Lower Zambezi Valley

After 6 month of being home I finally got a safari. It’s a Zambezi Bush Break for 1 guest from Switzerland. Pick up is arranged for 8 o’clock and I’m right on time. Last preparation for the days ahead in Lower Zambezi is buying fresh veg and bread. All done in a jiffy and we are set to go.

Leopards Hill Road

I had heard from several people that the Leopards Hill Road has been work on. It’s much easier to drive now. Only a short stretch is still terrible. So they said. I had used the track several years ago and remember very well how tide some of the corners were. Off we go on the Leopards Hill Road. Nice bitumen first. Than a smooth dust road and finally we are back on the same old track I remembered too well. Yes, some roadworks are done but it is still a long way before the tarmac reaches Chiawa. It’s still the dusty bumpy ride downhill in to the Lower Zambezi Valley with some scenic moments along the way. There are some places where petrified wood can be seen. Millions of years ago the climate was much more humid and this area was a swamp. Dead trees didn’t rot but sunk in the mud where under pressure the capillaries filled with sediments. Nowadays this area is one of the hottest and driest areas in Zambia.

Mvuu Lodge & Camp

After a 4 hour drive we reach Mvuu Lodge & Camp, our place for the next 3 nights. Right on the banks of the Zambezi River is Mvuu the closest campsite to the Chongwe Gate, the entrance to Lower Zambezi National Park. The campsites are under big trees. Each got it’s own shower and toilet. Chacma Baboons are the camp guards and tent inspectors. Elephants, Crested Guineafowls, Hippos are common visitors. Be prepared and give them their space. Illusive Leopards are passing through camp too and might be heard at night and the tracks seen in the morning. Mvuu Lodge offers game drives, canoe tours and boat cruises. Later in the afternoon we will go on Zambezi boat cruise but before I do my job. Pitching up the tents, setting the stretcher and bringing food on the table. I use fresh ingredients and cook on gas or open fire.

Boat Cruise on the Zambezi

The Zambezi River is several hundred meters wide, dotted with islands and sandbanks. Ideal habitat for Hippo’s and Crocodiles and well enough we saw countless Hippopotami. Some in schools, others alone and twice a cow with her calf. The Hippo cow gives birth on land away from the pod. For several weeks the cow is staying away from the school until the baby is big and strong enough to be introduced to the others. A good number of Nile Crocodiles were basking in the afternoon sun. They seem to sleep but can catapult into the waters with in a blink of an eye. A pair of Goliath Herons were among the many different bird species. Other herons we saw while on the river are Green-backed Heron, Scacco Heron, Black-crowned Night-heron, White Egret, Little Egret. On Buffalo Island we hoped to see the name giver but they were to camera shy.

Game drive in Lower Zambezi NP

After a quiet night we are heading out for a game drive in Lower Zambezi NP. Cameras ready and open for anything we are entering through Chongwe Gate. It’s fascinating to watch an Elephant picking leaves. The tusk is such an incredible multitasking tool. Flexible, strong, sensitive. A little later we came across this Vervet Monkey happily inspecting the elephant dung. It’s mainly looking for seeds and nuts that came out undigested. The African Hoopoe is an interesting bird that is feeding on insects. With its long beak it is probing the ground for termites and ants. While looking for a spot to have our lunch break I heard an alarm call from a Vervet Monkey nearby. Moments later the air was filled with dust. A distress call from a Warthog followed. Two Lionesses got their lunch. We watched them first and had our lunch a little later.

Chiawa GMA

Between Chiawa GMA and Lower Zambezi NP are no fences and all the wildlife is free to move. On our second day we tried the loop in the GMA and went to the Chongwe Falls. The Crested Guineafowl is widespread in Zambia but not commonly seen. While we had our lunch we watched the Elephant crossing the Zambezi. The Common Waterbuck is an antelope species with a thick fur and an unpleasant odor. Recent tests have revealed that this bad smell is a tsetse fly repellent and keeps away. We finished our drive at the Royal Waterhole watching a herd of African Buffalo quenching their thirst.

The following morning we packed up and went back to Lusaka. Time flies when filled with highlights.