For the next two days, we literally cruised the park at about 20 kilometers per hour. The southern section of Kafue has woodlands punctuated by great alleys of open plains, some dotted by waterholes and marshy areas. The southern end of the park is known for cheetahs and wild dogs, who do well with plenty of room to run, but we didn’t spot either of these iconic species.
We got up early each morning, armed with the thermos of coffee made at dinner the night before. Because of our up-and-out routine, we snacked on rusks (a heartier South African version of biscotti) and granola bars. Since we packed everything up every morning, our plan was to pause mid morning for a more substantial brunch – a bush camp custom.
The mornings were cool and mercifully fly-free. We were able to cruise the first few hours in the morning with windows down, catching the morning sounds. Unfortunately, as the day warmed, so did the flies, and we soon found ourselves back to windows up and air conditioning on. We even tried the routine of stopping the vehicle for five minutes, with the engine off, before emerging from the rover, but the flies that followed us just hung out on the car until we emerged. So much for cooking brunch – just unwrap another granola bar.
The first full day in the park, Steve drove while I passed food and drinks and watched for wildlife. As I spotted something, I was shrieking, “STOP!” intermittently all day. I resorted to shrieking for several reasons: Steve’s hearing is not good, and with the steering wheel on the right, I am sitting next to his “bad” ear. But, anyone would have a problem hearing over the diesel motor, the air conditioner fan, and all the shaking and rattling of the rover and it’s contents. Polite conversation is just not possible.
Steve’s eyes are much better than mine at spotting game, and his suspicious eyes spotted 3 lionesses peering at us across a drainage. They gazed at us with that lion-intense stare, “Are you something to eat?” We also saw new antelopes to us: roan, sable, oribi, reedbuck, waterbuck, hartebeast and puku. This was in addition to zebra, wildebeast, warthogs, hyena, baboons, vervet monkeys, impala and kudu, and a big range of birds.
The second day I took a turn at the wheel. Driving on the left was not a challenge since it was a single track, but sitting on the right side with the steering wheel was a little odd. The tendency is to drive too far left, and after whacking the bull bars a few times with small bushes on the left, I started to get the hang of it. The other challenge was driving in the soft sand, and learning to let the tracks steer the car rather than trying to completely control the wheel.
Each night, our rooftop tent is a restful retreat, set up with a foam mattress, sheets, pillows and pillow cases and a duvet. The tent sets up and folds down remarkably quickly and easily, and miraculously, the cover keeps out all the dust. I can’t say the same for the rest of the rover: the passengers and contents are covered with dust. But, we sleep soundly each night, falling asleep to the tink tink tink call of the reed frog chorus.