Zambia Forum trip 2012: Feedback & photos - Page 17




Page 17 of 22 FirstFirst ... 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 LastLast
Results 321 to 340 of 436
  1. #321
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    TRIP REPORT:ZAMBIA OCTOBER 2012:

    Stan and Anne Weakley.

    4X4 COMMUNITY FORUM TRIP:

    RIVERS, FERRIES AND FLOODPLAINS.

    Rivers. Zambezi, Luanginga, Kafue, Lufupa, and Luwombwo.

    Ferries. Sitoti, Lealui (x2), Kalabo (x2) and Kazangula.

    Floodplains. Liuwa, Busanga and Kasanka.

    This report has evolved into a monster, probably best taken in small doses. Thanks to my wife Anne, who patiently recorded observations in our journal as they occurred, often on very bumpy roads.

    HOW IT ALL STARTED:

    As many of us know, a thread titled "101 reasons to visit Zambia" began it all. MikeAG is a great Zambian enthusiast and has visited Zambia on many occasions. He has a vast knowledge of what Zambia has to offer the self-drive community. After contributing to the thread he was challenged to organise a forum trip to Zambia by some of the more vocal forum members in mid 2011. I kept a close eye on the thread and watched in amazement as the number of forum members putting their names down grew daily. Mike was obliged to split this overwhelming response into a June and October trip for 2012.

    During mid 2011 he undertook an exploratory trip to Zambia to have a closer look at possible itineraries for these 2 groups. He was strongly supported in his efforts by Jaques van Heerden and his life partner Linda, who run Mukambi Lodge and have a great love for Zambia and are deeply committed to promoting tourism to that part of the world. They are regular contributors here under the pseudonym of Thirstie. When they offered a special rate for Forum members (and any SADC citizens) to visit Busanga Plains in the northern Kafue National Park, my ears really pricked up. When I realised that the October trip would also include Liuwa Plains National Park I immediately enrolled Anne and my names for the October leg. It turns out that I was almost the last name accepted as shortly thereafter the trip was declared fully subscribed by Mike.

    How things changed later! After Mike began chasing up all those that had committed themselves to the June trip, the numbers began dwindling rapidly until there were only 3 members still interested. The June trip was cancelled. I truly feel for the remaining 3 members who missed out on a really wonderful trip and also feel sorry for those that had to pull out because of unavoidable circumstances. Mike had gone to considerable expense and effort and had risked his credibility in Zambia, in setting up this unprecedented Forum trip.

    There was also attrition with the October trip with one member suddenly succumbing to a heart attack and another having to cancel after suffering a severe heart attack shortly before the trip. Alan and Sue, I am sure you made the right decision in withdrawing, but I hope my trip report will help you to undertake at least part of the trip, once the sun is shining more brightly upon you.

    There was even attrition during the trip itself with Heinz and Belinda Stegen suffering severe vehicle failure in the early stages in Zambia and having to pull out after making considerable financial sacrifices to join the trip. Zambia is not cheap. Peter and Erica Hutchinson had to curtail their trip when the leaf-spring on their trailer gave up the ghost midway through the trip. Both these couples were often in our thoughts and missed by the rest of us, we shared your disappointment! Ultimately there were 5 vehicles that completed the entire trip. These people were all absolute stalwarts.

    Anne and I usually do our overland trips on our own, generally preferring to have the liberty to absolutely do our own thing without too many bookings. This trip proved to be a remarkable exception for us and I am pleased to state that we would be happy to do a trip again with all or any of our travelling comrades. Thanks to you all for the contributions you all made. The bun fight that some predicted never came to pass!

    I think this trip was a great PRO exercise for this Forum and I expect that some of the people we came into contact with will pay careful attention to this Forum and fully expect some of them to become regular and valuable contributors. With only one exception, the lodge and wildlife conservation stakeholders are extremely interested in attracting Southern African self-drive tourists. As Linda from Mukambi put it, we are discerning travellers but without the unreasonable expectations that many of the upmarket tourists arrive with. Many of the lodges and even the Zambian authorities are looking at expanding their camping and self catering facilities for the self-drive market. Stakeholders, such as the Kafue Park Operators Association, have initiated a series of meetings for this and other purposes and a large meeting took place at Mukambi whilst we were there. There is a strong move towards community based camps, for instance, in relation to the new Spinal Road in Southern Kafue, which the lodges would like to mentor or partner. There was also talk about establishing community based camps on either side of Northern Kafue so that self-drivers could have access to the widely acclaimed Busanga Plains vicinity, which is very difficult to access as a self-driver at present. The plea is also that consideration be given to visiting Zambia during the summer and rains. The case was put that the reserves are really beautiful at this time of the year and the birding for instance is much better. Zambia has excellent all weather main arterial roads, certainly as good as in South Africa. Some parts of Zambia are relatively inaccessible during the rains, but for instance this is the best time of the year to visit Kasanka for the bats and to see the shoebill storks at Shoebill Island. The main roads in South Luangwa are open and many find this area most attractive in its green guise.

    Zambia is not a cheap destination and the distances involved are a little further than our immediate neighbours. Prices in Botswana, Namibian and Zimbabwe are increasing constantly and soon, if not presently, will match those of Zambia. The attractions of Zambia are a little more subtle than those of Moremi, Chobe, Mana Pools and Etosha. I dare say that Zambia is for the more discerning traveller who will not be disappointed. Many of this forum’s members have explored Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia thoroughly and to these people I would unreservedly punt Zambia as a destination. The indigenous Zambians are exceptionally friendly and the lodge and game reserve folk have a warm and welcoming attitude to self-drive regional tourists. The birding is exceptional with many species not, or rarely seen, further south. Zambia has plenty of water with magnificent rivers, flood plains and swamps. Conservation and anti-poaching measures seem to have turned the corner and game numbers are steadily increasing. The mere presence of increasing numbers of tourists will make poaching more difficult and the funds generated will be put to good conservation use. Once the local communities realise that game is worth more to them alive than dead, the battle will be won. Avid conservationists such as Tom Heineken (Kaingu), Chris McBride and Darrell Watt (Mushingashi) deserve our support. I would like to join Thirstie, Luangwablondes, MikeAG, mufuwefarmer, Tony Wheeler and others, all regular contributors to this forum, in giving Zambia the thumbs up! I do not believe that keeping these places secret serves any purpose other than selfishness. That is of course with the proviso that we all practice responsible tourism.

    This is probably going to turn out to be a long and detailed trip report for which I apologise. Undoubtedly some will regard it as spoon feeding but I fail to see why the wheel should be reinvented with each planned trip. If it encourages others to explore Zambia responsibly then my wish will be fulfilled. The information contained herein is as accurate as I could establish at the time. If there is any misinformation I would be grateful if it is pointed out to me and other users of the forum, so that it can be corrected.


    REFERENCE BOOKS AND GUIDES:

    1.Bradt guide to Zambia. Chris McIntyre. 5th Edition available 2012 (Leopard on cover)—Indispensable.

    2. Tracks 4 Africa. SD card for Garmin GPS.—Indispensable. Purchase from any 4x4 outlet, Outdoor Warehouse, Cape Union Mart or GPS outlets.

    3.Maps. Hupe Verlag map of Zambia. (Infomap not sufficient)

    4.Birds. Normal editions of Birds of Southern Africa (Roberts, Sasol, Newman’s) --PLUS Birds of Africa by Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan. Struik publishers. (Some of the Zambian birds are not covered in the Southern African books).

    5.The Kafue National Park Zambia. Nicki Ashley (Photos Ian Murphy), newly published by CBC publishing U.K. ISBN number 978-0-9572979-0-6. Purchased mine from Mukambi Lodge in Zambia. Coverage more touristy and less scientific than the about to be published book referred to below. These were supposed to be one publication but the authors split up after some sort of disagreement, apparently mainly financial. Therein probably lies a tale!

    6.A Visitor’s Guide to the KAFUE NATIONAL PARK, ZAMBIA. Peter de Vere Moss. Not yet published but ISBN number 978-9982-22-459-8. I had a glance at the final draft kind courtesy of Tony Wheeler (Weaver). Should be available soon. Together with the above, seems to be the definitive guides to Kafue. See if you can get hold of it.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/23 at 12:55 PM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  2. #322
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Cape Town
    Age
    60
    Posts
    8,986
    Thanked: 748

    Default

    Hi Stan, looking forward to the rest of the report... glad to see I've been re-christened Wheeler!

    TW

  3. #323
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Suffolk, UK
    Age
    56
    Posts
    5,618
    Thanked: 5

    Default

    Stan, if you are going to post this in diary form, can I suggest that you post 18 or 20 empty (or nearly empty) posts now, to reserve their places. Then, you just make your posts as edits to those, in due course. This will keep you reports clumped together.

    Great stuff so far!!

    Mike
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

    "Mike for President" Freeflyd

  4. #324
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    TRIP REPORT:ZAMBIA OCTOBER 2012:

    4X4 COMMUNITY FORUM TRIP: Stan and Anne Weakley.

    OUR ITINERARY:

    Day 1:27/9/2012, Thursday.
    East London, Eastern Cape, to Lichtenburg (Lakeside Guest House)

    Day 2:
    Lichtenburg to Nata (Pelican Lodge)

    Day 3:
    Nata to Kabula Lodge (south western Zambezi.) Via Katima Mulilo and Sesheke.

    Days 4 and 5:
    Kabula Lodge.

    Day 6:
    Kabula to Mongu (Mutoya Campsite) via Sioma Ngwezi/ NgonyeFalls.

    Day 7:
    Mongu to Liuwa Plains National Park (Katayuna camp)

    Day 8: 4/10/2012, Thursday.
    Katayuna camp to Lyandu camp, Liuwa.

    Day 9:
    Liuwa to Mukambi Lodge (central Kafue.)

    Day 10:
    Mukambi.

    Day 11:
    Mukambi to Konkamoya Lodge via the southern Spinal Route.

    Day 12:
    Konkamoya (south Kafue)

    Day 13:
    Konkamoya to McBride’s Camp via Itezhi-tezhi route.

    Day 14 and 15:
    McBride’s (north Kafue).

    Day 16:2/10/2012 Friday.
    McBride’s to Mushingashi Conservancy (Kashokoto Camp).

    Day 17:
    Mushingashi (north Kafue).

    Day 18
    Mushingashi to Mukambi.

    Day 19:
    Mukambi to Kaingu Lodge via the KafueRiver Road”.

    Day 20:
    Kaingu back to Mukambi. “River Road”.

    Day 21:
    Mukambi to Busanga Plains Camp (north Kafue).

    Day 22 and 23:
    Busanga Plains Camp.

    Day 24:20/10/2012 Saturday.
    Busanga back to Mukambi.

    Day 25:
    Mukambi to Kasanka National Park. (Wasa Lodge).

    Day 26:
    Kasanka (Wasa Lodge).

    Day 27:Kasanka (Luwombwo Fishing Lodge).

    Day 28:23/10.2012. Tuesday.
    Kasanka to Moorings Campsite.

    Day 29:
    Moorings to Nata Lodge via Kazangula Ferry.

    Day 30:
    Nata Lodge to Bloemfontein(City Lodge).

    Day 31: 26/10/2012. Friday.
    Bloem to home.



    PARTICIPANTS:

    -Mike Garnham, (MikeAG on Forum), organised the whole trip. From England. Turned to architecture when he failed to make English cricket side.

    -Tony Weaver, (as such on Forum). From Cape Town. Passenger in Mike’s vehicle. Opinions editor CapeTimes.

    -Dave and Judy Pretorious, (Pretdave on Forum). From Cape Town. Retired mining consultant and chemical expert.

    -Terry and Margaret Cowen, (Terryc). From Hillcrest Natal. Retired from ?NCR. Technical expert.

    -Stan and Anne Weakley, (Stan Weakley on Forum). From East London. About to retire surgeon. Extended their trip at the end to Kasanka.

    The above 4 vehicles did almost the entire trip together.

    -Andre and Riana Botha, (Andre). From Kuilsrivier Cape Town. Retired agricultural equipment expert. They did not come to Liuwa, Kaingu or Busanga Plains as they only stayed in chalets; no camping.

    -Peter and Erica Hutchinson, (Peter1949). From Natal. Accountant. This Zambia trip was one leg of an approximately 2 month Southern African trip. Trip modified after leaf-spring of trailer broke on Spinal Route. Had not planned on Liuwa or Busanga.

    -Heinz and Belinda Stegen, (Heinz Stegen). From Durban area. Trip came to a halt after prop shaft and gearbox damage on way to Liuwa.


    DAILY DIARY:

    DAY 1: THURSDAY 27/9/2012.
    East London to Lichtenburg.

    Distance covered: 995km. Time taken: 12hr 10min.

    We had decided to enter Botswana via Kopfontein/Tlokweng border post near Gaborone. Then up to Kasane and via Caprivi to south western Zambia. We followed our time honoured route via Bloemfontein, Bultfontein, Bloemhof, Wolmaranstad to Lichtenburg. Quickest according to T4A. Many of the roads being worked on 18 months ago were complete and we only had 4 stop and go’s. Pot holes still bad around the Bloemhof Dam.
    Stayed at the Lakeside Guest House in Lichtenburg where we had stayed previously. Very smart. Cost R650,00 sharing, bed only. Off street parking. PH 018 632 1835. Supper at nearby Spur.

    DAY 2: FRIDAY 28/9/2012.
    Lichtenburg to Nata.

    Distance covered: 815km. Time taken: 10hr 30min (inclusive of stops).

    SPOONFEED:
    05H00 start, the 185km from Lichtenburg took about 2 hours. Kopfontein/Tlokweng Botswana border post trouble free. Took 40min to pass through both sides of the border. On the SA side at customs, we had our pre-typed list of declarable items and their serial numbers stapled to the DA331 customs form and had it stamped. These items included cameras, GPS, laptop, binocs, cellphones etc and we also a general heading -camping equipment. We had this document stamped when we entered Namibia and Zambia as well. This was to prevent any officious customs official from charging us import duty later. Pre-typing the list saves the time wasted on filling out the customs declaration form by hand.

    CROSS BORDER CHARGES:
    #Road permit: P90. We purchased a multi entry permit as we would be leaving and later re-entering Botswana. This saves a little time and money.
    #Road fund: P20-valid until the end of 2012.
    #Motor vehicle insurance: P50-valid 90 days.
    All 3 paid in Pula.
    We were not searched at all or asked if we had any red meat, fresh fruit or vegetables. This makes me mad as we later had to go to considerable trouble to organise meat and fruit/veggies in Katima.
    We were also not searched at all at any of the Vet gates on the way up to the Namibian border. Although I accept that Namibian meat is very good, there is nothing better than specially aged Karan Aberdeen Angus steaks from our local butcher, cut to our specification. It seems that the heat concerning Foot and Mouth Disease is off for the time being. The concern about fruit fly also appears to have dissipated.

    The new road from Tlokweng (A12) into Gabs is complete. When we left Botswana again on the way back home, we discovered the road to bypass Gabs (to/from the A1 national road to/from the A12 to Tlokweng). Entering Botswana it is signposted to the right as Modipane at GPS co-ords S24 40,271 E26 7,686 and was not yet indicated on my T4A and is 6,8km from the Tlokweng exit gate. This road is all tar and the first half is a newish road with 100km/hr speed limit. Later the road is a little slower passing through some small villages with speed humps. One rejoins the A1 after 11km on the bypass. If approaching Gabs from the north look out for the sign indicating B135 Odi off the A1 at GPS co-ords S24 32,064 E25 59,557. This bypass is well worth noting as it avoids the traffic and traffic lights in Gabs and cuts across the triangle. I reckon it saves at least 30min.

    The speed limit on the A1 is 120km/hr but one needs to watch for stray domestic animals. Between Gabs and Francistown we were waved through 3 Vet check points and 2 more before Nata. There was an unexpected traffic jam on entering Francistown. This town has really grown since we first started visiting Botswana. The Francistown-Nata road is beginning to deteriorate, let’s hope they do not allow it to reach the state of the old Nata-Kasane road.

    PELICAN LODGE:

    We decided to take a chance on looking for a chalet at Elephant Sands, bad idea. We turned back only to find that Nata Lodge also only had camping available. At least this gave us the opportunity to try the newly opened Pelican lodge lying 3km south of Nata town. They had vacancies in their rondavel type chalets. This is a large 66 bed facility and is owned by Jacob and Kebawetu Masesne from Sebina. They also own Toro Safari Lodge Kasane (since 2003) and Khawa Lodge Ghanzi (since 2005). It is not cheap at P680 for 2/night. As mentioned before on this forum, the grounds still look a little like a building site. The central building is impressive with a swimming pool, restaurant and bar. The chalets are comfortable enough with an open air shower. However there are many amateurish design faults. The fridge does not fit into the walled off alcove designed for it and stands in the way. The king size double bed prevents the cupboard doors from being opened and the pictures on the walls were prints of New York? The shower and washbasin drained extremely slowly. The interior decorator and the architect should refund the owners who obviously had gone to considerable expense! We decided to eat at the restaurant and the tale of woe continues. The steaks were tough, chips soggy and the ice-cold veggies were piled on top of the steak in a bizarre manner. The steaks were not cheap at P90. The menu is extensive but amateurish with rudimentary spelling mistakes -"Lannaloni". They have an extensive list of puddings but we were told that only fruit salad was available that night. It is close to the A1 and the noise of the passing trucks was very intrusive through the night. Someone is going to be loosing a lot of money here. I would only stay here again if absolutely necessary. I would be surprised if it is still operating in its present state in 2 years time. Apparently camping is available at the back of the lodge at P75 pppn although I could see no shade trees of any substance.


    DAY 3: SATURDAY 29/09/2012.
    Nata (Pelican Lodge) to Kabula Lodge western Zambezi, Zambia. Ngoma border post, via Katima Mulima and Wenela/ Sesheke border posts.

    Distance covered: 568km. Time taken: 10hr(includes stops etc).

    Once again an early morning start. What a pleasure driving on the new section of the notorious Nata-Kasane road, beginning about 50km from Nata just after the turnoff to Elephant Sands . South of this the old road is in reasonable condition but starting to show some signs of wear and tear, this section will also require redoing.


    The new road is almost completed now and is a marked contrast to the potholed and dangerous old road. Travelling times will be improved considerably. Still not a good idea to travel this road in the dark because of the domestic and wild animals on this section, as evidenced by an elephant and her calf dead on the side of the road seen on the way back home, more later. The elephants are particularly dangerous, being difficult to pick up against the black tar at night. The elephant numbers seem to be increasing along this road, possibly because of the availability of waterholes. One usually starts seeing signs of elephants from about 40km north of Nata. The many large trucks do not make it any easier.

    There are now only 3 detours, 10, 13 and 2km long, situated at about 132, 160 and 178km from Nata town. Even the detours are in much better condition than the old road. The most recently opened section of new road had the most irritating speed humps every 100m or so for about 10km, thank goodness these had been removed almost a month later on the way back home. Heinz Stegen later told us that he struck these humps at considerable speed in his rush to join us at Kabula. These could not have done his propshaft any good, which was to ruin his trip later.

    The speed limit is 120km/hr on this road and also on most of the main routes in Botswana, but be sure to slow down through the many small villages and even some intersections where the speed limit drops to 80 and even 60km/hr. Mike Garnham later told us that he was caught speeding through one of these on the way north. Fine of P600, eina! The police regularly wield radar guns on these sections so beware.

    In contrast to Mike we thoroughly enjoyed driving this section. I have always felt that the true holiday begins after Nata. Mike could have spat blood when we mentioned that we had come across a large pack of wild dogs on the side of the road, not 82km north of Nata. In his 15 years of African travel Mike had yet to see wild dogs. Insult to injury!

    As we were driving along we noticed a large truck pulled up at the verge and then could not believe our eyes when we saw this healthy pack of 9 adult wild dogs and 12 half grown puppies. I had just remarked to Anne that the numbers of impala along this road were much higher compared to our previous trips. This pack was nosing about in the road works and quarry and a solitary road worker was standing next to his tent throwing stones at them to chase them away from his little camp, which they were investigating inquisitively. The pack moved onto and across the road with the pups engaging in lots of rough and tumble right next to the road. The amount of wildlife in the forest reserves along this road definitely seem to be increasing. Amazing to see such a large healthy pack so far south, but wild dogs have a very wide range and move around rapidly. This pack must range between the forest reserves to the east and the Hunter’s Road and Zimbabwe to the west. We hoped that this unexpected treat was to portend well for the rest of our trip.

    We reached Kasane 5hr and about 370km after Nata. I then realised that we could comfortably reach Kabula Lodge a day earlier than planned. Many of our future travelling companions had been spending some time in Caprivi, some of them with forum member Curt (Sandbug) at his lodge and campsite near Katima, Caprivi Houseboat Safaris. He hosted them very well and was to play an important role in helping Heinz with his vehicle problems later. This Forum works. Curt, his lovely bubbly wife Silke and their young daughter later joined us for a couple of nights at Kabula lodge. We all thoroughly enjoyed their fellowship, Silke halved the average age of the female members of the group! I certainly will support them in my planned future trip to the Caprivi.

    SPOONFEED:
    We then passed through the checkpoint into Chobe National Park at Sedudu Gate. You only have to sign the book here. There are no park entrance fees to be paid, provided you stick to the excellent tarred transit road to Ngoma Border Post with Namibia. We have previously seen sable along this road but no such luck. The speed limit is 80km/hr. This road is only 65km long and took us about 1 hour from Kasane.

