Kafue National Park (Mayukuyuku)

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Kafue

The second largest park in Africa awaits us next. This will be a long drive – all of 12 hours.  We were lucky to find the ferries on the right side of the river, ready for us to cross without waiting on both occasions.  The vibe is always light and exciting at the ferry crossing.  I find it very entertaining to watch the locals at their daily business and the little children staring wide eyed and unashamed at us, these strangers on their turf.

The Barotsi King and Queen live on the other side of the second ferry crossing.  This is the only village with corrugated iron roofs and electricity.  The palace has a private channel leading up to the village with their 2 barges, painted like Zebras, lying in wait in case it becomes necessary to escape the rising waters. They are moved to the other palace, to higher ground, once a year. This is done with all the bells and whistles.  By the photo, I am sure you will note that the "Palace", is nothing like the palace we imagine reading about in fairy tales, but more of a normal village.  The Barges, his and hers, have a big elephant dome (not sure which belongs to who). It is dry season at the moment so we did not get to see it.

We stopped off to fill up with water in Mongu – even more desperately needed than diesel, in a way, as we used it all in Liuwa.  Mike and Christine went in search of an open store to get some supplies.  As it was Sunday nothing was open and the only “general store” just covered the basics.  At least we had bread and bottled water and beers for the guys. The road to Kafue is all tar, which helped a great deal. 

We have been seeing loads of bicycles in Zambia. Perplexed as to how they could afford it.   In every village and along the road. We did not see this in Namibia or Botswana. They sure put the bicycles to good use as you will see from the photos.  We soon found the answer. We ended up behind a truck. The words “World bicycle relief” written on the back, and so the riddle was solved.

 The other alarming thing was the amount of charcoal “stalls”, for sale and or collection, piled up next to the road at regular intervals. This was definitely a source of income but meant that the trees were being cut down faster than they could grow.  Great big logs are also trimmed and laid ready for collection along the way.  We can only speculate as to whether or not there is any form of control in the deforestation process.  

Eventually by late afternoon – shortly after sunset we crossed the Kafue River, by bridge.  We were pleasantly surprised to see just what a huge river it is.  It reminded me of the Zambezi at Kalizo (Namibia).  Very excited with the prospect of camping next to the river, after having been in dry country in Liuwa, we turned in to find the first camp.  Having entered the Kafue Park already we soon saw a buffalo, elephant, kudu and lots of impala. This reminded us to drive slowly as it was dark and the animals were crossing the road. Arriving at Mukambi camp, the staff met us in the parking area. They explained that the camping site was closed as they were building a tented camp in its place.  It was late and we were worn from having been on the go the whole day, so we asked them if there was any possibility of camping there anyway. Just for the night, as we did not need facilities.  We were still in to process when a woman came waltzing down the walkway and without any form of greeting announced that SHE was the one to speak to.  Very short and rudely she cut us short and dismissed us.  She did point us in the direction of another camp, 11 km further – Mayukuyuku.

Mayukuyuku is also next to the river and they fortunately had space for us. The staff and management were friendly and helpful.  A helper even came to assist with the tent and to start a fire for us (first for us).  The ablution, where hot water is in steady supply, was as short way from the stand. It was a beautiful night under the stars! Mike has this very smart program on his IPad that one point at the sky and it shows you all the stars and their names, the satellites and where you are.  It makes for interesting camp fire discussions.   

Next morning, we were faffing around the camp when at 9 am a male lion strolled right through camp, eyeballing us all the time.  I was in the car in two ticks whiles the other three brave bodies stayed and watched him walk by.  Madness! I tell you.

Mike and Carlos had some fixing and engineering to do so Christine and I went down to the river to enjoy the scenery.  It soon became unbearably hot in the sun at the camp and the men joined us for a pic nick in the shade on the banks of the Kafue River.  We had great fun taking photo of a little Bee-eater trying desperately to be quick enough with the finger to catch the right moment on film. Three crocodiles were lying in the sun on the other side of the river where impala grazed seemingly unperturbed by the presence of crocs. The hippos did not show themselves all day, much to my disappointment.

Next morning we broke camp as the rate here was frightening. We would go to McBride's camp next.  Although a short distance from Mayukuyuku as the crow flies, we had to travel about 4 hours to get there.  Kafue park has no roads crisscrossing it so one has to take the main road to Mumbwa and then to McBride’s. “The man that walks with lions”.

On this road I saw the first Kingdom Hall since we started our travels.  It was a Wednesday morning though and there was not a brother in sight.   
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