Mutinondo Newsletter 2020

Posted on Sun February 7, 2021.

We have been so lucky this year!

The year started dreadfully for private, public and probably political reasons, and then Covid possibly saved Zambia from what was turning into a national disaster caused by crazy fear amongst the people due to a series of alleged gassing attacks, followed by a deadly wave of mob injustice throughout the country, at least 40 innocent people lost their lives and many were seriously injured. By March it was hard to open emails knowing that there would be more covid related cancelations. April brought a few local bookings, usually followed by prompt cancellation of the same bookings, as no one knew what covid was going to do to Zambia. Over these first few months our staff agreed to work half month shifts, we didn't send the vehicle to Mpika for supplies and just did with what we had stocked up with for the large groups which had cancelled in March. Lari had already returned to live at Mutinondo, so there were no management salaries to pay either.

By May, bookings started to come in earnest from local residents and we have not looked back. The 5 night/4 day hike was the perfect fix for people wanting to get away from the crazy world. This hike is a life changing experience, you are escorted along a spectacular route by 2 guides to the Mutinondo Waterfalls, 2 nights are spent wild camping along the way, the third is spent at the waterfalls where you can explore the escarpment down into the Luangwa Valley (without your packs), and then the last night is spent at another campsite also on the Mutinondo River. Where else can you walk for 5 days and not see another person other than your group, not have to carry water due to the water quality along the way, and camp each night next to beautiful river where you can safely swim and bath???

July long weekend was a buzz of young cyclists, runners and hikers celebrating the freedom of being at Mutinondo. The rest of the year has been spent in awe that so far Zambia has not been hit how we had all expected, and how lucky we have been to be able to operate as business as close to normal as can possibly be expected. We have absolutely loved all the local residents who have supported Mutinondo so well.

This has also been a very special year with 6 notable events happening around Mutinondo.

1.       Mutinondo now has its very own photo rich field guide to the 1634 different species of plants which have been identified in and around the area over the last 25 years: ISBN978-1-949677-20-1

2.       Mutinondo is 25 years old. On 23rd August 1995 Mike and Lari put up their tent at Mutinondo, you may have received the 25 year Newsletter earlier this year:
(or please ask us to send you the version with photos)

3.       In August/September Lari and 8 others walked from Mutinondo to Mfuwe and then returned with the remaining 5 from Luambe to Mutinondo (walking apart from getting a lift between Nabwalya and Muchinka).

4.       The first 10 Peak Challenge event was held at Mutinondo over the Prayer Day weekend 19th October. Congratulations to all for the effort and fun shared by all, and a huge congratulations to Rory Mackay and Dan Betts who completed the 28km, 1.9 km elevation 10 peak challenge in 4 hours 32 minutes and 50 km bike ride in 3.02 hours. Save this weekend for 2021!!!

5.       On 11th December, Red Rhino hosted the first stakeholders meeting in the area, this was the first step towards joining with surrounding custodians to prepare an application for World Heritage recognition and protection of this very special area.

6.       The first yoga retreat, led by Sonal Desai was held at Mutinondo on 19th to 22nd December. Save this weekend for this year!

This year has taught us many things, one being that we are not suitable for the 10 plus ton camping rigs which have hammered our roads and vegetation. Mutinondo now has a 5 ton limit on visiting vehicles. On the opposite end of the scale, it is wonderful that people can come to Mutinondo in tiny cars which are so much more environmentally friendly than these monsters!

We finish this year with a full and very happy camp. Rains have been slow to start which is proving to be just perfect weather for our visitors. Interestingly there is much more rain along the main road, so the farmers are happy with that and our river is getting a top up from there too. 2019/2020 wet season brought a record rainfall (1579.5 mm) for whilst we have been recording at Mutinondo.

We are extremely grateful that we have got through this year safely, especially in the light that others around the world have not been so fortunate. This year has definitely been a year of contemplation - to embrace, be content and even enjoy what we have, and  a shining reminder of what an absolute gem Mutinondo Wilderness is.

Wishing you all a 2021 of less stuff, less rush, less stress and much, much more fun!!!

Much love from us all at Mutinondo

Lari and Mike

PS In early December we heard from Hitoshi Takano that Mutinondo has a new moth - Tumicla mutinondo! Thank you to Toshi and his team for the wonderful work they do at Mutinondo!