By the next morning, it was clear that things had been tidied up when we went for our pre-walk coffee. The dirt between the kitchen and dining areas had been raked, and when we returned from our walk, someone had made our beds, supplied us with towels and swept out our hut.
The food was quite simple – the chef was on holiday – but a nice change from the more formal fare we had at the previous camps. Again, it felt like we were visiting someone’s home.
The animals are decidedly more relaxed near this camp, though. Puku graze not 20 yards from the “porch” of our chalet, and birds perch closely wherever we go. I am constantly entertained by the grunts, snorts and chortles from the nearby hippo pods, and there is regular elephant “traffic” in the camp, evidenced by the numerous dung piles and broken trees.
Our first morning walk was beautiful, although punctuated with uneasy moments. Dapper in a jacket and muffler, Chris had a camera slung over one shoulder and his rifle over the other. Steven, one of the young staff, accompanied us with water, snacks and the radio. We saw mostly relaxed animals: impala, puku, waterbuck and warthogs.
Chris is known for his lion research, done 40 years ago in Botswana. There are supposedly lions regularly near this camp, but we know that it’s a matter of being at the right place at the right time. We saw spoor, but no lions. That doesn’t mean that the lions did not see us. But, the relaxed game suggested that no lions were hunting in the area.
We crossed a dry river channel both on the way out and back from the camp – these moments creating the most anxiety. Partially, this came from reading our escorts’ demeanors. In Botswana, the time we had witnessed lions make a kill had been along a similar alleyway of bush. The riverbed seemed like a perfect place for an ambush, and it was clear that Steven had similar thoughts in mind. But, after 3 hours of walking, no lions. We’ve been told that lions can stroll through the camp with “stupefying nonchalance.” But, none yet.
We had a lovely afternoon cruise down the Kafue River on a double-decker pontoon. The upper deck gave us a view above the high banks of the river, and a kingfisher’s view of the water.