Jump to content

Kafue - August 2010


Recommended Posts

Been away from Safaritalk for a long time so here goes with an extremely belated report.


Part 1 Kaingu Lodge and Iron Age Smelter


It felt good to step off the plane at Lusaka. To be standing in Africa again.

Our flight from London had taken an hour longer than scheduled as, for some reason, it had been diverted across North Africa and down over Sudan.

The queues for visas moved slowly and, with increasingly impatient passengers around, I reminded myself that I was on Africa time now. It has a different pace but within it everything works out and, strangely, on looking back no time seems to have been lost.

As I waited I recalled our first arrival at Lusaka Airport back in 1998. On that occasion we were greeted by a generously proportioned smiling Zambian lady swathed in a vibrant blue wrap with matching headdress. She was accompanied by two brightly dressed companions and a couple of drummers clapping, swaying and chanting a wonderful welcome.

Turned out they thought they were greeting the two leaders of an arriving party of medical missionaries. When we explained we were not they but a couple of Aussie tourists there were laughs all round, we were still welcomed , wished a happy time and given a parting chorus before they sashayed off in search of their honoured guests.

I knew then that I was going to like Zambia and this my fourth visit wasn’t about to let me down.

This year we opted for road transfers rather than charter flights and met up with our driver Michael- a friendly South African who is now a Zambian resident and farmer but who was taking some time off from the farm to do the transfers.

We headed out of Lusaka on the Great West Road and noted a lot of development around the capital with a number of shopping centres and commercial developments under construction. The road itself was in a good condition most of the way to Mumbwa. Along the way we slowed for a number of police roadblocks most of which we were just waved through. We passed some larger farming properties and huts and homes of subsistence farmers. After pausing at Nalusanga


we left the tarmac and turned south through the Namwala Game Management Area. The road/track headed through miombo woodland interspersed with occasional dambos and on the way to the Lodge we saw warthogs, impala, puku, hartebeest, waterbuck and baboons.

Kaingu Safari Lodge, owned and operated by Tom and Vivienne Heinecken, is beautifully situated on the banks of the Kafue River.

On arrival we were shown our accommodation. A spacious Meru style tent on a wooden floor with an en suite at the rear plus the option of a door through to an outside shower if preferred. Our tent named Chibewa (otter) had a great view down the river.


We met the other guests, a delightful and interesting Italian couple with their daughter and then had a late lunch at the table/firepit overlooking the river where drinks are enjoyed before dinner and coffee after

We enjoyed the company of Tom and Vivienne who proved to be excellent hosts. Tom is a quietly spoken man who is imbued with a great love and knowledge of the African bush and its wildlife. I gained the impression that he has an empathy and understanding of the local people and he is involved with a community trust that fosters conservation by working together.

Vivienne oversees the day to day running of the camp - meals were excellent and whilst I refused hot water bottles the first night the second night they were supplied without asking - it was COLD - and they were welcome.

The drive from Lusaka had taken about 5 hours and after our late lunch we just relaxed and then enjoyed dinner before retiring.

That night I lay awake for a while enjoying the sounds of an African night. The most frequent and prominent noises were hippos grunting and snorting and always in the background was the Kafue chattering through the rapids downstream

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 2

After a welcome and warming cup of tea John and I leave for a walk with Maurice ( a Toka Leya) and Lewis ( a Kaonde).

We follow the river to the rapids not far downstream on the way seeing rock hyraxes among the granite boulders. Turning inland we see puku, kudu and hear elephant trumpeting fairly close by. Later we come across two bull elephants about 50 metres away. They caught our scent and moved away through the bush. Animal tracks pointed out included bushpig and wild cat.

We paused to look at a granite boulder on top of which rows of hollows had been grooved out to form the board for use over the years of the traditional game of Nsolo.

Lewis proved to be a fount of knowledge on the traditional uses for the many different trees and shrubs we examined on the way. Trees whose wood was good for construction and trees and shrubs whose berries, leaves bark or roots were used for a variety of medicinal purposes such as headaches, fever, stomach complaints, diarrhoea etc.

I was fascinated by the distinctive and unusual seeds of the Mukwa looking rather like a dinner plate with a pudding in the middle, the aptly named Knobthorn and the Candelabrum Tree - Euphorbia Ingens which grew on many of the termite mounds.

We wound our way back to a point on the river bank where we met Tom and the Italians who’d taken a boat ride upstream from the camp. We then took the boat back to the Lodge while Tom & co walked.

