Many of you knew that Liz and I were running Joys Camp in January and February and many of you have asked how did it go and what did you do. We apologize for taking so long to write this blog and tell you our story.
It was fantastic to be back in the bush and to do those things that both Liz and I love so much. Living, breathing, Africa at its most wild. We would be woken up each morning by birds singing and chattering – loud and excited, I guess telling each other how they survived another night.
We would go to sleep with the roaring of the lions and the coughing of the leopard. For 2 weeks a pair of mating lions based themselves literally at the camp. My mother, Mimma, came to stay with us from Italy and she was convinced that the lions were purposely outside her tent every night to terrify her! It became the camp joke.
We got stuck into the stores, systems, the back of house in general, we painted, reorganized, built shelves, more stores. Did some landscaping and gardening, rebuilt the swimming pool, trained all the staff from gardeners to chefs, house keepers to dining staff and of course worked intensely with our wonderful guides; bush breakfasts, sundowers … We visited the local community, reinforced relationships with them and it was great to be able to spend time making constructive plans with the warden of Shaba.
We came up with some new and great activities for our area of Shaba and the Nakupart – Gotu conservancy. This is true Africa and we must not forget it, it is true wilderness. Shaba is equal in size to Buffalo Springs and Samburu Reserve put together; with only Joys Camp clients game driving in it. It gives you that true filling of “Old Africa”; no other tourists around, flat toped Tortilis Acacia trees, Sausages trees, kopjes and springs and the massive Ewaso Nyiro river with its “film-set” gorge to walk down.
Stopping on top of one of the kopjes and having your morning coffee or sundowner gin & tonic, – is what in essence for me is the real Africa. It’s not about just racing around desperately trying to tick a list of animal sightings in our new world of instant gratification.
Night game drives – We introduced night game drives; but differently from our other camps. Unlike the cooler savannahs, in this semi-desert wilderness, there is LOTS of activity way into the night!
The day would start for our guests in the normal C&P style, tea in bed, early gamedrive with a picnic breakfast, and back to camp in the heat of day for lunch. However, in the afternoon, relax, have a massage? Early “theatre dinner” at 6.30pm – and out for a night gamedrive! Guests were out regularly till 10.00pm; a great success – Porcupines, Genet cats, Caracals, African Wild Cats, Honey Badger, Bush Babies, Aardwolf and Striped Hyena as well as our romantic lions and the Joy’s leopard.
Magado Crater and the Bojidera springs – We introduced early morning departure to the Magado Crater 1 hrs 30 min drive away, a biblical and colourful scene – mining for salt in the bottom of the crater lake.
Returning via the hot springs of Bojidera for a swim and breakfast. The little tilapia fish clean the dead skin off your feet, something we hear the Japanese pay a lot of money for.
New roads, gamedrive circuits and stunning breakfast spots – We surveyed Shaba by air with our little Cessna 182 and decided, with the senior warden’s blessing, to put in some new and exciting routes. The first one was finalized just before we left Shaba and it drives from Joy’s Camp directly across to the Funan Springs.
The elements have been kind to Shaba in recent years, there is good grazing, and game viewing has increased. The grass lands are recovering from the 2009 drought, poaching is right down thanks to NRT’s efforts and to the creation of the Nakuprat – Gotu conservancy that surrounds Shaba. We had regular wonderful sighting of herds of oryx, grevy and burchell zebra, impala, herds of up to 50 reticulated giraffe, buffalo, elephant, gerenuk, somali ostrich, and desert warthogs. We hear that we have more romantic lions around camp, with a second female in the pride coming into estrous!
Ewaso Lion project – Joys Camp is now working with Shivani and Jenera of Ewaso Lions; identifying and mapping our population of lions, leopards, and cheetah. Shivani is delighted to have a partner to help identify and track the large carnivores of Shaba, and we are delighted to work with professionals that can give us even more information about our resident big cats. Between us we estimate we have a resident population of over 16 lions, plus healthy cheetahs with cubs and many leopard! Watch this space ..
Introducing Iris & Pelham – We handed Joy’s Camp to a lovely couple that just like us have become passionate about Shaba and its wilderness feel, its rocks and kopjes the changing colours during the day. Iris and Pelham are now in charge and loving it, Iris is Swiss from near Bern and Pelham is from Gloucestershire UK, both trained as guides in South Africa and both have Fgasa training; we have only had great positive feed back and we are looking forward to a long working relationship with them.
Sadly Liz and I had to return to the grind and grime of Nairobi and having to hit the manic traffic to the office every morning. But we enjoyed first dinner out at our favourite Japanese restaurant in the world, the Haru. Yes don’t forget that even with all its bad publicity, Nairobi is a cosmopolitan city with world-class restaurants, and great shopping. Hence why all the journalists that service sub Saharan Africa prefer living in Nairobi!
Now to our next adventure,
Stefano & Liz