Kafue National Park, Birdlife Paradise, Zambia

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The picture above is how one well-known travel magazine described the ‘Kafue National Park’. Reading this article, I was really looking forward to some more wildlife encounters. To be quite frank, the number of animals spotted was rather pathetic. I understand the factors of being in the right spot at the right time and animal movement,

Stunned Kudu female, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Stunned Kudu female, Kafue National Park, Zambia

but seeing one kudu, one klipsringer and a small herd of elephants over 3 days whilst traversing the whole Park from south to north is just crazy.

Shy Klipspringer at Kafue National Park, Zambia

Shy Klipspringer at Kafue National Park, Zambia

The herd of elephants chased me and Zimba of from 300 meters distance. A nervous animal fearing being shot by poachers. Alarming signs. The usual Impala grazers not included, but even they were scarce. The always present and pestering Tse-Tse flies made a photo shoot or lunch break impossible. With no animals to feed on, cars quickly get covered with flies. To top it all off, this Park is major expensive. With your usual foreigner entry and car fees, you pay another 50 Kwacha per night for camping. This fee only allows you to camp in designated expensive private lodges/Campgrounds. The average camp fee is around 250 Kwacha. South Luangwa National Park and Lower Zambezi National Park offer a much better deal in all considerations.

Fish eagle enjoying island lifestyle, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Fish eagle enjoying island lifestyle, Kafue National Park, Zambia

The birdlife on the southern end off Lake Ithezi-Thezi was abundant though.

Kingfisher on the lookout, Kafue National Park

Kingfisher on the lookout, Kafue National Park

Kingfisher and Fish Eagles shared the fishing spots with Spoonbills and other waders.

Fish eagle with clear view, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Fish eagle with a clear view, Kafue National Park, Zambia

This was even more impressive in the afternoon or very early mornings with the sun coming up over the lake. One step at the time.

Swampy shore off lake Itezhi-Tezhi, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Swampy shore off lake Itezhi-Tezhi, Kafue National Park, Zambia

I arrived at ‘Kafue National Park’s’ Southern Gate around lunchtime. A poster about an elephant orphanage near the small township of Ngoma hung on the wall. What a great way to start this National Park! Visiting baby elephants whose parents got poached, sadly enough. Despite all my efforts and hours of driving and asking where it is located, I couldn’t find it. I took the slow going inland route to ‘Hippo Bay Campsite’. Apart from a few waterbuck and Impala, no other animals were sighted. It was hot and dusty again.

Zambia’s largest lake, Itzehoer-Tezhi, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Zambia’s largest lake, Itzehoer-Tezhi, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Arriving at the resort, I was asked to pay and sign in. ‘But I already paid for camping’ I said. But these were only National Park fees, an extra 200 Kwacha are needed to pay for the camp. Slightly annoyed I set up camp on the southern shores of lake Itezhi-Tezhi.

Campspot on Lake Itezhi-Tezhi, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Campspot on Lake Itezhi-Tezhi, Kafue National Park, Zambia

A beautiful setting with plenty of birdlife. Elephant, hippo and Antilope tracks covered the dry and muddy foreshore. A great sign for wildlife, maybe a hippo or elephant wanders the lake early morning for sunrise? Wishful thinking.

Full flight, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Full flight, Kafue National Park, Zambia

I wandered along the lake to watch kingfisher diving for fish. It really is a skill to catch their fast movements.

King of the skies, Kafue National Park, Zambia

King of the skies, Kafue National Park, Zambia

The fish eagle was keeping an eye or two,

Spoonbill resting tree, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Spoonbill resting tree, Kafue National Park, Zambia

while the spoonbills settled in one of the dead trees in the lake, caused by floods after the dam was built.

Typical scene on African waters, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Typical scene on African waters, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Fishermen using nets to gather some fish, as expected.