The Kafue here is spectacular.



Encouraged on its journey by a number of rapids it flows swiftly through a maze of channels divided by tree studded islands lined with granite boulders. This feature means that often what appears to be the far bank is, in fact, an island and in reality the river is far wider than first thought. Despite being into August and the dry season it’s still a lively river with an urgency about its course which is totally different from the Luangwa which by August is drifting rather languidly past sandy banks.

When we get back to camp Michael tells me that he’s seen a large python track across the road near to camp so we walk to it and then try to follow the track into the bush but lose it amongst the bush. Pity - but on the other hand it still leaves the anticipation of a good python sighting for another occasion ( only python I’ve seen was in Selinda years ago and that was coiled up and quite high in a tree).

Back to camp for a late breakfast followed by a walk with Maurice to the camp’s hide then later after lunch and siesta time we walk with Maurice and Lewis through miombo woodland seeing the ubiquitous puku and impala and remains of an elephant that had been killed by poachers.

A nice troop of banded mongoose hurried past and we then arrived at the base of a massive monolithic granite outcrop. We walked/clambered to the top and there I fully understood why this rock had a special significance and spirituality for the local people. 360degrees of miombo wilderness stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction. What a spot for sundowners. Watching the sun fall below the horizon - reassessing priorities and perspectives.

With the African darkness falling swiftly we headed back to camp for drinks around the fire and and an excellent dinner

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 3

I woke up to a cold morning with mists drifting across the river.

In the early morning sunshine we drove to the site of a reconstruction of an iron age smelter and Maurice explained to us how it was built and operated. Always built on the western side of a termite mound and then stacked inside with wood, charcoal and iron bearing rocks and stones. The process of extracting iron was lengthy with three purification processes. Nearby there was a small hut with a dissection of a smelter.



Maurice informed us that the furnace was only operated by “men past the age of sexual activity” and that “young men of the age of sexual activity” were not allowed within 100 metres of the smelter. If they wanted to communicate with the operators they had to send messages. I did not ask for further enlightenment as to “the age of sexual activity”. Did not want to risk the answer - sadly I knew the category I would be deemed to fall into.

Driving back to camp around a dambo we saw Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, impalas, puku, warthog and a number of common duiker including the duiker sprint champion. Rounding a bend we disturbed a martial eagle beside the track which was dining on a guinea fowl. It flew up into a tree waiting for our disturbance to pass. Back at camp an excellent breakfast of pancakes with scrambled eggs was followed by a boat trip with Tom upstream past hippos and crocs and plentiful birdlife. Took a fairly short walk then on the boat trip back saw kudu and bushbuck on the banks and passed fishermen mending nets.Many darters and white fronted beeeaters. Later in the afternoon we chose to go to the hide rather than a game drive. Watched a herd of puku moving across the dambo followed by some ground hornbills.


I recalled reading of the African belief that if lost in the bush listen for the booming calls of the ground hornbills. Where they call from will be to the east. In “Return To The Wild” Norman Carr stated that this belief could be explained in East African countries by the fact that prevailing winds are from the east. Things were pretty quiet but I was content listening to and watching the birds, the puku wandering by, a well camouflaged bushbuck, and the colours of the African bush changing in the fading light. Tom came back at dusk escorting us back to the camp - drinks round fire followed by another excellent dinner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PART 2 Konkamoya And Elephant Orphanage


Day 4

Watched vervets playing around in front of our tent. After breakfast, farewells then head off to Konkamoya.

Drive south past scattered villages with colourful crowds outside churches. After Iteshe cross over dam wall then enter Kafue. Pause to watch a hippo stand off


and sight monitor lizard, elephants, kudu and warthogs on way to lodge where greeted on arrival by Chris and Grant Cooke and Firestone with refreshing towels.

Lunch in dining room beside the lake was followed by an afternoon game drive with Chris as the driver/guide and Grant in the trackers seat. Saw marsh, slender and banded mongoose, puku, impala, waterbuck, kudu, buffalo, grysbok and warthog. In places the bush beside the track was thick, looking impenetrable to me, and I was amazed how kudu and buffalo could move through it without apparent difficulty. Dinner was accompanied by the sounds of hippos grunting in the lake close by.


Day 5

The Lodge consists of a raised bar and lounge with a magnificent vista over the lake and three chalets set back.


A stalking secretary bird, white backed vultures, yellow billed kites and little beeeaters were amongst the birds seen on the morning drive and two magnificent kudus were amongst the mammals. An interesting pause was inspecting a buffalo skull with Chris explaining the life cycle of the horn moth with its larvae feeding on the horns as shown.

