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On Safari with John Stevens

Newsletter - September 2012

Welcome to the latest edition of On Safari with John Stevens. We’ve just welcomed summer into our part of the world – a glorious time of year when the indigenous msasa trees turn various shades of red with new leaf, when sunsets are blood red in the dusty evening skies and when the promise of new life can be felt on the scented air. Oh, Africa in all her intense glory! Join us as we share a few safari highlights, introduce you to our friend and fellow safari guide, Ralph Bousfield and encourage you to chat to us about your next safari, before all the best spots get booked up! Enjoy.

Zimbabwe. Our Special Destination.

Zimbabwe has always enjoyed a reputation for friendly people, beautiful natural features and a variety of landscapes, amazing wildlife and big tourist attractions such as the incredible Victoria Falls. Like her people, our country has proved to be resilient and strong and, against what we thought of as often-unfathomable odds, there is now a new optimism emerging and it is evident in the improved facilities, brand new camps and re-vamped accommodation throughout the cities and tourist spots. Zimbabwe is still the special destination it’s always been and we are thrilled to be welcoming more visitors into the country once more.

Plan a year in advance! Book now for your 2013 safari.

More visitors mean more of our preferred lodges and camps in Zimbabwe are getting booked up fast, particularly in the Hwange and Mana Pools areas. In fact, the same can be said of many of our favourite places in Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania and even Rwanda. As we like to use the more intimate, smaller accommodation on offer, we are finding that it is best to start booking now - a whole year ahead of your planned travels! Please have a look at some of the safari ideas on offer on our website and contact us as soon as possible to book your exciting African safari!

We can design a bespoke luxury safari entirely around your wish list - with or without John as guide, with other recommended guides, or just using resident guides in our preferred camps. It really is very flexible and we work around you!

Family News

John celebrated a special 60-something birthday with good friend and client, John Morgan, in July. Nicci and the girls set up a beautiful luncheon in the garden at their home in Harare and guests enjoyed delicious food, irresistible jazz music – it got everyone dancing on the lawn! – and lovely company. John enjoyed the day so much and it was the perfect start to an incredible safari with the “other” John through Zimbabwe, Botswana and Kenya.

John’s Safari Highlights – from simple to spectacular!

Okavango Delta

  • Exploring a remote part of the delta with Ralph Bousfield from his wonderfully appointed mobile camp, negotiating our way over newly flooded terrain, always heading for the “islands” of higher ground.

  • Stopped for tea out of the campaign chest - china cups and lemon tarts.

  • Filled my camel back with crystal-clear delta water.

Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

  • Lying flat in the dry, sandy bed of the Chiruwe River as a group of wild dogs lay resting in the shade of a spreading mahogany tree, not 15 metres away.

  • Tracking 8 lions to their early morning resting spot. From the vantage point of a termite mound we then observed some of them frolicking and playing, while a courting couple only had time for each other on the sidelines.

  • Overnight fly camping on a terrace overlooking a small inland channel in the Nyamatusi Wilderness area. Lions roared all night and the following morning we tracked and eventually found a magnificent black-maned lion.

  • Driving into the Zambezi Valley with Nicci and my trusty Land Rover

Malilangwe Conservancy, Zimbabwe (Pamushana)

  • Sitting silently at Banyini Pan in the moonlight as eight rhino moved into drink over the course of an hour.

Chyulu Hills, Kenya

  • Accompanying Maasai warriors and elders in their search for an elderly blind Maasai who had been lost in a remote section of the game-rich Mbirikani Group Ranch. We found him at last light on the third day. The search had begun by air as Richard Bonham (Ol Donya Lodge) and I combed the area in his Cessna 206.

Masai Mara, Kenya (Cottars 1920’s Mobile Camp)

  • Discovered a leopard kill - a zebra, stashed in a sausage tree. The next day, when we went back at sunset, we found the leopard sitting on a nearby riverbank.

  • Fantastic wildebeest migration viewing as the herds poured over the border from the Serengeti - and not another safari car in sight.

Botswana And Kenya from the Air

  • Flying in Will Craig’s awesome yellow WACO bi-plane over the Lewa Conservancy in the shadow of Mt Kenya from Kifaru House.

  • Helicopter rides* from Xaxanaka, Okavango Delta into Zarafa in the Selinda Reserve, following abundant delta channels and the newly flooded Savuti Channel.

  • And from Lewa to Sarara in the Mathews Range, black eagles soaring beneath us, stopping for a picnic lunch on Ololokwe, the sacred mountain of the Samburu and in the Magado Crater.

* Ralph Bousfield on Helicopters –

“The helicopter is the latest means of exploring, getting you to places you otherwise simply cannot go. Accessing these areas actually benefits them, because we bring money and attention to places that would be too marginal for us to operate in using trucks. Some people say: “I bet helicopters use lots of fuel.” Actually, they leave a smaller carbon footprint than a big convoy of vehicles would, not to mention avoiding having to build bridges and all that to get the vehicles there. With helicopters you can just hop in.”

Featured Guide: Ralph Bousfield, Jack’s Camp, Botswana

John Stevens works with some of the best guides across Africa and holds Ralph Bousfield, Botswana’s most prominent guide, in particularly high regard, both professionally and as a friend. Just last month, John spent time with Ralph in his mobile camp in a remote part of the Delta. Ralph and his partner, Caro, celebrated the birth of their first child, a son, a week later and named him Jack after Ralph’s beloved late father; we send our warm congratulations and wish them all the very best – could Jack be the sixth generation of Botswana’s First Safari Family? Watch this space!

Ralph Bousfield comes from a long line of African pioneers and adventurers; his family has guided safaris for five generations, the first guide in the family being his maternal great grandfather, Major Richard Granville Nicholson.

Ralph studied Nature Conservation and did his thesis on the Wattled Crane as an Indicator Species of Wetland Destruction. He furthered his studies at the International Crane Institute in Wisconsin under the famous George Archibald, who captive-bred the whooping crane back from extinction.

Ralph then worked with his mother to establish Botswana’s first Wildlife Orphanage and Education Centre. In 1998 Ralph co-produced and presented a sixteen part series for the Discovery Channel entitled “Uncharted Africa”, which was filmed in Botswana, Namibia, Kenya and Tanzania.

Ralph’s passion for the Kalahari began at a very young age; he was lucky to learn under one of the greatest teachers and mentors imaginable, his father, Jack Bousfield, who came to Bechuanaland from Tanganyika in 1962. Having grown up on safari, and having hunted as a professional his whole life, Jack worked with some of the greatest traditional hunters and trackers in Africa. His respect for the Bushmen as trackers was obviously going to rub off on Ralph, and from a very young age, he had the good fortune of spending all his free time on safari with his father and his team. Today, Ralph sets out to offer guests a holistic understanding of the magical and pristine wilderness environment in which he lives and works.

Read more about Ralph Bousfield and his safari company, Uncharted Africa here.

Our readers will be interested to know that we can book any of Ralph’s camps – his mobile-tented camp, Jack’s or San Camp on your behalf - and with or without Ralph as guide. Do get in touch if you would love to explore this idea further!

Bomani - Community & Environmental Work Opportunity for our Safari Travellers

Bomani Safari Camp has always been about more than wildlife. For over a decade this beautiful wilderness lodge in the southern side of the Hwange National Park has worked hard to protect the natural areas surrounding it. This includes hands-on involvement with the local community, and protecting and preserving the surrounding fauna and flora…

This automatically allows guests an opportunity to become involved in an authentic eco tourism experience. Bomani is built on land that belongs to local village communities, which enables the camp to develop from the grassroots up and employ from the surrounding areas.

Bomani works closely with village leaders, distributing resources to where they are needed most. The village communities are encouraged to link benefits from tourism to wildlife conservation. Our aim is to empower indigenous populations and teach them self-sustaining methods of survival.

The camp is part of Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE initiative. This natural resource management project looks at local community involvement in tourism and wildlife conservation. CAMPFIRE is the acronym for Communal Area Management Program for Indigenous Resources. The philosophy underlying the project is a simple one: the people living within the natural resources are best placed to manage them. And in doing so, they should benefit directly.

Over the past five years, Bomani, together with partner camps, has resourced and put over $2 million into local communities. The money is distributed to where it is needed most, such as education, providing clean water and developing initiatives to ensure the local people are benefiting directly from tourism. In 2011 alone, in just one ward, a classroom block was built, schools were supplied with furniture and textbooks, and five teacher’s cottages were erected.

By drilling boreholes and fixing wells, Bomani strives to supply local people – and animals – with sources of clean water. Last year over 50 village wells were repaired. Hwange is one of the few great parks of Africa without any major rivers and the huge population of water-dependant wildlife can be seen at man-made waterholes throughout the dry season. This water programme supports several thousand elephant as well as an array of other wildlife.

During the dry months in Hwange, the grass is very vulnerable to fire. Most fires in Hwange National Park are started by humans. Bomani’s presence on the edge of the park has a huge impact on early detection and quick reaction to destructive wild fires and the camp plays an active role in assisting with fire-fighting and putting up fireguards to protect the herbivores’ food supply.

As a guest of Bomani, a village visit gives you an opportunity to see real village life, as well as some of the programs with which Bomani is involved.

Just by visiting Bomani, you help more than you could imagine. And with your support, Bomani can continue to enrich the lives of others. If you are interested in supporting Bomani’s efforts or indeed, in visiting Bomani and getting actively involved, please contact Nicci or Laura.

Pack for a Purpose

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