    Ngoma Border Post functions well and it took us about 40min to pass through both sides. Remember one has to pay the cross-border fees at the Total Garage on the main road into Katima Mulilo and not at the Namibian side of the border. Apparently this will change soon. This Total fuel station is easy to spot on the left side of the road about 30min from the border and it is a good place to fill up, including jerry cans, as fuel is a lot more expensive in Zambia. The fuel station is at S17 29,766 E24 16,149. Finding ones way around can be quite stressful and I hope these details I have posted will make someone else’s trip easier in the future. I am aware that some regard this as spoonfeeding.. Different strokes! Spoonfeeds will be in italics so that those opposed to this can skip them.

    Because of the expected strict meat and fruit/veggie controls in Botswana we had planned to do our shopping in Katima. Anne had precooked about 8 red meat meals, as cooked or processed red meat from cloven hoofed animals (including pork) is not subject to the usual Foot and Mouth regulations. Many of these meals were done in double portions to cater for the 2 “bachelors” Mike and Tony. They had both flown in and we correctly anticipated that these 2 hardy travellers would only have dry rations. For us eating well is a prerequisite for an enjoyable holiday. The evenings are long and to eat a good meal in the middle of nowhere is a great luxury, in the context of where you are. Anne for instance had cooked 4 lamb shanks, a roasted de-boned leg of lamb, Thai curry, Jambalaya etc. Despite their initial polite protestations, Mike and Tony most often had second helpings.

    The other luxury is cold beer. Thank goodness for vehicle fridges. Minimalists Mike and Tony did not have one, but I noticed that as the trip progressed other members were kindly sharing their fridge space with them. Mike possibly only has one serious fault in my eyes. After a long day on the road when most of us are hanging for a cold beer he would prefer to make a cup of tea first? Tony always had a flask of whisky which he would ease into as the evening progressed. Later he seemed to run out of his hoard. The rest of the group enjoyed a few beers or wine but none appeared to be heavy drinkers. A pity perhaps as I think at least one good blow-out would have done some good.

    Anyway back to our re-supplying efforts in Katima. Katima is a fairly large centre and has a Pic ‘n Pay (at S17 30,055 E24 16.372), a Shoprite and Spar. So off to the Pic ‘n Pay we went, mainly to buy veggies, fresh bread and fruit. This is a well stocked store with all one could ask for, although their meat section did not appear all that great. Prices are only slightly higher than in SA.

    As far as red meat was concerned, we made use of a contact that Piet du Toit of Kabula lodge (Toon on the Forum) had posted some time ago. This worked very well. His contact is Cerise Grobler of the Baobab Bistro and MCG Meat Supplies in Katima. She supplies many of the surrounding lodges (including Curt at Caprivi Houseboat Safaris) with meat she orders in bulk from Windhoek. She should be contacted a few weeks in advance so she can order your requirements timeously. The big advantage is that the meat is already frozen solid and ready for your freezer. My only quibble is that our meat was neatly packaged in sealed plastic bags and not vacuum packed. The quality of the meat is excellent, especially the boerewors. It may be safer to stick to beef and venison as the lamb loin chops were slightly tough. In Namibia they have a rather strange way of presenting lamb loin chops. Instead of 2 chops divided down the centre, they are cut as for a saddle of lamb with 2 chops attached to each other at the centre. No matter as this was a nice change. She persuaded me to order venison mince instead of steak mince because of the price advantage. This was a great idea and the mince was fine. We also ordered 2 whole beef fillets which were good. Unfortunately we only gave her a few days notice so I think she was a bit pressed for time and had we ordered a couple of weeks in advance, she may have been able to accommodate our order even more efficiently.

    Cerise can be contacted on +26481 220 7847 or one can contact Marcel Coetzer on +26481 296 4601. Email is mcgmeat@gmail.com or marcelcoetzer@live.com. Payment can be made by bank transfer or cash/credit card when you pick up the meat. The meat is picked up from the Baobab Bistro in Hage Geingob street, a main road in Katima.(S17 30,085 E24 16,717). Costs to us: Beef fillet R127/kg, boerewors R 55/kg, lamb saddle chops R77/kg and lean game mince R60/kg.


    After our shopping and more beer supplies we set off for the Wenela/Sesheke Border Post with Zambia. This is a 10min drive and is well signposted. The Zambian side is chaotic. Luckily we were adopted by the young lady by the name of Miele, who handles the vehicle insurance. She was very helpful and wrote down for us exactly where and how much to pay for all the formalities. Piet at Kabula later told us that he had warned her that he was expecting special guests for Kabula and asked her to help us. What a fantastic idea, especially with all the multiple noughts of the Zambian Kwacha. One could be ripped off all too easily. As planned, we changed currency with one of the immigration officials. Because of the proximity to Namibia they are happy to exchange Rand for Kwacha. She offered us a reasonable rate of 600 Kwacha to the Rand (official exchange rate at the time about 630 to 1). This was conducted in a very professional manner in a quiet side room, with careful counting out of the many Kwacha notes. This is in contrast to using the money changers in the street outside who apparently easily hussle you into making mistakes with the counting of all the strange notes and noughts.

    CROSS BORDER CHARGES:

    Motor vehicle insurance: K 304,700 (R480)
    Council levy: K 30.000 (R50)
    Carbon tax: K 200,000 (R315)
    Road tax: US$ 20.

    It took us 55min to pass through the border posts. Why the road tax is still paid in US$ is beyond me. There has been a recent law in Zambia forcing all, especially the lodges, to collect payment in Kwacha. Be aware though that many lodges will accept payment in dollars on the quiet, especially if you use the excuse that you are running short of Kwacha, which you are going to need for fuel. The Kwacha is not exchangeable outside Zambia and with the new currency notes being introduced on 1/1/2013 the last thing you need is be left holding a whole lot of Kwacha on leaving Zambia. Next year two 0’s are going to be removed from the Kwacha which will make things a lot easier (100K=1K). You can exchange your remaining Kwacha at the border on leaving Zambia, but the street changers are rip off artists and you could easily suffer from deliberate miscounting at a poor exchange rate. Fuel can only be paid in Kwacha, no credit cards.

    When leaving the border post be sure to turn sharp left. If you continue straight and to the right you are going to end up crossing the bridge over the Zambezi onto Kaloma and Livingstone eastwards. One wants to remain on the western bank of the Zambezi. Initially you travel on a new tar road being built by the Chinese, at present there are temporary speed humps every 200m or so. After 12km one then drives on a windy dusty road, which runs alongside the new road being constructed. One passes many small grass-hutted villages and in many places there are lovely views of the Zambezi. Drive carefully here as the road is very bumpy due to the frequent heavy trucks being used to construct it. Apparently the primary motivation for this road through nowhere is to enable the Chinese to transport the ore from the Copper Belt to the coast at Walvis Bay for export. We later met a group returning from the western Zambezi, one of whom was an experienced civil engineer, he expressed grave reservations as to the quality of the road construction and its durability. He felt that it compared very poorly to the sections already completed by a South African firm further on, beyond Kabula.

    Kabula Lodge turnoff is reached after 1hr 25min and 55km at GPS S17 03,379 E23 59,717. The turn off is clearly signposted and indicated on T4A. The access road to Kabula is only 3,5km long, a single track dirt road, winding through the bush down to the river and the lodge, right on the western bank of the Zambezi river.


    KABULA LODGE: (and Piet du Toit-Toon)

    Piet du Toit, as a forum member, had a welcoming banner made with the forum logo and name and all our individual names and our wive’s names, displayed on it. It also included our forum pseudonyms and was prominently displayed at the lodge entrance gate. He allowed me to keep this banner as a souvenir when we left. Piet, a retired motor industry businessman, is co-owner of Kabula Lodge together with Craig Northwood a civil engineer from Johannesburg, who fell in love with the lodge when building roads in the area. We know the Northwoods well from when they lived in East London, small world.

    Piet used to holiday in this area for some years and was busy negotiating for a lodge site with the Lozi King (known as the Litunga) when Kabula came on the market almost 10 years ago. He spends about 3 to 4 months a year at the lodge but lives in Pretoria where he still has business interests. He is very sociable but is not “in your face”. His hospitality and helpfulness were great in his own quiet way. One could sense that he was proud to host members of this forum. A more friendly, helpful host you could not find. He had already helped by receiving our R2,000 deposits for the trip and converting them into Kwacha which he handed to us on arrival.

    When Piet is away from this self catering lodge it is managed by the very able and friendly Zambian Kennister with his assistant Kennedy. Kennister has been at the lodge for many years, even before Piet took ownership. Piet tells me that he needs very little supervision and is a great bush mechanic. All the staff were exceptionally friendly as was the case throughout Zambia. If there are problems when Piet is away Kennister will just SMS him from the provided cell phone. Kennister has a very weak leg after suffering from polio as a child and has to hobble along with a stick. He has been provided with a four wheeler to enable him to get around. He is at his happiest when skippering one of the outboard motor fishing boats, fishing for tiger fish. They have 3 river fishing boats and this is in fact what most visitors come for. There are also plenty of bream. The lodge is fairly close to some rapids upstream where the renowned tiger fish of the upper Zambezi are caught. The boats from Gavin Johnson’s fishing lodge downstream often have to motor past Kabula to reach the best fishing spots. They have the fishing kit you might need, but most serious fisherman bring their own kit. The early summer months September and October are the best fishing months because the water has warmed up but is not yet muddy from the rains. One should avoid full moon if serious about catching big tigers, as the fish then also feed at night and then are not as hungry during the day.

    Piet still has good contact with the Lozi hierarchy and is very involved with the community. He has attended the Ku-omboka ceremony as a guest on many occasions. This is when the Lithunga and his people, in a ceremony involving a very large barge with 96 polers, move off the floodplains to their wet season homes away from the river floodplains, but still in Barotseland western Zambia. The Lozi people are an independent lot and there is an ongoing movement for them to obtain political independence from the rest of Zambia. This year, for the first time in very many years for unknown reasons, probably political, the Ku-omboka ceremony did not take place.


    This proved to be an inspired choice by Mike for our first gathering place. Kabula is the gateway to the Liuwa plains and Piet du Toit is an expert on Liuwa. Piet is a man in his early 60’s I would guess, who has obviously tasted success in his previous business ventures. He has extended this success to this lodge. He has kept things simple and in harmony with the beauty of the surrounding bush and the Zambezi river. The camp is situated right on the river banks and is open all year round, although on occasion Piet tells me he has had to fetch clients by boat when the access road is flooded. This is rare. The camp sits on the fairly high bank of the river and the structures on the lip of the slope are on wooden pole stilts and decks. The buildings are all constructed of reeds and thatch roofs in Lozi style. There are about 5 chalets, most with wooden front decks on the edge of the Zambezi. Some are 2 and others 3 or 4 bedded. All linen and towels are provided and they are fully serviced. These are simple rustic structures but are very comfortable and cool. There are unglassed mesh windows with grass blinds that can be rolled up. An outside open air en suite flush toilet and shower are a nice touch and there is plenty of hot water from individual donkey boilers kept going by the efficient staff. There is nothing kitch or jarring here.

    The chalets have no catering facilities; these are instead provided via a large central kitchen with 4 gas burners. This kitchen has all the pots, pans, utensils and braai-kit you could want. If you use the kitchen equipment the lodge staff will do all the washing up for you. Multiple braai grids are available around the central fire pit including braai tripods. There are also separate mobile braai stands scattered around this area and there are braai places at each campsite. The kitchen has a dish washing area behind it. There are 2 chest deep freezes for the use of guests, I found this very handy and transferred all the stuff from my vehicle freezer to it and used it for keeping drinks cold. I was a little concerned about my deep cycle battery as we were not driving around at all. Kabula has an extensive and efficient solar power setup and batteries. It appears that most nights, those in camp, gather around the central kitchen area with camping chairs around the central fire, there are also little tables in front of each set of chairs so one sits and eats with everyone else. Very sociable indeed. One does not have to braai every night but can use the gas plates in the kitchen and just eat and socialise with everyone else over drinks. If so desired campers can braai at their camp sites. There is no catering or food provided. Piet says that booking for camping is seldom needed. The only time when the chalets are all full is when a large group of fisherman book them out a few times a year. Piet asks that he would prefer to be SMS-ed or emailed if possible to let him know when more or less you will be coming. This is the type of informal hospitality to expect at Kabula.


    There is also a deck over the river and a pub where cold beers and drinks can be purchased. This is where we socialised during the day. The entire camp is under large mature riverine trees such as jackalberries, pod mahoganies, sausage trees etc. There are camp sites for at least 3 or 4 large groups on well grassed sites in good shade. The ablution facilities for each campsite were rondavels, but spotless with plenty of hot water and flush toilets. There are a few thatched lapas as well. The water is from the Zambezi, and although filtered it is probably best not to drink unless boiled or after adding water purification tablets.

    The trees and the river attract many birds and this is where I spotted my first Schalow’s turaco. I could hear the low sonorous call of Pel’s fishing owl at night. Early one morning I spotted an otter frolicking in the water just in front of our chalet and at night there were bushbabies in camp. There are obviously hippos in the Zambezi and they do occasionally come into camp at night. Crocodiles are also present. Just upstream is Kabula Island and apparently it often has elephant on it. Birding trips can be arranged to the island. Guided trips to the Sioma Ngwezi National Park can be arranged. This park is now under private management and is slowly being restocked with game. Excursions can also be arranged to the Sioma (Ngonya) Falls about 60kms away. We were to visit these later on our way to Liuwa.

    That evening was beautiful and Piet took us and another couple on a complimentary booze cruise up the river on the lodge barge. Later that night one could hear the calling of wood owls and both the fiery-necked and Mozambique (square-tailed) nightjars.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Pelican Lodge, main building..jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	64.2 KB 
ID:	178811   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Pelican chalets.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	86.4 KB 
ID:	178812   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Wild dogs on new road .jpg 
Views:	125 
Size:	119.2 KB 
ID:	178813   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Wild dogs Nata Kasane road.jpg 
Views:	113 
Size:	178.5 KB 
ID:	178814   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Pups at road construction site.jpg 
Views:	121 
Size:	122.2 KB 
ID:	178815   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Road along Zambezi.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	67.9 KB 
ID:	178816   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Road in use next to new Chinese road.jpg 
Views:	139 
Size:	122.9 KB 
ID:	178817  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/23 at 01:05 PM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  5. #325
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    TRIP REPORT:ZAMBIA OCTOBER 2012:

    4X4 COMMUNITY FORUM TRIP: Stan and Anne Weakley.

    DAY 4: SUNDAY 30/09/2012.
    Kabula Lodge.

    We had arrived a full day and a half before the rest of the group, scheduled to arrive on the morning of Monday 1 October. We did not really feel like camping on our own and took the softer option of staying in one of the chalets. There were only 2 other couples there at first, also in chalets.


    I was keen to go fishing that day but was advised against it as conditions were unfavourable. The wind had come up making the river very choppy. Spent the day relaxing and resting up after the long trip to get here. Did some good birding in the early morning, although there were many birds, saw nothing new or remarkable. Lovely tranquil environment in this shady camp right on the banks of the Zambezi, to me very reminiscent of Kunene River Lodge in Namibia. I cannot pay it more of a compliment than that.

    We were very pleasantly surprised at about midday by the pleasing but unexpected arrival of Mike Garnham and Tony Weaver a day early. Introductions over, I immediately realised that this trip was going to work for us and that we were going to get on extremely well. Mike seemed naturally a little nervous about how the dynamics of the whole group would pan out. He had put a hell of a lot into this trip, but he need not have worried.

    That night I first saw his voortrekker (“frontpuller” Mike) style roof-top tent. To be fair it does erect very easily and quickly as one would expect from an architect. It is huge and as Tony was sleeping in a ground tent (to my relief), I ribbed Mike that it would be my mission to find someone to share this 4 person tent with him, even should it turn out to be a local. I failed miserably. He tells me that this was his last trip in this tent as his new design is coming along nicely after some initial production problems, which might just be on the way to being solved. Mike is the type of person I cannot resist giving a gentle teasing. He takes it well but he is never quite sure when one is serious and kept a beady eye on me for the rest of the trip. Tony has extensive experience on conservation matters and travelling in Africa. He is a very senior journalist and I continued to pick his brains on African travel as was the case with Mike as well.




    DAY 5: MONDAY 1/10/2012.
    Kabula Lodge.

    This was the day that everyone else joined us together with Curt (Sandbug) and Silke from Caprivi Houseboat Safaris. This was a critical day for me to judge whether this trip was going to work for us. I need not have worried.

    Went fishing with Kennister as skipper. I emphasised to him that I wanted to catch some bream. He seemed a bit disdainful about this but brought along some earthworms which he said were better bait for bream than any lures. He secured the boat to a log caught in the reeds. We began fishing near some good structure but after 30min or so I could see that he was getting impatient. I so badly wanted to catch a few bream to put on the coals for the new members arriving today. Eventually I succumbed to his silent disapproval and upriver we went in search of what he regarded as a man’s fish, tiger fish. We could not go up as far as the rapids as I felt a little restricted for time. Imagine Kennister’s disgust when I hauled out my dropshot kit, something he thought a complete waste of time. He wanted me to use Rapalas.

    Anyway I managed to hook and land 3 small tiger fish in short order to Kennister’s increasing interest. They all weighed between 1 to 1.5kg. I lost 2 others which may have been substantially larger. Two of the fish were released and Kennister asked if he could keep the smallest to eat. So tigers do indeed take dropshot, but what a mess they made of the soft rubbery Paddletail lures. These fish, although on the small side, were great fun on my light dropshot rig and the light braided line gave a very direct feel to the fish’s fight, due to the lack of stretch. As it turned out the planned trip to Ngonye Falls that day had to be put on hold because of a lack of time and I could have gone up to the rapids and had a go at the 5kg tigers more serious fishermen at the lodge had been catching. It was decided to stop at the falls the following day when driving to Liuwa.

    It was now time to meet and greet the rest of the group who had all arrived whilst I was on the river. My first impression was how old everyone was, with the majority being about my age. How wrong first impressions can be and we were soon all chatting like old friends over a few beers on the bar deck. A communal get together around the fire and a braai to follow, allowed further bonding within the group. Andre Botha explained to me in great detail exactly how to braai the flat chicken that he was cooking. He also explained how Woolies chickens braai quicker because of their lower water content -I think. I will have to PM Andre next time I am going to braai a spatchcocked chicken!

    We settled our bill that evening, costs were:

    Chalet: Kwacha 370,000 for 2 people per night (about R610)
    Fishing: K115000 per hour (about R190 per hour).

    CONTACT: Piet at 082 672 5168 or 082 550 8642.
    Website: www.kabulalodge.com.
    Email: info@kabulalodge.com
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Chalet view from Zambezi shore.jpg 
Views:	139 
Size:	198.1 KB 
ID:	178820   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Chalet at Kabula.jpg 
Views:	150 
Size:	223.2 KB 
ID:	178821   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Bar and deck Kabula.jpg 
Views:	151 
Size:	173.0 KB 
ID:	178822   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Barge at Kabula.jpg 
Views:	155 
Size:	155.8 KB 
ID:	178823   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Going fishing.jpg 
Views:	140 
Size:	111.6 KB 
ID:	178824   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Eat your heart out.jpg 
Views:	161 
Size:	76.7 KB 
ID:	178825   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Communal kitchen and braai area.jpg 
Views:	148 
Size:	136.4 KB 
ID:	178826   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Communal braai area.jpg 
Views:	150 
Size:	141.5 KB 
ID:	178827  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Communal braai.jpg 
Views:	146 
Size:	46.9 KB 
ID:	178828  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/21 at 07:32 PM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  6. #326
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    Trip report: Zambia October 2012:


    DAY 6: MONDAY 1/10/2012.
    Kabula Lodge to Mongu (Matoya campsite) via Sioma falls.

    Distance covered:260km. Time taken:10hr.


    Anne’s 45th birthday, far from home and missing the kids a little today. Gave her my birthday card and one from the children. Once we return home I will take her to choose the Rayban’s she wants. Everyone sang happy birthday to her around the fire that night.

    A testing day. A long way to drive to reach our intended destination which was supposed to be Kalaya community campsite just outside Liuwa Plains National Park, after crossing the Zambezi at the Kalabo ferry. We also wanted to visit the Sioma (Ngonye) Waterfalls on the Zambezi on the way there. The best laid plans of mice and men……..Our plan fell apart after a vehicle breakdown delayed us for almost 2 hours. It would have been very tight in any case. Mike was looking slightly stressed and needed a little cheering up, but only he really knew what was ahead of us.

    We left Kabula at 08H00. Mike was still feeling his way and was a bit soft on us. He later realised that we were a bunch of old codgers used to getting up at 05H00 for our first P and then not being able to go to sleep again. Later it was up at 05H00 to leave at 06H00. Andre and Riana (no camping) and Peter and Erica (trailer) stayed behind as they chose not to visit Liuwa. They will join us again at Mukambi (Kafue) on the 5/10/2012. The plan was for them to spend a few more days at Kabula, visiting the Sioma Falls at their leisure.

    SPOONFEED:
    As we headed west along the western bank of the Zambezi the road was in the same condition as before we turned off to Kabula. A bumpy, dusty track, barely wide enough for the regular road construction trucks to pass us. It was often safer to pull off and stop at a wider section of the road when an approaching truck was seen. One could only safely drive at speeds of 20 to 30km/hr along this sandy section. The new road being built by the Chinese lies close by on the right (east), between the track and the Zambezi a few hundred meters away. Later discussion revealed doubts that this new road, built up on a sand base, would last too long. It was felt that there were insufficient culverts to cope with the large volumes of water that the rainy season would bring and that the sandy base would be washed away all too easily. Time will tell. The Chinese style of road construction did not appear to be environmentally conscious and they appear to be wreaking havoc on the pristine surrounding Zambezi river bank.