The afternoon drive featured elephants crossing close by which was appropriate as we were heading to the Elephant Orphanage which is run by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. Rachel and Kate explained the work of the Foundation. The four young elephants that were then there are stabled every night but go out into the park each day with their keepers and make contact with wild elephants. We watched them coming back for their 6.00pm feed being led by their keeper but breaking rank and charging to the corral at the last minute. Through portholes in a stockade type fence we watched them being fed.


I was interested to read in a recent email that part of the project in raising awareness of wildlife and conservation included attending schools and dispelling negative myths about animals such as chameleons and owls to foster better protection for all wildlife.

After sundowners on the nearby plain watching side striped jackal we had good views of civet, genet and porcupines on the drive back to camp.


Day 6

Chris led the walk after breakfast. The puku and impala were prolific along the lakeshore and relatively relaxed,as was this waterbuck.


We spied some kudu


then a lone buffalo and there was much birdlife on and around the lake. Tracks included leopard, civet, genet and snake.

The best sighting on the afternoon game drive was a herd of about 600 buffalo crossing the track in front of us and kicking up dust and atmosphere in the late afternoon sun.




Sundowners by the lake


were followed by a great close up sighting of a civet on the way back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like you had a great time

Edited by smileygary
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great stuff Caracal. Though I won't be staying at Konkamoya, I plan to make a day trip up from Nanzhila next month. Looking forward to hearing more about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Keep it coming...brings back some memorable times :)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your comments smileygary, Safaridude and bushwalker. Should post the rest later on today - hope you find it interesting.

Safaridude - I'm heading back to Kafue in a few days. Will have 4 nights Konkamoya then 5 back at Nanzhila end Aug start Sep. Sounds like you'll be there soon after.

Will read the interview re Kafue Trust on the plane.

Lot of catching up to do on Safaritalk when I get back including reading your trip reports Safaridude and bushwalker which I'll look forward to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder what the cut-off age for furnace operation is? What side of the line am I on?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder what the cut-off age for furnace operation is? What side of the line am I on?


I think that question will occupy the thoughts of a few of us in the next few days. :P Mind you I think it was for males, not females, so perhaps it doesn't apply to us women...... :rolleyes:


I'm enjoying the report, thanks Caracal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PART 3 Nanzhila And Shezongo Village


Day 7

This lion spoor was on the track right beside the dining room.


Breakfast then time to leave Konkamoya which means “ follow the wind”. It was the name given to Chris Cooke when he was working and training with Robin Pope Safaris. The lodge is owned and operated by the Cooke family. Chris is an all round naturalist having a great knowledge which he shares with infectious enthusiasm. He is a top guide and he and Grant worked well together and Firestone was a great character around the Lodge.

We head south through the Ngoma HQ, past the airstrip and on towards Nanzhila Plains Camp. Mostly through dry scrub but over the last 13kms the terrain changes to riverside plains and we see a huge troop of chacma baboons, roan, an elephant drinking and feeding,


and reedbuck and oribi both of which I was to learn are plentiful around Nanzhila.

The camp is delightful in all respects and is beautifully situated beside a dambo.





The lounge/bar/dining area is centrally located with three well spaced and well appointed chalets on one side and three meru style tents on the other all of which overlook the dambo. We were met by the managers Brad and Ruth Keast who were to prove excellent hosts.

With Brad driving and David Chilwa, a Nyanja, spotting we had an excellent afternoon game drive - herd of sable(20+),(sorry for the backlighting)



roan(15+), more sable, warthogs, reedbucks, waterbuck, hartebeest, baboon.

Sundowners were followed by leopard, serval, jackal, duikers, reedbuck and oribi,bush baby and a pair of honey badgers foraging near camp. A great dinner finished off a wonderful introduction to Nanzhila.


Day 8

David drove with Aaron Sikabakani, a Ngoya from the Western Province, spotting and guiding. A most enjoyable drive through miombo woodland, riverine grassland followed by the distinctive mopane woodland.

The drive included a lone sable,



a most obliging oribi,



and the first zebras that we’d seen



plus kudu, sable, roan, jackal and more.Some kudu had expert camoflauge technique



Highlights in the afternoon drive were a flock of the endemic blackcheeked lovebirds, elephants and three cheetah.


