For someone who does not consider herself a safari enthusiast I’m beginning to rack up an impressive number of safaris!
This last visit was very spontaneous.
We had originally planned to drive north to visit the Copperbelt region of Zambia. We had ambitious plans to tour a huge open pit copper mine and a fantastic chimpanzee orphanage. However, the forces conspired against us and the chimpanzee orphanage had no housing and all the mines’ communications staff were at a trade show.
We all had our hearts set on heading out of Lusaka for the weekend so planned an easier last minute trip from the city to Kafue national park approximately 3-4 hours drive from the city.
We stayed at Mayukuyuku lodge after reading their great trip advisor reviews a
So I should clarify – we went camping at one of Mayukuyuku’s riverside camp sites! Car camping to be exact so we didn’t feel too legitimate. This was my first time ‘camping’ since freshman orientation and definitely a different experience. There were toilets and running water, and a helpful attendant who helped us light fires for our BBQing needs.
We didn’t cover our tents so we were able to look out at the incredible stars as we fell asleep. I’ve never seen so many stars and clearly saw the milky way and my first shooting star! Stars are pretty darn cool.
Mayukuyuku’s great guide Patrick took us on two activities – a sunset boat cruise on Kafue river and a morning game drive.
The sunset boat ride was lots of fun (especially after the numerous gin and tonics our group consumed while BBQing in the hot afternoon sun) the river was full of very curious hippos who popped their head up from under the water every time our boat got near. We also saw lots of unique birds and, due to a fancy pair of binoculars inherited by my friend Steven, were actually able to see them! The river was also full of crocs though they were a little more elusive we saw several slipping into the water and one swimming right across.
We ended the cruise with sundowners surrounded by hippos making quite a scene – we’re talking lifting their bodies mostly out of the water and crashing back down. Patrick assured us that the hippos were threatening one another and not us, but I’m not so sure!
We left bright and early at 6 am to an amazing sunrise with the mist rising from Kafue river.
Many of the game routes in Kafue were closed when we visited since it is still technically the ‘rainy season’ so there are several points where access may be flooded or muddy. However, I don’t think this ruined our experience and since we are all ‘old hats’ at safari no-one was too bothered by the number of animals we saw.
Our best sighting of the day was right off the main road which cuts through the park. This road is technically not part of the park and is used by truckers and others getting between West and Central Zambia. The traffic didn’t seem to bother the lions we found off on a hunt right by the road.
Not only was it incredibly seeing the lions so close (our guide drove off the road and right up to many of them), but the sun was rising and there was a beautiful mist as the warm water from the river mixed with the cold morning air. This combination of the lions and the scenery was definitely the highlight of the trip.
The make-up free face of someone who woke up at 5 am after getting very little sleep in a tent due to noisy hippos but is really excited because there are lions and it is beautiful and life is good.
Lunch day 1: As soon as we got to the campsite we set up our tents and fired up the grill. We had an indulgent meal of many scattered courses because we aren’t exactly fire experts and it took things a while to heat up.
I made these butternut squash falafel burgers – they were a hit! Others brought flatbread dough that cooked right on the grill, pineapple, potatoes, cabbage, corn and chicken to make it a real feast!
We tended the grill while drinking some top notch gin and tonics and hydrating excessively because it was INCREDIBLY hot – both the weather and the grill.
Dinner day 1: After getting back from the boat cruise we got right to cooking. We kept things simple with grilled oyster mushrooms and spicy one pot pasta with onions and peppers, followed by toasted marshmallows and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Proving that s’mores are indeed, always the answer.
Brunch day 2: When we got back from our game drive Sunday morning we had accumulated a fair amount of leftovers, and a hefty appetite since our guide had extended our 3 hour game drive to 6 hours!! We made:
- Open faced grilled cheese sandwiches
- 10 scrambled eggs! with onions and potatoes
- Leftover cabbage, potatoes, corn
- Leftover pasta
Nicky (pictured above) got the most creative by topping his grilled cheese with pasta AND the eggs/potatoes – 3 different kinds of carbs in each bite – genius!!
After our meal it was time to pack up our tents and head back to Lusaka after a pretty great, spontaneous adventure.