    Piet at Kabula had very little positive to say about this new road reaching for Namibia and also the second one invading the Barotseland floodplains. He feels that the new easy access would change the dynamics of the area negatively. So please, if you plan to visit Liuwa, do so before the tar roads are complete all the way in, allowing every Tom, Dick and Hennie to visit the park. He reports that the presence of the Chinese and the large work force had already had a negative influence on game conservation in the area. The local people had become involved in prostitution and the evils of alcohol, leading to extensive disruption to traditional family life in this previously isolated area. Wherever the Chinese were involved in road building in Zambia, we picked up negative sentiments from those with the insight to pass judgement.

    After about 20km and about 45min we turned onto a completed section of the new tar road which was a pleasure to drive on at about 80 to 90km/hr. This section of tar is about 70km long altogether. It is a very picturesque route winding along within view of the Zambezi through grass and thatch huts and small villages. On this road there is a check point where we paid another legitimate local Council Tax of K65,000 per vehicle, they accepted R100 from us. We passed the turnoff to Sioma Camp (which is not functional at present) before reaching the signposted turnoff to Sioma (Ngonye) Falls. This turnoff is 72km from Kabula and was reached after almost 2hr. GPS co-ords for turnoff S16 39,291 E23 33,982. We parked the vehicles at the visitors centre here and we were met by Flip Nel, a retired SA Parks Board Ranger now in charge of the Sioma Ngwezi National Park. Flip is employed by the Peace Parks Foundation, to whom the Zambian government has handed management of this park. They are busy with game relocation to this large park and if they can control the traditionally high levels of poaching here, this park which borders on northern Namibia, holds great promise for the future. There is a community campsite nearby and this is where Flip stays. Peter and Erika did stay here later and they report that although the ablutions are acceptable, the sandy campsites were more ash than sand and there was not much shade from the trees which were not in leaf yet. However this is a potential stay over for those wanting to visit the falls and the park itself. Flip is happy to supervise a trip to the park into this seldom visited area, with a local community member going with as a guide. Apparently the locals can also row you towards the foot of the falls where the tiger fishing is reputedly phenomenal.

    We spent almost 90min getting to and viewing the falls. We paid something like K80,000 (R125) for 2 to enter the park and for local community members to row us across the Zambezi to a raised rocky island viewpoint, to see almost the full extent of these falls, the second biggest on the Zambezi after Victoria Falls. There is about a 500m walk to the river bank, where 2 community members skilfully row you across to the viewpoint. These falls stretch across a wide crescent the full width of the Zambezi with several separate cataracts. I estimate a maximum drop of 20m with impressive rapids. Unfortunately a rocky island blocks off the view of about 30% of the wide arc of the falls. The 2 rowers can only take 4 passengers at a time and with the group having to be rowed back again, these 4 trips took some time. Although the water levels were low, the Falls were still an impressive sight and well worth the time spent. Mike describes a walk (from another site further upriver) where one can stand right at the head of the Falls and have a more impressive view of the entire extent of the torrent. You stand on a rock arch of sorts and the flow rumbles underneath with an impressive vibration under your feet. It was extremely hot and nobody had the energy or the time to undertake this which would involve a rather long, hot walk. We were conscious of the time factor as we had a long day’s drive still ahead of us. If spending some time in the area I am sure the information office be happy to assist in setting this hike up. Mike ensures me it is worthwhile.


    We continued along the 70km of newly tarred road when Heinz Stegen and Belinda came to a sudden halt at the back of the convoy and started flashing their vehicle’s lights. The whole convoy turned back to find an absolute disaster. The Disco’s prop shaft had sheared off at its front attachment and destroyed part of the gearbox in the process. Terry removed the prop shaft so that Dave could tow the unfortunate Stegen’s back to the visitors centre at the Falls. Here there were communications and Heinz and Belinda could camp and use the ablutions until the vehicle could be recovered. There was some initial confusion as to whether they had full recovery insurance or not. Fortunately there was cell phone reception and various people were contacted, including Piet at Kabula and Curt, already on his way back to Katima. The vehicle was completely disabled and it later turned out this spelt the end of their trip before it had hardly begun. What a disaster! Heinz was almost beside himself with frustration and disappointment. They had saved long and hard for this trip. It is probably best left to Heinz to relate what followed but I think Curt stepped in from Katima and arranged the recovery of the vehicle and put up the Stegens for the time taken for the vehicle to be repatriated back to South Africa. I can completely understand Heinz’s frustration. I gather that Peter Hutchinson and Erika drove through and stayed with the Stegens at the SiomaFalls community campsite.

    After the delay, the end of the tarred section was reached at about 13H00 and we stopped and had a quick lunch. The next section of the dirt road was full of ruts but better than the first section and we were able to drive along at about 50-70km/hr. At about 55km from the falls we had our first view of the flat Barotseland flood plains stretching off into the distance. The Sitoti ferry (S16 14,665 E23 14,25) across the Zambezi was reached at about 140km from Kabula. Subtracting our delays for the falls, the vehicle breakdown and lunch, a direct drive to the ferry from Kabula should take one in the region of 3 hours.

    SITOTI FERRY: Cost K148,000 (R235) per vehicle.

    The first of 3 ferries on the way to Liuwa Plains. This was really African travel at its best….and worst. This ferry was in good nick compared to the other 2 we encountered later. Four passenger vehicles can be carried per trip. When we arrived, a Zambian sedan car was already parked on the down slope at the ferry loading site. Unnoticed by us it had to crash start on the downhill to board the ferry, followed by 3 of us. On the other side, consternation! The car had a flat battery and could not start and was blocking our disembarkation. The driver and passengers encouraged us to push- start it down the ramp of the ferry but the distance and momentum were not enough for a crash start. The vehicle was now stalled on the edge of the steeply declining ramp and still blocking our way. We still had a very long day’s driving ahead and did not need this sort of delay. Eventually Mike towed it back up the ramp but another push-start failed. They then asked Mike to pull his bakkie forward and to our astonishment and dismay wanted to jump start their vehicle using electrical flex wire retrieved from the boot. This was after Mike’s jumpstart cables proved too short to reach the stalled vehicles battery with both vehicles facing in the same direction. It was hot, about 40 C and we still had a long way to travel that day. It was difficult not to loose it. My thoughts of getting the ferryman to back into the river and just dumping the skadonk into the river were suppressed, as was my unstated idea of taking out my car battery to get closer to the jumper cables, too much of a sweat.

    Just when it seemed that we would be stranded like this for even longer, another vehicle arrived at the disembarkation point and we directed it onto the ramp of the ferry and a jump start was achieved from its battery. The stalled sedan tried to barrel up the steep sandy hill but needed a push from the band of interested spectators that had gathered by now. It beats me how they could have the gall to drive their vehicle onto the ferry knowing that it had a flat battery and would not be able to drive off. If he had waited for one of our vehicles to board first, disembarkation after a decent distance to push for a crash start would have been a simple matter. Even if a jump start was required at least the assisting vehicle could be advantageously positioned. It says a lot for our group that no harsh words were exchanged despite the time pressure we were under. There were just a few uncomplimentary mutters though. This African burlesque must have cost us 40min or so. No matter, it all just adds to the richness of a memorable trip. By the time the ferry had fetched and carried our fourth vehicle across, it was already 15H30. Although nothing was said initially, it was obvious we would not be able to reach our destination for the night, Kayala Community Camp, across the Luanginga River on the fringe of the Liuwa Plains National Park.

    Once having crossed over from the west and onto the eastern bank of the Zambezi, one is on the beginning of the flood plain, much of which is covered with water and impassable during the annual rainy season flood from about late December to May/June. We then encountered another section of slow bumpy dirt track with steep dips that would give trailers some grief. It was here that we saw a flock of Carmine Bee-eaters, probably still on their intra-African migration. We arrived at the small centre of Senanga about an hour later. Here we drove onto a superb section of tarred road built by a South African civil engineering company. The contrast with the Chinese efforts was plain for all to see! This road continues for about 100km along the eastern bank of the Zambezi. The speed limit was 100km/hr and we were able to make good time. Much of the road still needs to be completed including a bridge(s) over the Zambezi.

    A police road check was encountered here and they checked our driving licences and vehicle insurance. Mongu, the regional capital of Barotseland was reached about 150min and 125km after leaving the ferry. (On a good day Kabula to Mongu should take about 6 to 7 hours). Here we all filled up with fuel. We drew Kwacha from a Barclay’s ATM on the main road, there is another one next door at Zambian Bank. These both only accepted Visa Cards and would only give each of us 1 million Kwacha despite the supposed transaction limit of 2 million.

    Fortunately Mike knows his way around Zambia and we proceeded to Mutoya campsite in Mongu, turn off the main street at S15 18,288 E23 08,951. This turned out to be a perfectly adequate campsite with shady trees, flush toilets and hot water showers, all nice and clean. It has been set up by a South African evangelistic church group to raise funds and provide employment for the community. It is marred only by an ugly bare cement block wall surrounding the property. This really spoils the view of the flood plains below, stretching off into the distance to the west.
    Charges: R75pppn.

    We had to set up camp in the dark, not for the last time. Anne spoilt the bachelors with pasta and a creamy bacon, onion and mushroom sauce. Once again polite protestations, but did the pasta vanish! Although tired there was increasingly friendly fellowship over drinks and supper.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Chinese rd completed section near Sioma.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	119.7 KB 
ID:	178829   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Flip Nel Sioma Falls.jpg 
Views:	154 
Size:	63.6 KB 
ID:	178830   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Walk to falls.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	148.9 KB 
ID:	178831   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Arriving viewpoint Sioma Falls.jpg 
Views:	145 
Size:	149.5 KB 
ID:	178832   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Section of falls.jpg 
Views:	141 
Size:	106.8 KB 
ID:	178833   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Small section falls.jpg 
Views:	146 
Size:	150.6 KB 
ID:	178834   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Arrival Sitoto ferry.jpg 
Views:	150 
Size:	68.2 KB 
ID:	178835   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Boarding Sitoto ferry.jpg 
Views:	151 
Size:	90.1 KB 
ID:	178836  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Terry on Sitoti ferry.jpg 
Views:	151 
Size:	98.2 KB 
ID:	178837   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Village Barotse Plains.jpg 
Views:	147 
Size:	135.8 KB 
ID:	178838  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/23 at 01:34 PM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  7. #327
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    4X4 COMMUNITY FORUM TRIP: ZAMBIA, Stan and Anne Weakley

    DAY 7: TUESDAY 2/10/2012.
    Mongu to Liuwa Plains National Park (Katuyana Camp).

    Distance covered:145km Time taken:8hr 45min


    We were now playing catch up and left Mongu early, at 6H30. First challenge a 600m run on a very sandy road up a steep hill to the campsite entrance, an early test to see if all in the group were up to what may lie ahead. Second gear low ratio and foot flat. This was watched with interest by us all. All the vehicles and drivers came through with flying colours.

    After Mongu we drove onto the true floodplains. Here we could witness the debacle of what is the Chinese attempt to build a high causeway type road right across the flood plain, an area flooded completely by masses of water with the rains and when the Zambezi overflows its banks for hundreds of kilometres. This road is along the eastern side of the Zambezi. There is also a very sandy track running along the western side of the Zambezi from Sitoti to Kalabo and further west. This western route is apparently a very bumpy and demanding road and will take many hours. The advice is not to do this on your own as the area is very isolated.

    This attempt by the Chinese to build a 70km tarred causeway road across the floodplain from Mongu via Kalabo and further on to Angola, has been an ongoing saga since 2002. A huge amount of time and money has been fruitlessly wasted here over the ensuing years. The real requirement for this massive project seems to be a little obscure. There are fears that it may be being built for the exploitation of, as yet unannounced, mineral or oil reserves in the Liuwa area. No-one seems to trust the track record of the Chinese as regards respect for the environment. Each flood season has resulted in complete wash aways of the attempted road every few km. This causeway road is built up from the plain to a height of about 5 meters or more. The result is that presently one drives on a narrow, dusty, bumpy road below the causeway, almost all the way to Kalabo. Travelling along here is slow and tiring, not made any easier by the heavy construction trucks on the road. Trailers would really take a hammering here. The contract has now been re-awarded to a new Chinese civil engineering firm after much wasted time, effort and money. This new firm apparently spent the whole of the previous wet flood season studying the water flow patterns and dynamics and those in the know feel that there is now a reasonable chance of completion. Bridges across the Zambezi are also planned to obviate the need for the 2 ferries at Sitoti and Lealui. I think that this will be a long time coming. I just hope that this farce has not cost this relatively poor country as much in wasted money as it appears to have done. Go to Liuwa before this access road is completed and visitor numbers increase!

    After 32km and almost 2hr we arrive at the second ferry across the Zambezi at Lealui. From Mongu to the ferry the vehicles had seldom been able to reach 20km/hr and the going was slow and laborious as evidenced by the time that it took us.

    Despite the road this was an interesting drive. This is the first time that we could appreciate the vast extent of the Barotseland floodplains, which become completely inaccessible once the water arrives in about December until about June or later. The Lozi people move back onto the floodplain once the water has receded and their grass huts and villages are to be seen all along the route. This route is very picturesque with the remaining large collections of water being populated by open-billed storks, little egrets and other wetland birds in impressive numbers. One would be foolhardy not to be taking malaria prophylaxis in this area, with plenty of people and mosquitoes.

    LEALUI FERRY: This motorised ferry can carry 4 normal vehicles at a time and the crossing costs K 150,000 (R240) per vehicle. The crew were in no rush and strolled to a small village about 600m away to fetch more diesel. It took 90min from arrival at the ferry point to disembarkation. The ferry is located at GPS S15 12,342 E22 55,374. We had to reverse onto the ferry as one of its 2 engines was not operational and it could only make way by reversing a short way into the river, swinging around and then completing the crossing with the one remaining engine in forward thrust. The opposite bank was steep and very sandy so reversing off here would have been difficult. Each of the ferry crossings on this trip was to bring its own surprising variation but this just added spice to the mix. It certainly did not shorten the time taken. Allow plenty of time for legs of the journey involving ferries and expect the unexpected!

    The first 10km after the ferry is a very bad undulating single track road. I would hate to have to drive this section when there is a lot of water about! We then drove onto the last stretch of tar about 10km after the ferry. (S15 10,861 E22 50,463). This tar stretches to Kalabo and is about 35km long. This is the only stretch of the Chinese road-building efforts in Barotseland that has remained in reasonable condition.

    Kalabo is the last town before entering Liuwa itself. We reach it 46km and 80min after leaving Lealui ferry. This is a typical small African frontier town with the type of character that really appeals to me. We drive straight through the town towards Kalobo ferry and the Luanginga River. A hundred meters or so before the ferry, the admin offices for Liuwa are found in 2 buildings on the left S14 59,277 E22 41,002. Charity is a management assistant employed by African Parks who run Liuwa. She was exceptionally helpful and at her suggestion we changed our booking from Lyanga camp to Katayuma as there was more game in the north of the park at this time. She told us that there was only 1 vehicle in the park, a group of researchers and it would be leaving that day. The next vehicle was only due 2 days later. From the official register we were able to count the number of people who had entered the park so far this year. One has to count carefully as a whole group are often registered under a single permit. The count reveals 52 groups, consisting of 202 individuals. We paid 272,500K(R430) pppn. Quoted in US$ this is 50US$ pppn, broken down to: Day (entry) fee 40$ and camping fee 10$ pppn.


    KALABO FERRY: Cost K50,000 (R80) per vehicle. This is a hand drawn rope pontoon across the narrower Luanginga River. It can only carry 2 vehicles at a time and was quite an experience. Only 1 set of ramps were functioning, the other set from the rear were damaged and had been removed for repair. One drives onto the pontoon forwards, but because only one ramp is functioning, the pontoon had to be swung around 180 degrees so that one can use this ramp again by reversing when disembarking. Swinging the pontoon around in mid stream involved a very complicated manoeuvre achieved by passing the single pontoon rope over the vehicles and so swinging the vessel around. Not only did we and our passengers have to help hauling on the rope to pull the pontoon across, but we also had to climb onto the roof rack to pass the rope safely over the vehicles to avoid it snagging on the items carried there. Be careful when driving off, the other vehicle has to inch forwards as you carefully reverse off, to prevent the sudden upward lurch of the ramp as one vehicle’s weight is lost with the other vehicle sitting too far back on the pontoon. Dave’s Defender was struck a heavy blow to its front undercarriage by the sudden tilting up of the ferry as his front wheels left the ramp. Fortunately no damage was done. It took us 100min to complete both the formalities in the admin building and for the 4 vehicles to cross on the pontoon. We took some time to further deflate our tyres.

    LIUWA PLAINS NATIONAL PARK:

    This reserve has long been on my bucket list. Liuwa’s appeal lies in its isolation and wide open plains, perhaps reminiscent of East Africa. It is a destination for the wilderness cognoscenti rather than for those craving the big five and hordes of game. For those with an interest in birding it will be fascinating, not so much for the variety but for the very large flocks of rare and endangered birds. Liuwa is difficult to access by road and other visitors are seldom encountered, to me this adds to its appeal. Very often you will be the only tourists in the park. Advance bookings are seldom needed. Driving yourself into the park is somewhat of an expedition with bad, slow roads with Kalahari sand to slow you down and 3 ferry crossings. This might become something of the past all too soon within the next few years, if the Chinese get their road building act together. If you plan to visit Liuwa alone I would suggest at least a satellite phone. This is not friendly terrain for off road caravans or even trailers. Any mishap here with a vehicle or a medical emergency, will be very testing indeed.

    The optimal time to visit is during November when the migration is in full swing but if possible try to time it before the rains become heavy. Not easy to predict. If it had been possible to schedule our visit for 2 to 3 weeks later we might well have seen some more of the migration. Unfortunately our visit to Busanga Plains was a fixed date so that any other date was impossible.

    African Parks seem to be doing a great job of managing this park. Community involvement is strong and they are successfully restocking with eland, buffalo and even lions. The lion programme is proving difficult. Each of the 3 camp sites we visited was more than adequate with good borehole water, a flush toilet and a shower.

    There appears to be a move to establish a newer private lodge in Robin Pope’s concession area in the south west of the park. The air strip is functional and perhaps one year I will treat myself to a fly-in trip in December as a Xmas present.

    When entering the park always enquire at the Kalabo office as to the best route in, to avoid the worst of the sand. Amazingly there is cell phone reception in parts of the southern and central park. Radiator seed nets are a good idea for most times of the year. There are small hutted villages especially in the southern areas and on the borders. People may occasionally be seen on foot in the park and we saw locals netting for fish in one pool. These Lozi people are allowed to live and fish here but may not hunt at all.

    One at first drives on the same type of bumpy sandy road as before. The Liuwa Park has no boundary fence or entrance gate and only our GPS was able to tell us when we entered the park itself. You then enter sections of mixed woodlands before suddenly emerging onto the plains. We stopped and gazed in wonder at the flat plains stretching to the horizons. The plains are punctuated by islands of mixed miombo woodlands. The campsites are situated on these tree islands. As had been the case along the way, residual collections of water were scattered in large pools known in local parlance as dambos, attracting large flocks of water birds and waders. There is a bewildering choice of many interlacing roads not all accurately shown on T4A, as they are re-established slightly differently after the flood waters recede each year. Providing you drive in the correct general direction and try to stay on the most used roads, T4A will direct you to your camp. It is a good idea before leaving home to download all the camps and other points of interest, such as waterholes, landmarks and hyena dens, onto your GPS from your computer. The roads are generally reasonable although in places very sandy. I got bogged down on a couple of occasions until I deflated my tyres sufficiently.

    Kwale camp was passed at about 21km from the pontoon, the drive having taken 1hr 40min, with time taken for game viewing and photographs. We reached our stop for the first night, Katuyana Camp at just after 17H00. The 55km drive took about 4 hours from Kalabo Pontoon to this camp.

    My first impression of Liuwa was awe of the expansive flat floodplains stretching to the far horizons and the overwhelming sense of being in a very isolated place. I am sure we all search for these kinds of places. Scattered on the flood plains are fairly extensive areas of woodlands, indicating the slightly higher areas not inundated by the floods. A tremendously peaceful silence envelopes one.

    During the drive up we had spotted a fair amount of game including a fairly recently introduced herd of buffalo numbering about 30 strong. Apparently they are still herded into a fenced camp at night and we observed that they were being closely guarded by 2 rangers on scrambler motorcycles. Also seen were small herds of zebra, oribi (common in Liuwa) and the occasional solitary male wildebeest already staking out his territory in anticipation of the arrival of the migrating herds. The animal numbers increased gradually the further one proceeded northwards. Some warthogs also put in an appearance.

    The birding was impressive. On the plains we saw bateleur, white-headed, lappet-faced and white-backed vultures, yellow-billed kites and Denham’s bustard were also present. At the water pools was where the birds were the most impressive, spur-winged and Egyptian geese, saddle-billed storks, crowned and wattled cranes, little and cattle egrets, hamerkop, blacksmith plover(lapwing), pied kingfisher, coppery-tailed coucal etc. A first for me were collared practincoles.

    We all seemed to enjoy Katayanu camp. It was set on the edge of a woodland with plenty of shade to accommodate our 5 tents. There was palatable borehole water. The camp attendant Nyambi has to manually fill the large header tank by climbing up a ladder and pouring in repeated buckets of borehole water. The thatch-grass sided ablutions were charming and clean but rustic with 2 showers (no hot water) and 2 flush toilets. More than good enough for us. This camp gives good access to the north of the park where there are more animals at the beginning of the wildebeest and zebra migration. I have a feeling that the great inundation of migratory herds was only 2 or 3 weeks away.