Day 9

Left with Aaron and David for drive to Shezongo village. After passing through a game management area we reached the outskirts of the village. This is spread out over a much wider area than I had imagined with huts and tracks leading for quite a considerable distance to the centre. Total opposite of the Maasai or Samburu manyattas. At the centre was the Chief’s new palace and, after meeting Richard, the Headman, we were introduced to Chief Shezongo and walked to the Reception Office where we conversed. The palace is a large stockaded area containing the Reception Office, huts for the Chief and his family and a flagpole. A new palace is required for each Chief and this palace was still being completed as its construction was commenced only the previous year when the current chief was installed following the death of his brother, the previous chief. In the conversation with the Chief via Richard we were told that an Installation Ceremony is held each June which has much festivity with beer, drums, dances etc and that we would be most welcome. Now that would be a great experience.

We visited the school which was vacant due to holidays and then the medical centre where we met Rosemary the nurse.


Waiting outside were Mary and Ford.


Mary was delighted and excited to see us. She spoke no English and our attempts to explain through David that we were Aussies were to no avail.To her we were American. I took a photo and showed her. As I was leaving she grabbed my arm and then as she was smiling excitedly and waving her arms around I was told she was saying how wonderful that a photo of her was inside my camera and would go back with me to America and that she would be seen by Americans.

I’m hoping that at least one American Safaritalker will have lasted this far through my report so that Mary’s wish is fulfilled.

Rosemary is not a trained nurse but has learnt her skills from observing and assisting the doctor when he visit’s the clinic which I think is monthly. She is obviously a dedicated and caring person and I imagine she would be loved and held in high regard by the community.

Before leaving Shezongo we left some small gifts with the Chief for the schoolchildren.


On the drive back we saw a cluster of vultures in a tree and rounding a bush saw a lioness resting on her back.


Initially thought she was digesting her meal but she was to be meal. Aaron and David made a careful inspection and, whilst not sure of the cause of death, were satisfied it was not gunshot.


The evening drive including blue wildebeest, five bush pigs and four honey badgers was followed by an excellent dinner.


Day 10

Wake up to the evocative cry of the fish eagle. Morning drive was across the Nanzhila plains which flood to 2 metres in the wet season. Highlights include another serval and three giant eagle owls. Ask Aaron what Nanzhila means and he tells me that it means no road or no way to the Ila. Apparently when the first missionaries asked the way to the Ila the locals in trying to discourage them said Nanzhila and the missionaries thought they were saying the name of the place.

After breakfast an olive bush snake caused some excitement dropping on or beside Brad in his office.


Following a brei (barbecue) dinner we came upon two wild dogs not far from the camp when returning from our night drive.


Day 11

Sad to leave Nanzhila - to say goodbye to Brad and Ruth whose company we had much enjoyed - and to farewell the staff. A great camp one of the best. As we were driving out of the park it occurred to me that we never saw another game drive vehicle during our safari - Kafue is remote and wild particularly in this southern section. You may not see as much wildlife so obviously as in other better known and more visited parks but it is truly rewarding and captivating. Watching, listening and learning and letting Africa reveal itself at its own pace not at yours.

On exiting the park we drove down long dusty red roads on the way to Kalomo.




There we picked up the Lusaka/ Livingstone Highway.

The Zambezi sun was a culture shock - what a contrast to KaingU, Konkamoya and Nanzhila.

The plus though was the ability to walk through the grounds to the Falls. The last time I had seen them was in 1998 from Zimbabwe side. Still as magnificent as ever and perhaps even better from this side.







Africa still calls and I’ll be back in Kafue in a few days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great stuff. I love those miombo woodlands and dambos... such great colors. Great sable sightings! Can't wait to be back there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 bush pigs on the night drive--wow!


Some good sable viewing.


You've got us all wondering about the furnace. I wonder if there are similar rules for establishments with A/C.


I'm going to check out your hornbill navigation theory if I hear any.


The last 2 road shots made me feel like I was driving on it.


Thanks for a great Kafue report.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That was my first sighting of bushpigs. They were quite some distance away in a bit of a marshy type area and looking into the setting sun which was behind them wasn't the best - but I was still chuffed.


As for the furnace , can't speak for others, but I'd be right there operating the bellows I'm afraid producing the iron spearheads for the young warriors. Don't think you Lynne or Twaffle need to worry too much - methinks it's all secret mens business and women probably shouldn't be within cooee of any furnace!


Tomorrow fly to Perth for 3 days then on to Zambia - anticipation turning into reality! Great.


Have a great time Safaridude - you too dikdik when's your trip?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy