The Travellers’ Experience

Meet Verrinia (VJ) and Stephen (Steve) Rees (above), travellers and Guests on the most recent edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Jay Hillz. The Experience is our weekly Sunday night radio show airing for an hour on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station. VJ and Steve, Guests at Chanters Lodge, told listeners that they had only just arrived in Zambia following a trip through South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

The couple told listeners that they hail from UK. In 2008 they decided to give up their well paid managerial jobs in local government and start to travel. They had subsequently been just about around the world following an itinerary they had drawn up in their early days together. They had met through work and friends and had been married for 19 years. “Was it love at first sight?” Wondered Milli Jam, who loves that question! Steve replied that he was ‘smitten’ while they were dining out for the first time together in an Indian restaurant in Maidstone, Kent, such that he failed to eat his curry!

VJ explained that she had been mostly employed as an archivist back in the day, while Steve was an environmentalist and clearly still maintains a deep interest in environmental and eco issues. Their visit to Zambia would not only include a visit to Victoria Falls but would continue with visits to both Kafue and South Luangwa National Parks. Steve said he had had a passion to visit South Luangwa ever since he had seen a programme in the Survivor series on UK TV when he was very young. He would soon realise his dream! Both VJ and Steve have a love for, and a keen interest in, wildlife. They talked of leopard and wild dog that they had seen on their travels in Southern Africa.

The music on our show was international, local and latest as usual. We opened with tracks from Lilly Wood and Ariana Grande. Milli Jam and Jay chose music from Pompi, Elbow, Eve and Chester ft IC. Our oldie of the week was a track from Jo Klasic ft P Jay called ‘Method 2’, and the prize of a dinner for two with drinks at the lodge that we give to the first person to text us the name of the performing artist on the track, was quickly snapped up by a certain Musa.

Steve and DJ told listeners that so far their visit to Livingstone had mostly consisted of sorting themselves and their laundry out, following months on the road mostly camping. They planned to visit both sides of Victoria Falls during their stay and were also interested in a sunset cruise as well as a swim in Devil’s Pool on Livingstone Island.

After their visit to South Luangwa they would be off to Malawi and Mozambique. They told us that due to more family issues than they had expected back in UK, they had in fact been back to Europe more times during their travels than they had originally planned.

Music wise Steve singled out Peter Gabriel as one of his all time outstanding artists. Generally he was in to rock but both said they had not much time to listen to music while they were travelling. Steve loves rugby and being Welsh born especially the Wales national team. He also supports Swansea City in the EPL.

Asked where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing ten years’ from now this appreciative, friendly and fascinating couple said they would like to be travelling – Europe in summer, the rest of the world when Europe was cold!


Solborg Folk On ‘The Experience’!

Once again we were delighted to welcome a group of Norwegians as Guests on the latest edition of ‘The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Kaufela’, our regular Sunday night radio show airing on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station, from 20.30 – 21.30 hrs live each week. Meet (from left to right above) Caroline Nordahl, Terje Todnem and Simen Hauge, all from Solborg Folk High School in Stavanger. Terje explained that “Norwegian Folk High Schools are one-year boarding schools offering a variety of exciting non-traditional and non-academic subjects, as well as academic subjects. The idea of folk high schools is learning for life, an opportunity to grow both individually, socially, and academically in small learning communities”. He also informed us that Solborg has 150 students and 8 courses. Caroline and Simen were part of a sports course.

Terje is one of the teachers at Solborg and Caroline and Simen students at the same institution. The three were part of a group of fifteen staying at Chanters Lodge as part of their visit to Zambia. Terje told listeners that he usually took a group to Kenya during the Norwegian winter, but had hesitated to do so this year due to the elections in that country and the possible threat of violence. He had chosen Zambia instead. He said he was happy that he had done so and that he and the students were having a great time in this country.

The students told listeners that they had spent time in Lusaka as well as in Kafue National Park before moving down to Livingstone where they had, amongst other activities, spent two nights living in a village some 20 kms from Livingstone. “How was it?” We wondered. “Interesting!” Seemed to be the reply! “No electricity and purely Zambian food” They added! The group had also had a wonderful two day one night safari to Chobe NP in Botswana and had been excited to see both lion and leopard, as well of course, as hundreds of elephant. For all of the group it was their first visit to Zambia.

The music on the show was great, featuring tracks from Maroon 5, Bastille, K.Koke ft Rita Ora and Justin Timberlake. George dropped tracks from Mampi – ‘Nikutantule’ (‘let me put you out of stock’!) and our very own Shyman’s ‘Longa Katundu’ (‘pack your bags if you’re being abused’). Milli Jam featured awesome tracks from Emeli Sande and Brandy. Our oldie of the week was a Buddy Holly track ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ but no-one could text us the name of the artist on the record to win the prize of a dinner for two at the lodge! I won! (I’d watched the movie of the same name during the week!).

Whilst in Livingstone for a few days following the show, the group would have a ‘Surprise Day’ the next day and then would continue with school visits and interacting with the local population which was part and parcel of their visit to Zambia. Surprisingly Milli Jam did not start interrogating our Guests about relationships on this show! Our Guests did not show a huge amount of interest in football, though Caroline admitted to being a Manchester United fan and Simen Real Madrid. Simen, Caroline and Terje told listeners that they were very excited to have been granted an audience with former Zambian Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda before their return to Norway, and that they were very much looking forward to the meeting in Lusaka.

Asked where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing 10 years from now, Simen said he wanted to be involved in sales and marketing as well as boxing, telling listeners that he was a former junior amateur boxing champion back in Norway. Caroline wanted to be involved in helping people with special needs such as Down’s Syndrome. Terje hoped to be retired but still bringing groups to Africa twice per year and given their great experience this year in Zambia, he hoped this country would be very much on their itinerary!

We wished the group the best of luck for the rest of their visit to Zambia, and in the future.


Itezhi-Tezhi, Zambia

This piece from is good news for us poor consumers besieged by load shedding in Zambia. For those who have never been there, Lake Itezhi-Tezhi (above) is a beautiful place.

“In December 2012 the African Development Bank (AfDB) signed an agreement with the Zambian government for a loan agreement of US$55 million to support the Itezhi-Tezhi hydroelectric power and transmission line project. This is seeing the construction of a 120 MW hydropower plant at the Itezhi-Tezhi dam along the Kafue River. This loan was approved by the AfDB in June 2012.

Currently Zambia’s power supply stands at about 1,800 MW, and the additional capacity from Itezhi-Tezhi will help reduce load shedding. The project represents one of Zambia’s first public private partnerships in the energy sector. The Itezhi-Tezhi facility, a joint venture between Zesco and Tata, at a cost of US$240 million, is due to be in place in 2016.”


Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp

I recently met Steve Smith from Nanzhila Plains Camp in Kafue National Park and his place looks fabulous!

Kafue National Park – Zambia
Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp

Sensitive to communities – owner Steve Smith believe the future of our wildlife and safari industry is dependant on attitudes of local communities – if there is no direct benefit accruing to local people from wildlife, there is no reason for them to tolerate or maintain it. He says:

“Community based natural resource management is all important – and is a key component of our development – staff are recruited from neighbouring villages and areas taking into account their traditional knowledge of the area; building materials were obtained as far as possible from local sources recognising sustainable and traditional usages, and community based programmes are being created to reduce poverty and increase environmental awareness.

At Nanzhila Plains Camp, we offer remote Africa in its true unrefined beauty. Vast and spacious, you will never see another vehicle on a game drive because our nearest neighbours are three hours away. This offers our guests a unique African experience off the beaten path.”

The Kafue Trust is a registered charity which provides support for the Kafue National Park, and the surrounding communities. Its mission is to utilize professional and financial resources for park management, wildlife research, training for natural resource conservation and development of sustainable livelihood enterprises. Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp actively supports the Kafue Trust, being the base for the Trusts operations in the southern Kafue National Park. The owner manager, Steve Smith, is also a trustee of the Kafue Trust.

Rein and Jeannetta Coppens on Zambezi fm

Meet Rein and Jeannetta Coppens from the Netherlands, pictured above, guests on the most recent edition of our regular Sunday night radio show, The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George da Soulchild. The show goes out weekly, live on Zambezi FM Radio at 20.30 hours and now streams live on the internet too! It’s a vibrant mixture of music and chat.

Rein and Jeannetta were visiting Zambia on holiday and staying at Chanters Lodge in Livingstone, combining their stay with a two night trip to Chobe National Park, Botswana where they camped. They’d been excited to see a lion killing a warthog though Jeannetta felt sorry for the warthog. “That’s natural” we said, cleverly.

Before arriving in Livingstone this friendly and lively couple had been on safari in Kafue National Park, staying at Delai Camp operated by Bongwe Safaris – they didn’t see as much game as they would have liked but told listeners that the scenery was spectacular. From Livingstone they were leaving the following day for South Luangwa National Park staying at Flatdogs. They were very much looking forward to that safari.

Rein told listeners that he was retired. Prior to retirement he’d been a chartered accountant with KPMG and during his work as an auditor of auditors he’d visited some 80 different countries. He said his favourite place, which he’d visited with Jeannetta, was Spitzbergen – technically part of Norway and far North near the Arctic Circle. They’d loved the polar bears. Their least favourite country was The Gambia where they’d been confined to their hotel, scared to go out. (Don’t confuse Zambia and Gambia they warned, saying they loved Zambia and the Zambian people.)

The music on the show was great! We opened as usual with Candy – Aggro Santos and Kim Wyatt, and after the introduction of our guests, played Ne-Yo’s ‘Lonely Again’ back to back with Example and ‘Changed The Way You Kissed Me’. Our local selection featured ZoneFam ft Slap Dee, General Ozzy and Petersen with ‘Chikali’ (‘I’m The Best Bad News’) coupled with J.O.B and ‘Halleluja’. This track features a sample of Halleluja from Handel’s Messiah, very surprising! Good track though. Milimo featured Lionel Richie’s ‘I Call It Love’ and Mario’s ‘How Do I Breathe’. We closed with Brandy’s ‘I Don’t Care’.

Jeannetta told listeners she’d been born in Indonesia where her parents had been working. She and Rein had been married for 41 years and they had two daughers, neither of whom were married and who had not yet produced any grandchildren. They were hoping this situation might soon change!

We gave away our usual dinner for two at Chanters Lodge to the first person to text us telling us which country the Coppens came from. We also gave listeners chart and blog news and expressed our condolences to the family and friends of the late ex-President FTJ Chiluba on his sudden passing.


Kennedy Chaile & Floating Skies Safaris

Meet Kennedy Chaile (above), proprietor and founder of Floating Skies Safaris and guest on the most recent edition of our weekly Sunday night radio show on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s best loved local radio station. The show is called The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George da Soulchild and is an addictive mixture of music and chat! I co-host the show and as George was not feeling well this week I had more to say than usual. Whilst we often invite lodge Guests to appear on the programme we do like to promote local companies and people as well, hence this week’s invitation to Kennedy.

Kennedy told listeners that his company offers a variety of activities for tourists including an African Foods Cooking Tour which takes visitors into the local markets to see and sample the preparation of Zambian food. Cost – US$50 per person. Floating Skies also offer Cultural and Historical Tours of Livingstone, Jewish Historical Tours and Village Tours. The company offers walking safaris as well as safaris further afield to Kafue National Park.

Our guest explained that Floating Skies was established in April 2009 and, whilst the company did not yet have its own transport, it had no problem hiring transport as and when required. It employed three expert guides to accompany visitors. Kennedy had originally come to Livingstone as General Manager of Natural Mystique Lodge on the Zambezi and having served in that capacity for 5 years made the decision to establish his own company with his wife, whom he described as his partner and greatest supporter. They have three children. Most of his education had been completed on the Copperbelt with a background in accountancy.

The music on the show was right up to date. We opened with Lady Gaga’s ‘Edge Of Glory’ back to back with Aloe Blacc and ‘I Need A Dollar’. Two local tracks were ‘hot’! ‘Got It Bad’ by African Freedom featuring Cri$i$ Mr Swagger while Chika’s ‘Chanibaba’ (I’m hurt) had them rocking in Maramba and back at Chanters Lodge. Milli Jam spun ‘Should Have Kissed You’ by Chris Brown back to back with Keri Hilson’s ‘Lose Control’. We closed with Miguel’s R&B smash ‘Sure Thing’.

Kennedy told listeners that Floating Skies had the most support from Jollyboys Backpackers and Safari Par Excellence but that the company drew clients from lots of lodges in Livingstone. They hoped to introduce tours in the future concerning African insects and trees. He also explained that African Insights had helped with the construction of the company’s website which was helping with marketing the company and that Floating Skies was active on both Facebook and Twitter.

We gave away dinner for two at Chanters Lodge to the first person to text us either the name of our Guest or his company and Zach responded ‘Kennedy from Frightening Skies Safaris’. We laughed and gave him the prize – Kennedy after all was quite correct! We asked our enterprising and hard working guest where he’d like to be and what he’d like to be doing ten years from now and he told listeners that he wanted Floating Skies to be a really successful company with its own fleet of transport. We wished him the best of luck.


Oil In Zambia

Is there oil in Zambia – for one I hope not, it seems to bring nothing but trouble to the African countries that have it. Anyway I guess we’ll soon find out, according to OilVoice

Frontier Resources International, Plc has been awarded Petroleum Exploration Block 34 by the Zambian Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development. The Block, covering 6400 square kilometers, is located in the Kafue Trough approximately 150 kilometers southwest of the capital Lusaka. This area has had no previous hydrocarbon exploration and may form a part of the southwestern extension of the productive East African rift system.

The Company plans to immediately proceed with the completion of the licence application process which will include the opening of a local office in Lusaka. This is Frontier’s first exploration acreage in the southern African region where it plans to pursue additional opportunities. The Company’s existing oil and gas producing properties are onshore Texas.


Lufupa River Camp

Here’s something different from Wilderness Safaris: The camp is 350 kms from Lusaka on a newly tarred road:

“The well-known Lufupa area of Zambia’s Kafue National Park is recognised as a focal point for prolific animal and bird life. Situated at the confluence of the Lufupa and Kafue Rivers, this site offers access to productive game viewing areas in the dambos (open grassy clearings) and woodlands of the northern Kafue. Puku, impala, and Defassa waterbuck are common while more unusual species include Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. The area is renowned for its leopard viewing and elephant and lion sightings are regular.

The newly-built Lufupa River Camp features nine comfortable en-suite tents (two of which are family rooms) on the banks of the Kafue River offered on a bed-and-breakfast basis. The vibrant social hub is the whimsically named Kafue River Café with a bar and restaurant; a la carte meals and drinks are served during the day and early evening to guests of Lufupa River Camp and the nearby campsite.

Activities (at extra cost) include day and night nature drives exploring prime game viewing areas adjoining the Kafue River and Lufupa Channel. Boat trips reveal the incredible hippo population of the area complemented by a constant array of colourful waterbirds, reptiles and other life amongst the riverine vegetation. Guided nature walks and fishing excursions are also on offer.”


A Terrible Meeting

I’ve blogged before about Zesco and Kafue weed – now they come togther in an unholy dark meeting! And, it’s not just the mines and industry that are getting increased load shedding, at Chanters Lodge we’ve experienced this too, we’re just happy to have our stand by generator! Check this piece from Reuters.

Zambia’s state-run power utility is rationing electricity to its vital copper mines because a water weed, introduced from Brazil in the 1990s as a flower, has blocked flows into the biggest hydro power dam. The southern African country, the continent’s largest copper producer, is also rationing power supply to manufacturers while domestic users have been cut off and traffic disrupted by the failure of lights, a company official said on Tuesday.

The utility company Zesco Ltd.’s spokeswoman, Lucy Zimba, said the aquatic weeds had choked the flow of water into a dam at Kafue Gorge power station, forcing it to halt some generation units and cutting 360 megawatts of Kafue’s 990 MW capacity. Zambia has a total generation capacity of 1,600 MW. “We have had 360 megawatts of power out of our system since May 30 and this has caused major disruptions. It has affected the mines (and) other industries,” Zimba told Reuters.

“We are also carrying out further investigations to see whether it is only the weeds that have caused this little flow of water,” she added. Zambia’s power supply has been affected by the plant, known as Kafue weed, over the past 10 years. Energy officials say a Zambian woman traveling from Brazil in the early 1990s introduced the weed, thinking it was a flower, and grew it near the river, causing a recurring problem.

Zimba said the utility was working to remove the exotic plant from the Kafue River.
Copperbelt Energy Company (CEC), which buys electric power from Zesco and sells to nearly all copper mines in Zambia, said the utility had capped power supply to mines at 430 MW. CEC’s Chairman Hanson Sindowe could not immediately say whether the mines would reduce production due to the power cuts.

“Zesco Ltd., has informed us that we cannot take more than 430 megawatts (power) at the moment and this has meant reducing supply to the mines,” Sindowe told Reuters. Officials say Zambia copper mines consumed 530 MW during peak production before new mines started operations this year. Sindowe said, however, that the impact of the power reduction on copper output would be moderated because some mines had also suspended or reduced output due to the effects of the global financial crisis.”