Friday, April 27, 2012

Kafue National Park

Even though we have been in Zambia a little over 18 months we still haven’t seen as much of Zambia as we would have liked. Living in Livingstone made it difficult to see a lot of northern and eastern Zambia as just to get to Lusaka was a good 5-6 hour trip. 

Kafue National Park, Zambia

So with some time and our current Lusaka location we decided to take a trip out to Kafue National Park, located pretty much in the centre of Zambia or Northern and Western Provinces. The park is the largest national park in Zambia, covering an area of about 22,400km² and is also the second largest park in Africa.

We had heard a lot of different things about Kafue NP, mostly that there aren’t a lot of animals or they are difficult to see due to its history (and I fear present) as a ground for poaching. So our trip was more out of curiosity than a need to see a lot of animals.

Beautiful photo taken by Mike of a Puku

We stayed at Mukambi Safari Lodge which is south of the main road through the park heading to Mongu and on the Kafue River. 

Mukambi Safari Lodge
Mukambi restaurant and bar from the water

Mukambi’s accommodation is predominately rondavels, although they do have apparently quite good camping facilities too. The view from our rondavel and from the bar/ restaurant was beautiful, as was the sound of the hippos.

View of our rondavel from the river
And view of the water from our rondavel

The rooms were nice, basic but nice. Not keen on the solar powered hot water. So many lodges use this method in Southern Africa, however I’m not convinced that this is the only way to do it given it usually results in guests paying up to have cold showers in the morning or evening. The food was a bit average and disappointing. I had heard good things about Mukambi’s restaurant and it didn’t quite live up to standard. Still we were well fed, so I won’t complain too much :-)

Inside our rondavel
Relaxation area
Breakfast time: Mike getting his morning dose of caffeine
Dinner time: Roasted gammon with roasted potatoes and rice
(probably didn't need the rice!)
Dessert time: Apple strudel and custard (this one was a winner!)

This trip was a chance for us to relax for a couple of days, however we still did a couple of activities. The first one we did was a river cruise down the Kafue River. This was amazing and we saw way more than we had anticipated, including numerous hippos close up in the water, plenty of elephants on the river banks and even an elephant crossing the river! The sunset was also picturesque.

Elephant on the side of the Kafue River
Mike aiming for that perfect shot
How cool! Elephant crossing the water. He was quite fast too!
Reaching the other side
Just about time for a well earned snack
Hippo watching us closely
Me enjoying the river and sunset
I love this photo: The colours and reflections on the river came out so well

Our second activity was an afternoon/ evening drive in the park. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the landscape of Kafue is unlike any of the parks I have been too. It is wild and untouched and even without seeing a lot of animals was quite enjoyable to drive around. We already knew that we had picked the wrong time of the year for animal viewing and the long grass and overgrown bushes reminded us why; it was almost impossible to see if anything was hiding and watching us in the grass! Nonetheless, we did get to see some rather feisty elephants, certainly the angriest I’d come across. I guess years of poaching have made them a tad hostile to humans. And we also saw a Spotted Hyena after it grew dark, just hanging out on the side of the main highway. Pretty cool!

Long grass makes game viewing difficult
Our game viewing vehicle and Mike
Angriest elephant I've seen so far. I would have gotten more photos but I was a
bit freaked out by the stamping feet and noise he made
Mother and baby elephant 
Spotted Hyena: How cute is he/she? 

Back at the lodge we enjoyed some downtime, reading and gazing out. We also were lucky enough to meet the resident hippo, “Basil”. He gave us quite a fright on the first morning when we found him “snacking” on grass outside of our room.  Basil is not 100% tame but not 100% wild either, so you can get relatively close to him, but do so at your own risk!

Look what we found outside of our room?
Basil the resident hippo snacking away
Which one is the true beast? Basil or Ruth??
Basil's behind :-)
Another photo of Basil. I couldn't get enough!

All in all a nice few days away and I’m so happy we made the effort to see Kafue NP. If Zambia Tourism can get its act together, this park has a LOT of potential!

No comments:

Post a Comment