Claudio’s arrival, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Claudio’s arrival, Kafue National Park, Zambia

It wasn’t long until I heard a familiar sound off Claudio’s Randlover. They took the ferry over and came a different way. The fire had been started already and it wasn’t long till I heard Emanuela’s shout ‘Ben! Spritzer!’  An evening around the fire with plenty of laughter, although my Italian hadn’t improved much.

Early morning on on Lake Itezhi-Tezhi, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Early morning on on Lake Itezhi-Tezhi, Kafue National Park, Zambia

A calm lake early mornings is just inviting for sunrise. The hippos or elephants never showed, I was clearly pushing my luck.

Early morning gathering, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Early morning gathering, Kafue National Park, Zambia

With so many waterbirds making this Lake their home, it wasn’t too surprising that they would steal the show. 

Guinea fowl arrived, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Guinea fowl arrived, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Another early morning start for me, first one up is the first one gone. I stayed at the lake edge for a while but decided to move on, prime time for game viewing.

Early morning arrival, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Early morning arrival, Kafue National Park, Zambia

I came across a little lagoon, the sun coming up right behind.

Sunny tree off birds, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Sunny tree off birds, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Some flooded, dead trees are just perfect resting and warming spots for storks and heron.

Sunrise birdlife, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Sunrise birdlife, Kafue National Park, Zambia

As these trees were so tall, the sun meanwhile was right behind the highest point of the tree.

Xmas tree decoration, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Xmas tree decoration, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Like the Christmas tree star, a stork stood on the very tip of the tree.

The eye in the sky, Kafue National Park, Zambia

The eye in the sky, Kafue National Park, Zambia

What a view.

Just amazing to look at, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Just amazing to look at, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Other birds flying in or out, just added to the orange glowing sky.

Next arrivals on lake Itezhi-Tezhi, Kafue National Park , Zambia

Next arrivals on lake Itezhi-Tezhi, Kafue National Park , Zambia

A hippo enjoyed the morning sun on the other side of the road.

Tree reflections, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Tree reflections, Kafue National Park, Zambia

The sun reflections on calm waters sure are a breathtaking sight.

Staring at the sun, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Staring at the sun, Kafue National Park, Zambia

A lone stork seemed fascinated by the sun. A double banana boat fishermen were chasing some fish in the distance.

Jumping kudu, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Jumping kudu, Kafue National Park, Zambia

On the lookout for that elusive cat, I spotted some kudus in the thick bush. Shy as they are, they went deeper in the bush, apart from one female. A quick look, before jumping the road into the thickness. I sidetracked north towards the lake. Perfect environment for herbivores and carnivores. A herd of elephants caught my eye as I passed, one looked a bit agitated. I reversed to have a closer look and before I knew it, that elephant went trunk up towards me and Zimba. Lucky they were a fair distance away. However, I should have gotten my camera ready and returned. These would have been awesome photos, an elephant in full speed coming towards you. However, an elephant scared of a car from that distance points towards poaching.

Early mornings at Ithezi-Thezi lake, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Early mornings at Ithezi-Thezi lake, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Instead, I went to a tranquil place on the lake. Great spot for a coffee break.

Early morning fishermen, Kafue National Park

Early morning fishermen, Kafue National Park

Some more fishermen were paddling in the distance against the rising sun. No animals were sighted, apart from a warthog family and some Impala. In fact, the kudu was the last animal I took a photo of for the next 24 hours. In perfect habitat, this is not a positive sign. I passed the lake on the western side which took me all day. No cars, no animals, just plenty of Tse-Tse flies. It was hot and dusty, not many shady spots to pull over for a coffee break, even if you dared to get out of the car. I bumped into Claudio and co a few times before we rejoined just before the M9.

Lords off the dust tracks, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Lords off the dust tracks, Kafue National Park, Zambia

After a group photo, we went on to ‘Mayukuyuku lodge and Camp’. A nice setting by the Kafue River, but no wildlife around either. 

I left before sunrise again. There was a path along the river plains hind the camp, but there was absolutely no wildlife. Rather disappointing. When I got to the Park gates, no one was there to let me in. Gates open usually at 6 am. A frustrating start all around and things did not improve. Driving along the rivers and waterholes was slow going and simply boring.

