Old Croc Rocks!

From Alicia our last edition’s ‘youngest ever’ Guest on ‘The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Kaufela’, this week we switched to ‘oldest ever’ in the shape of Jo Mcgregor Brooks (above) who clocked in at a young 85 years old, though during the show he laid claim to 57 – later admitting that this was the number of years he’d been in Zambia! The Experience is our weekly radio show airing at 20.30 hrs CAT for an hour every Sunday night on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station, and is a lively mixture of latest international as well as Zambian music and chat with our ‘Guest of the Week’. The show is popular locally, partly due to the fact that each week we give away dinner for two with drinks at the lodge, to the first person to text us telling us who’s singing our ‘oldie of the week’. Jane won on this show knowing that Will Smith sang ‘Switch’ way back. Her prize was enhanced by Jo who kindly donated a trip for two to the Livingstone Crocodile Park as well!

Jo told listeners that at age 14 he had enrolled in the British Army and had served for some 11 years. In 1956 he took up an appointment with the then colonial government of Northern Rhodesia – later Zambia – as a game ranger and had, altogether, spent some 50 years in the bush. “Did he miss it?” We wondered. “Not really”, he replied, saying he felt he had ‘served his time’ and anyway roundly blamed the job on his poor hearing, explaining that he had, over the years, fired about 1000 rounds from a 458 without wearing ear muffs. His job involved shooting troublesome or injured game in the Zambia National Parks. He told listeners that from time to time he still goes out to shoot when and where there is need. He and his son Ian had opened the Livingstone Crocodile Park in 1996 and Jo said he got great support from Zambian visitors though there were not enough tourists. There were some 70 crocs in the park with snakes and other reptiles too. “Well worth a visit if you come to Livingstone!” We said.

The music on the show was ‘latest’. We opened with Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ back to back with Naughty Boy’s ‘La La La’, numbers one and two in that night’s UK charts. George dropped the highly controversial ‘Bufi’ by Petersen and Pilato, a commentary on the current political situation in Zambia. He coupled that with Tasila Mwale’s lovely ‘Ready For Love’. Milli Jam featured Beyonce’s ‘Standing On The Sun’ back to back with ‘Soundbwoy’ from the entertaining Stylo G. Our pick of the week was Emile Sande’s ‘Easier To Cry’ and we closed with Fergie, Q-Tip and Goonrock’s ‘A Little Party Never Killed Nobody’. “Do you party?” We asked Jo. “What?” he replied “Do you party?” We insisted. “You mean Limpo’s?” Jo replied and we laughed at his reference to one of Livingstone’s hot nightspots, but we never did get a definitive reply!

Jo told listeners that he was a Scot, born in Bowness-on-Solway near Stirling. He has 3 children and 6 grand chidren aged 13-30 but no great grand children ‘that he knew of’! He is a widower. He had been closely involved with the construction of the Kariba Dam helping to rescue animals relocated because of the work, and protecting villagers from displaced, angry, marauding game. At one time he and his family had a huge crocodile farm in Sinazongwe housing some 7000 crocodiles, raised and killed for skins and meat. They had also owned and managed a garage in Choma for years, selling fuel and servicing vehicles. Jo likes country and western music – Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers and supports Manchester United because he ‘likes winners’.

Asked when he would retire he replied ‘never! When you retire you die!’ We wondered to what he attributed his long life and he replied ‘I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs and every day I take one table spoon of crocodile fat which boosts my immune system’! “Get in!” We said, as George and Milli Jam asked when they were going to be shown around the crocodile park! It was a good show with a great guest!


Southern Belle

Here’s a piece of good news courtesy of Gill Staden’s Livingstone on line.

The US$1 million-plus refurbishment of Protea Hotel’s latest project, the Southern Belle, has been completed. Bookings have now opened for the maiden Zambian voyage of the old steam-style boat, which was an institution in the waters of Lake Kariba on the Zimbabwe side for more than a decade.

Since the completion of her refurbishment, the Southern Belle, operated by Protea Hotels, has undergone lake trials, all of which have proven incredibly successful. The vessel’s first official voyage takes place on 1 December, and bookings have already begun to pour in, says the group.

“The renovation of the Southern Belle has been a lengthy process, and we’re absolutely thrilled that we’ve managed to execute it immaculately. Our first series of lake trials have been a great success, and we simply can’t wait to welcome visitors aboard in December,” said Mark O’Donnell, Chairman of Protea Hotels Zambia.

Renovations to the vessel have been extensive, but all 22 refurbished en-suite cabins have remained sympathetic to the design elements that make up a classic steam boat. Massive interior refurbishments have also taken place. All the original d├ęcor and furnishings have been stripped, and the old generators have been replaced with more energy-efficient alternatives, as well as solar energy water heating systems.

The newly completed Southern Belle also features a conference room for up to 40 people, a shop,
restaurant and bar, and a top deck with bar and a swimming pool. All guests will be welcomed aboard the vessel at the newly completed base station, which features a thatched verandah as well as a secure parking facility.

The Southern Belle will operate from the base station in Manchinchi Bay near Siavonga on Lake Kariba. International guests can fly in to Lusaka International Airport. O’Donnell said guests could charter the vessel for one to five nights, depending on group requirements. The Southern Belle would depart from the base station at noon and return at 10h00 on the final day.


Kariba Bush Club

Overnight we were lucky to have as Guests at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone, Carmen and Geoff Greenwood and their two children. Carmen and Geoff have connections with Kariba Bush Club . The Club is managed by Peter Nel an old friend of ours and his dad Brian is one of our fish suppliers too! Bream Fillets asap please!

“Established in 2003 originally as a back-packer’s lodge and guesthouse able to accommodate 32 guests, Kariba Bush Club has grown extensively over the years with the addition of another guesthouse, four luxury chalets and two houseboats, now being able to accommodate a maximum of 76 guests excluding the campsite.

The lodge has something to offer everyone – whether on a tight budget or not. And of course there are the many activities for all to enjoy, as well as various facilities that the lodge has to offer guests. These facilities include a swimming pool, volleyball court, bar, restaurant and much more. Wildlife to be seen around the lodge includes bushbuck, puku, impala, duiker, zebra, bush-pig, warthog, ostrich and the ever-so-inquisitive monkeys, to name some. Baobab and Marula are both unique in their own way, but both are fully furnished and self-contained, offering a perfect retreat for groups of families or friends.

Baobab House (check the photo) is a double-storey thatched cottage built atop a ridge alongside a massive Baobab Tree. This house sleeps 6 people, is equipped with DSTV and offers private parking. It has shown to be a favourite amongst guests, with its large verandah elegantly wrapping around the front of the house, showing off the spectacular views of Lake Kariba that this house has to offer. Facing west, it is perfectly situated allowing guests to watch the infamous sunsets over Kariba without having to move further than the verandah. It is also ideally located in the sense that it is a mere 100m walk from the main lodge swimming pool yet still tucked away in its own corner, maintaining that true feeling of tranquility and privacy.”

That’s the blurb. I’ve never been there but it sounds stunning. How do you get there? Ah! Going from Livingstone turn right at Batoka and it’s about 200kms I was told! I also notice there’s no map on either the brochure or the website! Lol! I’ll find out sometime and let you know!