That we’re planning less and less became obvious in Livingstone. We weren’t quite sure if we were gonna go West or East in Zambia. After Jolene went through the (excellent) Bradt guide the day before we decided to head to Kafue National Park that morning. This definitely not touristy park is huge, covering 22.000 square kilometers. It has also got a proper lake, plains and much more! This had to be spectacular.
A day in the car
We knew that we were going for a ‘road less travelled’. After about 1.5 hour on a perfect tar road we we reached a small town called Kalomo. This was the start of several dirt roads we had to take. We literally drove through a market and got out of this town. We then took quite a shitty road towards the Southern gate of Kafue National Park. On our way there we passed several villages and even more people on a bike. Everyone smiles and waves when your passing by and since we sometimes had to drive so slow we got into a lot of small talks with the people we met. The people in Zambia are so kind and hospitable, unbelievable! After about a total of six hours we finally got to the gate. But that was only the first part.
What are they using the entrance fee for?
We know that the entrance fee does not go road maintenance in Kafue National Park. After a quick cup of coffee we drove on, we had to drive for another 110 kilometer to reach the Hippo Bay Campsite. Because the ‘dry season’ road wasn’t dry yet we had to take the ‘cordon road’. One section was even worse than the other and the road was so skewed that we felt like tipping over at times. The most challenging were the parts where the left and right side of the road changed in being the highest. This was when two tires were up in the air :)! It soon became clear that we would never make it to the campsite that night.
Where are we going to spend the night?
From that moment we slowly started looking for a place to pitch our tent that night. Since the grass was quite high it was hard to find a good spot. You do want to know what’s coming for you other than the tsetse flies when you’re near your tent. On maps.me (our GPS app) we located an airstrip in the middle of the bush. We drove as fast as we could (not that fast) to get there in the last rays of sunshine. Once there we saw a game scout/ ranger. We asked him if it was ok to spend the night at the airstrip and thought it was “a very good idea” after driving 12 hours.
Steven, our new friend
The game scout’s name turned out to be Steven and was working for the Zambian government. From the moment we arrived we were ‘his guests’ and he immediately filled an old toilet with water so that we could use it and flush it. We pitched our tent in the meantime and invited Steven for dinner. He was not quite used to spicy noodles since most Zambians eat a kind of porridge for dinner. Luckily we had a large glass of Fanta for him to go with the food.
Steven has been a game scout for a long time and had lots of stories to tell. He told about his daughters who were both going to college and that he worked hard to pay for their tuition. He also shared that now that they have TV he watches it now and then but otherwise enjoys reading a novel. What an amazing guy. It’s such a cliche but it really is all about the people you meet while traveling.
After a wonderful night in the bush we said goodbye to Steven the next morning but not before we took one photo with him.He dressed up for the occasion and got his army jacket and cap out of his bag. He also brought his gun for this photo. In the end you’re still a game scout.