    The nocturnal bird calls around this camp were not to be matched anywhere else on the trip. Fiery-necked and Mozambique (square-tailed) nightjars and barred owlets and scops owls called all night. I was able to introduce many of the group to the Lister engine-like call of the Mozambique nightjar with its characteristic changing gears cadence. A joke was squarely on Tony Weaver. The ring tone of his cell phone was that of the call of the fiery-necked nightjar. The “good Lord deliver us” call had him repeatedly reaching for his cell phone. Phones were exactly what we were trying to get away from! That night over a good few cold ones we had a communal cold supper with all contributing cold food and relishes. The camaraderie amongst our group had been growing daily and it was fantastic to relax with what was now rapidly becoming familiar and comfortable company. So ended a truly unique day.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Lealui Ferry.jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	75.9 KB 
ID:	178848   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Also people on the ferry.jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	143.2 KB 
ID:	178849   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Driving off the ferry forwards.jpg 
Views:	142 
Size:	99.9 KB 
ID:	178850   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	HQ in Kalabo.jpg 
Views:	126 
Size:	167.8 KB 
ID:	178851   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Turning Kalabo pontoon.jpg 
Views:	147 
Size:	108.4 KB 
ID:	178852   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Start of detour around Chinese floodplain road.jpg 
Views:	154 
Size:	102.0 KB 
ID:	178853   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Detour road.jpg 
Views:	137 
Size:	96.4 KB 
ID:	178854   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	The start of the plains.jpg 
Views:	130 
Size:	57.8 KB 
ID:	178855  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Vast Liuwa Plains.jpg 
Views:	147 
Size:	73.2 KB 
ID:	178856   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Buffalo Liuwa.jpg 
Views:	148 
Size:	128.2 KB 
ID:	178857  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/21 at 08:57 PM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  8. #328
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    4x4 community forum trip: ZAMBIA.

    DAY 8: WEDNESDAY 3/10/2012.
    Liuwa Plains National Park: Katuyana Camp to Lyangu Camp.

    A more leisurely start, leaving at about 8H00 after packing up camp. The next day we faced a very long drive from Liuwa all the way to Mukambi Lodge at Kafue. We also needed to link up with Andre and Peter who had decided to give Liuwa a miss as Andre was not set up for camping and Peter did not want to risk his trailer. Because of the long drive to come we decided to move camp further south in Liuwa to shorten the following day’s drive to some extent. We decided on Lyangu camp site as we had already driven up the eastern side via Kwale camp site. We turned this into a leisurely game drive exploring as much as possible. It would have been appropriate to spend an extra night in Liuwa if we had not already had such a tight schedule.

    We first drove further north in the park and came upon increasingly impressive herds of zebra and the numbers of the solitary male wildebeest increased. We were also seeing occasional small herds of wildebeest but it was obvious that the herds had not yet arrived to any extent. We then headed for the hyena den west of the airfield and located in an old aardvark hole. There were no hyena to be seen but some of their characteristic white scats were present. We walked across to a nearby tree island to have a look at a fish eagle nest that a pair had flown from. To my complete delight we flushed a pennant-winged nightjar in full regalia with its trailing plumes. This was a first for me and one of the highlights of the trip. It kept on fluttering around us until we realised that it was probably nesting nearby and we left it in peace. Really a most fortuitous encounter.

    We later found some vultures and a maribou stork on what appeared to be a kill but on investigation discovered that it was merely a large catfish carcass. We headed for Pelican Pan (S14 39,759 E22 36,300) for lunch and had the most wonderful viewing here. Mike hauled yet another item out of his vehicle, a tarpaulin, which we spanned between 2 vehicles for shade. The pan is a 80 by 20m dambo absolutely brimming with birds. The pelicans were there but the most impressive were the large flocks of wattled and crowned cranes, unique in my experience. A count revealed over 200 wattled and over 100 crowned cranes even after some of them had flown off as we had arrived. This was the Liuwa that I had been hoping to see. Also present were large flocks of hundreds of collared and black-winged practincoles coming and going and wheeling in the sky. For the record other birds seen here included saddle-billed stork, spur-wing geese, greater jacana, pied kingfisher, hamerkop, yellow-billed kite, bataleur, white-backed vulture, fish eagle, blacksmith plover(lapwing), black-winged stilt, spoonbills, yellow-billed duck, grey heron and little egrets. Other birds seen on the plain that I found notable included palm swifts and fantailed widow birds. We were too lazy to try and identify various larks, pipits and finch-larks. Designer birding!

    At Pelican Pool there were also 3 hyenas trying to cool off and a fourth later walked past right next to our vehicles. I would strongly recommend this spot as a lunch or refreshment stopover. The temperature reached 39 degrees but we did not suffer too much as the humidity was only 20%.

    We arrived at Lyandu camp (S14 46,797 E22 34,739) in the late afternoon and set up camp under the shady trees. Very similar to the other camps, but Katuyana would still be my first choice. The camp had a convenient boma for shade and meals. No camp attendant was in evidence and the ablutions were less cared for than at Katayuna, but to be fair we had not booked here and were not expected.

    Visit Liuwa fairly soon before easy accessibility ruins much of its allure!


    DAY 9: THURSDAY 4/10/2012.
    Liuwa to Mukambi lodge, Kafue.

    Distance covered: 440km Time taken:14hr 15min

    This was one of the longest legs of the trip. Very slow going because of the road conditions out of Liuwa and the 2 ferries. We managed to get away by 6H20. Weaver kept us waiting 15min, no-one is perfect!

    We drove out past Kwala camp (GPS S14 49,149 E22 40,929). The 10km between the 2 camps took 35min, giving an indication of the road condition. Lots of deep sand around Kwala but with the tyres deflated to 1,6 bar in front and 1,8 back we now floated over the sand. Mike had asked me to take up the rear in the convoy, more a reflection on my Landcruiser’s ability than mine. After Kwala one leaves the plains of the park entering the woodlands and windy more sandy roads. No game was seen in the wooded areas at all at this time of the year.

    I then suffered my only, but fortunately minor, mishap of the trip. An overhanging branch knocked the cap off one of the full jerry cans on my roof-rack. Fortunately I heard the impact and saw diesel pouring down the side of the vehicle in my wing mirror. By the time I had stopped and re-secured the cap, the back of the vehicle was a real mess with about 5l of diesel lost. Fortunately none of it entered the vehicle. As usual Tony had a solution for me. He has learned from bitter experience and always secures the cap in position with duct tape as well, as I now did and this will now become standard operating procedure.

    We saw only 2 other vehicles in the park. The first was a tourist 4X4 in the distance as we were entering and the second was a parks Cruiser bakkie on the way out.

    Kalabo pontoon was reached 33km and 2hr later. This time both ramps were intact and no complicated mid-river turning of the ferry was required. The group crossed in 45min (compared to 100min on the way in). Reached Lealui ferry after 80km and 4hr 15min from our camp at Kwala. Here it took us about 90min to all complete the crossing, exactly the same time as taken on the way in. There was a delay before embarking due to an ancient, heavily loaded truck getting stuck in the loose sand on the steep uphill and blocking our access to the ferry. Success eventually after using a crowbar and some tools, they seemed to manually engage some sort of difflock. Mongu was the next destination reached. Kwala camp (Liuwa) to Mongu took us about 7hr to cover only 107km. (This had taken us almost 2hr longer on the way in to Liuwa).

    Refueled at Mongu which is the regional centre and a town of substance, with most facilities a traveller might need. We exchanged US$ to Kwacha at the Standard Charted Bank at a rate of 5005K TO 1US$, which seemed reasonable. The teller was very friendly and helpful and the transaction did not take too much time at all. Others in the group withdrew Kwacha from ATMs from Barclays and Standard Charter, both on the main road. We then drove to the Shoprite 2,8 km from Barclays, down the main road. It is well signposted with a turnoff to the left and is about 700m after the turnoff. It is at GPS S15 17,195 E 23 9,034. This large store has the usual range of South African type goods, although their meat section did not look too savoury. We bought some fresh tomatoes and veggies, fresh rolls and bread as well as some beers. I was really enjoying the Mosi beer. It was very hot here, the temperature reaching 40 C. A police block was present just out of town, they checked the first 2 vehicle’s papers and then waved the rest of us through.

    We were now on a new route, the M9 to Lusaka. The road was very good, although it had no markings and the occasional shallow pothole. We were just waved through at the next police road block, this was the usual procedure. Elsewhere, when occasionally stopped, driver’s licences were checked, on 2 occasions our insurance was checked and once we were put the whole roadworthy check; headlights ,flickers, brake lights etc. Throughout the entire trip, on only one occasion was there any sort of officious attitude. We always place all our receipts, documents, certified copies in a flip file and hand this over for the official to page through. I do not recall seeing a single speed trap in Zambia, not even on the Great North Road later in the trip. There were no signs of any bribery or corruption.

    At Kafue National Park( KNP), the M9 passes through the middle of the park from west to east, dividing it by convention into northern and southern parts. The suggested speed limit here is 80km/hr but it was already dark and with Mike setting the pace we sped along at a slightly faster pace. What could have come over the man (MikeAG), who became so incensed by the road kills caused here by speeding vehicles, that he sourced and supplied reconditioned radar guns from the U.K. for use by local traffic officials to prevent speeding on this section of the road through the park. There are no fences at all. We saw very little wild life at that time of the night. Andre was lucky enough to see a Cheetah on a fresh kill right next to the road when he passed through earlier that afternoon. No, I have not seen the pictures yet!

    An amusing road sign stated “Wavy road, reduce speed to 20km/hr”. The road crosses over the HookBridge before reaching the well signposted turnoff to Mukambi Lodge to the south. (GPS S14 57,579 E25 59,722). The lodge is reached about 2km down this good dirt road. After a very warm welcome from Jaques van Heerden and Linda, we set off for the nearby old campsite and set up camp for the night. We found Andre and Riana already happily ensconced in one of the new super luxurious pre-erected tents and Peter and Erica already well set up in camp. We were very weary after our 14hr drive, the only marathon of the group part of the trip.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Katuyana camp Liuwa.jpg 
Views:	145 
Size:	177.1 KB 
ID:	178859   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Ablutions Katumayo.jpg 
Views:	150 
Size:	168.0 KB 
ID:	178860   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Vastness of Liuwa Plains.jpg 
Views:	160 
Size:	75.7 KB 
ID:	178861   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Zebra in north of Park.jpg 
Views:	243 
Size:	154.5 KB 
ID:	178862   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Prelude to the migration.jpg 
Views:	141 
Size:	89.2 KB 
ID:	178863   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Group and zebra herd.jpg 
Views:	147 
Size:	138.4 KB 
ID:	178864   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Hyena at Pelican Pan.jpg 
Views:	142 
Size:	138.5 KB 
ID:	178865   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Cooling off Pelican Pan.jpg 
Views:	136 
Size:	118.4 KB 
ID:	178866  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Small section of crane flocks.jpg 
Views:	237 
Size:	73.9 KB 
ID:	178867   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Approaching the treeline.jpg 
Views:	147 
Size:	133.8 KB 
ID:	178868   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Sandy track through miombo.jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	158.0 KB 
ID:	178869   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Leaving Lyangu Camp at sunrise.jpg 
Views:	131 
Size:	104.6 KB 
ID:	178870   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Engaging diff-lock at Lealui ferry.jpg 
Views:	155 
Size:	124.3 KB 
ID:	178871  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/24 at 10:00 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  9. #329
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    Trip report: Zambia

    DAY 10: FRIDAY 5/10/2012.
    Mukambi lodge.

    This was a well deserved rest day for the group and little was done except for taking the opportunity to wash some clothes and other general housekeeping. I woke up with the birds as usual and spent some time birding productively along the riverine trees on the banks of the Kafue. This is when I spotted my very first Ross’s turaco. Most of us availed ourselves of Linda’s kind offer of a full English buffet breakfast at the lodge for only 10US$. Well worth it! Campers are welcome to have meals at the lodge if prearranged and depending on lodge occupancy.

    MUKAMBI LODGE:(Jaques and Linda van Heerden -Thirstie on the forum)

    I would unreservedly rate this as the best venue from which to base an exploration of the Kafue area. It is situated just outside KNP with the advantage that no park fees are due unless you actually go into the park. It is open all year and is linked to Lusaka 3hrs away by the excellent M9 national road. It lies in a game management area (GMA) named Mumbwa. This was the largest lodge we visited and is busy with almost 30 beds. The lodge itself consists of a central complex with very smart African-chic décor. It consists of a reception area, public toilets, a lounge and the nearby pub. A triple story thatch-roofed wooden deck is on the river and the dining area is adjacent. These are all open plan with a great view of the nearby river. There is also a fairly large pool area with an open-air braai. There is lots of lovely indigenous teak used throughout. Nothing rustic about this at all but it has a relaxed informal feel to it. In front of the lodge is a jetty where the barge and boats for use on the Kafue are moored. There is a family cottage and also about 8 rondavels with en suite facilities. The rondavels are placed just back of the riverine trees. The old campsite and where the old pre-erected tents were, is undergoing considerable change. Four large ultra-smart meru type tents on platforms were nearly all completed and some were already in use and this is where Andre and Riana stayed. We could thus have a very good look at these very tasteful units. They have a lovely deck overhanging the river bank and they are set amongst the magnificent riverine trees. The deck has an outdoor bath tub and the tent is fronted by large sliding glass doors leading onto the deck. The wooden furniture is made from the wood of decommissioned Tanzanian dhows. Linda envisages these mainly being used as part of a Busanga Plains package. She estimates the approximate price to be R1200 for 2 per night including 3 meals per day at the lodge within easy walking distance. I think that any activities will be extra. The rondavels are at roughly the same price of about US$150.

    Although it is on the opposite bank (east) to the unfenced KNP, plenty of animals wander around the property. The star of the show is Basil, a large male hippo that has taken refuge in the lodge grounds after persecution by the dominant male in the river. Although he wanders about unconcerned by the presence of humans, all are advised to steer a wide berth. There are puku grazing behind the lodge, warthogs wander around, elephants often pass through and 2 nights before we arrived, lions moved through.

    Mukambi offers guided walks and drives in KNP, just a short boat trip away across the river. They were seeing good numbers of predators and even wild dogs. Boat cruises and fishing on the river are also available. Only bream and catfish, but no tiger fish, are present on the Kafue. We were so busy that we had no time to do any of these activities.

    A new campsite will be open for use by Easter 2013 and is situated about one and a half km upstream. It will have excellent facilities with lapas, flush toilets and hot showers. Jaques plans to have a boat stationed here for river trips.

    Mukambi is owned by Dutch national living in Lusaka, Edjan van der Heide and he seems happy to continue to invest more money into this facility. Jaques and Linda van Heerden are the experienced management duo and the whole team is actively involved in the promotion and management of KNP. They are now looking into establishing some sort of a fly camp across the river in the park. More friendly, helpful and knowledgeable people than Jaques and Linda will not easily be found. They were particularly proud to be hosting this forum trip. Mike has become a close friend of theirs over the years. Their main assistant is Victor Shibomba, another expert on all things Kafue, he takes over management duties if the van Heerdens are away.

    This was the first of 3 nights we were to spend at Mukambi. It acted as our headquarters in our journey all over the Kafue area. Andre and Riana spent even longer here and could not sing Mukambi’s praises loudly enough. We were very kindly allowed to set up camp in the old camp site and use the ablution block, which was great despite the building activities. We were generously not billed at all for any of these nights. That night we heard lions roaring and hyenas calling from both sides of the river and one has to be wary when walking about in the dark.

    CONTACT:
    Reservations: info@mukambi.com
    Website: www.mukambi.com
    Phone: Reservations only: 0974424013 (office hours but 7 days/week)
    Lodge: 0971884339


    DAY 11: SATURDAY 6/10/2012.
    Mukambi lodge To Konkamoya Lodge via the southern Spinal Road.

    Distance covered: 158km Time taken: 7hr 40 min

    To travel the spinal road and stay at Konkamoya we had to pay park fees at Mukambi. There is a Zambian Wildlife Association (ZAWA) official stationed there for this purpose. One cannot make this payment on arrival at Konkamoya as you will be fined if found travelling through KNP without the required proof of payment. We paid the following amounts. Not only would we be travelling through the park but Konkamoya is in the park itself.

    Park entry K316,800 (R500)=R125pppn.
    Bed levy K158,400 (R250)=R60pppn.
    Vehicle K158,400.=R125/day.

    These fees are quite steep but are cheap compared to those in Tanzania. Linda pointed out that there had been no increase for the last few years and that there was a possibility that they might even be reduced for 2013.

    Spinal Route: (south)

    This new southern Spinal Route is along the western bank of the Kafue river, traversing the southern half of KNP. It had been opened for just over a month and construction was far from complete. Access to the length of KNP had now been opened to self drivers and this part of the trip had been keenly anticipated by us. The opening of this road had been received by mixed feelings by some with vested interests. Certainly those at Mukambi and Kaingu regarded it as a constructive move. Other than attracting more self-drive tourists to KNP it is thought that it would decrease the level of poaching in the park. The community would also benefit from the establishment of 2 possible community camps on the western banks of the Kafue River. Unfortunately Herr Mike went soft on us at this stage and we only set off at about 11H00. He felt that after our arduous travelling of the last few days, we deserved a bit of a late start. Only mad dogs and Englishmen……………

    It was decided that we were too large a convoy for effective game viewing and the group of 6 vehicles was split into two, with the bird watchers likely to stop frequently for every LBJ, bringing up the rear. This was one of the very few disappointments of the trip. The game viewing was poor. This was in contrast to reports from the Mukambi game drives in the general area, which had been very productive. I had visited Southern KNP about 10 years previously, as a small part of a longer trip and the general absence and skittishness of the animals then had been remarkable. Stories abounded then of government officials shooting large numbers of game to provide meat for the army and high levels of poaching prevailed. At that time KNP had not been accorded the conservation emphasis enjoyed by South Luangwa. By general consensus this situation is rapidly improving and was particularly remarked on by Tony. Be that as it may, Southern KNP will remain a disappointment for those expecting wild animal encounters around every corner. Rather expect to enjoy the Miombo woodlands and the views of the lovely Kafue River. I think the animals are at present still avoiding the area of the Spinal Road because of the road building activities and our viewing was undoubtedly affected because we travelled in the heat of an October midday. (Mad dogs!) Miombo woodlands mean tsetse flies and those without aircon suffered, either from the heat with closed windows, or with windows open, the depredations of these voracious pests. It is difficult to remember that they do have some value. Their presence is one of the original reasons that there are conservation areas in Africa. They make large tracts of land unsuitable for cattle because of Nagana, the disease their bites cause in cattle. Fortunately sleeping sickness in humans from their bites is exceptionally rare in most areas.

    The route onto the Spinal Road is a little confusing and we got ourselves slightly lost at first. I am sure that this will be resolved once there is further signposting and T4A have the route mapped. Apparently this route normally takes 5 to 6 hours. Best perhaps to allow up to 7 to enable enough time for lunch and game viewing.

    Directions: From the Mukambi turnoff, turn left (west) onto the A9. After 11km cross the HookBridge and then turn left (south) after a few hundred meters into KNP. GPS: S14 56,606 E25 54,360. Signposted here as Chunga HQ 17km. [Turning to the right (north) here is signposted KafuePark north. This is where we later entered the HookBridge Gate, heading for the Busanga Plains].We got a little lost here ending up driving almost all the way to Chunga.

    -One reaches a crossroad, turn right here, straight takes you to Chunga. GPS: S15 1,337 E25 58,643.
    -3km further on turn left (south) again. GPS S15 01,228 E25 56,939.
    This was now the spinal road and the better quality of the completed part of the new road is almost immediately evident with good cambering and decent culverts. Work is still being done on the road, mainly on culverts and causeways over water courses. We took a track towards the river where we had lunch and rested in the shade of the trees on the river bank. We took some pictures of a hippo grazing on the opposite bank. It was very hot, almost reaching 40 C. Just north of the beginning of the Itehzi-Tezhi dam, the road becomes a poor 2 track. Near the dam our park permits were checked at a checkpoint. Lots of work still needs to be completed on the spinal road further south. When complete this is going to be a high quality dirt road, probably usable all times of the year. For much of the route there were plenty tsetse flies. The woodland was fairly monotonous, not relieved by the relative paucity of wildlife. I think that this drive will be more worthwhile in the early morning. Unfortunately the Kafue river is out of view for much of the route, unlike the River Road on the east bank, that we were to drive later. I would suggest that both routes be driven as part of a trip to and from the south of KNP. The final approaches to Konkamoya Lodge were a little confusing, but T4A certainly knew the way. Konka is better signposted from the cordon road from the south and from Itehzi-Tezhi, than from the new spinal road but I am sure this will be rectified soon. Basically one turns off to the left at GPS S15 52,038 E25 52.980. The signposts read Konkamoya/Howard Cooke Safaris (it’s old name). GPS co-ords for Konkamoya: S15 52,038 E25 52,980. Their presently defunct campsite is signposted Hippo Bay, a couple of km further on.

    Poor Peter Hutchinson broke a leaf-spring on his trailer about 10 to 15km from the camp but managed to limp into camp with us, after we slowed our already slow pace even further. This proved a real setback for their trip. The leaf-spring was removed that night and they later drove through to Lusaka the next day to have a new one made. They stored the trailer at the lodge. This all took time and we were to meet up with them at Kaingu again on the 15th, more than a week later. Peter will no doubt give his account once he returns from his long trip, including South Luangwa, Mana Pools and other areas in Zimbabwe. I am confident that the rest of their trip would prove to be incident free. We as a group were very impressed with Peter’s phlegmatic approach to this setback.

    Wildlife seen included the following. Puku and impala (but not in great numbers), some hippos in the river, a solitary kudu cow and some warthogs. Gratifying to see was a decent breeding herd of elephant and a solitary bull. Andre was a little ahead of us and was revved by a large herd of elephant near Konka, probably the same herd we were to see at the lake the following day. The elephant were gratifying as some years ago they were a rarity in the south. A truer perspective of the wildlife population was obtained the next day on our drive to Ngoma teak forest.

    After a marathon drive, which we started too late and we took too slowly initially, we arrived at Konka at nearly 19H00 and had to set up camp in the dark. Konka had agreed to let us camp in a treed area adjacent to the main lodge, because as mentioned the campsite at Hippo Bay was not operational. Apparently this was due to theft of their water pump at the camp some time before. This could have been rapidly rectified if the desire had been there. In mitigation of our later woes here, they had initially inaccurately informed Mike, when he was attempting to book, that a group had booked out the entire lodge and campsite for their exclusive usage. They later under pressure agreed to the above arrangement, possibly only to protect their concession agreement. This usually has a prerequisite that the lodge and campsite cannot only be for the exclusive use of the owner and his friends and must be available for tourists. This was the only lodge that gave us any form of trouble in Zambia.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mukambi entrance.jpg 
Views:	141 
Size:	169.7 KB 
ID:	178872   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Linda and Mike.jpg 
Views:	146 
Size:	91.6 KB 
ID:	178873   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Deck at Mukambi.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	124.9 KB 
ID:	178874   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Guys and gals on deck.jpg 
Views:	155 
Size:	120.0 KB 
ID:	178875   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	New luxury tents.jpg 
Views:	152 
Size:	165.9 KB 
ID:	178876   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Construction on Spinal Road.jpg 
Views:	140 
Size:	133.6 KB 
ID:	178877   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Elephant on Spinal Road.jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	225.7 KB 
ID:	178878   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Hippo on Spinal Road.jpg 
Views:	138 
Size:	164.1 KB 
ID:	178879  

    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/24 at 10:09 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  10. #330
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    Trip report: Zambia(contd).

    DAY 12: SUNDAY 7/10/2012.
    Konkamoya Lodge.

    This camp until fairly recently was known as Cooke’s Camp and is still labelled as such on many maps and guide books. As I understand it, an Italian Andreas Porros, a frequent visitor, bought a substantial share in this concession within KNP. He is apparently of considerable financial means and is a photographer of some repute. Old man Cooke is no longer alive and ill health has befallen his wife. The son Chris, well known and liked in Zambia, is at present guiding in the Spiny Desert in southern Madagascar. He has had to leave Zambia for a while. He cannot afford to be exposed to malaria for medical reasons. It has apparently been since his absence that things are changing at Konkamoya. I do not think the Cooke family will be happy if they realise what may be happening here.

    The evening before we had met the new Italian manageress of the lodge, Lara who had taken over only 10 days before. She is a travel journalist and is a close friend of Andreas. Andreas was in Lusaka and we only had contact with him the following day. Lara spoke expansively of extensions to the lodge with the erection of further luxury tents on the edge of the lake and mentioned the fact that they hoped to have the campsite at Hippo Bay functioning by the end of the rains.

    The lodge is set on a promontory on the south western edge of Lake Itehzi-Tezhi and has an expansive view. This is a substantial lake on the Kafue River and the shoreline waters are studded with dead trees and attendant fish eagles reminiscent of Kariba. There is a raised dining room and bar in a rather strange building style which is a recent addition. There are a number of chalet tents set under trees on the lake shore. Andre seemed suitably impressed with theirs.

    From our temporary campsite we had access to 2 toilets and showers set in the back of the lodge’s main building. These were more than adequate. On arrival the path to the ablutions was illuminated by a long length of LED strip lights with paraffin lamps burning at the doors to the ablutions. By the next night these had all disappeared. The ablutions were lighted by 2 low voltage bulbs. The relevance of these details will emerge as I explain the background to the very unpleasant fallout that developed with Mr. Porras later. All electricity in the lodge was from solar power.

    Anne followed Tony’s example and arranged that a staff member from the lodge did some washing of clothes for us at an agreed fee. This staff member was only too pleased at the prospect of earning some extra money on what he said was his day off. I was having trouble maintaining a decent charge in my auxiliary battery for running my freezer which was full of meat. In trying to solve my problem I spoke to Antonio, a friend and guest of the lodge owner. He was very helpful indeed and took me to a building where a deep cycle battery was being charged from a generator. The generator was being run to enable some workmen with electrical tools to carry out some building tasks nearby. Antonio indicated that the generator would be running for some 3 hours and requested that I stop using the battery before the genny was switched off. I was most grateful and offered to pay which he dismissed. I left my vehicle idling nearby to charge my battery and removed the fridge later exactly as arranged. Peter went to the kitchen area to fill a 10l container with water as he could not use the basin taps in the ablutions. Lara gave him a thousand words for intruding into the lodges private area. She was not interested in Peter’s explanation that he was only there as there were no taps in our camping area. This is the first indication we had that things were turning sour. Andreas had returned from Lusaka and apparently did not approve of some of the things he saw happening. Lara later accosted some of the wives accusing us of running the solar batteries flat because we left the lights on in the ablutions overnight. Patently ridiculous that 2 low energy light bulbs could do this. We were also told that we were not to pay the staff member for the washing done and had to instead pay her directly, when settling the rest of our bills. That evening when Mike went to sort out the outstanding bills the unpleasantness came to a head. Andreas and Lara could not have been more unpleasant and rude. Suddenly the price negotiated with the worker for the washing was almost doubled and I had to pay a substantial fee for running my fridge. The accusation about wasting electricity was repeated. Nonplussed Mike returned to explain the position to us. Then some members of the group went back to the lodge and retaliated verbally about the shabby treatment we had received. Apparently some got quite hot under the collar as is to be expected with Mediterranean temperaments. I was not there but I gather that some press cards were flashed. We were determined not to be shown in a bad light and settled the grossly unfair bills in full. This was the only unpleasantness we experienced whilst in Zambia. Our side of the story upset other lodge owners when the subject was brought up with them later. This attitude from Andreas was difficult to understand, except for a possible explanation that he perhaps regards this lodge as a private playground for himself and his friends. He apparently does not need the money he could earn from the lodge. Perhaps the only reason he tolerates paying guests at the lodge is to comply with the requirements of the concession agreement. Our whole group agreed that we should air this shabby treatment as widely as possible.

    Disagreements aside, Konkamoya added a different slant to our trip. It was good to visit the southern section of KNP and the setting on the edge of the lake was outstanding. Experienced members of the group suggest staying at New Kalala camp rather, at the end of the spinal road. Certainly the reception from Konka was so bad that I would never stay there again. Once their campsite reopens others might want to ignore this advice, it lies in a spectacular area and is a very convenient spot to end the Spinal Route drive.

    Mike was concerned about the long and slow drive to McBrides and held a meeting amongst the group. None wanted to stop over before McBrides or shorten our stay there. We all resolved to rather be up by 05H00 and to be on the road by 06H00.

    We had a day of leisure before us. Other than game drives there are 2 other outings in this vicinity. Dave and Judy elected to visit the well known David Shepherd Elephant Orphanage. This is about an hours drive from Konka and the Pretorious’s found it very worthwhile. This project is co-sponsored by Game Rangers International and is aimed at nurturing orphaned elephants and returning them back into the wild in KNP. A guided tour is conducted at the facility during feeding time from 11H30. Some of the calves were still being fed milk via bottles. No visitor interaction is allowed with the calves. The visit can be arranged via any of the local lodges.

    We elected to visit Ngoma teak forest. We set off with Tony and Mike sharing our vehicle, with Terry and Margaret in tow. This was a very worthwhile excursion taking about 3hr, not only visiting the forest but also to explore the area south west of the lake. I returned from this outing with a much more favourable impression of the wildlife in southern KNP. The areas fringing the lake are very appealing with lovely mature miombo woodland. The game viewing was more impressive both in variety and numbers. We saw a number of elephants both bulls and breeding herds. Also seen were the Defassa variant of waterbuck, which do not have the usual white ring around their rear, but a solid white marking. We took different routes there and back, the most attractive being the lakeside loops. Decent enough game densities with puku and impala being the most common.

    At one stage I stopped and left the vehicle to see what a few vultures were busy with on the ground. This was an almost complete, fairly fresh pangolin carcass minus the head. Oh to see one of these alive!

    The Ngoma teak forest is well marked on T4A and is also well signposted. It lies near the Ngoma southern KNP HQ. The turnoff from the road to the HQ is at GPS S15 57,0765 E 25 56,877. This is one of the few remaining teak forests, the wood now referred to as Zambian Teak (formerly Rhodesian Teak) known universally for its dark beauty and hardness. This forest is made up of dense mature trees reaching up to 20m in height and stretching for an estimated 5km. These forests are severely threatened from over harvesting. The narrow road passes through the centre of the forest which presented an unusual appearance. The trees were all without any leaves in October and were quite an eerie spectacle. It must be wonderful to visit when they are in full leaf, especially when the foliage is still fairly young. There are plenty of tsetses.

    The birding in the Konka area was pretty good and noteworthy birds seen were: bearded scrub robin nesting with chicks in a crevasse in a tree right adjacent to Tony’s tent, common scimitarbill, marico sunbird, tropical boubou, yellow-tailed woodpecker and flights of saddle-billed storks.

    During our last evening we were honoured by a visit from a breeding herd of over 30 elephant. They proceeded along the water’s edge and on nearing the lodge took a route behind the lodge in the dense trees surrounding the lodge. Their nearby passage was marked by the normal sound of branches being broken off from the dense trees as they fed their way past the camp. Once past they warily found their way onto the open aspect of the lakeside grass as they made their way to drink at the water’s edge.

    COSTS:

    US$ 20pppn.
    Washing: K100,000 as agreed with worker +K60,000 added on by lodge. (Total R250!!!)
    Electricity for generator and running freezer FOR 3hr: K60,000 (R95).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Chilling Konkamoya.jpg 
Views:	158 
Size:	211.8 KB 
ID:	178893   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Konkamoya campsite.jpg 
Views:	148 
Size:	177.5 KB 
ID:	178894   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	View of lake in front of camp.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	49.6 KB 
ID:	178895   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Sunset over Lake Ithezi thezi.jpg 
Views:	141 
Size:	39.7 KB 
ID:	178896   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Ngoma teak forest.jpg 
Views:	145 
Size:	232.4 KB 
ID:	178897   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Pangolin carcass.jpg 
Views:	155 
Size:	237.7 KB 
ID:	178898  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/21 at 10:28 PM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  11. #331
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    Forum Zambian trip: OCT 2012.


    DAY 13: MONDAY 8/10/2012.
    Konkamoya Lodge to McBride’s Camp.

    Distance covered: 325 km Time taken: 10hr 45 min

    Managed to all pack up camp, shower and leave by 6H05 as we had a long day ahead. Such discipline really pleased us all.

    Directions to McBrides:

    Drive directly east towards the Cordon Road between Dundumwezi Gate and Itehzi-Tezhi. Use the same road initially as when driving into Konka. Proceed past the sign to Hippo Bay campsite 2km down the road. About 500m later a crossroads is reached, cross straight over, continuing in an easterly direction before turning left after about 5km. The signposts pointing in the direction you have come indicate Howard Cooke Safaris and HippoBay Campsite. Then drive another approximate 5km and turn left, directly away from the sign to Konkamoya and HippoBay. This road now bypasses the southern park HQ at Ngoma. About 5km further on you will pass the sign indicating the ZAWA campsite turnoff, continue straight on. This is a reasonable 2 track road and 30-40km/hr is a comfortable speed. Turn left at a sign showing Itehzi-Tezhi and Musugwa to the left and Dundumwezi to the right. This second turn to the left is about 7km from the first one. This is now the Cordon Road running across South KNP in a north-easterly direction. Continue north on this road alongside the power lines. This road is relatively heavily utilised and is very corrugated in places. It runs along the north-eastern boundary of KNP and there were few if any animals to be seen. Musa Gate is where you leave KNP about 9km after joining the Cordon Road.

    Now turn right at the fork and keep right at the next junction about 1,2km after the gate, passing the turnoff to New Kalala Lodge. One passes one of the construction depots for the Itehzi-Tezhi Hydroelectric Scheme and can now see the impressive dam wall. Next you join the tarred road over the dam wall with a lovely view over the dam. Soon you are on dirt again and pass through the town of Itehzi-Tezhi. One is now on the notorious deteriorated tar road that nearly broke my suspension 10 years ago. Fortunately most of the tar is now gone and the road is consequently very much better and one can travel at a comfortable 40 to 50km/hr. There are still occasional residual patches of tar visible but no gigantic craters as in the past. The southern end of the Kafue river road, most of which we would later take to Kaingu, is passed at S15 36,007 E26 5,184. We are taking the direct route on the so-called Itehzi-Tezhi road today as we have a long way to go to McBrides. The road improves gradually allowing speeds of 60km/hr. We pass the turnoff to Kaingu and Puku Lodges at S15 17,909 E26 14,157. You are now driving through GMAs.

    The road now proceeds back towards KNP and one enters the Mumbwa GMA at Magwengwa gate. This section of the road turned out to be much better than feared thanks to a fairly recent grading. We reach the junction with the M9 tar road between Mongu and Lusaka again at S14 58,280 E26 27,087, 4hr 20min after leaving Konka.

    Turn right (east) towards Lusaka on the M9. Be aware of rumble strips and speed humps on this section of road which is still in the KNP. They are signposted but are easy to miss. Pass through Nalusanga Foot and Mouth barrier where they merely note all registrations. No discussions about meat at all. One turns left (north) off the M9 about 48km later to enter the town of Mumbwa. This has taken us 5hr 40min for the 215km from Konka. There is a police check on the way into Mumbwa, no problems, they just check our driver’s licences. It is important for some of us to fill up with fuel in Mumbwa as this is the last fuel to McBrides. I am fine with more than ¾ of a tank but decide to top up in any case. There is only one fuel station here which often runs out of fuel, the tanker usually comes on a Wednesday, so that we were assured of fuel on the way back. Proceed down the main road and turn left at the circle for this Total fuel station (S14 59,457 E27 03,617). We later learn that if needed one can drive 40km further east on the M9 towards Lusaka where there is a reliable fuel station (which we later used on the way to Kasanka). Ngucha fuel station (S15 7,955 E27 21,91).

    At the Mumbwa fuel station we experienced the only scam encountered by us in Zambia. The station was out of fuel. I checked and the locals were also being turned away. Black market hustlers immediately surrounded our vehicles in throngs, offering to sell us petrol or diesel at the pump price which we checked on the empty pumps. How can they possibly make a profit at the same price for which they also buy the fuel? Easy, they supply false volumes plus they dilute the fuel with paraffin. I actually saw them doing this when we stopped on the way back. No problem, my 76 series Cruiser can run on cooking oil. They offered to sell each of us 30l. I realised the volumes were probably short but was too lazy to get a jerry can from the top of my vehicle, empty it into my fuel tank and then check their volumes by filling it to its 20l capacity. I purchased “30l” at the pump price. With all the noughts involved it is fairly difficult to calculate prices in Kwacha, so I got Anne to check on her cell phone calculator. I nearly klapped the hustler when he came up with exactly double our calculated price. His lame excuse was that he thought I was also paying for my ”friend’s” fuel. Scam no 3. I think Terry was the only one checking volumes by filling a jerry can and confirmed that their volumes were well short. This is not an easy situation, it was boiling hot and it all was a scene of confusion with numbers of these hustlers milling about. You have to keep your wits about you. Watch your vehicle carefully as there are lots of inquisitive eyes looking at your goods. Andre has a petrol engine and was involved in a fairly tense situation where payment was being demanded at twice the original price quoted. Mike stepped into the breach and calmly pointed out to the racketeers that the petrol was in the tank already and could not be taken out, did they agree? They did. He then pointed out that the amount of money he was going to hand over was the original quoted amount, take it or leave it. Whatever they said would not matter as we would be leaving whether they accepted the payment or not. Defeated by a pale-faced man with a funny accent and a white long-sleeved cricket shirt! I was proud of you Mike! It is important for the whole group to stick together in this situation and watch each others backs. Anne was able to cool me down with a cold Coke bought from the small garage shop. Apparently there are also fairly frequent electricity outages and these crooks swing into action again as soon as the fuel pumps cannot deliver.

    I used this time to also drive down the main road looking for a deep cycle battery as I was having trouble running my freezer. Tony jumped into the car with me and immediately displayed his trans-african nous by finding the most prominent Indian general dealer and tapping his knowledge of businesses in this small town. This man immediately knew what a deep cycle battery was and assured us that there were only ordinary car batteries for sale in the town. After checking at a few small motor spares dealers we concluded that he was correct. Just as well because it later turned out that it was not the battery that was at fault. Mumbwa is a dusty little town with multiple small general dealer shops and some small motor spare outlets. Many of the shops are owned by Indians. The streets are teaming with people. As in any populated area we made sure that all our doors were centrally locked when wending our way slowly through the vibrant chaos.

    One then proceeds down this main road onto a very uneven dirt road, through throngs of people and lots of informal trader kiosks on both sides of the road. After about 1,3km you turn right onto the Kasempa road to Mushingashi , McBrides and Hippo Lodge, not that it is signposted. We drove this road very carefully as this is where Bertie (Mfuwefarmer) wrote off his trailer. This road does need to be driven carefully and slowly but it is no worse than my yardstick, the average Transkei dirt road down to the coast. We were able to drive at 30-40km/hr. At about 35km and 90min from Mumbwa it forks, take the left hand fork (S14 45,599 E26 54,376). We were now about 65km from McBrides. Next you pass through the Chalanta Gate and are entering the GMA area (2hrs and about 50km from Mumbwa). Here we only had to sign the register. The 2 entrances to Mushingashi were passed shortly thereafter. The one closest to McBrides is for visitors to use. There is a sign indicating that we were also heading towards Lubungu Pontoon and the lodges on the other side of the Kafue river to McBrides. On the way in we saw sable antelope in the woodlands of the Mushingashi GMA, apparently this is often the case. We officially entered KNP at the Kabalushi Gate (S14 40,727 E26 39,33), there was no-one manning the gate (2hr 25min and 68km from Mumbwa). One reaches a signposted fork about 19km after the gate, right is to Kafue River Camp and Leopard Lodge, left is to McBrides and Hippo Lodge. The road is now a 2 tracker in surprisingly good condition. There are 2 further signposted left forks to take at 33,8 and 36km from Kabalushi gate. At the lodge, the turnoff to the campsite is on the right but we reported to the lodge 10hr45min and 326km after leaving Konka. (4hr and 106km after Mumbwa). We arrived at just before 17H00, plenty of time to set up camp in daylight despite our earlier fears. The prompt early start had certainly helped. On the approaches into the Camp there were plenty of wide open plains and some of the dambos still had water. Saw plenty of puku, impala and baboons. These are yellow baboons and are slightly different to our chacma baboons with a yellowish colouration and are generally smaller with clearly smaller heads. On the McBrides website at www.mcbrides.camp.com there are very detailed directions with distances and GPS points. (Campsite, S15 02,420 E26 59,376)

    Chris McBride was there to greet us warmly and make us feel welcome in this rather remote camp. The remoteness is one of the attractions. There are very few roads here and no other people other than the handful of guests. He was obviously pleased to meet up with Mike and Tony again. His off-beat sense of humour and quirky mannerisms took some getting used to. He looked exactly like his photographs, tall and thin with a grey beard. Certainly he is the type of character that grows on one. There is nothing conventional about him or his wacky sense of humour and irreverent attitude. His love for his concession and his passion for and knowledge of the African wilds is immediately and patently obvious. I managed to pluck up courage and was pleased when he graciously agreed to store my meat from the failing vehicle freezer. Their resources are limited here and I was really grateful for this arrangement. They were busy emptying the lodge of guests as they were beginning to build a new kitchen hut, the previous one having recently burnt down accidentally by Charlotte. The very first thing he showed us was a set of lion tracks in the sand at the lodge from the night before. To preserve them especially for us he had covered them with a dish. After some tea we were directed to the shady campsite about 3 to 400m away upstream, also close to the Kafue River bank.



    MCBRIDES’ CAMP: (and Chris and Charlotte).

    When it comes to safari venues McBrides goes to the top of the tree, not for the smartest décor, nor the best food, or the best campsite, but for the best atmosphere and the richest personalities. I could happily have spent 2 weeks here. We just scraped the surface during the 3 nights we spent here. We did not go for a walk on the eastern side of the Kafue with Chris; we did not go for a walk with Charlotte at all; we did not go birding with Charlotte; we did not do enough river drifts and we did not visit their fly camp where the buffalo roam, about 14km downstream reached by boat or by hiking.

    Chris grew up near Timbavati and has spent much of his life in the bush. He is a serious scholar and has a Masters Degree based on Lion research. He has published a number of books including the well known White Lions of the Timbavati. He is not young anymore and may be in his early 70’s. Despite his relative age he remains a live-wire and maintains a keen interest in everything going on around him. Some misguided person had recently given him the Monty Python DVD. This has lead to a plethora of goonish quotes and takeoffs at the strangest times. These eccentricities take a little getting used to. His quirky sense of humour is illustrated by the following which have stuck in my memory. When asked what had happened to the old barge, he admitted that it had sunk in the river. He could not resist adding “the cries of the unfortunate guests as they were taken one by one by crocodiles, were piteous.” Another that sticks is his discussion of the new name for a Heuglin’s robin, he dismisses this, saying it will always remain a Heuglin’s to him despite the new name the CNA (bookshop) had given it!

    He specialises in bushwalks and in a patient, almost old fashioned way he explains in interesting detail the many fascinating natural phenomena stumbled upon during a walk. He carries a rifle and has a scout with him, carrying a radio and some juice to drink. He welcomes questions and will tell you if he does not know the answer. There are no embellished or second hand details here. I have only been on one walk with Chris and am therefore only able to comment on what I experienced. He seemed to latch onto various themes as he goes along. One of them was animal droppings. I now know that one can judge the age of an elephant from its dung. Older elephant begin to loose their teeth and their dung contains more grass than bark and branches. I saw the difference between the droppings of wild pigs and warthogs and was shown the amazing size and diameter of the droppings of a relatively small animal, the civet. It is fascinating to sift through its droppings to discover how omnivorous it is. The scats of meat eating predators are exceptionally offensive to the nose as demonstrated by our examination of those of a lion. These walks are slow wanderings and explorations of the bush environment and if it is hot and people are tired, a vehicle can be called on the radio to pick you up and save a long hot walk back. If there are lions in the vicinity Chris will usually try and find them on the walk. He is very proud of the fact that many of the animals such as puku, impala and warthog are becoming habituated to walkers and allow an approach of about 40m before showing any signs of dismay. These 3 to 4hr walks cost K128,500 (R200).

    Charlotte was brought up in Zambia and has also spent long periods of her life in the bush. She also takes visitors out on walks and has more of a birding slant. She apparently only has a few years of formal schooling behind her. However she is very bright, articulate and well read, as evidenced by the fact that she worked for Christies in London for some years. She is the backbone of the setup here and takes very good care of Chris and their guests.

    The McBrides are real characters. Many of the creatures living with and around them are given eccentric names. The dark-capped greenbul that drinks the tea milk is Linda. Lucas is the fugitive male hippo (absent temporarily because of the kitchen building activities), Sarah the resident elephant shrew, the genet was Snap. Fritz the tree frog lives in a drawer next to Charlotte’s bed etc.

    The campsite is set amongst shady trees about 300m upstream from the lodge. It lies about 100m from the Kafue river bank and there are often animals visible on the riverine grass in front of camp. Obviously it is not fenced and when walking about especially after dark, it is important to remember that there are dangerous wild animals out there. There were hippos and elephant close to camp at times as well as lions. In and around the camp there was excellent birding.

    Tony and I, with Judy at times, whiled away the quiet times of the day wandering around camp, binoculars in hand. Specials spotted included a few lifers; Bohms bee-eater, nesting in holes in the ground on the periphery of the site; plum-coloured starling, rufous-bellied tit, collared and white-breasted sunbirds, red-throated twinspot, spotted and paradise flycatchers, Meyer’s parrot, crimson-beaked and blue waxbill and lesser honeyguide. Animals seen in camp included an absolute highlight, a pair of shy, rare blue duikers. Bushbuck, with the typical Chobe type colouration, were common around camp, mainly in the evenings. barred owlets and fiery-necked nightjars were calling in the background at night. Terry very kindly offered to have a look at the errant electrics to my vehicle freezer. As usual Mr Fixit had the answer and solution. It was not the deep cycle battery, but a defective split-charge solenoid. A quick bypassing of this solenoid sorted out my freezer and saved our hoard of frozen meat for the rest of the trip. I don’t think I could thank him enough.

    There are 2 ablution blocks with donkey boilers for hot water. Each has a flush toilet, basin and shower. Although rustic they are clean and very functional. They are open air and the walls are constructed from thatched grass. There is also water on tap and a dishwashing area and a separate work surface near the fire pit. Wood is provided. The water is not potable as it is directly from the river. Along with the 8 of us, it also comfortably accommodated 6 others at one stage. Self-drive campers are welcome here but I would suggest an email to warn of the approximate date of your arrival. The other lodges/camps in Zambia are happy to help in this regard if you are staying with them. The campers are welcome to join in on the excursions, but I would expect that if there is a logjam those paying more in the chalets would get preference. If organised in advance Charlotte is happy to have campers for a meal. They do not have enough refrigeration facilities to sell campers cold drinks on any scale.

    Andre and Riana stayed in a chalet and they were the only guests after a day or so, as bookings had been cut back due to the construction of the new hut for a kitchen. There are 7 chalets, pole, reed and thatch structures with mesh windows, en suite open air toilet and shower and a shady front veranda. These are uncluttered, simple and attractive structures blending in very well with the general theme and atmosphere. The thatching is done in the shaggy Zambian manner. When building the lodge about 10 years ago the McBrides stayed at the present campsite and designed the layout of the lodge so as not to disturb the existing game paths. Animals regularly pass through the lodge area. Centrally are the lounge, library and dining area, all under thatch but with no walls. There is an open seating area in front, close to the river with a fire pit, sofas and easy chairs from which to view the nearby river and observe the antics of the large pod of hippos nearby. In the evenings some of these hippos wander on the grass just in front of this area as does Snap.

    Other than walks, a real highlight here are the river “drifts” on the relatively new double story pontoon. These are best in the early morning or perhaps the late afternoons. There are game viewing vehicles but this is not a feature at this lodge. Campers can do self-driving game viewing. If Chris is not happy with your level of experience he may want you to take a guide with for safety. The camp is open all year most years depending on the rains.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Sunrise Lake Ithezi thezi.jpg 
Views:	142 
Size:	53.3 KB 
ID:	178899   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Ithezi thezi wall.jpg 
Views:	144 
Size:	71.8 KB 
ID:	178900   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Remnants of tar on Ithezi road.jpg 
Views:	149 
Size:	111.3 KB 
ID:	178901   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Road to McBrides.jpg 
Views:	142 
Size:	137.2 KB 
ID:	178902  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/24 at 10:27 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  12. #332
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Klipriver
    Age
    56
    Posts
    1,705
    Thanked: 65

    Default

    Hi Stan, First of all thanks for a really fantastic trip report. As stated by you unfortunately amny people had pulled out of the June/July trip forcing the cancelation of the entire trip, I at that time really felt for Mike. We had originally not planned for the Zambia trip but as time progressed I persuaded Sue that it was an opportunity of a lifetimenot to be missed. We went from there all guns blazing to scrape finances together to make it possible. Pumba had a couple of niggles that needed sorting before the trip (and still does), but damn there was no ways I was going to miss this opportunity, this has been a lifelong dream of mine. (exploring Southern Africa)

    I am not the planning sort of person, more like the wake up and "hell lets do it" type of guy. So Mikes work would have helped me perfectly, Damn it man, I would have fed him every day for the effort he put in (Mike you would have gained a couple of kilo's at least)

    Unfortunately the hit the fan a couple of weeks before departure, but Sue and I were hell bent on still being part of it. Sadly this never came to be, and the tears of dissapointment flow ed each time I read the trip reports. However these reports will become our guide when we are in the position to take on this tour.

    If there is any way for me to be able to do it in the company of the "elite" group that we would have been part of, that would be the cherry on the cake. To each and every one that did the trip and held us in their thoughts and prayers, "Thank you, you have given me something to strive for again" I pray that oneday our paths will meet again
    Alan


    _________________
    Range Rover P38

    Defender on Steroid's (Sadly sold)
    Previous: Pajero 3.5 V6 (Gas Guzzler)
    Series 3 109 SW (Tortoise)
    Platkar Ford Fiesta 1.6tdi (Swambo's present)

  13. #333
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Klipriver
    Age
    51
    Posts
    176
    Thanked: 3

    Default

    Stan
    Alan beat me to it but I quote him in many ways but I would like to personally say THANKS for the feedback and what a report, loving every minute of your report and in so much detail.

    This also goes to the rest that was there, your reports, photos and video clips has helped us, and yes we feel we missed out big time but again like you stated and even Mike stated I think we made a very wise choice and did not argue with the doctors and took their advice seriously, and it took Alan a good month odd to get back onto his feet when he came out of the hospital.

    Like Alan stated: “these reports will become our guide when we are in the position to take on this tour”, we will do this trip, maybe not next year but defiantly the year after and like Alan states hopefully one day our paths will meet again. . .
    Sue

    ---------------------
    Platkar Ford Fiesta 1.6tdi
    Defender on Steroid's
    Previous: Pajero 3.5 V6 (Gas Guzzler)
    Series 3 109 SW (Tortoise)

  14. #334
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Cape Town
    Age
    69
    Posts
    2,236
    Thanked: 0

    Default

    Stan

    Thanks for excellent reports . The definitive Zambia 2012 Reports .
    Pleased to see your surgical skills do not always involve blood and gore...

    Cheers
    Dave

  15. #335
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Suffolk, UK
    Age
    56
    Posts
    5,618
    Thanked: 5

    Default

    Fantastic stuff, Stan! Now I know why your note-book was the size of a telephone book!!! Hey, there's some excellent photos, too.

    You might want to reserve a few more spots in the thread with some empty posts, before others dive in.

    Mike
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

    "Mike for President" Freeflyd

  16. #336
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    Forum Zambian Trip. October 2012: (contd).


    DAY 14: TUESDAY 9/10/2012.
    McBride’s Camp.

    We had all booked the early morning pontoon “drift” on the Kafue river, for 06H00 and strolled across to the lodge early enough to have a quick cup of coffee before boarding the large double-decker barge (Fish Eagle) moored at the jetty just in front of the lodge. The camp’s senior guide and a deck hand accompanied us. This early in the morning there was not a breath of wind and the river was as smooth as glass allowing fantastic photo opportunities with everything mirrored in the water. The reflections of the wonderful tall trees lining the banks were crying out to be photographed. Particularly attractive were the intricate roots of the Wild Figs. This “most attractive of African rivers” has many faces and personalities as we were to experience later in other camps such as Mushingashi, Mukambi and Kaingu. This section of the KafueRiver here is wide and placid and fairly shallow with the river bottom clearly visible in many areas. The freshwater mussels that the openbills relish so much were visible in the clear waters of the dry season. The beauty of the Kafue as opposed to the Zambezi is that although a river of substance, nowhere is it so wide that either bank cannot be seen clearly at any stage. Its width is about 50 to 100m. Most of the southerly trip downstream is a silent drift down this gently flowing section. One just senses that any sighting imaginable is waiting just around the next bend. Later in the morning one then slowly motors back upstream.

    The well appointed pontoon has comfortable seating for an estimated 12 people and a veritable library of all the reference books at hand. There is enough room between the seating to move around the deck. There is plenty of orange squash and cold water to help yourself to. One can choose either the upper or lower decks each with its own pros and cons. These trips typically last about 3hr. and evening cruises can also be arranged. For a long cruise such as this the charge is K72,100 pp (R115).

    Animals that I can recall seeing are: Hippos including right in front of the lodge, crocodiles, puku, impala, warthog, bushbuck, vervet monkeys, yellow baboons and elephant. The absolute highlight for me was my all time best view of a large bush pig boar with its white whiskers. Birds were present in profusion ranging from the wire-tailed swallows swooping around the pontoon, to pied wagtails flying across to perch on the thatched roof. I recall the following as well: reed and white breasted comorants, cattle and little egrets, goliath, green-backed and squacco herons, pied, giant, brown-hooded and woodland kingfishers, spur-wing and Egyptian geese, darter, helmuted guinea fowl, hadeda, trumpeter hornbill, fish eagle, openbills, water thicknee, wattled plovers (lapwing) and white-fronted bee-eater. These were the usual sightings one would hope to see. A real treat for me was to see a pair of African skimmers on a sandbank, one of which was incubating eggs.

    Later we went on a game drive, mainly to the north towards Hippo lodge and were a little disappointed with the relative lack of game. On this drive we came across a rather deep and unrehabilitated excavation. This turned out to be an illegal copper mine set up by a Zambian cabinet minister’s son until he was eventually forced to close it down quite a while later. Chris later spelt out the best areas for game drives, mainly to the east and to the Mushingashi river area, which we did the following day.

    At the lodge there are bird feeders mainly in the form of bits of fruit, which constantly attract birds. The most special bird was a black-backed barbet, a first for me. Also present were dark-capped greenbulls, Heuglins robin, spectacled weavers, plum-coloured starlings, yellow-bellied greenbulls and paradise flycatcher.

    That evening found us in the campsite sitting around a campfire chewing the fat. At about 20H00 we heard lions roaring from north and then from the south. These were 2 separate lions, their roars getting loader as they approached us from opposite directions. There appeared to be a third occasionally joining in from near the lodge. One seemed to pass in the 100m gap between the campsite and the river and we all subconsciously drew closer to the fire. I wonder how securely Tony and also Dave and Judy, slept that night in their flimsy plastic and mainly mosquito netting tents. I had the impression that Tony loaded some extra shots of whisky. We found tracks the next morning confirming that the lion had passed within 50m of our camp.




    DAY 15: WEDNESDAY 10/10/2012.
    McBride’s Camp.

    I think this was the day that Mike and Tony told me that I was a different person to the hyped up one they had met on the first few days of the trip. They were correct and I was now completely relaxed into the rhythm of the bush. We were all getting to know each other well and were very comfortable in one another’s company and so it was to continue.

    We had booked an early morning walk with Chris, but before 06H00 Charlotte arrived excitedly in camp to tell us to hurry, Chris was in his vehicle and had found the lions nearby. There was not enough room in the game viewing vehicle and Anne and I followed in mine. We joined Chris where he was parked near the lions which were near the fork in the road leading to the campsite. The 2 huge dominant males of the pride had followed a solitary lioness and Chris felt that their interest seemed to lie in the fact that she was in a pre-oestrous state. First the lioness and then the males started a prolonged volley of roars which were really impressive with us being only 50m away. Even Chris was impressed and was even more so later when Terry presented him with a copy of the video he recorded with all the sound effects. I hope Terry posts this video on the forum. Next we witnessed some strange behaviour. One of the males walked over to the other and sprayed him with urine. Was this dominance behaviour? We followed the lions as they later sought some shade a few 100m behind our camp.

    We thus had a late start to our walk. Groups of not more than 8, preferably 6 are Chris’s preference. Some of our group kindly volunteered to do another river drift instead. Chris took us along the banks of the almost dry Mushingashi River and into the Mushingashi valley in a slow walk lasting almost 4hr. Most of the walk has already been described but Chris took us across a dry section of the river bed to an area which he termed his orchard and often yielded wild pig. The trees in the orchard were all fruiting varieties such as, wild fig, waterberry, milkwood, mabolo plum, marula and jackalberry trees. We had been walking for nearly 3hr now and it was really hot after our delay because of the lions. Chris requested his scout to radio the camp and to ask for the game drive vehicle to fetch us. Unfortunately the radio had been forgotten in camp and the scout began hot-footing it to the camp. By the time the vehicle reached us we had walked to within a few hundred meters of the camp.

    Later we went on a game drive in the area east of the camp and enjoyed the considerable improvement in animal numbers. This is a very worthwhile area to explore in your own vehicle and it has 2 fairly exciting steep crossings over the dry river bed. Saw some Defassa waterbuck and common reedbuck as well as herds of about 100 impala and puku. Back in camp one of the staff were sent to alert us and we were able to watch 2 bull elephants completing their crossing of the KafueRiver.

    That night Chris had on request agreed to honour us with a very entertaining slide show on his lion research, mainly carried out at Savuti and Charlotte had kindly agreed to have us for dinner. How her temporary kitchen is able to produce food of this standard on open fires was beyond our comprehension! Cost US$20 pp. Entertaining company and delicious food. It was good to spend some time with Andre and Riana again. They had been missed as they were in chalets and were not camping with us. The menu is an illustration of Charlotte’s standards. Beef/vegetable soup with freshly baked rolls and tomato and onion bread, beef and buffalo stew with rice, pumpkin, apple and carrot salad, beetroot salad and tiramisu for pudding.

    COSTS:

    Park fees (as inside KNP). Entrance fees pppn K98,000 (R155) X3
    Vehicle. Per day K52,800 (R85) X3

    Camping pppn K128,500 (R200)
    Walk pp K178,500 (R280)
    Boat ride K77,100 (R120)
    Dinner pp K102,100 (R160)

    CONTACT:
    Email:mcbrides.camp@uuplus.com
    Tel mobile: +260977414871
    Website: www.mcbridescamp.com
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Pontoon ride McBrides.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	121.8 KB 
ID:	178905   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Pontoon early morning.jpg 
Views:	137 
Size:	62.5 KB 
ID:	178906   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Hippos in front of McBrides.jpg 
Views:	133 
Size:	60.2 KB 
ID:	178907   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Water like a mirror.jpg 
Views:	141 
Size:	126.3 KB 
ID:	178908   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Peace on the Kafue.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	79.2 KB 
ID:	178909   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Puku on pontoon ride.jpg 
Views:	132 
Size:	169.6 KB 
ID:	178910   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Front of McBrides.jpg 
Views:	139 
Size:	200.3 KB 
ID:	178911   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Lounge McBrides.jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	149.8 KB 
ID:	178912  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Chalet at McBrides.jpg 
Views:	150 
Size:	215.0 KB 
ID:	178913   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Just behind our camp.jpg 
Views:	126 
Size:	149.2 KB 
ID:	178914   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Roaring away.jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	145.9 KB 
ID:	178915   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	McBrides.jpg 
Views:	138 
Size:	161.4 KB 
ID:	178916   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Crossing in front of camp.jpg 
Views:	146 
Size:	104.3 KB 
ID:	178917   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	The slide show.jpg 
Views:	148 
Size:	70.3 KB 
ID:	178918  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/24 at 10:33 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  17. #337
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    FIRST FORUM TRIP TO ZAMBIA. Oct 2011:

    DAY 16: THURSDAY 11/10/2012.
    McBride’s Camp to Mushingashi(Kashokoto Camp).

    Distance covered: 67km Time taken:2hr 20min

    I think that any visit to McBrides should be coupled to a visit to Mushingashi conservancy. Not only are they closely and conveniently situated to each other, but they are vastly contrasting experiences. Unlike McBrides, the management here are hardly seen and the activities revolve around self-driving game drives. Another aspect of the Kafue River’s multiple personalities was evident here. It was very different to the Kafue at McBrides. The river here splits around a very large island and is only about 20-30m wide and much shallower, with a faster flow, than what we had seen previously. I cannot suppress a sneaky feeling that we did not fully exploit all that Mushingashi had to offer but we were in a very laid back mode after the hard roads and distances behind us.

    We retraced the route taken into McBrides and reached the entrance to Mushingashi (S14 40,854 E26 40,433) after about 90min and 40km. This gate has a manned boom and the uniformed game scout made quite an impression with his military manner and smart salute. This is the way things are run here. The roads here are well sign posted, sign 28km to Kashokoto (Kashikoto) camp, where we were headed. The 2 track road was in surprisingly good condition and we could comfortably drive at 40km/hr. There were occasional wash-aways and stony causeways as well as short bumpy sections of black cotton soil. The road to Kashokoto was absolutely straight as it is the western cutline on the border between KNP and this conservancy. Most of the journey northwards is through fairly thickly wooded miombo woodland with attendant tsetse flies. In the central areas and closer to the river there are more open plains followed by river woodland on the Kafue. The bush is in mint condition with minimal evidence of fire damage. The animals are relaxed with very little response to our vehicles. Sightings included a healthy herd of 8 roan antelope on the edge of the woodland. Puku, impala, warthogs and Defassa waterbuck were increasingly common as we approached the river, the northern boundary of the conservancy. The dambos still had some water and the number of wattled cranes and other wetland birds was quite impressive. There are excellently maintained game viewing tracks here, apparently 500km in all. These are often named and well signposted.

    On arrival at K. Camp we were warmly greeted by Lazarus, who is in charge of the camp, and also Eunice. Lazarus directed us to the grassy areas within the camp, between the bungalows, telling us that he had been instructed that we were to set up camp there as no-one other than Andre and Riana were staying in the surrounding chalets. We were very grateful for this as the adjoining campsite was rather bleakly set in a large cleared hollow with no facilities at all. I suppose anyone at this site is expected to be totally self sufficient or perhaps would share the chalet’s amenities. This turned out to be a top notch arrangement. We felt very comfortable camping on the green lawns after the dust experienced earlier.


    DAY 17: FRIDAY 12/10/2012.
    Mushingashi(Kashokoto Camp).

    This camp and the others here are all situated right on the banks of the Kafue River. The northern boundary of the conservancy is 18km of Kafue River frontage. There are 5 self catering chalets, all 2 bedded, furnished in a simple manner and with en suite ablutions. There had obviously not been a female hand in equipping them. We were allowed to use 2 of them for their toilet and shower facilities. Once again there was plenty of hot water from a donkey kept going by Lazarus. There is also a central lapa and another with chairs and a large table to act as a dining area. Adjacent to this was a large compacted clay area near the river’s edge, for use for fires and braaing. Another separate building housed a fairly simply but effectively equipped kitchen and scullery for our use. Eunice was available to do any of the washing up that we had not already done ourselves and there were gas burners. Early each morning Lazarus ensured that there was a hotpot of boiling water and cups for early morning coffee. Each evening Lazarus lit a fire at the braai area using large logs with just their ends in the flames and one just keeps on pushing these ends into the fire. This maintains a good fire and coals late into the night, without wastefully consuming large amounts of wood. This met conservationist Tony’s approval and he termed this a Herero fire. During our first night around the fire Lazarus called us to have a look at some lions just behind the unfenced camp. Unfortunately we missed them and had to be content with the whistling alarm calls of puku nearby and witness them and impala fleeing that area. This was a very comfortable camp, although it was more in line with a men’s hunting camp, than that of a smart lodge. A petrol generator comes with the camp, but if you want to run it for any length of time you need to supply the fuel. There is also a large chest deep freeze that can be utilised if the generator is running. We were very content and I could easily have spent an extra night here. We paid K 150,000 (R200) pppn for camping. The chalets were double this price. Lazarus informed us that there was a large group of 8 people coming to stay in the chalets the day after we left.

    Apparently the bream fishing is very good just in front of the camp and Lazarus assured us that he had caught five just that morning. He also maintained that there were no crocs in this shallow section of the river at that time of the year. The camps upstream apparently have excellent fishing. Adam told us a story of a game scout being taken from a boat by a croc further upstream where the water was deeper. Later Tony and also Andre tried their hand at fishing, Tony with fly. No licence fee is required here as it is not in KNP. Other than 1 very small bream, Tony only managed to hook Mike’s roof top tent. I was on standby with my kit still packed away but ready to join the fray if there was any action. Tony waded across to a small grassy island. Here, later that night we were to see a hippo grazing on this same spot, whilst contemplating following his normal nocturnal route out of the river via the camp. He was discouraged by the blinding glare of LED Lenzer torches, eventually ventured ashore just downstream of the camp. Tony was also the only one to cool off with a short swim in the shallows of the river in front of the camp, although it did seem safe enough.

    There are 2 other similar chalet bush camps further east on the river, Delai (camping as well, X7 sites) and Kanonga Waloba (catered/self catering), the most upmarket. Delai is often sublet to a safari outfit. There is also a serviced but self catering cottage for up to 8 people. Apparently from some of these camps provision can be made for game drives, walking safaris and boats to hire. We were the only visitors and saw no sign of these activities. There is also a bush camping site to the east.

    There is very little information covering this wonderful conservancy on the internet or on this forum. It was a stroke of genius on Mike’s part to include this on our trip. It has something different to offer compared to the other areas we visited. It is totally unfenced and has a 36km border with KNP to the west and covers an area of 85,000 hectares. It was originally belonged to the late Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri, assassinated by Hisbollah. It was purchased for him as a gift from his son who has not subsequently visited it for some years. Once a year or so, 4 of his friends/advisers visit to hunt. Adam Buske the professional hunting guide and man on the ground, informed me that the hunting quota is very small. Darrell Watt is the manager of the conservancy and has a strong military background as evidenced by the almost paramilitary attitude of the game scouts. His anti-poaching methods have proved extremely effective and about 60 highly trained personnel are employed by the conservancy. There is obviously no shortage of financial backing here. Chris McBride testified to their efficiency and felt that the benefit had clearly spilt over into his own neighbouring concession. The conservation management successes here have resulted in ZAWA handing over a large adjacent area of KNP of about 87,000 hectare to Mushingashi to manage. This is the area of KNP stretching as far west and south along the KafueRiver as the Lubungu Pontoon. This style of management, especially the militaristic aspects, is a little controversial in some quarters who prefer a more community orientated management style, but it works!

    Mushingashi has large herds of game, often exceeding many areas of KNP, because of their renowned anti-poaching measures. These include many hundreds of puku and impala. Sable and roan antelope are usually seen, as well as Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, Defassa waterbuck, zebra and buffalo. Sitatunga are seen in the early morning or evening emerging from the reed beds across the river, towards the east. Smaller antelope include reedbuck, oribi, Sharpe’s grysbok and duiker. Elephant and lions are common and leopard, cheetah and side-striped jackal are present.

    Darrell unfortunately was away during our visit, this was a pity as it would have been interesting speaking to him and sounding him out on his attitude to self-drive visitors and campers. We did bump into Adam Buske whilst on a game drive and had a very friendly chat with him. According to him they would definitely like to see more self-drive visitors as they have lots of spare accommodation, except for when the once yearly VIP hunting visits occur. These are usually somewhere between June and September and they usually know the exact dates well in advance. So once again probably best not to just rock up here. Talking about poaching, he confirmed Chris McBrides statement that the poaching was not for the pot but for the thriving bush meat trade in the major centres such as Lusaka where the growing middle class have an insatiable appetite for it. The poachers usually use snares, setting up to 30 at a time. Chris maintains that the foreign aid bicycles meant to transport scholars more easily to schools are often used to transport the bush meat.

    Anne and I set out early in the morning on a game drive all along the edge of the river. We also wanted to see the other camps. This is a long, very attractive drive and we were very happy to confirm the large numbers of animals this conservancy is known for. There are numerous view points where one can stop and take in the fantastic river views. Just keep on taking the loops to the north (left) to stay close to the Kafue. We saw bushbuck everywhere in a profusion that I had not experienced anywhere before, up to groups of 6 at a time. We had a look at the deserted Delai Camp set on a hill overlooking the river. There are about 6 thatched rondavel type chalets here, with a central amenities area. Tucked off behind them is the camping area with a reasonable amount of shade, braai stands and communal ablutions, but a little far from the river. Attractive enough without being as nice as our camp. Next we came to the bush campsite for the self sufficient. The setting on the river bank under towering trees is very appealing. Kalonga Waloba camp is the main camp and is much more luxurious than the others. The smarter chalets even appeared to have air conditioning. At this stage we encountered Adam and he sent us off to look for the lion pride that he had heard calling through the night. Although we saw their tracks they had moved on. Following Adam’s directions we drove inland via the Piamanzi hot springs where he felt we might see more game at that later time of the morning. At this stage we were joined by Mike and Tony. We saw plenty of elephant signs here but no luck. We did chance upon a large herd of about 30 roan antelope with plenty of offspring. Interesting birds not thus far spotted on this trip included a possible pale-billed hornbill, red-necked spurfowl and a european bee-eater.


    In the afternoon Mike went for a drive on his own and returned to tell us that he had experienced an exciting elephant encounter. Zambian elephants are known to turn nasty, probably because of hunting. Mike describes a mock charge followed by a determined head down charge, pursuing the rapidly retreating vehicle for a 100m or so up the road.

    Later that day when we were all sitting about chatting, I could hardly believe my eyes when that object of avian beauty, resplendent in crimson breast and iridescent green body, alighted in one of the riverside trees in full view, not 15m from us. Most birders will already have guessed that this was the pop star of birds, the narina trogon and the more brightly coloured male at that. This is possibly one of the best sightings I have had of this normally very secretive bird. We were all able to have a very good look at it.

    The amenities at Kashokoto camp were very suitable for a communal meal and this is where Anne produced her culinary trump card, an 80% roasted de-boned leg of lamb and gravy, to which she proceeded to add the final touches before serving it with savoury rice, roast cabbage and bacon etc, with mint sauce as a final touch. All the wives other than Tony Weaver contributed. A fitting end to a memorable stay at Mushingashi.

    CONTACT:
    Darrell Watt: Tel+260 977 846 978
    E-mail: darrellwatt@yahoo.com or darrellwatt7@gmail.com
    Adam Buske: Tel+267 977 896 720
    E-mail: adambuske@yahoo.co.uk
    Web: www.mushingashi.net
    Post: Mushingashi Ltd
    P.O.Box 30110
    Lusaka, Zambia
    COSTS:
    Camping: K150,000 (R200) pppn. No park fees as outside KNP.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Walking with Chris McBride.jpg 
Views:	146 
Size:	121.6 KB 
ID:	178919   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Chris expounding.jpg 
Views:	144 
Size:	180.1 KB 
ID:	178920   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Koshokoto camp.jpg 
Views:	136 
Size:	227.9 KB 
ID:	178921   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Our tent Kashokoto.jpg 
Views:	132 
Size:	198.1 KB 
ID:	178922   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Kafue river Kashokoto.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	118.4 KB 
ID:	178923   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Braai area Kashokoto.jpg 
Views:	142 
Size:	155.9 KB 
ID:	178924   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Chewing the fat.jpg 
Views:	120 
Size:	120.9 KB 
ID:	178925   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Delai camp site.jpg 
Views:	142 
Size:	215.2 KB 
ID:	178926  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Sunrise Kashokoto.jpg 
Views:	145 
Size:	174.0 KB 
ID:	178927   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Early am coffee.jpg 
Views:	131 
Size:	123.2 KB 
ID:	178928   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Bush campsite.jpg 
Views:	136 
Size:	210.6 KB 
ID:	178929   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Campsite Delai.jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	238.8 KB 
ID:	178930   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mushingashi.jpg 
Views:	131 
Size:	98.1 KB 
ID:	178931   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Young puku Mushingashi.jpg 
Views:	149 
Size:	176.0 KB 
ID:	178932   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Sable Mushingashi.jpg 
Views:	140 
Size:	162.6 KB 
ID:	178933   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Lion fodder.jpg 
Views:	140 
Size:	157.2 KB 
ID:	178934  

    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/22 at 12:17 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  18. #338
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    OK Herr Mike.

    FIRST OF MANY MIKE GARNHAM ZAMBIAN FORUM TRIPS 2012:

    DAY 18: SATURDAY 13/10/2012.
    Mushingashi back to Mukambi.

    Distance covered: 225km Time taken: 5hr 40min

    Left at 07H00 as planned. Took a relatively slow game drive route on the way out as we did not have a long drive ahead of us. Game viewing once again good. We again saw a healthy herd of about 12 sable in the woodland on the way out.

    The Total fuel station at Mumbwa was reached after about 100km taking 3hr 45min. They had fuel this time and we all filled up. I still had about 80l left in my 185l tank and 40l in jerry cans. I could comfortably have driven from Mukambi to McBrides and Mushangashi and back as it turned out, but adhered to the principle of filling up with fuel wherever possible before venturing into the unknown. The fuel black marketers were replenishing their containers and I now actually witnessed them adulterating the fuel with paraffin. I estimate about 5l added to 20l fuel. We proceeded to the Barclays ATM (S14 59,461 E27 3,631) on the main road, a short distance away. Just a tip here, initially the ATM only wants to allow a K600,000 withdrawal. If you want more, just punch in “More Services” and you should be able to draw up to 2 million Kwacha (just over R3,000). It is worth noting again that from 1/1/2013 Zambia will have new banknotes now with 2 noughts removed (i.e. K100 =K1). The old notes will be legal tender for a further year. This change is undoubtedly a good thing, less noughts will make financial transactions less confusing.

    We were on the excellent tarred M9 again to Mukambi, having taken the turn west signposted Kaoma and Mongu. Remember the frequent speed humps once you are in KNP. We arrived at Mukambi at the convenient time of about 13H00.

    Having set up camp in the old camp site again, Tony and I went for a short drive to see if we could spot Zambia’s only endemic bird Chaplin’s barbet. After being tipped off by mfuwefarmer (Bertie Brink) on this forum we checked with Victor at Mukambi and he confirmed that he had recently seen them in the fruiting sycamore fig easily visible on the side of the road on the M9 after the Hook Bridge and a few hundred meters before the cross road. This is where one turns into North Kafue at the Hook Bridge Gate or south into South Kafue, across the road. The fig was no longer in fruit and there were no barbets. Victor had also told us that if this was the case we should drive a few hundred meters into South Kafue, where there were a number of these figs next to the road, before the quarry. Unfortunately our stopping next to the road had attracted the attention of the duty game ranger at the Hook Bridge Gate and he would not allow us to drive the few hundred meters into South Kafue, without having paid park entrance fees despite all of Tony’s charm and flattery. So if any birding enthusiasts want to find Chaplin’s this is one place to try. The figs do not necessarily have to be in fruit as this is where they nest in holes in the fig trees too.

    We were now at our home from home and had booked supper at the lodge as a treat. Linda and Jaques were once again especially helpful and friendly at all times. I am sure that the fact that Mike was a personal friend helped, but I am confident that this would be their attitude towards all forum members and in fact all self-drivers and campers. All their staff are friendly and helpful and this was entirely genuine and not of the forced type from strict training.

    Supper that night at 20US$ per head was a real eye opener in the context of the distance from shops and suppliers. The logistics must be very testing. We started with a very good vegetable chowder, followed by a really classy stuffed chicken dish with great sauce, on basmati rice with al dente mixed veggies and pesto. The pudding was a very well presented pear poached in red wine with foamed cream and sauce. Linda comes from a chef background and it shows!

    By the time we had finished our meal a howling gale had sprung up and the first heavy rain of the season had begun falling. We scrambled for our tents as we had not even erected our fly sheet or pegged down our tent, but all was intact. As far as Mike was concerned in true cricketing tradition rain stopped play and he abandoned his group to the elements and he retired to a spare bed at Linda and Jaques home. To be fair, without the fly sheet and because of all the gauze on the roof of his tent, the rain poured into his voortrekker roof top tent. He spent much of the next morning drying his soaked bedding. This was the night that Judy blissfully unaware in the dark, leaving the ablutions just in front of Margaret, walked hardly an arm’s length away from an Elephant, to Margaret’s dismay.



    DAY 19:SUNDAY 14/10/2012.
    Mukambi Lodge to Kaingu Lodge via the “River Road”.

    Distance covered: 52km. Time taken: 2hr 50min.

    I had heard so much from Mike on the forum about the river road and its trailer-killing dry river crossings and steep dips that I was looking forward to this route. Tony’s frequent comments about the beauty of the Kafue River at Kaingu had further fuelled my anticipation. I was not disappointed! Andre and Riana Botha were staying on in their luxury chalet at Mukambi and the Hutchison’s were already awaiting us at Kaingu, having repaired their trailer.

    THE RIVER ROUTE:
    This route is reached by driving past the back of the lodge. There are a profusion of tracks here initially, but if you head for S14 58,742 E25 59,753 you will find the main track. Not too difficult. After about 330m keep right and keep on going right at the following 2 forks. As assured by Victor the relatively light 15mm of rain the night before had not affected the road too much at all. The slight fish tailing in the puddles of water in the tracks in the black cotton soil sections, gave an indication about how difficult it would be during the rains. This track is not used all that often with the more boring main road to Ithezi thezi being quicker.

    The river road now winds along its bumpy way about 200 to 400m from the KafueRiver. The views of the river in the sections driving close to the bank are something really special. As Mike had warned there are some very steep descents and exits through narrow dry tributary river beds and wash-aways. Certainly a trailer would be sorely tested and an off-road caravan would get stuck.

    This route should be enjoyed for the terrain, the views of the river and the driving challenge, which is not at all severe in a vehicle with a decent clearance. I engaged low range on 3 occasions but this was purely precautionary. This is an old hunting route and the 2 track road is rough and bumpy but if you keep your speed down to 20 to 30km/hr and slower where necessary, you are unlikely to damage a reasonable off-road vehicle. Four wheel drive would seem a requirement if the road is wet. One is most unlikely to encounter any other vehicles. You are unlikely to get lost on this route as long as you take the options keeping you closest to the river. It is also accurately mapped out on T4A. The river road is far more attractive as a route than the possible alternatives of the boring main route to the south via Ithezi thezi, or even the Spinal Route in the park where one hardly ever approaches the river. One disappointment is the relative paucity of game. The route passes through game management areas rather than through the park itself, so this should perhaps not be surprising. There was evidence of the presence of elephants and hippos are ever present in the river. The most common animals seen are the ubiquitous puku, but impala are also seen. Occasional warthog and bushbuck were seen and that was about it. The route winds through fairly sparse Miombo woodland which means there are tsetses.

    The following landmarks worth noting were passed as we proceeded. We noticed some building activity with thatched chalets being constructed. This was signposted as Kafumba Kwale community camp (27km from Mukambi). Someone later mentioned that this was a hunting lodge but I was unable to confirm this. Certainly there are hunting concessions granted in this GMA. We took the turnoff to Puku Pan Safari Lodge and camp site (38km from Mukambi), as most of us had never been there. This seemed pleasant enough, a small lodge with 7 chalets, thatched mud and daub but reasonably attractive right on the river bank. The lodge was deserted and we spent a few minutes talking to the very friendly staff. The nearby campsite also looked reasonable but camping is expensive at 30US$ pppn. There are small motorboats for sightseeing and fishing. Not nearly as attractive as Kaingu! When you cross the wooden bridge after 48km you are approaching Kaingu which is now only about 3km away. Just before you enter Kaingu there is a sign asking you to stop for a while, this allows the tsetses on your now stationary vehicle to disperse and one then sprays the outside of the vehicle to get rid of the last few. These tsetse flies, when carried into camp will bite. All the camps are in tsetse free areas.

    The most remarkable item worth reporting on this route was unfortunately a negative and brought Kafue’s problems into focus. A few km from Kaingu we all stopped and searched the bush when we saw large numbers of circling and perched vultures. We were hoping to see a kill. This turned out to be far from the case. We found out at Kaingu that 6 days previously poachers had shot an elephant, only removing it’s tusks and trunk. ZAWA had only arrived to investigate after 5 days. Not good!

    KAINGU CAMPSITE AND LODGE:

    Most of us camped at the Rapids Campsite, but Tony set up camp just behind us in the Bush Camp. We were reunited with Peter and Erica who had already been there for a day or two. They had a story or two to tell about getting a new leaf-spring made and their visit to Lusaka where Erica had her cell phone snatched from their vehicle.

    The Rapids Campsite was possibly the best we stayed in. The camp is set right on the Kafue River bank with plenty of shady trees. It is completely grassed, a real luxury which most other sites lacked. There is a central lapa, braai area, wooden table and tap. The water is directly from the river and not safe to drink without some sort of purification or boiling. There are 2 sets of male and female ablutions very neatly thatched and smartly constructed from reeds, with flush toilet, wash basin and open air hot shower. The camp stretches for some distance along the river bank and the 2 sections could probably accommodate 2 large groups each. The bush camp is set behind this and is far less attractive as it is not on the river and is dusty, with less shade. Once again we were the only ones in the camp. The campsite is about 200m downstream from the lodge. Camping here is more expensive than the average in Zambia at 30US$ pppn but it is out of the KNP so no park fees are due. Meals can be taken at the lodge by arrangement, supper cost us 30US$, Not cheap.

    The lodge blends in well with the environment. It is a much smaller setup than Mukambi and has a more intimate atmosphere. In front there is a large deck with a fantastic view of the river. There is a roofed but un-walled area containing the dining area and lounge with pub. There are about 4 large Meru type tents set on the edge of the Kafue. I had a look and they are very luxurious. This lodge has an old Africa feel to it.

    The rapids walk is well signposted downstream of the camp site. Some of us went to have a look. One can view a series of rapids and clamber over spectacular river boulders to get there. Apparently they are more spectacular when the river levels are a little higher. The river here is different again with multiple channels and islands of large boulders. Very beautiful and with yet again a totally different personality to the Kafue we had explored earlier in the trip. The lodge is open all year round.

    Activities here are mainly centred on boat rides and drifts. There is one 6-seater motor boat and a 3-seater rubber duck. They are used to explore the multiple channels and islands in this part of the river. This is a must especially if you have any interest in birds. Fishing trips can also be arranged. Guided walking trails are also available, game drives are available but are less of a priority.

    Later that afternoon we are joined in the camp by Tom Heineken co-owner of Kaingu, originally from the Cape. He has a game ranger background and is passionate about this corner of Zambia and game conservation here. He is very active on many committees and is closely linked with various community projects. He was pleased to renew contact with Tony and Mike and speaks very optimistically of the possibility of the proposed community camps on the Spinal Road, one of which will possibly be on the western bank of the Kafue within the park, almost opposite Kaingu. He feels that they will be a particular boon to self-drive campers.

    We had earlier bumped into Rick and his wife Linda at Mukambi and had pre-arranged a special surprise birthday supper for Tony’s 56th that night at the lodge. Linda and Rick are of Australian origin and are the fairly new co-owners at Kaingu and have taken over the day to day running of the lodge, freeing Tom to range more widely in his conservation efforts. They could not have been more accommodating and had arranged the baking of 2 chocolate cakes replete with candles. One of them for Anne for her recent birthday. Tony’s delight and surprise when the lodge staff filed into the dining area dancing to African drums and singing happy birthday in the local language, bearing the 2 chocolate cakes with candles alight, was a treat to behold. These were the pudding and had been preceded by a starter of sweetcorn and red pepper soup and a main course of beef fillet steak grilled to taste on an adjacent braai by the chef. Accompaniments were potato wedges, roast vegetables and green beans. How these lodges produce these slap-up meals with their difficult logistics continues to surprise. This meal cost 35US$ per head which raised some eyebrows.

    CONTACT:
    Phone: +260 977 841653
    Email: info@kaingu-lodge.com
    Website: www.kaingu-lodge.com

    COST:
    Camping: 25US$ pppn
    Boat cruise: 20US$ pp
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Leaving Mushingashi.jpg 
Views:	135 
Size:	59.4 KB 
ID:	178935   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Main street Mombwa.jpg 
Views:	133 
Size:	63.5 KB 
ID:	178936   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Total garage Mombwa.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	95.8 KB 
ID:	178937   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Adding paraffin Mombwa.jpg 
Views:	139 
Size:	112.3 KB 
ID:	178938   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mombwa.jpg 
Views:	136 
Size:	130.8 KB 
ID:	178939   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Sunset Mukambi.jpg 
Views:	141 
Size:	124.6 KB 
ID:	178940   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Basil at Mukambi.jpg 
Views:	135 
Size:	119.7 KB 
ID:	178941   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Eat your heart out..jpg 
Views:	137 
Size:	101.9 KB 
ID:	178942  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	River road.jpg 
Views:	144 
Size:	128.9 KB 
ID:	178943   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Good idea, Kaingu.jpg 
Views:	127 
Size:	172.3 KB 
ID:	178944   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Kaingu from the deck.jpg 
Views:	133 
Size:	168.3 KB 
ID:	178945   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Deck at Kaingu.jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	156.3 KB 
ID:	178946   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Pub at Kaingu.jpg 
Views:	147 
Size:	121.1 KB 
ID:	178947   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Camping at Kaingu.jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	181.4 KB 
ID:	178948   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Walking to rapids.jpg 
Views:	127 
Size:	157.5 KB 
ID:	178949   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Kafue boulders at Kaingu.jpg 
Views:	133 
Size:	177.5 KB 
ID:	178950  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Drinks before supper.jpg 
Views:	138 
Size:	111.5 KB 
ID:	178951   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	It's your birthday.jpg 
Views:	150 
Size:	110.6 KB 
ID:	178952  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/22 at 12:43 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  19. #339
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    CONTD.

