It has been a great start to the New Year here at Little Vumbura with a lot of very welcome rain. In this month we have experienced an amazing 451 mm of rain: 200 mm of which came in two days, with one evening bringing 120 mm in eight hours! Unfortunately, that was not a great thing as all five of our boats on the island were sunk by this massive deluge. Although we have had so much rain the temperatures have still soared and humidity has been high. Temperatures have been as high as 40° C with the lowest being 28° C.
The rain has caused huge confusion with the water levels in the Delta. The water rose 300 mm in three days and absolutely swamped our roads and made the island almost inaccessible via our boat station near camp. The solution was simple though as we began boating to camp via our floodplain channel directly from the airstrip - three months earlier than we should have though. The water level is at present 10 mm lower than last year's annual inundation peak but two weeks ago was actually higher. Things are however returning to normal, but we fear if the remaining rain water does not begin to evaporate at a faster rate we are in for a substantial inundation this season.
Luckily with all the rain, water and muddy roads it has not put a dampener our activities in camp. It has been a beautifully diverse month with the weather change, but being based on an island and surrounded by water we have adapted easily. The grass may be tall and green, as is usual this time of year but sightings have been phenomenal. Guests have had the privilege of watching the resident wild dogs, known as the Golden Pack, attack and kill a buffalo. While seeing these rare dogs is awesome, witnessing a kill is amazing - but seeing them successfully bring down a buffalo is basically unheard of.
Lion in the area have also been incredibly active. The resident pride, known as the Kubu Pride, which consists of a large lioness with two subadult females and two subadult males, have settled into the airstrip area - often a great welcome for our arriving guests.
Herds of elephant, buffalo, sable and a variety of plains game are always usual sightings in the area at the moment and the birdlife is as usual fantastic. The highlight has been using the boats to transfer to and from the airstrip; we constantly get to see malachite kingfishers and lesser jacana which are not often otherwise seen.
The water may be high, but that is why we have boats and mekoro. Boating through the gorgeous channels has been highly popular with guests. Sightings are not usually prolific from the boat but guests have been lucky enough to view the rare sitatunga from the water. On the very tranquil mokoro, guests have seen hundreds of painted reed frogs, Angolan reed frogs and long reed frogs, which considering their size aren't the easiest to spot.
Managers: Hamish, Millie, Mamma Kay and KB.
Guides: Sam, Sevara and Madala Kay.
Newsletter by Hamish Henderson.