August was the month of plenty at Shumba. Unusual events seemed to happen often and special sightings became normal sightings. There were plenty of lion in camp, plenty of sitatunga sightings, plenty of hot air balloon flights, plenty of elephant and of course plenty of excited and blown-away guests!
Summer is around the corner. In the beginning of the month the temperatures in the early morning and late evening could still be chilly however. The lowest temperature recorded was 6 degrees Celsius. Halfway through the month, the temperatures started rising to highs of around 32 degrees Celsius. The evenings are still mild and the mornings still cool but not cold any longer. On the last evening of the month suddenly the wind picked up and a thunderstorm built up - we even had some rain!
Unfortunately we experienced some serious bushfires in the Busanga Plains in August. With a combined team effort we managed to secure the camps and control the fires. Although a part of the Busanga Plains, south of Shumba, is burned, the rest of the area is still lush. The rains at the end of the month have settled down the dust and the first green shoots of fresh grass are already visible! The burned patches are very nutritious and attract many antelope and birdlife. We have seen flocks of over 30 crowned cranes feeding on the minerals and insects in the burned area.
During the month we had so many different lion sightings that it is impossible to list them all. Most guests did not leave Shumba without at least one lion visiting camp. They were seen from the Shumba deck whilst the mother was nursing the cubs and even when the pride was hunting. The lions had several successful hunts just outside camp and were feeding on the kill whilst the guests were enjoying a drink at the deck. Halfway through the month the lions managed to kill three lechwe in less than 36 hours all within the camp surrounds.
Lion not only visited the guest area, but felt very comfortable in the staff village as well. They were found resting on top of the steps of the management unit or under the decks of the staff accommodation.
Not only were the Busanga Pride present for our guests, but the Papyrus Pride and the Tree Line Pride were also seen in the area. Besides the three resident prides in the Plains, we have regularly seen new males and females. Two big boys from the Musanza area have started entering the Plains and have been marking and roaring, challenging our Mr. Busanga!
A special sighting this month was of a young female leopard, found just south of Shumba. Normally leopards are found close to the tree line and not often in the open vastness of the Busanga Plains. This particular leopard felt very exposed in the open Plains and therefore charged the vehicle when it approached. A very exciting moment for the guests.
All the guests that visited Shumba had the opportunity to see sitatunga - normally a very rare sighting. A male and female have settled very close to Shumba and slowly these normally very shy antelope are getting used to the area and the game drive vehicles.
Roan antelope always give the guests great picture moments as they are so relaxed here that we can drive very close to thme; with their clownish faces they are really photogenic!
Now that the Plains are mostly dried up, the zebra and wildebeest are in the Plains attracting more predators like cheetah. The wildebeest have started to give birth and the young calves are making the Busanga Plains cheetah heaven.
Elephant were in camp on a daily (and nightly) basis this month. The elephant population in has definitely increased over the past years and the majestic fig trees that give shade to Shumba attract them in their numbers.
Whilst on boat activities, the guests enjoyed seeing buffalo crossing the water, elephant taking a mud bath and of course having close encounters with our hippos!
On 1 August, the first hot air balloon flight of the season took place over the Busanga Plains - a magical experience that most of our guests will never forget. Gliding over the Plains makes you realise how vast this wilderness area is. It feels unreal to be able to fly over hippo, lechwe, puku, roan, wildebeest and lion.
Whilst the balloon was being prepared for take-off during sunrise, the two Busanga males came over to investigate what was going on. They came so close to the balloon that we wondered if they were going to climb into the basket....
After a safe landing the guests are treated to a champagne breakfast. Whilst sipping from the champagne and enjoying the breakfast, experiences are shared before continuing on the morning game drive.
Traditional Dinner, Sundowners and Romantic dinners
Our guests really enjoy the traditional Monday Boma dinners with the staff drumming, singing and dancing and often ending with guests joining the party.
After the boat cruise on Hippo Pools we surprised many of our guests with a beautiful sundowner. Life just doesn’t get much better; sipping your gin & tonic, whilst snacks are prepared on the fire in front of you and the sun sets over the Plains.
For most of the couples that visited Shumba this month we organised a romantic private dinner. Candle light, flowers and a delicious meal under the stars – always much appreciated.
“Brilliant stay! You are all amazing warm people. Thank you, loved every minute.” – N&C Germany
“Gorgeous place. Wonderful care and food. Gracious hosts. Thank you for the frisky lion cubs. Do we really have to go?? Thank you Idos.” – L&P USA
“This was outstanding! The people are so friendly and comfortable – the sights a marvel. Thanks for perfection!” – C&C USA
Staff in Camp
Management: Ingrid Baas
Junior management: Mclay Munachinene
Trainee management: Natasha Ngulube
Guides: Idos Mulenge, JohnD Muleka and Sandy Sakala