    DAY 20: MONDAY 15/10/2012.
    KAINGU LODGE TO MUKAMBI via the River Road.

    We were only travelling as far as Mukambi today and we had the time to go on the famed boat ride at Kaingu starting at 6H00. Our guide and skipper was Willard, another expert birder. My high expectations were certainly fulfilled. Tony in particular had waxed lyrical about the beauty of this section of river with its many side channels and giant boulder islands. There were also a series of mini-rapids adding to the unique personality of this section of the KafueRiver. We puttered slowly upstream and drifted back in a 4hr outing, including a break on one of the islands. There were regular pods of hippo and the only other animals of note which I can recall seeing were some bushbuck. This was not so much about game viewing, but rather about just experiencing the beauty of this stretch of water and most particularly the birding. Special birds seen were the rock practincoles seen at close quarters on many of the boulders. This completed all 3 species of practincole, the other 2 having being seen already at Liuwa. Also seen were various kingfishers, herons, egrets, storks, cormorants, bee-eaters and waders. We did not manage to spot the Pel’s fishing owl or finfoot, specials for the area. I had heard the booming call of a fishing owl from the camp during the previous night. We had thoroughly enjoyed our short stay at Kaingu and it was most certainly worth including in our busy itinerary. The personal highlights for me were Rapids Campsite, the top notch hospitality, the beauty of the river here and the outstanding boat trip. I certainly would rather stay here than at Puku Lodge which is similarly priced. To avoid any disappointment just keep in mind the relatively low numbers of game present on the southern borders of the park. It was time to bid farewell to Peter and Erica Hutchison who were now continuing their trip of many weeks and were heading for South Luangwa. Some tears were shed and I would miss their company, especially their stoical acceptance of their recent setbacks.

    We were able to get away before 11H00 and I enjoyed the mild driving challenge of the river road again, arriving into the literally welcoming arms of Linda at Mukambi by 13H30. This was an exciting time and we discussed arrangements to drive into the Busanga plains and swamps in the far north of KNP the next day. A vehicle from the lodge needed to fetch some guests from the lodge and would guide us on this rather difficult and poorly mapped route. We again set up camp at the old campsite and again this was at no charge. Andre and Riana had been hesitating at going to Busanga and Terry and Margaret were delighted to take over their booking and take up the last slot. Andre and Riana were thoroughly enjoying their stay at Mukambi with the luxury tent, superb hospitality and meals. They had really enjoyed the barge trips on the river and the game drives in KNP and were more than happy to continue to relax there for the few days we were away. Dave and Judy had exercised the Busanga option late and there were only 2 as opposed to 3 nights available to them.

    We also had a memorable encounter with Basil the hippo who had adopted the lodge grounds as his hangout. He had been conspicuously absent for the first couple of days. Although he is now habituated to the presence of humans he remains a wild and dangerous animal. We followed the lodge’s advice and the example of the staff and kept a wide berth. He contentedly grazed his way around the campsite and had the cameras clicking at the opportunity of seeing a fully grown hippo at such close quarters.

    That night we again had supper at the lodge, this time in the form of a braai with all the accompaniments. Last of the big spenders!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Boat drift Kaingu.jpg 
Views:	128 
Size:	124.1 KB 
ID:	178953   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Kaingu from the river.jpg 
Views:	134 
Size:	205.2 KB 
ID:	178954   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	On the Kafue at Kaingu.jpg 
Views:	129 
Size:	118.0 KB 
ID:	178955   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Kafue personality change.jpg 
Views:	132 
Size:	125.7 KB 
ID:	178956   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Cameras hard at work.jpg 
Views:	139 
Size:	81.5 KB 
ID:	178957   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Different face of the Kafue.jpg 
Views:	141 
Size:	79.7 KB 
ID:	178958   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Boulder islands.jpg 
Views:	137 
Size:	103.9 KB 
ID:	178959   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Rock practincole.jpg 
Views:	131 
Size:	158.0 KB 
ID:	178960  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Luxury tent Kaingu.jpg 
Views:	121 
Size:	66.5 KB 
ID:	178961   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Bush campsite Kaingu.jpg 
Views:	136 
Size:	127.1 KB 
ID:	178962  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/22 at 12:56 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  20. #340
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    63
    Posts
    3,408
    Thanked: 718

    Default

    ZAMBIA A LA MIKE: Oct 2012.

    DAY 21: TUESDAY 16/10/2012.
    MUKAMBI TO BUSANGA PLAINS CAMP.

    Distance travelled: 152km Time taken: 7hr (Including stops).

    This section of the trip was the culmination of a dream. Ever since Thirstie (Linda) had publicised Mukambi’s special offer for Busanga Plains Camp (BPC) on this forum early last year, I had fancied a visit here. Inclusion of this destination is what persuaded me to chance my arm with a bunch of total strangers on a trip to a totally strange country. Brilliant decision on both counts.

    Once again a prompt start. Up before first light, pack up camp and load vehicle, report to the lodge and on our way by 6H30. Proceed west on the A9 (M9), across the Hook Bridge and then turn north at the Hook Bridge Gate just off the tar. Here the same official that refused to allow Tony and I briefly into KNP to try and spot the barbets was on duty. After some leg pulling about refusing to let the “bird professor” into the park, it was down to the serious formalities of issuing and paying for our entry permits. Boy was it formal, the details were painstakingly filled in on the form in his very best handwriting. This simple task took all of 45min.

    It was immediately evident that the road conditions were a little better here. Wilderness Safaris with their top of the market expensive camps in this vicinity, ensure that this road is graded. I was once again asked to play tail-end-charlie, although why a top class (near-international) wicketkeeper keeps on needing a long stop fielder beats me. My aircon is still spewing dust!

    The first part is through miombo woodland with the expected accompanying clouds of my old friends the tsetse flies. If ever Anne refuses to go on a trip with me, it will be because of these infernal pests. We both react severely to their bites and come out in large wheals which take up to 4 days to settle and itch like hell in the meantime. Eventually one is being bitten upon bites. Mike had brought along the effeminately fragrant cosmetic Avon “Skin so soft” for us and it is undoubtedly reasonably effective but it has to be meticulously applied to every inch of skin including under your clothing as these fiends will bite right through your clothing, I suppose no problem compared to a buffalo hide. They will find the smallest of areas without the oily application and lay into you. Various treatment for bites were used by the group including antihistamine and topical cortisone ointments. Eventually I became desperate and dug into my emergency kit and took unhealthy doses of oral cortisone which I certainly cannot suggest for general usage. This proved very effective and I could sleep again at night. Thank goodness Toyota had gone seriously “upmarket” with the 70 series range and my vehicle had aircon and electric windows. I kept on wondering why Mike was driving such an erratic line until I realised that he was dodging the vicious slaps Tony was dishing out in desperation. The lack of air conditioning also explained why Dave would emerge from his Landy soaked in sweat. This was no trivial matter and I notice that Mike remarks that this was the worst tsetse fly infestation he had experienced. I did expect this after a previous problem in October, apparently often the worst month, the heat of summer being the main factor and also being before the rains, which damp down on tsetse activity. I was not mollified by Tony’s statement that yet another of his good mates, Kingsley Holgate has the same allergic reaction. I am not paid to do these trips and am not heavily sponsored! I think this is my second rave (after Konkamoya) and will be my last. Tsetse flies are a serious matter.
    “Enough she cried!”

    The first part of the road north is through fairly sparse woodland and with the speed limit at 40km/hr we were able to proceed at between 30-40km/hr. Later there were some open dambos and we began seeing herds of puku and impala, warthogs, bushbuck, kudu and even some elephants. The initial section of the road in the woodland, off the floodplain, is easy to follow and is accurately indicated on T4A. As long as you keep heading in a northwest direction you will not go too far off course. The road first approaches the Kafue and later the Lufupa rivers and the animals become more abundant. We spotted a herd of roan antelope and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. This was better! We stopped at the normal Mukambi/BPC breakfast rendezvous where the vehicle from BPC meets that from Mukambi and the passengers leaving the camp and whose place we are taking, transfer vehicles. This saves a long back and forth drive for the vehicles. Here we consumed the delicious packed breakfast from Mukambi. We have started moving up in the world!

    Landmarks passed include the turnoff to Kafwala Camp at 44km and one then finds the only signpost for BPC at a fork in the road (S14 24,227 E26 2,551), 110km from Mukambi. The fork to the right is Treetop Camp, for schoolchildren on educational outings, which apparently might be a place where self-drivers can camp if it is not being used. We saw only 1 other self-drive vehicle on the Busanga Plains, with a Cape Town registration. Perhaps they were staying at Treetops. As a general principal keep left in the woodlands, ensuring you are heading more north than west. You start entering the plains at S14 20,213 E25 58,903, about 122km from Mukambi. There is now a network of interleading roads that is very confusing. If you stick to the most used roads you probably will not go wrong although this may not always be the shortest route. The problem is that new tracks are created after each flood and may vary somewhat from year to year. Head in the direction of S14 12,745 E25 48,997 across the plains, where you turn right to reach a wooden bridge after about 5km. You are now 1,5 km from BPC. The co-ords for BPC are S14 10,830 E25 49.165. Thank goodness that Mike had an employee of BPC in the vehicle with him, as we had lost contact with the lodge vehicle.

    BUSANGA PLAINS CAMP:

    For me BPC epitomises all that I could ask for in a relatively up-market wild life destination. It has animals and birds to spare, all right on your doorstep. I think Mike is on the button in his statement that the Busanga Plains is in the top 3 wilderness destinations in Africa. It is isolated and intimate. The camp blends in well with the environment. The food is excellent as applies to the décor and furnishings. There is nothing over the top or kitch here. The guides are top notch especially when it comes to birding and know the area very well.

    This is a relatively new venture by Mukambi Safari Lodge, and has been in operation for the last 5 years or so. It only has four large two person luxury safari tents with en suite open air flush toilet and bucket type shower. You only have to request hot water from the helpful staff and you are ready to shower. As promised by Mike you can watch the animals whilst seated on the toilet. Our large luxury tent had a king sized double bed with crisp white linen, an appreciated luxury after a stretcher and sleeping bag. The floor is covered with woven grass matting which extends onto a front veranda, with a commanding view of the surrounding marsh and plains. Nearby was a stand of trees providing a roost for hundreds of openbills come dusk.

    There is a central dining and lounge area on a raised open platform and wooden deck. These are situated in the shade of a large sycamore fig, which was in fruit with attendant green pigeons and other bird life. The camp is situated on a large tree island of about 200 x 80m. Most of the shade is provided by thick clumps of wild date palms. Apparently African rock pythons are commonly seen in the cover provided by the palms and despite the word being passed around to all the staff, there was no such luck. The island is reached by a wooden walk-way about 300m long passing over the marshy soil and floating grass so loved by the about 2,000 red lechwe visible grazing close to the circumference of the camp. All vehicles, including our own are parked near the walk-way. Hippos are never far away and their grunts see one to sleep at night. It is an entertainment in itself to sit on the deck, or on the veranda off the front of your tent and scan the surrounding marsh for new varieties of birds. Just writing this evokes a deep seated need in me. I will be back! From your seat at the lodge you will be able to see large flocks of open bill storks. Wattled and crowned cranes, various herons, lapwings and geese are ever present. Coppery tailed coucals abound and green pigeons feed off the figs. A literal paradise of wildlife.


    There is no shortage of water pumped from the surrounding marsh but it is not potable. Electrical power is from a solar system but most of the lighting in the camp and tents is provided by atmospheric paraffin lamps. Communication is by satellite internet and if it fails, satellite phone. The food served from the simple kitchen is outstanding and one can see the hand of Mukambi here. The daily routine is a wake-up call by one of the staff and everyone meets centrally for a light breakfast of cereal, toast, yoghurt, fruit salad, tea/coffee etc. You then set off on a game drive at about 06Hh00, there are 2 game viewing vehicles and a vast network of game viewing tracks. Destinations vary from the swampy papyrus swamp to the north, miombo woodlands 10 to 20km south including the Kapinga forest, open floodplains all around and drives along the tree margins. With the slightly lower water level of that season, new areas have been opened to the east around the channels and flood plain of the LufupaRiver. The exact route chosen is determined by what the guests have seen, what they would still want to see, if birding is an interest or not and what sightings have recently been reported. There is a good level of co-operation between the vehicles from the different lodges and information on sightings is freely interchanged. On any drive the most we saw was 2 other vehicles and very occasionally would have to share a prized sighting with a vehicle from another lodge. There are only 2 other camps in the vicinity, Shumba and Busanga Bush Camps, both operated by Wilderness Safaris and both are very expensive luxury lodges. Kapinga Camp has been closed down by Wilderness and operates as a central point for their slightly intrusive helicopter used to transport their wealthy, pampered guests. Guided walks are available and an armed ZAWA scout is stationed at the camp, although Tyrone did not recommend walking at this very hot time of the year. These walks are not to be taken lightly because of the marshy terrain and near the treeline, tsetse can be a problem.

    The game drives often last over 4hr, with a break for tea/drink and usually something baked from the kitchen such as muffins and other snacks. Lunch is served fairly early at about 12H00 and usually is something like pasta or fish with a lovely green salad. One then meets for tea with a baked treat or sandwiches from the kitchen, before setting off on a second game drive at about 15H30. This stays out until well after dark and returns with spotlights, looking for the nocturnal creatures. Hot showers are ordered over the vehicle radio, everyone meets around the fire on the deck and after a few drinks a 3 course dinner is served. Drinks and meals are inclusive in the camp fees. The food at dinner is usually something special.

    The camp is only open for 4 months each year, July to October and even then it can be difficult getting in at either end of this period depending on the water levels. The camp is taken down completely each October. This takes about 2 weeks. The larger items such as beds are stored under cover on top of the large table in the dining area. This effort is far exceeded by the logistical nightmare of setting up the camp again once the flood waters have receded somewhat. This massive effort takes about 2 months and the closest that vehicles can get to the camp initially is about 10km. The materials for the reconstruction are either carried in on foot or by boat through the marshy flood plains. BPC is situated near the Busanga Marsh rather than the Busanga Plains. It is the furthest north of all the camps and is only 20km from the northern border of KNP. Perhaps these details will help you to appreciate the isolation and intimacy of this outpost of a camp. Because of its short season, booking is clearly necessary and it is good to hear that it is making a good profit these days and is likely to operate for the foreseeable future. It’s pairing with busy and successful Mukambi Lodge stands it in good stead.

    The personnel without exception are helpful and friendly as was the case throughout Zambia. Tyrone McKeith was managing the camp for Mukambi and is leaving after a 2 year stint. He is looking at setting up his own lodge with a young partner in KNP between McBrides and Lufupa Camp, on the Kafue River. He is a young Englishman aged 22 who is an ecology graduate and a very good and enthusiastic guide. His right hand man is Ferrison Kalembelembe famed throughout Kafue for his birding expertise. Writing the advanced diploma recently via the Zambian Ornithological Society he obtained the highest marks, beating old hands such as Tom Heinekin. He is also a very skilled game guide. If you are interested in birds, go with Ferrison’s vehicle. He knows exactly where to find the special birds the area has to offer. Altogether there are 10 staff members. They are responsible for bringing in the supplies from Mukambi as well.

    The Busanga Plains and Swamp further north, dominate the north of KNP. With the closure of the camping at Lufupa camp there is no camping in this area for self-drive visitors. Perhaps the consideration of community camps will open this remote and pristine area to self-drivers. Self-drivers are welcome at BPC, but it is probably best to arrange to follow a lodge vehicle in, or to give a BPC employee a lift, so he can guide you through the tricky route. Remember to enquire about the special rate for forum and SADC members in October each year. I would suggest booking well in advance. No bush camping is allowed and those caught will be heavily fined. Anyone trying their luck will stick out like a sore thumb in this isolated area.

    The topography here is exceptionally flat and other than the swamp and floodplain in the north, there are miombo woodlands and interspersed dambos often containing water. The main river here is the Lufupa, intermittently loosing itself in swampy areas. The plains and swamp cover an area of about 700 square km. The seasonal flooding renders Busanga inaccessible for vehicles from November to the end of June. The Lufupa and other smaller tributaries of the Kafue River overflow their banks and cover this wide area with a shallow floodplain of grassland. Tree islands of fig and wild date palms occur on large termitaria.

    The biomass of animals and birds within game driving reach from BPC is nothing short of astounding. Large numbers of red lechwe graze in the immediate surroundings of grassy wetland, probably numbering a couple of thousand. On the immediately adjacent drier floodplain there are almost equal numbers of puku. A little further afield there are large numbers of roan antelope, oribi, zebra and wildebeest. In the dry season large herds of elephant emerge from the treeline to drink. A herd of about 300 buffalo are present. There is some concern about their shrinking numbers, thought to be due to poaching. Sable antelope are plentiful in the woodlands. Predators such as lion, spotted hyena, cheetah, leopards and wild dog are regularly seen. It is not unusual for a lion pride to pay a visit to BPC. Smaller predators such as side striped jackal, serval, civet and genet are fairly common. Hippo are never far from the camp.


    On our first afternoon on the 17th, we went for a game drive with Ferrison. We wanted to make full use of his birding expertise and he was pleased to oblige. Because of having to stop every few hundred meters for a new bird, we covered very little distance, only reaching as far as the papyrus swamp a little north of BPC. Despite us sitting quietly none of the resident sitatunga emerged from the papyrus.

    Because of all the residual water still around at the very end of the dry season, the grasslands and marsh areas remain a startling green in contrast to the greys and browns of the surrounding dry scrub. Many of the trees were in fresh leaf in anticipation of the threatening rains. Many days the clouds would build up only to be gone the next morning and the humidity was palpably building. The birds were all in full breeding plumage and were out on display for the breeding season. This was a fantastic game drive for the extraordinary numbers and variety of birds seen. Ferrison seemed to know exactly where to find the special bird sightings this wonderful area has to offer. These obviously included many of the wetland species but also those of the grassland and miombo woodland. The other impressive aspect to Ferrison was his infectious pleasure in showing off the bounteous birds of this very special area of Kafue. Birds seen were a number of real specials and a number were added to my life list.

    Fulleborn’s and pink throated longclaw,
    luapula cisticola,
    red-capped lark,
    brown firefinch,
    grey-backed shrike,
    swallow-tailed bee-eater,
    orange-breasted bush shrike,
    red and yellow-billed oxpecker,
    lesser and greater jacana,
    cranes: wattled and crowned;
    storks: openbill, yellow-bill, maribou and saddle-bill;
    herons: squacco, rufous-bellied, green-backed and grey;
    geese: Egyptian and spur-wing;
    duck: yellow-billed, white-faced and hottentot teal;
    coucals: coppery-tailed, Senegal and black;
    plover (lapwing): blacksmith, wattled, long-toed and white-capped;
    sandpiper: Caspian, wood and common;
    vultures: white-headed, white-backed, hooded and lappet-faced;
    egrets: great white, little and cattle;
    African pipit,
    banded martin,
    European swallow,
    tawny and fish eagle,
    snake eagle: brown and black-breasted;
    stone chat,
    capped wheatear,
    kite: yellow-billed and black-shouldered;
    black crake,
    wattled starling,
    pied kingfisher,
    white and pink-backed pelican;
    spoonbill and some others I failed to note.

    The other game viewing vehicle took the non-birders out on the plain to the east and they had the opportunity to see one of the 2 dominant coalition male lions pounce onto a young lechwe and were able to drive closer to watch it devour its kill.
    After a luxurious hot shower it was a few beers and a wonderful dinner of smoked salmon, chicken curry and a top class chocolate mousse. Slept the sleep of the dead after a long day in the unaccustomed luxury of the crisp sheets and king sized bed.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Off to Busanga.jpg 
Views:	106 
Size:	119.4 KB 
ID:	178963   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Park entry formalities.jpg 
Views:	114 
Size:	132.3 KB 
ID:	178964   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Driving on dry floodplains.jpg 
Views:	112 
Size:	53.7 KB 
ID:	178965   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Busanga Plains Camp from car park.jpg 
Views:	99 
Size:	80.0 KB 
ID:	178966   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Lichtenstein's hartebeest.jpg 
Views:	118 
Size:	160.8 KB 
ID:	178967   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Red lechwe near camp.jpg 
Views:	112 
Size:	166.4 KB 
ID:	178968   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Check my horns.jpg 
Views:	125 
Size:	104.7 KB 
ID:	178969   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Wattled lapwing.jpg 
Views:	113 
Size:	189.7 KB 
ID:	178970  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Herds of lechwe on floodplains.jpg 
Views:	136 
Size:	100.2 KB 
ID:	178971   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Burn elephant dung against tsetses.jpg 
Views:	111 
Size:	131.5 KB 
ID:	178972   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Also warthog.jpg 
Views:	114 
Size:	165.6 KB 
ID:	178973   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	And elephants.jpg 
Views:	119 
Size:	135.9 KB 
ID:	178974   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Sunset drive.jpg 
Views:	99 
Size:	38.5 KB 
ID:	178975  
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/11/22 at 01:28 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

Page 17 of 22 FirstFirst ... 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 8
    Last Post: 2015/11/29, 04:16 PM
  2. Trip report - Namibia Dec 09-Jan 10
    By GreenDisco in forum Namibia
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 2014/01/06, 03:53 PM
  3. Add-on to Forum Zambian Trip
    By Stan Weakley in forum Zambia
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 2012/09/28, 02:00 PM
  4. Old Boys river trip feedback.
    By Engel in forum Gauteng
    Replies: 56
    Last Post: 2010/09/02, 10:25 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •