look after the business very closely, while at the same time taking advantage of this time “at home” to visit their own backyard, something they hardly had a chance to do before.
Other Business News
To help get over this “Luangwa-drought”, we can only recommend checking out these past copies of the Travel Africa Magazine. Each edition of the magazine is loaded with useful information and amazing stories about Africa and Zambia, along with excellent photography. And these recent issues feature specific stories and photos of South Luangwa. It’s not too late to subscribe and even order previous releases.
Although air traffic is still affected by the pandemic, there has been excellent news with new ways to reach Lusaka. Proflight has launched their Lusaka-Johannesburg route earlier in the year, with up to 7 flights a week between the two cities. The company should also add a direct route Livingstone-Johannesburg as soon as international tourism picks up.
Alternatively, South African Airlink also flies Johannesburg-Lusaka on a daily basis.
For long haul, Qatar Airways will start flying Doha-Lusaka/Harare from early August, adding Zambia and Zimbabwe to their global network of over 140 destinations.
As for the new Lusaka airport, it seems it may open later this year, maybe in October.
It wouldn’t be right to end this newsletter without an appeal to support the local Luangwa community by considering a donation to Project Luangwa. The lack of visitors in the Valley has deeply impacted the funding of several education projects, although our commitment to assisting the children and the underprivileged remains unchanged. Any small contribution will help. Thank you so much!
And at last, some photos of wildlife!
Safaris have been truly amazing so far!!
Here are a few photos from our guest Chipeli Chikamba who came in May. And remember, if you have safari photos to share, make sure to send them to me.
That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed catching up.
Izzy and the Kafunta team