Empty, Burnt land, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Empty, Burnt land, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Dried and burnt land as far as the eye can see. Driving through Lusaka was magnificent in comparison. I detoured via a resort by the river with the same result.

Puku on burnt land, Kafue National Park,  Zambia

Puku on burnt land, Kafue National Park, Zambia

With the mercury rising and those stinging biting flies getting more active, I just wanted to get out off here.

Stop or go? Kafue National Park, Zambia

Stop or go? Kafue National Park, Zambia

I was the first to arrive at our rendezvous spot; A dodgy handmade bridge crossing over the river, which we weren’t sure if it existed. Or if it would hold our cars weight.

A little bit shade by the creek, Kafue National Park, Zambia

A little bit shade by the creek, Kafue National Park, Zambia

A quick dip in the cooling water was soothing though.

Danger! Crocs around, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Danger! Crocs around, Kafue National Park, Zambia

A few crocs lined the shores, these were still resting.

Using all parking spots, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Using all parking spots, Kafue National Park, Zambia

It took a good hour for Claudio and co to arrive. All 5 cars lined the path to the bridge, and it was time for lunch.

Tono al cano, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Tono al cano, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Tin cans for some,

Italian cheese sandwich, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Italian cheese sandwich, Kafue National Park, Zambia

others put some more effort into their food.

Perfect picnic spot in arid National Park, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Perfect picnic spot in arid National Park, Kafue National Park, Zambia

It was a great opportunity for a few close up and family photos. This was definitely the highlight today.

Satisfied smile, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Satisfied smile, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Frederica enjoyed the carrot salad,

Vittoria enjoying her sandwich, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Vittoria enjoying her sandwich, Kafue National Park, Zambia

whilst watching her daughter Vittoria. Gianluca and son Riccardo had Parmesan cheese on a sandwich.

Giancarlo and hid bush knife, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Giancarlo and hid bush knife, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Papa knows how to use the knife.

Giovanni Dundee, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Giovanni Dundee, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Giovanni looked a bit more sophisticated as Loredana joined him.

Giovanni and Lorri are not so sure, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Giovanni and Lorri are not so sure, Kafue National Park, Zambia

An Italian version of ‘Croc Dundee’, these two were amusing to watch. 

Lion smile, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Lion smile, Kafue National Park, Zambia

One lion did arrive in shape off Jasmine.

African wooden bridge at Kafue National Park, Zambia

African wooden bridge at Kafue National Park, Zambia

The bridge was inspected by all,

Handmade Bridge crossing, Kafue National Park , Zambia

Handmade Bridge crossing, Kafue National Park , Zambia

before we carefully crossed and drove out of the park.

Smokey leafy forrest, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Smokey leafy forest, Kafue National Park, Zambia

A few fires were still burning, smoking through the meanwhile denser and lusher forest,

Smokey close up in black and white, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Smokey close up in black and white, Kafue National Park, Zambia

giving a great photo opportunity in smokey air.

Thick smoke, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Thick smoke, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Smoldering grass and leaves fueling the smoke.

Definitely more scenic drive, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Definitely more scenic drive, Kafue National Park, Zambia

The scenery outside Kafue National Park was more scenic.

Resemblence to Cape York, Kafue National Park, Zambia

A resemblance to Cape York, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Further north, plenty of termite mounds lined the grassy plains. Similarities to ‘Cape York’ in Australia. Once we got to the D181 road, things have gotten even dustier. I have not seen or driven through as many dust clouds lingering from previous cars passing, whilst stirring up my own dust clouds.

Dust covered sunset, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Dust covered sunset, Kafue National Park, Zambia

Forest and community houses were covered in talcum-like powder, so where the people living there. Amazingly, they were still happily waving towards Zimba. A fantastic photo opportunity in theory. Having a camera and lens covered in fine dust wasn’t practical. Eventually, I arrived in Kasempa. Claudio had organised camp and dinner already. 

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