I had decided that I really had “to do” Kafue National Park. I had been to the southern section of the park many times over the years, but not to the north for more years than I can remember. I knew, though, that it was a 2-day drive to get to the north so I made a plan to visit other places on the way there and on the way back. Hence the reason for being away for 12 days – I really “pigged out” on the wilderness of Kafue National Park … and loved every minute of it.
We set out from Livingstone at 8:30 am heading towards Nanzhila Plains Safari Lodge … we arrived there at 4:30 pm.
There was a bit of a hiccup in Kalomo as the petrol station did not have fuel so we had to buy from the street vendors and then I had a flat tire which had to be fixed. It did take time.
What also took time was the Kalomo to Dundumwezi Road – it has deteriorated and took us 2 hours to cover the 75 km. The road is used by trucks to pick up cotton and maize from the farm depots and it had not been graded for ages. I really do not know why we can’t get more graders in Zambia to maintain our dirt roads because they should all be done at least once a year. On our trip to Namibia earlier this year we passed so many graders working on the dirt roads – it seemed as if each area had its own grader which just kept on going throughout the year.
Getting back to Kafue National Park we arrived at the Dundumwezi Gate and chatted with the Wildlife Officers for a while and then headed north to Nanzhila. The road is a seasonal road because it floods during the rains. The bush was burned in many places and that was where we found a sizzled tortoise. So sad. We pottered along the road for about an hour, finally arriving at Nanzhila. Actually we didn’t see a lot on the way in but bush is bush … and is beautiful apart from all the burning.
What I did notice was that the wildlife was much calmer than previously. We saw waterbuck, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, puku, impala, hartebeest, kudu, … and other mammals which I have forgotten … The waterbuck refused to get off the road when we came along – just gave us one of those looks … If you don’t know how exciting this was to see, you have to remember that the wildlife was almost shot out about 10 years ago and, since then has been very skittish. To see them now relaxed and content was a testament to the hard work of Steve Smith and ZAWA during the 8 years of Nanzhila Plains Lodge.
The lodge was full-ish but we were squeezed in a spare room and relaxed in the company of the other guests.
We headed off north early the following morning but did return on the way back from our marathon in Kafue National Park.
Nanzhila has 6 double chalets and a campsite. If you are staying at the campsite you can order meals at the lodge if you don’t feel like cooking. Around Nanzhila there are several loop roads taking you to waterholes. The seasonal rivers dry up but leave many pools for the birds and animals to drink.
The pool in front of the lodge is a great place to sit and watch with waterbuck, puku, impala; they are always around. The birdlife too is good with storks and cranes common visitors. North of Nanzhila, towards Kalenje is Chilenje Pools – this is where to find the black-cheeked lovebirds. Here is my attempt at a photograph. The lovebirds tweet incessantly but fly off at the slightest disturbance.
We didn’t see any predators, but heard hyena. Wild dogs, leopard and lions are in the area but we weren’t lucky enough to see them.
For Livingstonians, Nanzhila is a perfect getaway for 3-4 days. There are many loop roads to explore and Camp Phoenix, the Elephant Orphanage, is not far away. We didn’t go to Camp Phoenix this time as I had been before about 2 years ago and told you all about it.
North of Nanzhila is Itezhi-Tezhi, the town next to the lake. We were stopping there for our next night, so I will tell you about it next week.