Adventure Blogs

A very Royal experience, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Let me start by staying the Bad Rabbit Theory of Travel is as follows:

If the roads leading to x are dusty, muddy, rutted, require much patience and long hours of careful driving then is x is going to be AWESOME! The harder it is to get to, the better the destination when you reach it.

The Lower Zambezi has just proved for the 3rd time in this trip that our theory is rock solid and can’t be disproved. Few people take the road option into the Lower Zambezi and we can attest as to why. But gosh, once you arrive, have tasted the sweet welcome sherry slip down your parched throat and dabbed your flushed face with a chilled, damp towel you can only look back on those long hours of bumpy roads and four-wheel engagements with nothing but love. After all, good old Abe Lincoln said it best when he said “good things come to those who wait, but only whats left from those who hustle!” – and its certainly a good hustle!

Everything about the Royal Zambezi Lodge is kingly. With more comfort than Buck and I knew what to do with, we slipped into the routine of fine dinning, wine paring and privately guided fishing before you could say ‘tinned tuna with rice for the last 10 days”. What an enormous treat – and what an enormous relief after sharing the single mattress for so long to stretch out on the kingsize double!

We had been told by a few people how amazing the game sightings are in the Lower Zambezi – what we weren’t told is that the leopard population is so relaxed that you can watch them for hours without so much as causing a hiss- but maybe, we were just exceedingly lucky. A little further down the road, we bumped two of the most relaxed lions, lying belly up, tongue out and eyes firmly shut. It was only the spontaneous shouts and laughs that erupted occasionally from the passing game drive vehicles that caused only the slightest twitch of enquiry from the passing wildlife – the camp was full of Zimbabweans who were doing their upmost to follow the events unfolding at the weekend of the ‘Independence march’.

With dribbles of info coming through thanks to the limited 3G in most of Zambia, it was often thanks to petrol attendants, shop assistants and police checkpoints that we were able to keep somewhat updated with the recent news coming from Zimbabwe. Although Buck and I would have loved to have been at home, taking part in our country’s history, it was interesting to witness the event from Zambia. As a people, Zambians feel connected to Zimbabweans as if they were branches of the same large extended family and watched the situation with a deep interest and concern. Our history’s are after all deeply intertwined in way that I hadn’t appreciated before.

We were spoilt rotten by the staff at Royal and are currently dealing with ‘Royal Withdrawal’.
We were treated like rockstars for the week with no request or timetable change too onerous and no need unmet. I for one have had a hard time adjusting to the knowledge that a rooibos-milk tart or amarula cheesecake wont simply appear in front of me after dinner and sadly, Buck’s morning offers of coffee just aren’t delivered with the same sincerity and efficiency as George’s friendly offer.

Unfortunately, we packed up and left rather quickly. Buck had caught Malaria from our first trip through Mkushi and spent the drive home writhing and moaning in the back of the cruiser while I did my best to minimise the bumps. Now on the mend, Buck has managed to see the funny side of his arduous trip. He told me, “it doesn’t matter how hard or uncomfortable things get in life, if I can survive your driving for 3 hours on a terrible dirt road in crazy heat with off the charts humidity, bumping around in a cramped back seat in the midst of malarial shivers and fevers, I can get through anything in my life” – I’ll try to remind him of that the next time we get lost.

So many people to thank! Hugo and Sarah Wood, thank you for hosting us in your lovely home in Mkushi. Lauren Mallet, happy birthday and thank you for the amazing memories. Natalie, Ewan and Pippa, thank you for the warm hospitality and Nats, thanks for the Coartem! Robert, although you may have created a major problem, thank you for a wonderful flight over the Zambezi River – you are right, small aircraft flying is the only way to travel! Thank you to all those at Royal Zambezi who made our stay so unforgettable.

Buck is happily recovering in Lusaka until strong enough for our next adventure…

If we never see a leopard ever again in our lives, we can be satisfied knowing that we sat with this cub for a good 3 hours watching him play and stretch. Amazing!
It’s true, leopards do sleep in trees! The cub on his way down.
Playful cub
The mother
Mean stares after being woken from a deep afternoon snooze. It’s a hard life!
Sunset shots
Sunrise over the Zambezi valley
Sand banks on the Zambezi River are the best place to be during sunset.
Malaria strikes again!
CLZ – Conservation Lower Zambezi
Zambezi River from above.
CLZ plane buzzes above
A Conservation Lower Zambezi aeroplane flies over the park looking for signs of poaching activities.