This will be an attempt to explain the ins and outs of what it is like to live in the bush at a remote camp. I’ll run you through a typical day of a bush pilot at Remote Africa Safaris, although I must admit that no two days are ever the same as it is a very dynamic job and destinations, flight times, people, weather and plenty of other factors change constantly.
07h00 Wake up. Generally, I like to sleep in, but every now and then when I have an early flight I’ll join for breakfast at 05h45. I’m a big coffee fan, so I’ll have a good cuppa from my Moka pot after an outside shower (heated by a wood-fired donkey). By 06h30 the guests have left on a morning game drive so this leaves me to enjoy my coffee next to the river. The solitude at this time of the morning is like none other!
Once my coffee is finished, I’ll head to the office (yes, I do have another office) to do preparation for the day’s flight. As with any commercial flight, there will always be paperwork involved. Some say a tree gets cut down every time a C210 takes off! Luckily the paperwork doesn’t take too long and leaves some time for catching up on world affairs, emails and sometimes writing for you guys and gals.
After 10h00 tea, it’s time to fuel the aircraft. Usually, It would be fueled after the previous flight if I had a dead leg. The airfield is 3km away from camp, so it makes for a good cycle if I have time on my hands and feel the need for exercise. On occasions, there have been elephants scattered all over, so if I can’t sneak past, I’ll try alternative routes. Failing this, if I’m really unlucky, I’ll go back and fetch a vehicle.
There are two guys that help me refuel and look after the aircraft. Godfrey and Laston (in the beginning I thought his name was Raston, lallation is prevalent over here). The other day, I accidentally reversed over their radio! Oops! I just heard it crackle under the tyre! This is their only form of entertainment, so I felt really bad. Fortunately, I go to Lusaka every now and then, so I’ll get them a new one. One thing I’m sure of is that they won’t put it right behind the vehicle again.
Guests arrive back from their game drive and need to go either to Mfuwe, Mwaleshi (our camp in the North Luangwa NP) or another camp. Sometimes I’m back for lunch at 12h30, otherwise, I might be out on longer flights such as to lower Zambezi or Lusaka. Lunch is always a treat at Tafika. The variety is fantastic. Sometimes there are as many as 9 different foods to choose from and always a hot fresh bread out the oven! We are truly fortunate to have good chefs and fresh fruit and vegetables from our gardens. The kitchen staff put in an enormous amount of effort and have an excellent work ethic. Guests frequently compliment the food, even in the walking camps which is even more remote and truly a skill to prepare good food.
To be continued…