It has been a busy two months at Shumba! In case you didn’t know, in December last year the main area of the camp was struck by lightning and a fire broke out. Our green season guys jumped to it and managed to cut off the walkways, saving the rooms, but unfortunately we lost the entire main area.
Shumba is based in the Busanga Plains, northern Kafue National Park and for six months of the year is a nearly impassable swamp land. We eventually accessed the site in late May… this is me at the front of the boat with John D, one of our longest serving guides being an acrobat at the back of the boat.
Whilst the fire mostly destroyed the main area, you can see our office and reception didn’t fare particularly well either!
Reconstruction on the ground started in early June. Our first challenge was to get all the materials to site, a tortuous six-hour journey through the bush! A few weeks later we had recruited a team of 45 guys from the local villages and the main area construction began. By the first week of June we had the makings of a main area and the beginnings of a floor. The large open space on the left is where the main area previously stood, after the burnt materials had been removed. The picture to the right is taken from the same position after construction started.
Skipping forward to mid-July you can see we now have a roof and the decking is complete. Just in time for five female lions to walk past the front of the decking – building in the bush comes with an entirely different set of challenges to building in town!
Whilst the rebuild of the main area continued, we set to work bringing our guest units up to scratch. We couldn’t have a nice new main area without having excellent standards in the rooms too… Having been left for 6 months, you can see from the picture where we started from and now how they are. Days and days of sanding and wood surface preparation, polishing brass, washing and pressing curtains finally created the beautiful rooms we have in the final pictures.
All our rooms at Shumba are canvas-based and sit on stilts overlooking the Busanga Plains. We have equipped them with inside and outside showers, sunken outside seating areas, custom built large (bigger than king!) size beds, twin sink vanity stations and a comfortable couch to watch the passing wildlife.
But all of this is really about providing a comfortable and beautiful base for our guests to experience the wildlife of the Busanga Plains. Our first hot-air balloon safari got our season off to a flying (ha ha) start!
The beautiful vista of the mist being burned off with the rising sun is our first picture for this season. There are many pictures from our balloon safaris that I would love to include here, but for now, I think this one sums it up nicely.
My penultimate picture from Shumba for the week shows the view from the basket as we get up close to our resident Busanga lion pride enjoying an early morning snack. They are very well camouflaged against the grass… can you see all six lions in this picture?!
In a vehicle our guides can track and change direction easily. In a balloon relying on the wind it is so much more difficult. That said, Eric our balloon pilot is a veteran of hot air ballooning up here and has such control of his balloon it is amazing. To get to a lion sighting on a balloon is really something special and as our last picture for the week shows, he did this whilst going straight over the top of Shumba camp.
Over and out from Shumba for now. More of our adventures in the Busanga Plains soon!
Dan and the Shumba Camp Team